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Title: The Bible in Spain; or, the journeys, adventures, and imprisonments of an Englishman, in an attempt to circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula
Author: Borrow, George Henry, 1803-1881
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1908 Cassell and Company edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org



                            THE BIBLE IN SPAIN


                    of an Englishman, in an Attempt to
                circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula

                                    BY
                              GEORGE BORROW

                                * * * * *

                        CASSELL AND COMPANY, LTD.
                         LONDON, PARIS, NEW YORK,
                           TORONTO & MELBOURNE
                                 MCMVIII



EDITOR’S NOTE


Blessed with a magnificent physique, and an unswerving belief in God’s
beneficence; endowed with “the gift of tongues” and a cheerful
disposition, George Borrow was well equipped for life.  That he was
called to be a Bible Society missionary was surely a curious turn of
fortune.  The son of a Militia captain, whose duties took him about the
country, Borrow early acquired the taste for a roving life, and it must
have been a severe hardship to him when, at the age of sixteen, he was
articled to a Norwich firm of solicitors.  Indeed, it would almost appear
that the gypsy spirit was quenched, for on the completion of his five
years he was engaged as literary hack to Phillips, the London publisher.
But after a year or so the “call of the wild” came, and Borrow eagerly
responded.  What happened is not really known, though much of his gypsy
life is pictured in _Lavengro_.

In 1832 he commenced his work for the Bible Society, and the next year
went as its representative to Russia.  He stayed there until 1835, when
he was ordered to Spain and Portugal.  In spite of their adventurous
nature, the five years there spent were described by Borrow as “the most
happy years of my life.”  _The Bible in Spain_ consists largely of his
letters to the Society, and the vigour and directness of his language
must ofttimes have startled the officials.  The book was published in
December, 1842.

George Henry Borrow was born July 5, 1803, and died July 26, 1881.



AUTHOR’S PREFACE


It is very seldom that the preface of a work is read; indeed, of late
years, most books have been sent into the world without any.  I deem it,
however, advisable to write a preface, and to this I humbly call the
attention of the courteous reader, as its perusal will not a little tend
to the proper understanding and appreciation of these volumes.

The work now offered to the public, and which is styled _The Bible in
Spain_, consists of a narrative of what occurred to me during a residence
in that country, to which I was sent by the Bible Society, as its agent
for the purpose of printing and circulating the Scriptures.  It
comprehends, however, certain journeys and adventures in Portugal, and
leaves me at last in “the land of the Corahai,” to which region, after
having undergone considerable buffeting in Spain, I found it expedient to
retire for a season.

It is very probable that had I visited Spain from mere curiosity, or with
a view of passing a year or two agreeably, I should never have attempted
to give any detailed account of my proceedings, or of what I heard and
saw.  I am no tourist, no writer of books of travels; but I went there on
a somewhat remarkable errand, which necessarily led me into strange
situations and positions, involved me in difficulties and perplexities,
and brought me into contact with people of all descriptions and grades;
so that, upon the whole, I flatter myself that a narrative of such a
pilgrimage may not be wholly uninteresting to the public, more especially
as the subject is not trite; for though various books have been published
about Spain, I believe that the present is the only one in existence
which treats of missionary labour in that country.

Many things, it is true, will be found in the following volume which have
little connexion with religion or religious enterprise; I offer, however,
no apology for introducing them.  I was, as I may say, from first to last
adrift in Spain, the land of old renown, the land of wonder and mystery,
with better opportunities of becoming acquainted with its strange secrets
and peculiarities than perhaps ever yet were afforded to any individual,
certainly to a foreigner; and if in many instances I have introduced
scenes and characters perhaps unprecedented in a work of this
description, I have only to observe, that, during my sojourn in Spain, I
was so unavoidably mixed up with such, that I could scarcely have given a
faithful narrative of what befell me had I not brought them forward in
the manner which I have done.

It is worthy of remark that, called suddenly and unexpectedly “to
undertake the adventure of Spain,” I was not altogether unprepared for
such an enterprise.  In the daydreams of my boyhood, Spain always bore a
considerable share, and I took a particular interest in her, without any
presentiment that I should at a future time be called upon to take a
part, however humble, in her strange dramas; which interest, at a very
early period, led me to acquire her noble language, and to make myself
acquainted with her literature (scarcely worthy of the language), her
history and traditions; so that when I entered Spain for the first time I
felt more at home than I should otherwise have done.

In Spain I passed five years, which, if not the most eventful, were, I
have no hesitation in saying, the most happy years of my existence.  Of
Spain, at the present time, now that the daydream has vanished, never,
alas! to return, I entertain the warmest admiration: she is the most
magnificent country in the world, probably the most fertile, and
certainly with the finest climate.  Whether her children are worthy of
their mother, is another question, which I shall not attempt to answer;
but content myself with observing, that, amongst much that is lamentable
and reprehensible, I have found much that is noble and to be admired;
much stern heroic virtue; much savage and horrible crime; of low vulgar
vice very little, at least amongst the great body of the Spanish nation,
with which my mission lay; for it will be as well here to observe, that I
advance no claim to an intimate acquaintance with the Spanish nobility,
from whom I kept as remote as circumstances would permit me; _en
revanche_, however, I have had the honour to live on familiar terms with
the peasants, shepherds, and muleteers of Spain, whose bread and bacalao
I have eaten; who always treated me with kindness and courtesy, and to
whom I have not unfrequently been indebted for shelter and protection.

    “The generous bearing of Francisco Gonzales, and the high deeds of
    Ruy Diaz the Cid, are still sung amongst the fastnesses of the Sierra
    Morena.” {8}

I believe that no stronger argument can be brought forward in proof of
the natural vigour and resources of Spain, and the sterling character of
her population, than the fact that, at the present day, she is still a
powerful and unexhausted country, and her children still, to a certain
extent, a high-minded and great people.  Yes, notwithstanding the misrule
of the brutal and sensual Austrian, the doting Bourbon, and, above all,
the spiritual tyranny of the court of Rome, Spain can still maintain her
own, fight her own combat, and Spaniards are not yet fanatic slaves and
crouching beggars.  This is saying much, very much: she has undergone far
more than Naples had ever to bear, and yet the fate of Naples has not
been hers.  There is still valour in Astruria; generosity in Aragon;
probity in Old Castile; and the peasant women of La Mancha can still
afford to place a silver fork and a snowy napkin beside the plate of
their guest.  Yes, in spite of Austrian, Bourbon, and Rome, there is
still a wide gulf between Spain and Naples.

Strange as it may sound, Spain is not a fanatic country.  I know
something about her, and declare that she is not, nor has ever been;
Spain never changes.  It is true that, for nearly two centuries, she was
the she-butcher, _La Verduga_, of malignant Rome; the chosen instrument
for carrying into effect the atrocious projects of that power; yet
fanaticism was not the spring which impelled her to the work of butchery;
another feeling, in her the predominant one, was worked upon—her fatal
pride.  It was by humouring her pride that she was induced to waste her
precious blood and treasure in the Low Country wars, to launch the
Armada, and to many other equally insane actions.  Love of Rome had ever
slight influence over her policy; but flattered by the title of
Gonfaloniera of the Vicar of Jesus, and eager to prove herself not
unworthy of the same, she shut her eyes and rushed upon her own
destruction with the cry of “Charge, Spain.”

But the arms of Spain became powerless abroad, and she retired within
herself.  She ceased to be the tool of the vengeance and cruelty of Rome.
She was not cast aside, however.  No! though she could no longer wield
the sword with success against the Lutherans, she might still be turned
to some account.  She had still gold and silver, and she was still the
land of the vine and olive.  Ceasing to be the butcher, she became the
banker of Rome; and the poor Spaniards, who always esteem it a privilege
to pay another person’s reckoning, were for a long time happy in being
permitted to minister to the grasping cupidity of Rome, who during the
last century, probably extracted from Spain more treasure than from all
the rest of Christendom.

But wars came into the land.  Napoleon and his fierce Franks invaded
Spain; plunder and devastation ensued, the effects of which will probably
be felt for ages.  Spain could no longer pay pence to Peter so freely as
of yore, and from that period she became contemptible in the eyes of
Rome, who has no respect for a nation, save so far as it can minister to
her cruelty or avarice.  The Spaniard was still willing to pay, as far as
his means would allow, but he was soon given to understand that he was a
degraded being,—a barbarian; nay, a beggar.  Now, you may draw the last
cuarto from a Spaniard, provided you will concede to him the title of
cavalier, and rich man, for the old leaven still works as powerfully as
in the time of the first Philip; but you must never hint that he is poor,
or that his blood is inferior to your own.  And the old peasant, on being
informed in what slight estimation he was held, replied, “If I am a
beast, a barbarian, and a beggar withal, I am sorry for it; but as there
is no remedy, I shall spend these four bushels of barley, which I had
reserved to alleviate the misery of the holy father, in procuring bull
spectacles, and other convenient diversions, for the queen my wife, and
the young princes my children.  Beggar! carajo!  The water of my village
is better than the wine of Rome.”

I see that in a late pastoral letter directed to the Spaniards, the
father of Rome complains bitterly of the treatment which he has received
in Spain at the hands of naughty men.  “My cathedrals are let down,” he
says, “my priests are insulted, and the revenues of my bishops are
curtailed.”  He consoles himself, however, with the idea that this is the
effect of the malice of a few, and that the generality of the nation love
him, especially the peasantry, the innocent peasantry, who shed tears
when they think of the sufferings of their pope and their religion.
Undeceive yourself, Batuschca, undeceive yourself!  Spain was ready to
fight for you so long as she could increase her own glory by doing so;
but she took no pleasure in losing battle after battle on your account.
She had no objection to pay money into your coffers in the shape of alms,
expecting, however, that the same would be received with the gratitude
and humility which becomes those who accept charity.  Finding, however,
that you were neither humble nor grateful; suspecting, moreover, that you
held Austria in higher esteem than herself, even as a banker, she
shrugged up her shoulders, and uttered a sentence somewhat similar to
that which I have already put into the mouth of one of her children,
“These four bushels of barley,” etc.

It is truly surprising what little interest the great body of the Spanish
nation took in the late struggle, and yet it has been called, by some who
ought to know better, a war of religion and principle.  It was generally
supposed that Biscay was the stronghold of Carlism, and that the
inhabitants were fanatically attached to their religion, which they
apprehended was in danger.  The truth is, that the Basques cared nothing
for Carlos or Rome, and merely took up arms to defend certain rights and
privileges of their own.  For the dwarfish brother of Ferdinand they
always exhibited supreme contempt, which his character, a compound of
imbecility, cowardice, and cruelty, well merited.  If they made use of
his name, it was merely as a _cri de guerre_.  Much the same may be said
with respect to his Spanish partisans, at least those who appeared in the
field for him.  These, however, were of a widely different character from
the Basques, who were brave soldiers and honest men.  The Spanish armies
of Don Carlos were composed entirely of thieves and assassins, chiefly
Valencians and Manchegans, who, marshalled under two cut-throats, Cabrera
and Palillos, took advantage of the distracted state of the country to
plunder and massacre the honest part of the community.  With respect to
the Queen Regent Christina, of whom the less said the better, the reins
of government fell into her hands on the decease of her husband, and with
them the command of the soldiery.  The respectable part of the Spanish
nation, and more especially the honourable and toilworn peasantry,
loathed and execrated both factions.  Oft when I was sharing at nightfall
the frugal fare of the villager of Old or New Castile, on hearing the
distant shot of the Christino soldier or Carlist bandit, he would invoke
curses on the heads of the two pretenders, not forgetting the holy father
and the goddess of Rome, Maria Santissima.  Then, with the tiger energy
of the Spaniard when roused, he would start up and exclaim: “Vamos, Don
Jorge, to the plain, to the plain!  I wish to enlist with you, and to
learn the law of the English.  To the plain, therefore, to the plain
to-morrow, to circulate the gospel of Ingalaterra.”

Amongst the peasantry of Spain I found my sturdiest supporters: and yet
the holy father supposes that the Spanish labourers are friends and
lovers of his.  Undeceive yourself, Batuschca!

But to return to the present work: it is devoted to an account of what
befell me in Spain whilst engaged in distributing the Scripture.  With
respect to my poor labours, I wish here to observe, that I accomplished
but very little, and that I lay claim to no brilliant successes and
triumphs; indeed I was sent into Spain more to explore the country, and
to ascertain how far the minds of the people were prepared to receive the
truths of Christianity, than for any other object; I obtained, however,
through the assistance of kind friends, permission from the Spanish
government to print an edition of the sacred volume at Madrid, which I
subsequently circulated in that capital and in the provinces.

During my sojourn in Spain, there were others who wrought good service in
the Gospel cause, and of whose efforts it were unjust to be silent in a
work of this description.  Base is the heart which would refuse merit its
meed, and, however insignificant may be the value of any eulogium which
can flow from a pen like mine, I cannot refrain from mentioning with
respect and esteem a few names connected with Gospel enterprise.  A
zealous Irish gentleman, of the name of Graydon, exerted himself with
indefatigable diligence in diffusing the light of Scripture in the
province of Catalonia, and along the southern shores of Spain; whilst two
missionaries from Gibraltar, Messrs. Rule and Lyon, during one entire
year, preached Evangelic truth in a Church at Cadiz.  So much success
attended the efforts of these two last brave disciples of the immortal
Wesley, that there is every reason for supposing that, had they not been
silenced and eventually banished from the country by the pseudo-liberal
faction of the Moderados, not only Cadiz, but the greater part of
Andalusia, would by this time have confessed the pure doctrines of the
Gospel, and have discarded for ever the last relics of popish
superstition.

More immediately connected with the Bible Society and myself, I am most
happy to take this opportunity of speaking of Luis de Usoz y Rio, the
scion of an ancient and honourable family of Old Castile, my coadjutor
whilst editing the Spanish New Testament at Madrid.  Throughout my
residence in Spain, I experienced every mark of friendship from this
gentleman, who, during the periods of my absence in the provinces, and my
numerous and long journeys, cheerfully supplied my place at Madrid, and
exerted himself to the utmost in forwarding the views of the Bible
Society, influenced by no other motive than a hope that its efforts would
eventually contribute to the peace, happiness, and civilisation of his
native land.

In conclusion, I beg leave to state that I am fully aware of the various
faults and inaccuracies of the present work.  It is founded on certain
journals which I kept during my stay in Spain, and numerous letters
written to my friends in England, which they had subsequently the
kindness to restore: the greater part, however, consisting of
descriptions of scenery, sketches of character, etc., has been supplied
from memory.  In various instances I have omitted the names of places,
which I have either forgotten, or of whose orthography I am uncertain.
The work, as it at present exists, was written in a solitary hamlet in a
remote part of England, where I had neither books to consult, nor friends
of whose opinion or advice I could occasionally avail myself, and under
all the disadvantages which arise from enfeebled health; I have, however,
on a recent occasion, experienced too much of the lenity and generosity
of the public, both of Britain and America, to shrink from again exposing
myself to its gaze, and trust that, if in the present volumes it finds
but little to admire, it will give me credit for good spirit, and for
setting down nought in malice.

Nov. 26, 1842.



CHAPTER I


Man Overboard—The Tagus—Foreign Languages—Gesticulation—Streets of
Lisbon—The Aqueduct—Bible tolerated in Portugal—Cintra—Don Sebastian—John
de Castro—Conversation with a Priest—Colhares—Mafra—Its Palace—The
Schoolmaster—The Portuguese—Their Ignorance of Scripture—Rural
Priesthood—The Alemtejo.

On the morning of the tenth of November, 1835, I found myself off the
coast of Galicia, whose lofty mountains, gilded by the rising sun,
presented a magnificent appearance.  I was bound for Lisbon; we passed
Cape Finisterre, and standing farther out to sea, speedily lost sight of
land.  On the morning of the eleventh the sea was very rough, and a
remarkable circumstance occurred.  I was on the forecastle, discoursing
with two of the sailors: one of them, who had but just left his hammock,
said, “I have had a strange dream, which I do not much like, for,”
continued he, pointing up to the mast, “I dreamt that I fell into the sea
from the cross-trees.”  He was heard to say this by several of the crew
besides myself.  A moment after, the captain of the vessel perceiving
that the squall was increasing, ordered the topsails to be taken in,
whereupon this man with several others instantly ran aloft; the yard was
in the act of being hauled down, when a sudden gust of wind whirled it
round with violence, and a man was struck down from the cross-trees into
the sea, which was working like yeast below.  In a short time he emerged;
I saw his head on the crest of a billow, and instantly recognised in the
unfortunate man the sailor who a few moments before had related his
dream.  I shall never forget the look of agony he cast whilst the steamer
hurried past him.  The alarm was given, and everything was in confusion;
it was two minutes at least before the vessel was stopped, by which time
the man was a considerable way astern; I still, however, kept my eye upon
him, and could see that he was struggling gallantly with the waves.  A
boat was at length lowered, but the rudder was unfortunately not at hand,
and only two oars could be procured, with which the men could make but
little progress in so rough a sea.  They did their best, however, and had
arrived within ten yards of the man, who still struggled for his life,
when I lost sight of him, and the men on their return said that they saw
him below the water, at glimpses, sinking deeper and deeper, his arms
stretched out and his body apparently stiff, but that they found it
impossible to save him; presently after, the sea, as if satisfied with
the prey which it had acquired, became comparatively calm.  The poor
fellow who perished in this singular manner was a fine young man of
twenty-seven, the only son of a widowed mother; he was the best sailor on
board, and was beloved by all who were acquainted with him.  This event
occurred on the eleventh of November, 1835; the vessel was the _London
Merchant_ steamship.  Truly wonderful are the ways of Providence!

That same night we entered the Tagus, and dropped anchor before the old
tower of Belem; early the next morning we weighed, and, proceeding onward
about a league, we again anchored at a short distance from the Caesodré,
or principal quay of Lisbon.  Here we lay for some hours beside the
enormous black hulk of the _Rainha Nao_, a man-of-war, which in old times
so captivated the eye of Nelson, that he would fain have procured it for
his native country.  She was, long subsequently, the admiral’s ship of
the Miguelite squadron, and had been captured by the gallant Napier about
three years previous to the time of which I am speaking.

The _Rainha Nao_ is said to have caused him more trouble than all the
other vessels of the enemy; and some assert that, had the others defended
themselves with half the fury which the old vixen queen displayed, the
result of the battle which decided the fate of Portugal would have been
widely different.

I found disembarkation at Lisbon to be a matter of considerable vexation;
the custom-house officers were exceedingly uncivil, and examined every
article of my little baggage with most provocating minuteness.

My first impression on landing in the Peninsula was by no means a
favourable one; and I had scarcely pressed the soil one hour before I
heartily wished myself back in Russia, a country which I had quitted
about one month previous, and where I had left cherished friends and warm
affections.

After having submitted to much ill-usage and robbery at the custom-house,
I proceeded in quest of a lodging, and at last found one, but dirty and
expensive.  The next day I hired a servant, a Portuguese, it being my
invariable custom on arriving in a country to avail myself of the
services of a native; chiefly with the view of perfecting myself in the
language; and being already acquainted with most of the principal
languages and dialects of the east and the west, I am soon able to make
myself quite intelligible to the inhabitants.  In about a fortnight I
found myself conversing in Portuguese with considerable fluency.

Those who wish to make themselves understood by a foreigner in his own
language, should speak with much noise and vociferation, opening their
mouths wide.  Is it surprising that the English are, in general, the
worst linguists in the world, seeing that they pursue a system
diametrically opposite?  For example, when they attempt to speak Spanish,
the most sonorous tongue in existence, they scarcely open their lips, and
putting their hands in their pockets, fumble lazily, instead of applying
them to the indispensable office of gesticulation.  Well may the poor
Spaniards exclaim, _These English talk so crabbedly_, _that Satan himself
would not be able to understand them_.

Lisbon is a huge ruinous city, still exhibiting in almost every direction
the vestiges of that terrific visitation of God, the earthquake which
shattered it some eighty years ago.  It stands on seven hills, the
loftiest of which is occupied by the castle of Saint George, which is the
boldest and most prominent object to the eye, whilst surveying the city
from the Tagus.  The most frequented and busy parts of the city are those
comprised within the valley to the north of this elevation.

Here you find the Plaza of the Inquisition, the principal square in
Lisbon, from which run parallel towards the river three or four streets,
amongst which are those of the gold and silver, so designated from being
inhabited by smiths cunning in the working of those metals; they are upon
the whole very magnificent; the houses are huge and as high as castles;
immense pillars defend the causeway at intervals, producing, however,
rather a cumbrous effect.  These streets are quite level, and are well
paved, in which respect they differ from all the others in Lisbon.  The
most singular street, however, of all is that of the Alemcrin, or
Rosemary, which debouches on the Caesodré.  It is very precipitous, and
is occupied on either side by the palaces of the principal Portuguese
nobility, massive and frowning, but grand and picturesque, edifices, with
here and there a hanging garden, overlooking the streets at a great
height.

With all its ruin and desolation, Lisbon is unquestionably the most
remarkable city in the Peninsula, and, perhaps, in the south of Europe.
It is not my intention to enter into minute details concerning it; I
shall content myself with remarking, that it is quite as much deserving
the attention of the artist as even Rome itself.  True it is that though
it abounds with churches it has no gigantic cathedral, like St. Peter’s,
to attract the eye and fill it with wonder, yet I boldly say that there
is no monument of man’s labour and skill, pertaining either to ancient or
modern Rome, for whatever purpose designed, which can rival the
water-works of Lisbon; I mean the stupendous aqueduct whose principal
arches cross the valley to the north-east of Lisbon, and which discharges
its little runnel of cool and delicious water into the rocky cistern
within that beautiful edifice called the Mother of the Waters, from
whence all Lisbon is supplied with the crystal lymph, though the source
is seven leagues distant.  Let travellers devote one entire morning to
inspecting the Arcos and the Mai das Agoas, after which they may repair
to the English church and cemetery, Pere-la-chaise in miniature, where,
if they be of England, they may well be excused if they kiss the cold
tomb, as I did, of the author of _Amelia_, the most singular genius which
their island ever produced, whose works it has long been the fashion to
abuse in public and to read in secret.  In the same cemetery rest the
mortal remains of Doddridge, another English author of a different stamp,
but justly admired and esteemed.  I had not intended, on disembarking, to
remain long in Lisbon, nor indeed in Portugal; my destination was Spain,
whither I shortly proposed to direct my steps, it being the intention of
the Bible Society to attempt to commence operations in that country, the
object of which should be the distribution of the Word of God, for Spain
had hitherto been a region barred against the admission of the Bible; not
so Portugal, where, since the revolution, the Bible had been permitted
both to be introduced and circulated.  Little, however, had been
accomplished; therefore, finding myself in the country, I determined, if
possible, to effect something in the way of distribution, but first of
all to make myself acquainted as to how far the people were disposed to
receive the Bible, and whether the state of education in general would
permit them to turn it to much account.  I had plenty of Bibles and
Testaments at my disposal, but could the people read them, or would they?
A friend of the Society to whom I was recommended was absent from Lisbon
at the period of my arrival; this I regretted, as he could have afforded
me several useful hints.  In order, however, that no time might be lost,
I determined not to wait for his arrival, but at once proceed to gather
the best information I could upon those points to which I have already
alluded.  I determined to commence my researches at some slight distance
from Lisbon, being well aware of the erroneous ideas that I must form of
the Portuguese in general, should I judge of their character and opinions
from what I saw and heard in a city so much subjected to foreign
intercourse.

My first excursion was to Cintra.  If there be any place in the world
entitled to the appellation of an enchanted region, it is surely Cintra;
Tivoli is a beautiful and picturesque place, but it quickly fades from
the mind of those who have seen the Portuguese Paradise.  When speaking
of Cintra, it must not for a moment be supposed that nothing more is
meant than the little town or city; by Cintra must be understood the
entire region, town, palace, quintas, forests, crags, Moorish ruin, which
suddenly burst on the view on rounding the side of a bleak, savage, and
sterile-looking mountain.  Nothing is more sullen and uninviting than the
south-western aspect of the stony wall which, on the side of Lisbon,
seems to shield Cintra from the eye of the world, but the other side is a
mingled scene of fairy beauty, artificial elegance, savage grandeur,
domes, turrets, enormous trees, flowers and waterfalls, such as is met
with nowhere else beneath the sun.  Oh! there are strange and wonderful
objects at Cintra, and strange and wonderful recollections attached to
them.  The ruin on that lofty peak, and which covers part of the side of
that precipitous steep, was once the principal stronghold of the
Lusitanian Moors, and thither, long after they had disappeared, at a
particular moon of every year, were wont to repair wild santons of
Maugrabie, to pray at the tomb of a famous Sidi, who slumbers amongst the
rocks.  That grey palace witnessed the assemblage of the last cortes held
by the boy king Sebastian, ere he departed on his romantic expedition
against the Moors, who so well avenged their insulted faith and country
at Alcazarquibir, and in that low shady quinta, embowered amongst those
tall alcornoques, once dwelt John de Castro, the strange old viceroy of
Goa, who pawned the hairs of his dead son’s beard to raise money to
repair the ruined wall of a fortress threatened by the heathen of Ind;
those crumbling stones which stand before the portal, deeply graven, not
with “runes,” but things equally dark, Sanscrit rhymes from the Vedas,
were brought by him from Goa, the most brilliant scene of his glory,
before Portugal had become a base kingdom; and down that dingle, on an
abrupt rocky promontory, stand the ruined halls of the English
Millionaire, who there nursed the wayward fancies of a mind as wild,
rich, and variegated as the scenes around.  Yes, wonderful are the
objects which meet the eye at Cintra, and wonderful are the recollections
attached to them.

The town of Cintra contains about eight hundred inhabitants.  The morning
subsequent to my arrival, as I was about to ascend the mountain for the
purpose of examining the Moorish ruins, I observed a person advancing
towards me whom I judged by his dress to be an ecclesiastic; he was in
fact one of the three priests of the place.  I instantly accosted him,
and had no reason to regret doing so; I found him affable and
communicative.

After praising the beauty of the surrounding scenery, I made some inquiry
as to the state of education amongst the people under his care.  He
answered, that he was sorry to say that they were in a state of great
ignorance, very few of the common people being able either to read or
write; that with respect to schools, there was but one in the place,
where four or five children were taught the alphabet, but that even this
was at present closed; he informed me, however, that there was a school
at Colhares, about a league distant.  Amongst other things, he said that
nothing more surprised him than to see Englishmen, the most learned and
intelligent people in the world, visiting a place like Cintra, where
there was no literature, science, nor anything of utility (_coisa que
presta_).  I suspect that there was some covert satire in the last speech
of the worthy priest; I was, however, Jesuit enough to appear to receive
it as a high compliment, and, taking off my hat, departed with an
infinity of bows.

That same day I visited Colhares, a romantic village on the side of the
mountain of Cintra, to the north-west.  Seeing some peasants collected
round a smithy, I inquired about the school, whereupon one of the men
instantly conducted me thither.  I went upstairs into a small apartment,
where I found the master with about a dozen pupils standing in a row; I
saw but one stool in the room, and to that, after having embraced me, he
conducted me with great civility.  After some discourse, he showed me the
books which he used for the instruction of the children; they were
spelling books, much of the same kind as those used in the village
schools in England.  Upon my asking him whether it was his practice to
place the Scriptures in the hands of the children, he informed me that
long before they had acquired sufficient intelligence to understand them
they were removed by their parents, in order that they might assist in
the labours of the field, and that the parents in general were by no
means solicitous that their children should learn anything, as they
considered the time occupied in learning as so much squandered away.  He
said, that though the schools were nominally supported by the government,
it was rarely that the schoolmasters could obtain their salaries, on
which account many had of late resigned their employments.  He told me
that he had a copy of the New Testament in his possession, which I
desired to see, but on examining it I discovered that it was only the
epistles by Pereira, with copious notes.  I asked him whether he
considered that there was harm in reading the Scriptures without notes:
he replied that there was certainly no harm in it, but that simple
people, without the help of notes, could derive but little benefit from
Scripture, as the greatest part would be unintelligible to them;
whereupon I shook hands with him, and on departing said that there was no
part of Scripture so difficult to understand as those very notes which
were intended to elucidate it, and that it would never have been written
if not calculated of itself to illume the minds of all classes of
mankind.

In a day or two I made an excursion to Mafra, distant about three leagues
from Cintra; the principal part of the way lay over steep hills, somewhat
dangerous for horses; however, I reached the place in safety.

Mafra is a large village in the neighbourhood of an immense building,
intended to serve as a convent and palace, and which is built somewhat
after the fashion of the Escurial.  In this edifice exists the finest
library in Portugal, containing books on all sciences and in all
languages, and well suited to the size and grandeur of the edifice which
contains it.  There were no monks, however, to take care of it, as in
former times; they had been driven forth, some to beg their bread, some
to serve under the banners of Don Carlos, in Spain, and many, as I was
informed, to prowl about as banditti.  I found the place abandoned to two
or three menials, and exhibiting an aspect of solitude and desolation
truly appalling.  Whilst I was viewing the cloisters, a fine
intelligent-looking lad came up and asked (I suppose in the hope of
obtaining a trifle) whether I would permit him to show me the village
church, which he informed me was well worth seeing; I said no, but added,
that if he would show me the village school I should feel much obliged to
him.  He looked at me with astonishment, and assured me that there was
nothing to be seen at the school, which did not contain more than half a
dozen boys, and that he himself was one of the number.  On my telling
him, however, that he should show me no other place, he at length
unwillingly attended me.  On the way I learned from him that the
schoolmaster was one of the friars who had lately been expelled from the
convent, that he was a very learned man, and spoke French and Greek.  We
passed a stone cross, and the boy bent his head and crossed himself with
much devotion.  I mention this circumstance, as it was the first instance
of the kind which I had observed amongst the Portuguese since my arrival.
When near the house where the schoolmaster resided, he pointed it out to
me, and then hid himself behind a wall, where he awaited my return.

On stepping over the threshold I was confronted by a short stout man,
between sixty and seventy years of age, dressed in a blue jerkin and grey
trousers, without shirt or waistcoat; he looked at me sternly, and
enquired in the French language what was my pleasure.  I apologised for
intruding upon him, and stated that, being informed he occupied the
situation of schoolmaster, I had come to pay my respects to him and to
beg permission to ask a few questions respecting the seminary.  He
answered that whoever told me he was a schoolmaster lied, for that he was
a friar of the convent and nothing else.  “It is not then true,” said I,
“that all the convents have been broken up and the monks dismissed?”
“Yes, yes,” said he with a sigh, “it is true; it is but too true.”  He
then was silent for a minute, and his better nature overcoming his angry
feelings, he produced a snuff-box and offered it to me.  The snuff-box is
the olive-branch of the Portuguese, and he who wishes to be on good terms
with them must never refuse to dip his finger and thumb into it when
offered.  I took therefore a huge pinch, though I detest the dust, and we
were soon on the best possible terms.  He was eager to obtain news,
especially from Lisbon and Spain.  I told him that the officers of the
troops at Lisbon had, the day before I left that place, gone in a body to
the queen and insisted upon her either receiving their swords or
dismissing her ministers; whereupon he rubbed his hands and said that he
was sure matters would not remain tranquil at Lisbon.  On my saying,
however, that I thought the affairs of Don Carlos were on the decline
(this was shortly after the death of Zumalacarregui), he frowned, and
cried that it could not possibly be, for that God was too just to suffer
it.  I felt for the poor man who had been driven out of his home in the
noble convent close by, and from a state of affluence and comfort reduced
in his old age to indigence and misery, for his present dwelling scarcely
seemed to contain an article of furniture.  I tried twice or thrice to
induce him to converse about the school, but he either avoided the
subject or said shortly that he knew nothing about it.  On my leaving
him, the boy came from his hiding-place and rejoined me; he said that he
had hidden himself through fear of his master’s knowing that he had
brought me to him, for that he was unwilling that any stranger should
know that he was a schoolmaster.

I asked the boy whether he or his parents were acquainted with the
Scripture and ever read it; he did not, however, seem to understand me.
I must here observe that the boy was fifteen years of age, that he was in
many respects very intelligent, and had some knowledge of the Latin
language; nevertheless he knew not the Scripture even by name, and I have
no doubt, from what I subsequently observed, that at least two-thirds of
his countrymen are on that important point no wiser than himself.  At the
doors of village inns, at the hearths of the rustics, in the fields where
they labour, at the stone fountains by the wayside where they water their
cattle, I have questioned the lower class of the children of Portugal
about the Scripture, the Bible, the Old and New Testament, and in no one
instance have they known what I was alluding to, or could return me a
rational answer, though on all other matters their replies were sensible
enough; indeed, nothing surprised me more than the free and unembarrassed
manner in which the Portuguese peasantry sustain a conversation, and the
purity of the language in which they express their thoughts, and yet few
of them can read or write; whereas the peasantry of England, whose
education is in general much superior, are in their conversation coarse
and dull almost to brutality, and absurdly ungrammatical in their
language, though the English tongue is upon the whole more simple in its
structure than the Portuguese.

On my return to Lisbon I found our friend ---, who received me very
kindly.  The next ten days were exceedingly rainy, which prevented me
from making any excursions into the country: during this time I saw our
friend frequently, and had long conversations with him concerning the
best means of distributing the gospel.  He thought we could do no better
for the present than put part of our stock into the hands of the
booksellers of Lisbon, and at the same time employ colporteurs to hawk
the books about the streets, receiving a certain profit off every copy
they sold.  This plan was agreed upon and forthwith put in practice, and
with some success.  I had thought of sending colporteurs into the
neighbouring villages, but to this our friend objected.  He thought the
attempt dangerous, as it was very possible that the rural priesthood, who
still possessed much influence in their own districts, and who were for
the most part decided enemies to the spread of the gospel, might cause
the men employed to be assassinated or ill-treated.

I determined, however, ere leaving Portugal, to establish dépots of
Bibles in one or two of the provincial towns.  I wished to visit the
Alemtejo, which I had heard was a very benighted region.  The Alemtejo
means the province beyond the Tagus.  This province is not beautiful and
picturesque, like most other parts of Portugal: there are few hills and
mountains, the greater part consists of heaths broken by knolls, and
gloomy dingles, and forests of stunted pine; these places are infested
with banditti.  The principal city is Evora, one of the most ancient in
Portugal, and formerly the seat of a branch of the Inquisition, yet more
cruel and baneful than the terrible one of Lisbon.  Evora lies about
sixty miles from Lisbon, and to Evora I determined on going with twenty
Testaments and two Bibles.  How I fared there will presently be seen.



CHAPTER II


Boatmen of the Tagus—Dangers of the Stream—Aldea Gallega—The
Hostelry—Robbers—Sabocha—Adventure of a Muleteer—Estalagem de Ladroes—Don
Geronimo—Vendas Novas—Royal Residence—Swine of the Alemtejo—Monto
Moro—Swayne Vonved—Singular Goatherd—Children of the Fields—Infidels and
Sadducees.

On the afternoon of the sixth of December I set out for Evora,
accompanied by my servant.  I had been informed that the tide would serve
for the regular passage-boats, or felouks, as they are called, at about
four o’clock, but on reaching the side of the Tagus opposite to Aldea
Gallega, between which place and Lisbon the boats ply, I found that the
tide would not permit them to start before eight o’clock.  Had I waited
for them I should have probably landed at Aldea Gallega about midnight,
and I felt little inclination to make my entrée in the Alemtejo at that
hour; therefore, as I saw small boats which can push off at any time
lying near in abundance, I determined upon hiring one of them for the
passage, though the expense would be thus considerably increased.  I soon
agreed with a wild-looking lad, who told me that he was in part owner of
one of the boats, to take me over.  I was not aware of the danger in
crossing the Tagus at its broadest part, which is opposite Aldea Gallega,
at any time, but especially at close of day in the winter season, or I
should certainly not have ventured.  The lad and his comrade, a miserable
looking object, whose only clothing, notwithstanding the season, was a
tattered jerkin and trousers, rowed until we had advanced about half a
mile from the land; they then set up a large sail, and the lad, who
seemed to direct everything and to be the principal, took the helm and
steered.  The evening was now setting in; the sun was not far from its
bourne in the horizon, the air was very cold, the wind was rising, and
the waves of the noble Tagus began to be crested with foam.  I told the
boy that it was scarcely possible for the boat to carry so much sail
without upsetting, upon which he laughed, and began to gabble in a most
incoherent manner.  He had the most harsh and rapid articulation that has
ever come under my observation in any human being; it was the scream of
the hyena blended with the bark of the terrier, though it was by no means
an index of his disposition, which I soon found to be light, merry, and
anything but malevolent, for when I, in order to show him that I cared
little about him, began to hum “_Eu que sou Contrabandista_,” he laughed
heartily and said, clapping me on the shoulder, that he would not drown
us if he could help it.  The other poor fellow seemed by no means averse
to go to the bottom; he sat at the fore part of the boat looking the
image of famine, and only smiled when the waters broke over the weather
side and soaked his scanty habiliments.  In a little time I had made up
my mind that our last hour was come; the wind was getting higher, the
short dangerous waves were more foamy, the boat was frequently on its
beam, and the water came over the lee side in torrents; but still the
wild lad at the helm held on laughing and chattering, and occasionally
yelling out part of the Miguelite air, “_Quando el Rey chegou_” the
singing of which in Lisbon is imprisonment.

The stream was against us, but the wind was in our favour, and we sprang
along at a wonderful rate, and I saw that our only chance of escape was
in speedily passing the farther bank of the Tagus where the bight or bay
at the extremity of which stands Aldea Gallega commences, for we should
not then have to battle with the waves of the stream, which the adverse
wind lashed into fury.  It was the will of the Almighty to permit us
speedily to gain this shelter, but not before the boat was nearly filled
with water, and we were all wet to the skin.  At about seven o’clock in
the evening we reached Aldea Gallega, shivering with cold and in a most
deplorable plight.

Aldea Gallega, or the Galician Village (for the two words are Spanish,
and have that signification), is a place containing, I should think,
about four thousand inhabitants.  It was pitchy dark when we landed, but
rockets soon began to fly about in all directions, illuming the air far
and wide.  As we passed along the dirty unpaved street which leads to the
Largo, or square in which the inn is situated, a horrible uproar of drums
and voices assailed our ears.  On inquiring the cause of all this bustle,
I was informed that it was the eve of the Conception of the Virgin.

As it was not the custom of the people at the inn to furnish provisions
for the guests, I wandered about in search of food; and at last seeing
some soldiers eating and drinking in a species of wine-house, I went in
and asked the people to let me have some supper, and in a short time they
furnished me with a tolerable meal, for which, however, they charged
three crowns.

Having engaged with a person for mules to carry us to Evora, which were
to be ready at five next morning, I soon retired to bed, my servant
sleeping in the same apartment, which was the only one in the house
vacant.  I closed not my eyes during the whole night.  Beneath us was a
stable, in which some almocreves, or carriers, slept with their mules; at
our back, in the yard, was a pigsty.  How could I sleep?  The hogs
grunted, the mules screamed, and the almocreves snored most horribly.  I
heard the village clock strike the hours until midnight, and from
midnight till four in the morning, when I sprang up and began to dress,
and despatched my servant to hasten the man with the mules, for I was
heartily tired of the place and wanted to leave it.  An old man, bony and
hale, accompanied by a barefooted lad, brought the beasts, which were
tolerably good.  He was the proprietor of them, and intended, with the
lad, who was his nephew, to accompany us to Evora.

When we started, the moon was shining brightly, and the morning was
piercingly cold.  We soon entered on a sandy hollow way, emerging from
which we passed by a strange-looking and large edifice, standing on a
high bleak sand-hill on our left.  We were speedily overtaken by five or
six men on horseback, riding at a rapid pace, each with a long gun slung
at his saddle, the muzzle depending about two feet below the horse’s
belly.  I inquired of the old man what was the reason of this warlike
array.  He answered, that the roads were very bad (meaning that they
abounded with robbers), and that they went armed in this manner for their
defence; they soon turned off to the right towards Palmella.

We reached a sandy plain studded with stunted pine; the road was little
more than a footpath, and as we proceeded, the trees thickened and became
a wood, which extended for two leagues, with clear spaces at intervals,
in which herds of cattle and sheep were feeding; the bells attached to
their necks were ringing lowly and monotonously.  The sun was just
beginning to show itself; but the morning was misty and dreary, which,
together with the aspect of desolation which the country exhibited, had
an unfavourable effect on my spirits.  I got down and walked, entering
into conversation with the old man.  He seemed to have but one theme,
“the robbers,” and the atrocities they were in the habit of practising in
the very spots we were passing.  The tales he told were truly horrible,
and to avoid them I mounted again, and rode on considerably in front.

In about an hour and a half we emerged from the forest, and entered upon
a savage, wild, broken ground, covered with mato, or brushwood.  The
mules stopped to drink at a shallow pool, and on looking to the right I
saw a ruined wall.  This, the guide informed me, was the remains of
Vendas Velhas, or the Old Inn, formerly the haunt of the celebrated
robber Sabocha.  This Sabocha, it seems, had, some sixteen years ago, a
band of about forty ruffians at his command, who infested these wilds,
and supported themselves by plunder.  For a considerable time Sabocha
pursued his atrocious trade unsuspected, and many an unfortunate
traveller was murdered in the dead of night at the solitary inn by the
wood-side, which he kept; indeed, a more fit situation for plunder and
murder I never saw.  The gang were in the habit of watering their horses
at the pool, and perhaps of washing therein their hands stained with the
blood of their victims; the lieutenant of the troop was the brother of
Sabocha, a fellow of great strength and ferocity, particularly famous for
the skill he possessed in darting a long knife, with which he was in the
habit of transfixing his opponents.  Sabocha’s connection with the gang
at length became known, and he fled, with the greater part of his
associates, across the Tagus to the northern provinces.  Himself and his
brothers eventually lost their lives on the road to Coimbra, in an
engagement with the military.  His house was razed by order of the
government.

The ruins are still frequently visited by banditti, who eat and drink
amidst them, and look out for prey, as the place commands a view of the
road.  The old man assured me, that about two months previous, on
returning to Aldea Gallega with his mules from accompanying some
travellers, he had been knocked down, stripped naked, and all his money
taken from him, by a fellow whom he believed came from this murderers’
nest.  He said that he was an exceedingly powerful young man, with
immense moustaches and whiskers, and was armed with an espingarda, or
musket.  About ten days subsequently he saw the robber at Vendas Novas,
where we should pass the night.  The fellow on recognising him took him
aside, and, with horrid imprecations, threatened that he should never be
permitted to return home if he attempted to discover him; he therefore
held his peace, as there was little to be gained and everything to be
risked in apprehending him, as he would have been speedily set at liberty
for want of evidence to criminate him, and then he would not have failed
to have had his revenge, or would have been anticipated therein by his
comrades.

I dismounted and went up to the place, and saw the vestiges of a fire and
a broken bottle.  The sons of plunder had been there very lately.  I left
a New Testament and some tracts amongst the ruins, and hastened away.

The sun had dispelled the mists and was beaming very hot; we rode on for
about an hour, when I heard the neighing of a horse in our rear, and our
guide said there was a party of horsemen behind; our mules were good, and
they did not overtake us for at least twenty minutes.  The headmost rider
was a gentleman in a fashionable travelling dress; a little way behind
were an officer, two soldiers, and a boy in livery.  I heard the
principal horseman, on overtaking my servant, inquiring who I was, and
whether French or English.  He was told I was an English gentleman,
travelling.  He then asked whether I understood Portuguese; the man said
I understood it, but he believed that I spoke French and Italian better.
The gentleman then spurred on his horse and accosted me, not in
Portuguese, nor in French or Italian, but in the purest English that I
ever heard spoken by a foreigner; it had, indeed, nothing of foreign
accent or pronunciation in it; and had I not known, by the countenance of
the speaker, that he was no Englishman, (for there is a peculiarity in
the countenance, as everybody knows, which, though it cannot be
described, is sure to betray the Englishman), I should have concluded
that I was in company with a countryman.  We continued discoursing until
we arrived at Pegoens.

Pegoens consists of about two or three houses and an inn; there is
likewise a species of barrack, where half a dozen soldiers are stationed.
In the whole of Portugal there is no place of worse reputation, and the
inn is nick-named _Estalagem de Ladroes_, or the hostelry of thieves; for
it is there that the banditti of the wilderness, which extends around it
on every side for leagues, are in the habit of coming and spending the
money, the fruits of their criminal daring; there they dance and sing,
eat fricasseed rabbits and olives, and drink the muddy but strong wine of
the Alemtejo.  An enormous fire, fed by the trunk of a cork tree, was
blazing in a niche on the left hand on entering the spacious kitchen.
Close by it, seething, were several large jars, which emitted no
disagreeable odour, and reminded me that I had not broken my fast,
although it was now nearly one o’clock, and I had ridden five leagues.
Several wild-looking men, who if they were not banditti might easily be
mistaken for such, were seated on logs about the fire.  I asked them some
unimportant questions, to which they replied with readiness and civility,
and one of them, who said he could read, accepted a tract which I offered
him.

My new friend, who had been bespeaking dinner, or rather breakfast, now,
with great civility, invited me to partake of it, and at the same time
introduced me to the officer who accompanied him, and who was his
brother, and also spoke English, though not so well as himself.  I found
I had become acquainted with Don Geronimo Joze D’Azveto, secretary to the
government at Evora; his brother belonged to a regiment of hussars, whose
headquarters were at Evora, but which had outlying parties along the
road,—for example, the place where we were stopping.

Rabbits at Pegoens seem to be a standard article of food, being produced
in abundance on the moors around.  We had one fried, the gravy of which
was delicious, and afterwards a roasted one, which was brought up on a
dish entire; the hostess, having first washed her hands, proceeded to
tear the animal to pieces, which having accomplished, she poured over the
fragments a sweet sauce.  I ate heartily of both dishes, particularly of
the last; owing, perhaps, to the novel and curious manner in which it was
served up.  Excellent figs, from the Algarves, and apples concluded our
repast, which we ate in a little side room with a mud floor, which sent
such a piercing chill into my system, as prevented me from deriving that
pleasure from my fare and my agreeable companions that I should have
otherwise experienced.

Don Geronimo had been educated in England, in which country he passed his
boyhood, which in a certain degree accounted for his proficiency in the
English language, the idiom and pronunciation of which can only be
acquired by residing in the country at that period of one’s life.  He had
also fled thither shortly after the usurpation of the throne of Portugal
by Don Miguel, and from thence had departed to the Brazils, where he had
devoted himself to the service of Don Pedro, and had followed him in the
expedition which terminated in the downfall of the usurper and the
establishment of the constitutional government in Portugal.  Our
conversation rolled chiefly on literary and political subjects, and my
acquaintance with the writings of the most celebrated authors of Portugal
was hailed with surprise and delight; for nothing is more gratifying to a
Portuguese than to observe a foreigner taking an interest in the
literature of his nation, of which, in many respects, he is justly proud.

At about two o’clock we were once more in the saddle, and pursued our way
in company through a country exactly resembling that which we had
previously been traversing, rugged and broken, with here and there a
clump of pines.  The afternoon was exceedingly fine, and the bright rays
of the sun relieved the desolation of the scene.  Having advanced about
two leagues, we caught sight of a large edifice towering majestically in
the distance, which I learnt was a royal palace standing at the farther
extremity of Vendas Novas, the village in which we were to pass the
night; it was considerably more than a league from us, yet, seen through
the clear transparent atmosphere of Portugal it appeared much nearer.

Before reaching it we passed by a stone cross, on the pedestal of which
was an inscription commemorating a horrible murder of a native of Lisbon,
which had occurred on that spot; it looked ancient, and was covered with
moss, and the greater part of the inscription was illegible, at least it
was to me, who could not bestow much time on its deciphering.  Having
arrived at Vendas Novas, and bespoken supper, my new friend and myself
strolled forth to view the palace; it was built by the late king of
Portugal, and presents little that is remarkable in its exterior; it is a
long edifice with wings, and is only two stories high, though it can be
seen afar off, from being situated on elevated ground; it has fifteen
windows in the upper, and twelve in the lower story, with a
paltry-looking door, something like that of a barn, to which you ascend
by one single step; the interior corresponds with the exterior, offering
nothing which can gratify curiosity, if we except the kitchens, which are
indeed magnificent, and so large that food enough might be cooked in
them, at one time, to serve as a repast for all the inhabitants of the
Alemtejo.

I passed the night with great comfort in a clean bed, remote from all
those noises so rife in a Portuguese inn, and the next morning at six we
again set out on our journey, which we hoped to terminate before sunset,
as Evora is but ten leagues from Vendas Novas.  The preceding morning had
been cold, but the present one was far colder, so much so, that just
before sunrise I could no longer support it on horseback, and therefore
dismounting, ran and walked until we reached a few houses at the
termination of these desolate moors.  It was in one of these houses that
the commissioners of Don Pedro and Miguel met, and it was there agreed
that the latter should resign the crown in favour of Donna Maria, for
Evora was the last stronghold of the usurper, and the moors of the
Alemtejo the last area of the combats which so long agitated unhappy
Portugal.  I therefore gazed on the miserable huts with considerable
interest, and did not fail to scatter in the neighbourhood several of the
precious little tracts with which, together with a small quantity of
Testaments, my carpet bag was provided.

The country began to improve; the savage heaths were left behind, and we
saw hills and dales, cork trees, and azinheiras, on the last of which
trees grows that kind of sweet acorn called bolotas, which is pleasant as
a chestnut, and which supplies in winter the principal food on which the
numerous swine of the Alemtejo subsist.  Gallant swine they are, with
short legs and portly bodies of a black or dark red colour; and for the
excellence of their flesh I can vouch, having frequently luxuriated upon
it in the course of my wanderings in this province; the lombo, or loin,
when broiled on the live embers, is delicious, especially when eaten with
olives.

We were now in sight of Monte Moro, which, as the name denotes, was once
a fortress of the Moors; it is a high steep hill, on the summit and sides
of which are ruined walls and towers; at its western side is a deep
ravine or valley, through which a small stream rushes, traversed by a
stone bridge; farther down there is a ford, over which we passed and
ascended to the town, which, commencing near the northern base, passes
over the lower ridge towards the north-east.  The town is exceedingly
picturesque, and many of the houses are very ancient, and built in the
Moorish fashion.  I wished much to examine the relics of Moorish sway on
the upper part of the mountain, but time pressed, and the short period of
our stay at this place did not permit me to gratify my inclination.

Monte Moro is the head of a range of hills which cross this part of the
Alemtejo, and from hence they fork east and south-east, towards the
former of which directions lies the direct road to Elvas, Badajos, and
Madrid; and towards the latter that to Evora.  A beautiful mountain,
covered to the top with cork trees, is the third of the chain which
skirts the way in the direction of Elvas.  It is called Monte Almo; a
brook brawls at its base, and as I passed it the sun was shining
gloriously on the green herbage on which flocks of goats were feeding,
with their bells ringing merrily, so that the _tout ensemble_ resembled a
fairy scene; and that nothing might be wanted to complete the picture, I
here met a man, a goatherd, beneath an azinheira, whose appearance
recalled to my mind the Brute Carle, mentioned in the Danish ballad of
Swayne Vonved:—

    “A wild swine on his shoulders he kept,
    And upon his bosom a black bear slept;
    And about his fingers with hair o’erhung,
    The squirrel sported and weasel clung.”

Upon the shoulder of the goatherd was a beast, which he told me was a
lontra, or otter, which he had lately caught in the neighbouring brook;
it had a string round its neck which was attached to his arm.  At his
left side was a bag, from the top of which peered the heads of two or
three singular-looking animals, and at his right was squatted the sullen
cub of a wolf, which he was endeavouring to tame; his whole appearance
was to the last degree savage and wild.  After a little conversation such
as those who meet on the road frequently hold, I asked him if he could
read, but he made me no answer.  I then inquired if he knew anything of
God or Jesus Christ; he looked me fixedly in the face for a moment, and
then turned his countenance towards the sun, which was beginning to sink
in the west, nodded to it, and then again looked fixedly upon me.  I
believe that I understood the mute reply; which probably was, that it was
God who made that glorious light which illumes and gladdens all creation;
and gratified with that belief, I left him and hastened after my
companions, who were by this time a considerable way in advance.

I have always found in the disposition of the children of the fields a
more determined tendency to religion and piety than amongst the
inhabitants of towns and cities, and the reason is obvious, they are less
acquainted with the works of man’s hands than with those of God; their
occupations, too, which are simple, and requiring less of ingenuity and
skill than those which engage the attention of the other portion of their
fellow-creatures, are less favourable to the engendering of self-conceit
and sufficiency so utterly at variance with that lowliness of spirit
which constitutes the best foundation of piety.  The sneerers and
scoffers at religion do not spring from amongst the simple children of
nature, but are the excrescences of overwrought refinement, and though
their baneful influence has indeed penetrated to the country and
corrupted man there, the source and fountainhead was amongst crowded
houses, where nature is scarcely known.  I am not one of those who look
for perfection amongst the rural population of any country; perfection is
not to be found amongst the children of the fall, wherever their abodes
may happen to be; but, until the heart discredits the existence of a God,
there is still hope for the soul of the possessor, however stained with
crime he may be, for even Simon the magician was converted; but when the
heart is once steeled with infidelity, infidelity confirmed by carnal
wisdom, an exuberance of the grace of God is required to melt it, which
is seldom manifested; for we read in the blessed book that the Pharisee
and the wizard became receptacles of grace, but where is there mention
made of the conversion of the sneering Sadducee, and is the modern
infidel aught but a Sadducee of later date?

It was dark night before we reached Evora, and having taken leave of my
friends, who kindly requested me to consider their house my home, I and
my servant went to the Largo de San Francisco, in which the muleteer
informed me was the best hostelry of the town.  We rode into the kitchen,
at the extreme end of which was the stable, as is customary in Portugal.
The house was kept by an aged gypsy-like female and her daughter, a fine
blooming girl about eighteen years of age.  The house was large; in the
upper storey was a very long room, like a granary, which extended nearly
the whole length of the house; the farther part was partitioned off and
formed a chamber tolerably comfortable but very cold, and the floor was
of tiles, as was also that of the large room in which the muleteers were
accustomed to sleep on the furniture of the mules.  After supper I went
to bed, and having offered up my devotions to Him who had protected me
through a dangerous journey, I slept soundly till the morning.



CHAPTER III


Shopkeeper at Evora—Spanish Contrabandistas—Lion and Unicorn—The
Fountain—Trust in the Almighty—Distribution of Tracts—Library at
Evora—Manuscript—The Bible as a Guide—The Infamous Mary—The Man of
Palmella—The Charm—The Monkish System—Sunday—Volney—An Auto-Da-Fé—Men
from Spain—Reading of a Tract—New Arrival—The Herb Rosemary.

Evora is a small city, walled, but not regularly fortified, and could not
sustain a siege of a day.  It has five gates; before that to the
south-west is the principal promenade of its inhabitants: the fair on St.
John’s day is likewise held there; the houses are in general very
ancient, and many of them unoccupied.  It contains about five thousand
inhabitants, though twice that number would be by no means
disproportionate to its size.  The two principal edifices are the See, or
cathedral, and the convent of San Francisco, in the square before the
latter of which was situated the posada where I had taken up my abode.  A
large barrack for cavalry stands on the right-hand side, on entering the
south-west gate.  To the south-east, at the distance of six leagues, is
to be seen a blue chain of hills, the highest of which is called Serra
Dorso; it is picturesquely beautiful, and contains within its recesses
wolves and wild boars in numbers.  About a league and a half on the other
side of this hill is Estremos.

I passed the day succeeding my arrival principally in examining the town
and its environs, and, as I strolled about, entering into conversation
with various people that I met; several of these were of the middle
class, shopkeepers and professional men; they were all
Constitutionalists, or pretended to be so, but had very little to say
except a few commonplace remarks on the way of living of the friars,
their hypocrisy and laziness.  I endeavoured to obtain some information
respecting the state of instruction in the place, and from their answers
was led to believe that it must be at the lowest ebb, for it seemed that
there was neither book-shop nor school.  When I spoke of religion, they
exhibited the utmost apathy for the subject, and making their bows left
me as soon as possible.

Having a letter of introduction to a person who kept a shop in the
market-place, I went thither and delivered it to him as he stood behind
his counter.  In the course of conversation, I found that he had been
much persecuted whilst the old system was in its vigour, and that he
entertained a hearty aversion for it.  I told him that the ignorance of
the people in religious matters had served to nurse that system, and that
the surest way to prevent its return was to enlighten their minds: I
added that I had brought a small stock of Bibles and Testaments to Evora,
which I wished to leave for sale in the hands of some respectable
merchant, and that if he were anxious to help to lay the axe to the root
of superstition and tyranny, he could not do so more effectually than by
undertaking the charge of these books.  He declared his willingness to do
so, and I went away determined to entrust to him half of my stock.  I
returned to the hostelry, and sat down on a log of wood on the hearth
within the immense chimney in the common apartment; two surly looking men
were on their knees on the stones; before them was a large heap of pieces
of old iron, brass, and copper; they were assorting it, and stowing it
away in various bags.  They were Spanish contrabandistas of the lowest
class, and earned a miserable livelihood by smuggling such rubbish from
Portugal into Spain.  Not a word proceeded from their lips, and when I
addressed them in their native language, they returned no other answer
than a kind of growl.  They looked as dirty and rusty as the iron in
which they trafficked; their four miserable donkeys were in the stable in
the rear.

The woman of the house and her daughter were exceedingly civil to me, and
coming near crouched down, asking various questions about England.  A man
dressed somewhat like an English sailor, who sat on the other side of the
hearth confronting me, said, “I hate the English, for they are not
baptized, and have not the law,” meaning the law of God.  I laughed, and
told him that according to the law of England, no one who was unbaptized
could be buried in consecrated ground; whereupon he said, “Then you are
stricter than we.”  He then said, “What is meant by the lion and the
unicorn which I saw the other day on the coat of arms over the door of
the English consul at St. Ubes?”  I said they were the arms of England!
“Yes,” he replied, “but what do they represent?”  I said I did not know.
“Then,” said he, “you do not know the secrets of your own house.”  I
said, “Suppose I were to tell you that they represent the Lion of
Bethlehem, and the horned monster of the flaming pit in combat, as to
which should obtain the mastery in England, what would you say?”  He
replied, “I should say that you gave a fair answer.”  This man and myself
became great friends; he came from Palmella, not far from St. Ubes; he
had several mules and horses with him, and dealt in corn and barley.  I
again walked out and roamed in the environs of the town.

About half a mile from the southern wall is a stone fountain, where the
muleteers and other people who visit the town are accustomed to water
their horses.  I sat down by it, and there I remained about two hours,
entering into conversation with every one who halted at the fountain; and
I will here observe, that during the time of my sojourn at Evora, I
repeated my visit every day, and remained there the same time; and by
following this plan, I believe that I spoke to at least two hundred of
the children of Portugal upon matters relating to their eternal welfare.
I found that very few of those whom I addressed had received any species
of literary education, none of them had seen the Bible, and not more than
half a dozen had the slightest inkling of what the holy book consisted.
I found that most of them were bigoted Papists and Miguelites at heart.
I therefore, when they told me they were Christians, denied the
possibility of their being so, as they were ignorant of Christ and His
commandments, and placed their hope of salvation on outward forms and
superstitious observances, which were the invention of Satan, who wished
to keep them in darkness that at last they might stumble into the pit
which he had dug for them.  I said repeatedly that the Pope, whom they
revered, was an arch deceiver, and the head minister of Satan here on
earth, and that the monks and friars, whose absence they so deplored, and
to whom they had been accustomed to confess themselves, were his
subordinate agents.  When called upon for proofs, I invariably cited the
ignorance of my auditors respecting the Scriptures, and said that if
their spiritual guides had been really ministers of Christ, they would
not have permitted their flocks to remain unacquainted with His Word.

Since this occurred, I have been frequently surprised that I experienced
no insult and ill-treatment from the people, whose superstitions I was
thus attacking; but I really experienced none, and am inclined to believe
that the utter fearlessness which I displayed, trusting in the Protection
of the Almighty, may have been the cause.  When threatened by danger, the
best policy is to fix your eye steadily upon it, and it will in general
vanish like the morning mist before the sun; whereas, if you quail before
it, it is sure to become more imminent.  I have fervent hope that the
words of my mouth sank deep into the hearts of some of my auditors, as I
observed many of them depart musing and pensive.  I occasionally
distributed tracts amongst them; for although they themselves were unable
to turn them to much account, I thought that by their means they might
become of service at some future time, and fall into the hands of others,
to whom they might be of eternal interest.  Many a book which is
abandoned to the waters is wafted to some remote shore, and there proves
a blessing and a comfort to millions, who are ignorant from whence it
came.

The next day, which was Friday, I called at the house of my friend Don
Geronimo Azveto.  I did not find him there, but was directed to the see,
or episcopal palace, in an apartment of which I found him, writing, with
another gentleman, to whom he introduced me; it was the governor of
Evora, who welcomed me with every mark of kindness and affability.  After
some discourse, we went out together to examine an ancient edifice, which
was reported to have served, in bygone times, as a temple to Diana.  Part
of it was evidently of Roman architecture, for there was no mistaking the
beautiful light pillars which supported a dome, under which the
sacrifices to the most captivating and poetical divinity of the heathen
theocracy had probably been made; but the original space between the
pillars had been filled up with rubbish of a modern date, and the rest of
the building was apparently of the architecture of the latter end of the
Middle Ages.  It was situated at one end of the building which had once
been the seat of the Inquisition, and had served, before the erection of
the present see, as the residence of the bishop.

Within the see, where the governor now resides, is a superb library,
occupying an immense vaulted room, like the aisle of a cathedral, and in
a side apartment is a collection of paintings by Portuguese artists,
chiefly portraits, amongst which is that of Don Sebastian.  I sincerely
hope it did not do him justice, for it represents him in the shape of an
awkward lad of about eighteen, with a bloated booby face with staring
eyes, and a ruff round a short apoplectic neck.

I was shown several beautifully illuminated missals and other
manuscripts; but the one which most arrested my attention, I scarcely
need say why, was that which bore the following title:—

    “Forma sive ordinatio Capelli illustrissimi et xianissimi principis
    Henvici Sexti Regis Anglie et Francie am dm Hibernie descripta
    serenissio principi Alfonso Regi Portugalie illustri per humilem
    servitorem sm Willm. Sav. Decanu capelle supradicte.”

It seemed a voice from the olden times of my dear native land!  This
library and picture gallery had been formed by one of the latter bishops,
a person of much learning and piety.

In the evening I dined with Don Geronimo and his brother; the latter soon
left us to attend to his military duties.  My friend and myself had now
much conversation of considerable interest; he lamented the deplorable
state of ignorance in which his countrymen existed at present.  He said
that his friend the governor and himself were endeavouring to establish a
school in the vicinity, and that they had made application to the
government for the use of an empty convent, called the Espinheiro, or
thorn tree, at about a league’s distance, and that they had little doubt
of their request being complied with.  I had before told him who I was,
and after expressing joy at the plan which he had in contemplation, I now
urged him in the most pressing manner to use all his influence to make
the knowledge of the Scripture the basis of the education which the
children were to receive, and added, that half the Bibles and Testaments
which I had brought with me to Evora were heartily at his service; he
instantly gave me his hand, said he accepted my offer with the greatest
pleasure, and would do all in his power to forward my views, which were
in many respects his own.  I now told him that I did not come to Portugal
with the view of propagating the dogmas of any particular sect, but with
the hope of introducing the Bible, which is the well-head of all that is
useful and conducive to the happiness of society,—that I cared not what
people called themselves, provided they followed the Bible as a guide;
for that where the Scriptures were read, neither priestcraft nor tyranny
could long exist, and instanced the case of my own country, the cause of
whose freedom and prosperity was the Bible, and that only, as the last
persecutor of this book, the bloody and infamous Mary, was the last
tyrant who had sat on the throne of England.  We did not part till the
night was considerably advanced, and the next morning I sent him the
books, in the firm and confident hope that a bright and glorious morning
was about to rise over the night which had so long cast its dreary
shadows over the regions of the Alemtejo.

The day after this interesting event, which was Saturday, I had more
conversation with the man from Palmella.  I asked him if in his journeys
he had never been attacked by robbers; he answered no, for that he
generally travelled in company with others.  “However,” said he, “were I
alone I should have little fear, for I am well protected.”  I said that I
supposed he carried arms with him.  “No other arms than this,” said he,
pulling out one of those long desperate looking knives, of English
manufacture, with which every Portuguese peasant is usually furnished.
This knife serves for many purposes, and I should consider it a far more
efficient weapon than a dagger.  “But,” said he, “I do not place much
confidence in the knife.”  I then inquired in what rested his hope of
protection.  “In this,” said he: and unbuttoning his waistcoat, he showed
me a small bag, attached to his neck by a silken string.  “In this bag is
an oracam, or prayer, written by a person of power, and as long as I
carry it about with me, no ill can befall me.”  Curiosity is the leading
feature of my character, and I instantly said, with eagerness, that I
should feel great pleasure in being permitted to read the prayer.
“Well,” he replied, “you are my friend, and I would do for you what I
would for few others, I will show it you.”  He then asked for my
penknife, and having unripped the bag, took out a large piece of paper
closely folded up.  I hurried to my apartment and commenced the
examination of it.  It was scrawled over in a very illegible hand, and
was moreover much stained with perspiration, so that I had considerable
difficulty in making myself master of its contents, but I at last
accomplished the following literal translation of the charm, which was
written in bad Portuguese, but which struck me at the time as being one
of the most remarkable compositions that had ever come to my knowledge.



THE CHARM


    “Just Judge and divine Son of the Virgin Maria, who wast born in
    Bethlehem, a Nazarene, and wast crucified in the midst of all Jewry,
    I beseech thee, O Lord, by thy sixth day, that the body of me be not
    caught, nor put to death by the hands of justice at all; peace be
    with you, the peace of Christ, may I receive peace, may you receive
    peace, said God to his disciples.  If the accursed justice should
    distrust me, or have its eyes on me, in order to take me or to rob
    me, may its eyes not see me, may its mouth not speak to me, may it
    have ears which may not hear me, may it have hands which may not
    seize me, may it have feet which may not overtake me; for may I be
    armed with the arms of St. George, covered with the cloak of Abraham,
    and shipped in the ark of Noah, so that it can neither see me, nor
    hear me, nor draw the blood from my body.  I also adjure thee, O
    Lord, by those three blessed crosses, by those three blessed
    chalices, by those three blessed clergymen, by those three
    consecrated hosts, that thou give me that sweet company which thou
    gavest to the Virgin Maria, from the gates of Bethlehem to the
    portals of Jerusalem, that I may go and come with pleasure and joy
    with Jesus Christ, the Son of the Virgin Maria, the prolific yet
    nevertheless the eternal virgin.”

The woman of the house and her daughter had similar bags attached to
their necks, containing charms, which, they said, prevented the witches
having power to harm them.  The belief in witchcraft is very prevalent
amongst the peasantry of the Alemtejo, and I believe of other provinces
of Portugal.  This is one of the relics of the monkish system, the aim of
which, in all countries where it has existed, seems to have been to besot
the minds of the people, that they might be more easily misled.  All
these charms were fabrications of the monks, who had sold them to their
infatuated confessants.  The monks of the Greek and Syrian churches
likewise deal in this ware, which they know to be poison, but which they
would rather vend than the wholesome balm of the gospel, because it
brings them a large price, and fosters the delusion which enables them to
live a life of luxury.

The Sunday morning was fine, and the plain before the church of the
convent of San Francisco was crowded with people hastening to or
returning from the mass.  After having performed my morning devotion, and
breakfasted, I went down to the kitchen; the girl Geronima was seated by
the fire.  I inquired if she had heard mass?  She replied in the
negative, and that she did not intend to hear it.  Upon my inquiring her
motive for absenting herself, she replied, that since the friars had been
expelled from their churches and convents she had ceased to attend mass,
or to confess herself; for that the government priests had no spiritual
power, and consequently she never troubled them.  She said the friars
were holy men and charitable; for that every morning those of the convent
over the way fed forty poor persons with the relics of the meals of the
preceding day, but that now these people were allowed to starve.  I
replied, that the friars, who lived on the fat of the land, could well
afford to bestow a few bones upon their poor, and that their doing so was
merely a part of their policy, by which they hoped to secure to
themselves friends in time of need.  The girl then observed, that as it
was Sunday, I should perhaps like to see some books, and without waiting
for a reply she produced them.  They consisted principally of popular
stories, with lives and miracles of saints, but amongst them was a
translation of Volney’s _Ruins of Empires_.  I expressed a wish to know
how she became possessed of this book.  She said that a young man, a
great Constitutionalist, had given it to her some months previous, and
had pressed her much to read it, for that it was one of the best books in
the world.  I replied, that the author of it was an emissary of Satan,
and an enemy of Jesus Christ and the souls of mankind; that it was
written with the sole aim of bringing all religion into contempt, and
that it inculcated the doctrine that there was no future state, nor
reward for the righteous nor punishment for the wicked.  She made no
reply, but going into another room, returned with her apron full of dry
sticks and brushwood, all which she piled upon the fire, and produced a
bright blaze.  She then took the book from my hand and placed it upon the
flaming pile; then sitting down, took her rosary out of her pocket and
told her beads till the volume was consumed.  This was an _auto da fé_ in
the best sense of the word.

On the Monday and Tuesday I paid my usual visits to the fountain, and
likewise rode about the neighbourhood on a mule, for the purpose of
circulating tracts.  I dropped a great many in the favourite walks of the
people of Evora, as I felt rather dubious of their accepting them had I
proffered them with my own hand, whereas, should they be observed lying
on the ground, I thought that curiosity might cause them to be picked up
and examined.  I likewise, on the Tuesday evening, paid a farewell visit
to my friend Azveto, as it was my intention to leave Evora on the
Thursday following and return to Lisbon; in which view I had engaged a
calash of a man who informed me that he had served as a soldier in the
grande armée of Napoleon, and been present in the Russian campaign.  He
looked the very image of a drunkard.  His face was covered with
carbuncles, and his breath impregnated with the fumes of strong waters.
He wished much to converse with me in French, in the speaking of which
language it seemed he prided himself, but I refused, and told him to
speak the language of the country, or I would hold no discourse with him.

Wednesday was stormy, with occasional rain.  On coming down, I found that
my friend from Palmella had departed: but several contrabandistas had
arrived from Spain.  They were mostly fine fellows, and unlike the two I
had seen the preceding week, who were of much lower degree, were chatty
and communicative; they spoke their native language, and no other, and
seemed to hold the Portuguese in great contempt.  The magnificent tones
of the Spanish sounded to great advantage amidst the shrill squeaking
dialect of Portugal.  I was soon in deep conversation with them, and was
much pleased to find that all of them could read.  I presented the
eldest, a man of about fifty years of age, with a tract in Spanish.  He
examined it for some time with great attention; he then rose from his
seat, and going into the middle of the apartment, began reading it aloud,
slowly and emphatically; his companions gathered around him, and every
now and then expressed their approbation of what they heard.  The reader
occasionally called upon me to explain passages which, as they referred
to particular texts of Scripture, he did not exactly understand, for not
one of the party had ever seen either the Old or New Testament.

He continued reading for upwards of an hour, until he had finished the
tract; and, at its conclusion, the whole party were clamorous for similar
ones, with which I was happy to be able to supply them.

Most of these men spoke of priestcraft and the monkish system with the
utmost abhorrence, and said that they should prefer death to submitting
again to the yoke which had formerly galled their necks.  I questioned
them very particularly respecting the opinion of their neighbours and
acquaintances on this point, and they assured me that in their part of
the Spanish frontier all were of the same mind, and that they cared as
little for the Pope and his monks as they did for Don Carlos; for the
latter was a dwarf (_chicotito_) and a tyrant, and the others were
plunderers and robbers.  I told them they must beware of confounding
religion with priestcraft, and that in their abhorrence of the latter
they must not forget that there is a God and a Christ to whom they must
look for salvation, and whose word it was incumbent upon them to study on
every occasion; whereupon they all expressed a devout belief in Christ
and the Virgin.

These men, though in many respects more enlightened than the surrounding
peasantry, were in others as much in the dark; they believed in
witchcraft and in the efficacy of particular charms.  The night was very
stormy, and at about nine we heard a galloping towards the door, and then
a loud knocking; it was opened, and in rushed a wild-looking man mounted
on a donkey; he wore a ragged jacket of sheepskin, called in Spanish
zamarra, with breeches of the same as far down as his knees; his legs
were bare.  Around his sombrero, or shadowy hat, was tied a large
quantity of the herb which in English is called rosemary, in Spanish
romero, and in the rustic language of Portugal, alecrim; which last is a
word of Scandinavian origin (_ellegren_), signifying the elfin plant, and
was probably carried into the south by the Vandals.  The man seemed
frantic with terror, and said that the witches had been pursuing him and
hovering over his head for the last two leagues.  He came from the
Spanish frontier with meal and other articles; he said that his wife was
following him and would soon arrive, and in about a quarter of an hour
she made her appearance, dripping with rain, and also mounted on a
donkey.

I asked my friends the contrabandistas why he wore the rosemary in his
hat; whereupon they told me that it was good against witches and the
mischances on the road.  I had no time to argue against this
superstition, for, as the chaise was to be ready at five the next
morning, I wished to make the most of the short time which I could devote
to sleep.



CHAPTER IV


Vexatious Delays—Drunken Driver—The Murdered Mule—The
Lamentation—Adventure on the Heath—Fear of Darkness—Portuguese
Fidalgo—The Escort—Return to Lisbon.

I rose at four, and after having taken some refreshment, I descended and
found the strange man and his wife sleeping in the chimney corner by the
fire, which was still burning; they soon awoke and began preparing their
breakfast, which consisted of salt sardinhas, broiled upon the embers.
In the meantime the woman sang snatches of the beautiful hymn, very
common in Spain, which commences thus:—

    “Once of old upon a mountain, shepherds overcome with sleep,
    Near to Bethlem’s holy tower, kept at dead of night their sheep;
    Round about the trunk they nodded of a huge ignited oak,
    Whence the crackling flame ascending bright and clear the darkness
    broke.”

On hearing that I was about to depart, she said, “You shall have some of
my husband’s rosemary, which will keep you from danger, and prevent any
misfortune occurring.”  I was foolish enough to permit her to put some of
it in my hat; and the man having by this time arrived with his mules, I
bade farewell to my friendly hostesses, and entered the chaise with my
servant.

I remarked at the time, that the mules which drew us were the finest I
had ever seen; the largest could be little short of sixteen hands high;
and the fellow told me in his bad French that he loved them better than
his wife and children.  We turned round the corner of the convent and
proceeded down the street which leads to the south-western gate.  The
driver now stopped before the door of a large house, and having alighted,
said that it was yet very early, and that he was afraid to venture forth,
as it was very probable we should be robbed, and himself murdered, as the
robbers who resided in the town would be apprehensive of his discovering
them, but that the family who lived in this house were going to Lisbon,
and would depart in about a quarter of an hour, when we might avail
ourselves of an escort of soldiers which they would take with them, and
in their company we should run no danger.  I told him I had no fear, and
commanded him to drive on; but he said he would not, and left us in the
street.  We waited an hour, when two carriages came to the door of the
house, but it seems the family were not yet ready, whereupon the coachman
likewise got down and went away.  At the expiration of about half an hour
the family came out, and when their luggage had been arranged they called
for the coachman, but he was nowhere to be found.  Search was made for
him, but ineffectually, and an hour more was spent before another driver
could be procured; but the escort had not yet made its appearance, and it
was not before a servant had been twice despatched to the barracks that
it arrived.  At last everything was ready, and they drove off.

All this time I had seen nothing of our own coachman, and I fully
expected that he had abandoned us altogether.  In a few minutes I saw him
staggering up the street in a state of intoxication, attempting to sing
the Marseillois hymn.  I said nothing to him, but sat observing him.  He
stood for some time staring at the mules and talking incoherent nonsense
in French.  At last he said, “I am not so drunk but I can ride,” and
proceeded to lead his mules towards the gate.  When out of the town he
made several ineffectual attempts to mount the smallest mule which bore
the saddle; he at length succeeded, and instantly commenced spurring at a
furious rate down the road.  We arrived at a place where a narrow rocky
path branched off, by taking which we should avoid a considerable circuit
round the city wall, which otherwise it would be necessary to make before
we could reach the road to Lisbon, which lay at the north-east; he now
said, “I shall take this path, for by so doing we shall overtake the
family in a minute”; so into the path we went; it was scarcely wide
enough to admit the carriage, and exceedingly steep and broken; we
proceeded; ascending and descending, the wheels cracked, and the motion
was so violent that we were in danger of being cast out as from a sling.
I saw that if we remained in the carriage it must be broken in pieces, as
our weight must insure its destruction.  I called to him in Portuguese to
stop, but he flogged and spurred the beasts the more.  My man now
entreated me for God’s sake to speak to him in French, for, if anything
would pacify him, that would.  I did so, and entreated him to let us
dismount and walk, till we had cleared this dangerous way.  The result
justified Antonio’s anticipation.  He instantly stopped and said, “Sir,
you are master, you have only to command and I shall obey.”  We
dismounted and walked on till we reached the great road, when we once
more seated ourselves.

The family were about a quarter of a mile in advance, and we were no
sooner reseated, than he lashed the mules into full gallop for the
purpose of overtaking it; his cloak had fallen from his shoulder, and, in
endeavouring to readjust it, he dropped the string from his hand by which
he guided the large mule, it became entangled in the legs of the poor
animal, which fell heavily on its neck, it struggled for a moment, and
then lay stretched across the way, the shafts over its body.  I was
pitched forward into the dirt, and the drunken driver fell upon the
murdered mule.

I was in a great rage, and cried, “You drunken renegade, who are ashamed
to speak the language of your own country, you have broken the staff of
your existence, and may now starve.”  “Paciencia,” said he, and began
kicking the head of the mule, in order to make it rise; but I pushed him
down, and taking his knife, which had fallen from his pocket, cut the
bands by which it was attached to the carriage, but life had fled, and
the film of death had begun to cover its eyes.

The fellow, in the recklessness of intoxication, seemed at first disposed
to make light of his loss, saying, “The mule is dead, it was God’s will
that she should die, what more can be said?  Paciencia.”  Meanwhile, I
despatched Antonio to the town for the purpose of hiring mules, and,
having taken my baggage from the chaise, waited on the roadside until he
should arrive.

The fumes of the liquor began now to depart from the fellow’s brain; he
clasped his hands and exclaimed, “Blessed Virgin, what is to become of
me?  How am I to support myself?  Where am I to get another mule!  For my
mule, my best mule is dead, she fell upon the road, and died of a sudden!
I have been in France, and in other countries, and have seen beasts of
all kinds, but such a mule as that I have never seen; but she is dead—my
mule is dead—she fell upon the road and died of a sudden!”  He continued
in this strain for a considerable time, and the burden of his lamentation
was always, “My mule is dead, she fell upon the road, and died of a
sudden.”  At length he took the collar from the creature’s neck, and put
it upon the other, which with some difficulty he placed in the shafts.

A beautiful boy of about thirteen now came from the direction of the
town, running along the road with the velocity of a hare: he stopped
before the dead mule and burst into tears: it was the man’s son, who had
heard of the accident from Antonio.  This was too much for the poor
fellow: he ran up to the boy, and said, “Don’t cry, our bread is gone,
but it is God’s will; the mule is dead!”  He then flung himself on the
ground, uttering fearful cries.  “I could have borne my loss,” said he,
“but when I saw my child cry, I became a fool.”  I gave him two or three
crowns, and added some words of comfort; assuring him I had no doubt
that, if he abandoned drink, the Almighty God would take compassion on
him and repair his loss.  At length he became more composed, and placing
my baggage in the chaise, we returned to the town, where I found two
excellent riding mules awaiting my arrival at the inn.  I did not see the
Spanish woman, or I should have told her of the little efficacy of
rosemary in this instance.

I have known several drunkards amongst the Portuguese, but, without one
exception, they have been individuals who, having travelled abroad, like
this fellow, have returned with a contempt for their own country, and
polluted with the worst vices of the lands which they have visited.

I would strongly advise any of my countrymen who may chance to read these
lines, that, if their fate lead them into Spain or Portugal, they avoid
hiring as domestics, or being connected with, individuals of the lower
classes who speak any other language than their own, as the probability
is that they are heartless thieves and drunkards.  These gentry are
invariably saying all they can in dispraise of their native land; and it
is my opinion, grounded upon experience, that an individual who is
capable of such baseness would not hesitate at the perpetration of any
villainy, for next to the love of God, the love of country is the best
preventive of crime.  He who is proud of his country, will be
particularly cautious not to do anything which is calculated to disgrace
it.

We now journeyed towards Lisbon, and reached Monte Moro about two
o’clock.  After taking such refreshment as the place afforded, we pursued
our way till we were within a quarter of a league of the huts which stand
on the edge of the savage wilderness we had before crossed.  Here we were
overtaken by a horseman; he was a powerful, middle-sized man, and was
mounted on a noble Spanish horse.  He had a broad, slouching sombrero on
his head, and wore a jerkin of blue cloth, with large bosses of silver
for buttons, and clasps of the same metal; he had breeches of yellow
leather, and immense jackboots: at his saddle was slung a formidable gun.
He inquired if I intended to pass the night at Vendas Novas, and on my
replying in the affirmative, he said that he would avail himself of our
company.  He now looked towards the sun, whose disk was rapidly sinking
beneath the horizon, and entreated us to spur on and make the most of its
light, for that the moor was a horrible place in the dusk.  He placed
himself at our head, and we trotted briskly on, the boy or muleteer who
attended us running behind without exhibiting the slightest symptom of
fatigue.

We entered upon the moor, and had advanced about a mile when dark night
fell around us; we were in a wild path, with high brushwood on either
side, when the rider said that he could not confront the darkness, and
begged me to ride on before, and he would follow after: I could hear him
trembling.  I asked the reason of his terror, and he replied that at one
time darkness was the same thing to him as day, but that of late years he
dreaded it, especially in wild places.  I complied with his request, but
I was ignorant of the way, and as I could scarcely see my hand, was
continually going wrong.  This made the man impatient, and he again
placed himself at our head.  We proceeded so for a considerable way, when
he again stopped, and said that the power of the darkness was too much
for him.  His horse seemed to be infected with the same panic, for it
shook in every limb.  I now told him to call on the name of the Lord
Jesus, who was able to turn the darkness into light, but he gave a
terrible shout, and, brandishing his gun aloft, discharged it in the air.
His horse sprang forward at full speed, and my mule, which was one of the
swiftest of its kind, took fright and followed at the heels of the
charger.  Antonio and the boy were left behind.  On we flew like a
whirlwind, the hoofs of the animals illuming the path with the sparks of
fire they struck from the stones.  I knew not whither we were going, but
the dumb creatures were acquainted with the way, and soon brought us to
Vendas Novas, where we were rejoined by our companions.

I thought this man was a coward, but I did him injustice, for during the
day he was as brave as a lion, and feared no one.  About five years
since, he had overcome two robbers who had attacked him on the moors,
and, after tying their hands behind them, had delivered them up to
justice; but at night the rustling of a leaf filled him with terror.  I
have known similar instances of the kind in persons of otherwise
extraordinary resolution.  For myself, I confess I am not a person of
extraordinary resolution, but the dangers of the night daunt me no more
than those of midday.  The man in question was a farmer from Evora, and a
person of considerable wealth.

I found the inn at Vendas Novas thronged with people, and had some
difficulty in obtaining accommodation and refreshment.  It was occupied
by the family of a certain Fidalgo, from Estremoz; he was on the way to
Lisbon, conveying a large sum of money, as was said—probably the rents of
his estates.  He had with him a body guard of four-and-twenty of his
dependants, each armed with a rifle; they consisted of his swineherds,
shepherds, cowherds, and hunters, and were commanded by two youths, his
son and nephew, the latter of whom was in regimentals; nevertheless,
notwithstanding the number of his troop, it appeared that the Fidalgo
laboured under considerable apprehension of being despoiled upon the
waste which lay between Vendas Novas and Pegoens, as he had just
requested a guard of four soldiers from the officer who commanded a
detachment stationed here: there were many females in his company, who, I
was told, were his illegitimate daughters—for he bore an infamous moral
character, and was represented to me as a staunch friend of Don Miguel.
It was not long before he came up to me and my new acquaintance, as we
sat by the kitchen fire: he was a tall man of about sixty, but stooped
much.  His countenance was by no means pleasing: he had a long hooked
nose, small twinkling cunning eyes, and, what I liked worst of all, a
continual sneering smile, which I firmly believe to be the index of a
treacherous and malignant heart.  He addressed me in Spanish, which, as
he resided not far from the frontier, he spoke with fluency, but contrary
to my usual practice, I was reserved and silent.

On the following morning I rose at seven, and found that the party from
Estremoz had started several hours previously.  I breakfasted with my
acquaintance of the preceding night, and we set out to accomplish what
remained of our journey.  The sun had now arisen; and all his fears had
left him—he breathed defiance against all the robbers of the Alemtejo.
When we had advanced about a league, the boy who attended us said he saw
heads of men amongst the brushwood.  Our cavalier instantly seized his
gun, and causing his horse to make two or three lofty bounds, held it in
one hand, the muzzle pointed in the direction indicated, but the heads
did not again make their appearance, and it was probably but a false
alarm.

We resumed our way, and the conversation turned, as might be expected,
upon robbers.  My companion, who seemed to be acquainted with every inch
of ground over which we passed, had a legend to tell of every dingle and
every pine-clump.  We reached a slight eminence, on the top of which grew
three stately pines: about half a league farther on was another similar
one: these two eminences commanded a view of the road from Pegoens and
Vendas Novas, so that all people going and coming could be descried,
whilst yet at a distance.  My friend told me that these heights were
favourite stations of robbers.  Some two years since, a band of six
mounted banditti remained there three days, and plundered whomsoever
approached from either quarter: their horses, saddled and bridled, stood
picqueted at the foot of the trees, and two scouts, one for each
eminence, continually sat in the topmost branches and gave notice of the
approach of travellers: when at a proper distance the robbers below
sprang upon their horses, and putting them to full gallop, made at their
prey, shouting _Rendete_, _Picaro_! _Rendete_,_ Picaro_! (Surrender,
scoundrel, surrender!)  We, however, passed unmolested, and, about a
quarter of a mile before we reached Pegoens, overtook the family of the
Fidalgo.

Had they been conveying the wealth of Ind through the deserts of Arabia,
they could not have travelled with more precaution.  The nephew, with
drawn sabre, rode in front; pistols at his holsters, and the usual
Spanish gun slung at his saddle.  Behind him tramped six men in a rank,
with muskets shouldered, and each of them wore at his girdle a hatchet,
which was probably intended to cleave the thieves to the brisket should
they venture to come to close quarters.  There were six vehicles, two of
them calashes, in which latter rode the Fidalgo and his daughters; the
others were covered carts, and seemed to be filled with household
furniture; each of these vehicles had an armed rustic on either side; and
the son, a lad about sixteen, brought up the rear with a squad equal to
that of his cousin in the van.  The soldiers, who by good fortune were
light horse, and admirably mounted, were galloping about in all
directions, for the purpose of driving the enemy from cover, should they
happen to be lurking in the neighbourhood.

I could not help thinking as I passed by, that this martial array was
very injudicious, for though it was calculated to awe plunderers, it was
likewise calculated to allure them, as it seemed to hint that immense
wealth was passing through their territories.  I do not know how the
soldiers and rustics would have behaved in case of an attack; but am
inclined to believe that if three such men as Richard Turpin had suddenly
galloped forth from behind one of the bush-covered knolls, neither the
numbers nor resistance opposed to them would have prevented them from
bearing away the contents of the strong box jingling in their saddlebags.

From this moment nothing worthy of relating occurred till our arrival at
Aldea Gallega, where we passed the night, and next morning at three
o’clock embarked in the passage-boat for Lisbon, where we arrived at
eight—and thus terminates my first wandering in the Alemtejo.



CHAPTER V


The College—The Rector—Shibboleth—National Prejudices—Youthful
Sports—Jews of Lisbon—Bad Faith—Crime and Superstition—Strange Proposal.

One afternoon Antonio said to me, “It has struck me, Senhor, that your
worship would like to see the college of the English ---.”  “By all
means,” I replied, “pray conduct me thither.”  So he led me through
various streets until we stopped before the gate of a large building in
one of the most elevated situations in Lisbon; upon our ringing, a kind
of porter presently made his appearance, and demanded our business.
Antonio explained it to him.  He hesitated for a moment; but presently,
bidding us enter, conducted us to a large gloomy-looking stone hall,
where, begging us to be seated, he left us.  We were soon joined by a
venerable personage, seemingly about seventy, in a kind of flowing robe
or surplice, with a collegiate cap upon his head.  Notwithstanding his
age there was a ruddy tinge upon his features, which were perfectly
English.  Coming slowly up he addressed me in the English tongue,
requesting to know how he could serve me.  I informed him that I was an
English traveller, and should be happy to be permitted to inspect the
college, provided it were customary to show it to strangers.  He informed
me that there could be no objection to accede to my request, but that I
came at rather an unfortunate moment, it being the hour of refection.  I
apologised, and was preparing to retire, but he begged me to remain, as,
in a few minutes, the refection would be over, when the principals of the
college would do themselves the pleasure of waiting on me.

We sat down on the stone bench, when he commenced surveying me
attentively for some time, and then cast his eyes on Antonio.  “Whom have
we here?” said he to the latter; “surely your features are not unknown to
me.”  “Probably not, your reverence,” replied Antonio, getting up and
bowing most profoundly.  “I lived in the family of the Countess ---, at
Cintra, when your venerability was her spiritual guide.”  “True, true,”
said the old gentleman, sighing, “I remember you now.  Ah, Antonio,
things are strangely changed since then.  A new government—a new system—a
new religion, I may say.”  Then looking again at me, he demanded whither
I was journeying?  “I am going to Spain,” said I, “and have stopped at
Lisbon by the way.”  “Spain, Spain!” said the old man; “surely you have
chosen a strange time to visit Spain; there is much bloodshedding in
Spain at present, and violent wars and tumults.”  “I consider the cause
of Don Carlos as already crushed,” I replied; “he has lost the only
general capable of leading his armies to Madrid.  Zumalacarregui, his
Cid, has fallen.”  “Do not flatter yourself; I beg your pardon, but do
not think, young man, that the Lord will permit the powers of darkness to
triumph so easily; the cause of Don Carlos is not lost; its success did
not depend on the life of a frail worm like him whom you have mentioned.”
We continued in discourse some little time, when he arose, saying that by
this time he believed the refection was concluded.

He had scarcely left me five minutes when three individuals entered the
stone hall, and advanced slowly towards me;—the principals of the
college, said I to myself! and so indeed they were.  The first of these
gentlemen, and to whom the other two appeared to pay considerable
deference, was a thin spare person, somewhat above the middle height; his
complexion was very pale, his features emaciated but fine, his eyes dark
and sparkling; he might be about fifty—the other two were men in the
prime of life.  One was of rather low stature; his features were dark,
and wore that pinched and mortified expression so frequently to be
observed in the countenance of the English ---: the other was a bluff,
ruddy, and rather good-looking young man; all three were dressed alike in
the usual college cap and silk gown.  Coming up, the eldest of the three
took me by the hand and thus addressed me in clear silvery tones:—

“Welcome, Sir, to our poor house; we are always happy to see in it a
countryman from our beloved native land; it will afford us extreme
satisfaction to show you over it; it is true that satisfaction is
considerably diminished by the reflection that it possesses nothing
worthy of the attention of a traveller; there is nothing curious
pertaining to it save perhaps its economy, and that as we walk about we
will explain to you.  Permit us, first of all, to introduce ourselves to
you; I am rector of this poor English house of refuge; this gentleman is
our professor of humanity, and this (pointing to the ruddy personage) is
our professor of polite learning, Hebrew, and Syriac.”

_Myself_.—I humbly salute you all; excuse me if I inquire who was the
venerable gentleman who put himself to the inconvenience of staying with
me whilst I was awaiting your leisure.

_Rector_.—O! a most admirable personage, our almoner, our chaplain; he
came into this country before any of us were born, and here he has
continued ever since.  Now let us ascend that we may show you our poor
house: but how is this, my dear Sir, how is it that I see you standing
uncovered in our cold damp hall?

_Myself_.—I can easily explain that to you; it is a custom which has
become quite natural to me.  I am just arrived from Russia, where I have
spent some years.  A Russian invariably takes off his hat whenever he
enters beneath a roof, whether it pertain to hut, shop, or palace.  To
omit doing so would be considered as a mark of brutality and barbarism,
and for the following reason: in every apartment of a Russian house there
is a small picture of the Virgin stuck up in a corner, just below the
ceiling—the hat is taken off out of respect to her.

Quick glances of intelligence were exchanged by the three gentlemen.  I
had stumbled upon their shibboleth, and proclaimed myself an Ephraimite,
and not of Gilead.  I have no doubt that up to that moment they had
considered me as one of themselves—a member, and perhaps a priest, of
their own ancient, grand, and imposing religion, for such it is, I must
confess—an error into which it was natural that they should fall.  What
motives could a Protestant have for intruding upon their privacy?  What
interest could he take in inspecting the economy of their establishment?
So far, however, from relaxing in their attention after this discovery,
their politeness visibly increased, though, perhaps, a scrutinizing
observer might have detected a shade of less cordiality in their manner.

_Rector_.—Beneath the ceiling in every apartment?  I think I understood
you so.  How delightful—how truly interesting; a picture of the _Blessed_
Virgin beneath the ceiling in every apartment of a Russian house!  Truly,
this intelligence is as unexpected as it is delightful.  I shall from
this moment entertain a much higher opinion of the Russians than
hitherto—most truly an example worthy of imitation.  I wish sincerely
that it was our own practice to place an _image_ of the _Blessed_ Virgin
beneath the ceiling in every corner of our houses.  What say you, our
professor of humanity?  What say you to the information so obligingly
communicated to us by this excellent gentleman?

_Humanity Professor_.—It is, indeed, most delightful, most cheering, I
may say; but I confess that I was not altogether unprepared for it.  The
adoration of the Blessed Virgin is becoming every day more extended in
countries where it has hitherto been unknown or forgotten.  Dr. W---,
when he passed through Lisbon, gave me some most interesting details with
respect to the labours of the propaganda in India.  Even England, our own
beloved country. . . .

                                * * * * *

My obliging friends showed me all over their “poor house,” it certainly
did not appear a very rich one; it was spacious, and rather dilapidated.
The library was small, and possessed nothing remarkable; the view,
however, from the roof, over the greater part of Lisbon and the Tagus,
was very grand and noble; but I did not visit this place in the hope of
seeing busts, or books, or fine prospects,—I visited this strange old
house to converse with its inmates, for my favourite, I might say, my
only study, is man.  I found these gentlemen much what I had anticipated,
for this was not the first time that I had visited an English ---
establishment in a foreign land.  They were full of amiability and
courtesy to their heretic countryman, and though the advancement of their
religion was with them an object of paramount importance, I soon found
that, with ludicrous inconsistency, they cherished, to a wonderful
degree, national prejudices almost extinct in the mother land, even to
the disparagement of those of their own darling faith.  I spoke of the
English ---, of their high respectability, and of the loyalty which they
had uniformly displayed to their sovereign, though of a different
religion, and by whom they had been not unfrequently subjected to much
oppression and injustice.

_Rector_.—My dear Sir, I am rejoiced to hear you; I see that you are well
acquainted with the great body of those of our faith in England.  They
are as you have well described them, a most respectable and loyal body;
from loyalty, indeed, they never swerved, and though they have been
accused of plots and conspiracies, it is now well known that such had no
real existence, but were merely calumnies invented by their religious
enemies.  During the civil wars the English --- cheerfully shed their
blood and squandered their fortunes in the cause of the unfortunate
martyr, notwithstanding that he never favoured them, and invariably
looked upon them with suspicion.  At present the English --- are the most
devoted subjects to our gracious sovereign.  I should be happy if I could
say as much for our Irish brethren; but their conduct has been—oh!
detestable.  Yet what can you expect?  The true—blush for them.  A
certain person is a disgrace to the church of which he pretends to be a
servant.  Where does he find in our canons sanction for his proceedings,
his undutiful expressions towards one who is his sovereign by divine
right, and who can do no wrong?  And above all, where does he find
authority for inflaming the passions of a vile mob against a nation
intended by nature and by position to command them?

_Myself_.—I believe there is an Irish college in this city?

_Rector_.—I believe there is; but it does not flourish, there are few or
no pupils.  Oh!

I looked through a window, at a great height, and saw about twenty or
thirty fine lads sporting in a court below.  “This is as it should be,”
said I; “those boys will not make worse priests from a little early
devotion to trap-ball and cudgel playing.  I dislike a staid, serious,
puritanic education, as I firmly believe that it encourages vice and
hypocrisy.”

We then went into the Rector’s room, where, above a crucifix, was hanging
a small portrait.

_Myself_.—That was a great and portentous man, honest withal.  I believe
the body of which he was the founder, and which has been so much decried,
has effected infinitely more good than it has caused harm.

_Rector_.—What do I hear?  You an Englishman, and a Protestant, and yet
an admirer of Ignatius Loyola?

_Myself_.—I will say nothing with respect to the doctrine of the Jesuits,
for, as you have observed, I am a Protestant: but I am ready to assert
that there are no people in the world better qualified, upon the whole,
to be intrusted with the education of youth.  Their moral system and
discipline are truly admirable.  Their pupils, in after life, are seldom
vicious and licentious characters, and are in general men of learning,
science, and possessed of every elegant accomplishment.  I execrate the
conduct of the liberals of Madrid in murdering last year the helpless
fathers, by whose care and instruction two of the finest minds of Spain
have been evolved—the two ornaments of the liberal cause and modern
literature of Spain, for such are Toreno and Martinez de la Rosa. . . .

                                * * * * *

Gathered in small clusters about the pillars at the lower extremities of
the gold and silver streets in Lisbon, may be observed, about noon in
every day, certain strange looking men, whose appearance is neither
Portuguese nor European.  Their dress generally consists of a red cap,
with a blue silken tassel at the top of it, a blue tunic girded at the
waist with a red sash, and wide linen pantaloons or trousers.  He who
passes by these groups generally hears them conversing in broken Spanish
or Portuguese, and occasionally in a harsh guttural language, which the
oriental traveller knows to be the Arabic, or a dialect thereof.  These
people are the Jews of Lisbon.  Into the midst of one of these groups I
one day introduced myself, and pronounced a beraka, or blessing.  I have
lived in different parts of the world, much amongst the Hebrew race, and
am well acquainted with their ways and phraseology.  I was rather anxious
to become acquainted with the state of the Portuguese Jews, and I had now
an opportunity.  “The man is a powerful rabbi,” said a voice in Arabic;
“it behoves us to treat him kindly.”  They welcomed me.  I favoured their
mistake, and in a few days I knew all that related to them and their
traffic in Lisbon.

I found them a vile, infamous rabble, about two hundred in number.  With
a few exceptions, they consist of escapados from the Barbary shore, from
Tetuan, from Tangier, but principally from Mogadore; fellows who have
fled to a foreign land from the punishment due to their misdeeds.  Their
manner of life in Lisbon is worthy of such a goodly assemblage of _amis
reunis_.  The generality of them pretend to work in gold and silver, and
keep small peddling shops; they, however, principally depend for their
livelihood on an extensive traffic in stolen goods which they carry on.
It is said that there is honour amongst thieves, but this is certainly
not the case with the Jews of Lisbon, for they are so greedy and
avaricious, that they are constantly quarrelling about their ill-gotten
gain, the result being that they frequently ruin each other.  Their
mutual jealousy is truly extraordinary.  If one, by cheating and roguery,
gains a cruzado in the presence of another, the latter instantly says I
cry halves, and if the first refuse he is instantly threatened with an
information.  The manner in which they cheat each other has, with all its
infamy, occasionally something extremely droll and ludicrous.  I was one
day in the shop of a Swiri, or Jew of Mogadore, when a Jew from Gibraltar
entered, with a Portuguese female, who held in her hand a mantle, richly
embroidered with gold.

_Gibraltar Jew_ (speaking in broken Arabic).—Good-day, O Swiri; God has
favoured me this day; here is a bargain by which we shall both gain.  I
have bought this mantle of the woman almost for nothing, for it is
stolen; but I am poor, as you know, I have not a cruzado; pay her
therefore the price, that we may then forthwith sell the mantle and
divide the gain.

_Swiri_.—Willingly, brother of Gibraltar; I will pay the woman for the
mantle; it does not appear a bad one.

Thereupon he flung two cruzados to the woman, who forthwith left the
shop.

_Gibraltar Jew_.—Thanks, brother Swirl, this is very kind of you; now let
us go and sell the mantle, the gold alone is well worth a moidore; but I
am poor and have nothing to eat, give me, therefore, the half of that sum
and keep the mantle; I shall be content.

_Swiri_.—May Allah blot out your name, you thief.  What mean you by
asking me for money?  I bought the mantle of the woman and paid for it.
I know nothing of you.  Go out of my doors, dog of a Nazarene, if not I
will pay you with a kick.

The dispute was referred to one of the sabios, or priests; but the sabio,
who was also from Mogadore, at once took the part of the Swiri, and
decided that the other should have nothing.  Whereupon the Gibraltar Jew
cursed the sabio, his father, mother, and all his family.  The sabio
replied, “I put you in ndui,” a kind of purgatory or hell.  “I put you in
seven nduis,” retorted the incensed Jew, over whom, however,
superstitious fear speedily prevailed; he faltered, became pale, and
dropping his voice, retreated, trembling in every limb.

The Jews have two synagogues in Lisbon, both are small; one is, however,
tolerably well furnished, it has its reading desk, and in the middle
there is a rather handsome chandelier; the other is little better than a
sty, filthy to a degree, without ornament of any kind.  The congregation
of this last are thieves to a man; no Jew of the slightest respectability
ever enters it.

How well do superstition and crime go hand in hand.  These wretched
beings break the eternal commandments of their Maker without scruple; but
they will not partake of the beast of the uncloven foot, and the fish
which has no scales.  They pay no regard to the denunciations of holy
prophets against the children of sin, but they quake at the sound of a
dark cabalistic word, pronounced by one perhaps their equal, or superior,
in villainy, as if God would delegate the exercise of his power to the
workers of iniquity.

I was one day sauntering on the Caesodré, when a Jew, with whom I had
previously exchanged a word or two, came up and addressed me.

_Jew_.—The blessing of God upon you, brother; I know you to be a wise and
powerful man, and I have conceived much regard for you; it is on that
account that I wish to put you in the way of gaining much money.  Come
with me, and I will conduct you to a place where there are forty chests
of tea.  It is a seréka (a robbery), and the thieves are willing to
dispose of it for a trifle, for there is search being made, and they are
in much fear.  I can raise one half of what they demand, do you supply
the other, we will then divide it, each shall go his own way and dispose
of his portion.

_Myself_.—Wherefore, O son of Arbat, do you propose this to me, who am a
stranger?  Surely you are mad.  Have you not your own people about you
whom you know, and in whom you can confide?

_Jew_.—It is because I know our people here that I do not confide in
them; we are in the galoot of sin.  Were I to confide in my brethren
there would be a dispute, and perhaps they would rob me, and few of them
have any money.  Were I to apply to the sabio he might consent, but when
I ask for my portion he would put me in ndui!  You I do not fear; you are
good and would do me no harm, unless I attempted to deceive you, and that
I dare not do, for I know you are powerful.  Come with me, master, for I
wish to gain something, that I may return to Arbat, where I have children
. . .

Such are Jews in Lisbon.



CHAPTER VI


Cold of Portugal—Extortion prevented—Sensation of Loneliness—The Dog—The
Convent—Enchanting Landscape—Moorish Fortresses—Prayer for the Sick.

About a fortnight after my return from Evora, having made the necessary
preparations, I set out on my journey for Badajoz, from which town I
intended to take the diligence to Madrid.  Badajoz lies about a hundred
miles distant from Lisbon, and is the principal frontier town of Spain in
the direction of the Alemtejo.  To reach this place, it was necessary to
retravel the road as far as Monte Moro, which I had already passed in my
excursion to Evora; I had therefore very little pleasure to anticipate
from novelty of scenery.  Moreover, in this journey I should be a
solitary traveller, with no other companion than the muleteer, as it was
my intention to take my servant no farther than Aldea Gallega, for which
place I started at four in the afternoon.  Warned by former experience, I
did not now embark in a small boat, but in one of the regular passage
felouks, in which we reached Aldea Gallega, after a voyage of six hours;
for the boat was heavy, there was no wind to propel it, and the crew were
obliged to ply their huge oars the whole way.  In a word, this passage
was the reverse of the first,—safe in every respect,—but so sluggish and
tiresome, that I a hundred times wished myself again under the guidance
of the wild lad, galloping before the hurricane over the foaming billows.
From eight till ten the cold was truly terrible, and though I was closely
wrapped in an excellent fur “shoob,” with which I had braved the frosts
of Russian winters, I shivered in every limb, and was far more rejoiced
when I again set my foot on the Alemtejo, than when I landed for the
first time, after having escaped the horrors of the tempest.

I took up my quarters for the night at a house to which my friend who
feared the darkness had introduced me on my return from Evora, and where,
though I paid mercilessly dear for everything, the accommodation was
superior to that of the common inn in the square.  My first care now was
to inquire for mules to convey myself and baggage to Elvas, from whence
there are but three short leagues to the Spanish town of Badajoz.  The
people of the house informed me that they had an excellent pair at my
disposal, but when I inquired the price, they were not ashamed to demand
four moidores.  I offered them three, which was too much, but which,
however, they did not accept, for knowing me to be an Englishman, they
thought they had an excellent opportunity to practise imposition, not
imagining that a person so rich as an Englishman _must_ be, would go out
in a cold night for the sake of obtaining a reasonable bargain.  They
were, however, much mistaken, as I told them that rather than encourage
them in their knavery, I should be content to return to Lisbon; whereupon
they dropped their demand to three and a half, but I made them no answer,
and going out with Antonio, proceeded to the house of the old man who had
accompanied us to Evora.  We knocked a considerable time, for he was in
bed; at length he arose and admitted us, but on hearing our object, he
said that his mules were again gone to Evora, under the charge of the
boy, for the purpose of transporting some articles of merchandise.  He,
however, recommended us to a person in the neighbourhood who kept mules
for hire, and there Antonio engaged two fine beasts for two moidores and
a half.  I say he engaged them, for I stood aloof and spoke not, and the
proprietor, who exhibited them, and who stood half-dressed, with a lamp
in his hand and shivering with cold, was not aware that they were
intended for a foreigner till the agreement was made, and he had received
a part of the sum in earnest.  I returned to the inn well pleased, and
having taken some refreshment went to rest, paying little attention to
the people, who glanced daggers at me from their small Jewish eyes.

At five the next morning the mules were at the door; a lad of some
nineteen or twenty years of age attended them; he was short but
exceedingly strong built, and possessed the largest head which I ever
beheld upon mortal shoulders; neck he had none, at least I could discern
nothing which could be entitled to that name.  His features were
hideously ugly, and upon addressing him I discovered that he was an
idiot.  Such was my intended companion in a journey of nearly a hundred
miles, which would occupy four days, and which lay over the most savage
and ill noted track in the whole kingdom.  I took leave of my servant
almost with tears, for he had always served me with the greatest
fidelity, and had exhibited an assiduity and a wish to please which
afforded me the utmost satisfaction.

We started, my uncouth guide sitting tailor-fashion on the sumpter mule
upon the baggage.  The moon had just gone down, and the morning was
pitchy dark, and, as usual, piercingly cold.  He soon entered the dismal
wood, which I had already traversed, and through which we wended our way
for some time, slowly and mournfully.  Not a sound was to be heard save
the trampling of the animals, not a breath of air moved the leafless
branches, no animal stirred in the thickets, no bird, not even the owl,
flew over our heads, all seemed desolate and dead, and during my many and
far wanderings, I never experienced a greater sensation of loneliness,
and a greater desire for conversation and an exchange of ideas than then.
To speak to the idiot was useless, for though competent to show the road,
with which he was well acquainted, he had no other answer than an uncouth
laugh to any question put to him.  Thus situated, like many other persons
when human comfort is not at hand, I turned my heart to God, and began to
commune with Him, the result of which was that my mind soon became
quieted and comforted.

We passed on our way uninterrupted; no thieves showed themselves, nor
indeed did we see a single individual until we arrived at Pegoens, and
from thence to Vendas Novas our fortune was the same.  I was welcomed
with great kindness by the people of the hostelry of the latter place,
who were well acquainted with me on account of my having twice passed the
night under their roof.  The name of the keeper of this is, or was, Jozé
Dias Azido, and unlike the generality of those of the same profession as
himself in Portugal, he is an honest man, and a stranger and foreigner
who takes up his quarters at his inn, may rest assured that he will not
be most unmercifully pillaged and cheated when the hour of reckoning
shall arrive, as he will not be charged a single ré more than a native
Portuguese on a similar occasion.  I paid at this place exactly one half
of the sum which was demanded from me at Arroyolos, where I passed the
ensuing night, and where the accommodation was in every respect inferior.

At twelve next day we arrived at Monte Moro, and, as I was not pressed
for time, I determined upon viewing the ruins which cover the top and
middle part of the stately hill which towers above the town.  Having
ordered some refreshment at the inn where we dismounted, I ascended till
I arrived at a large wall or rampart, which, at a certain altitude
embraces the whole hill.  I crossed a rude bridge of stones, which
bestrides a small hollow or trench; and passing by a large tower, entered
through a portal into the enclosed part of the hill.  On the left hand
stood a church, in good preservation, and still devoted to the purposes
of religion, but which I could not enter, as the door was locked, and I
saw no one at hand to open it.

I soon found that my curiosity had led me to a most extraordinary place,
which quite beggars the scanty powers of description with which I am
gifted.  I stumbled on amongst ruined walls, and at one time found I was
treading over vaults, as I suddenly started back from a yawning orifice
into which my next step, as I strolled musing along, would have
precipitated me.  I proceeded for a considerable way by the eastern wall,
till I heard a tremendous bark, and presently an immense dog, such as
those which guard the flocks in the neighbourhood against the wolves,
came bounding to attack me “with eyes that glowed and fangs that
grinned.”  Had I retreated, or had recourse to any other mode of defence
than that which I invariably practise under such circumstances, he would
probably have worried me; but I stooped till my chin nearly touched my
knee, and looked him full in the eyes, and as John Leyden says, in the
noblest ballad which the Land of Heather has produced:—

    “The hound he yowled and back he fled,
    As struck with fairy charm.”

It is a fact known to many people, and I believe it has been frequently
stated, that no large and fierce dog or animal of any kind, with the
exception of the bull, which shuts its eyes and rushes blindly forward,
will venture to attack an individual who confronts it with a firm and
motionless countenance.  I say large and fierce, for it is much easier to
repel a bloodhound or bear of Finland in this manner than a dunghill cur
or a terrier, against which a stick or a stone is a much more certain
defence.  This will astonish no one who considers that the calm reproving
glance of reason, which allays the excesses of the mighty and courageous
in our own species, has seldom any other effect than to add to the
insolence of the feeble and foolish, who become placid as doves upon the
infliction of chastisements, which if attempted to be applied to the
former would only serve to render them more terrible, and like gunpowder
cast on a flame, cause them in mad desperation to scatter destruction
around them.

The barking of the dog brought out from a kind of alley an elderly man,
whom I supposed to be his master, and of whom I made some inquiries
respecting the place.  The man was civil, and informed me that he served
as a soldier in the British army, under the “great lord,” during the
Peninsular war.  He said that there was a convent of nuns a little
farther on, which he would show me, and thereupon led the way to the
south-east part of the wall, where stood a large dilapidated edifice.

We entered a dark stone apartment, at one corner of which was a kind of
window occupied by a turning table, at which articles were received into
the convent or delivered out.  He rang the bell, and, without saying a
word, retired, leaving me rather perplexed; but presently I heard, though
the speaker was invisible, a soft feminine voice demanding who I was, and
what I wanted.  I replied that I was an Englishman travelling into Spain,
and that passing through Monte Moro I had ascended the hill for the
purpose of seeing the ruins.  The voice then said, “I suppose you are a
military man going to fight against the king, like the rest of your
countrymen.”  “No,” said I, “I am not a military man, but a Christian,
and I go not to shed blood but to endeavour to introduce the gospel of
Christ into a country where it is not known;” whereupon there was a
stifled titter.  I then inquired if there were any copies of the Holy
Scriptures in the convent, but the friendly voice could give me no
information on that point, and I scarcely believe that its possessor
understood the purport of my question.  It informed me, that the office
of lady abbess of the house was an annual one, and that every year there
was a fresh superior; on my inquiring whether the nuns did not frequently
find the time exceedingly heavy on their hands, it stated that, when they
had nothing better to do, they employed themselves in making cheesecakes,
which were disposed of in the neighbourhood.  I thanked the voice for its
communications, and walked away.  Whilst proceeding under the wall of the
house towards the south-west, I heard a fresh and louder tittering above
my head, and looking up, saw three or four windows crowded with dusky
faces, and black waving hair; these belonged to the nuns, anxious to
obtain a view of the stranger.  After kissing my hand repeatedly, I moved
on, and soon arrived at the south-west end of this mountain of
curiosities.  There I found the remains of a large building, which seemed
to have been originally erected in the shape of a cross.  A tower at its
eastern entrance was still entire; the western side was quite in ruins,
and stood on the verge of the hill overlooking the valley, at the bottom
of which ran the stream I have spoken of on a former occasion.

The day was intensely hot, notwithstanding the coldness of the preceding
nights; and the brilliant sun of Portugal now illumined a landscape of
entrancing beauty.  Groves of cork trees covered the farther side of the
valley and the distant acclivities, exhibiting here and there charming
vistas, where various flocks of cattle were feeding; the soft murmur of
the stream, which was at intervals chafed and broken by huge stones,
ascended to my ears and filled my mind with delicious feelings.  I sat
down on the broken wall and remained gazing, and listening, and shedding
tears of rapture; for, of all the pleasures which a bountiful God
permitteth his children to enjoy, none are so dear to some hearts as the
music of forests, and streams, and the view of the beauties of his
glorious creation.  An hour elapsed, and I still maintained my seat on
the wall; the past scenes of my life flitting before my eyes in airy and
fantastic array, through which every now and then peeped trees and hills
and other patches of the real landscape which I was confronting; the sun
burnt my visage, but I heeded it not; and I believe that I should have
remained till night, buried in these reveries, which, I confess, only
served to enervate the mind, and steal many a minute which might be most
profitably employed, had not the report of the gun of a fowler in the
valley, which awakened the echoes of the woods, hills, and ruins, caused
me to start on my feet, and remember that I had to proceed three leagues
before I could reach the hostelry where I intended to pass the night.

I bent my steps to the inn, passing along a kind of rampart: shortly
before I reached the portal, which I have already mentioned, I observed a
kind of vault on my right hand, scooped out of the side of the hill; its
roof was supported by three pillars, though part of it had given way
towards the farther end, so that the light was admitted through a chasm
in the top.  It might have been intended for a chapel, a dungeon, or a
cemetery, but I should rather think for the latter; one thing I am
certain of, that it was not the work of Moorish hands, and indeed
throughout my wanderings in this place I saw nothing which reminded me of
that most singular people.  The hill on which the ruins stand was
doubtless originally a strong fortress of the Moors, who, upon their
first irruption into the peninsula, seized and fortified most of the
lofty and naturally strong positions, but they had probably lost it at an
early period, so that the broken walls and edifices, which at present
cover the hill, are probably remains of the labours of the Christians
after the place had been rescued from the hands of the terrible enemies
of their faith.  Monte Moro will perhaps recall Cintra to the mind of the
traveller, as it exhibits a distant resemblance to that place;
nevertheless, there is something in Cintra wild and savage, to which
Monte Moro has no pretension; its scathed and gigantic crags are piled
upon each other in a manner which seems to menace headlong destruction to
whatever is in the neighbourhood; and the ruins which still cling to
those crags seem more like eagles’ nests than the remains of the
habitations even of Moors; whereas those of Monte Moro stand
comparatively at their ease on the broad back of a hill, which, though
stately and commanding, has no crags nor precipices, and which can be
ascended on every side without much difficulty: yet I was much gratified
by my visit, and I shall wander far indeed before I forget the voice in
the dilapidated convent, the ruined walls amongst which I strayed, and
the rampart where, sunk in dreamy rapture, I sat during a bright sunny
hour at Monte Moro.

I returned to the inn, where I refreshed myself with tea and very sweet
and delicious cheesecakes, the handiwork of the nuns in the convent
above.  Observing gloom and unhappiness on the countenances of the people
of the house, I inquired the reason of the hostess, who sat almost
motionless, on the hearth by the fire; whereupon she informed me that her
husband was deadly sick with a disorder which, from her description, I
supposed to be a species of cholera; she added, that the surgeon who
attended him entertained no hopes of his recovery.  I replied that it was
quite in the power of God to restore her husband in a few hours from the
verge of the grave to health and vigour, and that it was her duty to pray
to that Omnipotent Being with all fervency.  I added, that if she did not
know how to pray upon such an occasion, I was ready to pray for her,
provided she would join in the spirit of the supplication.  I then
offered up a short prayer in Portuguese, in which I entreated the Lord to
remove, if he thought proper, the burden of affliction under which the
family was labouring.

The woman listened attentively, with her hands devoutly clasped, until
the prayer was finished, and then gazed at me seemingly with
astonishment, but uttered no word by which I could gather that she was
pleased or displeased with what I had said.  I now bade the family
farewell, and having mounted my mule, set forward to Arroyolos.



CHAPTER VII


The Druids’ Stone—The Young Spaniard—Ruffianly Soldiers—Evils of
War—Estremoz—The Brawl—Ruined Watch Tower—Glimpse of Spain—Old Times and
New.

After proceeding about a league and a half, a blast came booming from the
north, rolling before it immense clouds of dust; happily it did not blow
in our faces, or it would have been difficult to proceed, so great was
its violence.  We had left the road in order to take advantage of one of
those short cuts, which, though possible for a horse or a mule, are far
too rough to permit any species of carriage to travel along them.  We
were in the midst of sands, brushwood, and huge pieces of rock, which
thickly studded the ground.  These are the stones which form the sierras
of Spain and Portugal; those singular mountains which rise in naked
horridness, like the ribs of some mighty carcass from which the flesh has
been torn.  Many of these stones, or rocks, grew out of the earth, and
many lay on its surface unattached, perhaps wrested from their bed by the
waters of the deluge.  Whilst toiling along these wild wastes, I
observed, a little way to my left, a pile of stones of rather a singular
appearance, and rode up to it.  It was a druidical altar, and the most
perfect and beautiful one of the kind which I had ever seen.  It was
circular, and consisted of stones immensely large and heavy at the
bottom, which towards the top became thinner and thinner, having been
fashioned by the hand of art to something of the shape of scollop shells.
These were surmounted by a very large flat stone, which slanted down
towards the south, where was a door.  Three or four individuals might
have taken shelter within the interior, in which was growing a small
thorn tree.

I gazed with reverence and awe upon the pile where the first colonies of
Europe offered their worship to the unknown God.  The temples of the
mighty and skilful Roman, comparatively of modern date, have crumbled to
dust in its neighbourhood.  The churches of the Arian Goth, his successor
in power, have sunk beneath the earth, and are not to be found; and the
mosques of the Moor, the conqueror of the Goth, where and what are they?
Upon the rock, masses of hoary and vanishing ruin.  Not so the Druids’
stone; there it stands on the hill of winds, as strong and as freshly new
as the day, perhaps thirty centuries back, when it was first raised, by
means which are a mystery.  Earthquakes have heaved it, but its copestone
has not fallen; rain floods have deluged it, but failed to sweep it from
its station; the burning sun has flashed upon it, but neither split nor
crumbled it; and time, stern old time, has rubbed it with his iron tooth,
and with what effect let those who view it declare.  There it stands, and
he who wishes to study the literature, the learning, and the history of
the ancient Celt and Cymbrian, may gaze on its broad covering, and glean
from that blank stone the whole known amount.  The Roman has left behind
him his deathless writings, his history, and his songs; the Goth his
liturgy, his traditions, and the germs of noble institutions; the Moor
his chivalry, his discoveries in medicine, and the foundations of modern
commerce; and where is the memorial of the Druidic races?  Yonder: that
pile of eternal stone!

We arrived at Arroyolos about seven at night.  I took possession of a
large two-bedded room, and, as I was preparing to sit down to supper, the
hostess came to inquire whether I had any objection to receive a young
Spaniard for the night.  She said he had just arrived with a train of
muleteers, and that she had no other room in which she could lodge him.
I replied that I was willing, and in about half an hour he made his
appearance, having first supped with his companions.  He was a very
gentlemanly, good-looking lad of seventeen.  He addressed me in his
native language, and, finding that I understood him, he commenced talking
with astonishing volubility.  In the space of five minutes he informed me
that, having a desire to see the world, he had run away from his friends,
who were people of opulence at Madrid, and that he did not intend to
return until he had travelled through various countries.  I told him that
if what he said was true, he had done a very wicked and foolish action;
wicked, because he must have overwhelmed those with grief whom he was
bound to honour and love, and foolish, inasmuch as he was going to expose
himself to inconceivable miseries and hardships, which would shortly
cause him to rue the step he had taken; that he would be only welcome in
foreign countries so long as he had money to spend, and when he had none,
he would be repulsed as a vagabond, and would perhaps be allowed to
perish of hunger.  He replied that he had a considerable sum of money
with him, no less than a hundred dollars, which would last him a long
time, and that when it was spent he should perhaps be able to obtain
more.  “Your hundred dollars,” said I, “will scarcely last you three
months in the country in which you are, even if it be not stolen from
you; and you may as well hope to gather money on the tops of the
mountains as expect to procure more by honourable means.”  But he had not
yet sufficiently drank of the cup of experience to attend much to what I
said, and I soon after changed the subject.  About five next morning he
came to my bedside to take leave, as his muleteers were preparing to
depart.  I gave him the usual Spanish valediction (_Vaya usted con
Dios_), and saw no more of him.

At nine, after having paid a most exorbitant sum for slight
accommodation, I started from Arroyolos, which is a town or large village
situated on very elevated ground, and discernible afar off.  It can boast
of the remains of a large ancient and seemingly Moorish castle, which
stands on a hill on the left as you take the road to Estremoz.

About a mile from Arroyolos I overtook a train of carts escorted by a
number of Portuguese soldiers, conveying stores and ammunition into
Spain.  Six or seven of these soldiers marched a considerable way in
front; they were villainous looking ruffians upon whose livid and ghastly
countenances were written murder, and all the other crimes which the
decalogue forbids.  As I passed by, one of them, with a harsh, croaking
voice, commenced cursing all foreigners.  “There,” said he, “is this
Frenchman riding on horseback” (I was on a mule), “with a man” (the
idiot) “to take care of him, and all because he is rich; whilst I, who am
a poor soldier, am obliged to tramp on foot.  I could find it in my heart
to shoot him dead, for in what respect is he better than I?  But he is a
foreigner, and the devil helps foreigners and hates the Portuguese.”  He
continued shouting his remarks until I got about forty yards in advance,
when I commenced laughing; but it would have been more prudent in me to
have held my peace, for the next moment, with bang—bang, two bullets,
well aimed, came whizzing past my ears.  A small river lay just before
me, though the bridge was a considerable way on my left.  I spurred my
animal through it, closely followed by my terrified guide, and commenced
galloping along a sandy plain on the other side, and so escaped with my
life.

These fellows, with the look of banditti, were in no respect better; and
the traveller who should meet them in a solitary place would have little
reason to bless his good fortune.  One of the carriers (all of whom were
Spaniards from the neighbourhood of Badajoz, and had been despatched into
Portugal for the purpose of conveying the stores), whom I afterwards met
in the aforesaid town, informed me that the whole party were equally bad,
and that he and his companions had been plundered by them of various
articles, and threatened with death if they attempted to complain.  How
frightful to figure to oneself an army of such beings in a foreign land,
sent thither either to invade or defend; and yet Spain, at the time I am
writing this, is looking forward to armed assistance from Portugal.  May
the Lord in his mercy grant that the soldiers who proceed to her
assistance may be of a different stamp: and yet, from the lax state of
discipline which exists in the Portuguese army, in comparison with that
of England and France, I am afraid that the inoffensive population of the
disturbed provinces will say that wolves have been summoned to chase away
foxes from the sheepfold.  O! may I live to see the day when soldiery
will no longer be tolerated in any civilized, or at least Christian,
country!

I pursued my route to Estremoz, passing by Monte Moro Novo, which is a
tall dusky hill, surmounted by an ancient edifice, probably Moorish.  The
country was dreary and deserted, but offering here and there a valley
studded with cork trees and azinheiras.  After midday the wind, which
during the night and morning had much abated, again blew with such
violence as nearly to deprive me of my senses, though it was still in our
rear.

I was heartily glad when, on ascending a rising ground, at about four
o’clock, I saw Estremoz on its hill at something less than a league’s
distance.  Here the view became wildly interesting; the sun was sinking
in the midst of red and stormy clouds, and its rays were reflected on the
dun walls of the lofty town to which we were wending.  Nor far distant to
the south-west rose Serra Dorso, which I had seen from Evora, and which
is the most beautiful mountain in the Alemtejo.  My idiot guide turned
his uncouth visage towards it, and becoming suddenly inspired, opened his
mouth for the first time during the day, I might almost say since we had
left Aldea Gallega, and began to tell me what rare hunting was to be
obtained in that mountain.  He likewise described with great minuteness a
wonderful dog, which was kept in the neighbourhood for the purpose of
catching the wolves and wild boars, and for which the proprietor had
refused twenty moidores.

At length we reached Estremoz, and took up our quarters at the principal
inn, which looks upon a large plain or market-place occupying the centre
of the town, and which is so extensive that I should think ten thousand
soldiers at least might perform their evolutions there with ease.

The cold was far too terrible to permit me to remain in the chamber to
which I had been conducted; I therefore went down to a kind of kitchen on
one side of the arched passage, which led under the house to the yard and
stables.  A tremendous withering blast poured through this passage, like
the water through the flush of a mill.  A large cork tree was blazing in
the kitchen beneath a spacious chimney; and around it were gathered a
noisy crew of peasants and farmers from the neighbourhood, and three or
four Spanish smugglers from the frontier.  I with difficulty obtained a
place amongst them, as a Portuguese or a Spaniard will seldom make way
for a stranger, till called upon or pushed aside, but prefers gazing upon
him with an expression which seems to say, I know what you want, but I
prefer remaining where I am.

I now first began to observe an alteration in the language spoken; it had
become less sibilant, and more guttural; and, when addressing each other,
the speakers used the Spanish title of courtesy _usted_, or your
worthiness, instead of the Portuguese high flowing _vossem se_, or your
lordship.  This is the result of constant communication with the natives
of Spain, who never condescend to speak Portuguese, even when in
Portugal, but persist in the use of their own beautiful language, which,
perhaps, at some future period, the Portuguese will generally adopt.
This would greatly facilitate the union of the two countries, hitherto
kept asunder by the natural waywardness of mankind.

I had not been seated long before the blazing pile, when a fellow,
mounted on a fine spirited horse, dashed from the stables through the
passage into the kitchen, where he commenced displaying his horsemanship,
by causing the animal to wheel about with the velocity of a millstone, to
the great danger of everybody in the apartment.  He then galloped out
upon the plain, and after half an hour’s absence returned, and having
placed his horse once more in the stable, came and seated himself next to
me, to whom he commenced talking in a gibberish of which I understood
very little, but which he intended for French.  He was half intoxicated,
and soon became three parts so, by swallowing glass after glass of
aguardiente.  Finding that I made him no answer, he directed his
discourse to one of the contrabandistas, to whom he talked in bad
Spanish.  The latter either did not or would not understand him; but at
last, losing patience, called him a drunkard, and told him to hold his
tongue.  The fellow, enraged at this contempt, flung the glass out of
which he was drinking at the Spaniard’s head, who sprang up like a tiger,
and unsheathing instantly a snick and snee knife, made an upward cut at
the fellow’s cheek, and would have infallibly laid it open, had I not
pulled his arm down just in time to prevent worse effects than a scratch
above the lower jawbone, which, however, drew blood.

The smuggler’s companions interfered, and with much difficulty led him
off to a small apartment in the rear of the house, where they slept, and
kept the furniture of their mules.  The drunkard then commenced singing,
or rather yelling, the Marseillois hymn; and after having annoyed every
one for nearly an hour, was persuaded to mount his horse and depart,
accompanied by one of his neighbours.  He was a pig merchant of the
vicinity, but had formerly been a trooper in the army of Napoleon, where,
I suppose, like the drunken coachman of Evora, he had picked up his
French and his habits of intoxication.

From Estremoz to Elvas the distance is six leagues.  I started at nine
next morning; the first part of the way lay through an enclosed country,
but we soon emerged upon wild bleak downs, over which the wind, which
still pursued us, howled most mournfully.  We met no one on the route;
and the scene was desolate in the extreme; the heaven was of a dark grey,
through which no glimpse of the sun was to be perceived.  Before us, at a
great distance, on an elevated ground, rose a tower—the only object which
broke the monotony of the waste.  In about two hours from the time when
we first discovered it, we reached a fountain, at the foot of the hill on
which it stood; the water, which gushed into a long stone trough, was
beautifully clear and transparent, and we stopped here to water the
animals.

Having dismounted, I left the guide, and proceeded to ascend the hill on
which the tower stood.  Though the ascent was very gentle I did not
accomplish it without difficulty; the ground was covered with sharp
stones, which, in two or three instances, cut through my boots and
wounded my feet; and the distance was much greater than I had expected.
I at last arrived at the ruin, for such it was.  I found it had been one
of those watch towers or small fortresses called in Portuguese
_atalaias_; it was square, and surrounded by a wall, broken down in many
places.  The tower itself had no door, the lower part being of solid
stone work; but on one side were crevices at intervals between the
stones, for the purpose of placing the feet, and up this rude staircase I
climbed to a small apartment, about five feet square, from which the top
had fallen.  It commanded an extensive view from all sides, and had
evidently been built for the accommodation of those whose business it was
to keep watch on the frontier, and at the appearance of an enemy to alarm
the country by signals—probably by a fire.  Resolute men might have
defended themselves in this little fastness against many assailants, who
must have been completely exposed to their arrows or musketry in the
ascent.

Being about to leave the place, I heard a strange cry behind a part of
the wall which I had not visited, and hastening thither, I found a
miserable object in rags, seated upon a stone.  It was a maniac—a man
about thirty years of age, and I believe deaf and dumb; there he sat,
gibbering and mowing, and distorting his wild features into various
dreadful appearances.  There wanted nothing but this object to render the
scene complete; banditti amongst such melancholy desolation would have
been by no means so much in keeping.  But the maniac, on his stone, in
the rear of the wind-beaten ruin, overlooking the blasted heath, above
which scowled the leaden heaven, presented such a picture of gloom and
misery as I believe neither painter nor poet ever conceived in the
saddest of their musings.  This is not the first instance in which it has
been my lot to verify the wisdom of the saying, that truth is sometimes
wilder than fiction.

I remounted my mule, and proceeded till, on the top of another hill, my
guide suddenly exclaimed, “there is Elvas.”  I looked in the direction in
which he pointed, and beheld a town perched on the top of a lofty hill.
On the other side of a deep valley towards the left rose another hill,
much higher, on the top of which is the celebrated fort of Elvas,
believed to be the strongest place in Portugal.  Through the opening
between the fort and the town, but in the background and far in Spain, I
discerned the misty sides and cloudy head of a stately mountain, which I
afterwards learned was Albuquerque, one of the loftiest of Estremadura.

We now got into a cultivated country, and following the road, which wound
amongst hedgerows, we arrived at a place where the ground began gradually
to shelve down.  Here, on the right, was the commencement of an aqueduct
by means of which the town on the opposite hill was supplied; it was at
this point scarcely two feet in altitude, but, as we descended, it became
higher and higher, and its proportions more colossal.  Near the bottom of
the valley it took a turn to the left, bestriding the road with one of
its arches.  I looked up, after passing under it; the water must have
been flowing near a hundred feet above my head, and I was filled with
wonder at the immensity of the structure which conveyed it.  There was,
however, one feature which was no slight drawback to its pretensions to
grandeur and magnificence; the water was supported not by gigantic single
arches, like those of the aqueduct of Lisbon, which stalk over the valley
like legs of Titans, but by three layers of arches, which, like three
distinct aqueducts, rise above each other.  The expense and labour
necessary for the erection of such a structure must have been enormous;
and, when we reflect with what comparative ease modern art would confer
the same advantage, we cannot help congratulating ourselves that we live
in times when it is not necessary to exhaust the wealth of a province to
supply a town on a hill with one of the first necessaries of existence.



CHAPTER VIII


Elvas—Extraordinary Longevity—The English Nation—Portuguese
Ingratitude—Illiberality—Fortifications—Spanish Beggar—Badajoz—The Custom
House.

Arrived at the gate of Elvas, an officer came out of a kind of guard
house, and, having asked me some questions, despatched a soldier with me
to the police office, that my passport might be viséed, as upon the
frontier they are much more particular with respect to passports than in
other parts.  This matter having been settled, I entered an hostelry near
the same gate, which had been recommended to me by my host at Vendas
Novas, and which was kept by a person of the name of Joze Rosado.  It was
the best in the town, though, for convenience and accommodation, inferior
to a hedge alehouse in England.  The cold still pursued me, and I was
glad to take refuge in an inner kitchen, which, when the door was not
open, was only lighted by a fire burning somewhat dimly on the hearth.
An elderly female sat beside it in her chair, telling her beads: there
was something singular and extraordinary in her look, as well as I could
discern by the imperfect light of the apartment.  I put a few unimportant
questions to her, to which she replied, but seemed to be afflicted to a
slight degree with deafness.  Her hair was becoming grey, and I said that
I believed she was older than myself, but that I was confident she had
less snow on her head.

“How old may you be, cavalier?” said she, giving me that title which in
Spain is generally used when an extraordinary degree of respect is wished
to be exhibited.  I answered that I was near thirty.  “Then,” said she,
“you were right in supposing that I am older than yourself; I am older
than your mother, or your mother’s mother: it is more than a hundred
years since I was a girl, and sported with the daughters of the town on
the hillside.”  “In that case,” said I, “you doubtless remember the
earthquake.”  “Yes,” she replied, “if there is any occurrence in my life
that I remember, it is that: I was in the church of Elvas at the moment,
hearing the mass of the king, and the priest fell on the ground, and let
fall the Host from his hands.  I shall never forget how the earth shook;
it made us all sick; and the houses and walls reeled like drunkards.
Since that happened I have seen fourscore years pass by me, yet I was
older then than you are now.”

I looked with wonder at this surprising female, and could scarcely
believe her words.  I was, however, assured that she was in fact upwards
of a hundred and ten years of age, and was considered the oldest person
in Portugal.  She still retained the use of her faculties in as full a
degree as the generality of people who have scarcely attained the half of
her age.  She was related to the people of the house.

As the night advanced, several persons entered for the purpose of
enjoying the comfort of the fire and for the sake of conversation, for
the house was a kind of news room, where the principal speaker was the
host, a man of some shrewdness and experience, who had served as a
soldier in the British army.  Amongst others was the officer who
commanded at the gate.  After a few observations, this gentleman, who was
a good-looking young man of five-and-twenty, began to burst forth in
violent declamation against the English nation and government, who, he
said, had at all times proved themselves selfish and deceitful, but that
their present conduct in respect to Spain was particularly infamous, for
though it was in their power to put an end to the war at once, by sending
a large army thither, they preferred sending a handful of troops, in
order that the war might be prolonged, for no other reason than that it
was of advantage to them.  Having paid him an ironical compliment for his
politeness and urbanity, I asked whether he reckoned amongst the selfish
actions of the English government and nation, their having expended
hundreds of millions of pounds sterling, and an ocean of precious blood,
in fighting the battles of Spain and Portugal against Napoleon.
“Surely,” said I, “the fort of Elvas above our heads, and still more the
castle of Badajoz over the water, speak volumes respecting English
selfishness, and must, every time you view them, confirm you in the
opinion which you have just expressed.  And then, with respect to the
present combat in Spain, the gratitude which that country evinced to
England after the French, by means of English armies, had been
expelled,—gratitude evinced by discouraging the trade of England on all
occasions, and by offering up masses in thanksgiving when the English
heretics quitted the Spanish shores,—ought now to induce England to
exhaust and ruin herself, for the sake of hunting Don Carlos out of his
mountains.  In deference to your superior judgment,” continued I to the
officer, “I will endeavour to believe that it would be for the advantage
of England were the war prolonged for an indefinite period; nevertheless,
you would do me a particular favour by explaining by what process in
chemistry blood shed in Spain will find its way into the English treasury
in the shape of gold.”

As he was not ready with his answer, I took up a plate of fruit which
stood on the table beside me, and said, “What do you call these fruits?”
“Pomegranates and bolotas,” he replied.  “Right,” said I, “a home-bred
Englishman could not have given me that answer; yet he is as much
acquainted with pomegranates and bolotas as your lordship is with the
line of conduct which it is incumbent upon England to pursue in her
foreign and domestic policy.”

This answer of mine, I confess, was not that of a Christian, and proved
to me how much of the leaven of the ancient man still pervaded me; yet I
must be permitted to add, that I believe no other provocation would have
elicited from me a reply so full of angry feeling: but I could not
command myself when I heard my own glorious land traduced in this
unmerited manner.  By whom?  A Portuguese!  A native of a country which
has been twice liberated from horrid and detestable thraldom by the hands
of Englishmen.  But for Wellington and his heroes, Portugal would have
been French at this day; but for Napier and his mariners, Miguel would
now be lording it in Lisbon.  To return, however, to the officer; every
one laughed at him, and he presently went away.

The next day I became acquainted with a respectable tradesman of the name
of Almeida, a man of talent, though rather rough in his manners.  He
expressed great abhorrence of the papal system, which had so long spread
a darkness like that of death over his unfortunate country, and I had no
sooner informed him that I had brought with me a certain quantity of
Testaments, which it was my intention to leave for sale at Elvas, than he
expressed a great desire to undertake the charge, and said that he would
do the utmost in his power to procure a sale for them amongst his
numerous customers.  Upon showing him a copy, I remarked, your name is
upon the title page; the Portuguese version of the Holy Scriptures,
circulated by the Bible Society, having been executed by a Protestant of
the name of Almeida, and first published in the year 1712; whereupon he
smiled, and observed that he esteemed it an honour to be connected in
name at least with such a man.  He scoffed at the idea of receiving any
remuneration, and assured me that the feeling of being permitted to
co-operate in so holy and useful a cause as the circulation of the
Scriptures was quite a sufficient reward.

After having accomplished this matter, I proceeded to survey the environs
of the place, and strolled up the hill to the fort on the north side of
the town.  The lower part of the hill is planted with azinheiras, which
give it a picturesque appearance, and at the bottom is a small brook,
which I crossed by means of stepping stones.  Arrived at the gate of the
fort, I was stopped by the sentry, who, however, civilly told me, that if
I sent in my name to the commanding officer he would make no objection to
my visiting the interior.  I accordingly sent in my card by a soldier who
was lounging about, and, sitting down on a stone, waited his return.  He
presently appeared, and inquired whether I was an Englishman; to which,
having replied in the affirmative, he said, “In that case, sir, you
cannot enter; indeed, it is not the custom to permit any foreigners to
visit the fort.”  I answered that it was perfectly indifferent to me
whether I visited it or not; and, having taken a survey of Badajoz from
the eastern side of the hill, descended by the way I came.

This is one of the beneficial results of protecting a nation and
squandering blood and treasure in its defence.  The English, who have
never been at war with Portugal, who have fought for its independence on
land and sea, and always with success, who have forced themselves by a
treaty of commerce to drink its coarse and filthy wines, which no other
nation cares to taste, are the most unpopular people who visit Portugal.
The French have ravaged the country with fire and sword, and shed the
blood of its sons like water; the French buy not its fruits and loathe
its wines, yet there is no bad spirit in Portugal towards the French.
The reason of this is no mystery; it is the nature not of the Portuguese
only, but of corrupt and unregenerate man, to dislike his benefactors,
who, by conferring benefits upon him, mortify in the most generous manner
his miserable vanity.

There is no country in which the English are so popular as in France;
but, though the French have been frequently roughly handled by the
English, and have seen their capital occupied by an English army, they
have never been subjected to the supposed ignominy of receiving
assistance from them.

The fortifications of Elvas are models of their kind, and, at the first
view, it would seem that the town, if well garrisoned, might bid defiance
to any hostile power; but it has its weak point: the western side is
commanded by a hill, at the distance of half a mile, from which an
experienced general would cannonade it, and probably with success.  It is
the last town in this part of Portugal, the distance to the Spanish
frontier being barely two leagues.  It was evidently built as a rival to
Badajoz, upon which it looks down from its height across a sandy plain
and over the sullen waters of the Guadiana; but, though a strong town, it
can scarcely be called a defence to the frontier, which is open on all
sides, so that there would not be the slightest necessity for an invading
army to approach within a dozen leagues of its walls, should it be
disposed to avoid them.  Its fortifications are so extensive that ten
thousand men at least would be required to man them, who, in the event of
an invasion, might be far better employed in meeting the enemy in the
open field.  The French, during their occupation of Portugal, kept a
small force in this place, who, at the approach of the British, retreated
to the fort, where they shortly after capitulated.

Having nothing farther to detain me at Elvas, I proceeded to cross the
frontier into Spain.  My idiot guide was on his way back to Aldea
Gallega; and, on the fifth of January, I mounted a sorry mule without
bridle or stirrups, which I guided by a species of halter, and followed
by a lad who was to attend me on another, I spurred down the hill of
Elvas to the plain, eager to arrive in old chivalrous romantic Spain.
But I soon found that I had no need to quicken the beast which bore me,
for though covered with sores, wall-eyed, and with a kind of halt in its
gait, it cantered along like the wind.

In little more than half an hour we arrived at a brook, whose waters ran
vigorously between steep banks.  A man who was standing on the side
directed me to the ford in the squeaking dialect of Portugal; but whilst
I was yet splashing through the water, a voice from the other bank hailed
me, in the magnificent language of Spain, in this guise: “_O Senor
Caballero_, _que me de usted una limosna por amor de Dios_, _una
limosnita para que io me compre un traguillo de vino tinto_” (Charity,
Sir Cavalier, for the love of God, bestow an alms upon me, that I may
purchase a mouthful of red wine).  In a moment I was on Spanish ground,
as the brook, which is called Acaia, is the boundary here of the two
kingdoms, and having flung the beggar a small piece of silver, I cried in
ecstasy “_Santiago y cierra Espana_!” and scoured on my way with more
speed than before, paying, as Gil Blas says, little heed to the torrent
of blessings which the mendicant poured forth in my rear: yet never was
charity more unwisely bestowed, for I was subsequently informed that the
fellow was a confirmed drunkard, who took his station every morning at
the ford, where he remained the whole day for the purpose of extorting
money from the passengers, which he regularly spent every night in the
wine-shops of Badajoz.  To those who gave him money he returned
blessings, and to those who refused, curses; being equally skilled and
fluent in the use of either.

Badajoz was now in view, at the distance of little more than half a
league.  We soon took a turn to the left, towards a bridge of many arches
across the Guadiana, which, though so famed in song and ballad, is a very
unpicturesque stream, shallow and sluggish, though tolerably wide; its
banks were white with linen which the washer-women had spread out to dry
in the sun, which was shining brightly; I heard their singing at a great
distance, and the theme seemed to be the praises of the river where they
were toiling, for as I approached, I could distinguish Guadiana,
Guadiana, which reverberated far and wide, pronounced by the clear and
strong voices of many a dark-cheeked maid and matron.  I thought there
was some analogy between their employment and my own: I was about to tan
my northern complexion by exposing myself to the hot sun of Spain, in the
humble hope of being able to cleanse some of the foul stains of Popery
from the minds of its children, with whom I had little acquaintance,
whilst they were bronzing themselves on the banks of the river in order
to make white the garments of strangers: the words of an eastern poet
returned forcibly to my mind.

    “I’ll weary myself each night and each day,
       To aid my unfortunate brothers;
    As the laundress tans her own face in the ray,
       To cleanse the garments of others.”

Having crossed the bridge, we arrived at the northern gate, when out
rushed from a species of sentry box a fellow wearing on his head a
high-peaked Andalusian hat, with his figure wrapped up in one of those
immense cloaks so well known to those who have travelled in Spain, and
which none but a Spaniard can wear in a becoming manner: without saying a
word, he laid hold of the halter of the mule, and began to lead it
through the gate up a dirty street, crowded with long-cloaked people like
himself.  I asked him what he meant, but he deigned not to return an
answer, the boy, however, who waited upon me said that it was one of the
gate-keepers, and that he was conducting us to the Custom House or
Alfandega, where the baggage would be examined.  Having arrived there,
the fellow, who still maintained a dogged silence, began to pull the
trunks off the sumpter mule, and commenced uncording them.  I was about
to give him a severe reproof for his brutality, but before I could open
my mouth a stout elderly personage appeared at the door, who I soon found
was the principal officer.  He looked at me for a moment and then asked
me, in the English language, if I was an Englishman.  On my replying in
the affirmative, he demanded of the fellow how he dared to have the
insolence to touch the baggage, without orders, and sternly bade him cord
up the trunks again and place them on the mule, which he performed
without uttering a word.  The gentleman then asked what the trunks
contained: I answered clothes and linen; when he begged pardon for the
insolence of the subordinate, and informed him that I was at liberty to
proceed where I thought proper.  I thanked him for his exceeding
politeness, and, under guidance of the boy, made the best of my way to
the Inn of the Three Nations, to which I had been recommended at Elvas.



CHAPTER IX


Badajoz—Antonio the Gypsy—Antonio’s Proposal—The Proposal Accepted—Gypsy
Breakfast—Departure from Badajoz—The Gypsy Donkey—Merida—The Ruined
Wall—The Crone—The Land of the Moor—The Black Men—Life in the Desert—The
Supper.

I was now at Badajoz in Spain, a country which for the next four years
was destined to be the scene of my labour: but I will not anticipate.
The neighbourhood of Badajoz did not prepossess me much in favour of the
country which I had just entered; it consists chiefly of brown moors,
which bear little but a species of brushwood, called in Spanish
_carrasco_; blue mountains are however seen towering up in the far
distance, which relieve the scene from the monotony which would otherwise
pervade it.

It was at this town of Badajoz, the capital of Estremadura, that I first
fell in with those singular people, the Zincali, Gitanos, or Spanish
gypsies.  It was here I met with the wild Paco, the man with the withered
arm, who wielded the cachas (_shears_) with his left hand; his shrewd
wife, Antonia, skilled in hokkano baro, or the great trick; the fierce
gypsy, Antonio Lopez, their father-in-law; and many other almost equally
singular individuals of the Errate, or gypsy blood.  It was here that I
first preached the gospel to the gypsy people, and commenced that
translation of the New Testament in the Spanish gypsy tongue, a portion
of which I subsequently printed at Madrid.

After a stay of three weeks at Badajoz, I prepared to depart for Madrid:
late one afternoon, as I was arranging my scanty baggage, the gypsy
Antonio entered my apartment, dressed in his zamarra and high-peaked
Andalusian hat.

_Antonio_.—Good evening, brother; they tell me that on the callicaste
(_day after to-morrow_) you intend to set out for Madrilati.

_Myself_.—Such is my intention; I can stay here no longer.

_Antonio_.—The way is far to Madrilati: there are, moreover, wars in the
land and many chories (_thieves_) walk about; are you not afraid to
journey?

_Myself_.—I have no fears; every man must accomplish his destiny: what
befalls my body or soul was written in a gabicote (_book_) a thousand
years before the foundation of the world.

_Antonio_.—I have no fears myself, brother; the dark night is the same to
me as the fair day, and the wild carrascal as the market-place or the
chardy (_fair_); I have got the bar lachi in my bosom, the precious stone
to which sticks the needle.

_Myself_.—You mean the loadstone, I suppose.  Do you believe that a
lifeless stone can preserve you from the dangers which occasionally
threaten your life?

_Antonio_.—Brother, I am fifty years old, and you see me standing before
you in life and strength; how could that be unless the bar lachi had
power?  I have been soldier and contrabandista, and I have likewise slain
and robbed the Busné.  The bullets of the Gabiné (_French_) and of the
jara canallis (_revenue officers_) have hissed about my ears without
injuring me, for I carried the bar lachi.  I have twenty times done that
which by Busnée law should have brought me to the filimicha (_gallows_),
yet my neck has never yet been squeezed by the cold garrote.  Brother, I
trust in the bar lachi, like the Caloré of old: were I in the midst of
the gulph of Bombardo (_Lyons_), without a plank to float upon, I should
feel no fear; for if I carried the precious stone, it would bring me safe
to shore: the bar lachi has power, brother.

_Myself_.—I shall not dispute the matter with you, more especially as I
am about to depart from Badajoz: I must speedily bid you farewell, and we
shall see each other no more.

_Antonio_.—Brother, do you know what brings me hither?

_Myself_.—I cannot tell, unless it be to wish me a happy journey: I am
not gypsy enough to interpret the thoughts of other people.

_Antonio_.—All last night I lay awake, thinking of the affairs of Egypt;
and when I arose in the morning I took the bar lachi from my bosom, and
scraping it with a knife, swallowed some of the dust in aguardiente, as I
am in the habit of doing when I have made up my mind; and I said to
myself, I am wanted on the frontiers of Castumba (_Castile_) on a certain
matter.  The strange Caloro is about to proceed to Madrilati; the journey
is long, and he may fall into evil hands, peradventure into those of his
own blood; for let me tell you, brother, the Calés are leaving their
towns and villages, and forming themselves into troops to plunder the
Busné, for there is now but little law in the land, and now or never is
the time for the Caloré to become once more what they were in former
times; so I said, the strange Caloro may fall into the hands of his own
blood and be ill-treated by them, which were shame: I will therefore go
with him through the Chim del Manro (_Estremadura_) as far as the
frontiers of Castumba, and upon the frontiers of Castumba I will leave
the London Caloro to find his own way to Madrilati, for there is less
danger in Castumba than in the Chim del Manro, and I will then betake me
to the affairs of Egypt which call me from hence.

_Myself_.—This is a very hopeful plan of yours, my friend; and in what
manner do you propose that we shall travel?

_Antonio_.—I will tell you, brother; I have a gras in the stall, even the
one which I purchased at Olivenças, as I told you on a former occasion;
it is good and fleet, and cost me, who am a gypsy, fifty chulé
(_dollars_); upon that gras you shall ride.  As for myself, I will
journey upon the macho.

_Myself_.—Before I answer you, I shall wish you to inform me what
business it is which renders your presence necessary in Castumba; your
son-in-law, Paco, told me that it was no longer the custom of the gypsies
to wander.

_Antonio_.—It is an affair of Egypt, brother, and I shall not acquaint
you with it; peradventure it relates to a horse or an ass, or
peradventure it relates to a mule or a macho; it does not relate to
yourself, therefore I advise you not to inquire about it—Dosta
(_enough_).  With respect to my offer, you are free to decline it; there
is a drungruje (_royal road_) between here and Madrilati, and you can
travel it in the birdoche (_stage-coach_) or with the dromale
(_muleteers_); but I tell you, as a brother, that there are chories upon
the drun, and some of them are of the Errate.

Certainly few people in my situation would have accepted the offer of
this singular gypsy.  It was not, however, without its allurements for
me; I was fond of adventure, and what more ready means of gratifying my
love of it than by putting myself under the hands of such a guide.  There
are many who would have been afraid of treachery, but I had no fears on
this point, as I did not believe that the fellow harboured the slightest
ill intention towards me; I saw that he was fully convinced that I was
one of the Errate, and his affection for his own race, and his hatred for
the Busné, were his strongest characteristics.  I wished, moreover, to
lay hold of every opportunity of making myself acquainted with the ways
of the Spanish gypsies, and an excellent one here presented itself on my
first entrance into Spain.  In a word, I determined to accompany the
gypsy.  “I will go with you,” I exclaimed; “as for my baggage, I will
despatch it to Madrid by the birdoche.”  “Do so, brother,” he replied,
“and the gras will go lighter.  Baggage, indeed!—what need of baggage
have you?  How the Busné on the road would laugh if they saw two Calés
with baggage behind them.”

During my stay at Badajoz, I had but little intercourse with the
Spaniards, my time being chiefly devoted to the gypsies, with whom, from
long intercourse with various sections of their race in different parts
of the world, I felt myself much more at home than with the silent,
reserved men of Spain, with whom a foreigner might mingle for half a
century without having half a dozen words addressed to him, unless he
himself made the first advances to intimacy, which, after all, might be
rejected with a shrug and a _no intendo_; for, among the many deeply
rooted prejudices of these people, is the strange idea that no foreigner
can speak their language; an idea to which they will still cling though
they hear him conversing with perfect ease; for in that case the utmost
that they will concede to his attainments is, _Habla quatro palabras y
nada mas_ (he can speak four words, and no more).

Early one morning, before sunrise, I found myself at the house of
Antonio; it was a small mean building, situated in a dirty street.  The
morning was quite dark; the street, however, was partially illumined by a
heap of lighted straw, round which two or three men were busily engaged,
apparently holding an object over the flames.  Presently the gypsy’s door
opened, and Antonio made his appearance; and, casting his eye in the
direction of the light, exclaimed, “The swine have killed their brother;
would that every Busno was served as yonder hog is.  Come in, brother,
and we will eat the heart of that hog.”  I scarcely understood his words,
but, following him, he led me into a low room in which was a brasero, or
small pan full of lighted charcoal; beside it was a rude table, spread
with a coarse linen cloth, upon which was bread and a large pipkin full
of a mess which emitted no disagreeable savour.  “The heart of the
balichow is in that puchera,” said Antonio; “eat, brother.”  We both sat
down and ate, Antonio voraciously.  When we had concluded he arose:—“Have
you got your _li_?” he demanded.  “Here it is,” said I, showing him my
passport.  “Good,” said he, “you may want it; I want none, my passport is
the bar lachi.  Now for a glass of repani, and then for the road.”

We left the room, the door of which he locked, hiding the key beneath a
loose brick in a corner of the passage.  “Go into the street, brother,
whilst I fetch the caballerias from the stable.”  I obeyed him.  The sun
had not yet risen, and the air was piercingly cold; the grey light,
however, of dawn enabled me to distinguish objects with tolerable
accuracy; I soon heard the clattering of the animals’ feet, and Antonio
presently stepped forth leading the horse by the bridle; the macho
followed behind.  I looked at the horse and shrugged my shoulders: as far
as I could scan it, it appeared the most uncouth animal I had ever
beheld.  It was of a spectral white, short in the body, but with
remarkably long legs.  I observed that it was particularly high in the
cruz or withers.  “You are looking at the grasti,” said Antonio; “it is
eighteen years old, but it is the very best in the Chim del Manro; I have
long had my eye upon it; I bought it for my own use for the affairs of
Egypt.  Mount, brother, mount and let us leave the foros—the gate is
about being opened.”

He locked the door, and deposited the key in his faja.  In less than a
quarter of an hour we had left the town behind us.  “This does not appear
to be a very good horse,” said I to Antonio, as we proceeded over the
plain.  “It is with difficulty that I can make him move.”

“He is the swiftest horse in the Chim del Manro, brother,” said Antonio;
“at the gallop and at the speedy trot there is no one to match him; but
he is eighteen years old, and his joints are stiff, especially of a
morning; but let him once become heated and the genio del viejo (_spirit
of the old man_) comes upon him and there is no holding him in with bit
or bridle.  I bought that horse for the affairs of Egypt, brother.”

About noon we arrived at a small village in the neighbourhood of a high
lumpy hill.  “There is no Calo house in this place,” said Antonio; “we
will therefore go to the posada of the Busné, and refresh ourselves, man
and beast.”  We entered the kitchen and sat down at the boards, calling
for wine and bread.  There were two ill-looking fellows in the kitchen,
smoking cigars; I said something to Antonio in the Calo language.

“What is that I hear?” said one of the fellows, who was distinguished by
an immense pair of moustaches.  “What is that I hear? is it in Calo that
you are speaking before me, and I a Chalan and national?  Accursed gypsy,
how dare you enter this posada and speak before me in that speech?  Is it
not forbidden by the law of the land in which we are, even as it is
forbidden for a gypsy to enter the mercado?  I tell you what, friend, if
I hear another word of Calo come from your mouth, I will cudgel your
bones and send you flying over the house-tops with a kick of my foot.”

“You would do right,” said his companion; “the insolence of these gypsies
is no longer to be borne.  When I am at Merida or Badajoz I go to the
mercado, and there in a corner stand the accursed gypsies jabbering to
each other in a speech which I understand not.  ‘Gypsy gentleman,’ say I
to one of them, ‘what will you have for that donkey?’  ‘I will have ten
dollars for it, Caballero nacional,’ says the gypsy; ‘it is the best
donkey in all Spain.’  ‘I should like to see its paces,’ say I.  ‘That
you shall, most valorous!’ says the gypsy, and jumping upon its back, he
puts it to its paces, first of all whispering something into its ears in
Calo, and truly the paces of the donkey are most wonderful, such as I
have never seen before.  ‘I think it will just suit me,’ and after
looking at it awhile, I take out the money and pay for it.  ‘I shall go
to my house,’ says the gypsy; and off he runs.  ‘I shall go to my
village,’ say I, and I mount the donkey.  ‘Vamonos,’ say I, but the
donkey won’t move.  I give him a switch, but I don’t get on the better
for that.  ‘How is this?’ say I, and I fall to spurring him.  What
happens then, brother?  The wizard no sooner feels the prick than he
bucks down, and flings me over his head into the mire.  I get up and look
about me; there stands the donkey staring at me, and there stand the
whole gypsy canaille squinting at me with their filmy eyes.  ‘Where is
the scamp who has sold me this piece of furniture?’ I shout.  ‘He is gone
to Granada, Valorous,’ says one.  ‘He is gone to see his kindred among
the Moors,’ says another.  ‘I just saw him running over the field, in the
direction of ---, with the devil close behind him,’ says a third.  In a
word, I am tricked.  I wish to dispose of the donkey; no one, however,
will buy him; he is a Calo donkey, and every person avoids him.  At last
the gypsies offer thirty rials for him; and after much chaffering I am
glad to get rid of him at two dollars.  It is all a trick, however; he
returns to his master, and the brotherhood share the spoil amongst them.
All which villainy would be prevented, in my opinion, were the Calo
language not spoken; for what but the word of Calo could have induced the
donkey to behave in such an unaccountable manner?”

Both seemed perfectly satisfied with the justness of this conclusion, and
continued smoking till their cigars were burnt to stumps, when they
arose, twitched their whiskers, looked at us with fierce disdain, and
dashing the tobacco-ends to the ground, strode out of the apartment.

“Those people seem no friends to the gypsies,” said I to Antonio, when
the two bullies had departed, “nor to the Calo language either.”

“May evil glanders seize their nostrils,” said Antonio; “they have been
jonjabadoed by our people.  However, brother, you did wrong to speak to
me in Calo, in a posada like this; it is a forbidden language; for, as I
have often told you, the king has destroyed the law of the Calés.  Let us
away, brother, or those juntunes (_sneaking scoundrels_) may set the
justicia upon us.”

Towards evening we drew near to a large town or village.  “That is
Merida,” said Antonio, “formerly, as the Busné say, a mighty city of the
Corahai.  We shall stay here to-night, and perhaps for a day or two, for
I have some business of Egypt to transact in this place.  Now, brother,
step aside with the horse, and wait for me beneath yonder wall.  I must
go before and see in what condition matters stand.”

I dismounted from the horse, and sat down on a stone beneath the ruined
wall to which Antonio had motioned me; the sun went down, and the air was
exceedingly keen; I drew close around me an old tattered gypsy cloak with
which my companion had provided me, and being somewhat fatigued, fell
into a doze which lasted for nearly an hour.

“Is your worship the London Caloro?” said a strange voice close beside
me.

I started and beheld the face of a woman peering under my hat.
Notwithstanding the dusk, I could see that the features were hideously
ugly and almost black; they belonged, in fact, to a gypsy crone, at least
seventy years of age, leaning upon a staff.

“Is your worship the London Caloro?” repeated she.

“I am he whom you seek,” said I; “where is Antonio?”

“_Curelando_, _curelando_, _baribustres curelos terela_,” {90} said the
crone: “come with me, Caloro of my garlochin, come with me to my little
ker, he will be there anon.”

I followed the crone, who led the way into the town, which was ruinous
and seemingly half deserted; we went up the street, from which she turned
into a narrow and dark lane, and presently opened the gate of a large
dilapidated house; “Come in,” said she.

“And the gras?” I demanded.

“Bring the gras in too, my chabo, bring the gras in too; there is room
for the gras in my little stable.”  We entered a large court, across
which we proceeded till we came to a wide doorway.  “Go in, my child of
Egypt,” said the hag; “go in, that is my little stable.”

“The place is as dark as pitch,” said I, “and may be a well for what I
know; bring a light or I will not enter.”

“Give me the solabarri (_bridle_),” said the hag, “and I will lead your
horse in, my chabo of Egypt, yes, and tether him to my little manger.”
She led the horse through the doorway, and I heard her busy in the
darkness; presently the horse shook himself: “_Grasti terelamos_,” said
the hag, who now made her appearance with the bridle in her hand; “the
horse has shaken himself, he is not harmed by his day’s journey; now let
us go in, my Caloro, into my little room.”

We entered the house and found ourselves in a vast room, which would have
been quite dark but for a faint glow which appeared at the farther end;
it proceeded from a brasero, beside which were squatted two dusky
figures.

“These are Callees,” said the hag; “one is my daughter and the other is
her chabi; sit down, my London Caloro, and let us hear you speak.”

I looked about for a chair, but could see none; at a short distance,
however, I perceived the end of a broken pillar lying on the floor; this
I rolled to the brasero and sat down upon it.

“This is a fine house, mother of the gypsies,” said I to the hag, willing
to gratify the desire she had expressed of hearing me speak; “a fine
house is this of yours, rather cold and damp, though; it appears large
enough to be a barrack for hundunares.”

“Plenty of houses in this foros, plenty of houses in Merida, my London
Caloro, some of them just as they were left by the Corahanoes; ah, a fine
people are the Corahanoes; I often wish myself in their chim once more.”

“How is this, mother,” said I, “have you been in the land of the Moors?”

“Twice have I been in their country, my Caloro,—twice have I been in the
land of the Corahai; the first time is more than fifty years ago, I was
then with the Sese (_Spaniards_), for my husband was a soldier of the
Crallis of Spain, and Oran at that time belonged to Spain.”

“You were not then with the real Moors,” said I, “but only with the
Spaniards who occupied part of their country.”

“I have been with the real Moors, my London Caloro.  Who knows more of
the real Moors than myself?  About forty years ago I was with my ro in
Ceuta, for he was still a soldier of the king, and he said to me one day,
‘I am tired of this place where there is no bread and less water, I will
escape and turn Corahano; this night I will kill my sergeant and flee to
the camp of the Moor.’  ‘Do so,’ said I, ‘my chabo, and as soon as may be
I will follow you and become a Corahani.’  That same night he killed his
sergeant, who five years before had called him Calo and cursed him, then
running to the wall he dropped from it, and amidst many shots he escaped
to the land of the Corahai, as for myself, I remained in the presidio of
Ceuta as a suttler, selling wine and repani to the soldiers.  Two years
passed by and I neither saw nor heard from my ro; one day there came a
strange man to my cachimani (_wine-shop_), he was dressed like a
Corahano, and yet he did not look like one, he looked like more a
callardo (_black_), and yet he was not a callardo either, though he was
almost black, and as I looked upon him I thought he looked something like
the Errate, and he said to me, ‘Zincali; chachipé!’ and then he whispered
to me in queer language, which I could scarcely understand, ‘Your ro is
waiting, come with me, my little sister, and I will take you unto him.’
‘Where is he?’ said I, and he pointed to the west, to the land of the
Corahai, and said, ‘He is yonder away; come with me, little sister, the
ro is waiting.’  For a moment I was afraid, but I bethought me of my
husband and I wished to be amongst the Corahai; so I took the little
parné (_money_) I had, and locking up the cachimani went with the strange
man; the sentinel challenged us at the gate, but I gave him repani
(_brandy_) and he let us pass; in a moment we were in the land of the
Corahai.  About a league from the town beneath a hill we found four
people, men and women, all very black like the strange man, and we joined
ourselves with them and they all saluted me and called me little sister.
That was all I understood of their discourse, which was very crabbed; and
they took away my dress and gave me other clothes, and I looked like a
Corahani, and away we marched for many days amidst deserts and small
villages, and more than once it seemed to me that I was amongst the
Errate, for their ways were the same: the men would hokkawar (_cheat_)
with mules and asses, and the women told baji, and after many days we
came before a large town, and the black man said, ‘Go in there, little
sister, and there you will find your ro;’ and I went to the gate, and an
armed Corahano stood within the gate, and I looked in his face, and lo!
it was my ro.

“O what a strange town it was that I found myself in, full of people who
had once been Candoré (_Christians_) but had renegaded and become
Corahai.  There were Sese and Laloré (_Portuguese_), and men of other
nations, and amongst them were some of the Errate from my own country;
all were now soldiers of the Crallis of the Corahai and followed him to
his wars; and in that town I remained with my ro a long time,
occasionally going out with him to the wars, and I often asked him about
the black men who had brought me thither, and he told me that he had had
dealings with them, and that he believed them to be of the Errate.  Well,
brother, to be short, my ro was killed in the wars, before a town to
which the king of the Corahai laid siege, and I became a piuli (_widow_),
and I returned to the village of the renegades, as it was called, and
supported myself as well as I could; and one day as I was sitting
weeping, the black man, whom I had never seen since the day he brought me
to my ro, again stood before me, and he said, ‘Come with me, little
sister, come with me, the ro is at hand’; and I went with him, and beyond
the gate in the desert was the same party of black men and women which I
had seen before.  ‘Where is my ro?’ said I.  ‘Here he is, little sister,’
said the black man, ‘here he is; from this day I am the ro and you the
romi; come, let us go, for there is business to be done.’

“And I went with him, and he was my ro, and we lived amongst the deserts,
and hokkawar’d and choried and told baji; and I said to myself, this is
good, sure I am amongst the Errate in a better chim than my own; and I
often said that they were of the Errate, and then they would laugh and
say that it might be so, and that they were not Corahai, but they could
give no account of themselves.

“Well, things went on in this way for years, and I had three chai by the
black man, two of them died, but the youngest, who is the Calli who sits
by the brasero, was spared; so we roamed about and choried and told baji;
and it came to pass that once in the winter time our company attempted to
pass a wide and deep river, of which there are many in the Chim del
Corahai, and the boat overset with the rapidity of the current and all
our people were drowned, all but myself and my chabi, whom I bore in my
bosom.  I had now no friends amongst the Corahai, and I wandered about
the despoblados howling and lamenting till I became half lili (_mad_),
and in this manner I found my way to the coast, where I made friends with
the captain of a ship and returned to this land of Spain.  And now I am
here, I often wish myself back again amongst the Corahai.”

Here she commenced laughing loud and long, and when she had ceased, her
daughter and grandchild took up the laugh, which they continued so long
that I concluded they were all lunatics.

Hour succeeded hour, and still we sat crouching over the brasero, from
which, by this time, all warmth had departed; the glow had long since
disappeared, and only a few dying sparks were to be distinguished.  The
room or hall was now involved in utter darkness; the women were
motionless and still; I shivered and began to feel uneasy.  “Will Antonio
be here to-night?” at length I demanded.

“_No tenga usted cuidao_, my London Caloro,” said the Gypsy mother, in an
unearthly tone; “Pepindorio {93a} has been here some time.”

I was about to rise from my seat and attempt to escape from the house,
when I felt a hand laid upon my shoulder, and in a moment I heard the
voice of Antonio.

“Be not afraid, ’tis I, brother; we will have a light anon, and then
supper.”

The supper was rude enough, consisting of bread, cheese, and olives.
Antonio, however, produced a leathern bottle of excellent wine; we
despatched these viands by the light of an earthen lamp which was placed
upon the floor.

“Now,” said Antonio to the youngest female, “bring me the pajandi, and I
will sing a gachapla.”

The girl brought the guitar, which, with some difficulty, the Gypsy
tuned, and then strumming it vigorously, he sang:

    “I stole a plump and bonny fowl,
       But ere I well had dined,
    The master came with scowl and growl,
       And me would captive bind.

    “My hat and mantle off I threw,
       And scour’d across the lea,
    Then cried the beng {93b} with loud halloo,
       Where does the Gypsy flee?”

He continued playing and singing for a considerable time, the two younger
females dancing in the meanwhile with unwearied diligence, whilst the
aged mother occasionally snapped her fingers or beat time on the ground
with her stick.  At last Antonio suddenly laid down the instrument:—

“I see the London Caloro is weary; enough, enough, to-morrow more
thereof—we will now to the charipé (_bed_).”

“With all my heart,” said I; “where are we to sleep?”

“In the stable,” said he, “in the manger; however cold the stable may be
we shall be warm enough in the bufa.”



CHAPTER X


The Gypsy’s Granddaughter—Proposed Marriage—The Algnazil—The
Assault—Speedy Trot—Arrival at Trujillo—Night and Rain—The Forest—The
Bivouac—Mount and Away!—Jaraicejo—The National—The Cavalier
Balmerson—Among the Thickets—Serious Discourse—What is Truth?—Unexpected
Intelligence.

We remained three days at the Gypsies’ house, Antonio departing early
every morning, on his mule, and returning late at night.  The house was
large and ruinous, the only habitable part of it, with the exception of
the stable, being the hall, where we had supped, and there the Gypsy
females slept at night, on some mats and mattresses in a corner.

“A strange house is this,” said I to Antonio, one morning as he was on
the point of saddling his mule and departing, as I supposed, on the
affairs of Egypt; “a strange house and strange people; that Gypsy
grandmother has all the appearance of a sowanee (_sorceress_).”

“All the appearance of one!” said Antonio; “and is she not really one?
She knows more crabbed things and crabbed words than all the Errate
betwixt here and Catalonia.  She has been amongst the wild Moors, and can
make more drows, poisons, and philtres than any one alive.  She once made
a kind of paste, and persuaded me to taste, and shortly after I had done
so my soul departed from my body, and wandered through horrid forests and
mountains, amidst monsters and duendes, during one entire night.  She
learned many things amidst the Corahai which I should be glad to know.”

“Have you been long acquainted with her?” said I; “you appear to be quite
at home in this house.”

“Acquainted with her!” said Antonio.  “Did not my own brother marry the
black Calli, her daughter, who bore him the chabi, sixteen years ago,
just before he was hanged by the Busné?”

In the afternoon I was seated with the Gypsy mother in the hall, the two
Callees were absent telling fortunes about the town and neighbourhood,
which was their principal occupation.  “Are you married, my London
Caloro?” said the old woman to me.  “Are you a ro?”

_Myself_.—Wherefore do you ask, O Dai de los Cales?

_Gypsy Mother_.—It is high time that the lacha of the chabi were taken
from her, and that she had a ro.  You can do no better than take her for
romi, my London Caloro.

_Myself_.—I am a stranger in this land, O mother of the Gypsies, and
scarcely know how to provide for myself, much less for a romi.

_Gypsy Mother_.—She wants no one to provide for her, my London Caloro,
she can at any time provide for herself and her ro.  She can hokkawar,
tell baji, and there are few to equal her at stealing a pastesas.  Were
she once at Madrilati, where they tell me you are going, she would make
much treasure; therefore take her thither, for in this foros she is nahi
(_lost_), as it were, for there is nothing to be gained; but in the foros
baro it would be another matter; she would go dressed in lachipi and
sonacai (_silk and gold_), whilst you would ride about on your
black-tailed gra; and when you had got much treasure, you might return
hither and live like a Crallis, and all the Errate of the Chim del Manro
should bow down their heads to you.  What, say you, my London Caloro,
what say you to my plan?

Myself.—Your plan is a plausible one, mother, or at least some people
would think so; but I am, as you are aware, of another chim, and have no
inclination to pass my life in this country.

_Gypsy Mother_.—Then return to your own country, my Caloro, the chabi can
cross the pani.  Would she not do business in London with the rest of the
Caloré?  Or why not go to the land of the Corahai?  In which case I would
accompany you; I and my daughter, the mother of the chabi.

_Myself_.—And what should we do in the land of the Corahai?  It is a poor
and wild country, I believe.

_Gypsy Mother_.—The London Caloro asks me what we could do in the land of
the Corahai!  Aromali!  I almost think that I am speaking to a lilipendi
(_simpleton_).  Are there not horses to chore?  Yes, I trow there are,
and better ones than in this land, and asses and mules.  In the land of
the Corahai you must hokkawar and chore even as you must here, or in your
own country, or else you are no Caloro.  Can you not join yourselves with
the black people who live in the despoblados?  Yes, surely; and glad they
would be to have among them the Errate from Spain and London.  I am
seventy years of age, but I wish not to die in this chim, but yonder, far
away, where both my roms are sleeping.  Take the chabi, therefore, and go
to Madrilati to win the parné, and when you have got it, return, and we
will give a banquet to all the Busné in Merida, and in their food I will
mix drow, and they shall eat and burst like poisoned sheep. . . . And
when they have eaten we will leave them, and away to the land of the
Moor, my London Caloro.

During the whole time that I remained at Merida I stirred not once from
the house; following the advice of Antonio, who informed me that it would
not be convenient.  My time lay rather heavily on my hands, my only
source of amusement consisting in the conversation of the women, and in
that of Antonio when he made his appearance at night.  In these tertulias
the grandmother was the principal spokeswoman, and astonished my ears
with wonderful tales of the Land of the Moors, prison escapes, thievish
feats, and one or two poisoning adventures, in which she had been
engaged, as she informed me, in her early youth.

There was occasionally something very wild in her gestures and demeanour;
more than once I observed her, in the midst of much declamation, to stop
short, stare in vacancy, and thrust out her palms as if endeavouring to
push away some invisible substance; she goggled frightfully with her
eyes, and once sank back in convulsions, of which her children took no
farther notice than observing that she was only lili, and would soon come
to herself.

Late in the afternoon of the third day, as the three women and myself sat
conversing as usual over the brasero, a shabby looking fellow in an old
rusty cloak walked into the room: he came straight up to the place where
we were sitting, produced a paper cigar, which he lighted at a coal, and
taking a whiff or two, looked at me: “Carracho,” said he, “who is this
companion?”

I saw at once that the fellow was no Gypsy: the women said nothing, but I
could hear the grandmother growling to herself, something after the
manner of an old grimalkin when disturbed.

“Carracho,” reiterated the fellow, “how came this companion here?”

“_No le penela chi min chaboro_,” said the black Callee to me, in an
undertone; “_sin un balicho de los chineles_ {97};” then looking up to
the interrogator she said aloud, “he is one of our people from Portugal,
come on the smuggling lay, and to see his poor sisters here.”

“Then let him give me some tobacco,” said the fellow, “I suppose he has
brought some with him.”

“He has no tobacco,” said the black Callee, “he has nothing but old iron.
This cigar is the only tobacco there is in the house; take it, smoke it,
and go away!”

Thereupon she produced a cigar from out her shoe, which she presented to
the alguazil.

“This will not do,” said the fellow, taking the cigar, “I must have
something better; it is now three months since I received anything from
you; the last present was a handkerchief, which was good for nothing;
therefore hand me over something worth taking, or I will carry you all to
the Carcel.”

“The Busno will take us to prison,” said the black Callee, “ha! ha! ha!”

“The Chinel will take us to prison,” giggled the young girl “he! he! he!”

“The Bengui will carry us all to the estaripel,” grunted the Gypsy
grandmother, “ho! ho! ho!”

The three females arose and walked slowly round the fellow, fixing their
eyes steadfastly on his face; he appeared frightened, and evidently
wished to get away.  Suddenly the two youngest seized his hands, and
whilst he struggled to release himself, the old woman exclaimed: “You
want tobacco, hijo—you come to the Gypsy house to frighten the Callees
and the strange Caloro out of their plako—truly, hijo, we have none for
you, and right sorry I am; we have, however, plenty of the dust _a su
servicio_.”

Here, thrusting her hand into her pocket, she discharged a handful of
some kind of dust or snuff into the fellow’s eyes; he stamped and roared,
but was for some time held fast by the two Callees; he extricated
himself, however, and attempted to unsheath a knife which he bore at his
girdle; but the two younger females flung themselves upon him like
furies, while the old woman increased his disorder by thrusting her stick
into his face; he was soon glad to give up the contest, and retreated,
leaving behind him his hat and cloak, which the chabi gathered up and
flung after him into the street.

“This is a bad business,” said I, “the fellow will of course bring the
rest of the justicia upon us, and we shall all be cast into the
estaripel.”

“Ca!” said the black Callee, biting her thumb nail, “he has more reason
to fear us than we him, we could bring him to the filimicha; we have,
moreover, friends in this town, plenty, plenty.”

“Yes,” mumbled the grandmother, “the daughters of the baji have friends,
my London Caloro, friends among the Busnees, baributre, baribu (_plenty_,
_plenty_).”

Nothing farther of any account occurred in the Gypsy house; the next day,
Antonio and myself were again in the saddle, we travelled at least
thirteen leagues before we reached the Venta, where we passed the night;
we rose early in the morning, my guide informing me that we had a long
day’s journey to make.  “Where are we bound to?” I demanded.  “To
Trujillo,” he replied.

When the sun arose, which it did gloomily and amidst threatening
rain-clouds, we found ourselves in the neighbourhood of a range of
mountains which lay on our left, and which, Antonio informed me, were
called the Sierra of San Selvan; our route, however, lay over wide
plains, scantily clothed with brushwood, with here and there a melancholy
village, with its old and dilapidated church.  Throughout the greater
part of the day, a drizzling rain was falling, which turned the dust of
the roads into mud and mire, considerably impeding our progress.  Towards
evening we reached a moor, a wild place enough, strewn with enormous
stones and rocks.  Before us, at some distance, rose a strange conical
hill, rough and shaggy, which appeared to be neither more nor less than
an immense assemblage of the same kind of rocks which lay upon the moor.
The rain had now ceased, but a strong wind rose and howled at our backs.
Throughout the journey, I had experienced considerable difficulty in
keeping up with the mule of Antonio; the walk of the horse was slow, and
I could discover no vestige of the spirit which the Gypsy had assured me
lurked within him.  We were now upon a tolerably clear spot of the moor:
“I am about to see,” I said, “whether this horse has any of the quality
which you have described.”  “Do so,” said Antonio, and spurred his beast
onward, speedily leaving me far behind.  I jerked the horse with the bit,
endeavouring to arouse his dormant spirit, whereupon he stopped, reared,
and refused to proceed.  “Hold the bridle loose and touch him with your
whip,” shouted Antonio from before.  I obeyed, and forthwith the animal
set off at a trot, which gradually increased in swiftness till it became
a downright furious speedy trot; his limbs were now thoroughly lithy, and
he brandished his fore legs in a manner perfectly wondrous; the mule of
Antonio, which was a spirited animal of excellent paces, would fain have
competed with him, but was passed in a twinkling.  This tremendous trot
endured for about a mile, when the animal, becoming yet more heated,
broke suddenly into a gallop.  Hurrah! no hare ever ran so wildly or
blindly; it was, literally, _ventre a terre_; and I had considerable
difficulty in keeping him clear of rocks, against which he would have
rushed in his savage fury, and dashed himself and rider to atoms.

This race brought me to the foot of the hill, where I waited till the
Gypsy rejoined me: we left the hill, which seemed quite inaccessible, on
our right, passing through a small and wretched village.  The sun went
down, and dark night presently came upon us; we proceeded on, however,
for nearly three hours, until we heard the barking of dogs, and perceived
a light or two in the distance.  “That is Trujillo,” said Antonio, who
had not spoken for a long time.  “I am glad of it,” I replied; “I am
thoroughly tired; I shall sleep soundly in Trujillo.”  “That is as it may
be,” said the Gypsy, and spurred his mule to a brisker pace.  We soon
entered the town, which appeared dark and gloomy enough; I followed close
behind the Gypsy, who led the way I knew not whither, through dismal
streets and dark places, where cats were squalling.  “Here is the house,”
said he at last, dismounting before a low mean hut; he knocked, no answer
was returned;—he knocked again, but still there was no reply; he shook
the door and essayed to open it, but it appeared firmly locked and
bolted.  “Caramba!” said he, “they are out—I feared it might be so.  Now
what are we to do?”

“There can be no difficulty,” said I, “with respect to what we have to
do; if your friends are gone out, it is easy enough to go to a posada.”

“You know not what you say,” replied the Gypsy, “I dare not go to the
mesuna, nor enter any house in Trujillo save this, and this is shut;
well, there is no remedy, we must move on, and, between ourselves, the
sooner we leave this place the better; my own planoro (_brother_) was
garroted at Trujillo.”

He lighted a cigar, by means of a steel and yesca, sprang on his mule,
and proceeded through streets and lanes equally dismal as those which we
had already traversed till we again found ourselves out of the, town.

I confess I did not much like this decision of the Gypsy; I felt very
slight inclination to leave the town behind and to venture into unknown
places in the dark night: amidst rain and mist, for the wind had now
dropped, and the rain began again to fall briskly.  I was, moreover, much
fatigued, and wished for nothing better than to deposit myself in some
comfortable manger, where I might sink to sleep, lulled by the pleasant
sound of horses and mules despatching their provender.  I had, however,
put myself under the direction of the Gypsy, and I was too old a
traveller to quarrel with my guide under the present circumstances.  I
therefore followed close at his crupper; our only light being the glow
emitted from the Gypsy’s cigar; at last he flung it from his mouth into a
puddle, and we were then in darkness.

We proceeded in this manner for a long time; the Gypsy was silent; I
myself was equally so; the rain descended more and more.  I sometimes
thought I heard doleful noises, something like the hooting of owls.
“This is a strange night to be wandering abroad in,” I at length said to
Antonio.

“It is, brother,” said he, “but I would sooner be abroad in such a night,
and in such places, than in the estaripel of Trujillo.”

We wandered at least a league farther, and appeared now to be near a
wood, for I could occasionally distinguish the trunks of immense trees.
Suddenly Antonio stopped his mule; “Look, brother,” said he, “to the
left, and tell me if you do not see a light; your eyes are sharper than
mine.”  I did as he commanded me.  At first I could see nothing, but
moving a little farther on I plainly saw a large light at some distance,
seemingly amongst the trees.  “Yonder cannot be a lamp or candle,” said
I; “it is more like the blaze of a fire.”  “Very likely,” said Antonio.
“There are no queres (_houses_) in this place; it is doubtless a fire
made by durotunes (_shepherds_); let us go and join them, for, as you
say, it is doleful work wandering about at night amidst rain and mire.”

We dismounted and entered what I now saw was a forest, leading the
animals cautiously amongst the trees and brushwood.  In about five
minutes we reached a small open space, at the farther side of which, at
the foot of a large cork tree, a fire was burning, and by it stood or sat
two or three figures; they had heard our approach, and one of them now
exclaimed Quien Vive?  “I know that voice,” said Antonio, and leaving the
horse with me, rapidly advanced towards the fire: presently I heard an
Ola! and a laugh, and soon the voice of Antonio summoned me to advance.
On reaching the fire I found two dark lads, and a still darker woman of
about forty; the latter seated on what appeared to be horse or mule
furniture.  I likewise saw a horse and two donkeys tethered to the
neighbouring trees.  It was in fact a Gypsy bivouac. . . . “Come forward,
brother, and show yourself,” said Antonio to me; “you are amongst
friends; these are of the Errate, the very people whom I expected to find
at Trujillo, and in whose house we should have slept.”

“And what,” said I, “could have induced them to leave their house in
Trujillo and come into this dark forest in the midst of wind and rain, to
pass the night?”

“They come on business of Egypt, brother, doubtless,” replied Antonio;
“and that business is none of ours, Calla boca!  It is lucky we have
found them here, else we should have had no supper, and our horses no
corn.”

“My ro is prisoner at the village yonder,” said the woman, pointing with
her hand in a particular direction; “he is prisoner yonder for choring a
mailla (_stealing a donkey_); we are come to see what we can do in his
behalf; and where can we lodge better than in this forest, where there is
nothing to pay?  It is not the first time, I trow, that Caloré have slept
at the root of a tree.”

One of the striplings now gave us barley for our animals in a large bag,
into which we successively introduced their heads, allowing the famished
creatures to regale themselves till we conceived that they had satisfied
their hunger.  There was a puchero simmering at the fire, half full of
bacon, garbanzos, and other provisions; this was emptied into a large
wooden platter, and out of this Antonio and myself supped; the other
Gypsies refused to join us, giving us to understand that they had eaten
before our arrival; they all, however, did justice to the leathern bottle
of Antonio, which, before his departure from Merida, he had the
precaution to fill.

I was by this time completely overcome with fatigue and sleep.  Antonio
flung me an immense horse-cloth, of which he bore more than one beneath
the huge cushion on which he rode; in this I wrapped myself, and placing
my head upon a bundle, and my feet as near as possible to the fire, I lay
down.

Antonio and the other Gypsies remained seated by the fire conversing.  I
listened for a moment to what they said, but I did not perfectly
understand it, and what I did understand by no means interested me: the
rain still drizzled, but I heeded it not, and was soon asleep.

The sun was just appearing as I awoke.  I made several efforts before I
could rise from the ground; my limbs were quite stiff, and my hair was
covered with rime; for the rain had ceased and a rather severe frost set
in.  I looked around me, but could see neither Antonio nor the Gypsies;
the animals of the latter had likewise disappeared, so had the horse
which I had hitherto rode; the mule, however, of Antonio still remained
fastened to the tree! this latter circumstance quieted some apprehensions
which were beginning to arise in my mind.  “They are gone on some
business of Egypt,” I said to myself, “and will return anon.”  I gathered
together the embers of the fire, and heaping upon them sticks and
branches, soon succeeded in calling forth a blaze, beside which I placed
the puchero, with what remained of the provision of last night.  I waited
for a considerable time in expectation of the return of my companions,
but as they did not appear, I sat down and breakfasted.  Before I had
well finished I heard the noise of a horse approaching rapidly, and
presently Antonio made his appearance amongst the trees, with some
agitation in his countenance.  He sprang from the horse, and instantly
proceeded to untie the mule.  “Mount, brother, mount!” said he, pointing
to the horse; “I went with the Callee and her chabés to the village where
the ro is in trouble; the chinobaro, however, seized them at once with
their cattle, and would have laid hands also on me, but I set spurs to
the grasti, gave him the bridle, and was soon far away.  Mount, brother,
mount, or we shall have the whole rustic canaille upon us in a
twinkling.”

I did as he commanded: we were presently in the road which we had left
the night before.  Along this we hurried at a great rate, the horse
displaying his best speedy trot; whilst the mule, with its ears pricked
up, galloped gallantly at his side.  “What place is that on the hill
yonder?” said I to Antonio, at the expiration of an hour, as we prepared
to descend a deep valley.

“That is Jaraicejo,” said Antonio; “a bad place it is and a bad place it
has ever been for the Calo people.”

“If it is such a bad place,” said I, “I hope we shall not have to pass
through it.”

“We must pass through it,” said Antonio, “for more reasons than one:
first, forasmuch is the road lies through Jaraicejo; and second,
forasmuch as it will be necessary to purchase provisions there, both for
ourselves and horses.  On the other side of Jaraicejo there is a wild
desert, a despoblado, where we shall find nothing.”

We crossed the valley, and ascended the hill, and as we drew near to the
town the Gypsy said, “Brother, we had best pass through that town singly.
I will go in advance; follow slowly, and when there purchase bread and
barley; you have nothing to fear.  I will await you on the despoblado.”

Without waiting for my answer he hastened forward, and was speedily out
of sight.

I followed slowly behind, and entered the gate of the town; an old
dilapidated place, consisting of little more than one street.  Along this
street I was advancing, when a man with a dirty foraging cap on his head,
and holding a gun in his hand, came running up to me: “Who are you?” said
he, in rather rough accents, “from whence do you come?”

“From Badajoz and Trujillo,” I replied; “why do you ask?”

“I am one of the national guard,” said the man, “and am placed here to
inspect strangers; I am told that a Gypsy fellow just now rode through
the town; it is well for him that I had stepped into my house.  Do you
come in his company?”

“Do I look a person,” said I, “likely to keep company with Gypsies?”

The national measured me from top to toe, and then looked me full in the
face with an expression which seemed to say, “likely enough.”  In fact,
my appearance was by no means calculated to prepossess people in my
favour.  Upon my head I wore an old Andalusian hat, which, from its
condition, appeared to have been trodden under foot; a rusty cloak, which
had perhaps served half a dozen generations, enwrapped my body.  My
nether garments were by no means of the finest description; and as far as
could be seen were covered with mud, with which my face was likewise
plentifully bespattered, and upon my chin was a beard of a week’s growth.

“Have you a passport?” at length demanded the national.

I remembered having read that the best way to win a Spaniard’s heart is
to treat him with ceremonious civility.  I therefore dismounted, and
taking off my hat, made a low bow to the constitutional soldier, saying,
“Señor nacional, you must know that I am an English gentleman, travelling
in this country for my pleasure; I bear a passport, which, on inspecting,
you will find to be perfectly regular; it was given me by the great Lord
Palmerston, minister of England, whom you of course have heard of here;
at the bottom you will see his own handwriting; look at it and rejoice;
perhaps you will never have another opportunity.  As I put unbounded
confidence in the honour of every gentleman, I leave the passport in your
hands whilst I repair to the posada to refresh myself.  When you have
inspected it, you will perhaps oblige me so far as to bring it to me.
Cavalier, I kiss your hands.”

I then made him another low bow, which he returned with one still lower,
and leaving him now staring at the passport and now looking at myself, I
went into a posada, to which I was directed by a beggar whom I met.

I fed the horse, and procured some bread and barley, as the Gypsy had
directed me; I likewise purchased three fine partridges of a fowler, who
was drinking wine in the posada.  He was satisfied with the price I gave
him, and offered to treat me with a copita, to which I made no objection.
As we sat discoursing at the table, the national entered with the
passport in his hand, and sat down by us.

_National_.—Caballero!  I return you your passport, it is quite in form;
I rejoice much to have made your acquaintance; I have no doubt that you
can give me some information respecting the present war.

_Myself_.—I shall be very happy to afford so polite and honourable a
gentleman any information in my power.

_National_.—What is England doing,—is she about to afford any assistance
to this country?  If she pleased she could put down the war in three
months.

_Myself_.—Be under no apprehension, Señor nacional; the war will be put
down, don’t doubt.  You have heard of the English legion, which my Lord
Palmerston has sent over?  Leave the matter in their hands, and you will
soon see the result.

_National_.—It appears to me that this Caballero Balmerson must be a very
honest man.

_Myself_.—There can be no doubt of it.

_National_.—I have heard that he is a great general.

_Myself_.—There can be no doubt of it.  In some things neither Napoleon
nor the sawyer {104} would stand a chance with him for a moment.  _Es
mucho hombre_.

_National_.—I am glad to hear it.  Does he intend to head the legion
himself?

_Myself_.—I believe not; but he has sent over, to head the fighting men,
a friend of his, who is thought to be nearly as much versed in military
matters as himself.

_National_.—I am rejoiced to hear it.  I see that the war will soon be
over.  Caballero, I thank you for your politeness, and for the
information which you have afforded me.  I hope you will have a pleasant
journey.  I confess that I am surprised to see a gentleman of your
country travelling alone, and in this manner, through such regions as
these.  The roads are at present very bad; there have of late been many
accidents, and more than two deaths in this neighbourhood.  The
despoblado out yonder has a particularly evil name; be on your guard,
Caballero.  I am sorry that Gypsy was permitted to pass; should you meet
him and not like his looks, shoot him at once, stab him, or ride him
down.  He is a well known thief, contrabandista, and murderer, and has
committed more assassinations than he has fingers on his hands.
Caballero, if you please, we will allow you a guard to the other side of
the pass.  You do not wish it?  Then, farewell.  Stay, before I go I
should wish to see once more the signature of the Caballero Balmerson.

I showed him the signature, which he looked upon with profound reverence,
uncovering his head for a moment; we then embraced and parted.

I mounted the horse and rode from the town, at first proceeding very
slowly; I had no sooner, however, reached the moor, than I put the animal
to his speedy trot, and proceeded at a tremendous rate for some time,
expecting every moment to overtake the Gypsy.  I, however, saw nothing of
him, nor did I meet with a single human being.  The road along which I
sped was narrow and sandy, winding amidst thickets of broom and
brushwood, with which the despoblado was overgrown, and which in some
places were as high as a man’s head.  Across the moor, in the direction
in which I was proceeding, rose a lofty eminence, naked and bare.  The
moor extended for at least three leagues; I had nearly crossed it, and
reached the foot of the ascent.  I was becoming very uneasy, conceiving
that I might have passed the Gypsy amongst the thickets, when I suddenly
heard his well known Ola! and his black savage head and staring eyes
suddenly appeared from amidst a clump of broom.

“You have tarried long, brother,” said he; “I almost thought you had
played me false.”

He bade me dismount, and then proceeded to lead the horse behind the
thicket, where I found the mule picqueted to the ground.  I gave him the
barley and provisions, and then proceeded to relate to him my adventure
with the national.

“I would I had him here,” said the Gypsy, on hearing the epithets which
the former had lavished upon him.  “I would I had him here, then should
my chulee and his carlo become better acquainted.”

“And what are you doing here yourself,” I demanded, “in this wild place,
amidst these thickets?”

“I am expecting a messenger down yon pass,” said the Gypsy; “and till
that messenger arrive I can neither go forward nor return.  It is on
business of Egypt, brother, that I am here.”

As he invariably used this last expression when he wished to evade my
inquiries, I held my peace, and said no more; the animals were fed, and
we proceeded to make a frugal repast on bread and wine.

“Why do you not cook the game which I brought?” I demanded; “in this
place there is plenty of materials for a fire.”

“The smoke might discover us, brother,” said Antonio, “I am desirous of
lying escondido in this place until the arrival of the messenger.”

It was now considerably past noon; the gypsy lay behind the thicket,
raising himself up occasionally and looking anxiously towards the hill
which lay over against us; at last, with an exclamation of disappointment
and impatience, he flung himself on the ground, where he lay a
considerable time, apparently ruminating; at last he lifted up his head
and looked me in the face.

_Antonio_.—Brother, I cannot imagine what business brought you to this
country.

_Myself_.—Perhaps the same which brings you to this moor—business of
Egypt.

_Antonio_.—Not so, brother; you speak the language of Egypt, it is true,
but your ways and words are neither those of the Cales nor of the Busné.

_Myself_.—Did you not hear me speak in the foros about God and Tebleque?
It was to declare his glory to the Cales and Gentiles that I came to the
land of Spain.

_Antonio_.—And who sent you on this errand?

_Myself_.—You would scarcely understand me were I to inform you.  Know,
however, that there are many in foreign lands who lament the darkness
which envelops Spain, and the scenes of cruelty, robbery, and murder
which deform it.

_Antonio_.—Are they Caloré or Busné?

_Myself_.—What matters it?  Both Caloré and Busné are sons of the same
God.

_Antonio_.—You lie, brother, they are not of one father nor of one
Errate.  You speak of robbery, cruelty, and murder.  There are too many
Busné, brother; if there were no Busné there would be neither robbery nor
murder.  The Caloré neither rob nor murder each other, the Busné do; nor
are they cruel to their animals, their law forbids them.  When I was a
child I was beating a burra, but my father stopped my hand, and chided
me.  “Hurt not the animal,” said he; “for within it is the soul of your
own sister!”

_Myself_.—And do you believe in this wild doctrine, O Antonio?

_Antonio_.—Sometimes I do, sometimes I do not.  There are some who
believe in nothing; not even that they live!  Long since, I knew an old
Caloro, he was old, very old, upwards of a hundred years,—and I once
heard him say, that all we thought we saw was a lie; that there was no
world, no men nor women, no horses nor mules, no olive trees.  But
whither are we straying?  I asked what induced you to come to this
country—you tell me the glory of God and Tebleque.  Disparate! tell that
to the Busné.  You have good reasons for coming, no doubt, else you would
not be here.  Some say you are a spy of the Londoné, perhaps you are; I
care not.  Rise, brother, and tell me whether any one is coming down the
pass.

“I see a distant object,” I replied; “like a speck on the side of the
hill.”

The Gypsy started up, and we both fixed our eyes on the object: the
distance was so great that it was at first with difficulty that we could
distinguish whether it moved or not.  A quarter of an hour, however,
dispelled all doubts, for within this time it had nearly reached the
bottom of the hill, and we could descry a figure seated on an animal of
some kind.

“It is a woman,” said I, at length, “mounted on a grey donkey.”

“Then it is my messenger,” said Antonio, “for it can be no other.”

The woman and the donkey were now upon the plain, and for some time were
concealed from us by the copse and brushwood which intervened.  They were
not long, however, in making their appearance at the distance of about a
hundred yards.  The donkey was a beautiful creature of a silver grey, and
came frisking along, swinging her tail, and moving her feet so quick that
they scarcely seemed to touch the ground.  The animal no sooner perceived
us than she stopped short, turned round, and attempted to escape by the
way she had come; her rider, however, detained her, whereupon the donkey
kicked violently, and would probably have flung the former, had she not
sprung nimbly to the ground.  The form of the woman was entirely
concealed by the large wrapping man’s cloak which she wore.  I ran to
assist her, when she turned her face full upon me, and I instantly
recognized the sharp clever features of Antonia, whom I had seen at
Badajoz, the daughter of my guide.  She said nothing to me, but advancing
to her father, addressed something to him in a low voice, which I did not
hear.  He started back, and vociferated “All!”  “Yes,” said she in a
louder tone, probably repeating the words which I had not caught before,
“All are captured.”

The Gypsy remained for some time like one astounded and, unwilling to
listen to their discourse, which I imagined might relate to business of
Egypt, I walked away amidst the thickets.  I was absent for some time,
but could occasionally hear passionate expressions and oaths.  In about
half an hour I returned; they had left the road, but I found then behind
the broom clump, where the animals stood.  Both were seated on the
ground; the features of the Gypsy were peculiarly dark and grim; he held
his unsheathed knife in his hand, which he would occasionally plunge into
the earth, exclaiming, “All! All!”

“Brother,” said he at last, “I can go no farther with you; the business
which carried me to Castumba is settled; you must now travel by yourself
and trust to your baji (_fortune_).”

“I trust in Undevel,” I replied, “who wrote my fortune long ago.  But how
am I to journey?  I have no horse, for you doubtless want your own.”

The Gypsy appeared to reflect: “I want the horse, it is true, brother,”
he said, “and likewise the macho; but you shall not go _en pindre_ (on
foot); you shall purchase the burra of Antonia, which I presented her
when I sent her upon this expedition.”

“The burra,” I replied, “appears both savage and vicious.”

“She is both, brother, and on that account I bought her; a savage and
vicious beast has generally four excellent legs.  You are a Calo,
brother, and can manage her; you shall therefore purchase the savage
burra, giving my daugher Antonia a baria of gold.  If you think fit, you
can sell the beast at Talavera or Madrid, for Estremenian bestis are
highly considered in Castumba.”

In less than an hour I was on the other side of the pass, mounted on the
savage burra.



CHAPTER XI


The Pass of Mirabéte—Wolves and Shepherds—Female Subtlety—Death by
Wolves—The Mystery Solved—The Mountains—The Dark Hour—The Traveller of
the Night—Abarbenel—Hoarded Treasure—Force of Gold—The Archbishop—Arrival
at Madrid.

I proceeded down the pass of Mirabéte, occasionally ruminating on the
matter which had brought me to Spain, and occasionally admiring one of
the finest prospects in the world; before me outstretched lay immense
plains, bounded in the distance by huge mountains, whilst at the foot of
the hill which I was now descending, rolled the Tagus, in a deep narrow
stream, between lofty banks; the whole was gilded by the rays of the
setting sun; for the day, though cold and wintry, was bright and clear.
In about an hour I reached the river at a place where stood the remains
of what had once been a magnificent bridge, which had, however, been
blown up in the Peninsular war and never since repaired.

I crossed the river in a ferry-boat; the passage was rather difficult,
the current very rapid and swollen, owing to the latter rains.

“Am I in New Castile?” I demanded of the ferryman, on reaching the
further bank.  “The raya is many leagues from hence,” replied the
ferryman; “you seem a stranger.  Whence do you come?”  “From England,” I
replied, and without waiting for an answer, I sprang on the burra, and
proceeded on my way.  The burra plied her feet most nimbly, and, shortly
after nightfall, brought me to a village at about two leagues’ distance
from the river’s bank.

I sat down in the venta where I put up; there was a huge fire, consisting
of the greater part of the trunk of an olive tree; the company was rather
miscellaneous: a hunter with his escopeta; a brace of shepherds with
immense dogs, of that species for which Estremadura is celebrated; a
broken soldier, just returned from the wars; and a beggar, who, after
demanding charity for the seven wounds of Maria Santissima, took a seat
amidst us, and made himself quite comfortable.  The hostess was an active
bustling woman, and busied herself in cooking my supper, which consisted
of the game which I had purchased at Jaraicejo, and which, on my taking
leave of the Gypsy, he had counselled me to take with me.  In the
meantime, I sat by the fire listening to the conversation of the company.

“I would I were a wolf,” said one of the shepherds; “or, indeed, anything
rather than what I am.  A pretty life is this of ours, out in the campo,
among the carascales, suffering heat and cold for a peseta a day.  I
would I were a wolf; he fares better and is more respected than the
wretch of a shepherd.”

“But he frequently fares scurvily,” said I; “the shepherd and dogs fall
upon him, and then he pays for his temerity with the loss of his head.”

“That is not often the case, señor traveller,” said the shepherd; “he
watches his opportunity, and seldom runs into harm’s way.  And as to
attacking him, it is no very pleasant task; he has both teeth and claws,
and dog or man, who has once felt them, likes not to venture a second
time within his reach.  These dogs of mine will seize a bear singly with
considerable alacrity, though he is a most powerful animal, but I have
seen them run howling away from a wolf, even though there were two or
three of us at hand to encourage them.”

“A dangerous person is the wolf,” said the other shepherd, “and cunning
as dangerous; who knows more than he?  He knows the vulnerable point of
every animal; see, for example, how he flies at the neck of a bullock,
tearing open the veins with his grim teeth and claws.  But does he attack
a horse in this manner?  I trow not.”

“Not he,” said the other shepherd, “he is too good a judge; but he
fastens on the haunches, and hamstrings him in a moment.  O the fear of
the horse when he comes near the dwelling of the wolf.  My master was the
other day riding in the despoblado, above the pass, on his fine
Andalusian steed, which had cost him five hundred dollars; suddenly the
horse stopped, and sweated and trembled like a woman in the act of
fainting; my master could not conceive the reason, but presently he heard
a squealing and growling in the bushes, whereupon he fired off his gun
and scared the wolves, who scampered away; but he tells me, that the
horse has not yet recovered from his fright.”

“Yet the mares know, occasionally, how to balk him,” replied his
companion; “there is great craft and malice in mares, as there is in all
females; see them feeding in the campo with their young cria about them;
presently the alarm is given that the wolf is drawing near; they start
wildly and run about for a moment, but it is only for a moment—amain they
gather together, forming themselves into a circle, in the centre of which
they place the foals.  Onward comes the wolf, hoping to make his dinner
on horse-flesh; he is mistaken, however, the mares have balked him, and
are as cunning as himself: not a tail is to be seen—not a hinder
quarter—but there stands the whole troop, their fronts towards him ready
to receive him, and as he runs around them barking and howling, they rise
successively on their hind legs, ready to stamp him to the earth, should
he attempt to hurt their cria or themselves.”

“Worse than the he-wolf,” said the soldier, “is the female, for as the
señor pastor has well observed, there is more malice in women than in
males: to see one of these she-demons with a troop of the males at her
heels is truly surprising: where she turns, they turn, and what she does
that do they; for they appear bewitched, and have no power but to imitate
her actions.  I was once travelling with a comrade over the hills of
Galicia, when we heard a howl.  ‘Those are wolves,’ said my companion,
‘let us get out of the way;’ so we stepped from the path and ascended the
side of the hill a little way, to a terrace, where grew vines, after the
manner of Galicia: presently appeared a large grey she-wolf,
_deshonesta_, snapping and growling at a troop of demons, who followed
close behind, their tails uplifted, and their eyes like fire-brands.
What do you think the perverse brute did?  Instead of keeping to the
path, she turned in the very direction in which we were; there was now no
remedy, so we stood still.  I was the first upon the terrace, and by me
she passed so close that I felt her hair brush against my legs; she,
however, took no notice of me, but pushed on, neither looking to the
right nor left, and all the other wolves trotted by me without offering
the slightest injury or even so much as looking at me.  Would that I
could say as much for my poor companion, who stood farther on, and was, I
believe, less in the demon’s way than I was; she had nearly passed him,
when suddenly she turned half round and snapped at him.  I shall never
forget what followed: in a moment a dozen wolves were upon him, tearing
him limb from limb, with howlings like nothing in this world; in a few
moments he was devoured; nothing remained but a skull and a few bones;
and then they passed on in the same manner as they came.  Good reason had
I to be grateful that my lady wolf took less notice of me than my poor
comrade.”

Listening to this and similar conversation, I fell into a doze before the
fire, in which I continued for a considerable time, but was at length
aroused by a voice exclaiming in a loud tone, “All are captured!”  These
were the exact words which, when spoken by his daughter, confounded the
Gypsy upon the moor.  I looked around me, the company consisted of the
same individuals to whose conversation I had been listening before I sank
into slumber; but the beggar was now the spokesman, and he was haranguing
with considerable vehemence.

“I beg your pardon, Caballero,” said I, “but I did not hear the
commencement of your discourse.  Who are those who have been captured?”

“A band of accursed Gitanos, Caballero,” replied the beggar, returning
the title of courtesy, which I had bestowed upon him.  “During more than
a fortnight they have infested the roads on the frontier of Castile, and
many have been the gentleman travellers like yourself whom they have
robbed and murdered.  It would seem that the Gypsy canaille must needs
take advantage of these troublous times, and form themselves into a
faction.  It is said that the fellows of whom I am speaking expected many
more of their brethren to join them, which is likely enough, for all
Gypsies are thieves: but praised be God, they have been put down before
they became too formidable.  I saw them myself conveyed to the prison at
---.  Thanks be to God.  _Todos estan presos_.”

“The mystery is now solved,” said I to myself, and proceeded to despatch
my supper, which was now ready.

The next day’s journey brought me to a considerable town, the name of
which I have forgotten.  It is the first in New Castile, in this
direction.  I passed the night as usual in the manger of the stable,
close beside the Caballeria; for, as I travelled upon a donkey, I deemed
it incumbent upon me to be satisfied with a couch in keeping with my
manner of journeying, being averse, by any squeamish and over delicate
airs, to generate a suspicion amongst the people with whom I mingled that
I was aught higher than what my equipage and outward appearance might
lead them to believe.  Rising before daylight, I again proceeded on my
way, hoping ere night to be able to reach Talavera, which I was informed
was ten leagues distant.  The way lay entirely over an unbroken level,
for the most part covered with olive trees.  On the left, however, at the
distance of a few leagues, rose the mighty mountains which I have already
mentioned.  They run eastward in a seemingly interminable range, parallel
with the route which I was pursuing; their tops and sides were covered
with dazzling snow, and the blasts which came sweeping from them across
the wide and melancholy plains were of bitter keenness.

“What mountains are those?” I inquired of a barber-surgeon, who, mounted
like myself on a grey burra, joined me about noon, and proceeded in my
company for several leagues.  “They have many names, Caballero,” replied
the barber; “according to the names of the neighbouring places so they
are called.  Yon portion of them is styled the Serrania of Plasencia; and
opposite to Madrid they are termed the Mountains of Guadarama, from a
river of that name, which descends from them; they run a vast way,
Caballero, and separate the two kingdoms, for on the other side is Old
Castile.  They are mighty mountains, and though they generate much cold,
I take pleasure in looking at them, which is not to be wondered at,
seeing that I was born amongst them, though at present, for my sins, I
live in a village of the plain.  Caballero, there is not another such
range in Spain; they have their secrets too—their mysteries—strange tales
are told of those hills, and of what they contain in their deep recesses,
for they are a broad chain, and you may wander days and days amongst them
without coming to any termino.  Many have lost themselves on those hills,
and have never again been heard of.  Strange things are told of them: it
is said that in certain places there are deep pools and lakes, in which
dwell monsters, huge serpents as long as a pine tree, and horses of the
flood, which sometimes come out and commit mighty damage.  One thing is
certain, that yonder, far away to the west, in the heart of those hills,
there is a wonderful valley, so narrow that only at midday is the face of
the sun to be descried from it.  That valley lay undiscovered and unknown
for thousands of years; no person dreamed of its existence, but at last,
a long time ago, certain hunters entered it by chance, and then what do
you think they found, Caballero?  They found a small nation or tribe of
unknown people, speaking an unknown language, who, perhaps, had lived
there since the creation of the world, without intercourse with the rest
of their fellow creatures, and without knowing that other beings besides
themselves existed!  Caballero, did you never hear of the valley of the
Batuecas?  Many books have been written about that valley and those
people.  Caballero, I am proud of yonder hills; and were I independent,
and without wife or children, I would purchase a burra like that of your
own, which I see is an excellent one, and far superior to mine, and
travel amongst them till I knew all their mysteries, and had seen all the
wondrous things which they contain.”

Throughout the day I pressed the burra forward, only stopping once in
order to feed the animal; but, notwithstanding that she played her part
very well, night came on, and I was still about two leagues from
Talavera.  As the sun went down, the cold became intense; I drew the old
Gypsy cloak, which I still wore, closer around me, but I found it quite
inadequate to protect me from the inclemency of the atmosphere.  The
road, which lay over a plain, was not very distinctly traced, and became
in the dusk rather difficult to find, more especially as cross roads
leading to different places were of frequent occurrence.  I, however,
proceeded in the best manner I could, and when I became dubious as to the
course which I should take, I invariably allowed the animal on which I
was mounted to decide.  At length the moon shone out faintly, when
suddenly by its beams I beheld a figure moving before me at a slight
distance.  I quickened the pace of the burra, and was soon close at its
side.  It went on, neither altering its pace nor looking round for a
moment.  It was the figure of a man, the tallest and bulkiest that I had
hitherto seen in Spain, dressed in a manner strange and singular for the
country.  On his head was a hat with a low crown and broad brim, very
much resembling that of an English waggoner; about his body was a long
loose tunic or slop, seemingly of coarse ticken, open in front, so as to
allow the interior garments to be occasionally seen; these appeared to
consist of a jerkin and short velveteen pantaloons.  I have said that the
brim of the hat was broad, but broad as it was, it was insufficient to
cover an immense bush of coal-black hair, which, thick and curly,
projected on either side; over the left shoulder was flung a kind of
satchel, and in the right hand was held a long staff or pole.

There was something peculiarly strange about the figure, but what struck
me the most was the tranquillity with which it moved along, taking no
heed of me, though of course aware of my proximity, but looking straight
forward along the road, save when it occasionally raised a huge face and
large eyes towards the moon, which was now shining forth in the eastern
quarter.

“A cold night,” said I at last.  “Is this the way to Talavera?”

“It is the way to Talavera, and the night is cold.”

“I am going to Talavera,” said I, “as I suppose you are yourself.”

“I am going thither, so are you, _Bueno_.”

The tones of the voice which delivered these words were in their way
quite as strange and singular as the figure to which the voice belonged;
they were not exactly the tones of a Spanish voice, and yet there was
something in them that could hardly be foreign; the pronunciation also
was correct; and the language, though singular, faultless.  But I was
most struck with the manner in which the last word, _bueno_, was spoken.
I had heard something like it before, but where or when I could by no
means remember.  A pause now ensued; the figure stalking on as before
with the most perfect indifference, and seemingly with no disposition
either to seek or avoid conversation.

“Are you not afraid,” said I at last, “to travel these roads in the dark?
It is said that there are robbers abroad.”

“Are you not rather afraid,” replied the figure, “to travel these roads
in the dark?—you who are ignorant of the country, who are a foreigner, an
Englishman!”

“How is it that you know me to be an Englishman?” demanded I, much
surprised.

“That is no difficult matter,” replied the figure; “the sound of your
voice was enough to tell me that.”

“You speak of voices,” said I; “suppose the tone of your own voice were
to tell me who you are?”

“That it will not do,” replied my companion; “you know nothing about
me—you can know nothing about me.”

“Be not sure of that, my friend; I am acquainted with many things of
which you have little idea.”

“Por exemplo,” said the figure.

“For example,” said I; “you speak two languages.”

The figure moved on, seemed to consider a moment, and then said slowly
_bueno_.

“You have two names,” I continued; “one for the house and the other for
the street; both are good, but the one by which you are called at home is
the one which you like best.”

The man walked on about ten paces, in the same manner as he had
previously done; all of a sudden he turned, and taking the bridle of the
burra gently in his hand, stopped her.  I had now a full view of his face
and figure, and those huge features and Herculean form still occasionally
revisit me in my dreams.  I see him standing in the moonshine, staring me
in the face with his deep calm eyes.  At last he said:

“Are you then one of us?”

                                * * * * *

It was late at night when we arrived at Talavera.  We went to a large
gloomy house, which my companion informed me was the principal posada of
the town.  We entered the kitchen, at the extremity of which a large fire
was blazing.  “Pepita,” said my companion to a handsome girl, who
advanced smiling towards us; “a brasero and a private apartment; this
cavalier is a friend of mine, and we shall sup together.”  We were shown
to an apartment in which were two alcoves containing beds.  After supper,
which consisted of the very best, by the order of my companion, we sat
over the brasero and commenced talking.

_Myself_.—Of course you have conversed with Englishmen before, else you
could not have recognized me by the tone of my voice.

_Abarbenel_.—I was a young lad when the war of the Independence broke
out, and there came to the village in which our family lived an English
officer in order to teach discipline to the new levies.  He was quartered
in my father’s house, where he conceived a great affection for me.  On
his departure, with the consent of my father, I attended him through the
Castiles, partly as companion, partly as domestic.  I was with him nearly
a year, when he was suddenly summoned to return to his own country.  He
would fain have taken me with him, but to that my father would by no
means consent.  It is now five-and-twenty years since I last saw an
Englishman; but you have seen how I recognized you even in the dark
night.

_Myself_.—And what kind of life do you pursue, and by what means do you
obtain support?

_Abarbenel_.—I experience no difficulty.  I live much in the same way as
I believe my forefathers lived; certainly as my father did, for his
course has been mine.  At his death I took possession of the herencia,
for I was his only child.  It was not requisite that I should follow any
business, for my wealth was great; yet, to avoid remark, I followed that
of my father, who was a longanizero.  I have occasionally dealt in wool:
but lazily, lazily—as I had no stimulus for exertion.  I was, however,
successful in many instances, strangely so; much more than many others
who toiled day and night, and whose whole soul was in the trade.

_Myself_.—Have you any children?  Are you married?

_Abarbenel_.—I have no children though I am married.  I have a wife and
an amiga, or I should rather say two wives, for I am wedded to both.  I
however call one my amiga, for appearance sake, for I wish to live in
quiet, and am unwilling to offend the prejudices of the surrounding
people.

_Myself_.—You say you are wealthy.  In what does your wealth consist?

_Abarbenel_.—In gold and silver, and stones of price; for I have
inherited all the hoards of my forefathers.  The greater part is buried
under ground; indeed, I have never examined the tenth part of it.  I have
coins of silver and gold older than the times of Ferdinand the Accursed
and Jezebel; I have also large sums employed in usury.  We keep ourselves
close, however, and pretend to be poor, miserably so; but on certain
occasions, at our festivals, when our gates are barred, and our savage
dogs are let loose in the court, we eat our food off services such as the
Queen of Spain cannot boast of, and wash our feet in ewers of silver,
fashioned and wrought before the Americas were discovered, though our
garments are at all times coarse, and our food for the most part of the
plainest description.

_Myself_.—Are there more of you than yourself and your two wives?

_Abarbenel_.—There are my two servants, who are likewise of us; the one
is a youth, and is about to leave, being betrothed to one at some
distance; the other is old; he is now upon the road, following me with a
mule and car.

_Myself_.—And whither are you bound at present?

_Abarbenel_.—To Toledo, where I ply my trade occasionally of longanizero.
I love to wander about, though I seldom stray far from home.  Since I
left the Englishman my feet have never once stepped beyond the bounds of
New Castile.  I love to visit Toledo, and to think of the times which
have long since departed; I should establish myself there, were there not
so many accursed ones, who look upon me with an evil eye.

_Myself_.—Are you known for what you are?  Do the authorities molest you?

_Abarbenel_.—People of course suspect me to be what I am; but as I
conform outwardly in most respects to their ways, they do not interfere
with me.  True it is that sometimes, when I enter the church to hear the
mass, they glare at me over the left shoulder, as much as to say—“What do
you here?”  And sometimes they cross themselves as I pass by; but as they
go no further, I do not trouble myself on that account.  With respect to
the authorities, they are not bad friends of mine.  Many of the higher
class have borrowed money from me on usury, so that I have them to a
certain extent in my power, and as for the low alguazils and corchetes,
they would do any thing to oblige me in consideration of a few dollars,
which I occasionally give them; so that matters upon the whole go on
remarkably well.  Of old, indeed, it was far otherwise; yet, I know not
how it was, though other families suffered much, ours always enjoyed a
tolerable share of tranquillity.  The truth is, that our family has
always known how to guide itself wonderfully.  I may say there is much of
the wisdom of the snake amongst us.  We have always possessed friends;
and with respect to enemies, it is by no means safe to meddle with us;
for it is a rule of our house never to forgive an injury, and to spare
neither trouble nor expense in bringing ruin and destruction upon the
heads of our evil doers.

_Myself_.—Do the priests interfere with you?

_Abarbenel_.—They let me alone, especially in our own neighbourhood.
Shortly after the death of my father, one hot-headed individual
endeavoured to do me an evil turn, but I soon requited him, causing him
to be imprisoned on a charge of blasphemy, and in prison he remained a
long time, till he went mad and died.

_Myself_.—Have you a head in Spain, in whom is rested the chief
authority?

_Abarbenel_.—Not exactly.  There are, however, certain holy families who
enjoy much consideration; my own is one of these—the chiefest, I may say.
My grandsire was a particularly holy man; and I have heard my father say,
that one night an archbishop came to his house secretly, merely to have
the satisfaction of kissing his head.

_Myself_.—How can that be; what reverence could an archbishop entertain
for one like yourself or your grandsire?

_Abarbenel_.—More than you imagine.  He was one of us, at least his
father was, and he could never forget what he had learned with reverence
in his infancy.  He said he had tried to forget it, but he could not;
that the _ruah_ was continually upon him, and that even from his
childhood he had borne its terrors with a troubled mind, till at last he
could bear himself no longer; so he went to my grandsire, with whom he
remained one whole night; he then returned to his diocese, where he
shortly afterwards died, in much renown for sanctity.

_Myself_.—What you say surprises me.  Have you reason to suppose that
many of you are to be found amongst the priesthood?

_Abarbenel_.—Not to suppose, but to know it.  There are many such as I
amongst the priesthood, and not amongst the inferior priesthood either;
some of the most learned and famed of them in Spain have been of us, or
of our blood at least, and many of them at this day think as I do.  There
is one particular festival of the year at which four dignified
ecclesiastics are sure to visit me; and then, when all is made close and
secure, and the fitting ceremonies have been gone through, they sit down
upon the floor and curse.

_Myself_.—Are you numerous in the large towns?

_Abarbenel_.—By no means; our places of abode are seldom the large towns;
we prefer the villages, and rarely enter the large towns but on business.
Indeed we are not a numerous people, and there are few provinces of Spain
which contain more than twenty families.  None of us are poor, and those
among us who serve, do so more from choice than necessity, for by serving
each other we acquire different trades.  Not unfrequently the time of
service is that of courtship also, and the servants eventually marry the
daughters of the house.

We continued in discourse the greater part of the night; the next morning
I prepared to depart.  My companion, however, advised me to remain where
I was for that day.  “And if you respect my counsel,” said he, “you will
not proceed farther in this manner.  To-night the diligence will arrive
from Estremadura, on its way to Madrid.  Deposit yourself therein; it is
the safest and most speedy mode of travelling.  As for your animal, I
will myself purchase her.  My servant is here, and has informed me that
she will be of service to us.  Let us, therefore, pass the day together
in communion, like brothers, and then proceed on our separate journeys.”
We did pass the day together; and when the diligence arrived I deposited
myself within, and on the morning of the second day arrived at Madrid.



CHAPTER XII


Lodging at Madrid—My Hostess—British
Ambassador—Mendizabal—Baltasar—Duties of a National—Young Blood—The
Execution—Population of Madrid—The Higher Orders—The Lower Classes—The
Bull-fighter—The Crabbed Gitáno.

It was the commencement of February when I reached Madrid.  After staying
a few days at a posada, I removed to a lodging which I engaged at No. 3,
in the Calle de la Zarza, a dark dirty street, which, however, was close
to the Puerta del Sol, the most central point of Madrid, into which four
or five of the principal streets debouche, and which is, at all times of
the year, the great place of assemblage for the idlers of the capital,
poor or rich.

It was rather a singular house in which I had taken up my abode.  I
occupied the front part of the first floor; my apartments consisted of an
immense parlour, and a small chamber on one side in which I slept; the
parlour, notwithstanding its size, contained very little furniture: a few
chairs, a table, and a species of sofa, constituted the whole.  It was
very cold and airy, owing to the draughts which poured in from three
large windows, and from sundry doors.  The mistress of the house,
attended by her two daughters, ushered me in.  “Did you ever see a more
magnificent apartment?” demanded the former; “is it not fit for a king’s
son?  Last winter it was occupied by the great General Espartero.”

The hostess was an exceedingly fat woman, a native of Valladolid, in Old
Castile.  “Have you any other family,” I demanded, “besides these
daughters?”  “Two sons,” she replied; “one of them an officer in the
army, father of this urchin,” pointing to a wicked but clever looking boy
of about twelve, who at that moment bounded into the room; “the other is
the most celebrated national in Madrid: he is a tailor by trade, and his
name is Baltasar.  He has much influence with the other nationals, on
account of the liberality of his opinions, and a word from him is
sufficient to bring them all out armed and furious to the Puerta del Sol.
He is, however, at present confined to his bed, for he is very dissipated
and fond of the company of bull-fighters and people still worse.”

As my principal motive for visiting the Spanish capital was the hope of
obtaining permission from the government to print the New Testament in
the Castilian language, for circulation in Spain, I lost no time, upon my
arrival, in taking what I considered to be the necessary steps.

I was an entire stranger at Madrid, and bore no letters of introduction
to any persons of influence, who might have assisted me in this
undertaking, so that, notwithstanding I entertained a hope of success,
relying on the assistance of the Almighty, this hope was not at all times
very vivid, but was frequently overcast with the clouds of despondency.

Mendizabal was at this time prime minister of Spain, and was considered
as a man of almost unbounded power, in whose hands were placed the
destinies of the country.  I therefore considered that if I could by any
means induce him to favour my views, I should have no reason to fear
interruption from other quarters, and I determined upon applying to him.

Before talking this step, however, I deemed it advisable to wait upon Mr.
Villiers, the British ambassador at Madrid; and with the freedom
permitted to a British subject, to ask his advice in this affair.  I was
received with great kindness, and enjoyed a conversation with him on
various subjects before I introduced the matter which I had most at
heart.  He said that if I wished for an interview with Mendizabal, he
would endeavour to procure me one, but, at the same time, told me frankly
that he could not hope that any good would arise from it, as he knew him
to be violently prejudiced against the British and Foreign Bible Society,
and was far more likely to discountenance than encourage any efforts
which they might be disposed to make for introducing the Gospel into
Spain.  I, however, remained resolute in my desire to make the trial, and
before I left him, obtained a letter of introduction to Mendizabal.

Early one morning I repaired to the palace, in a wing of which was the
office of the Prime Minister; it was bitterly cold, and the Guadarama, of
which there is a noble view from the palace-plain, was covered with snow.
For at least three hours I remained shivering with cold in an ante-room,
with several other aspirants for an interview with the man of power.  At
last his private secretary made his appearance, and after putting various
questions to the others, addressed himself to me, asking who I was and
what I wanted.  I told him that I was an Englishman, and the bearer of a
letter from the British Minister.  “If you have no objection, I will
myself deliver it to His Excellency,” said he; whereupon I handed it to
him and he withdrew.  Several individuals were admitted before me; at
last, however, my own turn came, and I was ushered into the presence of
Mendizabal.

He stood behind a table covered with papers, on which his eyes were
intently fixed.  He took not the slightest notice when I entered, and I
had leisure enough to survey him: he was a huge athletic man, somewhat
taller than myself, who measure six feet two without my shoes; his
complexion was florid, his features fine and regular, his nose quite
aquiline, and his teeth splendidly white: though scarcely fifty years of
age, his hair was remarkably grey; he was dressed in a rich morning gown,
with a gold chain round his neck, and morocco slippers on his feet.

His secretary, a fine intellectual looking man, who, as I was
subsequently informed, had acquired a name both in English and Spanish
literature, stood at one end of the table with papers in his hands.

After I had been standing about a quarter of an hour, Mendizabal suddenly
lifted up a pair of sharp eyes, and fixed them upon me with a peculiarly
scrutinizing glance.

“I have seen a glance very similar to that amongst the Beni Israel,”
thought I to myself. . . .

                                * * * * *

My interview with him lasted nearly an hour.  Some singular discourse
passed between us: I found him, as I had been informed, a bitter enemy to
the Bible Society, of which he spoke in terms of hatred and contempt, and
by no means a friend to the Christian religion, which I could easily
account for.  I was not discouraged, however, and pressed upon him the
matter which brought me thither, and was eventually so far successful, as
to obtain a promise, that at the expiration of a few months, when he
hoped the country would be in a more tranquil state, I should be allowed
to print the Scriptures.

As I was going away he said, “Yours is not the first application I have
had; ever since I have held the reins of government I have been pestered
in this manner, by English calling themselves Evangelical Christians, who
have of late come flocking over into Spain.  Only last week a hunchbacked
fellow found his way into my cabinet whilst I was engaged in important
business, and told me that Christ was coming. . . . And now you have made
your appearance, and almost persuaded me to embroil myself yet more with
the priesthood, as if they did not abhor me enough already.  What a
strange infatuation is this which drives you over lands and waters with
Bibles in your hands.  My good sir, it is not Bibles we want, but rather
guns and gunpowder, to put the rebels down with, and above all, money,
that we may pay the troops; whenever you come with these three things you
shall have a hearty welcome, if not, we really can dispense with your
visits, however great the honour.”

_Myself_.—There will be no end to the troubles of this afflicted country
until the gospel have free circulation.

_Mendizabal_.—I expected that answer, for I have not lived thirteen years
in England without forming some acquaintance with the phraseology of you
good folks.  Now, now, pray go; you see how engaged I am.  Come again
whenever you please, but let it not be within the next three months.

“Don Jorge,” said my hostess, coming into my apartment one morning,
whilst I sat at breakfast with my feet upon the brasero, “here is my son
Baltasarito, the national; he has risen from his bed, and hearing that
there is an Englishman in the house, he has begged me to introduce him,
for he loves Englishmen on account of the liberality of their opinions;
there he is, what do you think of him?”

I did not state to his mother what I thought; it appeared to me, however,
that she was quite right calling him Baltasarito, which is the diminutive
of Baltasar, forasmuch as that ancient and sonorous name had certainly
never been bestowed on a more diminutive personage: he might measure
about five feet one inch, though he was rather corpulent for his height;
his face looked yellow and sickly, he had, however, a kind of
fanfaronading air, and his eyes, which were of dark brown, were both
sharp and brilliant.  His dress, or rather his undress, was somewhat
shabby: he had a foraging cap on his head, and in lieu of a morning gown,
he wore a sentinel’s old great coat.

“I am glad to make your acquaintance, señor nacional,” said I to him,
after his mother had departed, and Baltasar had taken his seat, and of
course lighted a paper cigar at the brasero.  “I am glad to have made
your acquaintance, more especially as your lady mother has informed me
that you have great influence with the nationals.  I am a stranger in
Spain, and may want a friend; fortune has been kind to me in procuring me
one who is a member of so powerful a body.”

_Baltasar_.—Yes, I have a great deal to say with the other nationals;
there is none in Madrid better known than Baltasar, or more dreaded by
the Carlists.  You say you may stand in need of a friend; there is no
fear of my failing you in any emergency.  Both myself and any of the
other nationals will be proud to go out with you as padrinos, should you
have any affair of honour on your hands.  But why do you not become one
of us?  We would gladly receive you into our body.

_Myself_.—Is the duty of a national particularly hard?

_Baltasar_.—By no means; we have to do duty about once every fifteen
days, and then there is occasionally a review, which does not last long.
No! the duties of a national are by no means onerous, and the privileges
are great.  I have seen three of my brother nationals walk up and down
the Prado of a Sunday, with sticks in their hands, cudgelling all the
suspicious characters, and it is our common practice to scour the streets
at night, and then if we meet any person who is obnoxious to us, we fall
upon him, and with a knife or a bayonet generally leave him wallowing in
his blood on the pavement: no one but a national would be permitted to do
that.

_Myself_.—Of course none but persons of liberal opinions are to be found
amongst the nationals?

_Baltasar_.—Would it were so!  There are some amongst us, Don Jorge, who
are no better than they should be; they are few, however, and for the
most part well known.  Theirs is no pleasant life, for when they mount
guard with the rest they are scouted, and not unfrequently cudgelled.
The law compels all of a certain age either to serve in the army or to
become national soldiers on which account some of these Godos are to be
found amongst us.

_Myself_.—Are there many in Madrid of the Carlist opinion?

_Baltasar_.—Not among the young people; the greater part of the
Madrilenian Carlists capable of bearing arms departed long ago to join
the ranks of the factious in the Basque provinces.  Those who remain are
for the most part grey-beards and priests, good for nothing but to
assemble in private coffee-houses, and to prate treason together.  Let
them prate, Don Jorge; let them prate; the destinies of Spain do not
depend on the wishes of ojalateros and pasteleros, but on the hands of
stout gallant nationals like myself and friends, Don Jorge.

_Myself_.—I am sorry to learn from your lady mother, that you are
strangely dissipated.

_Baltasar_.—Ho, ho, Don Jorge, she has told you that, has she; what would
you have, Don Jorge?  I am young, and young blood will have its course.
I am called Baltasar the gay by all the other nationals, and it is on
account of my gaiety and the liberality of my opinions that I am so
popular among them.  When I mount guard I invariably carry my guitar with
me, and then there is sure to be a function at the guard-house.  We send
for wine, Don Jorge, and the nationals become wild, Don Jorge, dancing
and drinking through the night, whilst Baltasarito strums the guitar and
sings them songs of Germania:

    “Una romi sin pachi
    Le peno á su chindomar,” &c., &c.

That is Gitano, Don Jorge; I learnt it from the toreros of Andalusia, who
all speak Gitano, and are mostly of Gypsy blood.  I learnt it from them;
they are all friends of mine, Montes Sevilla and Poquito Pan.  I never
miss a function of bulls, Don Jorge.  Baltasar is sure to be there with
his amiga.  Don Jorge, there are no bull-functions in the winter, or I
would carry you to one, but happily to-morrow there is an execution, a
funcion de la horca; and there we will go, Don Jorge.

We did go to see this execution, which I shall long remember.  The
criminals were two young men, brothers; they suffered for a most
atrocious murder, having in the dead of night broke open the house of an
aged man, whom they put to death, and whose property they stole.
Criminals in Spain are not hanged as they are in England, or guillotined
as in France, but strangled upon a wooden stage.  They sit down on a kind
of chair with a post behind, to which is affixed an iron collar with a
screw; this iron collar is made to clasp the neck of the prisoner, and on
a certain signal it is drawn tighter and tighter by means of the screw,
until life becomes extinct.  After we had waited amongst the assembled
multitude a considerable time, the first of the culprits appeared; he was
mounted on an ass, without saddle or stirrups, his legs being allowed to
dangle nearly to the ground.  He was dressed in yellow sulphur-coloured
robes, with a high-peaked conical red hat on his head, which was shaven.
Between his hands he held a parchment, on which was written something, I
believe the confession of faith.  Two priests led the animal by the
bridle; two others walked on either side, chanting litanies, amongst
which I distinguished the words of heavenly peace and tranquillity, for
the culprit had been reconciled to the church, had confessed and received
absolution, and had been promised admission to heaven.  He did not
exhibit the least symptom of fear, but dismounted from the animal and was
led, not supported, up the scaffold, where he was placed on the chair,
and the fatal collar put round his neck.  One of the priests then in a
loud voice commenced saying the Belief, and the culprit repeated the
words after him.  On a sudden, the executioner, who stood behind,
commenced turning the screw, which was of prodigious force, and the
wretched man—was almost instantly a corpse; but, as the screw went round,
the priest began to shout, “_pax et misericordia et tranquillitas_,” and
still as he shouted, his voice became louder and louder, till the lofty
walls of Madrid rang with it: then stooping down, he placed his mouth
close to the culprit’s ear, still shouting, just as if he would pursue
the spirit through its course to eternity, cheering it on its way.  The
effect was tremendous.  I myself was so excited that I involuntarily
shouted “_misericordia_,” and so did many others.  God was not thought
of; Christ was not thought of; only the priest was thought of, for he
seemed at that moment to be the first being in existence, and to have the
power of opening and shutting the gates of heaven or of hell, just as he
should think proper.  A striking instance of the successful working of
the Popish system, whose grand aim has ever been to keep people’s minds
as far as possible from God, and to centre their hopes and fears in the
priesthood.  The execution of the second culprit was precisely similar;
he ascended the scaffold a few minutes after his brother had breathed his
last.

I have visited most of the principal capitals of the world, but upon the
whole none has ever so interested me as this city of Madrid, in which I
now found myself.  I will not dwell upon its streets, its edifices, its
public squares, its fountains, though some of these are remarkable
enough: but Petersburg has finer streets, Paris and Edinburgh more
stately edifices, London far nobler squares, whilst Shiraz can boast of
more costly fountains, though not cooler waters.  But the population!
Within a mud wall, scarcely one league and a half in circuit, are
contained two hundred thousand human beings, certainly forming the most
extraordinary vital mass to be found in the entire world; and be it
always remembered that this mass is strictly Spanish.  The population of
Constantinople is extraordinary enough, but to form it twenty nations
have contributed; Greeks, Armenians, Persians, Poles, Jews, the latter,
by the by, of Spanish origin, and speaking amongst themselves the old
Spanish language; but the huge population of Madrid, with the exception
of a sprinkling of foreigners, chiefly French tailors, glove-makers and
peruquiers, is strictly Spanish, though a considerable portion are not
natives of the place.  Here are no colonies of Germans, as at Saint
Petersburg; no English factories, as at Lisbon; no multitudes of insolent
Yankees lounging through the streets as at the Havannah, with an air
which seems to say, the land is our own whenever we choose to take it;
but a population which, however strange and wild, and composed of various
elements, is Spanish, and will remain so as long as the city itself shall
exist.  Hail, ye aguadores of Asturia! who, in your dress of coarse
duffel and leathern skull-caps, are seen seated in hundreds by the
fountain sides, upon your empty water-casks, or staggering with them
filled to the topmost stories of lofty houses.  Hail, ye caleseros of
Valencia! who, lolling lazily against your vehicles, rasp tobacco for
your paper cigars whilst waiting for a fare.  Hail to you, beggars of La
Mancha! men and women, who, wrapped in coarse blankets, demand charity
indifferently at the gate of the palace or the prison.  Hail to you,
valets from the mountains, mayordomos and secretaries from Biscay and
Guipuscoa, toreros from Andalusia, riposteros from Galicia, shopkeepers
from Catalonia!  Hail to ye, Castilians, Estremenians and Aragonese, of
whatever calling!  And lastly, genuine sons of the capital, rabble of
Madrid, ye twenty thousand manolos, whose terrible knifes, on the second
morning of May, worked such grim havoc amongst the legions of Murat!

And the higher orders—the ladies and gentlemen, the cavaliers and
señoras; shall I pass them by in silence?  The truth is I have little to
say about them; I mingled but little in their society, and what I saw of
them by no means tended to exalt them in my imagination.  I am not one of
those who, wherever they go, make it a constant practice to disparage the
higher orders, and to exalt the populace at their expense.  There are
many capitals in which the high aristocracy, the lords and ladies, the
sons and daughters of nobility, constitute the most remarkable and the
most interesting part of the population.  This is the case at Vienna, and
more especially at London.  Who can rival the English aristocrat in lofty
stature, in dignified bearing, in strength of hand, and valour of heart?
Who rides a nobler horse?  Who has a firmer seat?  And who more lovely
than his wife, or sister, or daughter?  But with respect to the Spanish
aristocracy, the ladies and gentlemen, the cavaliers and señoras, I
believe the less that is said of them on the points to which I have just
alluded the better.  I confess, however, that I know little about them;
they have, perhaps, their admirers, and to the pens of such I leave their
panegyric.  Le Sage has described them as they were nearly two centuries
ago.  His description is anything but captivating, and I do not think
that they have improved since the period of the sketches of the immortal
Frenchman.  I would sooner talk of the lower class, not only of Madrid
but of all Spain.  The Spaniard of the lower class has much more interest
for me, whether manolo, labourer, or muleteer.  He is not a common being;
he is an extraordinary man.  He has not, it is true, the amiability and
generosity of the Russian mujik, who will give his only rouble rather
than the stranger shall want; nor his placid courage, which renders him
insensible to fear, and at the command of his Tsar, sends him singing to
certain death. {127}  There is more hardness and less self-devotion in
the disposition of the Spaniard; he possesses, however, a spirit of proud
independence, which it is impossible but to admire.  He is ignorant, of
course; but it is singular that I have invariably found amongst the low
and slightly educated classes far more liberality of sentiment than
amongst the upper.  It has long been the fashion to talk of the bigotry
of the Spaniards, and their mean jealousy of foreigners.  This is true to
a certain extent: but it chiefly holds good with respect to the upper
classes.  If foreign valour or talent has never received its proper meed
in Spain, the great body of the Spaniards are certainly not in fault.  I
have heard Wellington calumniated in this proud scene of his triumphs,
but never by the old soldiers of Aragon and the Asturias, who assisted to
vanquish the French at Salamanca and the Pyrenees.  I have heard the
manner of riding of an English jockey criticized, but it was by the
idiotic heir of Medina Celi, and not by a picador of the Madrilenian bull
ring.

Apropos of bull-fighters:—Shortly after my arrival, I one day entered a
low tavern in a neighbourhood notorious for robbery and murder, and in
which for the last two hours I had been wandering on a voyage of
discovery.  I was fatigued, and required refreshment.  I found the place
thronged with people, who had all the appearance of ruffians.  I saluted
them, upon which they made way for me to the bar, taking off their
sombreros with great ceremony.  I emptied a glass of val de peñas, and
was about to pay for it and depart, when a horrible looking fellow,
dressed in a buff jerkin, leather breeches, and jackboots, which came
half way up his thighs, and having on his head a white hat, the rims of
which were at least a yard and a half in circumference, pushed through
the crowd, and confronting me, roared:—

“_Otra copita_! _vamos Inglesito_: _Otra copita_!”

“Thank you, my good sir, you are very kind, you appear to know me, but I
have not the honour of knowing you.”

“Not know me!” replied the being.  “I am Sevilla, the torero.  I know you
well; you are the friend of Baltasarito, the national, who is a friend of
mine, and a very good subject.”

Then turning to the company, he said in a sonorous tone, laying a strong
emphasis on the last syllable of every word, according to the custom of
the gente rufianesca throughout Spain:

“Cavaliers, and strong men, this cavalier is the friend of a friend of
mine.  _Es mucho hombre_.  There is none like him in Spain.  He speaks
the crabbed Gitano though he is an Inglesito.”

“We do not believe it,” replied several grave voices.  “It is not
possible.”

“It is not possible, say you?  I tell you it is.  Come forward, Balseiro,
you who have been in prison all your life, and are always boasting that
you can speak the crabbed Gitano, though I say you know nothing of
it—come forward and speak to his worship in the crabbed Gitano.”

A low, slight, but active figure stepped forward.  He was in his shirt
sleeves, and wore a montero cap; his features were handsome, but they
were those of a demon.

He spoke a few words in the broken Gypsy slang of the prison, inquiring
of me whether I had ever been in the condemned cell, and whether I knew
what a Gitana {128} was?

“Vamos Inglesito,” shouted Sevilla in a voice of thunder; “answer the
monro in the crabbed Gitano.”

I answered the robber, for such he was, and one, too, whose name will
live for many a year in the ruffian histories of Madrid; I answered him
in a speech of some length, in the dialect of the Estremenian Gypsies.

“I believe it is the crabbed Gitano,” muttered Balseiro.  “It is either
that or English, for I understand not a word of it.”

“Did I not say to you,” cried the bull-fighter, “that you knew nothing of
the crabbed Gitano?  But this Inglesito does.  I understood all he said.
Vaya, there is none like him for the crabbed Gitano.  He is a good
ginete, too; next to myself, there is none like him, only he rides with
stirrup leathers too short.  Inglesito, if you have need of money, I will
lend you my purse.  All I have is at your service, and that is not a
little; I have just gained four thousand chulés by the lottery.  Courage,
Englishman!  Another cup.  I will pay all.  I, Sevilla!”

And he clapped his hand repeatedly on his breast, reiterating “I,
Sevilla!  I—”



CHAPTER XIII


Intrigues at Court—Quesada and Galiano—Dissolution of the Cortes—The
Secretary—Aragonese Pertinacity—The Council of Trent—The Asturian—The
Three Thieves—Benedict Mol—The Men of Lucerne—The Treasure.

Mendizabal had told me to call upon him again at the end of three months,
giving me hopes that he would not then oppose himself to the publication
of the New Testament; before, however, the three months had elapsed, he
had fallen into disgrace, and had ceased to be prime minister.

An intrigue had been formed against him, at the head of which were two
quondam friends of his, and fellow-townsmen, Gaditanians, Isturitz and
Alcala Galiano; both of them had been egregious liberals in their day,
and indeed principal members of those cortes which, on the Angouleme
invasion, had hurried Ferdinand from Madrid to Cadiz, and kept him
prisoner there until that impregnable town thought proper to surrender,
and both of them had been subsequently refugees in England, where they
had spent a considerable number of years.

These gentlemen, however, finding themselves about this time exceedingly
poor, and not seeing any immediate prospect of advantage from supporting
Mendizabal; considering themselves, moreover, quite as good men as he,
and as capable of governing Spain in the present emergency; determined to
secede from the party of their friend, whom they had hitherto supported,
and to set up for themselves.

They therefore formed an opposition to Mendizabal in the cortes; the
members of this opposition assumed the name of moderados, in
contradistinction to Mendizabal and his followers, who were ultra
liberals.  The moderados were encouraged by the Queen Regent Christina,
who aimed at a little more power than the liberals were disposed to allow
her, and who had a personal dislike to the minister.  They were likewise
encouraged by Cordova, who at that time commanded the army, and was
displeased with Mendizabal, inasmuch as the latter did not supply the
pecuniary demands of the general with sufficient alacrity, though it is
said that the greater part of what was sent for the payment of the troops
was not devoted to that purpose, but, was invested in the French funds in
the name and for the use and behoof of the said Cordova.

It is, however, by no means my intention to write an account of the
political events which were passing around me at this period; suffice it
to say, that Mendizabal finding himself thwarted in all his projects by
the regent and the general, the former of whom would adopt no measure
which he recommended, whilst the latter remained inactive and refused to
engage the enemy, which by this time had recovered from the check caused
by the death of Zumalacarregui, and was making considerable progress,
resigned and left the field for the time open to his adversaries, though
he possessed an immense majority in the cortes, and had the voice of the
nation, at least the liberal part of it, in his favour.

Thereupon, Isturitz became head of the cabinet, Galiano minister of
marine, and a certain Duke of Rivas minister of the interior.  These were
the heads of the moderado government, but as they were by no means
popular at Madrid, and feared the nationals, they associated with
themselves one who hated the latter body and feared nothing, a man of the
name of Quesada, a very stupid individual, but a great fighter, who, at
one period of his life, had commanded a legion or body of men called the
Army of the Faith, whose exploits both on the French and Spanish side of
the Pyrenees are too well known to require recapitulation.  This person
was made captain general of Madrid.

By far the most clever member of this government was Galiano, whose
acquaintance I had formed shortly after my arrival.  He was a man of
considerable literature, and particularly well versed in that of his own
country.  He was, moreover, a fluent, elegant, and forcible speaker, and
was to the moderado party within the cortes what Quesada was without,
namely, their horses and chariots.  Why he was made minister of marine is
difficult to say, as Spain did not possess any; perhaps, however, from
his knowledge of the English language, which he spoke and wrote nearly as
well as his own tongue, having indeed during his sojourn in England
chiefly supported himself by writing for reviews and journals, an
honourable occupation, but to which few foreign exiles in England would
be qualified to devote themselves.

He was a very small and irritable man, and a bitter enemy to every person
who stood in the way of his advancement.  He hated Mendizabal with
undisguised rancour, and never spoke of him but in terms of unmeasured
contempt.  “I am afraid that I shall have some difficulty in inducing
Mendizabal to give me permission to print the Testament,” said I to him
one day.  “Mendizabal is a jackass,” replied Galiano.  “Caligula made his
horse consul, which I suppose induced Lord—to send over this huge burro
of the Stock Exchange to be our minister.”

It would be very ungrateful on my part were I not to confess my great
obligations to Galiano, who assisted me to the utmost of his power in the
business which had brought me to Spain.  Shortly after the ministry was
formed, I went to him and said, “that now or never was the time to make
an effort in my behalf.”  “I will do so,” said he, in a waspish tone; for
he always spoke waspishly whether to friend or foe; “but you must have
patience for a few days, we are very much occupied at present.  We have
been outvoted in the cortes, and this afternoon we intend to dissolve
them.  It is believed that the rascals will refuse to depart, but Quesada
will stand at the door ready to turn them out, should they prove
refractory.  Come along, and you will perhaps see a funcion.”

After an hour’s debate, the cortes were dissolved without it being
necessary to call in the aid of the redoubtable Quesada, and Galiano
forthwith gave me a letter to his colleague the Duke of Rivas, in whose
department he told me was vested the power either of giving or refusing
the permission to print the book in question.  The duke was a very
handsome young man, of about thirty, an Andalusian by birth, like his two
colleagues.  He had published several works, tragedies, I believe, and
enjoyed a certain kind of literary reputation.  He received me with the
greatest affability; and having heard what I had to say, he replied with
a most captivating bow, and a genuine Andalusian grimace: “Go to my
secretary; go to my secretary—_el hara por usted el gusio_.”  So I went
to the secretary, whose name was Oliban, an Aragonese, who was not
handsome, and whose manners were neither elegant nor affable.  “You want
permission to print the Testament?”  “I do,” said I.  “And you have come
to His Excellency about it,” continued Oliban.  “Very true,” I replied.
“I suppose you intend to print it without notes.”  “Yes.”  “Then His
Excellency cannot give you permission,” said the Aragonese secretary: “it
was determined by the Council of Trent that no part of the Scripture
should be printed in any Christian country without the notes of the
church.”  “How many years was that ago?” I demanded.  “I do not know how
many years ago it was,” said Oliban; “but such was the decree of the
Council of Trent.”  “Is Spain at present governed according to the
decrees of the Council of Trent?” I inquired.  “In some points she is,”
answered the Aragonese, “and this is one.  But tell me who are you?  Are
you known to the British minister?”  “O yes, and he takes a great
interest in the matter.”  “Does he?” said Oliban; “that indeed alters the
case: if you can show me that His Excellency takes in interest in this
business, I certainly shall not oppose myself to it.”

The British minister performed all I could wish, and much more than I
could expect; he had an interview with the Duke of Rivas, with whom he
had much discourse upon my affair: the duke was all smiles and courtesy.
He moreover wrote a private letter to the duke, which he advised me to
present when I next paid him a visit, and, to crown all, he wrote a
letter directed to myself, in which he did me the honour to say that he
had a regard for me, and that nothing would afford him greater pleasure
than to hear that I had obtained the permission which I was seeking.  So
I went to the duke, and delivered the letter.  He was ten times more kind
and affable than before: he read the letter, smiled most sweetly, and
then, as if seized with sudden enthusiasm, he extended his arms in a
manner almost theatrical, exclaiming, “_Al secretario_, _el hara por
usted el gusto_.”  Away I hurried to the secretary, who received me with
all the coolness of an icicle: I related to him the words of his
principal, and then put into his hand the letter of the British minister
to myself.  The secretary read it very deliberately, and then said that
it was evident His Excellency did take an interest in the matter.  He
then asked me my name, and taking a sheet of paper, sat down as if for
the purpose of writing the permission.  I was in ecstasy—all of a sudden,
however, he stopped, lifted up his head, seemed to consider a moment, and
then putting his pen behind his ear, he said, “Amongst the decrees of the
Council of Trent is one to the effect” . . .

“Oh dear!” said I.

“A singular person is this Oliban,” said I to Galiano; “you cannot
imagine what trouble he gives me: he is continually talking about the
Council of Trent.”

“I wish he was in the Trent up to the middle,” said Galiano, who, as I
have observed already, spoke excellent English; “I wish he was there for
talking such nonsense.  However,” said he, “we must not offend Oliban, he
is one of us, and has done us much service; he is, moreover, a very
clever man, but he is an Aragonese, and when one of that nation once gets
an idea into his head, it is the most difficult thing in the world to
dislodge it; however, we will go to him; he is an old friend of mine, and
I have no doubt but that we shall be able to make him listen to reason.”
So the next day I called upon Galiano, at his marine or admiralty office
(what shall I call it?), and from thence we proceeded to the bureau of
the interior, a magnificent edifice, which had formerly been the casa of
the Inquisition, where we had an interview with Oliban, whom Galiano took
aside to the window, and there held with him a long conversation, which,
as they spoke in whispers, and the room was immensely large, I did not
hear.  At length Galiano came to me and said, “There is some difficulty
with respect to this business of yours, but I have told Oliban that you
are a friend of mine, and he says that that is sufficient; remain with
him now, and he will do anything to oblige you; your affair is
settled—farewell”; whereupon he departed and I remained with Oliban, who
proceeded forthwith to write something, which having concluded, he took
out a box of cigars, and having lighted one and offered me another, which
I declined as I do not smoke, he placed his feet against the table, and
thus proceeded to address me, speaking in the French language.

“It is with great pleasure that I see you in this capital, and, I may
say, upon this business.  I consider it a disgrace to Spain that there is
no edition of the Gospel in circulation, at least such a one as would be
within the reach of all classes of society, the highest or poorest; one
unencumbered with notes and commentaries, human devices, swelling it to
an unwieldy bulk.  I have no doubt that such an edition as you propose to
print, would have a most beneficial influence on the minds of the people,
who, between ourselves, know nothing of pure religion; how should they?
seeing that the Gospel has always been sedulously kept from them, just as
if civilization could exist where the light of the Gospel beameth not.
The moral regeneration of Spain depends upon the free circulation of the
Scriptures; to which alone England, your own happy country, is indebted
for its high state of civilization, and the unmatched prosperity which it
at present enjoys; all this I admit, in fact, reason compels me to do so,
but—”

“Now for it,” thought I.

“But”—and then he began to talk once more of the wearisome Council of
Trent, and I found that his writing in the paper, the offer of the cigar,
and the long and prosy harangue were—what shall I call it?—mere φλυαρία.

By this time the spring was far advanced, the sides though not the tops
of the Guadarama hills had long since lost their snows; the trees of the
Prado had donned their full foliage, and all the Campina in the
neighbourhood of Madrid smiled and was happy: the summer heats had not
commenced, and the weather was truly delicious.

Towards the west, at the foot of the hill on which stands Madrid, is a
canal running parallel with the Manzanares for some leagues, from which
it is separated by pleasant and fertile meadows.  The banks of this
canal, which was begun by Carlos Tercero, and has never been completed,
are planted with beautiful trees, and form the most delightful walk in
the neighbourhood of the capital.  Here I would loiter for hours looking
at the shoals of gold and silver fish which basked on the surface of the
green sunny waters, or listening, not to the warbling of birds—for Spain
is not the land of feathered choristers—but to the prattle of the
narangero or man who sold oranges and water by a little deserted watch
tower just opposite the wooden bridge that crosses the canal, which
situation he had chosen as favourable for his trade, and there had placed
his stall.  He was an Asturian by birth, about fifty years of age, and
about five feet high.  As I purchased freely of his fruit, he soon
conceived a great friendship for me, and told me his history; it
contained, however, nothing very remarkable, the leading incident being
an adventure which had befallen him amidst the mountains of Granada,
where, falling into the hands of certain Gypsies, they stripped him
naked, and then dismissed him with a sound cudgelling.  “I have wandered
throughout Spain,” said he, “and I have come to the conclusion that there
are but two places worth living in, Malaga and Madrid.  At Malaga
everything is very cheap, and there is such an abundance of fish, that I
have frequently seen them piled in heaps on the sea-shore: and as for
Madrid, money is always stirring at the Corte, and I never go supperless
to bed; my only care is to sell my oranges, and my only hope that when I
die I shall be buried yonder.”

And he pointed across the Manzanares, where, on the declivity of a gentle
hill, at about a league’s distance, shone brightly in the sunshine the
white walls of the Campo Santo, or common burying ground of Madrid.

He was a fellow of infinite drollery, and, though he could scarcely read
or write, by no means ignorant of the ways of the world; his knowledge of
individuals was curious and extensive, few people passing his stall with
whose names, character, and history he was not acquainted.  “Those two
gentry,” said he, pointing to a magnificently dressed cavalier and lady,
who had dismounted from a carriage, and arm in arm were coming across the
wooden bridge, followed by two attendants; “those gentry are the Infante
Francisco Paulo, and his wife the Neapolitana, sister of our Christina;
he is a very good subject, but as for his wife—vaya—the veriest scold in
Madrid; she can say carrajo with the most ill-conditioned carrier of La
Mancha, giving the true emphasis and genuine pronunciation.  Don’t take
off your hat to her, amigo—she has neither formality nor politeness—I
once saluted her, and she took no more notice of me than if I had not
been what I am, an Asturian and a gentleman, of better blood than
herself.  Good day, Señor Don Francisco.  Que tal (_how goes it_)? very
fine weather this—_vaya su merced con Dios_.  Those three fellows who
just stopped to drink water are great thieves, true sons of the prison; I
am always civil to them, for it would not do to be on ill terms; they pay
me or not, just as they think proper.  I have been in some trouble on
their account: about a year ago they robbed a man a little farther on
beyond the second bridge.  By the way, I counsel you, brother, not to go
there, as I believe you often do—it is a dangerous place.  They robbed a
gentleman and ill-treated him, but his brother, who was an escribano, was
soon upon their trail, and had them arrested; but he wanted someone to
identify them, and it chanced that they had stopped to drink water at my
stall, just as they did now.  This the escribano heard of, and forthwith
had me away to the prison to confront me with them.  I knew them well
enough, but I had learnt in my travels when to close my eyes and when to
open them; so I told the escribano that I could not say that I had ever
seen them before.  He was in a great rage and threatened to imprison me;
I told him he might and that I cared not.  Vaya, I was not going to
expose myself to the resentment of those three and to that of their
friends; I live too near the Hay Market for that.  Good day, my young
masters.—Murcian oranges, as you see; the genuine dragon’s blood.  Water
sweet and cold.  Those two boys are the children of Gabiria, comptroller
of the queen’s household, and the richest man in Madrid; they are nice
boys, and buy much fruit.  It is said their father loves them more than
all his possessions.  The old woman who is lying beneath yon tree is the
Tia Lucilla; she has committed murders, and as she owes me money, I hope
one day to see her executed.  This man was of the Walloon guard;—Señor
Don Benito Mol, how do you do?”

This last named personage instantly engrossed my attention; he was a
bulky old man, somewhat above the middle height, with white hair and
ruddy features; his eyes were large and blue, and whenever he fixed them
on any one’s countenance, were full of an expression of great eagerness,
as if he were expecting the communication of some important tidings.  He
was dressed commonly enough, in a jacket and trousers of coarse cloth of
a russet colour, on his head was an immense sombrero, the brim of which
had been much cut and mutilated, so as in some places to resemble the
jags or denticles of a saw.  He returned the salutation of the
orange-man, and bowing to me, forthwith produced two scented wash-balls
which he offered for sale in a rough dissonant jargon, intended for
Spanish, but which seemed more like the Valencian or Catalan.

Upon my asking him who he was, the following conversation ensued between
us:

“I am a Swiss of Lucerne, Benedict Mol by name, once a soldier in the
Walloon guard, and now a soap-boiler, at your service.”

“You speak the language of Spain very imperfectly,” said I; “how long
have you been in the country?”

“Forty-five years,” replied Benedict; “but when the guard was broken up,
I went to Minorca, where I lost the Spanish language without acquiring
the Catalan.”

“You have been a soldier of the king of Spain,” said I; “how did you like
the service?”

“Not so well, but that I should have been glad to leave it forty years
ago; the pay was bad, and the treatment worse.  I will now speak Swiss to
you, for, if I am not much mistaken, you are a German man, and understand
the speech of Lucerne; I should soon have deserted from the service of
Spain, as I did from that of the Pope, whose soldier I was in my early
youth before I came here; but I had married a woman of Minorca, by whom I
had two children; it was this that detained me in those parts so long;
before, however, I left Minorca, my wife died, and as for my children,
one went east, the other west, and I know not what became of them; I
intend shortly to return to Lucerne, and live there like a duke.”

“Have you, then, realized a large capital in Spain?” said I, glancing at
his hat and the rest of his apparel.

“Not a cuart, not a cuart; these two wash-balls are all that I possess.”

“Perhaps you are the son of good parents, and have lands and money in
your own country wherewith to support yourself.”

“Not a heller, not a heller; my father was hangman of Lucerne, and when
he died, his body was seized to pay his debts.”

“Then doubtless,” said I, “you intend to ply your trade of soap-boiling
at Lucerne; you are quite right, my friend, I know of no occupation more
honourable or useful.”

“I have no thoughts of plying my trade at Lucerne,” replied Bennet; “and
now, as I see you are a German man, Lieber Herr, and as I like your
countenance and your manner of speaking, I will tell you in confidence
that I know very little of my trade, and have already been turned out of
several fabriques as an evil workman; the two wash-balls that I carry in
my pocket are not of my own making.  _In kurtzen_, I know little more of
soap-boiling than I do of tailoring, horse-farriery, or shoe-making, all
of which I have practised.”

“Then I know not how you can hope to live like a hertzog in your native
canton, unless you expect that the men of Lucerne, in consideration of
your services to the Pope and to the king of Spain, will maintain you in
splendour at the public expense.”

“Lieber Herr,” said Benedict, “the men of Lucerne are by no means fond of
maintaining the soldiers of the Pope and the king of Spain at their own
expense; many of the guard who have returned thither beg their bread in
the streets, but when I go, it shall be in a coach drawn by six mules,
with a treasure, a mighty schatz which lies in the church of Saint James
of Compostella, in Galicia.”

“I hope you do not intend to rob the church,” said I; “if you do,
however, I believe you will be disappointed.  Mendizabal and the liberals
have been beforehand with you.  I am informed that at present no other
treasure is to be found in the cathedrals of Spain than a few paltry
ornaments and plated utensils.”

“My good German Herr,” said Benedict, “it is no church schatz, and no
person living, save myself, knows of its existence: nearly thirty years
ago, amongst the sick soldiers who were brought to Madrid, was one of my
comrades of the Walloon Guard, who had accompanied the French to
Portugal; he was very sick and shortly died.  Before, however, he
breathed his last, he sent for me, and upon his deathbed told me that
himself and two other soldiers, both of whom had since been killed, had
buried in a certain church at Compostella a great booty which they had
made in Portugal: it consisted of gold moidores and of a packet of huge
diamonds from the Brazils; the whole was contained in a large copper
kettle.  I listened with greedy ears, and from that moment, I may say, I
have known no rest, neither by day nor night, thinking of the schatz.  It
is very easy to find, for the dying man was so exact in his description
of the place where it lies, that were I once at Compostella, I should
have no difficulty in putting my hand upon it; several times I have been
on the point of setting out on the journey, but something has always
happened to stop me.  When my wife died, I left Minorca with a
determination to go to Saint James, but on reaching Madrid, I fell into
the hands of a Basque woman, who persuaded me to live with her, which I
have done for several years; she is a great hax, {138} and says that if I
desert her she will breathe a spell which shall cling to me for ever.
_Dem Got sey dank_,—she is now in the hospital, and daily expected to
die.  This is my history, Lieber Herr.”

I have been the more careful in relating the above conversation, as I
shall have frequent occasion to mention the Swiss in the course of these
journals; his subsequent adventures were highly extraordinary, and the
closing one caused a great sensation in Spain.



CHAPTER XIV


State of Spain—Isturitz—Revolution of the Granja—The Disturbance—Signs of
Mischief—Newspaper Reporters—Quesada’s Onslaught—The Closing Scene—Flight
of the Moderados—The Coffee Bowl.

In the meantime the affairs of the moderados did not proceed in a very
satisfactory manner; they were unpopular at Madrid, and still more so in
the other large towns of Spain, in most of which juntas had been formed,
which, taking the local administration into their own hands, declared
themselves independent of the queen and her ministers, and refused to pay
taxes; so that the government was within a short time reduced to great
straits for money; the army was unpaid, and the war languished; I mean on
the part of the Christinos, for the Carlists were pushing it on with
considerable vigour; parties of their guerillas scouring the country in
all directions, whilst a large division, under the celebrated Gomez, was
making the entire circuit of Spain.  To crown the whole, an insurrection
was daily expected at Madrid, to prevent which the nationals were
disarmed, which measure tended greatly to increase their hatred against
the moderado government, and especially against Quesada, with whom it was
supposed to have originated.

With respect to my own matters, I lost no opportunity of pushing forward
my application; the Aragonese secretary, however, still harped upon the
Council of Trent, and succeeded in baffling all my efforts.  He appeared
to have inoculated his principal with his own ideas upon the subject, for
the duke, when he beheld me at his levees, took no farther notice of me
than by a contemptuous glance; and once, when I stepped up for the
purpose of addressing him, disappeared through a side door, and I never
saw him again, for I was disgusted with the treatment which I had
received, and forebore paying any more visits at the Casa de la
Inquisicion.  Poor Galiano still proved himself my unshaken friend, but
candidly informed me that there was no hope of my succeeding in the above
quarter.  “The duke,” said he, “says that your request cannot be granted;
and the other day, when I myself mentioned it in the council, began to
talk of the decision of Trent, and spoke of yourself as a plaguy
pestilent fellow; whereupon I answered him with some acrimony, and there
ensued a bit of a function between us, at which Isturitz laughed
heartily.  By the by,” continued he, “what need have you of a regular
permission, which it does not appear that any one has authority to grant.
The best thing that you can do under all circumstances is to commit the
work to the press, with an understanding that you shall not be interfered
with when you attempt to distribute it. I strongly advise you to see
Isturitz himself upon the matter.  I will prepare him for the interview,
and will answer that he receives you civilly.”

In fact, a few days afterwards, I had an interview with Isturitz at the
palace, and for the sake of brevity I shall content myself with saying
that I found him perfectly well disposed to favour my views.  “I have
lived long in England,” said he; “the Bible is free there, and I see no
reason why it should not be free in Spain also.  I am not prepared to say
that England is indebted for her prosperity to the knowledge which all
her children, more or less, possess of the sacred writings; but of one
thing I am sure, namely, that the Bible has done no harm in that country,
nor do I believe that it will effect any in Spain; print it, therefore,
by all means, and circulate it as extensively as possible.”  I retired,
highly satisfied with my interview, having obtained, if not a written
permission to print the sacred volume, what, under all circumstances, I
considered as almost equivalent, an understanding that my biblical
pursuits would be tolerated in Spain; and I had fervent hope that
whatever was the fate of the present ministry, no future one,
particularly a liberal one, would venture to interfere with me, more
especially as the English ambassador was my friend, and was privy to all
the steps I had taken throughout the whole affair.

Two or three things connected with the above interview with Isturitz
struck me as being highly remarkable.  First of all, the extreme facility
with which I obtained admission to the presence of the prime minister of
Spain.  I had not to wait, or indeed to send in my name, but was
introduced at once by the door-keeper.  Secondly, the air of loneliness
which pervaded the place, so unlike the bustle, noise, and activity which
I observed when I waited on Mendizabal.  In this instance, there were no
eager candidates for an interview with the great man; indeed, I did not
behold a single individual, with the exception of Isturitz and the
official.  But that which made the most profound impression upon me, was
the manner of the minister himself, who, when I entered, sat upon a sofa,
with his arms folded, and his eyes directed to the ground.  When he spoke
there was extreme depression in the tones of his voice, his dark features
wore an air of melancholy, and he exhibited all the appearance of a
person meditating to escape from the miseries of this life by the most
desperate of all acts—suicide.

And a few days showed that he had, indeed, cause for much melancholy
meditation: in less than a week occurred the revolution of the Granja, as
it is called.  The Granja, or Grange, is a royal country seat, situated
amongst pine forests, on the other side of the Guadarama hills, about
twelve leagues distant from Madrid.  To this place the queen regent
Christina had retired, in order to be aloof from the discontent of the
capital, and to enjoy rural air and amusements in this celebrated
retreat, a monument of the taste and magnificence of the first Bourbon
who ascended the throne of Spain.  She was not, however, permitted to
remain long in tranquillity; her own guards were disaffected, and more
inclined to the principles of the constitution of 1823 than to those of
absolute monarchy, which the moderados were attempting to revive again in
the government of Spain.  Early one morning, a party of these soldiers,
headed by a certain Sergeant Garcia, entered her apartment, and proposed
that she should subscribe her hand to this constitution, and swear
solemnly to abide by it.  Christina, however, who was a woman of
considerable spirit, refused to comply with this proposal, and ordered
them to withdraw.  A scene of violence and tumult ensued, but the regent
still continuing firm, the soldiers at length led her down to one of the
courts of the palace, where stood her well-known paramour, Muños, bound
and blindfolded.  “Swear to the constitution, you she-rogue,” vociferated
the swarthy sergeant.  “Never!” said the spirited daughter of the
Neapolitan Bourbons.  “Then your cortejo shall die!” replied the
sergeant.  “Ho! ho! my lads; get ready your arms, and send four bullets
through the fellow’s brain.”  Muños was forthwith led to the wall, and
compelled to kneel down, the soldiers levelled their muskets and another
moment would have consigned the unfortunate wight to eternity, when
Christina, forgetting everything but the feelings of her woman’s heart,
suddenly started forward with a shriek, exclaiming: “Hold, hold!  I sign,
I sign!”

The day after this event I entered the Puerta del Sol at about noon.
There is always a crowd there about this hour, but it is generally a very
quiet motionless crowd, consisting of listless idlers calmly smoking
their cigars, or listening to or retailing the—in general—very dull news
of the capital; but on the day of which I am speaking the mass was no
longer inert.  There was much gesticulation and vociferation, and several
people were running about shouting, “_Viva la constitucion_!”—a cry
which, a few days previously, would have been visited on the utterer with
death, the city having for some weeks past been subjected to the rigour
of martial law.  I occasionally heard the words, “_La Granja_!  _La
Granja_!”  Which words were sure to be succeeded by the shout of “_Viva
la constitucion_!”  Opposite the Casa de Postas were drawn up in a line
about a dozen mounted dragoons, some of whom were continually waving
their caps in the air and joining the common cry, in which they were
encouraged by their commander, a handsome young officer, who flourished
his sword, and more than once cried out with great glee, “Long live the
constitutional queen!  Long live the constitution!”

The crowd was rapidly increasing, and several nationals made their
appearance in their uniforms, but without their arms, of which they had
been deprived, as I have already stated.  “What has become of the
moderado government?” said I to Baltasar, whom I suddenly observed
amongst the crowd, dressed as when I had first seen him, in his old
regimental great coat and foraging cap; “have the ministers been deposed
and others put in their place?”

“Not yet, Don Jorge,” said the little soldier-tailor; “not yet; the
scoundrels still hold out, relying on the brute bull Quesada and a few
infantry, who still continue true to them; but there is no fear, Don
Jorge; the queen is ours, thanks to the courage of my friend Garcia, and
if the brute bull should make his appearance—ho! ho! Don Jorge, you shall
see something—I am prepared for him, ho! ho!” and thereupon he half
opened his great coat, and showed me a small gun, which he bore beneath
it in a sling, and then moving away with a wink and a nod, disappeared
amongst the crowd.

Presently I perceived a small body of soldiers advancing up the Calle
Mayor, or principal street which runs from the Puerta del Sol in the
direction of the palace; they might be about twenty in number, and an
officer marched at their head with a drawn sword; the men appeared to
have been collected in a hurry, many of them being in fatigue dress, with
foraging caps on their heads.  On they came, slowly marching; neither
their officer nor themselves paying the slightest attention to the cries
of the crowd which thronged about them, shouting “Long live the
constitution!” save and except by an occasional surly side glance: on
they marched with contracted brows and set teeth, till they came in front
of the cavalry, where they halted and drew up in a rank.

“Those men mean mischief,” said I to my friend D---, of the _Morning
Chronicle_, who at this moment joined me; “and depend upon it, that if
they are ordered they will commence firing, caring nothing whom they
hit,—but what can those cavalry fellows behind them mean, who are
evidently of the other opinion by their shouting, why don’t they charge
at once this handful of foot people and overturn them?  Once down, the
crowd would wrest from them their muskets in a moment.  You are a
liberal, which I am not; why do you not go to that silly young man who
commands the horse and give him a word of counsel in time?”

D--- turned upon me his broad red good-humoured English countenance, with
a peculiarly arch look, as much as to say—(whatever you think most
applicable, gentle reader), then taking me by the arm, “Let us get,” said
he, “out of this crowd and mount to some window, where I can write down
what is about to take place, for I agree with you that mischief is
meant.”  Just opposite the post office was a large house, in the topmost
story of which we beheld a paper displayed, importing that apartments
were to let; whereupon we instantly ascended the common stair, and having
agreed with the mistress of the étage for the use of the front room for
the day, we bolted the door, and the reporter, producing his pocket-book
and pencil, prepared to take notes of the coming events, which were
already casting their shadow before.

What most extraordinary men are these reporters of newspapers in general,
I mean English newspapers; surely if there be any class of individuals
who are entitled to the appellation of cosmopolites, it is these; who
pursue their avocation in all countries indifferently, and accommodate
themselves at will to the manners of all classes of society: their
fluency of style as writers is only surpassed by their facility of
language in conversation, and their attainments in classical and polite
literature only by their profound knowledge of the world, acquired by an
early introduction into its bustling scenes.  The activity, energy, and
courage which they occasionally display in the pursuit of information are
truly remarkable.  I saw them during the three days at Paris, mingled
with canaille and gamins behind the barriers, whilst the mitraille was
flying in all directions, and the desperate cuirassiers were dashing
their fierce horses against these seemingly feeble bulwarks.  There stood
they, dotting down their observations in their pocket-books as
unconcernedly as if reporting the proceedings of a reform meeting in
Covent Garden or Finsbury Square; whilst in Spain, several of them
accompanied the Carlist and Christino guerillas in some of their most
desperate raids and expeditions, exposing themselves to the danger of
hostile bullets, the inclemency of winter, and the fierce heat of the
summer sun.

We had scarcely been five minutes at the window, when we suddenly heard
the clattering of horses’ feet hastening down the street called the Calle
de Carretas.  The house in which we had stationed ourselves was, as I
have already observed, just opposite to the post office, at the left of
which this street debouches from the north into the Puerta del Sol: as
the sounds became louder and louder, the cries of the crowd below
diminished, and a species of panic seemed to have fallen upon all: once
or twice, however, I could distinguish the words Quesada! Quesada!  The
foot soldiers stood calm and motionless, but I observed that the cavalry,
with the young officer who commanded them, displayed both confusion and
fear, exchanging with each other some hurried words; all of a sudden that
part of the crowd which stood near the mouth of the Calle de Carretas
fell back in great disorder, leaving a considerable space unoccupied, and
the next moment Quesada, in complete general’s uniform, and mounted on a
bright bay thorough bred English horse, with a drawn sword in his hand,
dashed at full gallop into the area, in much the same manner as I have
seen a Manchegan bull rush into the amphitheatre when the gates of his
pen are suddenly flung open.

He was closely followed by two mounted officers, and at a short distance
by as many dragoons.  In almost less time than is sufficient to relate
it, several individuals in the crowd were knocked down and lay sprawling
upon the ground, beneath the horses of Quesada and his two friends, for
as to the dragoons, they halted as soon as they had entered the Puerta
del Sol.  It was a fine sight to see three men, by dint of valour and
good horsemanship, strike terror into at least as many thousands: I saw
Quesada spur his horse repeatedly into the dense masses of the crowd, and
then extricate himself in the most masterly manner.  The rabble were
completely awed and gave way, retiring by the Calle del Comercio and the
street of Alcala.  All at once, Quesada singled out two nationals, who
were attempting to escape, and setting spurs to his horse, turned them in
a moment, and drove them in another direction, striking them in a
contemptuous manner with the flat of his sabre.  He was crying out, “Long
live the absolute queen!” when, just beneath me, amidst a portion of the
crowd which had still maintained its ground, perhaps from not having the
means of escaping, I saw a small gun glitter for a moment, then there was
a sharp report, and a bullet had nearly sent Quesada to his long account,
passing so near to the countenance of the general as to graze his hat.  I
had an indistinct view for a moment of a well-known foraging cap just
about the spot from whence the gun had been discharged, then there was a
rush of the crowd, and the shooter, whoever he was, escaped discovery
amidst the confusion which arose.

As for Quesada, he seemed to treat the danger from which he had escaped
with the utmost contempt.  He glared about him fiercely for a moment,
then leaving the two nationals, who sneaked away like whipped hounds, he
went up to the young officer who commanded the cavalry, and who had been
active in raising the cry of the constitution, and to him he addressed a
few words with an air of stern menace; the youth evidently quailed before
him, and probably in obedience to his orders, resigned the command of the
party, and rode slowly away with a discomfited air; whereupon Quesada
dismounted and walked slowly backwards and forwards before the Casa de
Postas with a mien which seemed to bid defiance to mankind.

This was the glorious day of Quesada’s existence, his glorious and last
day.  I call it the day of his glory, for he certainly never before
appeared under such brilliant circumstances, and he never lived to see
another sun set.  No action of any conqueror or hero on record is to be
compared with this closing scene of the life of Quesada, for who, by his
single desperate courage and impetuosity, ever before stopped a
revolution in full course?  Quesada did: he stopped the revolution at
Madrid for one entire day, and brought back the uproarious and hostile
mob of a huge city to perfect order and quiet.  His burst into the Puerta
del Sol was the most tremendous and successful piece of daring ever
witnessed.  I admired so much the spirit of the “brute bull” that I
frequently, during his wild onset, shouted “Viva Quesada!” for I wished
him well.  Not that I am of any political party or system.  No, no!  I
have lived too long with Rommany Chals and Petulengres {145} to be of any
politics save Gypsy politics; and it is well known that, during
elections, the children of Roma side with both parties so long as the
event is doubtful, promising success to each; and then when the fight is
done, and the battle won, invariably range themselves in the ranks of the
victorious.  But I repeat that I wished well to Quesada, witnessing, as I
did, his stout heart and good horsemanship.  Tranquillity was restored to
Madrid throughout the remainder of the day; the handful of infantry
bivouacked in the Puerta del Sol.  No more cries of long live the
constitution were heard; and the revolution in the capital seemed to have
been effectually put down.  It is probable, indeed, that had the chiefs
of the moderado party but continued true to themselves for forty-eight
hours longer, their cause would have triumphed, and the revolutionary
soldiers at the Granja would have been glad to restore the Queen Regent
to liberty, and to have come to terms, as it was well known that several
regiments, who still continued loyal, were marching upon Madrid.  The
moderados, however, were not true to themselves; that very night their
hearts failed them, and they fled in various directions.  Isturitz and
Galiano to France; and the Duke of Rivas to Gibraltar: the panic of his
colleagues even infected Quesada, who, disguised as a civilian, took to
flight.  He was not, however, so successful as the rest, but was
recognised at a village about three leagues from Madrid, and cast into
prison by some friends of the constitution.  Intelligence of his capture
was instantly transmitted to the capital, and a vast mob of the
nationals, some on foot, some on horseback, and others in cabriolets,
instantly set out.  “The nationals are coming,” said a paisano to
Quesada.  “Then,” said he, “I am lost,” and forthwith prepared himself
for death.

There is a celebrated coffee-house in the Calle d’Alcala at Madrid,
capable of holding several hundred individuals.  On the evening of the
day in question, I was seated there, sipping a cup of the brown beverage,
when I heard a prodigious noise and clamour in the street; it proceeded
from the nationals, who were returning from their expedition.  In a few
minutes I saw a body of them enter the coffee-house marching arm in arm,
two by two, stamping on the ground with their feet in a kind of measure,
and repeating in loud chorus as they walked round the spacious apartment,
the following grisly stanza:—

    “Que es lo que abaja
    Por aquel cerro?
    Ta ra ra ra ra.
    Son los huesos de Quesada,
    Que los trae un perro—
    Ta ra ra ra ra.” {146}

A huge bowl of coffee was then called for, which was placed upon a table,
around which gathered the national soldiers: there was silence for a
moment, which was interrupted by a voice roaring out, “_el panuelo_!”  A
blue kerchief was forthwith produced, which appeared to contain a
substance of some kind; it was untied, and a gory hand and three or four
dissevered fingers made their appearance, and with these the contents of
the bowl were stirred up.  “Cups! cups!” cried the nationals.

“Ho, ho, Don Jorge,” cried Baltasarito, coming up to me with a cup of
coffee, “pray do me the favour to drink upon this glorious occasion.
This is a pleasant day for Spain, and for the gallant nationals of
Madrid.  I have seen many a bull funcion, but none which has given me so
much pleasure as this.  Yesterday the brute had it all his own way, but
to-day the toreros have prevailed, as you see, Don Jorge.  Pray drink;
for I must now run home to fetch my pajandi to play my brethren a tune,
and sing a copla.  What shall it be?  Something in Gitano?

    “Una noche sinava en tucue.”

You shake your head, Don Jorge.  Ha, ha; I am young, and youth is the
time for pleasure; well, well, out of compliment to you, who are an
Englishman and a monro, it shall not be that, but something liberal,
something patriotic, the Hymn of Riego—Hasta despues, Don Jorge!”



CHAPTER XV


The Steamer—Cape Finisterre—The Storm—Arrival at Cadiz—The New
Testament—Seville—Italica—The Amphitheatre—The Prisoners—The
Encounter—Baron Taylor—The Street and Desert.

At the commencement of November, I again found myself on the salt water,
on my way to Spain.  I had returned to England shortly after the events
which have been narrated in the last chapter, for the purpose of
consulting with my friends, and for planning the opening of a biblical
campaign in Spain.  It was now determined by us to print the New
Testament, with as little delay as possible, at Madrid; and I was to be
entrusted with the somewhat arduous task of its distribution.  My stay in
England was very short, for time was precious, and I was eager to return
to the field of action.

I embarked in the Thames, on board the M--- steamer.  We had a most
unpleasant passage to Falmouth; the ship was crowded with passengers,
most of them poor consumptive individuals, and other invalids fleeing
from the cold blasts of England’s winter to the sunny shores of Portugal
and Madeira.  In a more uncomfortable vessel, especially steam ship, it
has never been my fate to make a voyage.  The berths were small and
insupportably close, and of these wretched holes mine was amongst the
worst, the rest having been bespoken before I arrived on board; so that
to avoid the suffocation which seemed to threaten me should I enter it, I
lay upon the floor of one of the cabins throughout the voyage.  We
remained at Falmouth twenty-four hours, taking in coal, and repairing the
engine, which had sustained considerable damage.

On Monday, the seventh, we again started, and made for the Bay of Biscay.
The sea was high and the wind strong and contrary; nevertheless, on the
morning of the fourth day, we were in sight of the rocky coast to the
north of Cape Finisterre.  I must here observe, that this was the first
voyage that the captain who commanded the vessel had ever made on board
of her, and that he knew little or nothing of the coast towards which we
were bearing.  He was a person picked up in a hurry, the former captain
having resigned his command on the ground that the ship was not
seaworthy, and that the engines were frequently unserviceable.  I was not
acquainted with these circumstances at the time, or perhaps I should have
felt more alarmed than I did, when I saw the vessel approaching nearer
and nearer the shore, till at last we were only a few hundred yards
distant.  As it was, however, I felt very much surprised; for having
passed it twice before, both times in steam vessels, and having seen with
what care the captains endeavoured to maintain a wide offing, I could not
conceive the reason of our being now so near this dangerous region.  The
wind was blowing hard towards the shore, if that can be called a shore
which consists of steep abrupt precipices, on which the surf was breaking
with the noise of thunder, tossing up clouds of spray and foam to the
height of a cathedral.  We coasted slowly along, rounding several tall
forelands, some of them piled up by the hand of nature in the most
fantastic shapes.  About nightfall Cape Finisterre was not far ahead,—a
bluff, brown, granite mountain, whose frowning head may be seen far away
by those who traverse the ocean.  The stream which poured round its
breast was terrific, and though our engines plied with all their force,
we made little or no way.

By about eight o’clock at night the wind had increased to a hurricane,
the thunder rolled frightfully, and the only light which we had to guide
us on our way was the red forked lightning, which burst at times from the
bosom of the big black clouds which lowered over our heads.  We were
exerting ourselves to the utmost to weather the cape, which we could
descry by the lightning on our lee, its brow being frequently brilliantly
lighted up by the flashes which quivered around it, when suddenly, with a
great crash, the engine broke, and the paddles, on which depended our
lives, ceased to play.

I will not attempt to depict the scene of horror and confusion which
ensued; it may be imagined, but never described.  The captain, to give
him his due, displayed the utmost coolness and intrepidity; he and the
whole crew made the greatest exertions to repair the engine, and when
they found their labour in vain, endeavoured, by hoisting the sails, and
by practising all possible manœuvres, to preserve the ship from impending
destruction; but all was of no avail, we were hard on a lee shore, to
which the howling tempest was impelling us.  About this time I was
standing near the helm, and I asked the steersman if there was any hope
of saving the vessel, or our lives.  He replied, “Sir, it is a bad
affair, no boat could live for a minute in this sea, and in less than an
hour the ship will have her broadside on Finisterre, where the strongest
man-of-war ever built must go to shivers instantly—none of us will see
the morning.”  The captain, likewise, informed the other passengers in
the cabin to the same effect, telling them to prepare themselves; and
having done so, he ordered the door to be fastened, and none to be
permitted to come on deck.  I, however, kept my station, though almost
drowned with water, immense waves continually breaking over our windward
side and flooding the ship.  The water casks broke from their lashings,
and one of them struck me down, and crushed the foot of the unfortunate
man at the helm, whose place was instantly taken by the captain.  We were
now close to the rocks, when a horrid convulsion of the elements took
place.  The lightning enveloped us as with a mantle, the thunders were
louder than the roar of a million cannon, the dregs of the ocean seemed
to be cast up, and in the midst of all this turmoil, the wind, without
the slightest intimation, _veered right about_, and pushed us from the
horrible coast faster than it had previously driven us towards it.

The oldest sailors on board acknowledged that they had never witnessed so
providential an escape.  I said, from the bottom of my heart, “Our
Father—hallowed be thy name.”

The next day we were near foundering, for the sea was exceedingly high,
and our vessel, which was not intended for sailing, laboured terribly,
and leaked much.  The pumps were continually working.  She likewise took
fire, but the flames were extinguished.  In the evening the steam-engine
was partially repaired, and we reached Lisbon on the thirteenth, where in
a few days we completed our repairs.

I found my excellent friend W--- in good health.  During my absence he
had been doing everything in his power to further the sale of the sacred
volume in Portuguese: his zeal and devotedness were quite admirable.  The
distracted state of the country, however, during the last six months, had
sadly impeded his efforts.  The minds of the people had been so engrossed
with politics, that they found scarcely any time to think of the welfare
of their souls.  The political history of Portugal had of late afforded a
striking parallel to that of the neighbouring country.  In both a
struggle for supremacy had arisen between the court and the democratic
party; in both the latter had triumphed, whilst two distinguished
individuals had fallen a sacrifice to the popular fury—Freire in
Portugal, and Quesada in Spain.  The news which reached me at Lisbon from
the latter country was rather startling.  The hordes of Gomez were
ravaging Andalusia, which I was about to visit on my way to Madrid;
Cordova had been sacked and abandoned after a three days’ occupation by
the Carlists.  I was told that if I persisted in my attempt to enter
Spain in the direction which I proposed, I should probably fall into
their hands at Seville.  I had, however, no fears, and had full
confidence that the Lord would open the path before me to Madrid.

The vessel being repaired, we again embarked, and in two days arrived in
safety at Cadiz.  I found great confusion reigning there; numerous bands
of the factious were reported to be hovering in the neighbourhood.  An
attack was not deemed improbable, and the place had just been declared in
a state of siege.  I took up my abode at the French hotel in the Calle de
la Niveria, and was allotted a species of cockloft, or garret, to sleep
in, for the house was filled with guests, being a place of much resort,
on account of the excellent table d’hote which is kept there.  I dressed
myself and walked about the town.  I entered several coffee-houses: the
din of tongues in all was deafening.  In one no less than six orators
were haranguing at the same time on the state of the country, and the
probability of an intervention on the part of England and France.  As I
was listening to one of them, he suddenly called upon me for my opinion,
as I was a foreigner, and seemingly just arrived.  I replied that I could
not venture to guess what steps the two governments would pursue under
the present circumstances, but thought that it would be as well if the
Spaniards would exert themselves more and call less on Jupiter.  As I did
not wish to engage in any political conversation, I instantly quitted the
house, and sought those parts of the town where the lower classes
principally reside.

I entered into discourse with several individuals, but found them very
ignorant; none could read or write, and their ideas respecting religion
were anything but satisfactory,—most professing a perfect indifference.
I afterwards went into a bookseller’s shop and made inquiries respecting
the demand for literature, which, he informed me, was small.  I produced
a London edition of the New Testament in Spanish, and asked the
bookseller whether he thought a book of that description would sell in
Cadiz.  He said that both the type and paper were exceedingly beautiful,
but that it was a work not sought after, and very little known.  I did
not pursue my inquiries in other shops, for I reflected that I was not
likely to receive a very favourable opinion from booksellers respecting a
publication in which they had no interest.  I had, moreover, but two or
three copies of the New Testament with me, and could not have supplied
them had they even given me an order.

Early on the twenty-fourth, I embarked for Seville in the small Spanish
steamer the _Betis_: the morning was wet, and the aspect of nature was
enveloped in a dense mist, which prevented my observing surrounding
objects.  After proceeding about six leagues, we reached the
north-eastern extremity of the Bay of Cadiz, and passed by Saint Lucar,
an ancient town near to the spot where the Guadalquivir disembogues
itself.  The mist suddenly disappeared, and the sun of Spain burst forth
in full brilliancy, enlivening all around, and particularly myself, who
had till then been lying on the deck in a dull melancholy stupor.  We
entered the mouth of “The Great River,” for that is the English
translation of Oued al Kiber, as the Moors designated the ancient Betis.
We came to anchor for a few minutes at a little village called Bonança,
at the extremity of the first reach of the river, where we received
several passengers, and again proceeded.  There is not much in the
appearance of the Guadalquivir to interest the traveller: the banks are
low and destitute of trees, the adjacent country is flat, and only in the
distance is seen a range of tall blue sierras.  The water is turbid and
muddy, and in colour closely resembling the contents of a duck-pool; the
average width of the stream is from a hundred and fifty to two hundred
yards, but it is impossible to move along this river without remembering
that it has borne the Roman, the Vandal, and the Arab, and has been the
witness of deeds which have resounded through the world and been the
themes of immortal songs.  I repeated Latin verses and fragments of old
Spanish ballads till we reached Seville, at about nine o’clock of a
lovely moonlight night.

Seville contains ninety thousand inhabitants, and is situated on the
eastern bank of the Guadalquivir, about eighteen leagues from its mouth;
it is surrounded with high Moorish walls, in a good state of
preservation, and built of such durable materials that it is probable
they will for many centuries still bid defiance to the encroachments of
time.  The most remarkable edifices are the cathedral and Alcazar, or
palace of the Moorish kings; the tower of the former, called La Giralda,
belongs to the period of the Moors, and formed part of the grand mosque
of Seville: it is computed to be one hundred ells in height, and is
ascended not by stairs or ladders but by a vaulted pathway, in the manner
of an inclined plane: this path is by no means steep, so that a cavalier
might ride up to the top, a feat which Ferdinand the Seventh is said to
have accomplished.  The view from the summit is very extensive, and on a
fine clear day the mountain ridge, called the Sierra de Ronda, may be
discovered, though upwards of twenty leagues distant.  The cathedral
itself is a noble Gothic structure, reputed the finest of the kind in
Spain.  In the chapels allotted to the various saints are some of the
most magnificent paintings which Spanish art has produced; indeed the
Cathedral of Seville is at the present time far more rich in splendid
paintings than at any former period; possessing many very recently
removed from some of the suppressed convents, particularly from the
Capuchin and San Francisco.

No one should visit Seville without paying particular attention to the
Alcazar, that splendid specimen of Moorish architecture.  It contains
many magnificent halls, particularly that of the ambassadors, so called,
which is in every respect more magnificent than the one of the same name
within the Alhambra of Granada.  This palace was a favourite residence of
Peter the Cruel, who carefully repaired it without altering its Moorish
character and appearance.  It probably remains in much the same state as
at the time of his death.

On the right side of the river is a large suburb, called Triana,
communicating with Seville by means of a bridge of boats; for there is no
permanent bridge across the Guadalquivir, owing to the violent
inundations to which it is subject.  This suburb is inhabited by the
dregs of the populace, and abounds with Gitanos or Gypsies.  About a
league and a half to the north-west stands the village of Santo Ponce: at
the foot and on the side of some elevated ground higher up are to be seen
vestiges of ruined walls and edifices, which once formed part of Italica,
the birth-place of Silius Italicus and Trajan, from which latter
personage Triana derives its name.

One fine morning I walked thither, and having ascended the hill, I
directed my course northward.  I soon reached what had once been bagnios,
and a little farther on, in a kind of valley between two gentle
declivities, the amphitheatre.  This latter object is by far the most
considerable relic of ancient Italica; it is oval in its form, with two
gateways fronting the east and west.

On all sides are to be seen the time-worn broken granite benches, from
whence myriads of human beings once gazed down on the area below, where
the gladiator shouted, and the lion and the leopard yelled: all around,
beneath these flights of benches, are vaulted excavations from whence the
combatants, part human part bestial, darted forth by their several doors.
I spent many hours in this singular place, forcing my way through the
wild fennel and brushwood into the caverns, now the haunts of adders and
other reptiles, whose hissings I heard.  Having sated my curiosity, I
left the ruins, and returning by another way, reached a place where lay
the carcass of a horse half devoured; upon it, with lustrous eyes, stood
an enormous vulture, who, as I approached, slowly soared aloft till he
alighted on the eastern gate of the amphitheatre, from whence he uttered
a hoarse cry, as if in anger that I had disturbed him from his feast of
carrion.

Gomez had not hitherto paid a visit to Seville: when I arrived he was
said to be in the neighbourhood of Ronda.  The city was under watch and
ward: several gates had been blocked up with masonry, trenches dug, and
redoubts erected, but I am convinced that the place would not have held
out six hours against a resolute attack.  Gomez had proved himself to be
a most extraordinary man, and with his small army of Aragonese and
Basques had, within the last four months, made the tour of Spain.  He had
very frequently been hemmed in by forces three times the number of his
own, in places whence escape appeared impossible, but he had always
battled his enemies, whom he seemed to laugh at.  The most absurd
accounts of victories gained over him were continually issuing from the
press at Seville; amongst others, it was stated that his army had been
utterly defeated, himself killed, and that twelve hundred prisoners were
on their way to Saville.  I saw these prisoners: instead of twelve
hundred desperadoes, they consisted of about twenty poor lame ragged
wretches, many of them boys from fourteen to sixteen years of age.  They
were evidently camp followers, who, unable to keep up with the army, had
been picked up straggling in the plains and amongst the hills.

It subsequently appeared that no battle had occurred, and that the death
of Gomez was a fiction.  The grand defect of Gomez consisted in not
knowing how to take advantage of circumstances: after defeating Lopez, he
might have marched to Madrid and proclaimed Don Carlos there, and after
sacking Cordova he might have captured Seville.

There were several booksellers’ shops at Seville, in two of which I found
copies of the New Testament in Spanish, which had been obtained from
Gibraltar about two years before, since which time six copies had been
sold in one shop and four in the other.  The person who generally
accompanied me in my walks about the town and the neighbourhood, was an
elderly Genoese, who officiated as a kind of valet de place in the Posada
del Turco, where I had taken up my residence.  On learning from me that
it was my intention to bring out an edition of the New Testament at
Madrid, he observed that copies of the work might be extensively
circulated in Andalusia.  “I have been accustomed to bookselling,” he
continued, “and at one time possessed a small shop of my own in this
place.  Once having occasion to go to Gibraltar, I procured several
copies of the Scriptures; some, it is true, were seized by the officers
of the customs, but the rest I sold at a high price, and with
considerable profit to myself.”

I had returned from a walk in the country, on a glorious sunshiny morning
of the Andalusian winter, and was directing my steps towards my lodging:
as I was passing by the portal of a large gloomy house near the gate of
Xeres, two individuals dressed in zamarras emerged from the archway, and
were about to cross my path, when one, looking in my face, suddenly
started back, exclaiming in the purest and most melodious French: “What
do I see?  If my eyes do not deceive me—it is himself.  Yes, the very
same as I saw him first at Bayonne; then long subsequently beneath the
brick wall at Novogorod; then beside the Bosphorus; and last at—at—Oh, my
respectable and cherished friend, where was it that I had last the
felicity of seeing your well-remembered and most remarkable physiognomy?”

_Myself_.—It was in the south of Ireland, if I mistake not.  Was it not
there that I introduced you to the sorcerer who tamed the savage horses
by a single whisper into their ear?  But tell me what brings you to Spain
and Andalusia, the last place where I should have expected to find you?

_Baron Taylor_.—And wherefore, my most respectable B---?  Is not Spain
the land of the arts; and is not Andalusia of all Spain that portion
which has produced the noblest monuments of artistic excellence and
inspiration?  Surely you know enough of me to be aware that the arts are
my passion; that I am incapable of imagining a more exalted enjoyment
than to gaze in adoration on a noble picture.  O come with me! for you
too have a soul capable of appreciating what is lovely and exalted; a
soul delicate and sensitive.  Come with me, and I will show you a
Murillo, such as ---.  But first allow me to introduce you to your
compatriot.  My dear Monsieur W., turning to his companion (an English
gentleman from whom and from his family I subsequently experienced
unbounded kindness and hospitality on various occasions, and at different
periods at Seville), allow me to introduce to you my most cherished and
respectable friend, one who is better acquainted with Gypsy ways than the
Chef des Bohémiens à Triana, one who is an expert whisperer and
horse-sorcerer, and who, to his honour I say it, can wield hammer and
tongs, and handle a horse-shoe with the best of the smiths amongst the
Alpujarras of Granada.

In the course of my travels I have formed various friendships and
acquaintances, but no one has more interested me than Baron Taylor, and
there is no one for whom I entertain a greater esteem and regard.  To
personal and mental accomplishments of the highest order he unites a
kindness of heart rarely to be met with, and which is continually
inducing him to seek for opportunities of doing good to his fellow
creatures, and of contributing to their happiness; perhaps no person in
existence has seen more of the world and life in its various phases than
himself.  His manners are naturally to the highest degree courtly, yet he
nevertheless possesses a disposition so pliable that he finds no
difficulty in accommodating himself to all kinds of company, in
consequence of which he is a universal favourite.  There is a mystery
about him, which, wherever he goes, serves not a little to increase the
sensation naturally created by his appearance and manner.  Who he is, no
one pretends to assert with downright positiveness: it is whispered,
however, that he is a scion of royalty; and who can gaze for a moment
upon that most graceful figure, that most intelligent but singularly
moulded countenance, and those large and expressive eyes, without feeling
as equally convinced that he is of no common lineage, as that he is no
common man.  Though possessed of talents and eloquence which would
speedily have enabled him to attain to an illustrious position in the
state, he has hitherto, and perhaps wisely, contented himself with
comparative obscurity, chiefly devoting himself to the study of the arts
and of literature, of both of which he is a most bounteous patron.

He has, notwithstanding, been employed by the illustrious house to which
he is said to be related in more than one delicate and important mission,
both in the East and the West, in which his efforts have uniformly been
crowned with complete success.  He was now collecting masterpieces of the
Spanish school of painting, which were destined to adorn the saloons of
the Tuileries.

He has visited most portions of the earth, and it is remarkable enough
that we are continually encountering each other in strange places and
under singular circumstances.  Whenever he descries me, whether in the
street or the desert, the brilliant hall or amongst Bedouin haimas, at
Novogorod or Stambul, he flings up his arms and exclaims, “O ciel!  I
have again the felicity of seeing my cherished and most respectable
B---.”



CHAPTER XVI


Departure for Cordova—Carmona—German Colonies—Language—The Sluggish
Horse—Nocturnal Welcome—Carlist Landlord—Good Advice—Gomez—The Old
Genoese—The Two Opinions.

After a sojourn of about fourteen days at Seville, I departed for
Cordova.  The diligence had for some time past ceased running, owing to
the disturbed state of the province.  I had therefore no resource but to
proceed thither on horseback.  I hired a couple of horses, and engaged
the old Genoese, of whom I have already had occasion to speak, to attend
me as far as Cordova, and to bring them back.  Notwithstanding we were
now in the depths of winter, the weather was beautiful, the days sunny
and brilliant, though the nights were rather keen.  We passed by the
little town of Alcala, celebrated for the ruins of an immense Moorish
castle, which stand on a rocky hill, overhanging a picturesque river.
The first night we slept at Carmona, another Moorish town, distant about
seven leagues from Seville.  Early in the morning we again mounted and
departed.  Perhaps in the whole of Spain there is scarcely a finer
Moorish monument of antiquity than the eastern side of this town of
Carmona, which occupies the brow of a lofty hill, and frowns over an
extensive vega or plain, which extends for leagues unplanted and
uncultivated, producing nothing but brushwood and carasco.  Here rise
tall and dusky walls, with square towers at short distances, of so
massive a structure that they would seem to bid defiance alike to the
tooth of time and the hand of man.  This town, in the time of the Moors,
was considered the key to Seville, and did not submit to the Christian
arms till after a long and desperate siege: the capture of Seville
followed speedily after.  The vega upon which we now entered forms a part
of the grand despoblado or desert of Andalusia, once a smiling garden,
but which became what it now is on the expulsion of the Moors from Spain,
when it was drained almost entirely of its population.  The towns and
villages from hence to the Sierra Morena, which divides Andalusia from La
Mancha, are few and far between, and even of these several date from the
middle of the last century, when an attempt was made by a Spanish
minister to people this wilderness with the children of a foreign land.

At about midday we arrived at a place called Moncloa, which consisted of
a venta, and a desolate-looking edifice which had something of the
appearance of a chateau: a solitary palm tree raised its head over the
outer wall.  We entered the venta, tied our horses to the manger, and
having ordered barley for them, we sat down before a large fire, which
burned in the middle of the venta.  The host and hostess also came and
sat down beside us.  “They are evil people,” said the old Genoese to me
in Italian, “and this is an evil house; it is a harbouring place for
thieves, and murders have been committed here, if all tales be true.”  I
looked at these two people attentively; they were both young, the man
apparently about twenty-five years of age.  He was a short thick-made
churl, evidently of prodigious strength; his features were rather
handsome, but with a gloomy expression, and his eyes were full of sullen
fire.  His wife somewhat resembled him, but had a countenance more open
and better tempered; but what struck me as most singular in connexion
with these people, was the colour of their hair and complexion; the
latter was fair and ruddy, and the former of a bright auburn, both in
striking contrast to the black hair and swarthy visages which in general
distinguish the natives of this province.  “Are you an Andalusian?” said
I to the hostess.  “I should almost conclude you to be a German.”

_Hostess_.—And your worship would not be very wrong.  It is true that I
am a Spaniard, being born in Spain, but it is equally true that I am of
German blood, for my grandparents came from Germany, even like those of
this gentleman, my lord and husband.

_Myself_.—And what chance brought your grandparents into this country?

_Hostess_.—Did your worship never hear of the German colonies?  There are
many of them in these parts.  In old times the land was nearly deserted,
and it was very dangerous for travellers to journey along the waste,
owing to the robbers.  So along time ago, nearly a hundred years, as I am
told, some potent lord sent messengers to Germany, to tell the people
there what a goodly land there was in these parts uncultivated for want
of hands, and to promise every labourer who would consent to come and
till it, a house and a yoke of oxen, with food and provision for one
year.  And in consequence of this invitation a great many poor families
left the German land and came hither, and settled down in certain towns
and villages which had been prepared for them, which places were called
German colonies, and this name they still retain.

_Myself_.—And how many of these colonies may there be?

_Hostess_.—There are several, both on this side of Cordova and the other.
The nearest is Luisiana, about two leagues from hence, from which place
both my husband and myself come; the next is Carlota, which is some ten
leagues distant, and these are the only colonies of our people which I
have seen; but there are others farther on, and some, as I have heard
say, in the very heart of the Sierra Morena.

_Myself_.—And do the colonists still retain the language of their
forefathers?

_Hostess_.—We speak Spanish, or rather Andalusian, and no other language.
A few, indeed, amongst the very old people, retain a few words of German,
which they acquired from their fathers, who were born in the other
country: but the last person amongst the colonists who could understand a
conversation in German, was the aunt of my mother, who came over when a
girl.  When I was a child I remember her conversing with a foreign
traveller, a countryman of hers, in a language which I was told was
German, and they understood each other, though the old woman confessed
that she had lost many words: she has now been dead several years.

_Myself_.—Of what religion are the colonists?

_Hostess_.—They are Christians, like the Spaniards, and so were their
fathers before them.  Indeed, I have heard that they came from a part of
Germany where the Christian religion is as much practised as in Spain
itself.

_Myself_.—The Germans are the most honest people in the world: being
their legitimate descendants you have of course no thieves amongst you.

The hostess glanced at me for a moment, then looked at her husband and
smiled: the latter, who had hitherto been smoking without uttering a
word, though with a peculiarly surly and dissatisfied countenance, now
flung the remainder of his cigar amongst the embers, then springing up he
muttered “Disparate!” and “Conversacion!” and went abroad.

“You touched them in the sore place, Signor,” said the Genoese, after we
had left Moncloa some way behind us.  “Were they honest people they would
not keep that venta; and as for the colonists, I know not what kind of
people they might be when they first came over, but at present their ways
are not a bit better than those of the Andalusians, but rather worse, if
there is any difference at all.”

A short time before sunset of the third day after our departure from
Seville, we found ourselves at the Cuesta del Espinal, or hill of the
thorn tree, at about two leagues from Cordova;—we could just descry the
walls of the city, upon which the last beams of the descending luminary
were resting.  As the neighbourhood in which we were was, according to
the account of my guide, generally infested with robbers, we used our
best endeavours to reach the town before the night should have entirely
closed in.  We did not succeed, however, and before we had proceeded half
the distance, pitchy darkness overtook us.  Throughout the journey we had
been considerably delayed by the badness of our horses, especially that
of my attendant, which appeared to pay no regard to whip or spur; his
rider also was no horseman, it being thirty years, as he at length
confessed to me, since he last mounted in a saddle.  Horses soon become
aware of the powers of their riders, and the brute in question was
disposed to take great advantage of the fears and weakness of the old
man.  There is a remedy, however, for most things in this world.  I
became so wearied at last at the snail’s pace at which we were
proceeding, that I fastened the bridle of the sluggish horse to the
crupper of mine, then sparing neither spur nor cudgel, I soon forced my
own horse into a kind of trot, which compelled the other to make some use
of his legs.  He twice attempted to fling himself down, to the great
terror of his aged rider, who frequently entreated me to stop and permit
him to dismount.  I, however, took no notice of what he said, but
continued spurring and cudgelling with unabated activity, and with such
success, that in less than half an hour we saw lights close before us,
and presently came to a river and a bridge, which crossing, we found
ourselves at the gate of Cordova, without having broken either our
horses’ knees or our own necks.

We passed through the entire length of the town ere we reached the
posada; the streets were dark and almost entirely deserted.  The posada
was a large building, the windows of which were well fenced with rejas,
or iron grating: no light gleamed from them, and the silence of death not
only seemed to pervade the house, but the street in which it was
situated.  We knocked for a long time at the gate without receiving any
answer; we then raised our voices and shouted.  At last some one from
within inquired what we wanted.  “Open the door and you will see,” we
replied.  “I shall do no such thing,” answered the individual from
within, “until I know who you are.”  “We are travellers,” said I, “from
Seville.”  “Travellers, are you,” said the voice; “why did you not tell
me so before?  I am not porter at this house to keep out travellers.
Jesus Maria knows we have not so many of them that we need repulse any.
Enter, cavalier, and welcome, you and your company.”

He opened the gate and admitted us into a spacious courtyard, and then
forthwith again secured the gate with various bolts and bars.  “Are you
afraid that the Carlists should pay you a visit,” I demanded, “that you
take so much precaution?”  “It is not the Carlists we are afraid of,”
replied the porter; “they have been here already, and did us no damage
whatever.  It is certain scoundrels of this town that we are afraid of,
who have a spite against the master of the house, and would murder both
him and his family, could they but find an opportunity.”

I was about to inquire the cause of this enmity, when a thick bulky man,
bearing a light in his hand, came running down a stone staircase, which
led into the interior of the building.  Two or three females, also
bearing lights, followed him.  He stopped on the lowest stair.  “Whom
have we here?” he exclaimed; then advancing the lamp which he bore, the
light fell full upon my face.  “Ola!” he exclaimed; “Is it you?  Only
think,” said he, turning to the female who stood next him, a
dark-featured person, stout as himself, and about his own age, which
might border upon fifty; “Only think, my dear, that at the very moment we
were wishing for a guest an Englishman should be standing before our
doors; for I should know an Englishman at a mile’s distance, even in the
dark.  Juanito,” cried he to the porter, “open not the gate any more
to-night, whoever may ask for admission.  Should the nationals come to
make any disturbance, tell them that the son of Belington (_Wellington_)
is in the house ready to attack them sword in hand unless they retire;
and should other travellers arrive, which is not likely, inasmuch as we
have seen none for a month past, say that we have no room, all our
apartments being occupied by an English gentleman and his company.”

I soon found that my friend the posadero was a most egregious Carlist.
Before I had finished supper—during which both himself and all his family
were present, surrounding the little table at which I sat, and observing
my every motion, particularly the manner in which I handled my knife and
fork and conveyed the food to my mouth—he commenced talking politics: “I
am of no particular opinion, Don Jorge,” said he, for he had inquired my
name in order that he might address me in a suitable manner; “I am of no
particular opinion, and I hold neither for King Carlos nor for the Chica
Isabel: nevertheless, I lead the life of a dog in this accursed Christino
town, which I would have left long ago, had it not been the place of my
birth, and did I but know whither to betake myself.  Ever since the
troubles have commenced, I have been afraid to stir into the street, for
no sooner do the canaille of the town see me turning round a corner, than
they forthwith exclaim, ‘Halloo, the Carlist!’ and then there is a run
and a rush, and stones and cudgels are in great requisition: so that
unless I can escape home, which is no easy matter, seeing that I weigh
eighteen stone, my life is poured out in the street, which is neither
decent nor convenient, as I think you will acknowledge, Don Jorge!  You
see that young man,” he continued, pointing to a tall swarthy youth who
stood behind my chair, officiating as waiter; “he is my fourth son, is
married, and does not live in the house, but about a hundred yards down
the street.  He was summoned in a hurry to wait upon your worship, as is
his duty: know, however, that he has come at the peril of his life:
before he leaves this house he must peep into the street to see if the
coast is clear, and then he must run like a partridge to his own door.
Carlists! why should they call my family and myself Carlists?  It is true
that my eldest son was a friar, and when the convents were suppressed
betook himself to the royal ranks, in which he has been fighting upwards
of three years; could I help that?  Nor was it my fault, I trow, that my
second son enlisted the other day with Gomez and the royalists when they
entered Cordova.  God prosper him, I say; but I did not bid him go!  So
far from being a Carlist, it was I who persuaded this very lad who is
present to remain here, though he would fain have gone with his brother,
for he is a brave lad and a true Christian.  Stay at home, said I, for
what can I do without you?  Who is to wait upon the guests when it
pleases God to send them.  Stay at home, at least till your brother, my
third son, comes back, for, to my shame be it spoken, Don Jorge, I have a
son a soldier and a sergeant in the Christino armies, sorely against his
own inclination, poor fellow, for he likes not the military life, and I
have been soliciting his discharge for years; indeed, I have counselled
him to maim himself, in order that he might procure his liberty
forthwith; so I said to this lad, Stay at home, my child, till your
brother comes to take your place and prevent our bread being eaten by
strangers, who would perhaps sell me and betray me; so my son staid at
home as you see, Don Jorge, at my request, and yet they call me a
Carlist?”

“Gomez and his bands have lately been in Cordova,” said I; “of course you
were present at all that occurred: how did they comport themselves?”

“Bravely well,” replied the innkeeper, “bravely well, and I wish they
were here still.  I hold with neither side, as I told you before, Don
Jorge, but I confess I never felt greater pleasure in my life than when
they entered the gate; and then to see the dogs of nationals flying
through the streets to save their lives—that was a sight, Don Jorge—those
who met me then at the corner forgot to shout ‘Halloo, Carlista!’ and I
heard not a word about cudgelling; some jumped from the wall and ran no
one knows where, whilst the rest retired to the house of the Inquisition,
which they had fortified, and there they shut themselves up.  Now you
must know, Don Jorge, that all the Carlist chiefs lodged at my house,
Gomez, Cabrera, and the Sawyer; and it chanced that I was talking to my
Lord Gomez in this very room in which we are now, when in came Cabrera in
a mighty fury—he is a small man, Don Jorge, but he is as active as a wild
cat and as fierce.  ‘The canaille,’ said he, ‘in the Casa of the
Inquisition refuse to surrender; give but the order, General, and I will
scale the walls with my men and put them all to the sword’; but Gomez
said, ‘No, we must not spill blood if we can avoid it; order a few
muskets to be fired at them, that will be sufficient!’  And so it proved,
Don Jorge, for after a few discharges their hearts failed them, and they
surrendered at discretion: whereupon their arms were taken from them and
they were permitted to return to their own houses; but as soon as ever
the Carlists departed, these fellows became as bold as ever, and it is
now once more, ‘Halloo, Carlista!’ when they see me turning the corner,
and it is for fear of them that my son must run like a partridge to his
own home, now that he has done waiting on your worship, lest they meet
him in the street and kill him with their knives!”

“You tell me that you were acquainted with Gomez: what kind of man might
he be?”

“A middle-sized man,” replied the innkeeper; “grave and dark.  But the
most remarkable personage in appearance of them all was the Sawyer: he is
a kind of giant, so tall, that when he entered the doorway he invariably
struck his head against the lintel.  The one I liked least of all was one
Palillos, who is a gloomy savage ruffian whom I knew when he was a
postillion.  Many is the time that he has been at my house of old; he is
now captain of the Manchegan thieves, for though he calls himself a
royalist, he is neither more nor less than a thief: it is a disgrace to
the cause that such as he should be permitted to mix with honourable and
brave men; I hate that fellow, Don Jorge: it is owing to him that I have
so few customers.  Travellers are, at present, afraid to pass through La
Mancha, lest they fall into his hands.  I wish he were hanged, Don Jorge,
and whether by Christinos or Royalists, I care not.”

“You recognized me at once for an Englishman,” said I, “do many of my
countrymen visit Cordova?”

“_Toma_!” said the landlord, “they are my best customers; I have had
Englishmen in this house of all grades, from the son of Belington to a
young medico, who cured my daughter, the chica here, of the ear-ache.
How should I not know an Englishman?  There were two with Gomez, serving
as volunteers.  _Vaya que gente_; what noble horses they rode, and how
they scattered their gold about; they brought with them a Portuguese, who
was much of a gentleman but very poor; it was said that he was one of Don
Miguel’s people, and that these Englishmen supported him for the love
they bore to royalty; he was continually singing

    ‘El Rey chegou—El Rey chegou,
    E en Belem desembarcou!’ {163}

Those were merry days, Don Jorge.  By the by, I forgot to ask your
worship of what opinion you are?”

The next morning, whilst I was dressing, the old Genoese entered my room:
“Signore,” said he, “I am come to bid you farewell.  I am about to return
to Seville forthwith with the horses.”

“Wherefore in such a hurry,” I replied; “assuredly you had better tarry
till to-morrow; both the animals and yourself require rest; repose
yourselves to-day and I will defray the expense.”

“Thank you, Signore, but we will depart forthwith, for there is no
tarrying in this house.”

“What is the matter with the house?” I inquired.

“I find no fault with the house,” replied the Genoese, “it is the people
who keep it of whom I complain.  About an hour since, I went down to get
my breakfast, and there, in the kitchen, I found the master and all his
family: well, I sat down and called for chocolate, which they brought me,
but ere I could dispatch it, the master fell to talking politics.  He
commenced by telling me that he held with neither side, but he is as rank
a Carlist as Carlos Quinto: for no sooner did he find that I was of the
other opinion, than he glared at me like a wild beast.  You must know,
Signore, that in the time of the old constitution I kept a coffee-house
at Seville, which was frequented by all the principal liberals, and was,
indeed, the cause of my ruin: for as I admired their opinions, I gave my
customers whatever credit they required, both with regard to coffee and
liqueurs, so that by the time the constitution was put down and despotism
re-established, I had trusted them with all I had.  It is possible that
many of them would have paid me, for I believe they harboured no evil
intention; but the persecution came, the liberals took to flight, and, as
was natural enough, thought more of providing for their own safety than
of paying me for my coffee and liqueurs; nevertheless, I am a friend to
their system, and never hesitate to say so.  So the landlord, as I told
your worship before, when he found that I was of this opinion, glared at
me like a wild beast: ‘Get out of my house,’ said he, ‘for I will have no
spies here,’ and thereupon he spoke disrespectfully of the young Queen
Isabel and of Christina, who, notwithstanding she is a Neapolitan, I
consider as my countrywoman.  Hearing this, your worship, I confess that
I lost my temper and returned the compliment, by saying that Carlos was a
knave and the Princess of Beira no better than she should be.  I then
prepared to swallow the chocolate, but ere I could bring it to my lips,
the woman of the house, who is a still ranker Carlist than her husband,
if that be possible, coming up to me struck the cup into the air as high
as the ceiling, exclaiming, ‘Begone, dog of a negro, you shall taste
nothing more in my house; may you be hanged even as a swine is hanged.’
So your worship sees that it is impossible for me to remain here any
longer.  I forgot to say that the knave of a landlord told me that you
had confessed yourself to be of the same politics as himself, or he would
not have harboured you.”

“My good man,” said I, “I am invariably of the politics of the people at
whose table I sit, or beneath whose roof I sleep, at least I never say
anything which can lead them to suspect the contrary; by pursuing which
system I have more than once escaped a bloody pillow, and having the wine
I drank spiced with sublimate.”



CHAPTER XVII


Cordova—Moors of Barbary—The English—An Old Priest—The Roman Breviary—The
Dovecote—The Holy Office—Judaism—Desecration of Dovecotes—The Innkeeper’s
Proposal.

Little can be said with respect to the town of Cordova, which is a mean
dark gloomy place, full of narrow streets and alleys, without squares or
public buildings worthy of attention, save and except its far-famed
cathedral; its situation, however, is beautiful and picturesque.  Before
it runs the Guadalquivir, which, though in this part shallow and full of
sandbanks, is still a delightful stream; whilst behind it rise the steep
sides of the Sierra Morena, planted up to the top with olive groves.  The
town or city is surrounded on all sides by lofty Moorish walls, which may
measure about three quarters of a league in circumference; unlike
Seville, and most other towns in Spain, it has no suburbs.

I have said that Cordova has no remarkable edifices, save its cathedral;
yet this is perhaps the most extraordinary place of worship in the world.
It was originally, as is well known, a mosque, built in the brightest
days of Arabian dominion in Spain; in shape it was quadrangular, with a
low roof, supported by an infinity of small and delicately rounded marble
pillars, many of which still remain, and present at first sight the
appearance of a marble grove; the greater part, however, were removed
when the Christians, after the expulsion of the Moslems, essayed to
convert the mosque into a cathedral, which they effected in part by the
erection of a dome, and by clearing an open space for a choir.  As it at
present exists, the temple appears to belong partly to Mahomet, and
partly to the Nazarene; and though this jumbling together of massive
Gothic architecture with the light and delicate style of the Arabians
produces an effect somewhat bizarre, it still remains a magnificent and
glorious edifice, and well calculated to excite feelings of awe and
veneration within the bosoms of those who enter it.

The Moors of Barbary seem to care but little for the exploits of their
ancestors: their minds are centred in the things of the present day, and
only so far as those things regard themselves individually.
Disinterested enthusiasm, that truly distinguishing mark of a noble mind,
and admiration for what is great, good, and grand, they appear to be
totally incapable of feeling.  It is astonishing with what indifference
they stray amongst the relics of ancient Moorish grandeur in Spain.  No
feelings of exultation seem to be excited by the proof of what the Moor
once was, nor of regret at the consciousness of what he now is.  More
interesting to them are their perfumes, their papouches, their dates, and
their silks of Fez and Maraks, to dispose of which they visit Andalusia;
and yet the generality of these men are far from being ignorant, and have
both heard and read of what was passing in Spain in the old time.  I was
once conversing with a Moor at Madrid, with whom I was very intimate,
about the Alhambra of Granada, which he had visited.  “Did you not weep,”
said I, “when you passed through the courts, and thought of the,
Abencerrages?”  “No,” said he, “I did not weep; wherefore should I weep?”
“And why did you visit the Alhambra?” I demanded.  “I visited it,” he
replied, “because being at Granada on my own affairs, one of your
countrymen requested me to accompany him thither, that I might explain
some of the inscriptions.  I should certainly not have gone of my own
accord, for the hill on which it stands is steep.”  And yet this man
could compose verses, and was by no means a contemptible poet.  Once at
Cordova, whilst I was in the cathedral, three Moors entered it, and
proceeded slowly across its floor in the direction of a gate, which stood
at the opposite side; they took no farther notice of what was around them
than by slightly glancing once or twice at the pillars, one of them
exclaiming, “_Huaije del Mselmeen_, _huaije del Mselmeen_” (things of the
Moors, things of the Moors); and showed no other respect for the place
where Abderrahman the Magnificent prostrated himself of old, than facing
about on arriving at the farther door and making their egress backwards;
yet these men were hajis and talebs, men likewise of much gold and
silver, men who had read, who had travelled, who had seen Mecca, and the
great city of Negroland.

I remained in Cordova much longer than I had originally intended, owing
to the accounts which I was continually hearing of the unsafe state of
the roads to Madrid.  I soon ransacked every nook and cranny of this
ancient town, formed various acquaintances amongst the populace, which is
my general practice on arriving at a strange place.  I more than once
ascended the side of the Sierra Morena, in which excursions I was
accompanied by the son of my host,—the tall lad of whom I have already
spoken.  The people of the house, who had imbibed the idea that I was of
the same way of thinking as themselves, were exceedingly courteous; it is
true, that in return I was compelled to listen to a vast deal of Carlism,
in other words, high treason against the ruling powers in Spain, to
which, however, I submitted with patience.  “Don Jorgito,” said the
landlord to me one day, “I love the English; they are my best customers.
It is a pity that there is not greater union between Spain and England,
and that more English do not visit us.  Why should there not be a
marriage?  The king will speedily be at Madrid.  Why should there not be
bodas between the son of Don Carlos and the heiress of England?”

“It would certainly tend to bring a considerable number of English to
Spain,” said I, “and it would not be the first time that the son of a
Carlos has married a Princess of England.”

The host mused for a moment, and then exclaimed, “Carracho, Don Jorgito,
if this marriage could be brought about, both the king and myself should
have cause to fling our caps in the air.”

The house or posada in which I had taken up my abode was exceedingly
spacious, containing an infinity of apartments, both large and small, the
greater part of which were, however, unfurnished.  The chamber in which I
was lodged stood at the end of an immensely long corridor, of the kind so
admirably described in the wondrous tale of Udolfo.  For a day or two
after my arrival I believed myself to be the only lodger in the house.
One morning, however, I beheld a strange-looking old man seated in the
corridor, by one of the windows, reading intently in a small thick
volume.  He was clad in garments of coarse blue cloth, and wore a loose
spencer over a waistcoat adorned with various rows of small buttons of
mother of pearl; he had spectacles upon his nose.  I could perceive,
notwithstanding he was seated, that his stature bordered upon the
gigantic.  “Who is that person?” said I to the landlord, whom I presently
met; “is he also a guest of yours?”  “Not exactly, Don Jorge de mi alma,”
replied he, “I can scarcely call him a guest, inasmuch as I gain nothing
by him, though he is staying at my house.  You must know, Don Jorge, that
he is one of two priests who officiate at a large village at some slight
distance from this place.  So it came to pass, that when the soldiers of
Gomez entered the village, his reverence went to meet them, dressed in
full canonicals, with a book in his hand, and he, at their bidding,
proclaimed Carlos Quinto in the market-place.  The other priest, however,
was a desperate liberal, a downright negro, and upon him the royalists
laid their hands, and were proceeding to hang him.  His reverence,
however, interfered, and obtained mercy for his colleague, on condition
that he should cry _Viva Carlos Quinto_! which the latter did in order to
save his life.  Well; no sooner had the royalists departed from these
parts than the black priest mounts his mule, comes to Cordova, and
informs against his reverence, notwithstanding that he had saved his
life.  So his reverence was seized and brought hither to Cordova, and
would assuredly have been thrown into the common prison as a Carlist, had
I not stepped forward and offered to be surety that he should not quit
the place, but should come forward at any time to answer whatever charge
might be brought against him; and he is now in my house, though guest I
cannot call him, for he is not of the slightest advantage to me, as his
very food is daily brought from the country, and that consists only of a
few eggs and a little milk and bread.  As for his money, I have never
seen the colour of it, notwithstanding they tell me that he has buenas
pesetas.  However, he is a holy man, is continually reading and praying
and is, moreover, of the right opinion.  I therefore keep him in my
house, and would be bail for him were he twenty times more of a skinflint
than he seems to be.”

The next day, as I was again passing through the corridor, I observed the
old man in the same place, and saluted him.  He returned my salutation
with much courtesy, and closing the book, placed it upon his knee as if
willing to enter into conversation.  After exchanging a word or two, I
took up the book for the purpose of inspecting it.

“You will hardly derive much instruction from that book, Don Jorge,” said
the old man; “you cannot understand it, for it is not written in
English.”

“Nor in Spanish,” I replied.  “But with respect to understanding the
book, I cannot see what difficulty there can be in a thing so simple; it
is only the Roman breviary written in the Latin tongue.”

“Do the English understand Latin?” exclaimed he.  “Vaya!  Who would have
thought that it was possible for Lutherans to understand the language of
the church?  Vaya! the longer one lives the more one learns.”

“How old may your reverence be?” I inquired.

“I am eighty years, Don Jorge; eighty years, and somewhat more.”

Such was the first conversation which passed between his reverence and
myself.  He soon conceived no inconsiderable liking for me, and favoured
me with no little of his company.  Unlike our friend the landlord, I
found him by no means inclined to talk politics, which the more surprised
me, knowing, as I did, the decided and hazardous part which he had taken
on the late Carlist irruption into the neighbourhood.  He took, however,
great delight in discoursing on ecclesiastical subjects and the writings
of the fathers.

“I have got a small library at home, Don Jorge, which consists of all the
volumes of the fathers which I have been able to pick up, and I find the
perusal of them a source of great amusement and comfort.  Should these
dark days pass by, Don Jorge, and you should be in these parts, I hope
you will look in upon me, and I will show you my little library of the
fathers, and likewise my dovecote, where I rear numerous broods of
pigeons, which are also a source of much solace and at the same time of
profit.”

“I suppose by your dovecote,” said I, “you mean your parish, and by
rearing broods of pigeons, you allude to the care you take of the souls
of your people, instilling therein the fear of God, and obedience to his
revealed law, which occupation must of course afford you much solace and
spiritual profit.”

“I was not speaking metaphorically, Don Jorge,” replied my companion;
“and by rearing doves, I mean neither more nor less than that I supply
the market of Cordova with pigeons, and occasionally that of Seville; for
my birds are very celebrated, and plumper or fatter flesh than theirs I
believe cannot be found in the whole kingdom.  Should you come into my
village, you will doubtless taste them, Don Jorge, at the venta where you
will put up, for I suffer no dovecotes but my own within my district.
With respect to the souls of my parishioners, I trust I do my duty—I
trust I do, as far as in my power lies.  I always took great pleasure in
these spiritual matters, and it was on that account that I attached
myself to the Santa Casa of Cordova, the duties of which I assisted to
perform for a long period.”

“Your reverence has been an inquisitor?” I exclaimed, somewhat startled.

“From my thirtieth year until the time of the suppression of the holy
office in these afflicted kingdoms.”

“You both surprise and delight me,” I exclaimed.  “Nothing could have
afforded me greater pleasure than to find myself conversing with a father
formerly attached to the holy house of Cordova.”

The old man looked at me steadfastly; “I understand you, Don Jorge.  I
have long seen that you are one of us.  You are a learned and holy man;
and though you think fit to call yourself a Lutheran and an Englishman, I
have dived into your real condition.  No Lutheran would take the interest
in church matters which you do, and with respect to your being an
Englishman, none of that nation can speak Castilian, much less Latin.  I
believe you to be one of us—a missionary priest, and I am especially
confirmed in that idea by your frequent conversations and interviews with
the Gitanos; you appear to be labouring among them.  Be, however, on your
guard, Don Jorge, trust not to Egyptian faith; they are evil penitents,
whom I like not.  I would not advise you to trust them.”

“I do not intend,” I replied; “especially with money.  But to return to
more important matters:—of what crimes did this holy house of Cordova
take cognizance?”

“You are of course aware of the matters on which the holy office
exercises its functions.  I need scarcely mention sorcery, Judaism, and
certain carnal misdemeanours.”

“With respect to sorcery,” said I, “what is your opinion of it?  Is there
in reality such a crime?”

“_Que se io_ {170}?” said the old man, shrugging up his shoulders.  “How
should I know?  The church has power, Don Jorge, or at least it had
power, to punish for anything, real or unreal; and as it was necessary to
punish in order to prove that it had the power of punishing, of what
consequence whether it punished for sorcery or any other crime.”

“Did many cases of sorcery occur within your own sphere of knowledge?”

“One or two, Don Jorge; they were by no means frequent.  The last that I
remember was a case which occurred in a convent at Seville: a certain nun
was in the habit of flying through the windows and about the garden over
the tops of the orange trees; declarations of various witnesses were
taken, and the process was arranged with much formality; the fact, I
believe, was satisfactorily proved: of one thing I am certain, that the
nun was punished.”

“Were you troubled with much Judaism in these parts?”

“Wooh!  Nothing gave so much trouble to the Santa Casa as this same
Judaism.  Its shoots and ramifications are numerous, not only in these
parts, but in all Spain; and it is singular enough, that even among the
priesthood, instances of Judaism of both kinds were continually coming to
our knowledge, which it was of course our duty to punish.”

“Is there more than one species of Judaism?” I demanded.

“I have always arranged Judaism under two heads,” said the old man, “the
black and the white: by the black, I mean the observance of the law of
Moses in preference to the precepts of the church; then there is the
white Judaism, which includes all kinds of heresy, such as Lutheranism,
freemasonry, and the like.”

“I can easily conceive,” said I, “that many of the priesthood favoured
the principles of the reformation, and that the minds of not a few had
been led astray by the deceitful lights of modern philosophy, but it is
almost inconceivable to me that there should be Jews amongst the
priesthood who follow in secret the rites and observances of the old law,
though I confess that I have been assured of the fact ere now.”

“Plenty of Judaism amongst the priesthood, whether of the black or white
species; no lack of it, I assure you, Don Jorge; I remember once
searching the house of an ecclesiastic who was accused of the black
Judaism, and after much investigation, we discovered beneath the floor a
wooden chest, in which was a small shrine of silver, inclosing three
books in black hogskin, which, on being opened, were found to be books of
Jewish devotion, written in Hebrew characters, and of great antiquity;
and on being questioned, the culprit made no secret of his guilt, but
rather gloried in it, saying that there was no God but one, and
denouncing the adoration of Maria Santissima as rank idolatry.”

“And between ourselves, what is your own opinion of the adoration of this
same Maria Santissima?”

“What is my opinion!  _Que se io_?” said the old man, shrugging up his
shoulders still higher than on the former occasion; “but I will tell you;
I think, on consideration, that it is quite right and proper; why not?
Let any one pay a visit to my church, and look at her as she stands
there, _tan bonita_, _tan guapita_—so well dressed and so genteel—with
such pretty colours, such red and white, and he would scarcely ask me why
Maria Santissima should not be adored.  Moreover, Don Jorgito mio, this
is a church matter and forms an important part of the church system.”

“And now, with respect to carnal misdemeanours.  Did you take much
cognizance of them?”

“Amongst the laity, not much; we, however, kept a vigilant eye upon our
own body, but, upon the whole, were rather tolerant in these matters,
knowing that the infirmities of human nature are very great indeed: we
rarely punished, save in cases where the glory of the church and loyalty
to Maria Santissima made punishment absolutely imperative.”

“And what cases might those be?” I demanded.

“I allude to the desecration of dovecotes, Don Jorge, and the
introduction therein of strange flesh, for purposes neither seemly nor
convenient.”

“Your reverence will excuse me for not yet perfectly understanding.”

“I mean, Don Jorge, certain acts of flagitiousness practised by the
clergy in lone and remote palomares (_dovecotes_) in olive grounds and
gardens; actions denounced, I believe, by the holy Pablo in his first
letter to Pope Sixtus. {171}  You understand me now, Don Jorge, for you
are learned in church matters.”

“I think I understand you,” I replied.

After remaining several days more at Cordova, I determined to proceed on
my journey to Madrid, though the roads were still said to be highly
insecure.  I, however, saw but little utility in tarrying and awaiting a
more tranquil state of affairs, which might never arrive.  I therefore
consulted with the landlord respecting the best means of making the
journey.  “Don Jorgito,” he replied, “I think I can tell you.  You say
you are anxious to depart, and I never wish to keep guests in my house
longer than is agreeable to them; to do so, would not become a Christian
innkeeper: I leave such conduct to Moors, Christinos, and Negroes.  I
will further you on your journey, Don Jorge: I have a plan in my head,
which I had resolved to propose to you before you questioned me.  There
is my wife’s brother, who has two horses which he occasionally lets out
for hire; you shall hire them, Don Jorge, and he himself shall attend you
to take care of you, and to comfort you, and to talk to you, and you
shall pay him forty dollars for the journey.  Moreover, as there are
thieves upon the route, and _malos sujetos_, such as Palillos and his
family, you shall make an engagement and a covenant, Don Jorge, that
provided you are robbed and stripped on the route, and the horses of my
wife’s brother are taken from him by the thieves, you shall, on arriving
at Madrid, make good any losses to which my wife’s brother may be subject
in following you.  This is my plan, Don Jorge, which no doubt will meet
with your worship’s approbation, as it is devised solely for your
benefit, and not with any view of lucre or interest either to me or mine.
You will find my wife’s brother pleasant company on the route: he is a
very respectable man, and one of the right opinion, and has likewise
travelled much; for between ourselves, Don Jorge, he is something of a
Contrabandista and frequently smuggles diamonds and precious stones from
Portugal, which he disposes of sometimes in Cordova and sometimes at
Madrid.  He is acquainted with all the short cuts, all the atajos, Don
Jorge, and is much respected in all the ventas and posadas on the way; so
now give me your hand upon the bargain, and I will forthwith repair to my
wife’s brother to tell him to get ready to set out with your worship the
day after to-morrow.”



CHAPTER XVIII


Departure from Cordova—The Contrabandista—Jewish Cunning—Arrival at
Madrid.

One fine morning, I departed from Cordova, in company with the
Contrabandista; the latter was mounted on a handsome animal, something
between a horse and a pony, which he called a jaca, of that breed for
which Cordova is celebrated.  It was of a bright bay colour, with a star
in its forehead, with strong but elegant limbs, and a long black tail,
which swept the ground.  The other animal, which was destined to carry me
to Madrid, was not quite so prepossessing in its appearance: in more than
one respect it closely resembled a hog, particularly in the curving of
its back, the shortness of its neck, and the manner in which it kept its
head nearly in contact with the ground: it had also the tail of a hog,
and meandered over the ground much like one.  Its coat more resembled
coarse bristles than hair, and with respect to size, I have seen many a
Westphalian hog quite as tall.  I was not altogether satisfied with the
idea of exhibiting myself on the back of this most extraordinary
quadruped, and looked wistfully on the respectable animal on which my
guide had thought proper to place himself; he interpreted my glances, and
gave me to understand that as he was destined to carry the baggage, he
was entitled to the best horse; a plea too well grounded on reason for me
to make any objection to it.

I found the Contrabandista by no means such pleasant company on the road
as I had been led to suppose he would prove from the representation of my
host of Cordova.  Throughout the day he sat sullen and silent, and rarely
replied to my questions, save by a monosyllable; at night, however, after
having eaten well and drank proportionably at my expense, he would
occasionally become more sociable and communicative.  “I have given up
smuggling,” said he, on one of these occasions, “owing to a trick which
was played upon me the last time that I was at Lisbon: a Jew whom I had
been long acquainted with palmed upon me a false brilliant for a real
stone.  He effected it in the most extraordinary manner, for I am not
such a novice as not to know a true diamond when I see one; but the Jew
appears to have had two, with which he played most adroitly, keeping the
valuable one for which I bargained, and substituting therefor another
which, though an excellent imitation, was not worth four dollars.  I did
not discover the trick until I was across the border, and upon my
hurrying back, the culprit was not to be found; his priest, however, told
me that he was just dead and buried, which was of course false, as I saw
him laughing in the corners of his eyes.  I renounced the contraband
trade from that moment.”

It is not my intention to describe minutely the various incidents of this
journey.  Leaving at our right the mountains of Jaen, we passed through
Andujar and Bailen, and on the third day reached Carolina, a small but
beautiful town on the skirts of the Sierra Morena, inhabited by the
descendants of German colonists.  Two leagues from this place, we entered
the defile of Despeña Perros, which, even in quiet times, has an evil
name, on account of the robberies which are continually being perpetrated
within its recesses, but at the period of which I am speaking, it was
said to be swarming with banditti.  We of course expected to be robbed,
perhaps stripped and otherwise ill-treated; but Providence here
manifested itself.  It appeared that, the day before our arrival, the
banditti of the pass had committed a dreadful robbery and murder, by
which they gained forty thousand rials.  This booty probably contented
them for a time; certain it is that we were not interrupted: we did not
even see a single individual in the pass, though we occasionally heard
whistles and loud cries.  We entered La Mancha, where I expected to fall
into the hands of Palillos and Orejita.  Providence again showed itself.
It had been delicious weather, suddenly the Lord breathed forth a frozen
blast, the severity of which was almost intolerable; no human beings but
ourselves ventured forth.  We traversed snow-covered plains, and passed
through villages and towns to all appearance deserted.  The robbers kept
close in their caves and hovels, but the cold nearly killed us.  We
reached Aranjuez late on Christmas Day, and I got into the house of an
Englishman, where I swallowed nearly a pint of brandy; it affected me no
more than warm water.

On the following day we arrived at Madrid, where we had the good fortune
to find everything tranquil and quiet.  The Contrabandista continued with
me for two days, at the end of which time he returned to Cordova upon the
uncouth animal on which I had ridden throughout the journey.  I had
myself purchased the jaca, whose capabilities I had seen on the route,
and which I imagined might prove useful in future journeys.  The
Contrabandista was so satisfied with the price which I gave him for his
beast, and the general treatment which he had experienced at my hands
during the time of his attendance upon me, that he would fain have
persuaded me to retain him as a servant, assuring me that, in the event
of my compliance, he would forget his wife and children and follow me
through the world.  I declined, however, to accede to his request, though
I was in need of a domestic; I therefore sent him back to Cordova, where,
as I subsequently learned, he died suddenly, about a week after his
return.

The manner of his death was singular: one day he took out his purse, and,
after counting his money, said to his wife, “I have made ninety-five
dollars by this journey with the Englishman and by the sale of the jaca;
this I could easily double by one successful venture in the smuggling
lay.  To-morrow I will depart for Lisbon to buy diamonds.  I wonder if
the beast requires to be shod?”  He then started up and made for the
door, with the intention of going to the stable; ere, however, his foot
had crossed the threshold, he fell dead on the floor.  Such is the course
of the world.  Well said the wise king: Let no one boast of the morrow.



CHAPTER XIX


Arrival at Madrid—Maria Diaz—Printing of the Testament—My
Project—Andalusian Steed—Servant Wanted—An Application—Antonio
Buchini—General Cordova—Principles of Honour.

On my arrival at Madrid I did not repair to my former lodgings in the
Calle de la Zarza, but took others in the Calle de Santiago, in the
vicinity of the palace.  The name of the hostess (for there was, properly
speaking, no host) was Maria Diaz, of whom I shall take the present
opportunity of saying something in particular.

She was a woman of about thirty-five years of age, rather good-looking,
and with a physiognomy every lineament of which bespoke intelligence of
no common order.  Her eyes were keen and penetrating, though occasionally
clouded with a somewhat melancholy expression.  There was a particular
calmness and quiet in her general demeanour, beneath which, however,
slumbered a firmness of spirit and an energy of action which were
instantly displayed whenever necessary.  A Spaniard and, of course, a
Catholic, she was possessed of a spirit of toleration and liberality
which would have done honour to individuals much her superior in station.
In this woman, during the remainder of my sojourn in Spain, I found a
firm and constant friend, and occasionally a most discreet adviser: she
entered into all my plans, I will not say with enthusiasm, which, indeed,
formed no part of her character, but with cordiality and sincerity,
forwarding them to the utmost of her ability.  She never shrank from me
in the hour of danger and persecution, but stood my friend,
notwithstanding the many inducements which were held out to her by my
enemies to desert or betray me.  Her motives were of the noblest kind,
friendship and a proper feeling of the duties of hospitality; no
prospect, no hope of self-interest, however remote, influenced this
admirable woman in her conduct towards me.  Honour to Maria Diaz, the
quiet, dauntless, clever Castilian female.  I were an ingrate not to
speak well of her, for richly has she deserved an eulogy in the humble
pages of _The Bible in Spain_.

She was a native of Villa Seca, a hamlet of New Castile, situated in what
is called the Sagra, at about three leagues’ distance from Toledo: her
father was an architect of some celebrity, particularly skilled in
erecting bridges.  At a very early age she married a respectable yeoman
of Villa Seca, Lopez by name, by whom she had three sons.  On the death
of her father, which occurred about five years previous to the time of
which I am speaking, she removed to Madrid, partly for the purpose of
educating her children, and partly in the hope of obtaining from the
government a considerable sum of money for which it stood indebted to her
father, at the time of his decease, for various useful and ornamental
works, principally in the neighbourhood of Aranjuez.  The justness of her
claim was at once acknowledged; but, alas! no money was forthcoming, the
royal treasury being empty.  Her hopes of earthly happiness were now
concentrated in her children.  The two youngest were still of a very
tender age; but the eldest, Juan José Lopez, a lad of about sixteen, was
bidding fair to realize the warmest hopes of his affectionate mother; he
had devoted himself to the arts, in which he made such progress that he
had already become the favourite pupil of his celebrated namesake Lopez,
the best painter of modern Spain.  Such was Maria Diaz, who, according to
a custom formerly universal in Spain, and still very prevalent, retained
the name of her maidenhood though married.  Such was Maria Diaz and her
family.

One of my first cares was to wait on Mr. Villiers, who received me with
his usual kindness.  I asked him whether he considered that I might
venture to commence printing the Scriptures without any more applications
to government.  His reply was satisfactory: “You obtained the permission
of the government of Isturitz,” said he, “which was a much less liberal
one than the present.  I am a witness to the promise made to you by the
former ministers, which I consider sufficient.  You had best commence and
complete the work as soon as possible, without any fresh application; and
should any one attempt to interrupt you, you have only to come to me,
whom you may command at any time.”  So I went away with a light heart,
and forthwith made preparation for the execution of the object which had
brought me to Spain.

I shall not enter here into unnecessary details, which could possess but
little interest for the reader; suffice it to say that, within three
months from this time, an edition of the New Testament, consisting of
five thousand copies, was published at Madrid.  The work was printed at
the establishment of Mr. Borrego, a well-known writer on political
economy, and proprietor and editor of an influential newspaper called El
Español.  To this gentleman I had been recommended by Isturitz himself,
on the day of my interview with him.  That unfortunate minister had,
indeed, the highest esteem for Borrego, and had intended raising him to
the station of minister of finance, when the revolution of the Granja
occurring, of course rendered abortive this project, with perhaps many
others of a similar kind which he might have formed.

The Spanish version of the New Testament which was thus published, had
been made many years before by a certain Padre Filipe Scio, confessor of
Ferdinand the Seventh, and had even been printed, but so encumbered by
notes and commentaries as to be unfitted for general circulation, for
which, indeed, it was never intended.  In the present edition, the notes
were of course omitted, and the inspired word, and that alone, offered to
the public.  It was brought out in a handsome octavo volume, and
presented, upon the whole, a rather favourable specimen of Spanish
typography.

The mere printing, however, of the New Testament at Madrid could be
attended with no utility whatever, unless measures, and energetic ones,
were taken for the circulation of the sacred volume.

In the case of the New Testament, it would not do to follow the usual
plan of publication in Spain, namely, to entrust the work to the
booksellers of the capital, and rest content with the sale which they and
their agents in the provincial towns might be able to obtain for it, in
the common routine of business; the result generally being, the
circulation of a few dozen copies in the course of the year; as the
demand for literature of every kind in Spain was miserably small.

The Christians of England had already made considerable sacrifices in the
hope of disseminating the word of God largely amongst the Spaniards, and
it was now necessary to spare no exertion to prevent that hope becoming
abortive.  Before the book was ready, I had begun to make preparations
for putting a plan into execution, which had occupied my thoughts
occasionally during my former visit to Spain, and which I had never
subsequently abandoned.  I had mused on it when off Cape Finisterre in
the tempest; in the cut-throat passes of the Morena; and on the plains of
La Mancha, as I jogged along a little way ahead of the Contrabandista.

I had determined, after depositing a certain number of copies in the
shops of the booksellers of Madrid, to ride forth, Testament in hand, and
endeavour to circulate the word of God amongst the Spaniards, not only of
the towns but of the villages; amongst the children not only of the
plains but of the hills and mountains.  I intended to visit Old Castile,
and to traverse the whole of Galicia and the Asturias,—to establish
Scripture dépots in the principal towns, and to visit the people in
secret and secluded spots,—to talk to them of Christ, to explain to them
the nature of his book, and to place that book in the hands of those whom
I should deem capable of deriving benefit from it.  I was aware that such
a journey would be attended with considerable danger, and very possibly
the fate of St. Stephen might overtake me; but does the man deserve the
name of a follower of Christ who would shrink from danger of any kind in
the cause of Him whom he calls his Master?  “He who loses his life for my
sake, shall find it,” are words which the Lord himself uttered.  These
words were fraught with consolation to me, as they doubtless are to every
one engaged in propagating the gospel in sincerity of heart, in savage
and barbarian lands.

I now purchased another horse; for these animals, at the time of which I
am speaking, were exceedingly cheap.  A royal requisition was about to be
issued for five thousand, the consequence being, that an immense number
were for sale, for, by virtue of this requisition, the horses of any
person not a foreigner could be seized for the benefit of the service.
It was probable that, when the number was made up, the price of horses
would be treble what it then was, which consideration induced me to
purchase this animal before I exactly wanted him.  He was a black
Andalusian stallion of great power and strength, and capable of
performing a journey of a hundred leagues in a week’s time, but he was
unbroke, savage, and furious.  A cargo of Bibles, however, which I hoped
occasionally to put on his back, would, I had no doubt, thoroughly tame
him, especially when labouring up the flinty hills of the north of Spain.
I wished to have purchased a mule, but, though I offered thirty pounds
for a sorry one, I could not obtain her; whereas the cost of both the
horses, tall powerful stately animals, scarcely amounted to that sum.

The state of the surrounding country at this time was not very favourable
for venturing forth: Cabrera was within nine leagues of Madrid, with an
army nearly ten thousand strong; he had beaten several small detachments
of the queen’s troops, and had ravaged La Mancha with fire and sword,
burning several towns; bands of affrighted fugitives were arriving every
hour, bringing tidings of woe and disaster, and I was only surprised that
the enemy did not appear, and by taking Madrid, which was almost at his
mercy, put an end to the war at once.  But the truth is, that the Carlist
generals did not wish the war to cease, for as long as the country was
involved in bloodshed and anarchy, they could plunder and exercise that
lawless authority so dear to men of fierce and brutal passions.  Cabrera,
moreover, was a dastardly wretch, whose limited mind was incapable of
harbouring a single conception approaching to grandeur; whose heroic
deeds were confined to cutting down defenceless men, and to forcing and
disembowelling unhappy women; and yet I have seen this wretched fellow
termed by French journals (Carlist of course) the young, the heroic
general.  Infamy on the cowardly assassin!  The shabbiest corporal of
Napoleon would have laughed at his generalship, and half a battalion of
Austrian grenadiers would have driven him and his rabble army headlong
into the Ebro.

I now made preparations for my journey into the north.  I was already
provided with horses well calculated to support the fatigues of the road
and the burdens which I might deem necessary to impose upon them.  One
thing, however, was still lacking, indispensable to a person about to
engage on an expedition of this description; I mean a servant to attend
me.  Perhaps there is no place in the world where servants more abound
than at Madrid, or at least fellows eager to proffer their services in
the expectation of receiving food and wages, though, with respect to the
actual service which they are capable of performing, not much can be
said; but I was in want of a servant of no common description, a shrewd
active fellow, of whose advice, in cases of emergency, I could
occasionally avail myself; courageous withal, for it certainly required
some degree of courage to follow a master bent on exploring the greater
part of Spain, and who intended to travel, not under the protection of
muleteers and carmen, but on his own cabalgaduras.  Such a servant,
perhaps, I might have sought for years without finding; chance, however,
brought one to my hand at the very time I wanted him, without it being
necessary for me to make any laborious perquisitions.  I was one day
mentioning the subject to Mr. Borrego, at whose establishment I had
printed the New Testament, and inquiring whether he thought that such an
individual was to be found in Madrid, adding that I was particularly
anxious to obtain a servant who, besides Spanish, could speak some other
language, that occasionally we might discourse without being understood
by those who might overhear us.  “The very description of person,” he
replied, “that you appear to be in need of, quitted me about half an hour
ago, and, it is singular enough, came to me in the hope that I might be
able to recommend him to a master.  He has been twice in my service: for
his talent and courage I will answer; and I believe him to be
trustworthy, at least to masters who may chime in with his humour, for I
must inform you that he is a most extraordinary fellow, full of strange
likes and antipathies, which he will gratify at any expense, either to
himself or others.  Perhaps he will attach himself to you, in which case
you will find him highly valuable; for if he please he can turn his hand
to any thing, and is not only acquainted with two but half a dozen
languages.”

“Is he a Spaniard?” I inquired.

“I will send him to you to-morrow,” said Borrego, “you will best learn
from his own mouth who and what he is.”

The next day, as I had just sat down to my “sopa,” my hostess informed me
that a man wished to speak to me.  “Admit him,” said I, and he almost
instantly made his appearance.  He was dressed respectably in the French
fashion, and had rather a juvenile look, though I subsequently learned
that he was considerably above forty.  He was somewhat above the middle
stature, and might have been called well made, had it not been for his
meagreness, which was rather remarkable.  His arms were long and bony,
and his whole form conveyed an idea of great activity united with no
slight degree of strength: his hair was wiry, but of jetty blackness; his
forehead low; his eyes small and grey, expressive of much subtlety and no
less malice, strangely relieved by a strong dash of humour; the nose was
handsome, but the mouth was immensely wide, and his under jaw projected
considerably.  A more singular physiognomy I had never seen, and I
continued staring at him for some time in silence.  “Who are you?” I at
last demanded.

“Domestic in search of a master,” answered the man in good French, but in
a strange accent.  “I come recommended to you, my Lor, by Monsieur B.”

_Myself_.—Of what nation may you be?  Are you French or Spanish?

_Man_.—God forbid that I should be either, mi Lor, _j’ai l’honneur d’etre
de la nation Grecque_, my name is Antonio Buchini, native of Pera the
Belle near to Constantinople.

_Myself_.—And what brought you to Spain?

_Buchini_.—_Mi Lor_, _je vais vous raconter mon histoire du commencement
jusqu’ici_:—my father was a native of Sceira in Greece, from whence at an
early age he repaired to Pera, where he served as janitor in the hotels
of various ambassadors, by whom he was much respected for his fidelity.
Amongst others of these gentlemen, he served him of your own nation: this
occurred at the time that there was war between England and the Porte.
{181}  Monsieur the Ambassador had to escape for his life, leaving the
greater part of his valuables to the care of my father, who concealed
them at his own great risk, and when the dispute was settled, restored
them to Monsieur, even to the most inconsiderable trinket.  I mention
this circumstance to show you that I am of a family which cherishes
principles of honour, and in which confidence may be placed.  My father
married a daughter of Pera, _et moi je suis l’unique fruit de ce
mariage_.  Of my mother I know nothing, as she died shortly after my
birth.  A family of wealthy Jews took pity on my forlorn condition and
offered to bring me up, to which my father gladly consented; and with
them I continued several years, until I was a _beau garcon_; they were
very fond of me, and at last offered to adopt me, and at their death to
bequeath me all they had, on condition of my becoming a Jew.  _Mais la
circoncision n’etoit guere a mon gout_; especially that of the Jews, for
I am a Greek, am proud, and have principles of honour.  I quitted them,
therefore, saying that if ever I allowed myself to be converted, it
should be to the faith of the Turks, for they are men, are proud, and
have principles of honour like myself.  I then returned to my father, who
procured me various situations, none of which were to my liking, until I
was placed in the house of Monsieur Zea.

_Myself_.—You mean, I suppose, Zea Bermudez, who chanced to be at
Constantinople.

_Buchini_.—Just so, mi Lor, and with him I continued during his stay.  He
put great confidence in me, more especially as I spoke the pure Spanish
language, which I acquired amongst the Jews, who, as I have heard
Monsieur Zea say, speak it better than the present natives of Spain.

I shall not follow the Greek step by step throughout his history, which
was rather lengthy: suffice it to say, that he was brought by Zea
Bermudez from Constantinople to Spain, where he continued in his service
for many years, and from whose house he was expelled for marrying a
Guipuscoan damsel, who was fille de chambre to Madame Zea; since which
time it appeared that he had served an infinity of masters; sometimes as
valet, sometimes as cook, but generally in the last capacity.  He
confessed, however, that he had seldom continued more than three days in
the same service, on account of the disputes which were sure to arise in
the house almost immediately after his admission, and for which he could
assign no other reason than his being a Greek, and having principles of
honour.  Amongst other persons whom he had served was General Cordova,
who he said was a bad paymaster, and was in the habit of maltreating his
domestics.  “But he found his match in me,” said Antonio, “for I was
prepared for him; and once, when he drew his sword against me, I pulled
out a pistol and pointed it in his face.  He grew pale as death, and from
that hour treated me with all kinds of condescension.  It was only
pretence, however, for the affair rankled in his mind; he had determined
upon revenge, and on being appointed to the command of the army, he was
particularly anxious that I should attend him to the camp.  _Mais je lui
ris au nez_, made the sign of the cortamanga—asked for my wages, and left
him; and well it was that I did so, for the very domestic whom he took
with him he caused to be shot upon a charge of mutiny.”

“I am afraid,” said I, “that you are of a turbulent disposition, and that
the disputes to which you have alluded are solely to be attributed to the
badness of your temper.”

“What would you have, Monsieur?  _Moi je suis Grec_, _je suis fier et
j’ai des principes d’honneur_.  I expect to be treated with a certain
consideration, though I confess that my temper is none of the best, and
that at times I am tempted to quarrel with the pots and pans in the
kitchen.  I think, upon the whole, that it will be for your advantage to
engage me, and I promise you to be on my guard.  There is one thing that
pleases me relating to you, you are unmarried.  Now, I would rather serve
a young unmarried man for love and friendship, than a Benedict for fifty
dollars per month.  Madame is sure to hate me, and so is her waiting
woman; and more particularly the latter, because I am a married man.  I
see that mi Lor is willing to engage me.”

“But you say you are a married man,” I replied; “how can you desert your
wife, for I am about to leave Madrid, and to travel into the remote and
mountainous parts of Spain.”

“My wife will receive the moiety of my wages, while I am absent, mi Lor,
and therefore will have no reason to complain of being deserted.
Complain! did I say; my wife is at present too well instructed to
complain.  She never speaks nor sits in my presence unless I give her
permission.  Am I not a Greek, and do I not know how to govern my own
house?  Engage me, mi Lor, I am a man of many capacities: a discreet
valet, an excellent cook, a good groom and light rider; in a word, I am
Ρωμαϊκός.  What would you more?”

I asked him his terms, which were extravagant, notwithstanding his
_principes d’honneur_.  I found, however, that he was willing to take one
half.

I had no sooner engaged him, than seizing the tureen of soup, which had
by this time become quite cold, he placed it on the top of his
forefinger, or rather on the nail thereof, causing it to make various
circumvolutions over his head, to my great astonishment, without spilling
a drop, then springing with it to the door, he vanished, and in another
moment made his appearance with the puchera, which, after a similar bound
and flourish, he deposited on the table; then suffering his hands to sink
before him, he put one over the other and stood at his ease with
half-shut eyes, for all the world as if he had been in my service twenty
years.

And in this manner Antonio Buchini entered upon his duties.  Many was the
wild spot to which he subsequently accompanied me; many the wild
adventure of which he was the sharer.  His behaviour was frequently in
the highest degree extraordinary, but he served me courageously and
faithfully: such a valet, take him for all in all,

    “His like I ne’er expect to see again.”

    _Kosko bakh Anton_.



CHAPTER XX


Illness—Nocturnal Visit—A Master Mind—The Whisper—Salamanca—Irish
Hospitality—Spanish Soldiers—The Scriptures advertised.

But I am anxious to enter upon the narrative of my journey, and shall
therefore abstain from relating to my readers a great many circumstances
which occurred previously to my leaving Madrid on this expedition.  About
the middle of May I had got everything in readiness, and I bade farewell
to my friends.  Salamanca was the first place which I intended to visit.

Some days previous to my departure I was very much indisposed, owing to
the state of the weather, for violent and biting winds had long
prevailed.  I had been attacked with a severe cold, which terminated in a
disagreeable cough, which the many remedies I successively tried seemed
unable to subdue.  I had made preparations for departing on a particular
day, but, owing to the state of my health, I was apprehensive that I
should be compelled to defer my journey for a time.  The last day of my
stay in Madrid, finding myself scarcely able to stand, I was fain to
submit to a somewhat desperate experiment, and by the advice of the
barber-surgeon who visited me, I determined to be bled.  Late on the
night of that same day he took from me sixteen ounces of blood, and
having received his fee left me, wishing me a pleasant journey, and
assuring me, upon his reputation, that by noon the next day I should be
perfectly recovered.

A few minutes after his departure, whilst I was sitting alone, meditating
on the journey which I was about to undertake, and on the ricketty state
of my health, I heard a loud knock at the street door of the house, on
the third floor of which I was lodged.  In another minute Mr. S--- of the
British Embassy entered my apartment.  After a little conversation, he
informed me that Mr. Villiers had desired him to wait upon me to
communicate a resolution which he had come to.  Being apprehensive that,
alone and unassisted, I should experience great difficulty in propagating
the gospel of God to any considerable extent in Spain, he was bent upon
exerting to the utmost his own credit and influence to further my views,
which he himself considered, if carried into proper effect, extremely
well calculated to operate beneficially on the political and moral state
of the country.  To this end it was his intention to purchase a very
considerable number of copies of the New Testament, and to dispatch them
forthwith to the various British consuls established in different parts
of Spain, with strict and positive orders to employ all the means which
their official situation should afford them to circulate the books in
question and to assure their being noticed.  They were, moreover, to be
charged to afford me, whenever I should appear in their respective
districts, all the protection, encouragement, and assistance which I
should stand in need of.

I was of course much rejoiced on receiving this information, for though I
had long been aware that Mr. Villiers was at all times willing to assist
me, he having frequently given me sufficient proof, I could never expect
that he would come forward in so noble, and, to say the least of it,
considering his high diplomatic situation, so bold and decided a manner.
I believe that this was the first instance of a British ambassador having
made the cause of the Bible Society a national one, or indeed of having
favoured it directly or indirectly.  What renders the case of Mr.
Villiers more remarkable is, that on my first arrival at Madrid I found
him by no means well disposed towards the Society.  The Holy Spirit had
probably illumined his mind on this point.  I hoped that by his means our
institution would shortly possess many agents in Spain, who, with far
more power and better opportunities than I myself could ever expect to
possess, would scatter abroad the seed of the gospel, and make of a
barren and thirsty wilderness a green and smiling corn-field.

A word or two about the gentleman who paid me this nocturnal visit.
Though he has probably long since forgotten the humble circulator of the
Bible in Spain, I still bear in mind numerous acts of kindness which I
experienced at his hands.  Endowed with an intellect of the highest
order, master of the lore of all Europe, profoundly versed in the ancient
tongues, and speaking most of the modern dialects with remarkable
facility,—possessed, moreover, of a thorough knowledge of mankind,—he
brought with him into the diplomatic career advantages such as few, even
the most highly gifted, can boast of.  During his sojourn in Spain he
performed many eminent services for the government which employed him;
services which, I believe, it had sufficient discernment to see, and
gratitude to reward.  He had to encounter, however, the full brunt of the
low and stupid malignity of the party who, shortly after the time of
which I am speaking, usurped the management of the affairs of Spain.
This party, whose foolish manœuvres he was continually discomfiting,
feared and hated him as its evil genius, taking every opportunity of
showering on his head calumnies the most improbable and absurd.  Amongst
other things, he was accused of having acted as an agent to the English
government in the affair of the Granja, bringing about that revolution by
bribing the mutinous soldiers, and more particularly the notorious
Sergeant Garcia.  Such an accusation will of course merely extract a
smile from those who are at all acquainted with the English character,
and the general line of conduct pursued by the English government.  It
was a charge, however, universally believed in Spain, and was even
preferred in print by a certain journal, the official organ of the silly
Duke of Frias, one of the many prime ministers of the moderado party who
followed each other in rapid succession towards the latter period of the
Carlist and Christino struggle.  But when did a calumnious report ever
fall to the ground in Spain by the weight of its own absurdity?  Unhappy
land, not until the pure light of the Gospel has illumined thee wilt thou
learn that the greatest of all gifts is charity.

The next day verified the prediction of the Spanish surgeon; I had to a
considerable degree lost my cough and fever, though, owing to the loss of
blood, I was somewhat feeble.  Precisely at twelve o’clock the horses
were led forth before the door of my lodging in the Calle de Santiago,
and I prepared to mount: but my black entero of Andalusia would not
permit me to approach his side, and whenever I made the attempt,
commenced wheeling round with great rapidity.

“_C’est un mauvais signe_, _mon maitre_,” said Antonio, who, dressed in a
green jerkin, a Montero cap, booted and spurred, stood ready to attend
me, holding by the bridle the horse which I had purchased from the
contrabandista.  “It is a bad sign, and in my country they would defer
the journey till to-morrow.”

“Are there whisperers in your country?” I demanded; and taking the horse
by the mane, I performed the ceremony after the most approved fashion:
the animal stood still, and I mounted the saddle, exclaiming—

    “The Rommany Chal to his horse did cry,
    As he placed the bit in his horse’s jaw;
    Kosko gry! Rommany gry!
    Muk man kistur tute knaw.”

We then rode forth from Madrid by the gate of San Vincente, directing our
course to the lofty mountains which separate Old from New Castile.  That
night we rested at Guadarama, a large village at their foot, distant from
Madrid about seven leagues.  Rising early on the following morning, we
ascended the pass and entered into Old Castile.

After crossing the mountains, the route to Salamanca lies almost entirely
over sandy and arid plains, interspersed here and there with thin and
scanty groves of pine.  No adventure worth relating occurred during this
journey.  We sold a few Testaments in the villages through which we
passed, more especially at Peñaranda.  About noon of the third day, on
reaching the brow of a hillock, we saw a huge dome before us, upon which
the fierce rays of the sun striking, produced the appearance of burnished
gold.  It belonged to the cathedral of Salamanca, and we flattered
ourselves that we were already at our journey’s end; we were deceived,
however, being still four leagues distant from the town, whose churches
and convents, towering up in gigantic masses, can be distinguished at an
immense distance, flattering the traveller with an idea of propinquity
which does not in reality exist.  It was not till long after nightfall
that we arrived at the city gate, which we found closed and guarded, in
apprehension of a Carlist attack; and having obtained admission with some
difficulty, we led our horses along dark, silent, and deserted streets,
till we found an individual who directed us to a large, gloomy, and
comfortless posada, that of the Bull, which we, however, subsequently
found was the best which the town afforded.

A melancholy town is Salamanca; the days of its collegiate glory are long
since past by, never more to return: a circumstance, however, which is
little to be regretted; for what benefit did the world ever derive from
scholastic philosophy?  And for that alone was Salamanca ever famous.
Its halls are now almost silent, and grass is growing in its courts,
which were once daily thronged by at least eight thousand students; a
number to which, at the present day, the entire population of the city
does not amount.  Yet, with all its melancholy, what an interesting, nay,
what a magnificent place is Salamanca!  How glorious are its churches,
how stupendous are its deserted convents, and with what sublime but
sullen grandeur do its huge and crumbling walls, which crown the
precipitous bank of the Tormes, look down upon the lovely river and its
venerable bridge.

What a pity that, of the many rivers in Spain, scarcely one is navigable.
The beautiful but shallow Tormes, instead of proving a source of blessing
and wealth to this part of Castile, is of no further utility than to turn
the wheels of various small water mills, standing upon weirs of stone,
which at certain distances traverse the river.

My sojourn at Salamanca was rendered particularly pleasant by the kind
attentions and continual acts of hospitality which I experienced from the
inmates of the Irish College, to the rector of which I bore a letter of
recommendation from my kind and excellent friend Mr. O’Shea, the
celebrated banker of Madrid.  It will be long before I forget these
Irish, more especially their head, Dr. Gartland, a genuine scion of the
good Hibernian tree, an accomplished scholar, and a courteous and
high-minded gentleman.  Though fully aware who I was, he held out the
hand of friendship to the wandering heretic missionary, although by so
doing he exposed himself to the rancorous remarks of the narrow-minded
native clergy, who, in their ugly shovel hats and long cloaks, glared at
me askance as I passed by their whispering groups beneath the piazzas of
the Plaza.  But when did the fear of consequences cause an Irishman to
shrink from the exercise of the duties of hospitality?  However attached
to his religion—and who is so attached to the Romish creed as the
Irishman?—I am convinced that not all the authority of the Pope or the
Cardinals would induce him to close his doors on Luther himself, were
that respectable personage at present alive and in need of food and
refuge.

Honour to Ireland and her “hundred thousand welcomes!”  Her fields have
long been the greenest in the world; her daughters the fairest; her sons
the bravest and most eloquent.  May they never cease to be so.

The posada where I had put up was a good specimen of the old Spanish inn,
being much the same as those described in the time of Philip the Third or
Fourth.  The rooms were many and large, floored with either brick or
stone, generally with an alcove at the end, in which stood a wretched
flock bed.  Behind the house was a court, and in the rear of this a
stable, full of horses, ponies, mules, machos, and donkeys, for there was
no lack of guests, who, however, for the most part slept in the stable
with their caballerias, being either arrieros or small peddling merchants
who travelled the country with coarse cloth or linen.  Opposite to my
room in the corridor lodged a wounded officer, who had just arrived from
San Sebastian on a galled broken-kneed pony; he was an Estrimenian, and
was returning to his own village to be cured.  He was attended by three
broken soldiers, lame or maimed, and unfit for service: they told me that
they were of the same village as his worship, and on that account he
permitted them to travel with him.  They slept amongst the litter, and
throughout the day lounged about the house smoking paper cigars.  I never
saw them eating, though they frequently went to a dark cool corner, where
stood a bota or kind of water pitcher, which they held about six inches
from their black filmy lips, permitting the liquid to trickle down their
throats.  They said they had no pay, and were quite destitute of money,
that _su merced_ the officer occasionally gave them a piece of bread, but
that he himself was poor and had only a few dollars.  Brave guests for an
inn, thought I; yet, to the honour of Spain be it spoken, it is one of
the few countries in Europe where poverty is never insulted nor looked
upon with contempt.  Even at an inn, the poor man is never spurned from
the door, and if not harboured, is at least dismissed with fair words,
and consigned to the mercies of God and his mother.  This is as it should
be.  I laugh at the bigotry and prejudices of Spain; I abhor the cruelty
and ferocity which have cast a stain of eternal infamy on her history;
but I will say for the Spaniards, that in their social intercourse no
people in the world exhibit a juster feeling of what is due to the
dignity of human nature, or better understand the behaviour which it
behoves a man to adopt towards his fellow beings.  I have said that it is
one of the few countries in Europe where poverty is not treated with
contempt, and I may add, where the wealthy are not blindly idolized.  In
Spain the very beggar does not feel himself a degraded being, for he
kisses no one’s feet, and knows not what it is to be cuffed or spitten
upon; and in Spain the duke or the marquis can scarcely entertain a very
overweening opinion of his own consequence, as he finds no one, with
perhaps the exception of his French valet, to fawn upon or flatter him.

During my stay at Salamanca, I took measures that the word of God might
become generally known in this celebrated city.  The principal bookseller
of the town, Blanco, a man of great wealth and respectability, consented
to become my agent here, and I in consequence deposited in his shop a
certain number of New Testaments.  He was the proprietor of a small
printing press, where the official bulletin of the place was published.
For this bulletin I prepared an advertisement of the work, in which,
amongst other things, I said that the New Testament was the only guide to
salvation; I also spoke of the Bible Society, and the great pecuniary
sacrifices which it was making with the view of proclaiming Christ
crucified, and of making his doctrine known.  This step will perhaps be
considered by some as too bold, but I was not aware that I could take any
more calculated to arouse the attention of the people—a considerable
point.  I also ordered numbers of the same advertisement to be struck off
in the shape of bills, which I caused to be stuck up in various parts of
the town.  I had great hope that by means of these a considerable number
of New Testaments would be sold.  I intended to repeat this experiment in
Valladolid, Leon, St. Jago, and all the principal towns which I visited,
and to distribute them likewise as I rode along: the children of Spain
would thus be brought to know that such a work as the New Testament is in
existence, a fact of which not five in one hundred were then aware,
notwithstanding their so frequently-repeated boasts of their Catholicity
and Christianity.



CHAPTER XXI


Departure from Salamanca—Reception at Pitiegua—The Dilemma—Sudden
Inspiration—The Good Presbyter—Combat of Quadrupeds—Irish
Christians—Plains of Spain—The Catalans—The Fatal
Pool—Valladolid—Circulation of the Scriptures—Philippine Missions—English
College—A Conversation—The Gaoleress.

On Saturday, the tenth of June, I left Salamanca for Valladolid.  As the
village where we intended to rest was only five leagues distant, we did
not sally forth till midday was past.  There was a haze in the heavens
which overcast the sun, nearly hiding his countenance from our view.  My
friend, Mr. Patrick Cantwell, of the Irish College, was kind enough to
ride with me part of the way.  He was mounted on a most sorry-looking
hired mule, which, I expected would be unable to keep pace with the
spirited horses of myself and man, for he seemed to be twin brother of
the mule of Gil Perez, on which his nephew made his celebrated journey
from Oviedo to Peñaflor.  I was, however, very much mistaken.  The
creature on being mounted instantly set off at that rapid walk which I
have so often admired in Spanish mules, and which no horse can emulate.
Our more stately animals were speedily left in the rear, and we were
continually obliged to break into a trot to follow the singular
quadruped, who, ever and anon, would lift his head high in the air, curl
up his lip, and show his yellow teeth, as if he were laughing at us, as
perhaps he was.  It chanced that none of us was well acquainted with the
road; indeed, I could see nothing which was fairly entitled to that
appellation.  The way from Salamanca to Valladolid is amongst a medley of
bridle-paths and drift-ways, where discrimination is very difficult.  It
was not long before we were bewildered, and travelled over more ground
than was strictly necessary.  However, as men and women frequently passed
on donkeys and little ponies, we were not too proud to be set right by
them, and by dint of diligent inquiry we at length arrived at Pitiegua,
four leagues from Salamanca, a small village, containing about fifty
families, consisting of mud huts, and situated in the midst of dusty
plains, where corn was growing in abundance.  We asked for the house of
the cura, an old man whom I had seen the day before at the Irish College,
and who, on being informed that I was about to depart for Valladolid, had
exacted from me a promise that I would not pass through his village
without paying him a visit and partaking of his hospitality.

A woman directed us to a cottage somewhat superior in appearance to those
contiguous.  It had a small portico, which, if I remember well, was
overgrown with a vine.  We knocked loud and long at the door, but
received no answer; the voice of man was silent, and not even a dog
barked.  The truth was, that the old curate was taking his siesta, and so
were his whole family, which consisted of one ancient female and a cat.
The good man was at last disturbed by our noise and vociferation, for we
were hungry, and consequently impatient.  Leaping from his couch, he came
running to the door in great hurry and confusion, and perceiving us, he
made many apologies for being asleep at a period when, he said, he ought
to have been on the lookout for his invited guest.  He embraced me very
affectionately and conducted me into his parlour, an apartment of
tolerable size, hung round with shelves, which were crowded with books.
At one end there was a kind of table or desk covered with black leather,
with a large easy chair, into which he pushed me, as I, with the true
eagerness of a bibliomaniac, was about to inspect his shelves; saying,
with considerable vehemence, that there was nothing there worthy of the
attention of an Englishman, for that his whole stock consisted of
breviaries and dry Catholic treatises on divinity.

His care now was to furnish us with refreshments.  In a twinkling, with
the assistance of his old attendant, he placed on the table several
plates of cakes and confectionery, and a number of large uncouth glass
bottles, which I thought bore a strong resemblance to those of Schiedam,
and indeed they were the very same.  “There,” said he, rubbing his hands;
“I thank God that it is in my power to treat you in a way which will be
agreeable to you.  In those bottles there is Hollands thirty years old”;
and producing two large tumblers, he continued, “fill, my friends, and
drink, drink it every drop if you please, for it is of little use to
myself, who seldom drink aught but water.  I know that you islanders love
it, and cannot live without it; therefore, since it does you good, I am
only sorry that there is no more.”

Observing that we contented ourselves with merely tasting it, he looked
at us with astonishment, and inquired the reason of our not drinking.  We
told him that we seldom drank ardent spirits; and I added, that as for
myself, I seldom tasted even wine, but like himself, was content with the
use of water.  He appeared somewhat incredulous, but told us to do
exactly what we pleased, and to ask for what was agreeable to us.  We
told him that we had not dined, and should be glad of some substantial
refreshment.  “I am afraid,” said he, “that I have nothing in the house
which will suit you; however, we will go and see.”

Thereupon he led us through a small yard at the back part of his house,
which might have been called a garden, or orchard, if it had displayed
either trees or flowers; but it produced nothing but grass, which was
growing in luxuriance.  At one end was a large pigeon-house, which we all
entered: “for,” said the curate, “if we could find some nice delicate
pigeons they would afford you an excellent dinner.”  We were, however,
disappointed; for after rummaging the nests, we only found very young
ones, unfitted for our purpose.  The good man became very melancholy, and
said he had some misgivings that we should have to depart dinnerless.
Leaving the pigeon-house, he conducted us to a place where there were
several skeps of bees, round which multitudes of the busy insects were
hovering, filling the air with their music.  “Next to my fellow
creatures,” said he, “there is nothing which I love so dearly as these
bees; it is one of my delights to sit watching them, and listening to
their murmur.”  We next went to several unfurnished rooms, fronting the
yard, in one of which were hanging several flitches of bacon, beneath
which he stopped, and looking up, gazed intently upon them.  We told him
that if he had nothing better to offer, we should be very glad to eat
some slices of this bacon, especially if some eggs were added.  “To tell
the truth,” said he, “I have nothing better, and if you can content
yourselves with such fare I shall be very happy; as for eggs you can have
as many as you wish, and perfectly fresh, for my hens lay every day.”

So, after every thing was prepared and arranged to our satisfaction, we
sat down to dine on the bacon and eggs, in a small room, not the one to
which he had ushered us at first, but on the other side of the doorway.
The good curate, though he ate nothing, having taken his meal long
before, sat at the head of the table, and the repast was enlivened by his
chat.  “There, my friends,” said he, “where you are now seated, once sat
Wellington and Crawford, after they had beat the French at Arapiles, and
rescued us from the thraldom of those wicked people.  I never respected
my house so much as I have done since they honoured it with their
presence.  They were heroes, and one was a demigod.”  He then burst into
a most eloquent panegyric of El Gran Lord, as he termed him, which I
should be very happy to translate, were my pen capable of rendering into
English the robust thundering sentences of his powerful Castilian.  I had
till then considered him a plain uninformed old man, almost simple, and
as incapable of much emotion as a tortoise within its shell; but he had
become at once inspired: his eyes were replete with a bright fire, and
every muscle of his face was quivering.  The little silk skull-cap which
he wore, according to the custom of the Catholic clergy, moved up and
down with his agitation, and I soon saw that I was in the presence of one
of those remarkable men who so frequently spring up in the bosom of the
Romish church, and who to a child-like simplicity unite immense energy
and power of mind,—equally adapted to guide a scanty flock of ignorant
rustics in some obscure village in Italy or Spain, as to convert millions
of heathens on the shores of Japan, China, and Paraguay.

He was a thin spare man, of about sixty-five, and was dressed in a black
cloak of very coarse materials, nor were his other garments of superior
quality.  This plainness, however, in the appearance of his outward man
was by no means the result of poverty; quite the contrary.  The benefice
was a very plentiful one, and placed at his disposal annually a sum of at
least eight hundred dollars, of which the eighth part was more than
sufficient to defray the expenses of his house and himself; the rest was
devoted entirely to the purest acts of charity.  He fed the hungry
wanderer, and dispatched him singing on his way, with meat in his wallet
and a peseta in his purse, and his parishioners, when in need of money,
had only to repair to his study and were sure of an immediate supply.  He
was, indeed, the banker of the village, and what he lent he neither
expected nor wished to be returned.  Though under the necessity of making
frequent journeys to Salamanca, he kept no mule, but contented himself
with an ass, borrowed from the neighbouring miller.  “I once kept a
mule,” said he, “but some years since it was removed without my
permission by a traveller whom I had housed for the night: for in that
alcove I keep two clean beds for the use of the wayfaring, and I shall be
very much pleased if yourself and friend will occupy them, and tarry with
me till the morning.”

But I was eager to continue my journey, and my friend was no less anxious
to return to Salamanca.  Upon taking leave of the hospitable curate, I
presented him with a copy of the New Testament.  He received it without
uttering a single word, and placed it on one of the shelves of his study;
but I observed him nodding significantly to the Irish student, perhaps as
much as to say, “Your friend loses no opportunity of propagating his
book”; for he was well aware who I was.  I shall not speedily forget the
truly good presbyter, Anthonio Garcia de Aguilar, Cura of Pitiegua.

We reached Pedroso shortly before nightfall.  It was a small village
containing about thirty houses, and intersected by a rivulet, or as it is
called a regata.  On its banks women and maidens were washing their linen
and singing couplets; the church stood lone and solitary on the farther
side.  We inquired for the posada, and were shown a cottage differing
nothing from the rest in general appearance.  We called at the door in
vain, as it is not the custom of Castile for the people of these halting
places to go out to welcome their visitors: at last we dismounted and
entered the house, demanding of a sullen-looking woman where we were to
place the horses.  She said there was a stable within the house, but we
could not put the animals there as it contained malos machos (_savage
mules_) belonging to two travellers who would certainly fight with our
horses, and then there would be a funcion, which would tear the house
down.  She then pointed to an outhouse across the way, saying that we
could stable them there.  We entered this place, which we found full of
filth and swine, with a door without a lock.  I thought of the fate of
the cura’s mule, and was unwilling to trust the horses in such a place,
abandoning them to the mercy of any robber in the neighbourhood.  I
therefore entered the house, and said resolutely, that I was determined
to place them in the stable.  Two men were squatted on the ground, with
an immense bowl of stewed hare before them, on which they were supping;
these were the travelling merchants, the masters of the mutes.  I passed
on to the stable, one of the men saying softly, “Yes, yes, go in and see
what will befall.”  I had no sooner entered the stable than I heard a
horrid discordant cry, something between a bray and a yell, and the
largest of the machos, tearing his head from the manger to which he was
fastened, his eyes shooting flames, and breathing a whirlwind from his
nostrils, flung himself on my stallion.  The horse, as savage as himself,
reared on his hind legs, and after the fashion of an English pugilist,
repaid the other with a pat on the forehead, which nearly felled him.  A
combat instantly ensued, and I thought that the words of the sullen woman
would be verified by the house being torn to pieces.  It ended by my
seizing the mute by the halter, at the risk of my limbs, and hanging upon
him with all my weight, whilst Antonio, with much difficulty, removed the
horse.  The man who had been standing at the entrance now came forward,
saying, “This would not have happened if you had taken good advice.”
Upon my stating to him the unreasonableness of expecting that I would
risk horses in a place where they would probably be stolen before the
morning, he replied, “True, true, you have perhaps done right.”  He then
refastened his macho, adding for additional security a piece of whipcord,
which he said rendered escape impossible.

After supper I roamed about the village.  I addressed two or three
labourers whom I found standing at their doors; they appeared, however,
exceedingly reserved, and with a gruff “_buenas noches_” turned into
their houses without inviting me to enter.  I at last found my way to the
church porch, where I continued some time in meditation.  At last I
bethought myself of retiring to rest; before departing, however, I took
out and affixed to the porch of the church an advertisement to the effect
that the New Testament was to be purchased at Salamanca.  On returning to
the house, I found the two travelling merchants enjoying profound slumber
on various mantas or mule-cloths stretched on the floor.  “You are a
French merchant, I suppose, Caballero,” said a man, who it seemed was the
master of the house, and whom I had not before seen.  “You are a French
merchant, I suppose, and are on the way to the fair of Medina.”  “I am
neither Frenchman nor merchant,” I replied, “and though I purpose passing
through Medina, it is not with the view of attending the fair.”  “Then
you are one of the Irish Christians from Salamanca, Caballero,” said the
man; “I hear you come from that town.”  “Why do you call them _Irish
Christians_?” I replied.  “Are there pagans in their country?”  “We call
them Christians,” said the man, “to distinguish them from the Irish
English, who are worse than pagans, who are Jews and heretics.”  I made
no answer, but passed on to the room which had been prepared for me, and
from which, the door being ajar, I heard the following conversation
passing between the innkeeper and his wife:—

_Innkeeper_.—Muger, it appears to me that we have evil guests in the
house.

_Wife_.—You mean the last comers, the Caballero and his servant.  Yes, I
never saw worse countenances in my life.

_Innkeeper_.—I do not like the servant, and still less the master.  He
has neither formality nor politeness: he tells me that he is not French,
and when I spoke to him of the Irish Christians, he did not seem to
belong to them.  I more than suspect that he is a heretic or a Jew at
least.

_Wife_.—Perhaps they are both.  Maria Santissima! what shall we do to
purify the house when they are gone?

_Innkeeper_.—O, as for that matter, we must of course charge it in the
cuenta.

I slept soundly, and rather late in the morning arose and breakfasted,
and paid the bill, in which, by its extravagance, I found the
purification had not been forgotten.  The travelling merchants had
departed at daybreak.  We now led forth the horses, and mounted; there
were several people at the door staring at us.  “What is the meaning of
this?” said I to Antonio.

“It is whispered that we are no Christians,” said Antonio; “they have
come to cross themselves at our departure.”

In effect, the moment that we rode forward a dozen hands at least were
busied in this evil-averting ceremony.  Antonio instantly turned and
crossed himself in the Greek fashion,—much more complex and difficult
than the Catholic.

“_Mirad que Santiguo_! _que Santiguo de los demonios_!” {196} exclaimed
many voices, whilst for fear of consequences we hastened away.

The day was exceedingly hot, and we wended our way slowly along the
plains of Old Castile.  With all that pertains to Spain, vastness and
sublimity are associated: grand are its mountains, and no less grand are
its plains, which seem of boundless extent, but which are not tame
unbroken flats, like the steppes of Russia.  Rough and uneven ground is
continually occurring: here a deep ravine and gully worn by the wintry
torrent; yonder an eminence not unfrequently craggy and savage, at whose
top appears the lone solitary village.  There is little that is
blithesome and cheerful, but much that is melancholy.  A few solitary
rustics are occasionally seen toiling in the fields—fields without limit
or boundary, where the green oak, the elm or the ash are unknown; where
only the sad and desolate pine displays its pyramid-like form, and where
no grass is to be found.  And who are the travellers of these districts?
For the most part arrieros, with their long trains of mules hung with
monotonous tinkling bells.  Behold them with their brown faces, brown
dresses, and broad slouched hats;—the arrieros, the true lords of the
roads of Spain, and to whom more respect is paid in these dusty ways than
to dukes and condes;—the arrieros, sullen, proud, and rarely courteous,
whose deep voices may be sometimes heard at the distance of a mile,
either cheering the sluggish animals, or shortening the dreary way with
savage and dissonant songs.

Late in the afternoon, we reached Medina del Campo, formerly one of the
principal cities of Spain, though at present an inconsiderable place.
Immense ruins surround it in every direction, attesting the former
grandeur of this “city of the plain.”  The great square or market-place
is a remarkable spot, surrounded by a heavy massive piazza, over which
rise black buildings of great antiquity.  We found the town crowded with
people awaiting the fair, which was to be held in a day or two.  We
experienced some difficulty in obtaining admission into the posada, which
was chiefly occupied by Catalans from Valladolid.  These people not only
brought with them their merchandise but their wives and children.  Some
of them appeared to be people of the worst description: there was one in
particular, a burly savage-looking fellow, of about forty, whose conduct
was atrocious; he sat with his wife, or perhaps concubine, at the door of
a room which opened upon the court: he was continually venting horrible
and obscene oaths, both in Spanish and Catalan.  The woman was remarkably
handsome, but robust and seemingly as savage as himself; her conversation
likewise was as frightful as his own.  Both seemed to be under the
influence of an incomprehensible fury.  At last, upon some observation
from the woman, he started up, and drawing a long knife from his girdle,
stabbed at her naked bosom; she, however, interposed the palm of her
hand, which was much cut.  He stood for a moment viewing the blood
trickling upon the ground, whilst she held up her wounded hand, then with
an astounding oath he hurried up the court to the Plaza.  I went up to
the woman and said, “What is the cause of this?  I hope the ruffian has
not seriously injured you.”  She turned her countenance upon me with the
glance of a demon, and at last with a sneer of contempt exclaimed,
“_Carals_, _que es eso_?  Cannot a Catalan gentleman be conversing with
his lady upon their own private affairs without being interrupted by
you?”  She then bound up her hand with a handkerchief, and going into the
room brought a small table to the door, on which she placed several
things as if for the evening’s repast, and then sat down on a stool:
presently returned the Catalan, and without a word took his seat on the
threshold; then, as if nothing had occurred, the extraordinary couple
commenced eating and drinking, interlarding their meal with oaths and
jests.

We spent the night at Medina, and departing early next morning, passed
through much the same country as the day before, until about noon we
reached a small venta, distant half a league from the Duero; here we
reposed ourselves during the heat of the day, and then remounting,
crossed the river by a handsome stone bridge, and directed our course to
Valladolid.  The banks of the Duero in this place have much beauty: they
abound with trees and brushwood, amongst which, as we passed along,
various birds were singing melodiously.  A delicious coolness proceeded
from the water, which in some parts brawled over stones or rippled
fleetly over white sand, and in others glided softly over blue pools of
considerable depth.  By the side of one of these last, sat a woman of
about thirty, neatly dressed as a peasant; she was gazing upon the water
into which she occasionally flung flowers and twigs of trees.  I stopped
for a moment to ask a question; she, however, neither looked up nor
answered, but continued gazing at the water as if lost to consciousness
of all beside.  “Who is that woman?” said I to a shepherd, whom I met the
moment after.  “She is mad, _la pobrecita_,” said he; “she lost her child
about a month ago in that pool, and she has been mad ever since; they are
going to send her to Valladolid, to the Casa de los Locos.  There are
many who perish every year in the eddies of the Duero; it is a bad river;
_vaya usted con la Virgen_, _Caballero_.”  So I rode on through the
pinares, or thin scanty pine forests, which skirt the way to Valladolid
in this direction.

Valladolid is seated in the midst of an immense valley, or rather hollow
which seems to have been scooped by some mighty convulsion out of the
plain ground of Castile.  The eminences which appear in the neighbourhood
are not properly high grounds, but are rather the sides of this hollow.
They are jagged and precipitous, and exhibit a strange and uncouth
appearance.  Volcanic force seems at some distant period to have been
busy in these districts.  Valladolid abounds with convents, at present
deserted, which afford some of the finest specimens of architecture in
Spain.  The principal church, though rather ancient, is unfinished: it
was intended to be a building of vast size, but the means of the founders
were insufficient to carry out their plan: it is built of rough granite.
Valladolid is a manufacturing town, but the commerce is chiefly in the
hands of the Catalans, of whom there is a colony of nearly three hundred
established here.  It possesses a beautiful alameda, or public walk,
through which flows the river Escurva.  The population is said to amount
to sixty thousand souls.

We put up at the Posada de las Diligencias, a very magnificent edifice:
this posada, however, we were glad to quit on the second day after our
arrival, the accommodation being of the most wretched description, and
the incivility of the people great; the master of the house, an immense
tall fellow, with huge moustaches and an assumed military air, being far
too high a cavalier to attend to the wants of his guests, with whom, it
is true, he did not appear to be overburdened, as I saw no one but
Antonio and myself.  He was a leading man amongst the national guards of
Valladolid, and delighted in parading about the city on a clumsy steed,
which he kept in a subterranean stable.

Our next quarters were at the Trojan Horse, an ancient posada, kept by a
native of the Basque provinces, who at least was not above his business.
We found everything in confusion at Valladolid, a visit from the factious
being speedily expected.  All the gates were blockaded, and various forts
had been built to cover the approaches to the city.  Shortly after our
departure the Carlists actually did arrive, under the command of the
Biscayan chief, Zariategui.  They experienced no opposition; the
staunchest nationals retiring to the principal fort, which they, however,
speedily surrendered, not a gun being fired throughout the affair.  As
for my friend the hero of the inn, on the first rumour of the approach of
the enemy, he mounted his horse and rode off, and was never subsequently
heard of.  On our return to Valladolid, we found the inn in other and
better hands, those of a Frenchman from Bayonne, from whom we received as
much civility as we had experienced rudeness from his predecessor.

In a few days I formed the acquaintance of the bookseller of the place, a
kind-hearted simple man, who willingly undertook the charge of vending
the Testaments which I brought.

I found literature of every description at the lowest ebb at Valladolid.
My newly-acquired friend merely carried on bookselling in connexion with
other business; it being, as he assured me, in itself quite insufficient
to afford him a livelihood.  During the week, however, that I continued
in this city, a considerable number of copies were disposed of, and a
fair prospect opened that many more would be demanded.  To call attention
to my books, I had recourse to the same plan which I had adopted at
Salamanca, the affixing of advertisements to the walls.  Before leaving
the city, I gave orders that these should be renewed every week; from
pursuing which course I expected that much manifold good would accrue, as
the people would have continual opportunities of learning that a book
which contains the living word was in existence, and within their reach,
which might induce them to secure it and consult it even unto salvation.

                                * * * * *

In Valladolid I found both an English and Scotch College.  From my
obliging friends, the Irish at Salamanca, I bore a letter of introduction
to the rector of the latter.  I found this college an old gloomy edifice,
situated in a retired street.  The rector was dressed in the habiliments
of a Spanish ecclesiastic, a character which he was evidently ambitious
of assuming.  There was something dry and cold in his manner, and nothing
of that generous warmth and eager hospitality which had so captivated me
in the fine Irish rector of Salamanca; he was, however, civil and polite,
and offered to show me the curiosities of the place.  He evidently knew
who I was, and on that account was, perhaps, more reserved than he
otherwise would have been: not a word passed between us on religious
matters, which we seemed to avoid by common consent.  Under the auspices
of this gentleman, I visited the college of the Philippine Missions,
which stands beyond the gate of the city, where I was introduced to the
superior, a fine old man of seventy, very stout, in the habiliments of a
friar.  There was an air of placid benignity on his countenance which
highly interested me: his words were few and simple, and he seemed to
have bid adieu to all worldly passions.  One little weakness was,
however, still clinging to him.

_Myself_.—This is a noble edifice in which you dwell, Father; I should
think it would contain at least two hundred students.

_Rector_.—More, my son; it is intended for more hundreds than it now
contains single individuals.

_Myself_.—I observe that some rude attempts have been made to fortify it;
the walls are pierced with loopholes in every direction.

_Rector_.—The nationals of Valladolid visited us a few days ago, and
committed much useless damage; they were rather rude, and threatened me
with their clubs: poor men, poor men.

_Myself_.—I suppose that even these missions, which are certainly
intended for a noble end, experience the sad effects of the present
convulsed state of Spain?

_Rector_.—But too true: we at present receive no assistance from the
government, and are left to the Lord and ourselves.

_Myself_.—How many aspirants for the mission are you at present
instructing?

_Rector_.—Not one, my son; not one.  They are all fled.  The flock is
scattered and the shepherd left alone.

_Myself_.—Your reverence has doubtless taken an active part in the
mission abroad?

_Rector_.—I was forty years in the Philippines, my son, forty years
amongst the Indians.  Ah me! how I love those Indians of the Philippines.

_Myself_.—Can your reverence discourse in the language of the Indians?

_Rector_.—No, my son.  We teach the Indians Castilian.  There is no
better language, I believe.  We teach them Castilian, and the adoration
of the Virgin.  What more need they know?

_Myself_.—And what did your reverence think of the Philippines as a
country?

_Rector_.—I was forty years in the Philippines, but I know little of the
country.  I do not like the country.  I love the Indians.  The country is
not very bad; it is, however, not worth Castile.

_Myself_.—Is your reverence a Castilian?

_Rector_.—I am an _Old_ Castilian, my son.

From the house of the Philippine Missions my friend conducted me to the
English college; this establishment seemed in every respect to be on a
more magnificent scale than its Scottish sister.  In the latter there
were few pupils, scarcely six or seven, I believe, whilst in the English
seminary I was informed that between thirty and forty were receiving
their education.  It is a beautiful building, with a small but splendid
church, and a handsome library.  The situation is light and airy: it
stands by itself in an unfrequented part of the city, and, with genuine
English exclusiveness, is surrounded by a high wall, which encloses a
delicious garden.  This is by far the most remarkable establishment of
the kind in the Peninsula, and I believe the most prosperous.  From the
cursory view which I enjoyed of its interior, I of course cannot be
expected to know much of its economy.  I could not, however, fail to be
struck with the order, neatness, and system which pervaded it.  There
was, however, an air of severe monastic discipline, though I am far from
asserting that such actually existed.  We were attended throughout by the
sub-rector, the principal being absent.  Of all the curiosities of this
college, the most remarkable is the picture gallery, which contains
neither more nor less than the portraits of a variety of scholars of this
house who eventually suffered martyrdom in England, in the exercise of
their vocation in the angry times of the Sixth Edward and fierce
Elizabeth.  Yes, in this very house were many of those pale smiling
half-foreign priests educated, who, like stealthy grimalkins, traversed
green England in all directions; crept into old halls beneath umbrageous
rookeries, fanning the dying embers of Popery, with no other hope nor
perhaps wish than to perish disembowelled by the bloody hands of the
executioner, amongst the yells of a rabble as bigoted as themselves:
priests like Bedingfield and Garnet, and many others who have left a name
in English story.  Doubtless many a history, only the more wonderful for
being true, could be wrought out of the archives of the English Popish
seminary at Valladolid.

There was no lack of guests at the Trojan Horse, where we had taken up
our abode at Valladolid.  Amongst others who arrived during my sojourn
was a robust buxom dame, exceedingly well dressed in black silk, with a
costly mantilla.  She was accompanied by a very handsome, but sullen and
malicious-looking urchin of about fifteen, who appeared to be her son.
She came from Toro, a place about a day’s journey from Valladolid, and
celebrated for its wine.  One night, as we were seated in the court of
the inn enjoying the fresco, the following conversation ensued between
us.

_Lady_.—Vaya, vaya, what a tiresome place is Valladolid!  How different
from Toro.

_Myself_.—I should have thought that it is at least as agreeable as Toro,
which is not a third part so large.

_Lady_.—As agreeable as Toro!  Vaya, vaya!  Were you ever in the prison
of Toro, Sir Cavalier?

_Myself_.—I have never had that honour; the prison is generally the last
place which I think of visiting.

_Lady_.—See the difference of tastes: I have been to see the prison of
Valladolid, and it seems as tiresome as the town.

_Myself_.—Of course, if grief and tediousness exist anywhere, you will
find them in the prison.

_Lady_.—Not in that of Toro.

_Myself_.—What does that of Toro possess to distinguish it from all
others?

_Lady_.—What does it possess?  Vaya!  Am I not the carcelera?  Is not my
husband the alcayde?  Is not that son of mine a child of the prison?

_Myself_.—I beg your pardon, I was not aware of that circumstance; it of
course makes much difference.

_Lady_.—I believe you.  I am a daughter of that prison, my father was
alcayde, and my son might hope to be so, were he not a fool.

_Myself_.—His countenance then belies him strangely: I should be loth to
purchase that youngster for a fool.

_Gaoleress_.—You would have a fine bargain if you did; he has more
picardias than any Calabozero in Toro.  What I mean is, that he does not
take to the prison as he ought to do, considering what his fathers were
before him.  He has too much pride—too many fancies; and he has at length
persuaded me to bring him to Valladolid, where I have arranged with a
merchant who lives in the Plaza to take him on trial.  I wish he may not
find his way to the prison: if he do, he will find that being a prisoner
is a very different thing from being a son of the prison.

_Myself_.—As there is so much merriment at Toro, you of course attend to
the comfort of your prisoners.

_Gaoleress_.—Yes, we are very kind to them; I mean to those who are
caballeros; but as for those with vermin and miseria, what can we do?  It
is a merry prison that of Toro; we allow as much wine to enter as the
prisoners can purchase and pay duty for.  This of Valladolid is not half
so gay: there is no prison like Toro.  I learned there to play on the
guitar.  An Andalusian cavalier taught me to touch the guitar and to sing
à la Gitana.  Poor fellow, he was my first novio.  Juanito, bring me the
guitar, that I may play this gentleman a tune of Andalusia.

The carcelera had a fine voice, and touched the favourite instrument of
the Spaniards in a truly masterly manner.  I remained listening to her
performance for nearly an hour, when I retired to my apartment and my
repose.  I believe that she continued playing and singing during the
greater part of the night, for as I occasionally awoke I could still hear
her; and, even in my slumbers, the strings were ringing in my ears.



CHAPTER XXII


Dueñas—Children of Egypt—Jockeyism—The Baggage Pony—The
Fall—Palencia—Carlist Priests—The Lookout—Priestly Sincerity—Leon—Antonio
alarmed—Heat and Dust.

After a sojourn of about ten days at Valladolid, we directed our course
towards Leon.  We arrived about noon at Dueñas, a town at the distance of
six short leagues from Valladolid.  It is in every respect a singular
place: it stands on a rising ground, and directly above it towers a steep
conical mountain of calcareous earth, crowned by a ruined castle.  Around
Dueñas are seen a multitude of caves scooped in the high banks and
secured with strong doors.  These are cellars, in which is deposited the
wine, of which abundance is grown in the neighbourhood, and which is
chiefly sold to the Navarrese and the mountaineers of Santander, who
arrive in cars drawn by oxen, and convey it away in large quantities.  We
put up at a mean posada in the suburb for the purpose of refreshing our
horses.  Several cavalry soldiers were quartered there, who instantly
came forth, and began, with the eyes of connoisseurs, to inspect my
Andalusian entero.  “A capital horse that would be for our troop,” said
the corporal; “what a chest he has.  By what right do you travel with
that horse, Señor, when so many are wanted for the Queen’s service?  He
belongs to the requiso.”  “I travel with him by right of purchase, and
being an Englishman,” I replied.  “Oh, your worship is an Englishman,”
answered the corporal; “that, indeed, alters the matter; the English in
Spain are allowed to do what they please with their own, which is more
than the Spaniards are.  Cavalier, I have seen your countrymen in the
Basque provinces; Vaya, what riders! what horses!  They do not fight
badly either.  But their chief skill is in riding: I have seen them dash
over barrancos to get at the factious, who thought themselves quite
secure, and then they would fall upon them on a sudden and kill them to a
man.  In truth, your worship, this is a fine horse, I must look at his
teeth.”

I looked at the corporal—his nose and eyes were in the horse’s mouth: the
rest of the party, who might amount to six or seven, were not less busily
engaged.  One was examining his forefeet, another his hind; one fellow
was pulling at his tail with all his might, while another pinched the
windpipe, for the purpose of discovering whether the animal was at all
touched there.  At last perceiving that the corporal was about to remove
the saddle that he might examine the back of the animal, I exclaimed:—

“Stay, ye chabés of Egypt, ye forget that ye are hundunares, and are no
longer paruguing grastes in the chardy.”

The corporal at these words turned his face full upon me, and so did all
the rest.  Yes, sure enough, there were the countenances of Egypt, and
the fixed filmy stare of eye.  We continued looking at each other for a
minute at least, when the corporal, a villainous-looking fellow, at last
said, in the richest gypsy whine imaginable, “the erray know us, the poor
Caloré!  And he an Englishman!  Bullati!  I should not have thought that
there was e’er a Busno would know us in these parts, where Gitanos are
never seen.  Yes, your worship is right; we are all here of the blood of
the Caloré; we are from Melegrana (Granada), your worship; they took us
from thence and sent us to the wars.  Your worship is right, the sight of
that horse made us believe we were at home again in the mercado of
Granada; he is a countryman of ours, a real Andalou.  Por dios, your
worship, sell us that horse; we are poor Caloré, but we can buy him.”

“You forget that you are soldiers,” said I.  “How should you buy my
horse?”

“We are soldiers, your worship,” said the corporal, “but we are still
Caloré; we buy and sell bestis; the captain of our troop is in league
with us.  We have been to the wars, but not to fight; we left that to the
Busné.  We have kept together, and like true Caloré, have stood back to
back.  We have made money in the wars, your worship.  _No tenga usted
cuidao_ (be under no apprehension).  We can buy your horse.”

Here he pulled out a purse, which contained at least ten ounces of gold.

“If I were willing to sell,” I replied, “what would you give me for that
horse?”

“Then your worship wishes to sell your horse—that alters the matter.  We
will give ten dollars for your worship’s horse.  He is good for nothing.”

“How is this?” said I.  “You this moment told me he was a fine horse—an
Andalusian, and a countryman of yours.”

“No, Señor! we did not say that he was an Andalou.  We said he was an
Estremou, and the worst of his kind.  He is eighteen years old, your
worship, short-winded and galled.”

“I do not wish to sell my horse,” said I; “quite the contrary; I had
rather buy than sell.”

“Your worship does not wish to sell your horse,” said the Gypsy.  “Stay,
your worship, we will give sixty dollars for your worship’s horse.”

“I would not sell him for two hundred and sixty.  Meclis! Meclis! say no
more.  I know your Gypsy tricks.  I will have no dealings with you.”

“Did I not hear your worship say that you wished to buy a horse?” said
the Gypsy.

“I do not want to buy a horse,” said I; “if I need any thing, it is a
pony to carry our baggage; but it is getting late.  Antonio, pay the
reckoning.”

“Stay, your worship, do not be in a hurry,” said the Gypsy: “I have got
the very pony which will suit you.”

Without waiting for my answer, he hurried into the stable, from whence he
presently returned, leading an animal by a halter.  It was a pony of
about thirteen hands high, of a dark red colour; it was very much galled
all over, the marks of ropes and thongs being visible on its hide.  The
figure, however, was good, and there was an extraordinary brightness in
its eye.

“There, your worship,” said the Gypsy; “there is the best pony in all
Spain.”

“What do you mean by showing me this wretched creature?” said I.

“This wretched creature,” said the Gypsy, “is a better horse than your
Andalou!”

“Perhaps you would not exchange,” said I, smiling.

“Señor, what I say is, that he shall run with your Andalou, and beat
him!”

“He looks feeble,” said I; “his work is well nigh done.”

“Feeble as he is, Señor, you could not manage him; no, nor any Englishman
in Spain.”

I looked at the creature again, and was still more struck with its
figure.  I was in need of a pony to relieve occasionally the horse of
Antonio in carrying the baggage which we had brought from Madrid, and
though the condition of this was wretched, I thought that by kind
treatment I might possibly soon bring him round.

“May I mount this animal?” I demanded.

“He is a baggage pony, Señor, and is ill to mount.  He will suffer none
but myself to mount him, who am his master.  When he once commences
running, nothing will stop him but the sea.  He springs over hills and
mountains, and leaves them behind in a moment.  If you will mount him,
Señor, suffer me to fetch a bridle, for you can never hold him in with
the halter.”

“This is nonsense,” said I.  “You pretend that he is spirited in order to
enhance the price.  I tell you his work is done.”

I took the halter in my hand and mounted.  I was no sooner on his back
than the creature, who had before stood stone still, without displaying
the slightest inclination to move, and who in fact gave no farther
indication of existence than occasionally rolling his eyes and pricking
up an ear, sprang forward like a racehorse, at a most desperate gallop.
I had expected that he might kick or fling himself down on the ground, in
order to get rid of his burden, but for this escapade I was quite
unprepared.  I had no difficulty, however, in keeping on his back, having
been accustomed from my childhood to ride without a saddle.  To stop him,
however, baffled all my endeavours, and I almost began to pay credit to
the words of the Gypsy, who had said that he would run on until he
reached the sea.  I had, however, a strong arm, and I tugged at the
halter until I compelled him to turn slightly his neck, which from its
stiffness might almost have been of wood; he, however, did not abate his
speed for a moment.  On the left side of the road down which he was
dashing was a deep trench, just where the road took a turn towards the
right, and over this he sprang in a sideward direction; the halter broke
with the effort, the pony shot forward like an arrow, whilst I fell back
into the dust.

“Señor!” said the Gypsy, coming up with the most serious countenance in
the world, “I told you not to mount that animal unless well bridled and
bitted.  He is a baggage pony, and will suffer none to mount his back,
with the exception of myself who feed him.”  (Here he whistled, and the
animal, who was scurring over the field, and occasionally kicking up his
heels, instantly returned with a gentle neigh.)  “Now, your worship, see
how gentle he is.  He is a capital baggage pony, and will carry all you
have over the hills of Galicia.”

“What do you ask for him?” said I.

“Señor, as your worship is an Englishman, and a good ginete, and,
moreover, understands the ways of the Caloré, and their tricks and their
language also, I will sell him to you a bargain.  I will take two hundred
and sixty dollars for him and no less.”

“That is a large sum,” said I.

“No, Señor, not at all, considering that he is a baggage pony, and
belongs to the troop, and is not mine to sell.”

Two hours’ ride brought us to Palencia, a fine old town, beautifully
situated on the Carrion, and famous for its trade in wool.  We put up at
the best posada which the place afforded, and I forthwith proceeded to
visit one of the principal merchants of the town, to whom I was
recommended by my banker in Madrid.  I was told, however, that he was
taking his siesta.  “Then I had better take my own,” said I, and returned
to the posada.  In the evening I went again, when I saw him.  He was a
short bulky man about thirty, and received me at first with some degree
of bluntness; his manner, however, presently became more kind, and at
last he scarcely appeared to know how to show me sufficient civility.
His brother had just arrived from Santander, and to him he introduced me.
This last was a highly-intelligent person, and had passed many years of
his life in England.  They both insisted upon showing me the town, and,
indeed, led me all over it, and about the neighbourhood.  I particularly
admired the cathedral, a light, elegant, but ancient Gothic edifice.
Whilst we walked about the aisles, the evening sun, pouring its mellow
rays through the arched windows, illumined some beautiful paintings of
Murillo, with which the sacred edifice is adorned.  From the church my
friends conducted me to a fulling mill in the neighbourhood, by a
picturesque walk.  There was no lack either of trees or water, and I
remarked, that the environs of Palencia were amongst the most pleasant
places that I had ever seen.

Tired at last with rambling, we repaired to a coffee-house, where they
regaled me with chocolate and sweet-meats.  Such was their hospitality;
and of hospitality of this simple and agreeable kind there is much in
Spain.

On the next day we pursued our journey, a dreary one, for the most part,
over bleak and barren plains, interspersed with silent and cheerless
towns and villages, which stood at the distance of two or three leagues
from each other.  About midday we obtained a dim and distant view of an
immense range of mountains, which are in fact those which bound Castile
on the north.  The day, however, became dim and obscure, and we speedily
lost sight of them.  A hollow wind now arose and blew over these desolate
plains with violence, wafting clouds of dust into our faces; the rays of
the sun were few, and those red and angry.  I was tired of my journey,
and when about four we reached ---, a large village, half way between
Palencia and Leon, I declared my intention of stopping for the night.  I
scarcely ever saw a more desolate place than this same town or village of
---.  The houses were for the most part large, but the walls were of mud,
like those of barns.  We saw no person in the long winding street to
direct us to the venta, or posada, till at last, at the farther end of
the place, we descried two black figures standing at a door, of whom, on
making inquiry, we learned that the door at which they stood was that of
the house we were in quest of.  There was something strange in the
appearance of these two beings, who seemed the genii of the place.  One
was a small slim man, about fifty, with sharp, ill-natured features.  He
was dressed in coarse black worsted stockings, black breeches, and an
ample black coat with long trailing skirts.  I should at once have taken
him for an ecclesiastic, but for his hat, which had nothing clerical
about it, being a pinched diminutive beaver.  His companion was of low
stature, and a much younger man.  He was dressed in similar fashion, save
that he wore a dark blue cloak.  Both carried walking sticks in their
hands, and kept hovering about the door, now within and now without,
occasionally looking up the road, as if they expected some one.

“Trust me, mon maître,” said Antonio to me, in French, “those two fellows
are Carlist priests, and are awaiting the arrival of the Pretender.  _Les
imbeciles_!”

We conducted our horses to the stable, to which we were shown by the
woman of the house.  “Who are those men?” said I to her.

“The eldest is head curate to our pueblo,” said she; “the other is
brother to my husband.  Pobrecito! he was a friar in our convent before
it was shut up and the brethren driven forth.”

We returned to the door.  “I suppose, gentlemen,” said the curate, “that
you are Catalans.  Do you bring any news from that kingdom?”

“Why do you suppose we are Catalans?” I demanded.

“Because I heard you this moment conversing in that language.”

“I bring no news from Catalonia,” said I.  “I believe, however, that the
greater part of that principality is in the hands of the Carlists.”

“Ahem, brother Pedro!  This gentleman says that the greater part of
Catalonia is in the hands of the royalists.  Pray, sir, where may Don
Carlos be at present with his army?”

“He may be coming down the road this moment,” said I, “for what I know;”
and, stepping out, I looked up the way.

The two figures were at my side in a moment; Antonio followed, and we all
four looked intently up the road.

“Do you see anything?” said I at last to Antonio.

“_Non_, _mon maitre_.”

“Do you see anything, sir?” said I to the curate.

“I see nothing,” said the curate, stretching out his neck.

“I see nothing,” said Pedro, the ex-friar; “I see nothing but the dust,
which is becoming every moment more blinding.”

“I shall go in, then,” said I.  “Indeed, it is scarcely prudent to be
standing here looking out for the Pretender: should the nationals of the
town hear of it, they might perhaps shoot us.”

“Ahem,” said the curate, following me; “there are no nationals in this
place: I would fain see what inhabitant would dare become a national.
When the inhabitants of this place were ordered to take up arms as
nationals, they refused to a man, and on that account we had to pay a
mulet; therefore, friend, you may speak out if you have anything to
communicate; we are all of your opinion here.”

“I am of no opinion at all,” said I, “save that I want my supper.  I am
neither for Rey nor Roque.  You say that I am a Catalan, and you know
that Catalans think only of their own affairs.”

In the evening I strolled by myself about the village, which I found
still more forlorn and melancholy than it at first appeared; perhaps,
however, it had been a place of consequence in its time.  In one corner
of it I found the ruins of a large clumsy castle, chiefly built of flint
stones: into these ruins I attempted to penetrate, but the entrance was
secured by a gate.  From the castle I found my way to the convent, a sad
desolate place, formerly the residence of mendicant brothers of the order
of St. Francis.  I was about to return to the inn, when I heard a loud
buzz of voices, and, following the sound, presently reached a kind of
meadow, where, upon a small knoll, sat a priest in full canonicals,
reading in a loud voice a newspaper, while around him, either erect or
seated on the grass, were assembled about fifty vecinos, for the most
part dressed in long cloaks, amongst whom I discovered my two friends the
curate and friar.  A fine knot of Carlist quid-nuncs, said I to myself,
and turned away to another part of the meadow, where the cattle of the
village were grazing.  The curate, on observing me, detached himself
instantly from the group, and followed.  “I am told you want a pony,”
said he; “there now is mine feeding amongst those horses, the best in all
the kingdom of Leon.”  He then began with all the volubility of a chalan
to descant on the points of the animal.  Presently the friar joined us,
who, observing his opportunity, pulled me by the sleeve and whispered,
“Have nothing to do with the curate, master, he is the greatest thief in
the neighbourhood; if you want a pony, my brother has a much better,
which he will dispose of cheaper.”  “I shall wait till I arrive at Leon,”
I exclaimed, and walked away, musing on priestly friendship and
sincerity.

From --- to Leon, a distance of eight leagues, the country rapidly
improved: we passed over several small streams, and occasionally found
ourselves amongst meadows in which grass was growing in the richest
luxuriance.  The sun shone out brightly, and I hailed his re-appearance
with joy, though the heat of his beams was oppressive.  On arriving
within two leagues of Leon, we passed numerous cars and waggons, and
bands of people with horses and mules, all hastening to the celebrated
fair which is held in the city on St. John’s or Mid-summer day, and which
took place within three days after our arrival.  This fair, though
principally intended for the sale of horses, is frequented by merchants
from many parts of Spain, who attend with goods of various kinds, and
amongst them I remarked many of the Catalans whom I had previously seen
at Medina and Valladolid.

There is nothing remarkable in Leon, which is an old gloomy town, with
the exception of its cathedral, in many respects a counterpart of the
church of Palencia, exhibiting the same light and elegant architecture,
but, unlike its beautiful sister, unadorned with splendid paintings.  The
situation of Leon is highly pleasant, in the midst of a blooming country,
abounding with trees, and watered by many streams, which have their
source in the mighty mountains in the neighbourhood.  It is, however, by
no means a healthy place, especially in summer, when the heats raise
noxious exhalations from the waters, generating many kinds of disorders,
especially fevers.

I had scarcely been at Leon three days when I was seized with a fever,
against which I thought the strength even of my constitution would have
yielded, for it wore me almost to a skeleton, and when it departed, at
the end of about a week, left me in such a deplorable state of weakness
that I was scarcely able to make the slightest exertion.  I had, however,
previously persuaded a bookseller to undertake the charge of vending the
Testaments, and had published my advertisements as usual, though without
very sanguine hope of success, as Leon is a place where the inhabitants,
with very few exceptions, are furious Carlists, and ignorant and blinded
followers of the old papal church.  It is, moreover, a bishop’s see,
which was once enjoyed by the prime counsellor of Don Carlos, whose
fierce and bigoted spirit still seems to pervade the place.  Scarcely had
the advertisements appeared, when the clergy were in motion.  They went
from house to house, banning and cursing, and denouncing misery to
whomsoever should either purchase or read “the accursed books,” which had
been sent into the country by heretics for the purpose of perverting the
innocent minds of the population.  They did more; they commenced a
process against the bookseller in the ecclesiastical court.  Fortunately
this court is not at present in the possession of much authority; and the
bookseller, a bold and determined man, set them at defiance, and went so
far as to affix an advertisement to the gate of the very cathedral.
Notwithstanding the cry raised against the book, several copies were sold
at Leon: two were purchased by ex-friars, and the same number by
parochial priests from neighbouring villages.  I believe the whole number
disposed of during my stay amounted to fifteen; so that my visit to this
dark corner was not altogether in vain, as the seed of the gospel has
been sown, though sparingly.  But the palpable darkness which envelops
Leon is truly lamentable, and the ignorance of the people is so great,
that printed charms and incantations against Satan and his host, and
against every kind of misfortune, are publicly sold in the shops, and are
in great demand.  Such are the results of Popery, a delusion which, more
than any other, has tended to debase and brutalize the human mind.

I had scarcely risen from my bed where the fever had cast me, when I
found that Antonio had become alarmed.  He informed me that he had seen
several soldiers in the uniform of Don Carlos lurking at the door of the
posada, and that they had been making inquiries concerning me.

It was indeed a singular fact connected with Leon, that upwards of fifty
of these fellows, who had on various accounts left the ranks of the
Pretender, were walking about the streets dressed in his livery, and with
all the confidence which the certainty of protection from the local
authorities could afford them should any one be disposed to interrupt
them.

I learned moreover from Antonio, that the person in whose house we were
living was a notorious “alcahuete,” or spy to the robbers in the
neighbourhood, and that unless we took our departure speedily and
unexpectedly, we should to a certainty be plundered on the road.  I did
not pay much attention to these hints, but my desire to quit Leon was
great, as I was convinced that as long as I continued there I should be
unable to regain my health and vigour.

Accordingly, at three in the morning, we departed for Galicia.  We had
scarcely proceeded half a league when we were overtaken by a
thunder-storm of tremendous violence.  We were at that time in the midst
of a wood which extends to some distance in the direction in which we
were going.  The trees were bowed almost to the ground by the wind or
torn up by the roots, whilst the earth was ploughed up by the lightning,
which burst all around and nearly blinded us.  The spirited Andalusian on
which I rode became furious, and bounded into the air as if possessed.
Owing to my state of weakness, I had the greatest difficulty in
maintaining my seat, and avoiding a fall which might have been fatal.  A
tremendous discharge of rain followed the storm, which swelled the brooks
and streams and flooded the surrounding country, causing much damage
amongst the corn.  After riding about five leagues, we began to enter the
mountainous district which surrounds Astorga: the heat now became almost
suffocating; swarms of flies began to make their appearance, and settling
down upon the horses, stung them almost to madness, whilst the road was
very flinty and trying.  It was with great difficulty that we reached
Astorga, covered with mud and dust, our tongues cleaving to our palates
with thirst.



CHAPTER XXIII


Astorga—The Inn—The Maragatos—The Habits of the Maragatos—The Statue.

We went to a posada in the suburbs, the only one, indeed, which the place
afforded.  The courtyard was full of arrieros and carriers, brawling
loudly; the master of the house was fighting with two of his customers,
and universal confusion reigned around.  As I dismounted I received the
contents of a wineglass in my face, of which greeting, as it was probably
intended for another, I took no notice.  Antonio, however, was not so
patient, for on being struck with a cudgel, he instantly returned the
salute with his whip, scarifying the countenance of a carman.  In my
endeavours to separate these two antagonists, my horse broke loose, and
rushing amongst the promiscuous crowd, overturned several individuals and
committed no little damage.  It was a long time before peace was
restored: at last we were shown to a tolerably decent chamber.  We had,
however, no sooner taken possession of it, than the waggon from Madrid
arrived on its way to Coruña, filled with dusty travellers, consisting of
women, children, invalid officers and the like.  We were now forthwith
dislodged, and our baggage flung into the yard.  On our complaining of
this treatment, we were told that we were two vagabonds whom nobody knew;
who had come without an arriero, and had already set the whole house in
confusion.  As a great favour, however, we were at length permitted to
take up our abode in a ruinous building down the yard, adjoining the
stable, and filled with rats and vermin.  Here there was an old bed with
a tester, and with this wretched accommodation we were glad to content
ourselves, for I could proceed no farther, and was burnt with fever.  The
heat of the place was intolerable, and I sat on the staircase with my
head between my hands, gasping for breath: soon appeared Antonio with
vinegar and water, which I drank and felt relieved.

We continued in this suburb three days, during the greatest part of which
time I was stretched on the tester bed.  I once or twice contrived to
make my way into the town, but found no bookseller, nor any person
willing to undertake the charge of disposing of my Testaments.  The
people were brutal, stupid, and uncivil, and I returned to my tester bed
fatigued and dispirited.  Here I lay listening from time to time to the
sweet chimes which rang from the clock of the old cathedral.  The master
of the house never came near me, nor indeed, once inquired about me.
Beneath the care of Antonio, however, I speedily waxed stronger.  “_Mon
maître_,” said he to me one evening, “I see you are better; let us quit
this bad town and worse posada to-morrow morning.  _Allons_, _mon
maitre_!  _Il est temps de nous mettre en chemin pour Lugo et Galice_.”

Before proceeding, however, to narrate what befell us in this journey to
Lugo and Galicia, it will perhaps not be amiss to say a few words
concerning Astorga and its vicinity.  It is a walled town, containing
about five or six thousand inhabitants, with a cathedral and college,
which last is, however, at present deserted.  It is situated on the
confines, and may be called the capital of a tract of land called the
country of the Maragatos, which occupies about three square leagues, and
has for its north-western boundary a mountain called Telleno, the
loftiest of a chain of hills which have their origin near the mouth of
the river Minho, and are connected with the immense range which
constitutes the frontier of the Asturias and Guipuscoa.

The land is ungrateful and barren, and niggardly repays the toil of the
cultivator, being for the most part rocky, with a slight sprinkling of
red brick earth.

The Maragatos are perhaps the most singular caste to be found amongst the
chequered population of Spain.  They have their own peculiar customs and
dress, and never intermarry with the Spaniards.  Their name is a clue to
their origin, as it signifies, “Moorish Goths,” and at the present day
their garb differs but little from that of the Moors of Barbary, as it
consists of a long tight jacket, secured at the waist by a broad girdle,
loose short trousers which terminate at the knee, and boots and gaiters.
Their heads are shaven, a slight fringe of hair being only left at the
lower part.  If they wore the turban or barret, they could scarcely be
distinguished from the Moors in dress, but in lieu thereof they wear the
sombrero, or broad slouching hat of Spain.  There can be little doubt
that they are a remnant of those Goths who sided with the Moors on their
invasion of Spain, and who adopted their religion, customs, and manner of
dress, which, with the exception of the first, are still to a
considerable degree retained by them.  It is, however, evident that their
blood has at no time mingled with that of the wild children of the
desert, for scarcely amongst the hills of Norway would you find figures
and faces more essentially Gothic than those of the Maragatos.  They are
strong athletic men, but loutish and heavy, and their features, though
for the most part well formed, are vacant and devoid of expression.  They
are slow and plain of speech, and those eloquent and imaginative sallies
so common in the conversation of other Spaniards, seldom or never escape
them; they have, moreover, a coarse thick pronunciation, and when you
hear them speak, you almost imagine that it is some German or English
peasant attempting to express himself in the language of the Peninsula.
They are constitutionally phlegmatic, and it is very difficult to arouse
their anger; but they are dangerous and desperate when once incensed; and
a person who knew them well, told me that he would rather face ten
Valencians, people infamous for their ferocity and blood-thirstiness,
than confront one angry Maragato, sluggish and stupid though he be on
other occasions.

The men scarcely ever occupy themselves in husbandry, which they abandon
to the women, who plough the flinty fields and gather in the scanty
harvests.  Their husbands and sons are far differently employed: for they
are a nation of arrieros or carriers, and almost esteem it a disgrace to
follow any other profession.  On every road of Spain, particularly those
north of the mountains which divide the two Castiles, may be seen gangs
of fives and sixes of these people lolling or sleeping beneath the
broiling sun, on gigantic and heavily laden mutes and mules.  In a word,
almost the entire commerce of nearly one half of Spain passes through the
hands of the Maragatos, whose fidelity to their trust is such, that no
one accustomed to employ them would hesitate to confide to them the
transport of a ton of treasure from the sea of Biscay to Madrid; knowing
well that it would not be their fault were it not delivered safe and
undiminished, even of a grain, and that bold must be the thieves who
would seek to wrest it from the far feared Maragatos, who would cling to
it whilst they could stand, and would cover it with their bodies when
they fell in the act of loading or discharging their long carbines.

But they are far from being disinterested, and if they are the most
trustworthy of all the arrieros of Spain, they in general demand for the
transport of articles a sum at least double to what others of the trade
would esteem a reasonable recompense: by this means they accumulate large
sums of money, notwithstanding that they indulge themselves in far
superior fare to that which contents in general the parsimonious
Spaniard;—another argument in favour of their pure Gothic descent; for
the Maragatos, like true men of the north, delight in swilling liquors
and battening upon gross and luscious meats, which help to swell out
their tall and goodly figures.  Many of them have died possessed of
considerable riches, part of which they have not unfrequently bequeathed
to the erection or embellishment of religious houses.

On the east end of the cathedral of Astorga, which towers over the lofty
and precipitous wall, a colossal figure of lead may be seen on the roof.
It is the statue of a Maragato carrier who endowed the cathedral with a
large sum.  He is in his national dress, but his head is averted from the
lands of his fathers, and whilst he waves in his hand a species of flag,
he seems to be summoning his race from their unfruitful region to other
climes, where a richer field is open to their industry and enterprise.

I spoke to several of these men respecting the all-important subject of
religion; but I found “their hearts gross, and their ears dull of
hearing, and their eyes closed.”  There was one in particular to whom I
showed the New Testament, and whom I addressed for a considerable time.
He listened or seemed to listen patiently, taking occasionally copious
draughts from an immense jug of whitish wine which stood between his
knees.  After I had concluded he said, “To-morrow I set out for Lugo,
whither, I am told, yourself are going.  If you wish to send your chest,
I have no objection to take it at so much (naming an extravagant price).
As for what you have told me, I understand little of it, and believe not
a word of it; but in respect to the books which you have shown me, I will
take three or four.  I shall not read them, it is true, but I have no
doubt that I can sell them at a higher price than you demand.”

So much for the Maragatos.



CHAPTER XXIV


Departure from Astorga—The Venta—The By-path—Narrow Escape—The Cup of
Water—Sun and Shade—Bembibre—Convent of the
Rocks—Sunset—Cacabelos—Midnight Adventure—Villafrancs.

It was four o’clock of a beautiful morning when we sallied from Astorga,
or rather from its suburbs, in which we had been lodged: we directed our
course to the north, in the direction of Galicia.  Leaving the mountain
Telleno on our left, we passed along the eastern skirts of the land of
the Maragatos, over broken uneven ground, enlivened here and there by
small green valleys and runnels of water.  Several of the Maragatan
women, mounted on donkeys, passed us on their way to Astorga, whither
they were carrying vegetables.  We saw others in the fields handling
their rude ploughs, drawn by lean oxen.  We likewise passed through a
small village, in which we, however, saw no living soul.  Near this
village we entered the high road which leads direct from Madrid to
Coruña, and at last, having travelled near four leagues, we came to a
species of pass, formed on our left by a huge lumpish hill (one of those
which descend from the great mountain Telleno), and on our right by one
of much less altitude.  In the middle of this pass, which was of
considerable breadth, a noble view opened itself to us.  Before us, at
the distance of about a league and a half, rose the mighty frontier
chain, of which I have spoken before; its blue sides and broken and
picturesque peaks still wearing a thin veil of the morning mist, which
the fierce rays of the sun were fast dispelling.  It seemed an enormous
barrier, threatening to oppose our farther progress, and it reminded me
of the fables respecting the children of Magog, who are said to reside in
remotest Tartary, behind a gigantic wall of rocks, which can only be
passed by a gate of steel a thousand cubits in height.

We shortly after arrived at Manzanal, a village consisting of wretched
huts, and exhibiting every sign of poverty and misery.  It was now time
to refresh ourselves and horses, and we accordingly put up at a venta,
the last habitation in the village, where, though we found barley for the
animals, we had much difficulty in procuring anything for ourselves.  I
was at length fortunate enough to obtain a large jug of milk, for there
were plenty of cows in the neighbourhood, feeding in a picturesque valley
which we had passed by, where was abundance of grass, and trees, and a
rivulet broken by tiny cascades.  The jug might contain about half a
gallon, but I emptied it in a few minutes, for the thirst of fever was
still burning within me, though I was destitute of appetite.  The venta
had something the appearance of a German baiting-house.  It consisted of
an immense stable, from which was partitioned a kind of kitchen and a
place where the family slept.  The master, a robust young man, lolled on
a large solid stone bench, which stood within the door.  He was very
inquisitive respecting news, but I could afford him none; whereupon he
became communicative, and gave me the history of his life, the sum of
which was, that he had been a courier in the Basque provinces, but about
a year since had been dispatched to this village, where he kept the
post-house.  He was an enthusiastic liberal, and spoke in bitter terms of
the surrounding population, who, he said, were all Carlists and friends
of the friars.  I paid little attention to his discourse, for I was
looking at a Maragato lad of about fourteen, who served in the house as a
kind of ostler.  I asked the master if we were still in the land of the
Maragatos; but he told me that we had left it behind nearly a league, and
that the lad was an orphan and was serving until he could rake up a
sufficient capital to become an arriero.  I addressed several questions
to the boy, but the urchin looked sullenly in my face, and either
answered by monosyllables or was doggedly silent.  I asked him if he
could read.  “Yes,” said he, “as much as that brute of yours who is
tearing down the manger.”

Quitting Manzanal, we continued our course.  We soon arrived at the verge
of a deep valley amongst mountains, not those of the chain which we had
seen before us, and which we now left to the right, but those of the
Telleno range, just before they unite with that chain.  Round the sides
of this valley, which exhibited something of the appearance of a
horse-shoe, wound the road in a circuitous manner; just before us,
however, and diverging from the road, lay a footpath which seemed, by a
gradual descent, to lead across the valley, and to rejoin the road on the
other side, at the distance of about a furlong; and into this we struck
in order to avoid the circuit.

We had not gone far before we met two Galicians, on their way to cut the
harvests of Castile.  One of them shouted, “Cavalier, turn back: in a
moment you will be amongst precipices, where your horses will break their
necks, for we ourselves could scarcely climb them on foot.”  The other
cried, “Cavalier, proceed, but be careful, and your horses, if
sure-footed, will run no great danger: my comrade is a fool.”  A violent
dispute instantly ensued between the two mountaineers, each supporting
his opinion with loud oaths and curses; but without stopping to see the
result, I passed on, but the path was now filled with stones and huge
slaty rocks, on which my horse was continually slipping.  I likewise
heard the sound of water in a deep gorge, which I had hitherto not
perceived, and I soon saw that it would be worse than madness to proceed.
I turned my horse, and was hastening to regain the path which I had left,
when Antonio, my faithful Greek, pointed out to me a meadow by which, he
said, we might regain the high road much lower down than if we returned
on our steps.  The meadow was brilliant with short green grass, and in
the middle there was a small rivulet of water.  I spurred my horse on,
expecting to be in the high road in a moment; the horse, however, snorted
and stared wildly, and was evidently unwilling to cross the seemingly
inviting spot.  I thought that the scent of a wolf, or some other wild
animal might have disturbed him, but was soon undeceived by his sinking
up to the knees in a bog.  The animal uttered a shrill sharp neigh, and
exhibited every sign of the greatest terror, making at the same time
great efforts to extricate himself, and plunging forward, but every
moment sinking deeper.  At last he arrived where a small vein of rock
showed itself: on this he placed his fore feet, and with one tremendous
exertion freed himself, from the deceitful soil, springing over the
rivulet and alighting on comparatively firm ground, where he stood
panting, his heaving sides covered with a foamy sweat.  Antonio, who had
observed the whole scene, afraid to venture forward, returned by the path
by which we came, and shortly afterwards rejoined me.  This adventure
brought to my recollection the meadow with its footpath which tempted
Christian from the straight road to heaven, and finally conducted him to
the dominions of the giant Despair.

We now began to descend the valley by a broad and excellent carretera or
carriage road, which was cut out of the steep side of the mountain on our
right.  On our left was the gorge, down which tumbled the runnel of water
which I have before mentioned.  The road was tortuous, and at every turn
the scene became more picturesque.  The gorge gradually widened, and the
brook at its bottom, fed by a multitude of springs, increased in volume
and in sound, but it was soon far beneath us, pursuing its headlong
course till it reached level ground, where it flowed in the midst of a
beautiful but confined prairie.  There was something sylvan and savage in
the mountains on the farther side, clad from foot to pinnacle with trees,
so closely growing that the eye was unable to obtain a glimpse of the
hill sides, which were uneven with ravines and gulleys, the haunts of the
wolf, the wild boar, and the corso, or mountain-stag; the latter of
which, as I was informed by a peasant who was driving a car of oxen,
frequently descended to feed in the prairie, and were there shot for the
sake of their skins, for their flesh, being strong and disagreeable, is
held in no account.

But notwithstanding the wildness of these regions, the handiworks of man
were visible.  The sides of the gorge, though precipitous, were yellow
with little fields of barley, and we saw a hamlet and church down in the
prairie below, whilst merry songs ascended to our ears from where the
mowers were toiling with their scythes, cutting the luxuriant and
abundant grass.  I could scarcely believe that I was in Spain, in general
so brown, so arid and cheerless, and I almost fancied myself in Greece,
in that land of ancient glory, whose mountain and forest scenery
Theocritus has so well described.

At the bottom of the valley we entered a small village, washed by the
brook, which had now swelled almost to a stream.  A more romantic
situation I had never witnessed.  It was surrounded, and almost overhung
by mountains, and embowered in trees of various kinds; waters sounded,
nightingales sang, and the cuckoo’s full note boomed from the distant
branches, but the village was miserable.  The huts were built of slate
stones, of which the neighbouring hills seemed to be principally
composed, and roofed with the same, but not in the neat tidy manner of
English houses, for the slates were of all sizes, and seemed to be flung
on in confusion.  We were spent with heat and thirst, and sitting down on
a stone bench, I entreated a woman to give me a little water.  The woman
said she would, but added that she expected to be paid for it.  Antonio,
on hearing this, became highly incensed, and speaking Greek, Turkish, and
Spanish, invoked the vengeance of the Panhagia on the heartless woman,
saying, “If I were to offer a Mahometan gold for a draught of water he
would dash it in my face; and you are a Catholic, with the stream running
at your door.”  I told him to be silent, and giving the woman two
cuartos, repeated my request, whereupon she took a pitcher, and going to
the stream filled it with water.  It tasted muddy and disagreeable, but
it drowned the fever which was devouring me.

We again remounted and proceeded on our way, which, for a considerable
distance, lay along the margin of the stream, which now fell in small
cataracts, now brawled over stones, and at other times ran dark and
silent through deep pools overhung with tall willows,—pools which seemed
to abound with the finny tribe, for large trout frequently sprang from
the water, catching the brilliant fly which skimmed along its deceitful
surface.  The scene was delightful.  The sun was rolling high in the
firmament, casting from its orb of fire the most glorious rays, so that
the atmosphere was flickering with their splendour, but their fierceness
was either warded off by the shadow of the trees or rendered innocuous by
the refreshing coolness which rose from the waters, or by the gentle
breezes which murmured at intervals over the meadows, “fanning the cheek
or raising the hair” of the wanderer.  The hills gradually receded, till
at last we entered a plain where tall grass was waving, and mighty
chestnut trees, in full blossom, spread out their giant and umbrageous
boughs.  Beneath many stood cars, the tired oxen prostrate on the ground,
the crossbar of the poll which they support pressing heavily on their
heads, whilst their drivers were either employed in cooking, or were
enjoying a delicious siesta in the grass and shade.  I went up to one of
the largest of these groups and demanded of the individuals whether they
were in need of the Testament of Jesus Christ.  They stared at one
another, and then at me, till at last a young man, who was dangling a
long gun in his hands as he reclined, demanded of me what it was, at the
same time inquiring whether I was a Catalan, “for you speak hoarse,” said
he, “and are tall and fair like that family.”  I sat down amongst them
and said that I was no Catalan, but that I came from a spot in the
Western Sea, many leagues distant, to sell that book at half the price it
cost; and that their souls’ welfare depended on their being acquainted
with it.  I then explained to them the nature of the New Testament, and
read to them the parable of the Sower.  They stared at each other again,
but said that they were poor, and could not buy books.  I rose, mounted,
and was going away, saying to them: “Peace bide with you.”  Whereupon the
young man with the gun rose, and saying, “_Caspita_! this is odd,”
snatched the book from my hand and gave me the price I had demanded.

Perhaps the whole world might be searched in vain for a spot whose
natural charms could rival those of this plain or valley of Bembibre, as
it is called, with its wall of mighty mountains, its spreading chestnut
trees, and its groves of oaks and willows, which clothe the banks of its
stream, a tributary to the Minho.  True it is, that when I passed through
it, the candle of heaven was blazing in full splendour, and everything
lighted by its rays looked gay, glad, and blessed.  Whether it would have
filled me with the same feelings of admiration if viewed beneath another
sky, I will not pretend to determine; but it certainly possesses
advantages which at no time could fail to delight, for it exhibits all
the peaceful beauties of an English landscape blended with something wild
and grand, and I thought within myself that he must be a restless
dissatisfied man, who, born amongst those scenes, would wish to quit
them.  At the time I would have desired no better fate than that of a
shepherd on the prairies, or a hunter in the hills of Bembibre.

Three hours passed away and we were in another situation.  We had halted
and refreshed ourselves and horses at Bembibre, a village of mud and
slate, and which possessed little to attract attention: we were now
ascending, for the road was over one of the extreme ledges of those
frontier hills which I have before so often mentioned; but the aspect of
heaven had blackened, clouds were rolling rapidly from the west over the
mountains, and a cold wind was moaning dismally.  “There is a storm
travelling through the air,” said a peasant, whom we overtook, mounted on
a wretched mule; “and the Asturians had better be on the lookout, for it
is speeding in their direction.”  He had scarce spoken, when a light, so
vivid and dazzling that it seemed as if the whole lustre of the fiery
element were concentrated in it, broke around us, filling the whole
atmosphere, and covering rock, tree and mountain with a glare not to be
described.  The mule of the peasant tumbled prostrate, while the horse I
rode reared himself perpendicularly, and turning round, dashed down the
hill at headlong speed, which for some time it was impossible to cheek.
The lightning was followed by a peal almost as terrible, but distant, for
it sounded hollow and deep; the hills, however, caught up its voice,
seemingly repeating it from summit to summit, till it was lost in
interminable space.  Other flashes and peals succeeded, but slight in
comparison, and a few drops of rain descended.  The body of the tempest
seemed to be over another region.  “A hundred families are weeping where
that bolt fell,” said the peasant when I rejoined him, “for its blaze has
blinded my mule at six leagues’ distance.”  He was leading the animal by
the bridle, as its sight was evidently affected.  “Were the friars still
in their nest above there,” he continued, “I should say that this was
their doing, for they are the cause of all the miseries of the land.”

I raised my eyes in the direction in which he pointed.  Half way up the
mountain, over whose foot we were wending, jutted forth a black frightful
crag, which at an immense altitude overhung the road, and seemed to
threaten destruction.  It resembled one of those ledges of the rocky
mountains in the picture of the Deluge, up to which the terrified
fugitives have scrambled from the eager pursuit of the savage and
tremendous billows, and from whence they gaze down in horror, whilst
above them rise still higher and giddier heights, to which they seem
unable to climb.  Built on the very edge of this crag, stood an edifice,
seemingly devoted to the purposes of religion, as I could discern the
spire of a church rearing itself high over wall and roof.  “That is the
house of the Virgin of the Rocks,” said the peasant, “and it was lately
full of friars, but they have been thrust out, and the only inmates now
are owls and ravens.”  I replied, that their life in such a bleak exposed
abode could not have been very enviable, as in winter they must have
incurred great risk of perishing with cold.  “By no means,” said he;
“they had the best of wood for their braseros and chimneys, and the best
of wine to warm them at their meals, which were not the most sparing.
Moreover, they had another convent down in the vale yonder, to which they
could retire at their pleasure.”  On my asking him the reason of his
antipathy to the friars, he replied, that he had been their vassal, and
that they had deprived him every year of the flower of what he possessed.
Discoursing in this manner, we reached a village just below the convent,
where he left me, having first pointed out to me a house of stone, with
an image over the door, which, he said, once also belonged to the canalla
(_rabble_) above.

The sun was setting fast, and eager to reach Villafranca, where I had
determined on resting, and which was still distant three leagues and a
half, I made no halt at this place.  The road was now down a rapid and
crooked descent, which terminated in a valley, at the bottom of which was
a long and narrow bridge; beneath it rolled a river, descending from a
wide pass between two mountains, for the chain was here cleft, probably
by some convulsion of nature.  I looked up the pass, and on the hills on
both sides.  Far above, on my right, but standing forth bold and clear,
and catching the last rays of the sun, was the Convent of the Precipices,
whilst directly over against it, on the farther side of the valley, rose
the perpendicular side of the rival hill, which, to a considerable extent
intercepting the light, flung its black shadow over the upper end of the
pass, involving it in mysterious darkness.  Emerging from the centre of
this gloom, with thundering sound, dashed a river, white with foam, and
bearing along with it huge stones and branches of trees, for it was the
wild Sil hurrying to the ocean from its cradle in the heart of the
Asturian hills, and probably swollen by the recent rains.

Hours again passed away.  It was now night, and we were in the midst of
woodlands, feeling our way, for the darkness was so great that I could
scarcely see the length of a yard before my horse’s head.  The animal
seemed uneasy, and would frequently stop short, prick up his ears, and
utter a low mournful whine.  Flashes of sheet lightning frequently
illumined the black sky, and flung a momentary glare over our path.  No
sound interrupted the stillness of the night, except the slow tramp of
the horses’ hoofs, and occasionally the croaking of frogs from some pool
or morass.  I now bethought me that I was in Spain, the chosen land of
the two fiends, assassination and plunder, and how easily two tired and
unarmed wanderers might become their victims.

We at last cleared the woodlands, and after proceeding a short distance,
the horse gave a joyous neigh, and broke into a smart trot.  A barking of
dogs speedily reached my ears, and we seemed to be approaching some town
or village.  In effect we were close to Cacabelos, a town about five
miles distant from Villafranca.

It was near eleven at night, and I reflected that it would be far more
expedient to tarry in this place till the morning than to attempt at
present to reach Villafranca, exposing ourselves to all the horrors of
darkness in a lonely and unknown road.  My mind was soon made up on this
point; but I reckoned without my host, for at the first posada which I
attempted to enter, I was told that we could not be accommodated, and
still less our horses, as the stable was full of water.  At the second,
and there were but two, I was answered from the window by a gruff voice,
nearly in the words of the Scripture: “Trouble me not; the door is now
shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot arise to let you in.”
Indeed, we had no particular desire to enter, as it appeared a wretched
hovel, though the poor horses pawed piteously against the door, and
seemed to crave admittance.

We had now no choice but to resume our doleful way to Villafranca, which,
we were told, was a short league distant, though it proved a league and a
half.  We found it no easy matter to quit the town, for we were
bewildered amongst its labyrinths, and could not find the outlet.  A lad
about eighteen was, however, persuaded, by the promise of a peseta, to
guide us: whereupon he led us by many turnings to a bridge, which he told
us to cross, and to follow the road, which was that of Villafranca; he
then, having received his fee, hastened from us.

We followed his directions, not, however, without a suspicion that he
might be deceiving us.  The night had settled darker down upon us, so
that it was impossible to distinguish any object, however nigh.  The
lightning had become more faint and rare.  We heard the rustling of
trees, and occasionally the barking of dogs, which last sound, however,
soon ceased, and we were in the midst of night and silence.  My horse,
either from weariness, or the badness of the road, frequently stumbled;
whereupon I dismounted, and leading him by the bridle, soon left Antonio
far in the rear.

I had proceeded in this manner a considerable way, when a circumstance
occurred of a character well suited to the time and place.

I was again amidst trees and bushes, when the horse stopping short,
nearly pulled me back.  I know not how it was, but fear suddenly came
over me, which, though in darkness and in solitude, I had not felt
before.  I was about to urge the animal forward, when I heard a noise at
my right hand, and listened attentively.  It seemed to be that of a
person or persons forcing their way through branches and brushwood.  It
soon ceased, and I heard feet on the road.  It was the short staggering
kind of tread of people carrying a very heavy substance, nearly too much
for their strength, and I thought I heard the hurried breathing of men
over-fatigued.  There was a short pause, during which I conceived they
were resting in the middle of the road; then the stamping recommenced,
until it reached the other side, when I again heard a similar rustling
amidst branches; it continued for some time and died gradually away.

I continued my road, musing on what had just occurred, and forming
conjectures as to the cause.  The lightning resumed its flashing, and I
saw that I was approaching tall black mountains.

This nocturnal journey endured so long that I almost lost all hope of
reaching the town, and had closed my eyes in a doze, though I still
trudged on mechanically, leading the horse.  Suddenly a voice at a slight
distance before me roared out, “_Quien vive_?” for I had at last found my
way to Villafranca.  It proceeded from the sentry in the suburb, one of
those singular half soldiers half guerillas, called Miguelets, who are in
general employed by the Spanish government to clear the roads of robbers.
I gave the usual answer, “_Espana_,” and went up to the place where he
stood.  After a little conversation, I sat down on a stone, awaiting the
arrival of Antonio, who was long in making his appearance.  On his
arrival, I asked if any one had passed him on the road, but he replied
that he had seen nothing.  The night, or rather the morning, was still
very dark, though a small corner of the moon was occasionally visible.
On our inquiring the way to the gate, the Miguelet directed us down a
street to the left, which we followed.  The street was steep, we could
see no gate, and our progress was soon stopped by houses and wall.  We
knocked at the gates of two or three of these houses (in the upper
stories of which lights were burning), for the purpose of being set
right, but we were either disregarded or not heard.  A horrid squalling
of cats, from the tops of the houses and dark corners, saluted our ears,
and I thought of the night arrival of Don Quixote and his squire at
Toboso, and their vain search amongst the deserted streets for the palace
of Dulcinea.  At length we saw light and heard voices in a cottage at the
other side of a kind of ditch.  Leading the horses over, we called at the
door, which was opened by an aged man, who appeared by his dress to be a
baker, as indeed he proved, which accounted for his being up at so late
an hour.  On begging him to show us the way into the town, he led us up a
very narrow alley at the end of his cottage, saying that he would
likewise conduct us to the posada.

The alley led directly to what appeared to be the market-place, at a
corner house of which our guide stopped and knocked.  After a long pause
an upper window was opened, and a female voice demanded who we were.  The
old man replied, that two travellers had arrived who were in need of
lodging.  “I cannot be disturbed at this time of night,” said the woman;
“they will be wanting supper, and there is nothing in the house; they
must go elsewhere.”  She was going to shut the window, but I cried that
we wanted no supper, but merely resting place for ourselves and
horses—that we had come that day from Astorga, and were dying with
fatigue.  “Who is that speaking?” cried the woman.  “Surely that is the
voice of Gil, the German clock-maker from Pontevedra.  Welcome, old
companion; you are come at the right time, for my own is out of order.  I
am sorry I have kept you waiting, but I will admit you in a moment.”

The window was slammed to, presently a light shone through the crevices
of the door, a key turned in the lock, and we were admitted.



CHAPTER XXV


Villafranca—The Pass—Gallegan Simplicity—The Frontier Guard—The
Horse-shoe—Gallegan Peculiarities—A Word on Language—The Courier—Wretched
Cabins—Host and Guests—Andalusians.

“Ave Maria,” said the woman; “whom have we here?  This is not Gil the
clock-maker.”  “Whether it be Gil or Juan,” said I, “we are in need of
your hospitality, and can pay for it.”  Our first care was to stable the
horses, who were much exhausted.  We then went in search of some
accommodation for ourselves.  The house was large and commodious, and
having tasted a little water, I stretched myself on the floor of one of
the rooms on some mattresses which the woman produced, and in less than a
minute was sound asleep.

The sun was shining bright when I awoke.  I walked forth into the
market-place, which was crowded with people, I looked up, and could see
the peaks of tall black mountains peeping over the tops of the houses.
The town lay in a deep hollow, and appeared to be surrounded by hills on
almost every side.  “_Quel pays barbare_!” said Antonio, who now joined
me; “the farther we go, my master, the wilder everything looks.  I am
half afraid to venture into Galicia; they tell me that to get to it we
must clamber up those hills: the horses will founder.”  Leaving the
market-place I ascended the wall of the town, and endeavoured to discover
the gate by which we should have entered the preceding night; but I was
not more successful in the bright sunshine than in the darkness.  The
town in the direction of Astorga appeared to be hermetically sealed.

I was eager to enter Galicia, and finding that the horses were to a
certain extent recovered from the fatigue of the journey of the preceding
day, we again mounted and proceeded on our way.  Crossing a bridge, we
presently found ourselves in a deep gorge amongst the mountains, down
which rushed an impetuous rivulet, overhung by the high road which leads
into Galicia.  We were in the far-famed pass of Fuencebadon.

It is impossible to describe this pass or the circumjacent region, which
contains some of the most extraordinary scenery in all Spain; a feeble
and imperfect outline is all that I can hope to effect.  The traveller
who ascends it follows for nearly a league the course of the torrent,
whose banks are in some places precipitous, and in others slope down to
the waters, and are covered with lofty trees, oaks, poplars, and
chestnuts.  Small villages are at first continually seen, with low walls,
and roofs formed of immense slates, the eaves nearly touching the ground;
these hamlets, however, gradually become less frequent as the path grows
more steep and narrow, until they finally cease at a short distance
before the spot is attained where the rivulet is abandoned, and is no
more seen, though its tributaries may yet be heard in many a gully, or
descried in tiny rills dashing down the steeps.  Everything here is wild,
strange, and beautiful: the hill up which winds the path towers above on
the right, whilst on the farther side of a profound ravine rises an
immense mountain, to whose extreme altitudes the eye is scarcely able to
attain; but the most singular feature of this pass are the hanging fields
or meadows which cover its sides.  In these, as I passed, the grass was
growing luxuriantly, and in many the mowers were plying their scythes,
though it seemed scarcely possible that their feet could find support on
ground so precipitous: above and below were drift-ways, so small as to
seem threads along the mountain side.  A car, drawn by oxen, is creeping
round yon airy eminence; the nearer wheel is actually hanging over the
horrid descent; giddiness seizes the brain, and the eye is rapidly
withdrawn.  A cloud intervenes, and when again you turn to watch their
progress, the objects of your anxiety have disappeared.  Still more
narrow becomes the path along which you yourself are toiling, and its
turns more frequent.  You have already come a distance of two leagues,
and still one-third of the ascent remains unsurmounted.  You are not yet
in Galicia; and you still hear Castilian, coarse and unpolished, it is
true, spoken in the miserable cabins placed in the sequestered nooks
which you pass by in your route.

Shortly before we reached the summit of the pass thick mists began to
envelop the tops of the hills, and a drizzling rain descended.  “These
mists,” said Antonio, “are what the Gallegans call bretima; and it is
said there is never any lack of them in their country.”  “Have you ever
visited the country before?” I demanded.  “Non, mon maître; but I have
frequently lived in houses where the domestics were in part Gallegans, on
which account I know not a little of their ways, and even something of
their language.”  “Is the opinion which you have formed of them at all in
their favour?” I inquired.  “By no means, mon maître; the men in general
seem clownish and simple, yet they are capable of deceiving the most
clever filou of Paris; and as for the women, it is impossible to live in
the same house with them, more especially if they are Camareras, and wait
upon the Señora; they are continually breeding dissensions and disputes
in the house, and telling tales of the other domestics.  I have already
lost two or three excellent situations in Madrid, solely owing to these
Gallegan chambermaids.  We have now come to the frontier, mon maître, for
such I conceive this village to be.”

We entered the village, which stood on the summit of the mountain, and as
our horses and ourselves were by this time much fatigued, we looked round
for a place in which to obtain refreshment.  Close by the gate stood a
building which, from the circumstance of a mule or two and a wretched
pony standing before it, we concluded was the posada, as in effect it
proved to be.  We entered: several soldiers were lolling on heaps of
coarse hay, with which the place, which much resembled a stable, was half
filled.  All were exceedingly ill-looking fellows, and very dirty.  They
were conversing with each other in a strange-sounding dialect, which I
supposed to be Gallegan.  Scarcely did they perceive us when two or three
of them, starting from their couch, ran up to Antonio, whom they welcomed
with much affection, calling him _companheiro_.  “How came you to know
these men?” I demanded in French.  “_Ces messieurs sont presque tous de
ma connoissance_,” he replied, “_et_, _entre nous_, _ce sont des
veritables vauriens_; they are almost all robbers and assassins.  That
fellow, with one eye, who is the corporal, escaped a little time ago from
Madrid, more than suspected of being concerned in an affair of poisoning;
but he is safe enough here in his own country, and is placed to guard the
frontier, as you see; but we must treat them civilly, mon maître; we must
give them wine, or they will be offended.  I know them, mon maître—I know
them.  Here, hostess, bring an azumbre of wine.”

Whilst Antonio was engaged in treating his friends, I led the horses to
the stable; this was through the house, inn, or whatever it might be
called.  The stable was a wretched shed, in which the horses sank to
their fetlocks in mud and puddle.  On inquiring for barley, I was told
that I was now in Galicia, where barley was not used for provender, and
was very rare.  I was offered in lieu of it Indian corn, which, however,
the horses ate without hesitation.  There was no straw to be had; coarse
hay, half green, being the substitute.  By trampling about in the mud of
the stable my horse soon lost a shoe, for which I searched in vain.  “Is
there a blacksmith in the village?” I demanded of a shock-headed fellow
who officiated as ostler.

_Ostler_.—Si, Senhor; but I suppose you have brought horse-shoes with
you, or that large beast of yours cannot be shod in this village.

_Myself_.—What do you mean?  Is the blacksmith unequal to his trade?
Cannot he put on a horse-shoe?

_Ostler_.—Si, Senhor; he can put on a horse-shoe if you give it him; but
there are no horse-shoes in Galicia, at least in these parts.

_Myself_.—Is it not customary then to shoe the horses in Galicia?

_Ostler_.—Senhor, there are no horses in Galicia, there are only ponies;
and those who bring horses to Galicia, and none but madmen ever do, must
bring shoes to fit them; only shoes of ponies are to be found here.

_Myself_.—What do you mean by saying that only madmen bring horses to
Galicia?

_Ostler_.—Senhor, no horse can stand the food of Galicia and the
mountains of Galicia long, without falling sick; and then if he does not
die at once, he will cost you in farriers more than he is worth; besides,
a horse is of no use here, and cannot perform amongst the broken ground
the tenth part of the service which a little pony mare can.  By the by,
Senhor, I perceive that yours is an entire horse; now out of twenty
ponies that you see on the roads of Galicia, nineteen are mares; the
males are sent down into Castile to be sold.  Senhor, your horse will
become heated on our roads, and will catch the bad glanders, for which
there is no remedy.  Senhor, a man must be mad to bring any horse to
Galicia, but twice mad to bring an entero, as you have done.

“A strange country this of Galicia,” said I, and went to consult with
Antonio.

It appeared that the information of the ostler was literally true with
regard to the horse-shoe; at least the blacksmith of the village, to whom
we conducted the animal, confessed his inability to shoe him, having none
that would fit his hoof: he said it was very probable that we should be
obliged to lead the animal to Lugo, which, being a cavalry station, we
might perhaps find there what we wanted.  He added, however, that the
greatest part of the cavalry soldiers were mounted on the ponies of the
country, the mortality amongst the horses brought from the level ground
into Galicia being frightful.  Lugo was ten leagues distant: there
seemed, however, to be no remedy at hand but patience, and, having
refreshed ourselves, we proceeded, leading our horses by the bridle.

We were now on level ground, being upon the very top of one of the
highest mountains in Galicia.  This level continued for about a league,
when we began to descend.  Before we had crossed the plain, which was
overgrown with furze and brushwood, we came suddenly upon half a dozen
fellows armed with muskets and wearing a tattered uniform.  We at first
supposed them to be banditti: they were, however, only a party of
soldiers who had been detached from the station we had just quitted to
escort one of the provincial posts or couriers.  They were clamorous for
cigars, but offered us no farther incivility.  Having no cigars to
bestow, I gave them in lieu thereof a small piece of silver.  Two of the
worst looking were very eager to be permitted to escort us to Nogales,
the village where we proposed to spend the night.  “By no means permit
them, mon maître,” said Antonio, “they are two famous assassins of my
acquaintance; I have known them at Madrid: in the first ravine they will
shoot and plunder us.”  I therefore civilly declined their offer and
departed.  “You seem to be acquainted with all the cut-throats in
Galicia,” said I to Antonio, as we descended the hill.

“With respect to those two fellows,” he replied, “I knew them when I
lived as cook in the family of General Q---, who is a Gallegan: they were
sworn friends of the repostero.  All the Gallegans in Madrid know each
other, whether high or low makes no difference; there, at least, they are
all good friends, and assist each other on all imaginable occasions; and
if there be a Gallegan domestic in a house, the kitchen is sure to be
filled with his countrymen, as the cook frequently knows to his cost, for
they generally contrive to eat up any little perquisites which he may
have reserved for himself and family.”

Somewhat less than half way down the mountain we reached a small village.
On observing a blacksmith’s shop, we stopped, in the faint hope of
finding a shoe for the horse, who, for want of one, was rapidly becoming
lame.  To our great joy we found that the smith was in possession of one
single horse-shoe, which some time previously he had found upon the way.
This, after undergoing much hammering and alteration, was pronounced by
the Gallegan vulcan to be capable of serving in lieu of a better;
whereupon we again mounted, and slowly continued our descent.

Shortly ere sunset we arrived at Nogales, a hamlet situate in a narrow
valley at the foot of the mountain, in traversing which we had spent the
day.  Nothing could be more picturesque than the appearance of this spot:
steep hills, thickly clad with groves and forests of chestnuts,
surrounded it on every side; the village itself was almost embowered in
trees, and close beside it ran a purling brook.  Here we found a
tolerably large and commodious posada.

I was languid and fatigued, but felt little desire to sleep.  Antonio
cooked our supper, or rather his own, for I had no appetite.  I sat by
the door, gazing on the wood-covered heights above me, or on the waters
of the rivulet, occasionally listening to the people who lounged about
the house, conversing in the country dialect.  What a strange tongue is
the Gallegan, with its half singing half whining accent, and with its
confused jumble of words from many languages, but chiefly from the
Spanish and Portuguese.  “Can you understand this conversation?” I
demanded of Antonio, who had by this time rejoined me.  “I cannot, mon
maître,” he replied; “I have acquired at various times a great many words
amongst the Gallegan domestics in the kitchens where I have officiated as
cook, but am quite unable to understand any long conversation.  I have
heard the Gallegans say that in no two villages is it spoken in one and
the same manner, and that very frequently they do not understand each
other.  The worst of this language is, that everybody on first hearing it
thinks that nothing is more easy than to understand it, as words are
continually occurring which he has heard before: but these merely serve
to bewilder and puzzle him, causing him to misunderstand everything that
is said; whereas, if he were totally ignorant of the tongue, he would
occasionally give a shrewd guess at what was meant, as I myself
frequently do when I hear Basque spoken, though the only word which I
know of that language is _jaunguicoa_.”

As the night closed in I retired to bed, where I remained four or five
hours, restless and tossing about; the fever of Leon still clinging to my
system.  It was considerably past midnight when, just as I was sinking
into a slumber, I was aroused by a confused noise in the village, and the
glare of lights through the lattice of the window of the room where I
lay; presently entered Antonio, half dressed.  “Mon maître,” said he,
“the grand post from Madrid to Coruña has just arrived in the village,
attended by a considerable escort, and an immense number of travellers.
The road they say, between here and Lugo, is infested with robbers and
Carlists, who are committing all kinds of atrocities; let us, therefore,
avail ourselves of the opportunity, and by midday to-morrow we shall find
ourselves safe in Lugo.”  On hearing these words, I instantly sprang out
of bed and dressed myself, telling Antonio to prepare the horses with all
speed.

We were soon mounted and in the street, amidst a confused throng of men
and quadrupeds.  The light of a couple of flambeaux, which were borne
before the courier, shone on the arms of several soldiers, seemingly
drawn up on either side of the road; the darkness, however, prevented me
from distinguishing objects very clearly.  The courier himself was
mounted on a little shaggy pony; before and behind him were two immense
portmanteaux, or leather sacks, the ends of which nearly touched the
ground.  For about a quarter of an hour there was much hubbub, shouting,
and trampling, at the end of which period the order was given to proceed.
Scarcely had we left the village when the flambeaux were extinguished,
and we were left in almost total darkness; for some time we were amongst
woods and trees, as was evident from the rustling of leaves on every
side.  My horse was very uneasy and neighed fearfully, occasionally
raising himself bolt upright.  “If your horse is not more quiet,
cavalier, we shall be obliged to shoot him,” said a voice in an
Andalusian accent; “he disturbs the whole cavalcade.”  “That would be a
pity, sergeant,” I replied, “for he is a Cordovese by the four sides; he
is not used to the ways of this barbarous country.”  “Oh, he is a
Cordovese,” said the voice, “vaya, I did not know that; I am from Cordova
myself.  Pobrecito! let me pat him—yes, I know by his coat that he is my
countryman—shoot him, indeed! vaya, I would fain see the Gallegan devil
who would dare to harm him.  Barbarous country, _io lo creo_: neither oil
nor olives, bread nor barley.  You have been at Cordova.  Vaya; oblige
me, cavalier, by taking this cigar.”

In this manner we proceeded for several hours, up hill and down dale, but
generally at a very slow pace. The soldiers who escorted us from time to
time sang patriotic songs, breathing love and attachment to the young
Queen Isabel, and detestation of the grim tyrant Carlos.  One of the
stanzas which reached my ears, ran something in the following style:—

    “Don Carlos is a hoary churl,
       Of cruel heart and cold;
    But Isabel’s a harmless girl,
       Of only six years old.”

At last the day began to break, and I found myself amidst a train of two
or three hundred people, some on foot, but the greater part mounted,
either on mules or the pony mares: I could not distinguish a single horse
except my own and Antonio’s.  A few soldiers were thinly scattered along
the road.  The country was hilly, but less mountainous and picturesque
than the one which we had traversed the preceding day; it was for the
most part partitioned into small fields, which were planted with maize.
At the distance of every two or three leagues we changed our escort, at
some village where was stationed a detachment.  The villages were mostly
an assemblage of wretched cabins; the roofs were thatched, dank, and
moist, and not unfrequently covered with rank vegetation.  There were
dunghills before the doors, and no lack of pools and puddles.  Immense
swine were stalking about, intermingled with naked children.  The
interior of the cabins corresponded with their external appearance: they
were filled with filth and misery.

We reached Lugo about two hours past noon: during the last two or three
leagues, I became so overpowered with weariness, the result of want of
sleep and my late illness, that I was continually dozing in my saddle, so
that I took but little notice of what was passing.  We put up at a large
posada without the wall of the town, built upon a steep bank, and
commanding an extensive view of the country towards the east.  Shortly
after our arrival, the rain began to descend in torrents, and continued
without intermission during the next two days, which was, however, to me
but a slight source of regret, as I passed the entire time in bed, and I
may almost say in slumber.  On the evening of the third day I arose.

There was much bustle in the house, caused by the arrival of a family
from Coruña; they came in a large jaunting car, escorted by four
carabineers.  The family was rather numerous, consisting of a father,
son, and eleven daughters, the eldest of whom might be about eighteen.  A
shabby-looking fellow, dressed in a jerkin and wearing a high-crowned
hat, attended as domestic.  They arrived very wet and shivering, and all
seemed very disconsolate, especially the father, who was a well-looking
middle-aged man.  “Can we be accommodated?” he demanded in a gentle voice
of the man of the house; “can we be accommodated in this fonda?”

“Certainly, your worship,” replied the other; “our house is large.  How
many apartments does your worship require for your family?”

“One will be sufficient,” replied the stranger.

The host, who was a gouty personage and leaned upon a stick, looked for a
moment at the traveller, then at every member of his family, not
forgetting the domestic, and, without any farther comment than a slight
shrug, led the way to the door of an apartment containing two or three
flock beds, and which on my arrival I had objected to as being small,
dark, and incommodious; this he flung open, and demanded whether it would
serve.

“It is rather small,” replied the gentleman; “I think, however, that it
will do.”

“I am glad of it,” replied the host.  “Shall we make any preparations for
the supper of your worship and family?”

“No, I thank you,” replied the stranger, “my own domestic will prepare
the slight refreshment we are in need of.”

The key was delivered to the domestic, and the whole family ensconced
themselves in their apartment: before, however, this was effected, the
escort were dismissed, the principal carabineer being presented with a
peseta.  The man stood surveying the gratuity for about half a minute, as
it glittered in the palm of his hand; then with an abrupt _Vamos_! he
turned upon his heel, and without a word of salutation to any person,
departed with the men under his command.

“Who can these strangers be?” said I to the host, as we sat together in a
large corridor open on one side, and which occupied the entire front of
the house.

“I know not,” he replied, “but by their escort I suppose they are people
holding some official situation.  They are not of this province, however,
and I more than suspect them to be Andalusians.”

In a few minutes the door of the apartment occupied by the strangers was
opened, and the domestic appeared bearing a cruse in his hand.  “Pray,
Señor Patron,” demanded he, “where can I buy some oil?”

“There is oil in the house,” replied the host, “if you want to purchase
any; but if, as is probable, you suppose that we shall gain a cuarto by
selling it, you will find some over the way.  It is as I suspected,”
continued the host, when the man had departed on his errand, “they are
Andalusians, and are about to make what they call gaspacho, on which they
will all sup.  Oh, the meanness of these Andalusians! they are come here
to suck the vitals of Galicia, and yet envy the poor innkeeper the gain
of a cuarto in the oil which they require for their gaspacho.  I tell you
one thing, master, when that fellow returns, and demands bread and garlic
to mix with the oil, I will tell him there is none in the house: as he
has bought the oil abroad, so he may the bread and garlic; aye, and the
water too for that matter.”



CHAPTER XXVI


Lugo—The Baths—A Family History—Miguelets—The Three Heads—A
Farrier—English Squadron—Sale of Testaments—Coruna—The Recognition—Luigi
Piozzi—The Speculation—A Blank Prospect—John Moore.

At Lugo I found a wealthy bookseller, to whom I brought a letter of
recommendation from Madrid.  He willingly undertook the sale of my books.
The Lord deigned to favour my feeble exertions in his cause at Lugo.  I
brought thither thirty Testaments, all of which were disposed of in one
day; the bishop of the place, for Lugo is an episcopal see, purchasing
two copies for himself, whilst several priests and ex-friars, instead of
following the example of their brethren at Leon, by persecuting the work,
spoke well of it and recommended its perusal.  I was much grieved that my
stock of these holy books was exhausted, there being a great demand; and
had I been able to supply them, quadruple the quantity might have been
sold during the few days that I continued at Lugo.

Lugo contains about six thousand inhabitants.  It is situated on lofty
ground, and is defended by ancient walls.  It possesses no very
remarkable edifice, and the cathedral church itself is a small mean
building.  In the centre of the town is the principal square, a light
cheerful place, not surrounded by those heavy cumbrous buildings with
which the Spaniards both in ancient and modern times have encircled their
plazas.  It is singular enough that Lugo, at present a place of very
little importance, should at one period have been the capital of Spain:
yet such it was in the time of the Romans, who, as they were a people not
much guided by caprice, had doubtless very excellent reasons for the
preference which they gave to the locality.

There are many Roman remains in the vicinity of this place, the most
remarkable of which are the ruins of the ancient medicinal baths, which
stand on the southern side of the river Minho, which creeps through the
valley beneath the town.  The Minho in this place is a dark and sullen
stream, with high, precipitous, and thickly wooded banks.

One evening I visited the baths, accompanied by my friend the bookseller.
They had been built over warm springs which flow into the river.
Notwithstanding their ruinous condition, they were crowded with sick,
hoping to derive benefit from the waters, which are still famed for their
sanative power.  These patients exhibited a strange spectacle as, wrapped
in flannel gowns much resembling shrouds, they lay immersed in the tepid
waters amongst disjointed stones, and overhung with steam and reek.

Three or four days after my arrival I was seated in the corridor which,
as I have already observed, occupied the entire front of the house.  The
sky was unclouded, and the sun shone most gloriously, enlivening every
object around.  Presently the door of the apartment in which the
strangers were lodged opened, and forth walked the whole family, with the
exception of the father, who, I presumed, was absent on business.  The
shabby domestic brought up the rear, and on leaving the apartment,
carefully locked the door, and secured the key in his pocket.  The one
son and the eleven daughters were all dressed remarkably well: the boy
something after the English fashion, in jacket and trousers, the young
ladies in spotless white: they were, upon the whole, a very good-looking
family, with dark eyes and olive complexions, but the eldest daughter was
remarkably handsome.  They arranged themselves upon the benches of the
corridor, the shabby domestic sitting down amongst them without any
ceremony whatever.  They continued for some time in silence, gazing with
disconsolate looks upon the houses of the suburb and the dark walls of
the town, until the eldest daughter, or señorita as she was called, broke
silence with an “_Ay Dios mio_!”

_Domestic_.—_Ay Dios mio_! we have found our way to a pretty country.

_Myself_.—I really can see nothing so very bad in the country, which is
by nature the richest in all Spain, and the most abundant.  True it is
that the generality of the inhabitants are wretchedly poor, but they
themselves are to blame, and not the country.

_Domestic_.—Cavalier, the country is a horrible one, say nothing to the
contrary.  We are all frightened, the young ladies, the young gentleman,
and myself; even his worship is frightened, and says that we are come to
this country for our sins.  It rains every day, and this is almost the
first time that we have seen the sun since our arrival, it rains
continually, and one cannot step out without being up to the ankles in
fango; and then, again, there is not a house to be found.

_Myself_.—I scarcely understand you.  There appears to be no lack of
houses in this neighbourhood.

_Domestic_.—Excuse me, sir.  His worship hired yesterday a house, for
which he engaged to pay fourteen pence daily; but when the señorita saw
it, she wept, and said it was no house, but a hog-sty, so his worship
paid one day’s rent and renounced his bargain.  Fourteen pence a day!
why, in our country, we can have a palace for that money.

_Myself_.—From what country do you come?

_Domestic_.—Cavalier, you appear to be a decent gentleman, and I will
tell you our history.  We are from Andalusia, and his worship was last
year receiver-general for Granada: his salary was fourteen thousand
rials, with which we contrived to live very commodiously—attending the
bull funcions regularly, or if there were no bulls, we went to see the
novillos, and now and then to the opera.  In a word, sir, we had our
diversions and felt at our ease; so much so, that his worship was
actually thinking of purchasing a pony for the young gentleman, who is
fourteen, and must learn to ride now or never.  Cavalier, the ministry
was changed, and the new comers, who were no friends to his worship,
deprived him of his situation.  Cavalier, they removed us from that
blessed country of Granada, where our salary was fourteen thousand rials,
and sent us to Galicia, to this fatal town of Lugo, where his worship is
compelled to serve for ten thousand, which is quite insufficient to
maintain us in our former comforts.  Good-bye, I trow, to bull funcions,
and novillos, and the opera.  Good-bye to the hope of a horse for the
young gentleman.  Cavalier, I grow desperate: hold your tongue, for God’s
sake! for I can talk no more.

On hearing this history I no longer wondered that the receiver-general
was eager to save a cuarto in the purchase of the oil for the gaspacho of
himself and family of eleven daughters, one son, and a domestic.

We staid one week at Lugo, and then directed our steps to Coruña, about
twelve leagues distant.  We arose before daybreak in order to avail
ourselves of the escort of the general post, in whose company we
travelled upwards of six leagues.  There was much talk of robbers, and
flying parties of the factious, on which account our escort was
considerable.  At the distance of five or six leagues from Lugo, our
guard, in lieu of regular soldiers, consisted of a body of about fifty
Miguelets.  They had all the appearance of banditti, but a finer body of
ferocious fellows I never saw.  They were all men in the prime of life,
mostly of tall stature, and of Herculean brawn and limbs.  They wore huge
whiskers, and walked with a fanfaronading air, as if they courted danger,
and despised it.  In every respect they stood in contrast to the soldiers
who had hitherto escorted us, who were mere feeble boys from sixteen to
eighteen years of age, and possessed of neither energy nor activity.  The
proper dress of the Miguelet, if it resembles anything military, is
something akin to that anciently used by the English marines.  They wear
a peculiar kind of hat, and generally leggings, or gaiters, and their
arms are the gun and bayonet.  The colour of their dress is mostly dark
brown.  They observe little or no discipline whether on a march or in the
field of action.  They are excellent irregular troops, and when on actual
service are particularly useful as skirmishers.  Their proper duty,
however, is to officiate as a species of police, and to clear the roads
of robbers, for which duty they are in one respect admirably calculated,
having been generally robbers themselves at one period of their lives.
Why these people are called Miguelets it is not easy to say, but it is
probable that they have derived this appellation from the name of their
original leader.  I regret that the paucity of my own information will
not allow me to enter into farther particulars with respect to this
corps, concerning which I have little doubt that many remarkable things
might be said.

Becoming weary of the slow travelling of the post, I determined to brave
all risk, and to push forward.  In this, however, I was guilty of no
slight imprudence, as by so doing I was near falling into the hands of
robbers.  Two fellows suddenly confronted me with presented carbines,
which they probably intended to discharge into my body, but they took
fright at the noise of Antonio’s horse, who was following a little way
behind.  The affair occurred at the bridge of Castellanos, a spot
notorious for robbery and murder, and well adapted for both, for it
stands at the bottom of a deep dell surrounded by wild desolate hills.
Only a quarter of an hour previous I had passed three ghastly heads stuck
on poles standing by the wayside; they were those of a captain of
banditti and two of his accomplices, who had been seized and executed
about two months before.  Their principal haunt was the vicinity of the
bridge, and it was their practice to cast the bodies of the murdered into
the deep black water which runs rapidly beneath.  Those three heads will
always live in my remembrance, particularly that of the captain, which
stood on a higher pole than the other two: the long hair was waving in
the wind, and the blackened, distorted features were grinning in the sun.
The fellows whom I met were the relics of the band.

We arrived at Betanzos late in the afternoon.  This town stands on a
creek at some distance from the sea, and about three leagues from Coruña.
It is surrounded on three sides by lofty hills.  The weather during the
greater part of the day had been dull and lowering, and we found the
atmosphere of Betanzos insupportably close and heavy.  Sour and
disagreeable odours assailed our olfactory organs from all sides.  The
streets were filthy—so were the houses, and especially the posada.  We
entered the stable; it was strewed with rotten sea-weeds and other
rubbish, in which pigs were wallowing; huge and loathsome flies were
buzzing around.  “What a pest-house!” I exclaimed.  But we could find no
other stable, and were therefore obliged to tether the unhappy animals to
the filthy mangers.  The only provender that could be obtained was Indian
corn.  At nightfall I led them to drink at a small river which passes
through Betanzos.  My entero swallowed the water greedily; but as we
returned towards the inn, I observed that he was sad, and that his head
drooped.  He had scarcely reached the stall, when a deep hoarse cough
assailed him.  I remembered the words of the ostler in the mountains,
“the man must be mad who brings a horse to Galicia, and doubly so he who
brings an entero.”  During the greater part of the day the animal had
been much heated, walking amidst a throng of at least a hundred pony
mares.  He now began to shiver violently.  I procured a quart of anise
brandy, with which, assisted by Antonio, I rubbed his body for nearly an
hour, till his coat was covered with a white foam; but his cough
increased perceptibly, his eyes were becoming fixed, and his members
rigid.  “There is no remedy but bleeding,” said I.  “Run for a farrier.”
The farrier came.  “You must bleed the horse,” I shouted; “take from him
an azumbre of blood.”  The farrier looked at the animal, and made for the
door.  “Where are you going?” I demanded.  “Home,” he replied.  “But we
want you here.”  “I know you do,” was his answer; “and on that account I
am going.”  “But you must bleed the horse, or he will die.”  “I know he
will,” said the farrier, “but I will not bleed him.”  “Why?” I demanded.
“I will not bleed him, but under one condition.”  “What is that?”  “What
is it!—that you pay me an ounce of gold.”  “Run for the red morocco
case,” said I to Antonio.  It was brought; I took out a large fleam, and
with the assistance of a stone, drove it into the principal artery
horse’s leg.  The blood at first refused to flow; with much rubbing, it
began to trickle, and then to stream; it continued so for half an hour.
“The horse is fainting, mon maître,” said Antonio.  “Hold him up,” said
I, “and in another ten minutes we will stop the vein.”

I closed the vein, and whilst doing so I looked up into the farrier’s
face, arching my eyebrows.

“Carracho! what an evil wizard,” muttered the farrier, as he walked away.
“If I had my knife here I would stick him.”  We bled the horse again,
during the night, which second bleeding I believe saved him.  Towards
morning he began to eat his food.

The next day we departed for Coruña, leading our horses by the bridle:
the day was magnificent, and our walk delightful.  We passed along
beneath tall umbrageous trees, which skirted the road from Betanzos to
within a short distance of Coruña.  Nothing could be more smiling and
cheerful than the appearance of the country around.  Vines were growing
in abundance in the vicinity of the villages through which we passed,
whilst millions of maize plants upreared their tall stalks and displayed
their broad green leaves in the fields.  After walking about three hours,
we obtained a view of the bay of Coruña, in which, even at the distance
of a league, we could distinguish three or four immense ships riding at
anchor.  “Can these vessels belong to Spain?”  I demanded of myself.  In
the very next village, however, we were informed that the preceding
evening an English squadron had arrived, for what reason nobody could
say.  “However,” continued our informant, “they have doubtless some
design upon Galicia.  These foreigners are the ruin of Spain.”

We put up in what is called the Calle Real, in an excellent fonda, or
posada, kept by a short, thick, comical-looking person, a Genoese by
birth.  He was married to a tall, ugly, but good-tempered Basque woman,
by whom he had been blessed with a son and daughter.  His wife, however,
had it seems of late summoned all her female relations from Guipuscoa,
who now filled the house to the number of nine, officiating as
chambermaids, cooks, and scullions: they were all very ugly, but
good-natured, and of immense volubility of tongue.  Throughout the whole
day the house resounded with their excellent Basque and very bad
Castilian.  The Genoese, on the contrary, spoke little, for which he
might have assigned a good reason; he had lived thirty years in Spain,
and had forgotten his own language without acquiring Spanish, which he
spoke very imperfectly.

We found Coruña full of bustle and life, owing to the arrival of the
English squadron.  On the following day, however, it departed, being
bound for the Mediterranean on a short cruise, whereupon matters
instantly returned to their usual course.

I had a dépot of five hundred Testaments at Coruña, from which it was my
intention to supply the principal towns of Galicia.  Immediately on my
arrival I published advertisements, according to my usual practice, and
the book obtained a tolerable sale—seven or eight copies per day on the
average.  Some people, perhaps, on perusing these details, will be
tempted to exclaim, “These are small matters, and scarcely worthy of
being mentioned.”  But let such bethink them, that till within a few
months previous to the time of which I am speaking, the very existence of
the gospel was almost unknown in Spain, and that it must necessarily be a
difficult task to induce a people like the Spaniards, who read very
little, to purchase a work like the New Testament, which, though of
paramount importance to the soul, affords but slight prospect of
amusement to the frivolous and carnally minded.  I hoped that the present
was the dawning of better and more enlightened times, and rejoiced in the
idea that Testaments, though but few in number, were being sold in
unfortunate benighted Spain, from Madrid to the furthermost parts of
Galicia, a distance of nearly four hundred miles.

Coruña stands on a peninsula, having on one side the sea, and on the
other the celebrated bay, generally called the Groyne.  It is divided
into the old and new town, the latter of which was at one time probably a
mere suburb.  The old town is a desolate ruinous place, separated from
the new by a wide moat.  The modern town is a much more agreeable spot,
and contains one magnificent street, the Calle Real, where the principal
merchants reside.  One singular feature of this street is, that it is
laid entirely with flags of marble, along which troop ponies and cars as
if it were a common pavement.

It is a saying amongst the inhabitants of Coruña, that in their town
there is a street so clean, that puchera may be eaten off it without the
slightest inconvenience.  This may certainly be the fact after one of
those rains which so frequently drench Galicia, when the appearance of
the pavement of the street is particularly brilliant.  Coruña was at one
time a place of considerable commerce, the greater part of which has
latterly departed to Santander, a town which stands a considerable
distance down the Bay of Biscay.

“Are you going to Saint James, Giorgio?  If so, you will perhaps convey a
message to my poor countryman,” said a voice to me one morning in broken
English, as I was standing at the door of my posada, in the royal street
of Coruña.

I looked round and perceived a man standing near me at the door of a shop
contiguous to the inn.  He appeared to be about sixty-five, with a pale
face and remarkably red nose.  He was dressed in a loose green great
coat, in his mouth was a long clay pipe, in his hand a long painted
stick.

“Who are you, and who is your countryman?” I demanded; “I do not know
you.”

“I know you, however,” replied the man; “you purchased the first knife
that I ever sold in the market-place of N---.”

_Myself_.—Ah, I remember you now, Luigi Piozzi; and well do I remember
also, how, when a boy, twenty years ago, I used to repair to your stall,
and listen to you and your countrymen discoursing in Milanese.

_Luigi_.—Ah, those were happy times to me.  Oh, how they rushed back on
my remembrance when I saw you ride up to the door of the posada.  I
instantly went in, closed my shop, lay down upon my bed and wept.

_Myself_.—I see no reason why you should so much regret those times.  I
knew you formerly in England as an itinerant pedlar, and occasionally as
master of a stall in the market-place of a country town.  I now find you
in a seaport of Spain, the proprietor, seemingly, of a considerable shop.
I cannot see why you should regret the difference.

_Luigi_ (dashing his pipe on the ground).—Regret the difference!  Do you
know one thing?  England is the heaven of the Piedmontese and Milanese,
and especially those of Como.  We never lie down to rest but we dream of
it, whether we are in our own country or in a foreign land, as I am now.
Regret the difference, Giorgio!  Do I hear such words from your lips, and
you an Englishman?  I would rather be the poorest tramper on the roads of
England, than lord of all within ten leagues of the shore of the lake of
Como, and much the same say all my countrymen who have visited England,
wherever they now be.  Regret the difference!  I have ten letters, from
as many countrymen in America, who say they are rich and thriving, and
principal men and merchants; but every night, when their heads are
reposing on their pillows, their souls _auslandra_, hurrying away to
England, and its green lanes and farm-yards.  And there they are with
their boxes on the ground, displaying their looking-glasses and other
goods to the honest rustics and their dames and their daughters, and
selling away and chaffering and laughing just as of old.  And there they
are again at nightfall in the hedge alehouses, eating their toasted
cheese and their bread, and drinking the Suffolk ale, and listening to
the roaring song and merry jest of the labourers.  Now, if they regret
England so who are in America, which they own to be a happy country, and
good for those of Piedmont and of Como, how much more must I regret it,
when, after the lapse of so many years, I find myself in Spain, in this
frightful town of Coruña, driving a ruinous trade, and where months pass
by without my seeing a single English face, or hearing a word of the
blessed English tongue.

_Myself_.—With such a predilection for England, what could have induced
you to leave it and come to Spain?

_Luigi_.—I will tell you: about sixteen years ago a universal desire
seized our people in England to become something more than they had
hitherto been, pedlars and trampers; they wished, moreover, for mankind
are never satisfied, to see other countries: so the greater part forsook
England.  Where formerly there had been ten, at present scarcely lingers
one.  Almost all went to America, which, as I told you before, is a happy
country, and specially good for us men of Como.  Well, all my comrades
and relations passed over the sea to the West.  I, too, was bent on
travelling; but whither?  Instead of going towards the West with the
rest, to a country where they have all thriven, I must needs come by
myself to this land of Spain; a country in which no foreigner settles
without dying of a broken heart sooner or later.  I had an idea in my
head that I could make a fortune at once, by bringing a cargo of common
English goods, like those which I had been in the habit of selling
amongst the villagers of England.  So I freighted half a ship with such
goods, for I had been successful in England in my little speculations,
and I arrived at Coruña.  Here at once my vexations began: disappointment
followed disappointment.  It was with the utmost difficulty that I could
obtain permission to land my goods, and this only at a considerable
sacrifice in bribes and the like; and when I had established myself here,
I found that the place was one of no trade, and that my goods went off
very slowly, and scarcely at prime cost.  I wished to remove to another
place, but was informed that, in that case, I must leave my goods behind,
unless I offered fresh bribes, which would have ruined me; and in this
way I have gone on for fourteen years, selling scarcely enough to pay for
my shop and to support myself.  And so I shall doubtless continue till I
die, or my goods are exhausted.  In an evil day I left England and came
to Spain.

_Myself_.—Did you not say that you had a countryman at St. James?

_Luigi_.—Yes, a poor honest fellow, who, like myself, by some strange
chance found his way to Galicia.  I sometimes contrive to send him a few
goods, which he sells at St. James at a greater profit than I can here.
He is a happy fellow, for he has never been in England, and knows not the
difference between the two countries.  Oh, the green English hedgerows!
and the alehouses! and, what is much more, the fair dealing and security.
I have travelled all over England and never met with ill usage, except
once down in the north amongst the Papists, upon my telling them to leave
all their mummeries and go to the parish church as I did, and as all my
countrymen in England did; for know one thing, Signor Giorgio, not one of
us who have lived in England, whether Piedmontese or men of Como, but
wished well to the Protestant religion, if he had not actually become a
member of it.

_Myself_.—What do you propose to do at present, Luigi?  What are your
prospects?

_Luigi_.—My prospects are a blank, Giorgio; my prospects are a blank.  I
propose nothing but to die in Coruña, perhaps in the hospital, if they
will admit me.  Years ago I thought of fleeing, even if I left all behind
me, and either returning to England, or betaking myself to America; but
it is too late now, Giorgio, it is too late.  When I first lost all hope,
I took to drinking, to which I was never before inclined, and I am now
what I suppose you see.

“There is hope in the Gospel,” said I, “even for you.  I will send you
one.”

There is a small battery of the old town which fronts the east, and whose
wall is washed by the waters of the bay.  It is a sweet spot, and the
prospect which opens from it is extensive.  The battery itself may be
about eighty yards square; some young trees are springing up about it,
and it is rather a favourite resort of the people of Coruña.

In the centre of this battery stands the tomb of Moore, built by the
chivalrous French, in commemoration of the fall of their heroic
antagonist.  It is oblong and surmounted by a slab, and on either side
bears one of the simple and sublime epitaphs for which our rivals are
celebrated, and which stand in such powerful contrast with the bloated
and bombastic inscriptions which deform the walls of Westminster Abbey:

                                 “JOHN MOORE,
                        LEADER OF THE ENGLISH ARMIES,
                               SLAIN IN BATTLE,
                                    1809.”

The tomb itself is of marble, and around it is a quadrangular wall,
breast high, of rough Gallegan granite; close to each corner rises from
the earth the breech of an immense brass cannon, intended to keep the
wall compact and close.  These outer erections are, however, not the work
of the French, but of the English government.

Yes, there lies the hero, almost within sight of the glorious hill where
he turned upon his pursuers like a lion at bay and terminated his career.
Many acquire immortality without seeking it, and die before its first ray
has gilded their name; of these was Moore.  The harassed general, flying
through Castile with his dispirited troops before a fierce and terrible
enemy, little dreamed that he was on the point of attaining that for
which many a better, greater, though certainly not braver man, had sighed
in vain.  His very misfortunes were the means which secured him immortal
fame; his disastrous route, bloody death, and finally his tomb on a
foreign strand, far from kin and friends.  There is scarcely a Spaniard
but has heard of this tomb, and speaks of it with a strange kind of awe.
Immense treasures are said to have been buried with the heretic general,
though for what purpose no one pretends to guess.  The demons of the
clouds, if we may trust the Gallegans, followed the English in their
flight, and assailed them with water-spouts as they toiled up the steep
winding paths of Fuencebadon; whilst legends the most wild are related of
the manner in which the stout soldier fell.  Yes, even in Spain,
immortality has already crowned the head of Moore;—Spain, the land of
oblivion, where the Guadalete {245} flows.



CHAPTER XXVII


Compostella—Rey Romero—The Treasure-seeker—Hopeful Project—The Church of
Refuge—Hidden Riches—The Canon—Spirit of Localism—The Leper—Bones of St.
James.

At the commencement of August, I found myself at St. James of
Compostella.  To this place I travelled from Coruña with the courier or
weekly post, who was escorted by a strong party of soldiers, in
consequence of the distracted state of the country, which was overrun
with banditti.  From Coruña to St. James, the distance is but ten
leagues; the journey, however, endured for a day and a half.  It was a
pleasant one, through a most beautiful country, with a rich variety of
hill and dale; the road was in many places shaded with various kinds of
trees clad in most luxuriant foliage.  Hundreds of travellers, both on
foot and on horseback, availed themselves of the security which the
escort afforded: the dread of banditti was strong.  During the journey
two or three alarms were given; we, however, reached Saint James without
having been attacked.

Saint James stands on a pleasant level amidst mountains: the most
extraordinary of these is a conical hill, called the Pico Sacro, or
Sacred Peak, connected with which are many wonderful legends.  A
beautiful old town is Saint James, containing about twenty thousand
inhabitants.  Time has been when, with the single exception of Rome, it
was the most celebrated resort of pilgrims in the world; its cathedral
being said to contain the bones of Saint James the elder, the child of
the thunder, who, according to the legend of the Romish church, first
preached the Gospel in Spain.  Its glory, however, as a place of
pilgrimage is rapidly passing away.

The cathedral, though a work of various periods, and exhibiting various
styles of architecture, is a majestic venerable pile, in every respect
calculated to excite awe and admiration; indeed, it is almost impossible
to walk its long dusky aisles, and hear the solemn music and the noble
chanting, and inhale the incense of the mighty censers, which are at
times swung so high by machinery as to smite the vaulted roof, whilst
gigantic tapers glitter here and there amongst the gloom, from the shrine
of many a saint, before which the worshippers are kneeling, breathing
forth their prayers and petitions for help, love, and mercy, and
entertain a doubt that we are treading the floor of a house where God
delighteth to dwell.  Yet the Lord is distant from that house; he hears
not, he sees not, or if he do, it is with anger.  What availeth that
solemn music, that noble chanting, that incense of sweet savour?  What
availeth kneeling before that grand altar of silver, surmounted by that
figure with its silver hat and breast-plate, the emblem of one who,
though an apostle and confessor, was at best an unprofitable servant?
What availeth hoping for remission of sin by trusting in the merits of
one who possessed none, or by paying homage to others who were born and
nurtured in sin, and who alone, by the exercise of a lively faith granted
from above, could hope to preserve themselves from the wrath of the
Almighty?

Rise from your knees, ye children of Compostella, or if ye bend, let it
be to the Almighty alone, and no longer on the eve of your patron’s day
address him in the following strain, however sublime it may sound:

    “Thou shield of that faith which in Spain we revere,
    Thou scourge of each foeman who dares to draw near;
    Whom the Son of that God who the elements tames,
    Called child of the thunder, immortal Saint James!

    “From the blessed asylum of glory intense,
    Upon us thy sovereign influence dispense;
    And list to the praises our gratitude aims
    To offer up worthily, mighty Saint James.

    “To thee fervent thanks Spain shall ever outpour;
    In thy name though she glory, she glories yet more
    In thy thrice-hallowed corse, which the sanctuary claims
    Of high Compostella, O, blessed Saint James.

    “When heathen impiety, loathsome and dread,
    With a chaos of darkness our Spain overspread,
    Thou wast the first light which dispell’d with its flames
    The hell-born obscurity, glorious Saint James!

    “And when terrible wars had nigh wasted our force,
    All bright ’midst the battle we saw thee on horse,
    Fierce scattering the hosts, whom their fury proclaims
    To be warriors of Islam, victorious Saint James.

    “Beneath thy direction, stretch’d prone at thy feet,
    With hearts low and humble, this day we intreat
    Thou wilt strengthen the hope which enlivens our frames,
    The hope of thy favour and presence, Saint James.

    “Then praise to the Son and the Father above,
    And to that Holy Spirit which springs from their love;
    To that bright emanation whose vividness shames
    The sun’s burst of splendour, and praise to Saint James.”

At Saint James I met with a kind and cordial coadjutor in my biblical
labours in the bookseller of the place, Rey Romero, a man of about sixty.
This excellent individual, who was both wealthy and respected, took up
the matter with an enthusiasm which doubtless emanated from on high,
losing no opportunity of recommending my book to those who entered his
shop, which was in the Azabacheria, and was a very splendid and
commodious establishment.  In many instances, when the peasants of the
neighbourhood came with an intention of purchasing some of the foolish
popular story-books of Spain, he persuaded them to carry home Testaments
instead, assuring them that the sacred volume was a better, more
instructive, and even far more entertaining book than those they came in
quest of.  He speedily conceived a great fancy for me, and regularly came
to visit me every evening at my posada, and accompanied me in my walks
about the town and the environs.  He was a man of considerable
information, and though of much simplicity, possessed a kind of
good-natured humour which was frequently highly diverting.

I was walking late one night alone in the Alameda of Saint James,
considering in what direction I should next bend my course, for I had
been already ten days in this place; the moon was shining gloriously, and
illumined every object around to a considerable distance.  The Alameda
was quite deserted; everybody, with the exception of myself, having for
some time retired.  I sat down on a bench and continued my reflections,
which were suddenly interrupted by a heavy stumping sound.  Turning my
eyes in the direction from which it proceeded, I perceived what at first
appeared a shapeless bulk slowly advancing: nearer and nearer it drew,
and I could now distinguish the outline of a man dressed in coarse brown
garments, a kind of Andalusian hat, and using as a staff the long peeled
branch of a tree.  He had now arrived opposite the bench where I was
seated, when, stopping, he took off his hat and demanded charity in
uncouth tones and in a strange jargon, which had some resemblance to the
Catalan.  The moon shone on grey locks and on a ruddy weather-beaten
countenance which I at once recognized: “Benedict Mol,” said I, “is it
possible that I see you at Compostella?”

“Och, mein Gott, es ist der Herr!” replied Benedict.  “Och, what good
fortune, that the Herr is the first person I meet at Compostella.”

_Myself_.—I can scarcely believe my eyes.  Do you mean to say that you
have just arrived at this place?

_Benedict_.—Ow yes, I am this moment arrived.  I have walked all the long
way from Madrid.

_Myself_.—What motive could possibly bring you such a distance?

_Benedict_.—Ow, I am come for the schatz—the treasure.  I told you at
Madrid that I was coming; and now I have met you here, I have no doubt
that I shall find it, the schatz.

_Myself_.—In what manner did you support yourself by the way?

_Benedict_.—Ow, I begged, I bettled, and so contrived to pick up some
cuartos; and when I reached Toro, I worked at my trade of soap-making for
a time, till the people said I knew nothing about it, and drove me out of
the town.  So I went on and begged and bettled till I arrived at Orense,
which is in this country of Galicia.  Ow, I do not like this country of
Galicia at all.

_Myself_.—Why not?

_Benedict_.—Why! because here they all beg and bettle, and have scarce
anything for themselves, much less for me whom they know to be a foreign
man.  O the misery of Galicia.  When I arrive at night at one of their
pigsties, which they call posadas, and ask for bread to eat in the name
of God, and straw to lie down in, they curse me, and say there is neither
bread nor straw in Galicia; and sure enough, since I have been here I
have seen neither, only something that they call broa, and a kind of
reedy rubbish with which they litter the horses: all my bones are sore
since I entered Galicia.

_Myself_.—And yet you have come to this country, which you call so
miserable, in search of treasure?

_Benedict_.—Ow yaw, but the schatz is buried; it is not above ground;
there is no money above ground in Galicia.  I must dig it up; and when I
have dug it up I will purchase a coach with six mules, and ride out of
Galicia to Lucerne; and if the Herr pleases to go with me, he shall be
welcome to go with me and the schatz.

_Myself_.—I am afraid that you have come on a desperate errand.  What do
you propose to do?  Have you any money?

_Benedict_.—Not a cuart; but I do not care now I have arrived at Saint
James.  The schatz is nigh; and I have, moreover, seen you, which is a
good sign; it tells me that the schatz is still here.  I shall go to the
best posada in the place, and live like a duke till I have an opportunity
of digging up the schatz, when I will pay all scores.

“Do nothing of the kind,” I replied; “find out some place in which to
sleep, and endeavour to seek some employment.  In the mean time, here is
a trifle with which to support yourself; but as for the treasure which
you have come to seek, I believe it only exists in your own imagination.”
I gave him a dollar and departed.

I have never enjoyed more charming walks than in the neighbourhood of
Saint James.  In these I was almost invariably accompanied by my friend
the good old bookseller.  The streams are numerous, and along their
wooded banks we were in the habit of straying and enjoying the delicious
summer evenings of this part of Spain.  Religion generally formed the
topic of our conversation, but we not unfrequently talked of the foreign
lands which I had visited, and at other times of matters which related
particularly to my companion.  “We booksellers of Spain,” said he, “are
all liberals; we are no friends to the monkish system.  How indeed should
we be friends to it?  It fosters darkness, whilst we live by
disseminating light.  We love our profession, and have all more or less
suffered for it; many of us, in the times of terror, were hanged for
selling an innocent translation from the French or English.  Shortly
after the Constitution was put down by Angouleme and the French bayonets,
I was obliged to flee from Saint James and take refuge in the wildest
part of Galicia, near Corcuvion.  Had I not possessed good friends, I
should not have been alive now; as it was, it cost me a considerable sum
of money to arrange matters.  Whilst I was away, my shop was in charge of
the ecclesiastical officers.  They frequently told my wife that I ought
to be burnt for the books which I had sold.  Thanks be to God, those
times are past, and I hope they will never return.”

Once, as we were walking through the streets of Saint James, he stopped
before a church and looked at it attentively.  As there was nothing
remarkable in the appearance of this edifice, I asked him what motive he
had for taking such notice of it.  “In the days of the friars,” said he,
“this church was one of refuge, to which if the worst criminals escaped,
they were safe.  All were protected there save the negros, as they called
us liberals.”  “Even murderers, I suppose?” said I.  “Murderers!” he
answered, “far worse criminals than they.  By the by, I have heard that
you English entertain the utmost abhorrence of murder.  Do you in reality
consider it a crime of very great magnitude?”  “How should we not,” I
replied; “for every other crime some reparation can be made; but if we
take away life, we take away all.  A ray of hope with respect to this
world may occasionally enliven the bosom of any other criminal, but how
can the murderer hope?”  “The friars were of another way of thinking,”
replied the old man; “they always looked upon murder as a friolera; but
not so the crime of marrying your first cousin without dispensation, for
which, if we believe them, there is scarcely any atonement either in this
world or the next.”

Two or three days after this, as we were seated in my apartment in the
posada, engaged in conversation, the door was opened by Antonio, who,
with a smile on his countenance, said that there was a foreign
_gentleman_ below, who desired to speak with me.  “Show him up,” I
replied; whereupon almost instantly appeared Benedict Mol.

“This is a most extraordinary person,” said I to the bookseller.  “You
Galicians, in general, leave your country in quest of money; he, on the
contrary, is come hither to find some.”

_Rey Romero_.—And he is right.  Galicia is by nature the richest province
in Spain, but the inhabitants are very stupid, and know not how to turn
the blessings which surround them to any account; but as a proof of what
may be made out of Galicia, see how rich the Catalans become who have
settled down here and formed establishments.  There are riches all around
us, upon the earth and in the earth.

_Benedict_.—Ow yaw, in the earth, that is what I say.  There is much more
treasure below the earth than above it.

_Myself_.—Since I last saw you, have you discovered the place in which
you say the treasure is deposited?

_Benedict_.—O yes, I know all about it now.  It is buried ’neath the
sacristy in the church of San Roque.

Myself.—How have you been able to make that discovery?

_Benedict_.—I will tell you: the day after my arrival I walked about all
the city in quest of the church, but could find none which at all
answered to the signs which my comrade who died in the hospital gave me.
I entered several, and looked about, but all in vain; I could not find
the place which I had in my mind’s eye.  At last the people with whom I
lodge, and to whom I told my business, advised me to send for a meiga.

_Myself_.—A meiga!  What is that?

_Benedict_.—Ow! a haxweib, a witch; the Gallegos call them so in their
jargon, of which I can scarcely understand a word.  So I consented, and
they sent for the meiga.  Och! what a weib is that meiga!  I never saw
such a woman; she is as large as myself, and has a face as round and red
as the sun.  She asked me a great many questions in her Gallegan, and
when I had told her all she wanted to know, she pulled out a pack of
cards and laid them on the table in a particular manner, and then she
said that the treasure was in the church of San Roque; and sure enough,
when I went to that church, it answered in every respect to the signs of
my comrade who died in the hospital.  O she is a powerful hax, that
meiga; she is well known in the neighbourhood, and has done much harm to
the cattle.  I gave her half the dollar I had from you for her trouble.

_Myself_.—Then you acted like a simpleton; she has grossly deceived you.
But even suppose that the treasure is really deposited in the church you
mention, it is not probable that you will be permitted to remove the
floor of the sacristy to search for it.

_Benedict_.—Ow, the matter is already well advanced.  Yesterday I went to
one of the canons to confess myself and to receive absolution and
benediction; not that I regard these things much, but I thought this
would be the best means of broaching the matter, so I confessed myself,
and then I spoke of my travels to the canon, and at last I told him of
the treasure, and proposed that if he assisted me we should share it
between us.  Ow, I wish you had seen him; he entered at once into the
affair, and said that it might turn out a very profitable speculation:
and he shook me by the hand, and said that I was an honest Swiss and a
good Catholic.  And I then proposed that he should take me into his house
and keep me there till we had an opportunity of digging up the treasure
together.  This he refused to do.

_Rey Romero_.—Of that I have no doubt: trust one of our canons for not
committing himself so far until he sees very good reason.  These tales of
treasure are at present rather too stale: we have heard of them ever
since the time of the Moors.

_Benedict_.—He advised me to go to the Captain General and obtain
permission to make excavations, in which case he promised to assist me to
the utmost of his power.

Thereupon the Swiss departed, and I neither saw nor heard anything
farther of him during the time that I continued at Saint James.

The bookseller was never weary of showing me about his native town, of
which he was enthusiastically fond.  Indeed, I have never seen the spirit
of localism, which is so prevalent throughout Spain, more strong than at
Saint James.  If their town did but flourish, the Santiagians seemed to
care but little if all others in Galicia perished.  Their antipathy to
the town of Coruña was unbounded, and this feeling had of late been not a
little increased from the circumstance that the seat of the provincial
government had been removed from Saint James to Coruña.  Whether this
change was advisable or not, it is not for me, who am a foreigner, to
say; my private opinion, however, is by no means favourable to the
alteration.  Saint James is one of the most central towns in Galicia,
with large and populous communities on every side of it, whereas Coruña
stands in a corner, at a considerable distance from the rest.  “It is a
pity that the vecinos of Coruña cannot contrive to steal away from us our
cathedral, even as they have done our government,” said a Santiagian;
“then, indeed, they would be able to cut some figure.  As it is, they
have not a church fit to say mass in.”  “A great pity, too, that they
cannot remove our hospital,” would another exclaim; “as it is, they are
obliged to send us their sick, poor wretches.  I always think that the
sick of Coruña have more ill-favoured countenances than those from other
places; but what good can come from Coruña?”

Accompanied by the bookseller, I visited this hospital, in which,
however, I did not remain long; the wretchedness and uncleanliness which
I observed speedily driving me away.  Saint James, indeed, is the grand
lazar-house for all the rest of Galicia, which accounts for the
prodigious number of horrible objects to be seen in its streets, who have
for the most part arrived in the hope of procuring medical assistance,
which, from what I could learn, is very scantily and inefficiently
administered.  Amongst these unhappy wretches I occasionally observed the
terrible leper, and instantly fled from him with a “God help thee,” as if
I had been a Jew of old.  Galicia is the only province of Spain where
cases of leprosy are still frequent; a convincing proof this, that the
disease is the result of foul feeding, and an inattention to cleanliness,
as the Gallegans, with regard to the comforts of life and civilized
habits, are confessedly far behind all the other natives of Spain.

“Besides a general hospital we have likewise a leper-house,” said the
bookseller.  “Shall I show it you?  We have everything at Saint James.
There is nothing lacking; the very leper finds an inn here.”  “I have no
objection to your showing me the house,” I replied, “but it must be at a
distance, for enter it I will not.”  Thereupon he conducted me down the
road which leads towards Padron and Vigo, and pointing to two or three
huts, exclaimed “That is our leper-house.”  “It appears a miserable
place,” I replied: “what accommodation may there be for the patients, and
who attends to their wants?”  “They are left to themselves,” answered the
bookseller, “and probably sometimes perish from neglect: the place at one
time was endowed and had rents which were appropriated to its support,
but even these have been sequestered during the late troubles.  At
present, the least unclean of the lepers generally takes his station by
the road side, and begs for the rest.  See there he is now.”

And sure enough the leper in his shining scales, and half naked, was
seated beneath a ruined wall.  We dropped money into the hat of the
unhappy being, and passed on.

“A bad disorder that,” said my friend.  “I confess that I, who have seen
so many of them, am by no means fond of the company of lepers.  Indeed, I
wish that they would never enter my shop, as they occasionally do to beg.
Nothing is more infectious, as I have heard, than leprosy: there is one
very virulent species, however, which is particularly dreaded here, the
elephantine: those who die of it should, according to law, be burnt, and
their ashes scattered to the winds: for if the body of such a leper be
interred in the field of the dead, the disorder is forthwith communicated
to all the corses even below the earth.  Such, at least, is our idea in
these parts.  Lawsuits are at present pending from the circumstance of
elephantides having been buried with the other dead.  Sad is leprosy in
all its forms, but most so when elephantine.”

“Talking of corses,” said I, “do you believe that the bones of St. James
are veritably interred at Compostella?”

“What can I say,” replied the old man; “you know as much of the matter as
myself.  Beneath the high altar is a large stone slab or lid, which is
said to cover the mouth of a profound well, at the bottom of which it is
believed that the bones of the saint are interred; though why they should
be placed at the bottom of a well, is a mystery which I cannot fathom.
One of the officers of the church told me that at one time he and another
kept watch in the church during the night, one of the chapels having
shortly before been broken open and a sacrilege committed.  At the dead
of night, finding the time hang heavy on their hands, they took a crowbar
and removed the slab and looked down into the abyss below; it was dark as
the grave; whereupon they affixed a weight to the end of a long rope and
lowered it down.  At a very great depth it seemed to strike against
something dull and solid like lead: they supposed it might be a coffin;
perhaps it was, but whose is the question.”



CHAPTER XXVIII


Skippers of Padron—Caldas de los Reyes—Pontevedra—The Notary
Public—Insane Barber—An Introduction—Gallegan Language—Afternoon
Ride—Vigo—The Stranger—Jews of the Desert—Bay of Vigo—Sudden
Interruption—The Governor.

After a stay of about a fortnight at Saint James, we again mounted our
horses and proceeded in the direction of Vigo.  As we did not leave Saint
James till late in the afternoon, we travelled that day no farther than
Padron, a distance of only three leagues.  This place is a small port,
situate at the extremity of a firth which communicates with the sea.  It
is called for brevity’s sake, Padron, but its proper appellation is Villa
del Padron, or the town of the patron saint; it having been, according to
the legend, the principal residence of Saint James during his stay in
Galicia.  By the Romans it was termed Iria Flavia.  It is a flourishing
little town, and carries on rather an extensive commerce, some of its
tiny barks occasionally finding their way across the Bay of Biscay, and
even so far as the Thames and London.

There is a curious anecdote connected with the skippers of Padron, which
can scarcely be considered as out of place here, as it relates to the
circulation of the Scriptures.  I was one day in the shop of my friend
the bookseller at Saint James, when a stout good-humoured-looking priest
entered.  He took up one of my Testaments, and forthwith burst into a
violent fit of laughter.  “What is the matter?” demanded the bookseller.
“The sight of this book reminds me of a circumstance”: replied the other,
“about twenty years ago, when the English first took it into their heads
to be very zealous in converting us Spaniards to their own way of
thinking, they distributed a great number of books of this kind amongst
the Spaniards who chanced to be in London; some of them fell into the
hands of certain skippers of Padron, and these good folks, on their
return to Galicia, were observed to have become on a sudden exceedingly
opinionated and fond of dispute.  It was scarcely possible to make an
assertion in their hearing without receiving a flat contradiction,
especially when religious subjects were brought on the carpet.  ‘It is
false,’ they would say; ‘Saint Paul, in such a chapter and in such a
verse, says exactly the contrary.’  ‘What can you know concerning what
Saint Paul or any other saint has written?’ the priests would ask them.
‘Much more than you think,’ they replied; ‘we are no longer to be kept in
darkness and ignorance respecting these matters:’ and then they would
produce their books and read paragraphs, making such comments that every
person was scandalized; they cared nothing about the Pope, and even spoke
with irreverence of the bones of Saint James.  However, the matter was
soon bruited about, and a commission was dispatched from our see to
collect the books and burn them.  This was effected, and the skippers
were either punished or reprimanded, since which I have heard nothing
more of them.  I could not forbear laughing when I saw these books; they
instantly brought to my mind the skippers of Padron and their religious
disputations.”

Our next day’s journey brought us to Pontevedra.  As there was no talk of
robbers in these parts, we travelled without any escort and alone.  The
road was beautiful and picturesque, though somewhat solitary, especially
after we had left behind us the small town of Caldas.  There is more than
one place of this name in Spain; the one of which I am speaking is
distinguished from the rest by being called Caldas de los Reyes, or the
warm baths of the kings.  It will not be amiss to observe that the
Spanish _Caldas_ is synonymous with the Moorish _Alhama_, a word of
frequent occurrence both in Spanish and African topography.  Caldas
seemed by no means undeserving of its name: it stands on a confluence of
springs, and the place when we arrived was crowded with people who had
come to enjoy the benefit of the waters.  In the course of my travels I
have observed that wherever warm springs are found, vestiges of volcanoes
are sure to be nigh; the smooth black precipice, the divided mountain, or
huge rocks standing by themselves on the plain or on the hill side, as if
Titans had been playing at bowls.  This last feature occurs near Caldas
de los Reyes, the side of the mountain which overhangs it in the
direction of the south being covered with immense granite stones,
apparently at some ancient period eructed from the bowels of the earth.
From Caldas to Pontevedra the route was hilly and fatiguing, the heat was
intense, and those clouds of flies, which constitute one of the pests of
Galicia, annoyed our horses to such a degree that we were obliged to cut
down branches from the trees to protect their heads and necks from the
tormenting stings of these bloodthirsty insects.  Whilst travelling in
Galicia at this period of the year on horseback, it is always advisable
to carry a fine net for the protection of the animal, a sure and
commodious means of defence, which appears, however, to be utterly
unknown in Galicia, where, perhaps, it is more wanted than in any other
part of the world.

Pontevedra, upon the whole, is certainly entitled to the appellation of a
magnificent town, some of its public edifices, especially the convents,
being such as are nowhere to be found but in Spain and Italy.  It is
surrounded by a wall of hewn stone, and stands at the end of a creek into
which the river Levroz disembogues.  It is said to have been founded by a
colony of Greeks, whose captain was no less a personage than Teucer the
Telemonian.  It was in former times a place of considerable commerce; and
near its port are to be seen the ruins of a farol, or lighthouse, said to
be of great antiquity.  The port, however, is at a considerable distance
from the town, and is shallow and incommodious.  The whole country in the
neighbourhood of Pontevedra is inconceivably delicious, abounding with
fruits of every description, especially grapes, which in the proper
season are seen hanging from the “parras” in luscious luxuriance.  An old
Andalusian author has said that it produces as many oranges and citron
trees as the neighbourhood of Cordova.  Its oranges are, however, by no
means good, and cannot compete with those of Andalusia.  The
Pontevedrians boast that their land produces two crops every year, and
that whilst they are gathering in one they may be seen ploughing and
sowing another.  They may well be proud of their country, which is
certainly a highly favoured spot.

The town itself is in a state of great decay, and notwithstanding the
magnificence of its public edifices, we found more than the usual amount
of Galician filth and misery.  The posada was one of the most wretched
description, and to mend the matter, the hostess was a most intolerable
scold and shrew.  Antonio having found fault with the quality of some
provision which she produced, she cursed him most immoderately in the
country language, which was the only one she spoke, and threatened, if he
attempted to breed any disturbance in her house, to turn the horses,
himself, and his master forthwith out of doors.  Socrates himself,
however, could not have conducted himself on this occasion with greater
forbearance than Antonio, who shrugged his shoulders, muttered something
in Greek, and then was silent.

“Where does the notary public live?” I demanded.  Now the notary public
vended books, and to this personage I was recommended by my friend at
Saint James.  A boy conducted me to the house of Señor Garcia, for such
was his name.  I found him a brisk, active, talkative little man of
forty.  He undertook with great alacrity the sale of my Testaments, and
in a twinkling sold two to a client who was waiting in the office, and
appeared to be from the country.  He was an enthusiastic patriot, but of
course in a local sense, for he cared for no other country than
Pontevedra.

“Those fellows of Vigo,” said he, “say their town is a better one than
ours, and that it is more deserving to be the capital of this part of
Galicia.  Did you ever hear such folly?  I tell you what, friend, I
should not care if Vigo were burnt, and all the fools and rascals within
it.  Would you ever think of comparing Vigo with Pontevedra?”

“I don’t know,” I replied; “I have never been at Vigo, but I have heard
say that the bay of Vigo is the finest in the world.”

“Bay! my good sir.  Bay! yes, the rascals have a bay, and it is that bay
of theirs which has robbed us all our commerce.  But what needs the
capital of a district with a bay?  It is public edifices that it wants,
where the provincial deputies can meet to transact their business; now,
so far from there being a commodious public edifice, there is not a
decent house in all Vigo.  Bay! yes, they have a bay, but have they water
fit to drink?  Have they a fountain?  Yes, they have, and the water is so
brackish that it would burst the stomach of a horse.  I hope, my dear
sir, that you have not come all this distance to take the part of such a
gang of pirates as those of Vigo.”

“I am not come to take their part,” I replied; “indeed, I was not aware
that they wanted my assistance in this dispute.  I am merely carrying to
them the New Testament, of which they evidently stand in much need, if
they are such knaves and scoundrels as you represent them.”

“Represent them, my dear sir.  Does not the matter speak for itself?  Do
they not say that their town is better than ours, more fit to be the
capital of a district, _que disparate_! _que briboneria_! (what folly!
what rascality!)”

“Is there a bookseller’s shop at Vigo?” I inquired.

“There was one,” he replied, “kept by an insane barber.  I am glad, for
your sake, that it is broken up, and the fellow vanished; he would have
played you one of two tricks; he would either have cut your throat with
his razor, under pretence of shaving you, or have taken your books and
never have accounted to you for the proceeds.  Bay! I never could see
what right such an owl’s nest as Vigo has to a bay.”

No person could exhibit greater kindness to another, than did the notary
public to myself, as soon as I had convinced him that I had no intention
of siding with the men of Vigo against Pontevedra.  It was now six
o’clock in the evening, and he forthwith conducted me to a confectioner’s
shop, where he treated me with an iced cream and a small cup of
chocolate.  From hence we walked about the city, the notary showing the
various edifices, especially, the Convent of the Jesuits: “See that
front,” said he, “what do you think of it?”

I expressed to him the admiration which I really felt, and by so doing
entirely won the good notary’s heart: “I suppose there is nothing like
that at Vigo?” said I.  He looked at me for a moment, winked, gave a
short triumphant chuckle, and then proceeded on his way, walking at a
tremendous rate.  The Señor Garcia was dressed in all respects as an
English notary might be: he wore a white hat, brown frock coat, drab
breeches buttoned at the knees, white stockings, and well blacked shoes.
But I never saw an English notary walk so fast: it could scarcely be
called walking: it seemed more like a succession of galvanic leaps and
bounds.  I found it impossible to keep up with him: “Where are you
conducting me?” I at last demanded, quite breathless.

“To the house of the cleverest man in Spain,” he replied, “to whom I
intend to introduce you; for you must not think that Pontevedra has
nothing to boast of but its splendid edifices and its beautiful country;
it produces more illustrious minds than any other town in Spain.  Did you
ever hear of the grand Tamerlane?”

“Oh, yes,” said I, “but he did not come from Pontevedra or its
neighbourhood: he came from the steppes of Tartary, near the river Oxus.”

“I know he did,” replied the notary, “but what I mean to say is, that
when Enrique the Third wanted an ambassador to send to that African, the
only man he could find suited to the enterprise was a knight of
Pontevedra, Don --- by name.  Let the men of Vigo contradict that fact if
they can.”

We entered a large portal and ascended a splendid staircase, at the top
of which the notary knocked at a small door: “Who is the gentleman to
whom you are about to introduce me?” demanded I.

“It is the advocate ---,” replied Garcia; “he is the cleverest man in
Spain, and understands all languages and sciences.”

We were admitted by a respectable-looking female, to all appearance a
housekeeper, who, on being questioned, informed us that the Advocate was
at home, and forthwith conducted us to an immense room, or rather
library, the walls being covered with books, except in two or three
places, where hung some fine pictures of the ancient Spanish school.
There was a rich mellow light in the apartment, streaming through a
window of stained glass, which looked to the west.  Behind the table sat
the Advocate, on whom I looked with no little interest: his forehead was
high and wrinkled, and there was much gravity on his features, which were
quite Spanish.  He was dressed in a long robe, and might be about sixty;
he sat reading behind a large table, and on our entrance half raised
himself and bowed slightly.

The notary public saluted him most profoundly, and, in an under voice,
hoped that he might be permitted to introduce a friend of his, an English
gentleman, who was travelling through Galicia.

“I am very glad to see him,” said the Advocate, “but I hope he speaks
Castilian, else we can have but little communication; for, although I can
read both French and Latin, I cannot speak them.”

“He speaks, sir, almost as good Spanish,” said the notary, “as a native
of Pontevedra.”

“The natives of Pontevedra,” I replied, “appear to be better versed in
Gallegan than in Castilian, for the greater part of the conversation
which I hear in the streets is carried on in the former dialect.”

“The last gentleman which my friend Garcia introduced to me,” said the
Advocate, “was a Portuguese, who spoke little or no Spanish.  It is said
that the Gallegan and Portuguese are very similar, but when we attempted
to converse in the two languages, we found it impossible.  I understood
little of what he said, whilst my Gallegan was quite unintelligible to
him.  Can you understand our country dialect?” he continued.

“Very little of it,” I replied; “which I believe chiefly proceeds from
the peculiar accent and uncouth enunciation of the Gallegans, for their
language is certainly almost entirely composed of Spanish and Portuguese
words.”

“So you are an Englishman,” said the Advocate.  “Your countrymen have
committed much damage in times past in these regions, if we may trust our
histories.”

“Yes,” said I, “they sank your galleons and burnt your finest men-of-war
in Vigo Bay, and, under old Cobham, levied a contribution of forty
thousand pounds sterling on this very town of Pontevedra.”

“Any foreign power,” interrupted the notary public, “has a clear right to
attack Vigo, but I cannot conceive what plea your countrymen could urge
for distressing Pontevedra, which is a respectable town, and could never
have offended them.”

“Señor Cavalier,” said the Advocate, “I will show you my library.  Here
is a curious work, a collection of poems, written mostly in Gallegan, by
the curate of Fruime.  He is our national poet, and we are very proud of
him.”

We stopped upwards of an hour with the Advocate, whose conversation, if
it did not convince me that he was the cleverest man in Spain, was, upon
the whole, highly interesting, and who certainly possessed an extensive
store of general information, though he was by no means the profound
philologist which the notary had represented him to be.

When I was about to depart from Pontevedra in the afternoon of the next
day, the Señor Garcia stood by the side of my horse, and having embraced
me, thrust a small pamphlet into my hand: “This book,” said he, “contains
a description of Pontevedra.  Wherever you go, speak well of Pontevedra.”
I nodded.  “Stay,” said he, “my dear friend, I have heard of your
society, and will do my best to further its views.  I am quite
disinterested, but if at any future time you should have an opportunity
of speaking in print of Señor Garcia, the notary public of
Pontevedra,—you understand me,—I wish you would do so.”

“I will,” said I.

It was a pleasant afternoon’s ride from Pontevedra to Vigo, the distance
being only four leagues.  As we approached the latter town, the country
became exceedingly mountainous, though scarcely anything could exceed the
beauty of the surrounding scenery.  The sides of the hills were for the
most part clothed with luxuriant forests, even to the very summits,
though occasionally a flinty and naked peak would present itself, rising
to the clouds.  As the evening came on, the route along which we advanced
became very gloomy, the hills and forests enwrapping it in deep shade.
It appeared, however, to be well frequented: numerous cars were creaking
along it, and both horsemen and pedestrians were continually passing us.
The villages were frequent.  Vines, supported on parras, were growing, if
possible, in still greater abundance than in the neighbourhood of
Pontevedra.  Life and activity seemed to pervade everything.  The hum of
insects, the cheerful bark of dogs, the rude songs of Galicia, were
blended together in pleasant symphony.  So delicious was my ride, that I
almost regretted when we entered the gate of Vigo.

The town occupies the lower part of a lofty hill, which, as it ascends,
becomes extremely steep and precipitous, and the top of which is crowned
with a strong fort or castle.  It is a small compact place, surrounded
with low walls, the streets are narrow, steep, and winding, and in the
middle of the town is a small square.

There is rather an extensive faubourg extending along the shore of the
bay.  We found an excellent posada, kept by a man and woman from the
Basque provinces, who were both civil and intelligent.  The town seemed
to be crowded, and resounded with noise and merriment.  The people were
making a wretched attempt at an illumination, in consequence of some
victory lately gained, or pretended to have been gained, over the forces
of the Pretender.  Military uniforms were glancing about in every
direction.  To increase the bustle, a troop of Portuguese players had
lately arrived from Oporto, and their first representation was to take
place this evening.  “Is the play to be performed in Spanish?” I
demanded.  “No,” was the reply; “and on that account every person is so
eager to go; which would not be the case if it were in a language which
they could understand.”

On the morning of the next day I was seated at breakfast in a large
apartment which looked out upon the Plaza Mayor, or great square of the
good town of Vigo.  The sun was shining very brilliantly, and all around
looked lively and gay.  Presently a stranger entered, and bowing
profoundly, stationed himself at the window, where he remained a
considerable time in silence.  He was a man of very remarkable
appearance, of about thirty-five.  His features were of perfect symmetry,
and I may almost say, of perfect beauty.  His hair was the darkest I had
ever seen, glossy and shining; his eyes large, black, and melancholy; but
that which most struck me was his complexion.  It might be called olive,
it is true, but it was a livid olive.  He was dressed in the very first
style of French fashion.  Around his neck was a massive gold chain, while
upon his fingers were large rings, in one of which was set a magnificent
ruby.  Who can that man be? thought I;—Spaniard or Portuguese, perhaps a
Creole.  I asked him an indifferent question in Spanish, to which he
forthwith replied in that language, but his accent convinced me that he
was neither Spaniard nor Portuguese.

“I presume I am speaking to an Englishman, sir?” said he, in as good
English as it was possible for one not an Englishman to speak.

_Myself_.—You know me to be an Englishman; but I should find some
difficulty in guessing to what country you belong.

_Stranger_.—May I take a seat?

_Myself_.—A singular question.  Have you not as much right to sit in the
public apartment of an inn as myself?

_Stranger_.—I am not certain of that.  The people here are not in general
very gratified at seeing me seated by their side.

_Myself_.—Perhaps owing to your political opinions, or to some crime
which it may have been your misfortune to commit?

_Stranger_.—I have no political opinions, and I am not aware that I ever
committed any particular crime,—I am hated for my country and my
religion.

_Myself_.—Perhaps I am speaking to a Protestant, like myself?

_Stranger_.—I am no Protestant.  If I were, they would be cautious here
of showing their dislike, for I should then have a government and a
consul to protect me.  I am a Jew—a Barbary Jew, a subject of
Abderrahman.

_Myself_.—If that be the case, you can scarcely complain of being looked
upon with dislike in this country, since in Barbary the Jews are slaves.

_Stranger_.—In most parts, I grant you, but not where I was born, which
was far up the country, near the deserts.  There the Jews are free, and
are feared, and are as valiant men as the Moslems themselves; as able to
tame the steed, or to fire the gun.  The Jews of our tribe are not
slaves, and I like not to be treated as a slave either by Christian or
Moor.

_Myself_.—Your history must be a curious one, I would fain hear it.

_Stranger_.—My history I shall tell to no one.  I have travelled much, I
have been in commerce and have thriven.  I am at present established in
Portugal, but I love not the people of Catholic countries, and least of
all these of Spain.  I have lately experienced the most shameful
injustice in the Aduana of this town, and when I complained, they laughed
at me and called me Jew.  Wherever he turns, the Jew is reviled, save in
your country, and on that account my blood always warms when I see an
Englishman.  You are a stranger here.  Can I do aught for you?  You may
command me.

_Myself_.—I thank you heartily, but I am in need of no assistance.

_Stranger_.—Have you any bills, I will accept them if you have?

_Myself_.—I have no need of assistance; but you may do me a favour by
accepting of a book.

_Stranger_.—I will receive it with thanks.  I know what it is.  What a
singular people?  The same dress, the same look, the same book.  Pelham
gave me one in Egypt.  Farewell!  Your Jesus was a good man, perhaps a
prophet; but . . . farewell!

Well may the people of Pontevedra envy the natives of Vigo their bay,
with which, in many respects, none other in the world can compare.  On
every side it is defended by steep and sublime hills, save on the part of
the west, where is the outlet to the Atlantic; but in the midst of this
outlet, up towers a huge rocky wall, or island, which breaks the swell,
and prevents the billows of the western sea from pouring through in full
violence.  On either side of this island is a passage, so broad, that
navies might pass through at all times in safety.  The bay itself is
oblong, running far into the land, and so capacious, that a thousand sail
of the line might ride in it uncrowded.  The waters are dark, still, and
deep, without quicksands or shallows, so that the proudest man-of-war
might lie within a stone’s throw of the town ramparts without any fear of
injuring her keel.

Of many a strange event, and of many a mighty preparation has this bay
been the scene.  It was here that the bulky dragons of the grand armada
were mustered, and it was from hence that, fraught with the pomp, power,
and terror of old Spain, the monster fleet, spreading its enormous sails
to the wind, and bent on the ruin of the Lutheran isle, proudly
steered;—that fleet, to build and man which half the forests of Galicia
had been felled, and all the mariners impressed from the thousand bays
and creeks of the stern Cantabrian shore.  It was here that the united
flags of Holland and England triumphed over the pride of Spain and
France; when the burning timbers of exploded war-ships soared above the
tops of the Gallegan hills, and blazing galleons sank with their treasure
chests whilst drifting in the direction of Sampayo.  It was on the shores
of this bay that the English guards first emptied Spanish bodegas, whilst
the bombs of Cobham were crushing the roofs of the castle of Castro, and
the vecinos of Pontevedra buried their doubloons in cellars, and flying
posts were conveying to Lugo and Orensee the news of the heretic invasion
and the disaster of Vigo.  All these events occurred to my mind as I
stood far up the hill, at a short distance from the fort, surveying the
bay.

“What are you doing there, Cavalier?” roared several voices.  “Stay,
Carracho! if you attempt to run we will shoot you!”  I looked round and
saw three or four fellows in dirty uniforms, to all appearance soldiers,
just above me, on a winding path, which led up the hill.  Their muskets
were pointed at me.  “What am I doing?  Nothing, as you see,” said I,
“save looking at the bay; and as for running, this is by no means ground
for a course.”  “You are our prisoner,” said they, “and you must come
with us to the fort.”  “I was just thinking of going there,” I replied,
“before you thus kindly invited me.  The fort is the very spot I was
desirous of seeing.”  I thereupon climbed up to the place where they
stood, when they instantly surrounded me, and with this escort I was
marched into the fort, which might have been a strong place in its time,
but was now rather ruinous.  “You are suspected of being a spy,” said the
corporal, who walked in front.  “Indeed,” said I.  “Yes,” replied the
corporal, “and several spies have lately been taken and shot.”

Upon one of the parapets of the fort stood a young man, dressed as a
subaltern officer, and to this personage I was introduced.  “We have been
watching you this half hour,” said he, “as you were taking observations.”
“Then you gave yourselves much useless trouble,” said I.  “I am an
Englishman, and was merely looking at the bay.  Have the kindness now to
show me the fort.” . . .

After some conversation, he said, “I wish to be civil to people of your
nation, you may therefore consider yourself at liberty.”  I bowed, made
my exit, and proceeded down the hill.  Just before I entered the town,
however, the corporal, who had followed me unperceived, tapped me on the
shoulder.  “You must go with me to the governor,” said he.  “With all my
heart,” I replied.  The governor was shaving, when we were shown up to
him.  He was in his shirt sleeves, and held a razor in his hand.  He
looked very ill-natured, which was perhaps owing to his being thus
interrupted in his toilet.  He asked me two or three questions, and on
learning that I had a passport, and was the bearer of a letter to the
English consul, he told me that I was at liberty to depart.  So I bowed
to the governor of the town, as I had done to the governor of the fort,
and making my exit proceeded to my inn.

At Vigo I accomplished but little in the way of distribution, and after a
sojourn of a few days, I returned in the direction of Saint James.



CHAPTER XXIX


Arrival at Padron—Projected Enterprise—The Alquilador—Breach of
Promise—An Odd Companion—A Plain Story—Rugged Paths—The Desertion—The
Pony—A Dialogue—Unpleasant Situation—The Estadea—Benighted—The Hut—The
Traveller’s Pillow.

I arrived at Padron late in the evening, on my return from Pontevedra and
Vigo.  It was my intention at this place to send my servant and horses
forward to Santiago, and to hire a guide to Cape Finisterra.  It would be
difficult to assign any plausible reason for the ardent desire which I
entertained to visit this place; but I remembered that last year I had
escaped almost by a miracle from shipwreck and death on the rocky sides
of this extreme point of the Old World, and I thought that to convey the
Gospel to a place so wild and remote, might perhaps be considered an
acceptable pilgrimage in the eyes of my Maker.  True it is that but one
copy remained of those which I had brought with me on this last journey,
but this reflection, far from discouraging me in my projected enterprise,
produced the contrary effect, as I called to mind that ever since the
Lord revealed himself to man, it has seemed good to him to accomplish the
greatest ends by apparently the most insufficient means; and I reflected
that this one copy might serve as an instrument of more good than the
four thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine copies of the edition of
Madrid.

I was aware that my own horses were quite incompetent to reach
Finisterra, as the roads or paths lie through stony ravines, and over
rough and shaggy hills, and therefore determined to leave them behind
with Antonio, whom I was unwilling to expose to the fatigues of such a
journey.  I lost no time in sending for an alquilador, or person who lets
out horses, and informing him of my intention.  He said he had an
excellent mountain pony at my disposal, and that he himself would
accompany me, but at the same time observed, that it was a terrible
journey for man and horse, and that he expected to be paid accordingly.
I consented to give him what he demanded, but on the express condition
that he would perform his promise of attending me himself, as I was
unwilling to trust myself four or five days amongst the hills with any
low fellow of the town whom he might select, and who it was very possible
might play me some evil turn.  He replied by the term invariably used by
the Spaniards when they see doubt or distrust exhibited.  “_No tenga
usted cuidao_,” I will go myself.  Having thus arranged the matter
perfectly satisfactorily, as I thought, I partook of a slight supper, and
shortly afterwards retired to repose.

I had requested the alquilador to call me the next morning at three
o’clock; he however did not make his appearance till five, having, I
suppose, overslept himself, which was indeed my own case.  I arose in a
hurry, dressed, put a few things in a bag, not forgetting the Testament
which I had resolved to present to the inhabitants of Finisterra.  I then
sallied forth and saw my friend the alquilador, who was holding by the
bridle the pony or jaco which was destined to carry me in my expedition.
It was a beautiful little animal, apparently strong and full of life,
without one single white hair in its whole body, which was black as the
plumage of the crow.

Behind it stood a strange-looking figure of the biped species, to whom,
however, at the moment, I paid little attention, but of whom I shall have
plenty to say in the sequel.

Having asked the horse-lender whether he was ready to proceed, and being
answered in the affirmative, I bade adieu to Antonio, and putting the
pony in motion, we hastened out of the town, taking at first the road
which leads towards Santiago.  Observing that the figure which I have
previously alluded to was following close at our heels, I asked the
alquilador who it was, and the reason of its following us; to which he
replied that it was a servant of his, who would proceed a little way with
us and then return.  So on we went at a rapid rate, till we were within a
quarter of a mile of the Convent of the Esclavitud, a little beyond which
he had informed me that we should have to turn off from the high road;
but here he suddenly stopped short, and in a moment we were all at a
standstill.  I questioned the guide as to the reason of this, but
received no answer.  The fellow’s eyes were directed to the ground, and
he seemed to be counting with the most intense solicitude the prints of
the hoofs of the oxen, mules, and horses in the dust of the road.  I
repeated my demand in a louder voice; when, after a considerable pause,
he somewhat elevated his eyes, without however looking me in the face,
and said that he believed that I entertained the idea that he himself was
to guide me to Finisterra, which if I did, he was very sorry for, the
thing being quite impossible, as he was perfectly ignorant of the way,
and, moreover, incapable of performing such a journey over rough and
difficult ground, as he was no longer the man he had been, and over and
above all that, he was engaged that day to accompany a gentleman to
Pontevedra, who was at that moment expecting him.  “But,” continued he,
“as I am always desirous of behaving like a caballero to everybody, I
have taken measures to prevent your being disappointed.  This person,”
pointing to the figure, “I have engaged to accompany you.  He is a most
trustworthy person, and is well acquainted with the route to Finisterra,
having been thither several times with this very jaco on which you are
mounted.  He will, besides, be an agreeable companion to you on the way,
as he speaks French and English very well, and has been all over the
world.”  The fellow ceased speaking at last; and I was so struck with his
craft, impudence, and villainy, that some time elapsed before I could
find an answer.  I then reproached him in the bitterest terms for his
breach of promise, and said that I was much tempted to return to the town
instantly, complain of him to the alcalde, and have him punished at any
expense.  To which he replied, “Sir Cavalier, by so doing you will be
nothing nearer Finisterra, to which you seem so eager to get.  Take my
advice, spur on the jaco, for you see it is getting late, and it is
twelve long leagues from hence to Corcuvion, where you must pass the
night; and from thence to Finisterra is no trifle.  As for the man, _no
tenga usted cuidao_, he is the best guide in all Galicia, speaks English
and French, and will bear you pleasant company.”

By this time I had reflected that by returning to Padron I should indeed
be only wasting time, and that by endeavouring to have the fellow
punished, no benefit would accrue to me; moreover, as he seemed to be a
scoundrel in every sense of the word, I might as well proceed in the
company of any person as in his.  I therefore signified my intention of
proceeding, and told him to go back in the Lord’s name, and repent of his
sins.  But having gained one point, he thought he had best attempt
another; so placing himself about a yard before the jaco, he said that
the price which I had agreed to pay him for the loan of his horse (which
by the by was the full sum he had demanded) was by no means sufficient,
and that before I proceeded I must promise him two dollars more, adding
that he was either drunk or mad when he had made such a bargain.  I was
now thoroughly incensed, and without a moment’s reflection, spurred the
jaco, which flung him down in the dust, and passed over him.  Looking
back at the distance of a hundred yards, I saw him standing in the same
place, his hat on the ground, gazing after us, and crossing himself most
devoutly.  His servant, or whatever he was, far from offering any
assistance to his principal, no sooner saw the jaco in motion than he ran
on by its side, without word or comment, farther than striking himself
lustily on the thigh with his right palm.  We soon passed the Esclavitud,
and presently afterwards turned to the left into a stony broken path
leading to fields of maize.  We passed by several farm-houses, and at
last arrived at a dingle, the sides of which were plentifully overgrown
with dwarf oaks, and which slanted down to a small dark river shaded with
trees, which we crossed by a rude bridge.  By this time I had had
sufficient time to scan my odd companion from head to foot.  His utmost
height, had he made the most of himself, might perhaps have amounted to
five feet one inch; but he seemed somewhat inclined to stoop.  Nature had
gifted him with an immense head and placed it clean upon his shoulders,
for amongst the items of his composition it did not appear that a neck
had been included.  Arms long and brawny swung at his sides, and the
whole of his frame was as strong built and powerful as a wrestler’s; his
body was supported by a pair of short but very nimble legs.  His face was
very long, and would have borne some slight resemblance to a human
countenance, had the nose been more visible, for its place seemed to have
been entirely occupied by a wry mouth and large staring eyes.  His dress
consisted of three articles: an old and tattered hat of the Portuguese
kind, broad at the crown and narrow at the eaves, something which
appeared to be a shirt, and dirty canvas trousers.  Willing to enter into
conversation with him, and remembering that the alquilador had informed
me that he spoke languages, I asked him, in English, if he had always
acted in the capacity of guide?  Whereupon he turned his eyes with a
singular expression upon my face, gave a loud laugh, a long leap, and
clapped his hands thrice above his head.  Perceiving that he did not
understand me, I repeated my demand in French, and was again answered by
the laugh, leap, and clapping.  At last he said in broken Spanish,
“Master mine, speak Spanish in God’s name, and I can understand you, and
still better if you speak Gallegan, but I can promise no more.  I heard
what the alquilador told you, but he is the greatest embustero in the
whole land, and deceived you then as he did when he promised to accompany
you.  I serve him for my sins; but it was an evil hour when I left the
deep sea and turned guide.”  He then informed me that he was a native of
Padron, and a mariner by profession, having spent the greater part of his
life in the Spanish navy, in which service he had visited Cuba and many
parts of the Spanish Americas, adding, “when my master told you that I
should bear you pleasant company by the way, it was the only word of
truth that has come from his mouth for a month; and long before you reach
Finisterra you will have rejoiced that the servant, and not the master,
went with you: he is dull and heavy, but I am what you see.”  He then
gave two or three first-rate summersets, again laughed loudly, and
clapped his hands.  “You would scarcely think,” he continued, “that I
drove that little pony yesterday heavily laden all the way from Coruña.
We arrived at Padron at two o’clock this morning; but we are nevertheless
both willing and able to undertake a fresh journey.  _No tenga usted
cuidao_, as my master said, no one ever complains of that pony or of me.”
In this kind of discourse we proceeded a considerable way through a very
picturesque country, until we reached a beautiful village at the skirt of
a mountain.  “This village,” said my guide, “is called Los Angeles,
because its church was built long since by the angels; they placed a beam
of gold beneath it, which they brought down from heaven, and which was
once a rafter of God’s own house.  It runs all the way under the ground
from hence to the cathedral of Compostella.”

Passing through the village, which he likewise informed me possessed
baths, and was much visited by the people of Santiago, we shaped our
course to the north-west, and by so doing doubled a mountain which rose
majestically over our heads, its top crowned with bare and broken rocks,
whilst on our right, on the other side of a spacious valley, was a high
range, connected with the mountains to the northward of Saint James.  On
the summit of this range rose high embattled towers, which my guide
informed me were those of Altamira, an ancient and ruined castle,
formerly the principal residence in this province of the counts of that
name.  Turning now due west, we were soon at the bottom of a steep and
rugged pass, which led to more elevated regions.  The ascent cost us
nearly half an hour, and the difficulties of the ground were such, that I
more than once congratulated myself on having left my own horses behind,
and being mounted on the gallant little pony which, accustomed to such
paths, scrambled bravely forward, and eventually brought us in safety to
the top of the ascent.

Here we entered a Gallegan cabin, or choza, for the purpose of refreshing
the animal and ourselves.  The quadruped ate some maize, whilst we two
bipeds regaled ourselves on some broa and aguardiente, which a woman whom
we found in the hut placed before us.  I walked out for a few minutes to
observe the aspect of the country, and on my return found my guide fast
asleep on the bench where I had left him.  He sat bolt upright, his back
supported against the wall, and his legs pendulous, within three inches
of the ground, being too short to reach it.  I remained gazing upon him
for at least five minutes, whilst he enjoyed slumbers seemingly as quiet
and profound as those of death itself.  His face brought powerfully to my
mind some of those uncouth visages of saints and abbots which are
occasionally seen in the niches of the walls of ruined convents.  There
was not the slightest gleam of vitality in his countenance, which for
colour and rigidity might have been of stone, and which was as rude and
battered as one of the stone heads at Icolmkill, which have braved the
winds of twelve hundred years.  I continued gazing on his face till I
became almost alarmed, concluding that life might have departed from its
harassed and fatigued tenement.  On my shaking him rather roughly by the
shoulder he slowly awoke, opening his eyes with a stare and then closing
them again.  For a few moments he was evidently unconscious of where he
was.  On my shouting to him, however, and inquiring whether he intended
to sleep all day instead of conducting me to Finisterra, he dropped upon
his legs, snatched up his hat, which lay on the table, and instantly ran
out of the door, exclaiming, “Yes, yes, I remember—follow me, captain,
and I will lead you to Finisterra in no time.”  I looked after him, and
perceived that he was hurrying at a considerable pace in the direction in
which we had hitherto been proceeding.  “Stop,” said I, “stop! will you
leave me here with the pony?  Stop, we have not paid the reckoning.
Stop!”  He, however, never turned his head for a moment, and in less than
a minute was out of sight.  The pony, which was tied to a crib at one end
of the cabin, began now to neigh terrifically, to plunge, and to erect
its tail and mane in a most singular manner.  It tore and strained at the
halter till I was apprehensive that strangulation would ensue.  “Woman,”
I exclaimed, “where are you, and what is the meaning of all this?”  But
the hostess had likewise disappeared, and though I ran about the choza,
shouting myself hoarse, no answer was returned.  The pony still continued
to scream and to strain at the halter more violently than ever.  “Am I
beset with lunatics?” I cried, and flinging down a peseta on the table,
unloosed the halter, and attempted to introduce the bit into the mouth of
the animal.  This, however, I found impossible to effect.  Released from
the halter, the pony made at once for the door, in spite of all the
efforts which I could make to detain it.  “If you abandon me,” said I, “I
am in a pretty situation; but there is a remedy for everything!” with
which words I sprang into the saddle, and in a moment more the creature
was bearing me at a rapid gallop in the direction, as I supposed, of
Finisterra.  My position, however diverting to the reader, was rather
critical to myself.  I was on the back of a spirited animal, over which I
had no control, dashing along a dangerous and unknown path.  I could not
discover the slightest vestige of my guide, nor did I pass anyone from
whom I could derive any information.  Indeed, the speed of the animal was
so great, that even in the event of my meeting or overtaking a passenger,
I could scarcely have hoped to exchange a word with him.  “Is the pony
trained to this work?” said I mentally.  “Is he carrying me to some den
of banditti, where my throat will be cut, or does he follow his master by
instinct?”  Both of these suspicions I however soon abandoned; the pony’s
speed relaxed, he appeared to have lost the road.  He looked about
uneasily: at last, coming to a sandy spot, he put his nostrils to the
ground, and then suddenly flung himself down, and wallowed in true pony
fashion.  I was not hurt, and instantly made use of this opportunity to
slip the bit into his mouth, which previously had been dangling beneath
his neck; I then remounted in quest of the road.

This I soon found, and continued my way for a considerable time.  The
path lay over a moor, patched heath and furze, and here and there strewn
with large stones, or rather rocks.  The sun had risen high in the
firmament, and burned fiercely.  I passed several people, men and women,
who gazed at me with surprise, wondering, probably, what a person of my
appearance could be about without a guide in so strange a place.  I
inquired of two females whom I met whether they had seen my guide; but
they either did not or would not understand me, and exchanging a few
words with each other, in one of the hundred dialects of the Gallegan,
passed on.  Having crossed the moor, I came rather abruptly upon a
convent, overhanging a deep ravine, at the bottom of which brawled a
rapid stream.

It was a beautiful and picturesque spot: the sides of the ravine were
thickly clothed with wood, and on the other side a tall, black hill
uplifted itself.  The edifice was large, and apparently deserted.
Passing by it, I presently reached a small village, as deserted, to all
appearance, as the convent, for I saw not a single individual, nor so
much as a dog to welcome me with his bark.  I proceeded, however, until I
reached a fountain, the waters of which gushed from a stone pillar into a
trough.  Seated upon this last, his arms folded, and his eyes fixed upon
the neighbouring mountain, I beheld a figure which still frequently
recurs to my thoughts, especially when asleep and oppressed by the
nightmare.  This figure was my runaway guide.

_Myself_.—Good day to you, my gentleman.  The weather is hot, and yonder
water appears delicious.  I am almost tempted to dismount and regale
myself with a slight draught.

_Guide_.—Your worship can do no better.  The day is, as you say, hot; you
can do no better than drink a little of this water.  I have myself just
drunk.  I would not, however, advise you to give that pony any, it
appears heated and blown.

_Myself_.—It may well be so.  I have been galloping at least two leagues
in pursuit of a fellow who engaged to guide me to Finisterra, but who
deserted me in a most singular manner, so much so, that I almost believe
him to be a thief, and no true man.  You do not happen to have seen him?

_Guide_.—What kind of a man might he be?

_Myself_.—A short, thick fellow, very much like yourself, with a hump
upon his back, and, excuse me, of a very ill-favoured countenance.

_Guide_.—Ha, ha!  I know him.  He ran with me to this fountain, where he
has just left me.  That man, Sir Cavalier, is no thief.  If he is any
thing at all, he is a Nuveiro,—a fellow who rides upon the clouds, and is
occasionally whisked away by a gust of wind.  Should you ever travel with
that man again, never allow him more than one glass of anise at a time,
or he will infallibly mount into the clouds and leave you, and then he
will ride and run till he comes to a water brook, or knocks his head
against a fountain—then one draught, and he is himself again.  So you are
going to Finisterra, Sir Cavalier.  Now it is singular enough, that a
cavalier much of your appearance engaged me to conduct him there this
morning.  I however lost him on the way.  So it appears to me our best
plan to travel together until you find your own guide and I find my own
master.

It might be about two o’clock in the afternoon, that we reached a long
and ruinous bridge, seemingly of great antiquity, and which, as I was
informed by my guide, was called the bridge of Don Alonzo.  It crossed a
species of creek, or rather frith, for the sea was at no considerable
distance, and the small town of Noyo lay at our right.  “When we have
crossed that bridge, captain,” said my guide, “we shall be in an unknown
country, for I have never been farther than Noyo, and as for Finisterra,
so far from having been there, I never heard of such a place; and though
I have inquired of two or three people since we have been upon this
expedition, they know as little about it as I do.  Taking all things,
however, into consideration, it appears to me that the best thing we can
do is to push forward to Corcuvion, which is five mad leagues from hence,
and which we may perhaps reach ere nightfall, if we can find the way or
get any one to direct us; for, as I told you before, I know nothing about
it.”  “To fine hands have I confided myself,” said I: “however, we had
best, as you say, push forward to Corcuvion, where, peradventure, we may
hear something of Finisterra, and find a guide to conduct us.”
Whereupon, with a hop, skip, and a jump, he again set forward at a rapid
pace, stopping occasionally at a choza, for the purpose, I suppose, of
making inquiries, though I understood scarcely anything of the jargon in
which he addressed the people, and in which they answered him.

We were soon in an extremely wild and hilly country, scrambling up and
down ravines, wading brooks, and scratching our hands and faces with
brambles, on which grew a plentiful crop of wild mulberries, to gather
some of which we occasionally made a stop.  Owing to the roughness of the
way we made no great progress.  The pony followed close at the back of
the guide, so near, indeed, that its nose almost touched his shoulder.
The country grew wilder and wilder, and since we had passed a water mill,
we had lost all trace of human habitation.  The mill stood at the bottom
of a valley shaded by large trees, and its wheels were turning with a
dismal and monotonous noise.  “Do you think we shall reach Corcuvion
to-night?” said I to the guide, as we emerged from this valley to a
savage moor, which appeared of almost boundless extent.

_Guide_.—I do not, I do not.  We shall in no manner reach Corcuvion
to-night, and I by no means like the appearance of this moor.  The sun is
rapidly sinking, and then, if there come on a haze, we shall meet the
Estadéa.

_Myself_.—What do you mean by the Estadéa?

_Guide_.—What do I mean by the Estadéa?  My master asks me what I mean by
the Estadinha. {274}  I have met the Estadinha but once, and it was upon
a moor something like this.  I was in company with several women, and a
thick haze came on, and suddenly a thousand lights shone above our heads
in the haze, and there was a wild cry, and the women fell to the ground
screaming Estadéa!  Estadéa! and I myself fell to the ground crying out
Estadinha!  The Estadéa are the spirits of the dead which ride upon the
haze, bearing candles in their hands.  I tell you frankly, my master,
that if we meet the assembly of the souls, I shall leave you at once, and
then I shall run and run till I drown myself in the sea, somewhere about
Muros.  We shall not reach Corcuvion this night; my only hope is that we
may find some choza upon these moors, where we may hide our heads from
the Estadinha.

The night overtook us ere we had traversed the moor; there was, however,
no haze, to the great joy of my guide, and a corner of the moon partially
illumined our steps.  Our situation, however, was dreary enough: we were
upon the wildest heath of the wildest province of Spain, ignorant of our
way, and directing our course we scarcely knew whither, for my guide
repeatedly declared to me, that he did not believe that such a place as
Finisterra existed, or if it did exist, it was some bleak mountain
pointed out in a map.  When I reflected on the character of this guide, I
derived but little comfort or encouragement: he was at best evidently
half witted, and was by his own confession occasionally seized with
paroxysms which differed from madness in no essential respect; his wild
escapade in the morning of nearly three leagues, without any apparent
cause, and lastly his superstitious and frantic fears of meeting the
souls of the dead upon this heath, in which event he intended, as he
himself said, to desert me and make for the sea, operated rather
powerfully upon my nerves.  I likewise considered that it was quite
possible that we might be in the route neither of Finisterra nor
Corcuvion, and I therefore determined to enter the first cabin at which
we should arrive, in preference to running the risk of breaking our necks
by tumbling down some pit or precipice.  No cabin, however, appeared in
sight: the moor seemed interminable, and we wandered on until the moon
disappeared, and we were left in almost total darkness.

At length we arrived at the foot of a steep ascent, up which a rough and
broken pathway appeared to lead.

“Can this be our way?” said I to the guide.

“There appears to be no other for us, captain,” replied the man; “let us
ascend it by all means, and when we are at the top, if the sea be in the
neighbourhood we shall see it.”

I then dismounted, for to ride up such a pass in such darkness would have
been madness.  We clambered up in a line, first the guide, next the pony,
with his nose as usual on his master’s shoulder, of whom he seemed
passionately fond, and I bringing up the rear, with my left hand grasping
the animal’s tail.  We had many a stumble, and more than one fall: once,
indeed, we were all rolling down the side of the hill together.  In about
twenty minutes we reached the summit, and looked around us, but no sea
was visible: a black moor, indistinctly seen, seemed to spread on every
side.

“We shall have to take up our quarters here till morning,” said I.

Suddenly my guide seized me by the hand: “There is lume, Senhor,” said
he, “there is lume.”  I looked in the direction in which he pointed, and,
after straining my eyes for some time, imagined that I perceived, far
below and at some distance, a faint glow.  “That is lume,” shouted the
guide, “and it proceeds from the chimney of a choza.”

On descending the eminence, we roamed about for a considerable time,
until we at last found ourselves in the midst of about six or eight black
huts.  “Knock at the door of one of these,” said I to the guide, “and
inquire of the people whether they can shelter us for the night.”  He did
so, and a man presently made his appearance, bearing in his hand a
lighted firebrand.

“Can you shelter a Cavalheiro from the night and the Estadéa?” said my
guide.

“From both, I thank God,” said the man, who was an athletic figure,
without shoes and stockings, and who, upon the whole, put me much in mind
of a Munster peasant from the bogs.  “Pray enter, gentlemen, we can
accommodate you both and your cavalgadura besides.”

We entered the choza, which consisted of three compartments; in the first
we found straw, in the second cattle and ponies, and in the third the
family, consisting of the father and mother of the man who admitted us,
and his wife and children.

“You are a Catalan, sir Cavalier, and are going to your countryman at
Corcuvion,” said the man in tolerable Spanish.  “Ah, you are brave
people, you Catalans, and fine establishments you have on the Gallegan
shores; pity that you take all the money out of the country.”

Now, under all circumstances, I had not the slightest objection to pass
for a Catalan; and I rather rejoiced that these wild people should
suppose that I had powerful friends and countrymen in the neighbourhood
who were, perhaps, expecting me.  I therefore favoured their mistake, and
began with a harsh Catalan accent to talk of the fish of Galicia, and the
high duties on salt.  The eye of my guide was upon me for an instant,
with a singular expression, half serious, half droll; he however said
nothing, but slapped his thigh as usual, and with a spring nearly touched
the roof of the cabin with his grotesque head.  Upon inquiry, I
discovered that we were still two long leagues distant from Corcuvion,
and that the road lay over moor and hill, and was hard to find.  Our host
now demanded whether we were hungry, and upon being answered in the
affirmative, produced about a dozen eggs and some bacon.  Whilst our
supper was cooking, a long conversation ensued between my guide and the
family, but as it was carried on in Gallegan, I tried in vain to
understand it.  I believe, however, that it principally related to
witches and witchcraft, as the Estadéa was frequently mentioned.  After
supper I demanded where I could rest: whereupon the host pointed to a
trap-door in the roof, saying that above there was a loft where I could
sleep by myself, and have clean straw.  For curiosity’s sake, I asked
whether there was such a thing as a bed in the cabin.

“No,” replied the man; “nor nearer than Corcuvion.  I never entered one
in my life, nor any one of my family: we sleep around the hearth, or
among the straw with the cattle.”

I was too old a traveller to complain, but forthwith ascended by a ladder
into a species of loft, tolerably large and nearly empty, where I placed
my cloak beneath my head, and lay down on the boards, which I preferred
to the straw, for more reasons than one.  I heard the people below
talking in Gallegan for a considerable time, and could see the gleams of
the fire through the interstices of the floor.  The voices, however,
gradually died away, the fire sank low and could no longer be
distinguished.  I dozed, started, dozed again, and dropped finally into a
profound sleep, from which I was only roused by the crowing of the second
cock.



CHAPTER XXX


Autumnal Morning—The World’s End—Corcuvion—Duyo—The Cape—A Whale—The
Outer Bay—The Arrest—The Fisher-Magistrate—Calros Rey—Hard of
Belief—Where is your Passport?—The Beach—A Mighty Liberal—The
Handmaid—The Grand Baintham—Eccentric Book—Hospitality.

It was a beautiful autumnal morning when we left the choza and pursued
our way to Corcuvion.  I satisfied our host by presenting him with a
couple of pesetas, and he requested as a favour, that if on our return we
passed that way, and were overtaken by the night, we would again take up
our abode beneath his roof.  This I promised, at the same time
determining to do my best to guard against the contingency; as sleeping
in the loft of a Gallegan hut, though preferable to passing the night on
a moor or mountain, is anything but desirable.

So we again started at a rapid pace along rough bridle-ways and
footpaths, amidst furze and brushwood.  In about an hour we obtained a
view of the sea, and directed by a lad, whom we found on the moor
employed in tending a few miserable sheep, we bent our course to the
north-west, and at length reached the brow of an eminence, where we
stopped for some time to survey the prospect which opened before us.

It was not without reason that the Latins gave the name of Finnisterræ to
this district.  We had arrived exactly at such a place as in my boyhood I
had pictured to myself as the termination of the world, beyond which
there was a wild sea, or abyss, or chaos.  I now saw far before me an
immense ocean, and below me a long and irregular line of lofty and
precipitous coast.  Certainly in the whole world there is no bolder coast
than the Gallegan shore, from the debouchement of the Minho to Cape
Finisterra.  It consists of a granite wall of savage mountains, for the
most part serrated at the top, and occasionally broken, where bays and
firths like those of Vigo and Pontevedra intervene, running deep into the
land.  These bays and firths are invariably of an immense depth, and
sufficiently capacious to shelter the navies of the proudest maritime
nations.

There is an air of stern and savage grandeur in everything around, which
strongly captivates the imagination.  This savage coast is the first
glimpse of Spain which the voyager from the north catches, or he who has
ploughed his way across the wide Atlantic: and well does it seem to
realize all his visions of this strange land.  “Yes,” he exclaims, “this
is indeed Spain—stern flinty Spain—land emblematic of those spirits to
which she has given birth.  From what land but that before me could have
proceeded those portentous beings, who astounded the Old World and filled
the New with horror and blood: Alba and Philip, Cortez and Pizarro: stern
colossal spectres looming through the gloom of bygone years, like yonder
granite mountains through the haze, upon the eye of the mariner.  Yes,
yonder is indeed Spain; flinty, indomitable Spain; land emblematic of its
sons!”

As for myself, when I viewed that wide ocean and its savage shore, I
cried, “Such is the grave, and such are its terrific sides; those moors
and wilds, over which I have passed, are the rough and dreary journey of
life.  Cheered with hope, we struggle along through all the difficulties
of moor, bog, and mountain, to arrive at—what?  The grave and its dreary
sides.  Oh, may hope not desert us in the last hour: hope in the Redeemer
and in God!”

We descended from the eminence, and again lost sight of the sea amidst
ravines and dingles, amongst which patches of pine were occasionally
seen.  Continuing to descend, we at last came, not to the sea, but to the
extremity of a long narrow firth, where stood a village or hamlet; whilst
at a small distance, on the Western side of the firth, appeared one
considerably larger, which was indeed almost entitled to the appellation
of town.  This last was Corcuvion; the first, if I forget not, was called
Ria de Silla.  We hastened on to Corcuvion, where I bade my guide make
inquiries respecting Finisterra.  He entered the door of a wine-house,
from which proceeded much noise and vociferation, and presently returned,
informing me that the village of Finisterra was distant about a league
and a half.  A man, evidently in a state of intoxication, followed him to
the door: “Are you bound for Finisterra, Cavalheiros?” he shouted.

“Yes, my friend,” I replied, “we are going thither.”

“Then you are going amongst a flock of drunkards (_fato de barrachos_),”
he answered.  “Take care that they do not play you a trick.”

We passed on, and striking across a sandy peninsula at the back of the
town, soon reached the shore of an immense bay, the north-westernmost end
of which was formed by the far-famed cape of Finisterra, which we now saw
before us stretching far into the sea.

Along a beach of dazzling white sand, we advanced towards the cape, the
bourne of our journey.  The sun was shining brightly, and every object
was illumined by his beams.  The sea lay before us like a vast mirror,
and the waves which broke upon the shore were so tiny as scarcely to
produce a murmur.  On we sped along the deep winding bay, overhung by
gigantic hills and mountains.  Strange recollections began to throng upon
my mind.  It was upon this beach that, according to the tradition of all
ancient Christendom, Saint James, the patron saint of Spain, preached the
Gospel to the heathen Spaniards.  Upon this beach had once stood an
immense commercial city, the proudest in all Spain.  This now desolate
bay had once resounded with the voices of myriads, when the keels and
commerce of all the then known world were wafted to Duyo.

“What is the name of this village?” said I to a woman, as we passed by
five or six ruinous houses at the bend of the bay, ere we entered upon
the peninsula of Finisterra.

“This is no village,” said the Gallegan, “this is no village, Sir
Cavalier, this is a city, this is Duyo.”

So much for the glory of the world!  These huts were all that the roaring
sea and the tooth of time had left of Duyo, the great city!  Onward now
to Finisterra.

It was midday when we reached the village of Finisterra, consisting of
about one hundred houses, and built on the southern side of the
peninsula, just before it rises into the huge bluff head which is called
the Cape.  We sought in vain for an inn or venta, where we might stable
our beast; at one moment we thought that we had found one, and had even
tied the animal to the manger.  Upon our going out, however, he was
instantly untied and driven forth into the street.  The few people whom
we saw appeared to gaze upon us in a singular manner.  We, however, took
little notice of these circumstances, and proceeded along the straggling
street until we found shelter in the house of a Castilian shopkeeper,
whom some chance had brought to this corner of Galicia,—this end of the
world.  Our first care was to feed the animal, who now began to exhibit
considerable symptoms of fatigue.  We then requested some refreshment for
ourselves; and in about an hour a tolerably savoury fish, weighing about
three pounds, and fresh from the bay, was prepared for us by an old woman
who appeared to officiate as housekeeper.  Having finished our meal, I
and my uncouth companion went forth and prepared to ascend the mountain.

We stopped to examine a small dismantled fort or battery facing the bay;
and whilst engaged in this examination, it more than once occurred to me
that we were ourselves the objects of scrutiny and investigation: indeed
I caught a glimpse of more than one countenance peering upon us through
the holes and chasms of the walls.  We now commenced ascending
Finisterra; and making numerous and long detours, we wound our way up its
flinty sides.  The sun had reached the top of heaven, whence he showered
upon us perpendicularly his brightest and fiercest rays.  My boots were
torn, my feet cut, and the perspiration streamed from my brow.  To my
guide, however, the ascent appeared to be neither toilsome nor difficult.
The heat of the day for him had no terrors, no moisture was wrung from
his tanned countenance; he drew not one short breath; and hopped upon the
stones and rocks with all the provoking agility of a mountain goat.
Before we had accomplished one half of the ascent, I felt myself quite
exhausted.  I reeled and staggered.  “Cheer up, master mine, be of good
cheer, and have no care,” said the guide.  “Yonder I see a wall of
stones; lie down beneath it in the shade.”  He put his long and strong
arm round my waist, and though his stature compared with mine was that of
a dwarf, he supported me, as if I had been a child, to a rude wall which
seemed to traverse the greatest part of the hill, and served probably as
a kind of boundary.  It was difficult to find a shady spot: at last he
perceived a small chasm, perhaps scooped by some shepherd as a couch, in
which to enjoy his siesta.  In this he laid me gently down, and taking
off his enormous hat, commenced fanning me with great assiduity.  By
degrees I revived, and after having rested for a considerable time, I
again attempted the ascent, which, with the assistance of my guide, I at
length accomplished.

We were now standing at a great altitude between two bays: the wilderness
of waters before us.  Of all the ten thousand barks which annually plough
those seas in sight of that old cape, not one was to be descried.  It was
a blue shiny waste, broken by no object save the black head of a
spermaceti whale, which would occasionally show itself at the top,
casting up thin jets of brine.  The principal bay, that of Finisterra, as
far as the entrance, was beautifully variegated by an immense shoal of
sardinhas, on whose extreme skirts the monster was probably feasting.
From the northern side of the cape we looked down upon a smaller bay, the
shore of which was overhung by rocks of various and grotesque shapes;
this is called the outer bay, or, in the language of the country, _Praia
do mar de fora_: a fearful place in seasons of wind and tempest, when the
long swell of the Atlantic pouring in, is broken into surf and foam by
the sunken rocks with which it abounds.  Even in the calmest day there is
a rumbling and a hollow roar in that bay which fill the heart with uneasy
sensations.

On all sides there was grandeur and sublimity.  After gazing from the
summit of the Cape for nearly an hour we descended.

On reaching the house where we had taken up our temporary habitation, we
perceived that the portal was occupied by several men, some of whom were
reclining on the floor drinking wine out of small earthen pans, which are
much used in this part of Galicia.  With a civil salutation I passed on,
and ascended the staircase to the room in which we had taken our repast.
Here there was a rude and dirty bed, on which I flung myself, exhausted
with fatigue.  I determined to take a little repose, and in the evening
to call the people of the place together, to read a few chapters of the
Scripture, and then to address them with a little Christian exhortation.
I was soon asleep, but my slumbers were by no means tranquil.  I thought
I was surrounded with difficulties of various kinds amongst rocks and
ravines, vainly endeavouring to extricate myself; uncouth visages showed
themselves amidst the trees and in the hollows, thrusting out cloven
tongues and uttering angry cries.  I looked around for my guide, but
could not find him; methought, however, that I heard his voice down a
deep dingle.  He appeared to be talking of me.  How long I might have
continued in these wild dreams I know not.  I was suddenly, however,
seized roughly by the shoulder and nearly dragged from the bed.  I looked
up in amazement, and by the light of the descending sun I beheld hanging
over me a wild and uncouth figure; it was that of an elderly man, built
as strong as a giant, with much beard and whiskers, and huge bushy
eyebrows, dressed in the habiliments of a fisherman; in his hand was a
rusty musket.

_Myself_.—Who are you and what do you want?

_Figure_.—Who I am matters but little.  Get up and follow me; it is you I
want.

_Myself_.—By what authority do you thus presume to interfere with me?

_Figure_.—By the authority of the justicia of Finisterra.  Follow me
peaceably, Calros, or it will be the worse for you.

“Calros,” said I, “what does the person mean?”  I thought it, however,
most prudent to obey his command, and followed him down the staircase.
The shop and the portal were now thronged with the inhabitants of
Finisterra, men, women, and children; the latter for the most part in a
state of nudity, and with bodies wet and dripping, having been probably
summoned in haste from their gambols in the brine.  Through this crowd
the figure whom I have attempted to describe pushed his way with an air
of authority.

On arriving in the street, he laid his heavy hand upon my arm, not
roughly however.  “It is Calros! it is Calros!” said a hundred voices;
“he has come to Finisterra at last, and the justicia have now got hold of
him.”  Wondering what all this could mean, I attended my strange
conductor down the street.  As we proceeded, the crowd increased every
moment, following and vociferating.  Even the sick were brought to the
door to obtain a view of what was going forward and a glance at the
redoubtable Calros.  I was particularly struck by the eagerness displayed
by one man, a cripple, who, in spite of the entreaties of his wife, mixed
with the crowd, and having lost his crutch, hopped forward on one leg,
exclaiming,—“_Carracho_! _tambien voy yo_!”

We at last reached a house of rather larger size than the rest; my guide
having led me into a long low room, placed me in the middle of the floor,
and then hurrying to the door, he endeavoured to repulse the crowd who
strove to enter with us.  This he effected, though not without
considerable difficulty, being once or twice compelled to have recourse
to the butt of his musket, to drive back unauthorized intruders.  I now
looked round the room.  It was rather scantily furnished: I could see
nothing but some tubs and barrels, the mast of a boat, and a sail or two.
Seated upon the tubs were three or four men coarsely dressed, like
fishermen or shipwrights.  The principal personage was a surly
ill-tempered-looking fellow of about thirty-five, whom eventually I
discovered to be the alcalde of Finisterra, and lord of the house in
which we now were.  In a corner I caught a glimpse of my guide, who was
evidently in durance, two stout fishermen standing before him, one with a
musket and the other with a boat-hook.  After I had looked about me for a
minute, the alcalde, giving his whiskers a twist, thus addressed me:—

“Who are you, where is your passport, and what brings you to Finisterra?”

_Myself_.—I am an Englishman.  Here is my passport, and I came to see
Finisterra.

This reply seemed to discomfit them for a moment.  They looked at each
other, then at my passport.  At length the alcalde, striking it with his
finger, bellowed forth:

“This is no Spanish passport; it appears to be written in French.”

_Myself_.—I have already told you that I am a foreigner.  I of course
carry a foreign passport.

_Alcalde_.—Then you mean to assert that you are not Calros Rey.

_Myself_.—I never heard before of such a king, nor indeed of such a name.

_Alcalde_.—Hark to the fellow: he has the audacity to say that he has
never heard of Calros the pretender, who calls himself king.

_Myself_.—If you mean by Calros, the pretender Don Carlos, all I can
reply is, that you can scarcely be serious.  You might as well assert
that yonder poor fellow, my guide, whom I see you have made prisoner, is
his nephew, the infante Don Sebastian.

_Alcalde_.—See, you have betrayed yourself; that is the very person we
suppose him to be.

_Myself_.—It is true that they are both hunchbacks.  But how can I be
like Don Carlos?  I have nothing the appearance of a Spaniard, and am
nearly a foot taller than the pretender.

_Alcalde_.—That makes no difference; you of course carry many waistcoats
about you, by means of which you disguise yourself, and appear tall or
low according to your pleasure.

This last was so conclusive an argument that I had of course nothing to
reply to it.  The alcalde looked around him in triumph, as if he had made
some notable discovery.  “Yes, it is Calros; it is Calros,” said the
crowd at the door.  “It will be as well to have these men shot
instantly,” continued the alcalde; “if they are not the two pretenders,
they are at any rate two of the factious.”

“I am by no means certain that they are either one or the other,” said a
gruff voice.

The justicia of Finisterra turned their eyes in the direction from which
these words proceeded, and so did I.  Our glances rested upon the figure
who held watch at the door.  He had planted the barrel of his musket on
the floor, and was now leaning his chin against the butt.

“I am by no means certain that they are either one or the other,”
repeated he, advancing forward.  “I have been examining this man,”
pointing to myself, “and listening whilst he spoke, and it appears to me
that after all he may prove an Englishman; he has their very look and
voice.  Who knows the English better than Antonio de la Trava, and who
has a better right?  Has he not sailed in their ships; has he not eaten
their biscuit; and did he not stand by Nelson when he was shot dead?”

Here the alcalde became violently incensed.  “He is no more an Englishman
than yourself,” he exclaimed; “if he were an Englishman would he have
come in this manner, skulking across the land?  Not so I trow.  He would
have come in a ship, recommended to some of us, or to the Catalans.  He
would have come to trade, to buy; but nobody knows him in Finisterra, nor
does he know anybody: and the first thing, moreover, that he does when he
reaches this place is to inspect the fort, and to ascend the mountain
where, no doubt, he has been marking out a camp.  What brings him to
Finisterra if he is neither Calros nor a bribon of a faccioso?”

I felt that there was a good deal of justice in some of these remarks,
and I was aware, for the first time, that I had, indeed, committed a
great imprudence in coming to this wild place, and among these barbarous
people, without being able to assign any motive which could appear at all
valid in their eyes.  I endeavoured to convince the alcalde that I had
come across the country for the purpose of making myself acquainted with
the many remarkable objects which it contained, and of obtaining
information respecting the character and condition of the inhabitants.
He could understand no such motives.  “What did you ascend the mountain
for?”  “To see prospects.”  “Disparate! I have lived at Finisterra forty
years and never ascended that mountain.  I would not do it in a day like
this for two ounces of gold.  You went to take altitudes, and to mark out
a camp.”  I had, however, a staunch friend in old Antonio, who insisted,
from his knowledge of the English, that all I had said might very
possibly be true.  “The English,” said he, “have more money than they
know what to do with, and on that account they wander all over the world,
paying dearly for what no other people care a groat for.”  He then
proceeded, notwithstanding the frowns of the alcalde, to examine me in
the English language.  His own entire knowledge of this tongue was
confined to two words—_knife_ and _fork_, which words I rendered into
Spanish by their equivalents, and was forthwith pronounced an Englishman
by the old fellow, who, brandishing his musket, exclaimed:—

“This man is not Calros; he is what he declares himself to be, an
Englishman, and whosoever seeks to injure him, shall have to do with
Antonio de la Trava el valiente de Finisterra.”  No person sought to
impugn this verdict, and it was at length determined that I should be
sent to Corcuvion, to be examined by the alcalde mayor of the district.
“But,” said the alcalde of Finisterra, “what is to be done with the other
fellow?  He at least is no Englishman.  Bring him forward, and let us
hear what he has to say for himself.  Now, fellow, who are you, and what
is your master?”

_Guide_.—I am Sebastianillo, a poor broken mariner of Padron, and my
master for the present is the gentleman whom you see, the most valiant
and wealthy of all the English.  He has two ships at Vigo laden with
riches.  I told you so when you first seized me up there in our posada.

_Alcalde_.—Where is your passport?

_Guide_.—I have no passport.  Who would think of bringing a passport to
such a place as this, where I don’t suppose there are two individuals who
can read?  I have no passport; my master’s passport of course includes
me.

_Alcalde_.—It does not.  And since you have no passport, and have
confessed that your name is Sebastian, you shall be shot.  Antonio de la
Trava, do you and the musketeers lead this Sebastianillo forth, and shoot
him before the door.

_Antonio de la Trava_.—With much pleasure, Señor Alcalde, since you order
it.  With respect to this fellow, I shall not trouble myself to
interfere.  He at least is no Englishman.  He has more the look of a
wizard or nuveiro; one of those devils who raise storms and sink
launches.  Moreover, he says he is from Padron, and those of that place
are all thieves and drunkards.  They once played me a trick, and I would
gladly be at the shooting of the whole pueblo.

I now interfered, and said that if they shot the guide they must shoot me
too; expatiating at the same time on the cruelty and barbarity of taking
away the life of a poor unfortunate fellow who, as might be seen at the
first glance, was only half witted; adding, moreover, that if any person
was guilty in this case it was myself, as the other could only be
considered in the light of a servant acting under my orders.

“The safest plan after all,” said the alcalde, “appears to be, to send
you both prisoners to Corcuvion, where the head alcalde can dispose of
you as he thinks proper.  You must, however, pay for your escort; for it
is not to be supposed that the housekeepers of Finisterra have nothing
else to do than to ramble about the country with every chance fellow who
finds his way to this town.”  “As for that matter,” said Antonio, “I will
take charge of them both.  I am the valiente of Finisterra, and fear no
two men living.  Moreover, I am sure that the captain here will make it
worth my while, else he is no Englishman.  Therefore let us be quick and
set out for Corcuvion at once, as it is getting late.  First of all,
however, captain, I must search you and your baggage.  You have no arms,
of course?  But it is best to make all sure.”

Long ere it was dark I found myself again on the pony, in company with my
guide, wending our way along the beach in the direction of Corcuvion.
Antonio de la Trava tramped heavily on before, his musket on his
shoulder.

_Myself_.—Are you not afraid, Antonio, to be thus alone with two
prisoners, one of whom is on horseback?  If we were to try, I think we
could overpower you.

_Antonio de la Trava_.—I am the valiente de Finisterra, and I fear no
odds.

_Myself_.—Why do you call yourself the valiente of Finisterra?

_Antonio de la Trava_.—The whole district call me so.  When the French
came to Finisterra, and demolished the fort, three perished by my hand.
I stood on the mountain, up where I saw you scrambling to-day.  I
continued firing at the enemy, until three detached themselves in pursuit
of me.  The fools! two perished amongst the rocks by the fire of this
musket, and as for the third, I beat his head to pieces with the stock.
It is on that account that they call me the valiente of Finisterra.

_Myself_.—How came you to serve with the English fleet?  I think I heard
you say that you were present when Nelson fell.

_Antonio de la Trava_.—I was captured by your countrymen, captain; and as
I had been a sailor from my childhood, they were glad of my services.  I
was nine months with them, and assisted at Trafalgar.  I saw the English
admiral die.  You have something of his face, and your voice, when you
spoke, sounded in my ears like his own.  I love the English, and on that
account I saved you.  Think not that I would toil along these sands with
you if you were one of my own countrymen.  Here we are at Duyo, captain.
Shall we refresh?

We did refresh, or rather Antonio de la Trava refreshed, swallowing pan
after pan of wine, with a thirst which seemed unquenchable.  “That man
was a greater wizard than myself,” whispered Sebastian, my guide, “who
told us that the drunkards of Finisterra would play us a trick.”  At
length the old hero of the Cape slowly rose, saying, that we must hasten
on to Corcuvion, or the night would overtake us by the way.

“What kind of person is the alcalde to whom you are conducting me?” said
I.

“Oh, very different from him of Finisterra,” replied Antonio.  “This is a
young Señorito, lately arrived from Madrid.  He is not even a Gallegan.
He is a mighty liberal, and it is owing chiefly to his orders that we
have lately been so much on the alert.  It is said that the Carlists are
meditating a descent on these parts of Galicia.  Let them only come to
Finisterra, we are liberals there to a man, and the old valiente is ready
to play the same part as in the time of the French.  But, as I was
telling you before, the alcalde to whom I am conducting you is a young
man, and very learned, and if he thinks proper, he can speak English to
you, even better than myself, notwithstanding I was a friend of Nelson,
and fought by his side at Trafalgar.”

It was dark night before we reached Corcuvion.  Antonio again stopped to
refresh at a wine-shop, after which he conducted us to the house of the
alcalde.  His steps were by this time not particularly steady, and on
arriving at the gate of the house, he stumbled over the threshold and
fell.  He got up with an oath, and instantly commenced thundering at the
door with the stock of his musket.  “Who is it?” at length demanded a
soft female voice in Gallegan.  “The valiente of Finisterra,” replied
Antonio; whereupon the gate was unlocked, and we beheld before us a very
pretty female with a candle in her hand.  “What brings you here so late,
Antonio?” she inquired.  “I bring two prisoners, mi pulida,” replied
Antonio.  “Ave Maria!” she exclaimed, “I hope they will do no harm.”  “I
will answer for one,” replied the old man; “but, as for the other, he is
a nuveiro, and has sunk more ships than all his brethren in Galicia.  But
be not afraid, my beauty,” he continued, as the female made the sign of
the cross: “first lock the gate, and then show me the way to the alcalde.
I have much to tell him.”  The gate was locked, and bidding us stay below
in the courtyard, Antonio followed the young woman up a stone stair,
whilst we remained in darkness below.

After the lapse of about a quarter of an hour we again saw the candle
gleam upon the staircase, and the young female appeared.  Coming up to
me, she advanced the candle to my features, on which she gazed very
intently.  After a long scrutiny she went to my guide, and having
surveyed him still more fixedly, she turned to me, and said, in her best
Spanish, “Senhor Cavalier, I congratulate you on your servant.  He is the
best-looking mozo in all Galicia.  Vaya! if he had but a coat to his
back, and did not go barefoot, I would accept him at once as a novio; but
I have unfortunately made a vow never to marry a poor man, but only one
who has got a heavy purse and can buy me fine clothes.  So you are a
Carlist, I suppose?  Vaya! I do not like you the worse for that.  But,
being so, how went you to Finisterra, where they are all Christinos and
negros?  Why did you not go to my village?  None would have meddled with
you there.  Those of my village are of a different stamp to the drunkards
of Finisterra.  Those of my village never interfere with honest people.
Vaya! how I hate that drunkard of Finisterra who brought you, he is so
old and ugly; were it not for the love which I bear to the Senhor
Alcalde, I would at once unlock the gate and bid you go forth, you and
your servant, the buen mozo.”

Antonio now descended.  “Follow me,” said he; “his worship the alcalde
will be ready to receive you in a moment.”  Sebastian and myself followed
him upstairs to a room where, seated behind a table, we beheld a young
man of low stature but handsome features and very fashionably dressed.
He appeared to be inditing a letter, which, when he had concluded, he
delivered to a secretary to be transcribed.  He then looked at me for a
moment fixedly, and the following conversation ensued between us:—

_Alcalde_.—I see that you are an Englishman, and my friend Antonio here
informs me that you have been arrested at Finisterra.

_Myself_.—He tells you true; and but for him I believe that I should have
fallen by the hands of those savage fishermen.

_Alcalde_.—The inhabitants of Finisterra are brave, and are all liberals.
Allow me to look at your passport?  Yes, all in form.  Truly it was very
ridiculous that they should have arrested you as a Carlist.

_Myself_.—Not only as a Carlist, but as Don Carlos himself.

_Alcalde_.—Oh! most ridiculous; mistake a countryman of the grand
Baintham for such a Goth!

_Myself_.—Excuse me, Sir, you speak of the grand somebody.

_Alcalde_.—The grand Baintham.  He who has invented laws for all the
world.  I hope shortly to see them adopted in this unhappy country of
ours.

_Myself_.—Oh! you mean Jeremy Bentham.  Yes! a very remarkable man in his
way.

_Alcalde_.—In his way!  In all ways.  The most universal genius which the
world ever produced:—a Solon, a Plato, and a Lope de Vega.

_Myself_.—I have never read his writings.  I have no doubt that he was a
Solon; and as you say, a Plato.  I should scarcely have thought, however,
that he could be ranked as a poet with Lope de Vega.

_Alcalde_.—How surprising!  I see, indeed, that you know nothing of his
writings, though an Englishman.  Now, here am I, a simple alcalde of
Galicia, yet I possess all the writings of Baintham on that shelf, and I
study them day and night.

_Myself_.—You doubtless, Sir, possess the English Language.

_Alcalde_.—I do.  I mean that part of it which is contained in the
writings of Baintham.  I am most truly glad to see a countryman of his in
these Gothic wildernesses.  I understand and appreciate your motives for
visiting them: excuse the incivility and rudeness which you have
experienced.  But we will endeavour to make you reparation.  You are this
moment free: but it is late; I must find you a lodging for the night.  I
know one close by which will just suit you.  Let us repair thither this
moment.  Stay, I think I see a book in your hand.

_Myself_.—The New Testament.

_Alcalde_.—What book is that?

_Myself_.—A portion of the sacred writings, the Bible.

_Alcalde_.—Why do you carry such a book with you?

_Myself_.—One of my principal motives in visiting Finisterra was to carry
this book to that wild place.

_Alcalde_.—Ha, ha! how very singular.  Yes, I remember.  I have heard
that the English highly prize this eccentric book.  How very singular
that the countrymen of the grand Baintham should set any value upon that
old monkish book.

It was now late at night, and my new friend attended me to the lodging
which he had destined for me, and which was at the house of a respectable
old female, where I found a clean and comfortable room.  On the way I
slipped a gratuity into the hand of Antonio, and on my arrival, formally,
and in the presence of the alcalde, presented him with the Testament,
which I requested he would carry back to Finisterra, and keep in
remembrance of the Englishman in whose behalf he had so effectually
interposed.

_Antonio_.—I will do so, your worship; and when the winds blow from the
north-west, preventing our launches from putting to sea, I will read your
present.  Farewell, my captain, and when you next come to Finisterra I
hope it will be in a valiant English bark, with plenty of contrabando on
board, and not across the country on a pony, in company with nuveiros and
men of Padron.

Presently arrived the handmaid of the alcalde with a basket, which she
took into the kitchen, where she prepared an excellent supper for her
master’s friend.  On its being served up the alcalde bade me farewell,
having first demanded whether he could in any way forward my plans.

“I return to Saint James to-morrow,” I replied, “and I sincerely hope
that some occasion will occur which will enable me to acquaint the world
with the hospitality which I have experienced from so accomplished a
scholar as the Alcalde of Corcuvion.”



CHAPTER XXXI


Coruna—Crossing the Bay—Ferrol—The Dockyard—Where are we now?—Greek
Ambassador—Lantern-light—The Ravine—Viveiro—Evening—Marsh and
Quagmire—Fair Words and Fair Money—The Leathern Girth—Eyes of Lynx—The
Knavish Guide.

From Corcuvion I returned to Saint James and Coruña, and now began to
make preparation for directing my course to the Asturias.  In the first
place I parted with my Andalusian horse, which I considered unfit for the
long and mountainous journey I was about to undertake; his constitution
having become much debilitated from his Gallegan travels.  Owing to
horses being exceedingly scarce at Coruña, I had no difficulty in
disposing of him at a far higher price than he originally cost me.  A
young and wealthy merchant of Coruña, who was a national guardsman,
became enamoured of his glossy skin and long mane and tail.  For my own
part, I was glad to part with him for more reasons than one; he was both
vicious and savage, and was continually getting me into scrapes in the
stables of the posadas where we slept or baited.  An old Castilian
peasant, whose pony he had maltreated, once said to me, “Sir Cavalier, if
you have any love or respect for yourself, get rid I beseech you of that
beast, who is capable of proving the ruin of a kingdom.”  So I left him
behind at Coruña, where I subsequently learned that he became glandered
and died.  Peace to his memory!

From Coruña I crossed the bay to Ferrol, whilst Antonio with our
remaining horse followed by land, a rather toilsome and circuitous
journey, although the distance by water is scarcely three leagues.  I was
very sea-sick during the passage, and lay almost senseless at the bottom
of the small launch in which I had embarked, and which was crowded with
people.  The wind was adverse, and the water rough.  We could make no
sail, but were impelled along by the oars of five or six stout mariners,
who sang all the while Gallegan ditties.  Suddenly the sea appeared to
have become quite smooth, and my sickness at once deserted me.  I rose
upon my feet and looked around.  We were in one of the strangest places
imaginable.  A long and narrow passage overhung on either side by a
stupendous barrier of black and threatening rocks.  The line of the coast
was here divided by a natural cleft, yet so straight and regular that it
seemed not the work of chance but design.  The water was dark and sullen,
and of immense depth.  This passage, which is about a mile in length, is
the entrance to a broad basin, at whose farther extremity stands the town
of Ferrol.

Sadness came upon me as soon as I entered this place.  Grass was growing
in the streets, and misery and distress stared me in the face on every
side.  Ferrol is the grand naval arsenal of Spain, and has shared in the
ruin of the once splendid Spanish navy: it is no longer thronged with
those thousand shipwrights who prepared for sea the tremendous
three-deckers and long frigates, the greater part of which were destroyed
at Trafalgar.  Only a few ill-paid and half-starved workmen still linger
about, scarcely sufficient to repair any guarda costa which may put in
dismantled by the fire of some English smuggling schooner from Gibraltar.
Half the inhabitants of Ferrol beg their bread; and amongst these, as it
is said, are not unfrequently found retired naval officers, many of them
maimed or otherwise wounded, who are left to pine in indigence; their
pensions or salaries having been allowed to run three or four years in
arrear, owing to the exigencies of the times.  A crowd of importunate
beggars followed me to the posada, and even attempted to penetrate to the
apartment to which I was conducted.  “Who are you?” said I to a woman who
flung herself at my feet, and who bore in her countenance evident marks
of former gentility.  “A widow, sir,” she replied, in very good French;
“a widow of a brave officer, once admiral of this port.”  The misery and
degradation of modern Spain are nowhere so strikingly manifested as at
Ferrol.

Yet even here there is still much to admire.  Notwithstanding its present
state of desolation, it contains some good streets, and abounds with
handsome houses.  The alameda is planted with nearly a thousand elms, of
which almost all are magnificent trees, and the poor Ferrolese, with the
genuine spirit of localism so prevalent in Spain, boast that their town
contains a better public walk than Madrid, of whose prado, when they
compare the two, they speak in terms of unmitigated contempt.  At one end
of this alameda stands the church, the only one in Ferrol.  To this
church I repaired the day after my arrival, which was Sunday.  I found it
quite insufficient to contain the number of worshippers who, chiefly from
the country, not only crowded the interior, but, bare-headed, were upon
their knees before the door to a considerable distance down the walk.

Parallel with the alameda extends the wall of the naval arsenal and dock.
I spent several hours in walking about these places, to visit which it is
necessary to procure a written permission from the captain-general of
Ferrol.  They filled me with astonishment.  I have seen the royal
dockyards of Russia and England, but for grandeur of design and
costliness of execution, they cannot for a moment compare with these
wonderful monuments of the bygone naval pomp of Spain.  I shall not
attempt to describe them, but content myself with observing, that the
oblong basin, which is surrounded with a granite mole, is capacious
enough to permit a hundred first-rates to lie conveniently in ordinary:
but instead of such a force, I saw only a sixty-gun frigate and two brigs
lying in this basin, and to this inconsiderable number of vessels is the
present war marine of Spain reduced.

I waited for the arrival of Antonio two or three days at Ferrol, and
still he came not: late one evening, however, as I was looking down the
street, I perceived him advancing, leading our only horse by the bridle.
He informed me that, at about three leagues from Coruña, the heat of the
weather and the flies had so distressed the animal that it had fallen
down in a kind of fit, from which it had been only relieved by copious
bleeding, on which account he had been compelled to halt for a day upon
the road.  The horse was evidently in a very feeble state; and had a
strange rattling in its throat, which alarmed me at first.  I however
administered some remedies, and in a few days deemed him sufficiently
recovered to proceed.

We accordingly started from Ferrol; having first hired a pony for myself,
and a guide who was to attend us as far as Rivadeo, twenty leagues from
Ferrol, and on the confines of the Asturias.  The day at first was fine,
but ere we reached Novales, a distance of three leagues, the sky became
overcast, and a mist descended, accompanied by a drizzling rain.  The
country through which we passed was very picturesque.  At about two in
the afternoon we could descry through the mist the small fishing town of
Santa Marta on our left, with its beautiful bay.  Travelling along the
summit of a line of hills, we presently entered a chestnut forest, which
appeared to be without limit: the rain still descended, and kept up a
ceaseless pattering among the broad green leaves.  “This is the
commencement of the autumnal rains,” said the guide.  “Many is the
wetting that you will get, my masters, before you reach Oviedo.”  “Have
you ever been as far as Oviedo?” I demanded.  “No,” he replied, “and once
only to Rivadeo, the place to which I am now conducting you, and I tell
you frankly that we shall soon be in wildernesses where the way is hard
to find, especially at night, and amidst rain and waters.  I wish I were
fairly back to Ferrol, for I like not this route, which is the worst in
Galicia, in more respects than one; but where my master’s pony goes,
there must I go too; such is the life of us guides.”  I shrugged my
shoulders at this intelligence, which was by no means cheering, but made
no answer.  At length, about nightfall, we emerged from the forest, and
presently descended into a deep valley at the foot of lofty hills.

“Where are we now?” I demanded of the guide, as we crossed a rude bridge
at the bottom of the valley, down which a rivulet swollen by the rain
foamed and roared.  “In the valley of Coisa doiro,” he replied; “and it
is my advice that we stay here for the night, and do not venture among
those hills, through which lies the path to Viveiro; for as soon as we
get there, adios!  I shall be bewildered, which will prove the
destruction of us all.”  “Is there a village nigh?”  “Yes, the village is
right before us, and we shall be there in a moment.”  We soon reached the
village, which stood amongst some tall trees at the entrance of a pass
which led up amongst the hills.  Antonio dismounted and entered two or
three of the cabins, but presently came to me, saying, “We cannot stay
here, mon maître, without being devoured by vermin; we had better be
amongst the hills than in this place; there is neither fire nor light in
these cabins, and the rain is streaming through the roofs.”  The guide,
however, refused to proceed: “I could scarcely find my way amongst those
hills by daylight,” he cried, surlily, “much less at night, midst storm
and bretima.”  We procured some wine and maize bread from one of the
cottages.  Whilst we were partaking of these, Antonio said, “Mon maître,
the best thing we can do in our present situation, is to hire some fellow
of this village to conduct us through the hills to Viveiro.  There are no
beds in this place, and if we lie down in the litter in our damp clothes
we shall catch a tertian of Galicia.  Our present guide is of no service,
we must therefore find another to do his duty.”  Without waiting for a
reply, he flung down the crust of broa which he was munching and
disappeared.  I subsequently learned that he went to the cottage of the
alcalde, and demanded, in the Queen’s name, a guide for the Greek
ambassador, who was benighted on his way to the Asturias.  In about ten
minutes I again saw him, attended by the local functionary, who, to my
surprise, made me a profound bow, and stood bare-headed in the rain.
“His excellency,” shouted Antonio, “is in need of a guide to Viveiro.
People of our description are not compelled to pay for any service which
they may require; however, as his excellency has bowels of compassion, he
is willing to give three pesetas to any competent person who will
accompany him to Viveiro, and as much bread and wine as he can eat and
drink on his arrival.”  “His excellency shall be served,” said the
alcalde; “however, as the way is long and the path is bad, and there is
much bretima amongst the hills, it appears to me that, besides the bread
and wine, his excellency can do no less than offer four pesetas to the
guide who may be willing to accompany him to Viveiro; and I know no one
better than my own son-in-law, Juanito.”  “Content, señor alcalde,” I
replied; “produce the guide, and the extra peseta shall be forthcoming in
due season.”

Soon appeared Juanito with a lantern in his hand.  We instantly set
forward.  The two guides began conversing in Gallegan.  “Mon maître,”
said Antonio, “this new scoundrel is asking the old one what he thinks we
have got in our portmanteaus.”  Then, without awaiting my answer, he
shouted, “Pistols, ye barbarians!  Pistols, as ye shall learn to your
cost, if you do not cease speaking in that gibberish and converse in
Castilian.”  The Gallegans were silent, and presently the first guide
dropped behind, whilst the other with the lantern moved before.  “Keep in
the rear,” said Antonio to the former, “and at a distance: know one thing
moreover, that I can see behind as well as before.  Mon maître,” said he
to me, “I don’t suppose these fellows will attempt to do us any harm,
more especially as they do not know each other; it is well, however, to
separate them, for this is a time and place which might tempt any one to
commit robbery and murder too.”

The rain still continued to fall uninterruptedly, the path was rugged and
precipitous, and the night was so dark that we could only see
indistinctly the hills which surrounded us.  Once or twice our guide
seemed to have lost his way: he stopped, muttered to himself, raised his
lantern on high, and would then walk slowly and hesitatingly forward.  In
this manner we proceeded for three or four hours, when I asked the guide
how far we were from Viveiro.  “I do not know exactly where we are, your
worship,” he replied, “though I believe we are in the route.  We can
scarcely, however, be less than two mad leagues from Viveiro.”  “Then we
shall not arrive there before morning,” interrupted Antonio, “for a mad
league of Galicia means at least two of Castile; and perhaps we are
doomed never to arrive there, if the way thither leads down this
precipice.”  As he spoke, the guide seemed to descend into the bowels of
the earth.  “Stop,” said I, “where are you going?”  “To Viveiro, Senhor,”
replied the fellow; “this is the way to Viveiro, there is no other; I now
know where we are.”  The light of the lantern shone upon the dark red
features of the guide, who had turned round to reply, as he stood some
yards down the side of a dingle or ravine overgrown with thick trees,
beneath whose leafy branches a frightfully steep path descended.  I
dismounted from the pony, and delivering the bridle to the other guide,
said, “Here is your master’s horse, if you please you may lead him down
that abyss, but as for myself I wash my hands of the matter.”  The
fellow, without a word of reply, vaulted into the saddle, and with _a
vamos_, _Perico_! to the pony, impelled the creature to the descent.
“Come, Senhor,” said he with the lantern, “there is no time to be lost,
my light will be presently extinguished, and this is the worst bit in the
whole road.”  I thought it very probable that he was about to lead us to
some den of cut-throats, where we might be sacrificed; but taking
courage, I seized our own horse by the bridle, and followed the fellow
down the ravine amidst rocks and brambles.  The descent lasted nearly ten
minutes, and ere we had entirely accomplished it, the light in the
lantern went out, and we remained in nearly total darkness.

Encouraged, however, by the guide, who assured us there was no danger, we
at length reached the bottom of the ravine; here we encountered a rill of
water, through which we were compelled to wade as high as the knee.  In
the midst of the water I looked up and caught a glimpse of the heavens
through the branches of the trees, which all around clothed the shelving
sides of the ravine and completely embowered the channel of the stream:
to a place more strange and replete with gloom and horror no benighted
traveller ever found his way.  After a short pause we commenced scaling
the opposite bank, which we did not find so steep as the other, and a few
minutes’ exertion brought us to the top.

Shortly afterwards the rain abated, and the moon arising cast a dim light
through the watery mists; the way had become less precipitous, and in
about two hours we descended to the shore of an extensive creek, along
which we proceeded till we reached a spot where many boats and barges lay
with their keels upward upon the sand.  Presently we beheld before us the
walls of Viveiro, upon which the moon was shedding its sickly lustre.  We
entered by a lofty and seemingly ruinous archway, and the guide conducted
us at once to the posada.

Every person in Viveiro appeared to be buried in profound slumber; not so
much as a dog saluted us with his bark.  After much knocking we were
admitted into the posada, a large and dilapidated edifice.  We had
scarcely housed ourselves and horses when the rain began to fall with yet
more violence than before, attended with much thunder and lightning.
Antonio and I, exhausted with fatigue, betook ourselves to flock beds in
a ruinous chamber, into which the rain penetrated through many a cranny,
whilst the guides ate bread and drank wine till the morning.

When I arose I was gladdened by the sight of a fine day.  Antonio
forthwith prepared a savoury breakfast of stewed fowl, of which we stood
in much need after the ten league journey of the preceding day over the
ways which I have attempted to describe.  I then walked out to view the
town, which consists of little more than one long street, on the side of
a steep mountain thickly clad with forests and fruit trees.  At about ten
we continued our journey, accompanied by our first guide, the other
having returned to Coisa doiro some hours previously.

Our route throughout this day was almost constantly within sight of the
shores of the Cantabrian sea, whose windings we followed.  The country
was barren, and in many parts covered with huge stones: cultivated spots,
however, were to be seen, where vines were growing.  We met with but few
human habitations.  We however journeyed on cheerfully, for the sun was
once more shining in full brightness, gilding the wild moors, and shining
upon the waters of the distant sea, which lay in unruffled calmness.

At evening fall we were in the neighbourhood of the shore, with a range
of wood-covered hills on our right.  Our guide led us towards a creek
bordered by a marsh, but he soon stopped and declared that he did not
know whither he was conducting us.

“Mon maître,” said Antonio, “let us be our own guides; it is, as you see,
of no use to depend upon this fellow, whose whole science consists in
leading people into quagmires.”

We therefore turned aside and proceeded along the marsh for a
considerable distance, till we reached a narrow path which led us into a
thick wood, where we soon became completely bewildered.  On a sudden,
after wandering about a considerable time, we heard the noise of water,
and presently the clack of a wheel.  Following the sound, we arrived at a
low stone mill, built over a brook; here we stopped and shouted, but no
answer was returned.  “The place is deserted,” said Antonio; “here,
however, is a path, which, if we follow it, will doubtless lead us to
some human habitation.”  So we went along the path, which, in about ten
minutes, brought us to the door of a cabin, in which we saw lights.
Antonio dismounted and opened the door: “Is there any one here who can
conduct us to Rivadeo?” he demanded.

“Senhor,” answered a voice, “Rivadeo is more than five leagues from here,
and, moreover, there is a river to cross!”

“Then to the next village,” continued Antonio.

“I am a vecino of the next village, which is on the way to Rivadeo,” said
another voice, “and I will lead you thither, if you will give me fair
words, and, what is better, fair money.”

A man now came forth, holding in his hand a large stick.  He strode
sturdily before us, and in less than half an hour led us out of the wood.
In another half hour he brought us to a group of cabins situated near the
sea; he pointed to one of these, and having received a peseta, bade us
farewell.

The people of the cottage willingly consented to receive us for the
night: it was much more cleanly and commodious than the wretched huts of
the Gallegan peasantry in general.  The ground floor consisted of a
keeping room and stable, whilst above was a long loft, in which were some
neat and comfortable flock beds.  I observed several masts and sails of
boats.  The family consisted of two brothers with their wives and
families; one was a fisherman, but the other, who appeared to be the
principal person, informed me that he had resided for many years in
service at Madrid, and having amassed a small sum, he had at length
returned to his native village, where he had purchased some land which he
farmed.  All the family used the Castilian language in their common
discourse, and on inquiry I learned that the Gallegan was not much spoken
in that neighbourhood.  I have forgotten the name of this village, which
is situated on the estuary of the Foz, which rolls down from Mondonedo.
In the morning we crossed this estuary in a large boat with our horses,
and about noon arrived at Rivadeo.

“Now, your worship,” said the guide who had accompanied us from Ferrol,
“I have brought you as far as I bargained, and a hard journey it has
been; I therefore hope you will suffer Perico and myself to remain here
to-night at your expense, and to-morrow we will go back; at present we
are both sorely tired.”

“I never mounted a better pony than Perico,” said I, “and never met with
a worse guide than yourself.  You appear to be perfectly ignorant of the
country, and have done nothing but bring us into difficulties.  You may,
however, stay here for the night, as you say you are tired, and to-morrow
you may return to Ferrol, where I counsel you to adopt some other trade.”
This was said at the door of the posada of Rivadeo.

“Shall I lead the horses to a stable?” said the fellow.

“As you please,” said I.

Antonio looked after him for a moment, as he was leading the animals
away, and then shaking his head followed slowly after.  In about a
quarter of an hour he returned, laden with the furniture of our own
horse, and with a smile upon his countenance: “Mon maître,” said he, “I
have throughout the journey had a bad opinion of this fellow, and now I
have detected him: his motive in requesting permission to stay, was a
desire to purloin something from us.  He was very officious in the stable
about our horse, and I now miss the new leathern girth which secured the
saddle, and which I observed him looking at frequently on the road.  He
has by this time doubtless hid it somewhere; we are quite secure of him,
however, for he has not yet received the hire for the pony, nor the
gratuity for himself.”

The guide returned just as he had concluded speaking.  Dishonesty is
always suspicious.  The fellow cast a glance upon us, and probably
beholding in our countenances something which he did not like, he
suddenly said, “Give me the horse-hire and my own propina, for Perico and
I wish to be off instantly.”

“How is this?” said I; “I thought you and Perico were both fatigued, and
wished to rest here for the night; you have soon recovered from your
weariness.”

“I have thought over the matter,” said the fellow, “and my master will be
angry if I loiter here: pay us, therefore, and let us go.”

“Certainly,” said I, “if you wish it.  Is the horse furniture all right?”

“Quite so,” said he; “I delivered it all to your servant.”

“It is all here,” said Antonio, “with the exception of the leathern
girth.”

“I have not got it,” said the guide.

“Of course not,” said I.  “Let us proceed to the stable, we shall perhaps
find it there.”

To the stable we went, which we searched through: no girth, however, was
forthcoming.  “He has got it buckled round his middle beneath his
pantaloons, mon maître,” said Antonio, whose eyes were moving about like
those of a lynx; “I saw the protuberance as he stooped down.  However,
let us take no notice: he is here surrounded by his countrymen, who, if
we were to seize him, might perhaps take his part.  As I said before, he
is in our power, as we have not paid him.”

The fellow now began to talk in Gallegan to the by-standers (several
persons having collected), wishing the Denho to take him if he knew
anything of the missing property.  Nobody, however, seemed inclined to
take his part; and those who listened, only shrugged their shoulders.  We
returned to the portal of the posada, the fellow following us, clamouring
for the horse-hire and propina.  We made him no answer, and at length he
went away, threatening to apply to the justicia; in about ten minutes,
however, he came running back with the girth in his hand: “I have just
found it,” said he, “in the street: your servant dropped it.”

I took the leather and proceeded very deliberately to count out the sum
to which the horse-hire amounted, and having delivered it to him in the
presence of witnesses, I said, “During the whole journey you have been of
no service to us whatever; nevertheless, you have fared like ourselves,
and have had all you could desire to eat and drink.  I intended, on your
leaving us, to present you, moreover, with a propina of two dollars; but
since, notwithstanding our kind treatment, you endeavoured to pillage us,
I will not give you a cuarto: go, therefore, about your business.”

All the audience expressed their satisfaction at this sentence, and told
him that he had been rightly served, and that he was a disgrace to
Galicia.  Two or three women crossed themselves, and asked him if he was
not afraid that the Denho, whom he had invoked, would take him away.  At
last, a respectable-looking man said to him: “Are you not ashamed to have
attempted to rob two innocent strangers?”

“Strangers!” roared the fellow, who was by this time foaming with rage;
“Innocent strangers, carracho! they know more of Spain and Galicia too
than the whole of us.  Oh, Denho, that servant is no man but a wizard, a
nuveiro.—Where is Perico?”

He mounted Perico, and proceeded forthwith to another posada.  The tale,
however, of his dishonesty had gone before him, and no person would house
him; whereupon he returned on his steps, and seeing me looking out of the
window of the house, he gave a savage shout, and shaking his fist at me,
galloped out of the town, the people pursuing him with hootings and
revilings.



CHAPTER XXXII


Martin of Rivadeo—The Factious Mare—Asturians—Luarca—The Seven
Bellotas—Hermits—The Asturian’s Tale—Strange Guests—The Big
Servant—Batuschca.

“What may your business be?” said I to a short, thick, merry-faced fellow
in a velveteen jerkin and canvas pantaloons, who made his way into my
apartment, in the dusk of the evening.

“I am Martin of Rivadeo, your worship,” replied the man, “an alquilador
by profession; I am told that you want a horse for your journey into the
Asturias to-morrow, and of course a guide: now, if that be the case, I
counsel you to hire myself and mare.”

“I am become tired of guides,” I replied; “so much so that I was thinking
of purchasing a pony, and proceeding without any guide at all.  The last
which we had was an infamous character.”

“So I have been told, your worship, and it was well for the bribon that I
was not in Rivadeo when the affair to which you allude occurred.  But he
was gone with the pony Perico before I came back, or I would have bled
the fellow to a certainty with my knife.  He is a disgrace to the
profession, which is one of the most honourable and ancient in the world.
Perico himself must have been ashamed of him, for Perico, though a pony,
is a gentleman, one of many capacities, and well known upon the roads.
He is only inferior to my mare.”

“Are you well acquainted with the road to Oviedo?” I demanded.

“I am not, your worship; that is, no farther than Luarca, which is the
first day’s journey.  I do not wish to deceive you, therefore let me go
with you no farther than that place; though perhaps I might serve for the
whole journey, for though I am unacquainted with the country, I have a
tongue in my head, and nimble feet to run and ask questions.  I will,
however, answer for myself no farther than Luarca, where you can please
yourselves.  Your being strangers is what makes me wish to accompany you,
for I like the conversation of strangers, from whom I am sure to gain
information both entertaining and profitable.  I wish, moreover, to
convince you that we guides of Galicia are not all thieves, which I am
sure you will not suppose if you only permit me to accompany you as far
as Luarca.”

I was so much struck with the fellow’s good humour and frankness, and
more especially by the originality of character displayed in almost every
sentence which he uttered, that I readily engaged him to guide us to
Luarca; whereupon he left me, promising to be ready with his mare at
eight next morning.

Rivadeo is one of the principal seaports of Galicia, and is admirably
situated for commerce, on a deep firth, into which the river Mirando
debouches.  It contains many magnificent buildings, and an extensive
square or plaza, which is planted with trees.  I observed several vessels
in the harbour; and the population, which is rather numerous, exhibited
none of those marks of misery and dejection which I had lately observed
among the Ferrolese.

On the morrow Martin of Rivadeo made his appearance at the appointed hour
with his mare.  It was a lean haggard animal, not much larger than a
pony; it had good points, however, and was very clean in its hinder legs,
and Martin insisted that it was the best animal of its kind in all Spain.
“It is a factious mare,” said he, “and I believe an Alavese.  When the
Carlists came here it fell lame, and they left it behind, and I purchased
it for a dollar.  It is not lame now, however, as you shall soon see.”

We had now reached the firth which divides Galicia from the Asturias.  A
kind of barge was lying about two yards from the side of the quay,
waiting to take us over.  Towards this Martin led his mare, and giving an
encouraging shout, the creature without any hesitation sprang over the
intervening space into the barge.  “I told you she was a facciosa,” said
Martin; “none but a factious animal would have taken such a leap.”

We all embarked in the barge and crossed over the firth, which is in this
place nearly a mile broad, to Castro Pol, the first town in the Asturias.
I now mounted the factious mare, whilst Antonio followed on my own horse.
Martin led the way, exchanging jests with every person whom he met on the
road, and occasionally enlivening the way with an extemporaneous song.

We were now in the Asturias, and about noon we reached Navias, a small
fishing town, situate on a ria or firth; in the neighbourhood are ragged
mountains, called the Sierra de Buron, which stand in the shape of a
semi-circle.  We saw a small vessel in the harbour, which we subsequently
learned was from the Basque provinces, come for a cargo of cider or
sagadua, the beverage so dearly loved by the Basques.  As we passed along
the narrow street, Antonio was hailed with an “Ola” from a species of
shop in which three men, apparently shoemakers, were seated.  He stopped
for some time to converse with them, and when he joined us at the posada
where we halted, I asked him who they were: “Mon maître,” said he, “_ce
sont des messieurs de ma connoissance_.  I have been fellow servant at
different times with all three; and I tell you beforehand, that we shall
scarcely pass through a village in this country where I shall not find an
acquaintance.  All the Asturians, at some period of their lives, make a
journey to Madrid, where, if they can obtain a situation, they remain
until they have scraped up sufficient to turn to advantage in their own
country; and as I have served in all the great houses in Madrid, I am
acquainted with the greatest part of them.  I have nothing to say against
the Asturians, save that they are close and penurious whilst at service;
but they are not thieves, neither at home nor abroad, and though we must
have our wits about us in their country, I have heard we may travel from
one end of it to the other without the slightest fear of being either
robbed or ill treated, which is not the case in Galicia, where we were
always in danger of having our throats cut.”

Leaving Navias, we proceeded through a wild desolate country, till we
reached the pass of Baralla, which lies up the side of a huge wall of
rocks, which at a distance appear of a light green colour, though
perfectly bare of herbage or plants of any description.

“This pass,” said Martin of Rivadeo, “bears a very evil reputation, and I
should not like to travel it after sunset.  It is not infested by
robbers, but by things much worse, the duendes of two friars of Saint
Francis.  It is said that in the old time, long before the convents were
suppressed, two friars of the order of Saint Francis left their convent
to beg; it chanced that they were very successful, but as they were
returning at nightfall, by this pass, they had a quarrel about what they
had collected, each insisting that he had done his duty better than the
other; at last, from high words they fell to abuse, and from abuse to
blows.  What do you think these demons of friars did?  They took off
their cloaks, and at the end of each they made a knot, in which they
placed a large stone, and with these they thrashed and belaboured each
other till both fell dead.  Master, I know not which are the worst
plagues, friars, curates, or sparrows:

    “May the Lord God preserve us from evil birds three:
    From all friars and curates and sparrows that be;
    For the sparrows eat up all the corn that we sow,
    The friars drink down all the wine that we grow,
    Whilst the curates have all the fair dames at their nod:
    From these three evil curses preserve us, Lord God.”

In about two hours from this time we reached Luarca, the situation of
which is most singular.  It stands in a deep hollow, whose sides are so
precipitous that it is impossible to descry the town until you stand just
above it.  At the northern extremity of this hollow is a small harbour,
the sea entering it by a narrow cleft.  We found a large and comfortable
posada, and by the advice of Martin, made inquiry for a fresh guide and
horse; we were informed, however, that all the horses of the place were
absent, and that if we waited for their return, we must tarry for two
days.  “I had a presentiment,” said Martin, “when we entered Luarca, that
we were not doomed to part at present.  You must now hire my mare and me
as far as Giyon, from whence there is a conveyance to Oviedo.  To tell
you the truth, I am by no means sorry that the guides are absent, for I
am pleased with your company, as I make no doubt you are with mine.  I
will now go and write a letter to my wife at Rivadeo, informing her that
she must not expect to see me back for several days.”  He then went out
of the room singing the following stanza:

    “A handless man a letter did write,
    A dumb dictated it word for word:
    The person who read it had lost his sight,
    And deaf was he who listened and heard.”

Early the next morning we emerged from the hollow of Luarca; about an
hour’s riding brought us to Caneiro, a deep and romantic valley of rocks,
shaded by tall chestnut trees.  Through the midst of this valley rushes a
rapid stream, which we crossed in a boat.  “There is not such a stream
for trout in all the Asturias,” said the ferryman; “look down into the
waters and observe the large stones over which it flows; now in the
proper season and in fine weather, you cannot see those stones for the
multitude of fish which cover them.”

Leaving the valley behind us, we entered into a wild and dreary country,
stony and mountainous.  The day was dull and gloomy, and all around
looked sad and melancholy.  “Are we in the way for Giyon and Oviedo?”
demanded Martin of an ancient female, who stood at the door of a cottage.

“For Giyon and Oviedo!” replied the crone; “many is the weary step you
will have to make before you reach Giyon and Oviedo.  You must first of
all crack the bellotas: you are just below them.”

“What does she mean by cracking the bellotas?” demanded I of Martin of
Rivadeo.

“Did your worship never hear of the seven bellotas?” replied our guide.
“I can scarcely tell you what they are, as I have never seen them; I
believe they are seven hills which we have to cross, and are called
bellotas from some resemblance to acorns which it is fancied they bear.
I have often heard of these acorns, and am not sorry that I have now an
opportunity of seeing them, though it is said that they are rather hard
things for horses to digest.”

The Asturian mountains in this part rise to a considerable altitude.
They consist for the most part of dark granite, covered here and there
with a thin layer of earth.  They approach very near to the sea, to which
they slope down in broken ridges, between which are deep and precipitous
defiles, each with its rivulet, the tribute of the hills to the salt
flood.  The road traverses these defiles.  There are seven of them, which
are called, in the language of the country, _Las siete bellotas_.  Of all
these, the most terrible is the midmost, down which rolls an impetuous
torrent.  At the upper end of it rises a precipitous wall of rock, black
as soot, to the height of several hundred yards; its top, as we passed,
was enveloped with a veil of bretima.  From this gorge branch off, on
either side, small dingles or glens, some of them so overgrown with trees
and copse-wood, that the eye is unable to penetrate the obscurity beyond
a few yards.

“Fine places would some of these dingles prove for hermitages,” said I to
Martin of Rivadeo.  “Holy men might lead a happy life there on roots and
water, and pass many years absorbed in heavenly contemplation, without
ever being disturbed by the noise and turmoil of the world.”

“True, your worship,” replied Martin; “and perhaps on that very account
there are no hermitages in the barrancos of the seven bellotas.  Our
hermits had little inclination for roots and water, and had no kind of
objection to be occasionally disturbed in their meditations.  Vaya! I
never yet saw a hermitage that was not hard by some rich town or village,
or was not a regular resort for all the idle people in the neighbourhood.
Hermits are not fond of living in dingles, amongst wolves and foxes; for
how in that case could they dispose of their poultry?  A hermit of my
acquaintance left, when he died, a fortune of seven hundred dollars to
his niece, the greatest part of which he scraped up by fattening
turkeys.”

At the top of this bellota we found a wretched venta, where we refreshed
ourselves, and then continued our journey.  Late in the afternoon we
cleared the last of these difficult passes.  The wind began now to rise,
bearing on its wings a drizzling rain.  We passed by Soto Luino, and
shaping our course through a wild but picturesque country, we found
ourselves about nightfall at the foot of a steep hill, up which led a
narrow bridle-way, amidst a grove of lofty trees.  Long before we had
reached the top it had become quite dark, and the rain had increased
considerably.  We stumbled along in the obscurity, leading our horses,
which were occasionally down on their knees, owing to the slipperiness of
the path.  At last we accomplished the ascent in safety, and pushing
briskly forward, we found ourselves, in about half an hour, at the
entrance of Muros, a large village situated just on the declivity of the
farther side of the hill.

A blazing fire in the posada soon dried our wet garments, and in some
degree recompensed us for the fatigues which we had undergone in
scrambling up the bellotas.  A rather singular place was this same posada
of Muros.  It was a large rambling house, with a spacious kitchen, or
common room, on the ground floor.  Above stairs was a large
dining-apartment, with an immense oak table, and furnished with cumbrous
leathern chairs with high backs, apparently three centuries old at least.
Communicating with this apartment was a wooden gallery, open to the air,
which led to a small chamber, in which I was destined to sleep, and which
contained an old-fashioned tester-bed with curtains.  It was just one of
those inns which romance writers are so fond of introducing in their
descriptions, especially when the scene of adventure lies in Spain.  The
host was a talkative Asturian.

The wind still howled, and the rain descended in torrents.  I sat before
the fire in a very drowsy state, from which I was presently aroused by
the conversation of the host.  “Señor,” said he, “it is now three years
since I beheld foreigners in my house.  I remember it was about this time
of the year, and just such a night as this, that two men on horseback
arrived here.  What was singular, they came without any guide.  Two more
strange-looking individuals I never yet beheld with eye-sight.  I shall
never forget them.  The one was as tall as a giant, with much tawny
moustache, like the coat of a badger, growing about his mouth.  He had a
huge ruddy face, and looked dull and stupid, as he no doubt was, for when
I spoke to him, he did not seem to understand, and answered in a jabber,
valgame Dios! so wild and strange, that I remained staring at him with
mouth and eyes open.  The other was neither tall nor red-faced, nor had
he hair about his mouth, and, indeed, he had very little upon his head.
He was very diminutive, and looked like a jorobado (_hunchback_); but,
valgame Dios! such eyes, like wild cats’, so sharp and full of malice.
He spoke as good Spanish as I myself do, and yet he was no Spaniard.  A
Spaniard never looked like that man.  He was dressed in a zamarra, with
much silver and embroidery, and wore an Andalusian hat, and I soon found
that he was master, and that the other was servant.

“Valgame Dios! what an evil disposition had that same foreign jorobado,
and yet he had much grace, much humour, and said occasionally to me such
comical things, that I was fit to die of laughter.  So he sat down to
supper in the room above, and I may as well tell you here, that he slept
in the same chamber where your worship will sleep to-night, and his
servant waited behind his chair.  Well, I had curiosity, so I sat myself
down at the table too, without asking leave.  Why should I?  I was in my
own house, and an Asturian is fit company for a king, and is often of
better blood.  Oh, what a strange supper was that.  If the servant made
the slightest mistake in helping him, up would start the jorobado, jump
upon his chair, and seizing the big giant by the hair, would cuff him on
both sides of the face, till I was afraid his teeth would have fallen
out.  The giant, however, did not seem to care about it much.  He was
used to it, I suppose.  Valgame Dios! if he had been a Spaniard, he would
not have submitted to it so patiently.  But what surprised me most was,
that after beating his servant, the master would sit down, and the next
moment would begin conversing and laughing with him as if nothing had
happened, and the giant also would laugh and converse with his master,
for all the world as if he had not been beaten.

“You may well suppose, Señor, that I understood nothing of their
discourse, for it was all in that strange unchristian tongue in which the
giant answered me when I spoke to him; the sound of it is still ringing
in my ears.  It was nothing like other languages.  Not like Bascuen, not
like the language in which your worship speaks to my namesake Signor
Antonio here.  Valgame Dios!  I can compare it to nothing but the sound a
person makes when he rinses his mouth with water.  There is one word
which I think I still remember, for it was continually proceeding from
the giant’s lips, but his master never used it.

“But the strangest part of the story is yet to be told.  The supper was
ended, and the night was rather advanced, the rain still beat against the
windows, even as it does at this moment.  Suddenly the jorobado pulled
out his watch.  Valgame Dios! such a watch!  I will tell you one thing,
Señor, that I could purchase all the Asturias, and Muros besides, with
the brilliants which shone about the sides of that same watch: the room
wanted no lamp, I trow, so great was the splendour which they cast.  So
the jorobado looked at his watch, and then said to me, I shall go to
rest.  He then took the lamp and went through the gallery to his room,
followed by his big servant.  Well, Señor, I cleared away the things, and
then waited below for the servant, for whom I had prepared a comfortable
bed, close by my own.  Señor, I waited patiently for an hour, till at
last my patience was exhausted, and I ascended to the supper apartment,
and passed through the gallery till I came to the door of the strange
guest.  Señor, what do you think I saw at the door?”

“How should I know?” I replied.  “His riding boots perhaps.”

“No, Señor, I did not see his riding boots; but, stretched on the floor
with his head against the door, so that it was impossible to open it
without disturbing him, lay the big servant fast asleep, his immense legs
reaching nearly the whole length of the gallery.  I crossed myself, as
well I might, for the wind was howling even as it is now, and the rain
was rushing down into the gallery in torrents; yet there lay the big
servant fast asleep, without any covering, without any pillow, not even a
log, stretched out before his master’s door.

“Señor, I got little rest that night, for I said to myself, I have evil
wizards in my house, folks who are not human.  Once or twice I went up
and peeped into the gallery, but there still lay the big servant fast
asleep, so I crossed myself and returned to my bed again.”

“Well,” said I, “and what occurred next day?”

“Nothing particular occurred next day: the jorobado came down and said
comical things to me in good Spanish, and the big servant came down, but
whatever he said, and he did not say much, I understood not, for it was
in that disastrous jabber.  They stayed with me throughout the day till
after supper-time, and then the jorobado gave me a gold ounce, and
mounting their horses, they both departed as strangely as they had come,
in the dark night, I know not whither.”

“Is that all?” I demanded.

“No, Señor, it is not all; for I was right in supposing them evil brujos:
the very next day an express arrived and a great search was made after
them, and I was arrested for having harboured them.  This occurred just
after the present wars had commenced.  It was said they were spies and
emissaries of I don’t know what nation, and that they had been in all
parts of the Asturias, holding conferences with some of the disaffected.
They escaped, however, and were never heard of more, though the animals
which they rode were found without their riders, wandering amongst the
hills; they were common ponies, and were of no value.  As for the brujos,
it is believed that they embarked in some small vessel which was lying
concealed in one of the rias of the coast.”

_Myself_.—What was the word which you continually heard proceeding from
the lips of the big servant, and which you think you can remember?

_Host_.—Señor, it is now three years since I heard it, and at times I can
remember it and at others not; sometimes I have started up in my sleep
repeating it.  Stay, Señor, I have it now at the point of my tongue: it
was Patusca.

_Myself_.—Batuschca, you mean; the men were Russians.



CHAPTER XXXIII


Oviedo—The Ten Gentlemen—The Swiss again—Modest Request—The
Robbers—Episcopal Benevolence—The Cathedral—Portrait of Feijoo.

I must now take a considerable stride in my journey, no less than from
Muros to Oviedo, contenting myself with observing, that we proceeded from
Muros to Velez, and from thence to Giyon, where our guide Martin bade us
farewell, and returned with his mare to Rivadeo.  The honest fellow did
not part without many expressions of regret, indeed he even expressed a
desire that I should take him and his mare into my service; “for,” said
he, “I have a great desire to run through all Spain, and even the world;
and I am sure I shall never have a better opportunity than by attaching
myself to your worship’s skirts.”  On my reminding him, however, of his
wife and family, for he had both, he said, “True, true, I had forgotten
them: happy the guide whose only wife and family are a mare and foal.”

Oviedo is about three leagues from Giyon.  Antonio rode the horse, whilst
I proceeded thither in a kind of diligence which runs daily between the
two towns.  The road is good, but mountainous.  I arrived safely at the
capital of the Asturias, although at a rather unpropitious season, for
the din of war was at the gate, and there was the cry of the captains and
the shouting.  Castile, at the time of which I am writing, was in the
hands of the Carlists, who had captured and plundered Valladolid in much
the same manner as they had Segovia some time before.  They were every
day expected to march on Oviedo, in which case they might perhaps have
experienced some resistance, a considerable body of troops being
stationed there, who had erected some redoubts, and strongly fortified
several of the convents, especially that of Santa Clara de la Vega.  All
minds were in a state of feverish anxiety and suspense, more especially
as no intelligence arrived from Madrid, which by the last accounts was
said to be occupied by the bands of Cabrera and Palillos.

So it came to pass that one night I found myself in the ancient town of
Oviedo, in a very large, scantily-furnished, and remote room in an
ancient posada, formerly a palace of the counts of Santa Cruz.  It was
past ten, and the rain was descending in torrents.  I was writing, but
suddenly ceased on hearing numerous footsteps ascending the creaking
stairs which led to my apartment.  The door was flung open, and in walked
nine men of tall stature, marshalled by a little hunchbacked personage.
They were all muffled in the long cloaks of Spain, but I instantly knew
by their demeanour that they were caballeros, or gentlemen.  They placed
themselves in a rank before the table where I was sitting.  Suddenly and
simultaneously they all flung back their cloaks, and I perceived that
every one bore a book in his hand; a book which I knew full well.  After
a pause, which I was unable to break, for I sat lost in astonishment, and
almost conceived myself to be visited by apparitions, the hunchback,
advancing somewhat before the rest, said in soft silvery tones, “Señor
Cavalier, was it you who brought this book to the Asturias?”  I now
supposed that they were the civil authorities of the place come to take
me into custody, and, rising from my seat, I exclaimed, “It certainly was
I, and it is my glory to have done so; the book is the New Testament of
God: I wish it was in my power to bring a million.”  “I heartily wish so
too,” said the little personage with a sigh.  “Be under no apprehension,
Sir Cavalier, these gentlemen are my friends; we have just purchased
these books in the shop where you placed them for sale, and have taken
the liberty of calling upon you, in order to return you our thanks for
the treasure you have brought us.  I hope you can furnish us with the Old
Testament also.”  I replied that I was sorry to inform him that at
present it was entirely out of my power to comply with his wish, as I had
no Old Testaments in my possession, but did not despair of procuring some
speedily from England.  He then asked me a great many questions
concerning my biblical travels in Spain, and my success, and the views
entertained by the Society, with respect to Spain, adding that he hoped
we should pay particular attention to the Asturias, which he assured me
was the best ground in the Peninsula for our labour.  After about half an
hour’s conversation, he suddenly said, in the English language, “Good
night, Sir,” wrapped his cloak around him, and walked out as he had come.
His companions, who had hitherto not uttered a word, all repeated “Good
night, Sir,” and, adjusting their cloaks, followed him.

In order to explain this strange scene, I must state that in the morning
I had visited the petty bookseller of the place, Longoria, and having
arranged preliminaries with him, I sent him in the evening a package of
forty Testaments, all I possessed, with some advertisements.  At the time
he assured me that, though he was willing to undertake the sale, there
was, nevertheless, not a prospect of success, as a whole month had
elapsed since he had sold a book of any description, on account of the
uncertainty of the times, and the poverty which pervaded the land; I
therefore felt much dispirited.  This incident, however, admonished me
not to be cast down when things look gloomiest, as the hand of the Lord
is generally then most busy; that men may learn to perceive, that
whatever good is accomplished is not their work but his.

Two or three days after this adventure, I was once more seated in my
large scantily-furnished room; it was about ten, of a dark melancholy
morning, and the autumnal rain was again falling.  I had just
breakfasted, and was about to sit down to my journal, when the door was
flung open and in bounded Antonio.

“Mon maître,” said he, quite breathless, “who do you think has arrived?”

“The pretender, I suppose,” said I, in some trepidation; “if so, we are
prisoners.”

“Bah, bah!” said Antonio, “it is not the pretender, but one worth twenty
of him; it is the Swiss of Saint James.”

“Benedict Mol, the Swiss!” said I, “What! has he found the treasure?  But
how did he come?  How is he dressed?”

“Mon maître,” said Antonio, “he came on foot if we may judge by his
shoes, through which his toes are sticking; and as for his dress, he is
in most villainous apparel.”

“There must be some mystery in this,” said I; “where is he at present?”

“Below, mon maître,” replied Antonio; “he came in quest of us.  But I no
sooner saw him, than I hurried away to let you know.”

In a few minutes Benedict Mol found his way up stairs; he was, as Antonio
had remarked, in most villainous apparel, and nearly barefooted; his old
Andalusian hat was dripping with rain.

“Och, lieber herr,” said Benedict, “how rejoiced I am to see you again.
Oh, the sight of your countenance almost repays me for all the miseries I
have undergone since I parted with you at Saint James.”

_Myself_.—I can scarcely believe that I really see you here at Oviedo.
What motive can have induced you to come to such an out-of-the-way place
from such an immense distance?

_Benedict_.—Lieber herr, I will sit down and tell you all that has
befallen me.  Some few days after I saw you last, the canonigo persuaded
me to go to the captain-general to apply for permission to disinter the
schatz, and also to crave assistance.  So I saw the captain-general, who
at first received me very kindly, asked me several questions, and told me
to come again.  So I continued visiting him till he would see me no
longer, and do what I might I could not obtain a glance of him.  The
canon now became impatient, more especially as he had given me a few
pesetas out of the charities of the church.  He frequently called me a
bribon and impostor.  At last, one morning I went to him, and said that I
had proposed to return to Madrid, in order to lay the matter before the
government, and requested that he would give me a certificate to the
effect that I had performed a pilgrimage to Saint James, which I imagined
would be of assistance to me upon the way, as it would enable me to beg
with some colour of authority.  He no sooner heard this request, than,
without saying a word or allowing me a moment to put myself on my
defence, he sprang upon me like a tiger, grasping my throat so hard that
I thought he would have strangled me.  I am a Swiss, however, and a man
of Lucerne, and when I had recovered myself a little, I had no difficulty
in flinging him off; I then threatened him with my staff and went away.
He followed me to the gate with the most horrid curses, saying that if I
presumed to return again, he would have me thrown at once into prison as
a thief and a heretic.  So I went in quest of yourself, lieber herr, but
they told me that you were departed for Coruña; I then set out for Coruña
after you.

_Myself_.—And what befell you on the road?

_Benedict_.—I will tell you: about half-way between Saint James and
Coruña, as I was walking along, thinking of the schatz, I heard a loud
galloping, and looking around me I saw two men on horseback coming across
the field with the swiftness of the wind, and making directly for me.
Lieber Gott, said I, these are thieves, these are factious; and so they
were.  They came up to me in a moment and bade me stand, so I flung down
my staff, took off my hat and saluted them.  “Good day, caballeros,” said
I to them.  “Good day, countryman,” said they to me, and then we stood
staring at each other for more than a minute.  Lieber himmel, I never saw
such robbers; so finely dressed, so well armed, and mounted so bravely on
two fiery little hakkas, that looked as if they could have taken wing and
flown up into the clouds!  So we continued staring at each other, till at
last one asked me who I was, whence I came, and where I was going.
“Gentlemen,” said I, “I am a Swiss, I have been to Saint James to perform
a religious vow, and am now returning to my own country.”  I said not a
word about the treasure, for I was afraid that they would have shot me at
once, conceiving that I carried part of it about me.  “Have you any
money?” they demanded.  “Gentlemen,” I replied, “you see how I travel on
foot, with my shoes torn to pieces; I should not do so if I had money.  I
will not deceive you, however, I have a peseta and a few cuartos,” and
thereupon I took out what I had and offered it to them.  “Fellow,” said
they, “we are caballeros of Galicia, and do not take pesetas, much less
cuartos.  Of what opinion are you?  Are you for the queen?”  “No,
gentlemen,” said I, “I am not for the queen, but, at the same time, allow
me to tell you that I am not for the king either; I know nothing about
the matter; I am a Swiss, and fight neither for nor against anybody
unless I am paid.”  This made them laugh, and then they questioned me
about Saint James, and the troops there, and the captain-general; and not
to disoblige them, I told them all I knew and much more.  Then one of
them, who looked the fiercest and most determined, took his trombone in
his hand, and pointing it at me, said, “Had you been a Spaniard, we would
have blown your head to shivers, for we should have thought you a spy,
but we see you are a foreigner, and believe what you have said; take,
therefore, this peseta and go your way, but beware that you tell nobody
any thing about us, for if you do, carracho!”  He then discharged his
trombone just over my head, so that for a moment I thought myself shot,
and then with an awful shout, they both galloped away, their horses
leaping over the barrancos, as if possessed with many devils.

_Myself_.—And what happened to you on your arrival at Coruña?

_Benedict_.—When I arrived at Coruña, I inquired after yourself, lieber
herr, and they informed me that, only the day before my arrival, you had
departed for Oviedo: and when I heard that, my heart died within me, for
I was now at the far end of Galicia, without a friend to help me.  For a
day or two I knew not what to do; at last I determined to make for the
frontier of France, passing through Oviedo in the way, where I hoped to
see you and ask counsel of you.  So I begged and bettled among the
Germans of Coruña.  I, however, got very little from them, only a few
cuarts, less than the thieves had given me on the road from Saint James,
and with these I departed for the Asturias by the way of Mondonedo.  Och,
what a town is that, full of canons, priests, and pfaffen, all of them
more Carlist than Carlos himself.

One day I went to the bishop’s palace and spoke to him, telling him I was
a pilgrim from Saint James, and requesting assistance.  He told me,
however, that he could not relieve me, and as for my being a pilgrim from
Saint James, he was glad of it, and hoped that it would be of service to
my soul.  So I left Mondonedo, and got amongst the wild mountains,
begging and bettling at the door of every choza that I passed, telling
all I saw that I was a pilgrim from Saint James, and showing my passport
in proof that I had been there.  Lieber herr, no person gave me a cuart,
nor even a piece of broa, and both Gallegans and Asturians laughed at
Saint James, and told me that his name was no longer a passport in Spain.
I should have starved if I had not sometimes plucked an ear or two out of
the maize fields; I likewise gathered grapes from the parras and berries
from the brambles, and in this manner I subsisted till I arrived at the
bellotas, where I slaughtered a stray kid which I met, and devoured part
of the flesh raw, so great was my hunger.  It made me, however, very ill,
and for two days I lay in a barranco half dead and unable to help myself;
it was a mercy that I was not devoured by the wolves.  I then struck
across the country for Oviedo: how I reached it I do not know; I was like
one walking in a dream.  Last night I slept in an empty hog-sty about two
leagues from here, and ere I left it, I fell down on my knees and prayed
to God that I might find you, lieber herr, for you were my last hope.

_Myself_.—And what do you propose to do at present?

_Benedict_.—What can I say, lieber herr?  I know not what to do.  I will
be guided in everything by your counsel.

_Myself_.—I shall remain at Oviedo a few days longer, during which time
you can lodge at this posada, and endeavour to recover from the fatigue
of your disastrous journeys; perhaps before I depart, we may hit on some
plan to extricate you from your present difficulties.

Oviedo contains about fifteen thousand inhabitants.  It is picturesquely
situated between two mountains, Morcin and Naranco; the former is very
high and rugged, and during the greater part of the year is covered with
snow; the sides of the latter are cultivated and planted with vines.  The
principal ornament of the town is the cathedral, the tower of which is
exceedingly lofty, and is perhaps one of the purest specimens of Gothic
architecture at present in existence.  The interior of the cathedral is
neat and appropriate, but simple and unadorned.  I observed but one
picture, the Conversion of Saint Paul.  One of the chapels is a cemetery,
in which rest the bones of eleven Gothic kings; to whose souls be peace.

I bore a letter of recommendation from Coruña to a merchant of Oviedo.
This person received me very courteously, and generally devoted some
portion of every day to showing me the remarkable things of Oviedo.

One morning he thus addressed me: “You have doubtless heard of Feijoo,
the celebrated philosophic monk of the order of Saint Benedict, whose
writings have so much tended to remove the popular fallacies and
superstitions so long cherished in Spain; he is buried in one of our
convents, where he passed a considerable portion of his life.  Come with
me and I will show you his portrait.  Carlos Tercero, our great king,
sent his own painter from Madrid to execute it.  It is now in the
possession of a friend of mine, Don Ramon Valdez, an advocate.”

Thereupon he led me to the house of Don Ramon Valdez, who very politely
exhibited the portrait of Feijoo.  It was circular in shape, about a foot
in diameter, and was surrounded by a little brass frame, something like
the rim of a barber’s basin.  The countenance was large and massive but
fine, the eyebrows knit, the eyes sharp and penetrating, nose aquiline.
On the head was a silken skull-cap; the collar of the coat or vest was
just perceptible.  The painting was decidedly good, and struck me as
being one of the very best specimens of modern Spanish art which I had
hitherto seen.

A day or two after this I said to Benedict Mol, “to-morrow I start from
hence for Santander.  It is therefore high time that you decide upon some
course, whether to return to Madrid or to make the best of your way to
France, and from thence proceed to your own country.”

“Lieber herr,” said Benedict, “I will follow you to Santander by short
journeys, for I am unable to make long ones amongst these hills; and when
I am there, peradventure I may find some means of passing into France.
It is a great comfort, in my horrible journeys, to think that I am
travelling over the ground which yourself have trodden, and to hope that
I am proceeding to rejoin you once more.  This hope kept me alive in the
bellotas, and without it I should never have reached Oviedo.  I will quit
Spain as soon as possible, and betake me to Lucerne, though it is a hard
thing to leave the schatz behind me in the land of the Gallegans.”

Thereupon I presented him with a few dollars.

“A strange man is this Benedict,” said Antonio to me next morning, as,
accompanied by a guide, we sallied forth from Oviedo; “a strange man, mon
maître, is this same Benedict.  A strange life has he led, and a strange
death he will die,—it is written on his countenance.  That he will leave
Spain I do not believe, or if he leave it, it will be only to return, for
he is bewitched about this treasure.  Last night he sent for a sorciere,
whom he consulted in my presence; and she told him that he was doomed to
possess it, but that first of all he must cross water.  She cautioned him
likewise against an enemy, which he supposes must be the canon of Saint
James.  I have often heard people speak of the avidity of the Swiss for
money, and here is a proof of it.  I would not undergo what Benedict has
suffered in these last journeys of his, to possess all the treasures in
Spain.”



CHAPTER XXXIV


Departure from Oviedo—Villa Viciosa—The Young Man of the Inn—Antonio’s
Tale—The General and his Family—Woful Tidings—To-morrow we Die—San
Vincente—Santander—An Harangue—Flinter the Irishman.

So we left Oviedo and directed our course towards Santander.  The man who
accompanied us as guide, and from whom I hired the pony on which I rode,
had been recommended to me by my friend the merchant of Oviedo.  He
proved, however, a lazy indolent fellow; he was generally loitering two
or three hundred yards in our rear, and instead of enlivening the way
with song and tale, like our late guide, Martin of Rivadeo, he scarcely
ever opened his lips, save to tell us not to go so fast, or that I should
burst his pony if I spurred him so.  He was thievish withal, and though
he had engaged to make the journey _seco_, that is, to defray the charges
of himself and beast, he contrived throughout to keep both at our
expense.  When journeying in Spain, it is invariably the cheapest plan to
agree to maintain the guide and his horse or mule, for by so doing the
hire is diminished at least one third, and the bills upon the road are
seldom increased: whereas, in the other case, he pockets the difference,
and yet goes shot free, and at the expense of the traveller, through the
connivance of the innkeepers, who have a kind of fellow feeling with the
guides.

Late in the afternoon we reached Villa Viciosa, a small dirty town, at
the distance of eight leagues from Oviedo: it stands beside a creek which
communicates with the Bay of Biscay.  It is sometimes called La Capital
de las Avellanas, or the capital of the Filberts, from the immense
quantity of this fruit which is grown in the neighbourhood; and the
greatest part of which is exported to England.  As we drew nigh we
overtook numerous cars laden with avellanas proceeding in the direction
of the town.  I was informed that several small English vessels were
lying in the harbour.  Singular as it may seem, however, notwithstanding
we were in the capital of the Avellanas, it was with the utmost
difficulty that I procured a scanty handful for my dessert, and of these
more than one half were decayed.  The people of the house informed me
that the nuts were intended for exportation, and that they never dreamt
either of partaking of them themselves or of offering them to their
guests.

At an early hour on the following day we reached Colunga, a beautiful
village on a rising ground, thickly planted with chestnut trees.  It is
celebrated, at least in the Asturias, as being the birth-place of
Arguelles, the father of the Spanish constitution.

As we dismounted at the door of the posada, where we intended to refresh
ourselves, a person who was leaning out of an upper window uttered an
exclamation and disappeared.  We were yet at the door, when the same
individual came running forth and cast himself on the neck of Antonio.
He was a good-looking young man, apparently about five and twenty,
genteelly dressed, with a Montero cap on his head.  Antonio looked at him
for a moment, and then with a _Ah_, _Monsieur_, _est ce bien vous_? shook
him affectionately by the hand.  The stranger then motioned him to follow
him, and they forthwith proceeded to the room above.

Wondering what this could mean, I sat down to my morning repast.  Nearly
an hour elapsed, and still Antonio did not make his appearance; through
the boards, however, which composed the ceiling of the kitchen where I
sat, I could hear the voices of himself and his acquaintance, and thought
that I could occasionally distinguish the sound of broken sobs and
groans; at last there was a long pause.  I became impatient, and was
about to summon Antonio, when he made his appearance, but unaccompanied
by the stranger.  “What, in the name of all that is singular,” I
demanded, “have you been about?  Who is that man?”  “Mon maître,” said
Antonio, “_c’est un monsieur de ma connoissance_.  With your permission I
will now take a mouthful, and as we journey along I will tell you all
that I know of him.”

“Monsieur,” said Antonio, as we rode out of Colunga, “you are anxious to
know the history of the gentleman whom you saw embrace me at the inn.
Know, mon maître, that these Carlist and Christino wars have been the
cause of much misery and misfortune in this country, but a being so
thoroughly unfortunate as that poor young gentleman of the inn, I do not
believe is to be found in Spain, and his misfortunes proceed entirely
from the spirit of party and faction which for some time past has been so
prevalent.

“Mon maître, as I have often told you, I have lived in many houses and
served many masters, and it chanced that about ten years ago I served the
father of this gentleman, who was then a mere boy.  It was a very high
family, for monsieur the father was a general in the army, and a man of
large possessions.  The family consisted of the general, his lady, and
two sons; the youngest of whom is the person you have just seen, the
other was several years older.  Pardieu! I felt myself very comfortable
in that house, and every individual of the family had all kind of
complaisance for me.  It is singular enough, that though I have been
turned out of so many families, I was never turned out of that; and
though I left it thrice, it was of my own free will.  I became
dissatisfied with the other servants or with the dog or the cat.  The
last time I left was on account of the quail which was hung out of the
window of madame, and which waked me in the morning with its call.  _Eh
bien_, _mon maitre_, things went on in this way during the three years
that I continued in the family, out and in; at the end of which time it
was determined that the young gentleman should travel, and it was
proposed that I should attend him as valet; this I wished very much to
do.  However, par malheur, I was at this time very much dissatisfied with
madame his mother about the quail, and I insisted that before I
accompanied him the bird should be slaughtered for the kitchen.  To this
madame would by no means consent; and even the young gentleman, who had
always taken my part on other occasions, said that I was unreasonable: so
I left the house in a huff, and never entered it again.

“_Eh bien_, _mon maitre_, the young gentleman went upon his travels, and
continued abroad several years; and from the time of his departure until
we met him at Colunga, I have not set eyes upon, nor indeed heard of him.
I have heard enough, however, of his family; of monsieur the father, of
madame, and of the brother, who was an officer of cavalry.  A short time
before the troubles, I mean before the death of Ferdinand, monsieur the
father was appointed captain-general of Coruña.  Now monsieur, though a
good master, was rather a proud man, and fond of discipline and all that
kind of thing, and of obedience.  He was, moreover, no friend to the
populace, to the canaille, and he had a particular aversion to the
nationals.  So when Ferdinand died, it was whispered about at Coruña,
that the general was no liberal, and that he was a better friend to
Carlos than to Christina.  _Eh bien_, it chanced that there was a grand
fete, or festival at Coruña, on the water; and the nationals were there,
and the soldiers.  And I know not how it befell, but there was an emeute,
and the nationals laid hands on monsieur the general, and tying a rope
round his neck, flung him overboard from the barge in which he was, and
then dragged him astern about the harbour until he was drowned.  They
then went to his house and pillaged it, and so ill-treated madame, who at
that time happened to be enceinte, that in a few hours she expired.

“I tell you what, mon maître, when I heard of the misfortune of madame
and the general, you would scarcely believe it, but I actually shed
tears, and was sorry that I had parted with them in unkindness on account
of that pernicious quail.

“_Eh bien_, _mon maitre_, _nous poursuivrons notre histoire_.  The eldest
son, as I told you before, was a cavalry officer and a man of resolution,
and when he heard of the death of his father and mother, he vowed
revenge.  Poor fellow! but what does he do but desert, with two or three
discontented spirits of his troop, and going to the frontier of Galicia,
he raised a small faction, and proclaimed Don Carlos.  For some little
time he did considerable damage to the liberals, burning and destroying
their possessions, and putting to death several nationals that fell into
his hands.  However, this did not last long, his faction was soon
dispersed, and he himself taken and hanged, and his head stuck on a pole.

“_Nous sommes deja presque au bout_.  When we arrived at the inn, the
young man took me above, as you saw, and there for some time he could do
nothing but weep and sob.  His story is soon told:—he returned from his
travels, and the first intelligence which awaited him on his arrival in
Spain was, that his father was drowned, his mother dead, and his brother
hanged, and, moreover, all the possessions of his family confiscated.
This was not all: wherever he went, he found himself considered in the
light of a factious and discontented person, and was frequently assailed
by the nationals with blows of sabres and cudgels.  He applied to his
relations, and some of these, who were of the Carlist persuasion, advised
him to betake himself to the army of Don Carlos, and the Pretender
himself, who was a friend of his father, and remembered the services of
his brother, offered to give him a command in his army.  But, mon maître,
as I told you before, he was a pacific young gentleman, and as mild as a
lamb, and hated the idea of shedding blood.  He was, moreover, not of the
Carlist opinion, for during his studies he had read books written a long
time ago by countrymen of mine, all about republics and liberties, and
the rights of man, so that he was much more inclined to the liberal than
the Carlist system; he therefore declined the offer of Don Carlos,
whereupon all his relations deserted him, whilst the liberals hunted him
from one place to another like a wild beast.  At last, he sold some
little property which still remained to him, and with the proceeds he
came to this remote place of Colunga, where no one knew him, and where he
has been residing for several months, in a most melancholy manner, with
no other amusement than that which he derives from a book or two, or
occasionally hunting a leveret with his spaniel.

“He asked me for counsel, but I had none to give him, and could only weep
with him.  At last he said, ‘Dear Antonio, I see there is no remedy.  You
say your master is below, beg him, I pray, to stay till to-morrow, and we
will send for the maidens of the neighbourhood, and for a violin and a
bagpipe, and we will dance and cast away care for a moment.’  And then he
said something in old Greek, which I scarcely understood, but which I
think was equivalent to, ‘Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow
we die!’

“_Eh bien_, _mon maitre_, I told him that you were a serious gentleman
who never took any amusement, and that you were in a hurry.  Whereupon he
wept again, and embraced me and bade me farewell.  And now, mon maître, I
have told you the history of the young man of the inn.”

We slept at Ribida de Sela, and the next day, at noon, arrived at Llanes.
Our route lay between the coast and an immense range of mountains, which
rose up like huge ramparts at about a league’s distance from the sea.
The ground over which we passed was tolerably level, and seemingly well
cultivated.  There was no lack of vines and trees, whilst at short
intervals rose the cortijos of the proprietors,—square stone buildings
surrounded with an outer wall.  Llanes is an old town, formerly of
considerable strength.  In its neighbourhood is the convent of San
Cilorio, one of the largest monastic edifices in all Spain.  It is now
deserted, and stands lone and desolate upon one of the peninsulas of the
Cantabrian shore.  Leaving Llanes, we soon entered one of the most dreary
and barren regions imaginable, a region of rock and stone, where neither
grass nor trees were to be seen.  Night overtook us in these places.  We
wandered on, however, until we reached a small village, termed Santo
Colombo.  Here we passed the night, in the house of a carabineer of the
revenue, a tall athletic figure who met us at the gate armed with a gun.
He was a Castilian, and with all that ceremonious formality and grave
politeness for which his countrymen were at one time so celebrated.  He
chid his wife for conversing with her handmaid about the concerns of the
house before us.  “Barbara,” said he, “this is not conversation
calculated to interest the strange cavaliers; hold your peace, or go
aside with the muchacha.”  In the morning he refused any remuneration for
his hospitality.  “I am a caballero,” said he, “even as yourselves.  It
is not my custom to admit people into my house for the sake of lucre.  I
received you because you were benighted and the posada distant.”

Rising early in the morning, we pursued our way through a country equally
stony and dreary as that which we had entered upon the preceding day.  In
about four hours we reached San Vincente, a large dilapidated town,
chiefly inhabited by miserable fishermen.  It retains, however, many
remarkable relics of former magnificence: the bridge, which bestrides the
broad and deep firth, on which stands the town, has no less than
thirty-two arches, and is built of grey granite.  It is very ancient, and
in some part in so ruinous a condition as to be dangerous.

Leaving San Vincente behind us, we travelled for some leagues on the
sea-shore, crossing occasionally a narrow inlet or firth.  The country at
last began to improve, and in the neighbourhood of Santillana was both
beautiful and fertile.  About a league before we reached the country of
Gil Blas, we passed through an extensive wood, in which were rocks and
precipices; it was exactly such a place as that in which the cave of
Rolando was situated, as described in the novel.  This wood has an evil
name, and our guide informed us that robberies were occasionally
committed in it.  No adventure, however, befell us, and we reached
Santillana at about six in the evening.

We did not enter the town, but halted at a large venta or posada at the
entrance, before which stood an immense ash tree.  We had scarcely housed
ourselves when a tremendous storm of rain and wind commenced, accompanied
with thunder and lightning, which continued without much interruption for
several hours, and the effects of which were visible in our journey of
the following day, the streams over which we passed being much swollen,
and several trees lying uptorn by the wayside.  Santillana contains four
thousand inhabitants, and is six short leagues’ distance from Santander,
where we arrived early the next day.

Nothing could exhibit a stronger contrast to the desolate tracts and the
half ruined towns through which we had lately passed, than the bustle and
activity of Santander, which, though it stands on the confines of the
Basque provinces, the stronghold of the Pretender, is almost the only
city in Spain which has not suffered by the Carlist wars.  Till the close
of the last century it was little better than an obscure fishing town,
but it has of late years almost entirely engrossed the commerce of the
Spanish transatlantic possessions, especially of the Havannah.  The
consequence of which has been, that whilst Santander has rapidly
increased in wealth and magnificence, both Coruña and Cadiz have been as
rapidly hastening to decay.  At present it possesses a noble quay, on
which stands a line of stately edifices, far exceeding in splendour the
palaces of the aristocracy at Madrid.  These are built in the French
style, and are chiefly occupied by the merchants.  The population of
Santander is estimated at sixty thousand souls.

On the day of my arrival I dined at the table d’hote of the principal
inn, kept by a Genoese.  The company was very miscellaneous, French,
Germans, and Spaniards, all speaking in their respective languages,
whilst at the ends of the table, confronting each other, sat two Catalan
merchants, one of whom weighed nearly twenty stone, grunting across the
board in their harsh dialect.  Long, however, before dinner was
concluded, the conversation was entirely engrossed and the attention of
all present directed to an individual who sat on one side of the bulky
Catalan.  He was a thin man of about the middle height, with a remarkably
red face, and something in his eyes which, if not a squint, bore a
striking resemblance to it.  He was dressed in a blue military frock, and
seemed to take much more pleasure in haranguing than in the fare which
was set before him.  He spoke perfectly good Spanish, yet his voice
betrayed something of a foreign accent.  For a long time he descanted
with immense volubility on war and all its circumstances, freely
criticising the conduct of the generals, both Carlists and Christinos, in
the present struggle, till at last he exclaimed, “Had I but twenty
thousand men allowed me by the government, I would bring the war to a
conclusion in six months.”

“Pardon me, Sir,” said a Spaniard who sat at the table, “the curiosity
which induces me to request the favour of your distinguished name.”

“I am Flinter,” replied the individual in the military frock, “a name
which is in the mouth of every man, woman, and child in Spain.  I am
Flinter the Irishman, just escaped from the Basque provinces and the
claws of Don Carlos.  On the decease of Ferdinand I declared for
Isabella, esteeming it the duty of every good cavalier and Irishman in
the Spanish service to do so.  You have all heard of my exploits, and
permit me to tell you they would have been yet more glorious had not
jealousy been at work and cramped my means.  Two years ago I was
despatched to Estremadura, to organize the militias.  The bands of Gomez
and Cabrera entered the province and spread devastation around.  They
found me, however, at my post; and had I been properly seconded by those
under my command, the two rebels would never have returned to their
master to boast of their success.  I stood behind my intrenchments.  A
man advanced and summoned us to surrender.  ‘Who are you?’ I demanded.
‘I am Cabrera,’ he replied; ‘and I am Flinter,’ I retorted, flourishing
my sabre; ‘retire to your battalions or you will forthwith die the
death.’  He was awed and did as I commanded.  In an hour we surrendered.
I was led a prisoner to the Basque provinces; and the Carlists rejoiced
in the capture they had made, for the name of Flinter had long sounded
amongst the Carlist ranks.  I was flung into a loathsome dungeon, where I
remained twenty months.  I was cold; I was naked; but I did not on that
account despond, my spirit was too indomitable for such weakness.  My
keeper at last pitied my misfortunes.  He said that ‘it grieved him to
see so valiant a man perish in inglorious confinement.’  We laid a plan
to escape together; disguises were provided, and we made the attempt.  We
passed unobserved till we arrived at the Carlist lines above Bilbao;
there we were stopped.  My presence of mind, however, did not desert me.
I was disguised as a carman, as a Catalan, and the coolness of my answers
deceived my interrogators.  We were permitted to pass, and soon were safe
within the walls of Bilbao.  There was an illumination that night in the
town, for the lion had burst his toils, Flinter had escaped, and was once
more returned to re-animate a drooping cause.  I have just arrived at
Santander on my way to Madrid, where I intend to ask of the government a
command, with twenty thousand men.”

Poor Flinter! a braver heart and a more gasconading mouth were surely
never united in the same body.  He proceeded to Madrid, and through the
influence of the British ambassador, who was his friend, he obtained the
command of a small division, with which he contrived to surprise and
defeat, in the neighbourhood of Toledo, a body of the Carlists, commanded
by Orejita, whose numbers more than trebled his own.  In reward for this
exploit he was persecuted by the government, which, at that time, was the
moderado or juste milieu, with the most relentless animosity; the prime
minister, Ofalia, supporting with all his influence numerous and
ridiculous accusations of plunder and robbery brought against the
too-successful general by the Carlist canons of Toledo.  He was likewise
charged with a dereliction of duty, in having permitted, after the battle
of Valdepeñas, which he likewise won in the most gallant manner, the
Carlist force to take possession of the mines of Almaden, although the
government, who were bent on his ruin, had done all in their power to
prevent him from following up his successes by denying him the slightest
supplies and reinforcements.  The fruits of victory thus wrested from
him, his hopes blighted, a morbid melancholy seized upon the Irishman; he
resigned his command, and in less than ten months from the period when I
saw him at Santander, afforded his dastardly and malignant enemies a
triumph which satisfied even them, by cutting his own throat with a
razor.

Ardent spirits of foreign climes, who hope to distinguish yourselves in
the service of Spain, and to earn honours and rewards, remember the fate
of Columbus, and of another as brave and as ardent—Flinter!



CHAPTER XXXV


Departure from Santander—The Night Alarm—The Black Pass.

I had ordered two hundred Testaments to be sent to Santander from Madrid:
I found, however, to my great sorrow, that they had not arrived, and I
supposed that they had either been seized on the way by the Carlists, or
that my letter had miscarried.  I then thought of applying to England for
a supply, but I abandoned the idea for two reasons.  In the first place,
I should have to remain idly loitering, at least a month, before I could
receive them, at a place where every article was excessively dear; and,
secondly, I was very unwell, and unable to procure medical advice at
Santander.  Ever since I left Coruña, I had been afflicted with a
terrible dysentery, and latterly with an ophthalmia, the result of the
other malady.  I therefore determined on returning to Madrid.  To effect
this, however, seemed no very easy task.  Parties of the army of Don
Carlos, which, in a partial degree, had been routed in Castile, were
hovering about the country through which I should have to pass, more
especially in that part called “The Mountains,” so that all communication
had ceased between Santander and the southern districts.  Nevertheless, I
determined to trust as usual in the Almighty and to risk the danger.  I
purchased, therefore, a small horse, and sallied forth with Antonio.

Before departing, however, I entered into conference with the booksellers
as to what they should do in the event of my finding an opportunity of
sending them a stock of Testaments from Madrid; and, having arranged
matters to my satisfaction, I committed myself to Providence.  I will not
dwell long on this journey of three hundred miles.  We were in the midst
of the fire, yet, strange to say, escaped without a hair of our heads
being singed.  Robberies, murders, and all kinds of atrocities were
perpetrated before, behind, and on both sides of us, but not so much as a
dog barked at us, though in one instance a plan had been laid to
intercept us.  About four leagues from Santander, whilst we were baiting
our horses at a village hostelry, I saw a fellow run off after having
held a whispering conversation with a boy who was dealing out barley to
us.  I instantly inquired of the latter what the man had said to him, but
only obtained an evasive answer.  It appeared afterwards that the
conversation was about ourselves.  Two or three leagues farther there was
an inn and village where we had proposed staying, and indeed had
expressed our intention of doing so; but on arriving there, finding that
the sun was still far from its bourne, I determined to proceed farther,
expecting to meet with a resting-place at the distance of a league;
though I was mistaken, as we found none until we reached Montaneda, nine
leagues and a half from Santander, where was stationed a small detachment
of soldiers.  At the dead of night we were aroused from our sleep by a
cry that the factious were not far off.  A messenger had arrived from the
alcalde of the village where we had previously intended staying, who
stated that a party of Carlists had just surprised that place, and were
searching for an English spy, whom they supposed to be at the inn.  The
officer commanding the soldiers upon hearing this, not deeming his own
situation a safe one, instantly drew off his men, falling back on a
stronger party stationed in a fortified village near at hand.  As for
ourselves, we saddled our horses and continued our way in the dark.  Had
the Carlists succeeded in apprehending me, I should instantly have been
shot, and my body cast on the rocks to feed the vultures and wolves.  But
“it was not so written,” said Antonio, who, like many of his countrymen,
was a fatalist.  The next night we had another singular escape: we had
arrived near the entrance of a horrible pass called “El puerto de la
puente de las tablas,” or the pass of the bridge of planks, which wound
through a black and frightful mountain, on the farther side of which was
the town of Oñas, where we meant to tarry for the night.  The sun had set
about a quarter of an hour.  Suddenly a man, with his face covered with
blood, rushed out of the pass.  “Turn back, sir,” he said, “in the name
of God; there are murderers in that pass; they have just robbed me of my
mule and all I possess, and I have hardly escaped with life from their
hands.”  I scarcely know why, but I made him no answer and proceeded;
indeed I was so weary and unwell that I cared not what became of me.  We
entered; the rocks rose perpendicularly, right and left, entirely
intercepting the scanty twilight, so that the darkness of the grave, or
rather the blackness of the valley of the shadow of death reigned around
us, and we knew not where we went, but trusted to the instinct of the
horses, who moved on with their heads close to the ground.  The only
sound which we heard was the plash of a stream, which tumbled down the
pass.  I expected every moment to feel a knife at my throat, but “_it was
not so written_.”  We threaded the pass without meeting a human being,
and within three quarters of an hour after the time we entered it, we
found ourselves within the posada of the town of Oñas, which was filled
with troops and armed peasants expecting an attack from the grand Carlist
army, which was near at hand.

Well, we reached Burgos in safety; we reached Valladolid in safety; we
passed the Guadarama in safety; and were at length safely housed in
Madrid.  People said we had been very lucky; Antonio said, “It was so
written”; but I say, Glory be to the Lord for his mercies vouchsafed to
us.



CHAPTER XXXVI


State of Affairs at Madrid—The New Ministry—Pope of Rome—The Bookseller
of Toledo—Sword Blades—Houses of Toledo—The Forlorn Gypsy—Proceedings at
Madrid—Another Servant.

During my journey in the northern provinces of Spain, which occupied a
considerable portion of the year 1837, I had accomplished but a slight
portion of what I proposed to myself to effect in the outset.
Insignificant are the results of man’s labours compared with the swelling
ideas of his presumption; something, however, had been effected by the
journey, which I had just concluded.  The New Testament of Christ was now
enjoying a quiet sale in the principal towns of the north, and I had
secured the friendly interest and co-operation of the booksellers of
those parts, particularly of him the most considerable of them all, old
Rey of Compostella.  I had, moreover, disposed of a considerable number
of Testaments with my own hands, to private individuals, entirely of the
lower class, namely, muleteers, carmen, contrabandistas, etc., so that
upon the whole I had abundant cause for gratitude and thanksgiving.

I did not find our affairs in a very prosperous state at Madrid, few
copies having been sold in the booksellers’ shops, yet what could be
rationally expected during these latter times?  Don Carlos, with a large
army, had been at the gates; plunder and massacre had been expected; so
that people were too much occupied in forming plans to secure their lives
and property, to give much attention to reading of any description.

The enemy, however, had now retired to his strongholds in Alava and
Guipuscoa.  I hoped that brighter days were dawning, and that the work,
under my own superintendence, would, with God’s blessing, prosper in the
capital of Spain.  How far the result corresponded with my expectations
will be seen in the sequel.  During my absence in the north, a total
change of ministers had occurred.  The liberal party had been ousted from
the cabinet, and in their place had entered individuals attached to the
moderado or court party: unfortunately, however, for my prospects, they
consisted of persons with whom I had no acquaintance whatever, and with
whom my former friends, Galiano and Isturitz, had little or no influence.
These gentlemen were now regularly laid on the shelf, and their political
career appeared to be terminated for ever.

From the present ministry I could expect but little; they consisted of
men, the greater part of whom had been either courtiers or employés of
the deceased King Ferdinand, who were friends to absolutism, and by no
means inclined to do or to favour anything calculated to give offence to
the court of Rome, which they were anxious to conciliate, hoping that
eventually it might be induced to recognize the young queen, not as the
constitutional but as the absolute Queen Isabella the Second.

Such was the party which continued in power throughout the remainder of
my sojourn in Spain, and which persecuted me less from rancour and malice
than from policy.  It was not until the conclusion of the war of the
succession that it lost the ascendancy, when it sank to the ground with
its patroness the queen-mother, before the dictatorship of Espartero.

The first step which I took after my return to Madrid, towards
circulating the Scriptures, was a very bold one.  It was neither more nor
less than the establishment of a shop for the sale of Testaments.  This
shop was situated in the Calle del Principe, a respectable and
well-frequented street in the neighbourhood of the Square of Cervantes.
I furnished it handsomely with glass cases and chandeliers, and procured
an acute Gallegan of the name of Pepe Calzado, to superintend the
business, who gave me weekly a faithful account of the copies sold.

“How strangely times alter,” said I, the second day subsequent to the
opening of my establishment, as I stood on the opposite side of the
street, leaning against the wall with folded arms, surveying my shop, on
the windows of which were painted in large yellow characters, _Despacho
de la Sociedad Biblica y Estrangera_; “how strangely times alter; here
have I been during the last eight months running about old Popish Spain,
distributing Testaments, as agent of what the Papists call an heretical
society, and have neither been stoned nor burnt; and here am I now in the
capital, doing that which one would think were enough to cause all the
dead inquisitors and officials buried within the circuit of the walls to
rise from their graves and cry abomination; and yet no one interferes
with me.  Pope of Rome!  Pope of Rome! look to thyself.  That shop may be
closed; but oh! what a sign of the times, that it has been permitted to
exist for one day.  It appears to me, my Father, that the days of your
sway are numbered in Spain; that you will not be permitted much longer to
plunder her, to scoff at her, and to scourge her with scorpions, as in
bygone periods.  See I not the hand on the wall?  See I not in yonder
letters a ‘Mene, mene, Tekel, Upharsin’?  Look to thyself, Batuschca.”

And I remained for two hours, leaning against the wall, staring at the
shop.

A short time after the establishment of the despacho at Madrid, I once
more mounted the saddle, and, attended by Antonio, rode over to Toledo,
for the purpose of circulating the Scriptures, sending beforehand by a
muleteer a cargo of one hundred Testaments.  I instantly addressed myself
to the principal bookseller of the place, whom from the circumstance of
his living in a town so abounding with canons, priests, and ex-friars as
Toledo, I expected to find a Carlist, or a _servile_ at least.  I was
never more mistaken in my life; on entering the shop, which was very
large and commodious, I beheld a stout athletic man, dressed in a kind of
cavalry uniform, with a helmet on his head, and an immense sabre in his
hand: this was the bookseller himself, who I soon found was an officer in
the national cavalry.  Upon learning who I was, he shook me heartily by
the hand, and said that nothing would give him greater pleasure than
taking charge of the books, which he would endeavour to circulate to the
utmost of his ability.

“Will not your doing so bring you into odium with the clergy?”

“Ca!” said he; “who cares?  I am rich, and so was my father before me.  I
do not depend on them, they cannot hate me more than they do already, for
I make no secret of my opinions.  I have just returned from an
expedition,” said he; “my brother nationals and myself have, for the last
three days, been occupied in hunting down the factious and thieves of the
neighbourhood; we have killed three and brought in several prisoners.
Who cares for the cowardly priests?  I am a liberal, Don Jorge, and a
friend of your countryman, Flinter.  Many is the Carlist guerilla-curate
and robber-friar whom I have assisted him to catch.  I am rejoiced to
hear that he has just been appointed captain-general of Toledo; there
will be fine doings here when he arrives, Don Jorge.  We will make the
clergy shake between us, I assure you.”

Toledo was formerly the capital of Spain.  Its population at present is
barely fifteen thousand souls, though, in the time of the Romans, and
also during the Middle Ages, it is said to have amounted to between two
and three hundred thousand.  It is situated about twelve leagues (forty
miles) westward of Madrid, and is built upon a steep rocky hill, round
which flows the Tagus, on all sides but the north.  It still possesses a
great many remarkable edifices, notwithstanding that it has long since
fallen into decay.  Its cathedral is the most magnificent of Spain, and
is the see of the primate.  In the tower of this cathedral is the famous
bell of Toledo, the largest in the world with the exception of the
monster bell of Moscow, which I have also seen.  It weighs 1,543 arrobes,
or 37,032 pounds.  It has, however, a disagreeable sound, owing to a
cleft in its side.  Toledo could once boast the finest pictures in Spain,
but many were stolen or destroyed by the French during the Peninsular
war, and still more have lately been removed by order of the government.
Perhaps the most remarkable one still remains; I allude to that which
represents the burial of the Count of Orgaz, the masterpiece of Domenico,
the Greek, a most extraordinary genius, some of whose productions possess
merit of a very high order.  The picture in question is in the little
parish church of San Tome, at the bottom of the aisle, on the left side
of the altar.  Could it be purchased, I should say it would be cheap at
five thousand pounds.

Amongst the many remarkable things which meet the eye of the curious
observer at Toledo, is the manufactory of arms, where are wrought the
swords, spears, and other weapons intended for the army, with the
exception of fire-arms, which mostly come from abroad.

In old times, as is well known, the sword-blades of Toledo were held in
great estimation, and were transmitted as merchandise throughout
Christendom.  The present manufactory, or fabrica, as it is called, is a
handsome modern edifice, situated without the wall of the city, on a
plain contiguous to the river, with which it communicates by a small
canal.  It is said that the water and the sand of the Tagus are essential
for the proper tempering of the swords.  I asked some of the principal
workmen whether, at the present day, they could manufacture weapons of
equal value to those of former days, and whether the secret had been
lost.

“Ca!” said they, “the swords of Toledo were never so good as those which
we are daily making.  It is ridiculous enough to see strangers coming
here to purchase old swords, the greater part of which are mere rubbish,
and never made at Toledo, yet for such they will give a large price,
whilst they would grudge two dollars for this jewel, which was made but
yesterday”; thereupon putting into my hand a middle-sized rapier.  “Your
worship,” said they, “seems to have a strong arm, prove its temper
against the stone wall;—thrust boldly and fear not.”

I _have_ a strong arm and dashed the point with my utmost force against
the solid granite: my arm was numbed to the shoulder from the violence of
the concussion, and continued so for nearly a week, but the sword
appeared not to be at all blunted, or to have suffered in any respect.

“A better sword than that,” said an ancient workman, a native of Old
Castile, “never transfixed Moor out yonder on the sagra.”

During my stay at Toledo, I lodged at the Posada de los Caballeros, which
signifies the inn of the gentlemen, which name, in some respects, is
certainly well deserved, for there are many palaces far less magnificent
than this inn of Toledo.  By magnificence it must not be supposed,
however, that I allude to costliness of furniture, or any kind of luxury
which pervaded the culinary department.  The rooms were as empty as those
of Spanish inns generally are, and the fare, though good in its kind, was
plain and homely; but I have seldom seen a more imposing edifice.  It was
of immense size, consisting of several stories, and was built something
in the Moorish taste, with a quadrangular court in the centre, beneath
which was an immense algibe or tank, serving as a reservoir for
rain-water.  All the houses in Toledo are supplied with tanks of this
description, into which the waters in the rainy season flow from the
roofs through pipes.  No other water is used for drinking; that of the
Tagus, not being considered salubrious, is only used for purposes of
cleanliness, being conveyed up the steep narrow streets on donkeys in
large stone jars.  The city, standing on a rocky mountain, has no wells.
As for the rain-water, it deposits a sediment in the tank, and becomes
very sweet and potable: these tanks are cleaned out twice every year.
During the summer, at which time the heat in this part of Spain is
intense, the families spend the greater part of the day in the courts,
which are overhung with a linen awning, the heat of the atmosphere being
tempered by the coolness arising from the tank below, which answers the
same purpose as the fountain in the southern provinces of Spain.

I spent about a week at Toledo, during which time several copies of the
Testament were disposed of in the shop of my friend the bookseller.
Several priests took it up from the mostrador on which it lay, examined
it, but made no remarks; none of them purchased it.  My friend showed me
through his house, almost every apartment of which was lined from roof to
floor with books, many of which were highly valuable.  He told me that he
possessed the best collection in Spain of the ancient literature of the
country.  He was, however, less proud of his library than his stud;
finding that I had some acquaintance with horses, his liking for me and
also his respect considerably increased.  “All I have,” said he, “is at
your service; I see you are a man after my own heart.  When you are
disposed to ride out upon the sagra, you have only to apply to my groom,
who will forthwith saddle you my famed Cordovese entero; I purchased him
from the stables at Aranjuez, when the royal stud was broken up.  There
is but one other man to whom I would lend him, and that man is Flinter.”

At Toledo I met with a forlorn Gypsy woman and her son, a lad of about
fourteen years of age; she was not a native of the place, but had come
from La Mancha, her husband having been cast into the prison of Toledo on
a charge of mule-stealing: the crime had been proved against him, and in
a few days he was to depart for Malaga, with the chain of galley slaves.
He was quite destitute of money, and his wife was now in Toledo, earning
a few cuartos by telling fortunes about the streets, to support him in
prison.  She told me that it was her intention to follow him to Malaga,
where she hoped to be able to effect his escape.  What an instance of
conjugal affection; and yet the affection here was all on one side, as is
too frequently the case.  Her husband was a worthless scoundrel, who had
previously abandoned her and betaken himself to Madrid, where he had long
lived in concubinage with the notorious she-thug Aurora, at whose
instigation he had committed the robbery for which he was now held in
durance.  “Should your husband escape from Malaga, in what direction will
he fly?” I demanded.

“To the chim of the Corahai, my son; to the land of the Moors, to be a
soldier of the Moorish king.”

“And what will become of yourself?”  I inquired; “think you that he will
take you with him?”

“He will leave me on the shore, my son, and as soon as he has crossed the
black pawnee, he will forget me and never think of me more.”

“And knowing his ingratitude, why should you give yourself so much
trouble about him?”

“Am I not his romi, my son, and am I not bound by the law of the Cales to
assist him to the last?  Should he return from the land of the Corahai at
the end of a hundred years, and should find me alive, and should say, I
am hungry, little wife, go forth and steal or tell bahi, I must do it,
for he is the rom and I the romi.”

On my return to Madrid, I found the despacho still open: various
Testaments had been sold, though the number was by no means considerable:
the work had to labour under great disadvantage, from the ignorance of
the people at large with respect to its tenor and contents.  It was no
wonder, then, that little interest was felt respecting it.  To call,
however, public attention to the despacho, I printed three thousand
advertisements on paper, yellow, blue, and crimson, with which I almost
covered the sides of the streets, and besides this, inserted an account
of it in all the journals and periodicals; the consequence was, that in a
short time almost every person in Madrid was aware of its existence.
Such exertions in London or Paris would probably have ensured the sale of
the entire edition of the New Testament within a few days.  In Madrid,
however, the result was not quite so flattering; for after the
establishment had been open an entire month, the copies disposed of
barely amounted to one hundred.

These proceedings of mine did not fail to cause a great sensation: the
priests and their partisans were teeming with malice and fury, which, for
some time, however, they thought proper to exhibit only in words; it
being their opinion that I was favoured by the ambassador and by the
British government; but there was no attempt, however atrocious, that
might not be expected from their malignity; and were it right and seemly
for me, the most insignificant of worms, to make such a comparison, I
might say, like Paul at Ephesus, I was fighting with wild beasts.

On the last day of the year 1837, my servant Antonio thus addressed me:
“Mon maître, it is necessary that I leave you for a time.  Ever since we
have returned from our journeys, I have become unsettled and dissatisfied
with the house, the furniture, and with Donna Marequita.  I have
therefore engaged myself as cook in the house of the Count of ---, where
I am to receive four dollars per month less than what your worship gives
me.  I am fond of change, though it be for the worse.  Adieu, mon maître,
may you be as well served as you deserve; should you chance, however, to
have any pressing need _de mes soins_, send for me without hesitation,
and I will at once give my new master warning, if I am still with him,
and come to you.”

Thus was I deprived for a time of the services of Antonio.  I continued
for a few days without a domestic, at the end of which time I hired a
certain Cantabrian or Basque, a native of the village of Hernani, in
Guipuscoa, who was strongly recommended to me.



CHAPTER XXXVII


Euscarra—Basque not Irish—Sanskrit and Tartar Dialects—A Vowel
Language—Popular Poetry—The Basques—Their Persons—Basque Women.

I now entered upon the year 1838, perhaps the most eventful of all those
which I passed in Spain.  The despacho still continued open, with a
somewhat increasing sale.  Having at this time little of particular
moment with which to occupy myself, I committed to the press two works,
which for some time past had been in the course of preparation.  These
were the Gospel of St. Luke in the Spanish Gypsy and the Euscarra
languages.

With respect to the Gypsy Gospel I have little to say, having already
spoken of it in a former work (_The Zincali_): it was translated by
myself, together with the greater part of the New Testament, during my
long intercourse with the Spanish Gypsies.  Concerning the Luke in
Euscarra, however, it will be as well to be more particular, and to avail
myself of the present opportunity to say a few words concerning the
language in which it was written, and the people for whom it was
intended.

The Euscarra, then, is the proper term for a certain speech or language,
supposed to have been at one time prevalent throughout Spain, but which
is at present confined to certain districts, both on the French and
Spanish side of the Pyrenees, which are laved by the waters of the
Cantabrian Gulf or Bay of Biscay.  This language is commonly known as the
Basque or Biscayan, which words are mere modifications of the word
Euscarra, the consonant B having been prefixed for the sake of euphony.
Much that is vague, erroneous, and hypothetical, has been said and
written concerning this tongue.  The Basques assert that it was not only
the original language of Spain, but also of the world, and that from it
all other languages are derived; but the Basques are a very ignorant
people, and know nothing of the philosophy of language.  Very little
importance, therefore, need be attached to any opinion of theirs on such
a subject.  A few amongst them, however, who affect some degree of
learning, contend, that it is neither more nor less than a dialect of the
Phoenician, and, that the Basques are the descendants of a Phoenician
colony, established at the foot of the Pyrenees at a very remote period.
Of this theory, or rather conjecture, as it is unsubstantiated by the
slightest proof, it is needless to take further notice than to observe
that, provided the Phoenician language, as many of the _truly learned_
have supposed and almost proved, was a dialect of the Hebrew, or closely
allied to it, it were as unreasonable to suppose that the Basque is
derived from it, as that the Kamschatdale and Cherokee are dialects of
the Greek or Latin.

There is, however, another opinion with respect to the Basque which
deserves more especial notice, from the circumstance of its being
extensively entertained amongst the literati of various countries of
Europe, more especially England.  I allude to the Celtic origin of this
tongue, and its close connexion with the most cultivated of all the
Celtic dialects, the Irish.  People who pretend to be well conversant
with the subject, have even gone so far as to assert, that so little
difference exists between the Basque and Irish tongues, that individuals
of the two nations, when they meet together, find no difficulty in
understanding each other, with no other means of communication than their
respective languages; in a word, that there is scarcely a greater
difference between the two than between the French and the Spanish
Basque.  Such similarity, however, though so strongly insisted upon, by
no means exists in fact, and perhaps in the whole of Europe it would be
difficult to discover two languages which exhibit fewer points of mutual
resemblance than the Basque and Irish.

The Irish, like most other European languages, is a dialect of the
Sanskrit, a _remote_ one, as may well be supposed.  The corner of the
western world in which it is still preserved being, of all countries in
Europe, the most distant from the proper home of the parent tongue.  It
is still, however, a dialect of that venerable and most original speech,
not so closely resembling it, it is true, as the English, Danish, and
those which belong to what is called the Gothic family, and far less than
those of the Sclavonian; for, the nearer we approach to the East, in
equal degree the assimilation of languages to this parent stock becomes
more clear and distinct; but still a dialect, agreeing with the Sanskrit
in structure, in the arrangement of words, and in many instances in the
words themselves, which, however modified, may still be recognized as
Sanskrit.  But what is the Basque, and to what family does it properly
pertain?

To two great Asiatic languages, all the dialects spoken at present in
Europe may be traced.  These two, if not now spoken, still exist in
books, and are, moreover, the languages of two of the principal religions
of the East.  I allude to the Tibetian and Sanskrit—the sacred languages
of the followers of Buddh and Bramah.  These tongues, though they possess
many words in common, which is easily to be accounted for by their close
proximity, are properly distinct, being widely different in structure.
In what this difference consists, I have neither time nor inclination to
state; suffice it to say that the Celtic, Gothic, and Sclavonian dialects
in Europe belong to the Sanskrit family, even as in the East the Persian,
and to a less degree the Arabic, Hebrew, etc.; whilst to the Tibetian or
Tartar family in Asia pertain the Mandchou and Mongolian, the Calmuc and
the Turkish of the Caspian Sea; and in Europe, the Hungarian and the
Basque _partially_.

Indeed this latter language is a strange anomaly, so that upon the whole
it is less difficult to say what it is not, than what it is.  It abounds
with Sanskrit words to such a degree that its surface seems strewn with
them.  Yet would it be wrong to term it a Sanskrit dialect, for in the
collocation of these words the Tartar form is most decidedly observable.
A considerable proportion of Tartar words is likewise to be found in this
language, though perhaps not in equal number to the terms derived from
the Sanskrit.  Of these Tartar etymons I shall at present content myself
with citing one, though, if necessary, it were easy to adduce hundreds.
This word is _Jauna_, or as it is pronounced, _Khauna_, a word in
constant use amongst the Basques, and which is the _Khan_ of the Mongols
and Mandchous, and of the same signification—Lord.

Having closely examined the subject in all its various bearings, and
having weighed what is to be said on one side against what is to be
advanced on the other, I am inclined to rank the Basque rather amongst
the Tartar than the Sanskrit dialects.  Whoever should have an
opportunity of comparing the enunciation of the Basques and Tartars
would, from that alone, even if he understood them not, come to the
conclusion that their respective languages were formed on the same
principles.  In both occur periods seemingly interminable, during which
the voice gradually ascends to a climax, and then gradually sinks down.

I have spoken of the surprising number of Sanskrit words contained in the
Basque language, specimens of some of which will be found below.  It is
remarkable enough, that in the greater part of the derivatives from the
Sanskrit the Basque has dropped the initial consonant, so that the word
commences with a vowel.  The Basque, indeed, may be said to be almost a
vowel language; the number of consonants employed being comparatively
few: perhaps eight words out of ten commence and terminate with a vowel,
owing to which it is a language to the highest degree soft and melodious,
far excelling in this respect any other language in Europe, not even
excepting the Italian.

Here follow a few specimens of Basque words with the Sanskrit roots in
juxtaposition:—

BASQUE.          SANSKRIT.
Ardoa            Sandhána        _Wine_.
Arratsa          Ratri           _Night_.
Beguia           Akshi           _Eye_.
Choria           Chiria          _Bird_.
Chacurra         Cucura          _Dog_.
Erreguiña        Rani            _Queen_.
Icusi            Iksha           _To see_.
Iru              Treya           _Three_.
Jan (Khan)       Khana           _To eat_.
Uria             Puri            _City_.
Urruti           Dura            _Far_.

Such is the tongue in which I brought out Saint Luke’s Gospel at Madrid.
The translation I procured originally from a Basque physician of the name
of Oteiza.  Previous to being sent to the press, the version had lain
nearly two years in my possession, during which time, and particularly
during my travels, I lost no opportunity of submitting it to the
inspection of those who were considered competent scholars in the
Euscarra.  It did not entirely please me; but it was in vain to seek for
a better translation.

In my early youth I had obtained a slight acquaintance with the Euscarra,
as it exists in books.  This acquaintance I considerably increased during
my stay in Spain; and by occasionally mingling with Basques, was enabled
to understand the spoken language to a certain extent, and even to speak
it, but always with considerable hesitation; for to speak Basque, even
tolerably, it is necessary to have lived in the country from a very early
period.  So great are the difficulties attending it, and so strange are
its peculiarities, that it is very rare to find a foreigner possessed of
any considerable skill in the oral language, and the Spaniards consider
the obstacles so formidable that they have a proverb to the effect that
Satan once lived seven years in Biscay, and then departed, finding
himself unable either to understand or to make himself understood.

There are few inducements to the study of this language.  In the first
place, the acquisition of it is by no means necessary even to those who
reside in the countries where it is spoken; the Spanish being generally
understood throughout the Basque provinces pertaining to Spain, and the
French in those pertaining to France.

In the second place, neither dialect is in possession of any peculiar
literature capable of repaying the toil of the student.  There are
various books extant both in French and Spanish Basque, but these consist
entirely of Popish devotion, and are for the most part translations.

It will, perhaps, here be asked whether the Basques do not possess
popular poetry, like most other nations, however small and
inconsiderable.  They have certainly no lack of songs, ballads, and
stanzas, but of a character by no means entitled to the appellation of
poetry.  I have noted down from recitation a considerable portion of what
they call their poetry, but the only tolerable specimen of verse which I
ever discovered amongst them was the following stanza, which, after all,
is not entitled to very high praise:—

    “Ichasoa urac aundi,
    Estu ondoric agueri—
    Pasaco ninsaqueni andic
    Maitea icustea gatic.”

_i.e._ “The waters of the sea are vast, and their bottom cannot be seen:
but over them I will pass, that I may behold my love.”

The Basques are a singing rather than a poetical people.  Notwithstanding
the facility with which their tongue lends itself to the composition of
verse, they have never produced among them a poet with the slightest
pretensions to reputation; but their voices are singularly sweet, and
they are known to excel in musical composition.  It is the opinion of a
certain author, the Abbé D’Ilharce, who has written about them, that they
derived the name _Cantabri_, by which they were known to the Romans, from
_Khantor-ber_, signifying sweet singers.  They possess much music of
their own, some of which is said to be exceedingly ancient.  Of this
music specimens were published at Donostian (San Sebastian) in the year
1826, edited by a certain Juan Ignacio Iztueta.  These consist of wild
and thrilling marches, to the sound of which it is believed that the
ancient Basques were in the habit of descending from their mountains to
combat with the Romans, and subsequently with the Moors.  Whilst
listening to them it is easy to suppose oneself in the close vicinity of
some desperate encounter.  We seem to hear the charge of cavalry on the
sounding plain, the clash of swords, and the rushing of men down the
gorges of hills.  This music is accompanied with words, but such words!
Nothing can be imagined more stupid, commonplace, and uninteresting.  So
far from being martial, they relate to everyday incidents and appear to
have no connexion whatever with the music.  They are evidently of modern
date.

In person the Basques are of the middle size, and are active and
athletic.  They are in general of fair complexions and handsome features,
and in appearance bear no slight resemblance to certain Tartar tribes of
the Caucasus.  Their bravery is unquestionable, and they are considered
as the best soldiery belonging to the Spanish crown: a fact highly
corroborative of the supposition that they are of Tartar origin, the
Tartars being of all races the most warlike, and amongst whom the most
remarkable conquerors have been produced.  They are faithful and honest,
and capable of much disinterested attachment; kind and hospitable to
strangers; all of which points are far from being at variance with the
Tartar character.  But they are somewhat dull, and their capacities are
by no means of a high order, and in these respects they again resemble
the Tartars.

No people on earth are prouder than the Basques, but theirs is a kind of
republican pride.  They have no nobility amongst them, and no one will
acknowledge a superior.  The poorest carman is as proud as the governor
of Tolosa.  “He is more powerful than I,” he will say, “but I am of as
good blood; perhaps hereafter I may become a governor myself.”  They
abhor servitude, at least out of their own country; and though
circumstances frequently oblige them to seek masters, it is very rare to
find them filling the places of common domestics; they are stewards,
secretaries, accountants, etc.  True it is, that it was my own fortune to
obtain a Basque domestic; but then he always treated me more as an equal
than a master, would sit down in my presence, give me his advice unasked,
and enter into conversation with me at all times and occasions.  Did I
check him!  Certainly not!  For in that case he would have left me, and a
more faithful creature I never knew.  His fate was a mournful one, as
will appear in the sequel.

I have said that the Basques abhor servitude, and are rarely to be found
serving as domestics amongst the Spaniards.  I allude, however, merely to
the males.  The females, on the contrary, have no objection whatever to
enter houses as servants.  Women, indeed, amongst the Basques are not
looked upon with all the esteem which they deserve, and are considered as
fitted for little else than to perform menial offices, even as in the
East, where they are viewed in the light of servants and slaves.  The
Basque females differ widely in character from the men; they are quick
and vivacious, and have in general much more talent.  They are famous for
their skill as cooks, and in most respectable houses of Madrid a Biscayan
female may be found in the kitchen, queen supreme of the culinary
department.



CHAPTER XXXVIII


The Prohibition—Gospel Persecuted—Charge of Sorcery—Ofalia.

About the middle of January a swoop was made upon me by my enemies, in
the shape of a peremptory prohibition from the political governor of
Madrid to sell any more New Testaments.  This measure by no means took me
by surprise, as I had for some time previously been expecting something
of the kind, on account of the political sentiments of the ministers then
in power.  I forthwith paid a visit to Sir George Villiers, informing him
of what had occurred.  He promised to do all he could to cause the
prohibition to be withdrawn.  Unfortunately at this time he had not much
influence, having opposed with all his might the entrance of the moderado
ministry to power, and the nomination of Ofalia to the presidency of the
cabinet.  I, however, never lost confidence in the Almighty, in whose
cause I was engaged.

Matters were going on very well before this check.  The demand for
Testaments was becoming considerable, so much so, that the clergy were
alarmed, and this step was the consequence.  But they had previously
recourse to another, well worthy of them, they attempted to act upon my
fears.  One of the ruffians of Madrid, called Manolos, came up to me one
night, in a dark street, and told me that unless I discontinued selling
my “Jewish books,” I should have a knife “_nailed in my heart_”; but I
told him to go home, say his prayers, and tell his employers that I
pitied them; whereupon he turned away with an oath.  A few days after, I
received an order to send two copies of the Testament to the office of
the political governor, with which I complied, and in less than
twenty-four hours an alguazil arrived at the shop with a notice
prohibiting the further sale of the work.

One circumstance rejoiced me.  Singular as it may appear, the authorities
took no measures to cause my little despacho to be closed, and I received
no prohibition respecting the sale of any work but the New Testament, and
as the Gospel of Saint Luke, in Romany and Basque, would within a short
time be ready for delivery, I hoped to carry on matters in a small way
till better times should arrive.

I was advised to erase from the shop windows the words “Despacho of the
British and Foreign Bible Society.”  This, however, I refused to do.
Those words had tended very much to call attention, which was my grand
object.  Had I attempted to conduct things in an underhand manner, I
should, at the time of which I am speaking, scarcely have sold thirty
copies in Madrid, instead of nearly three hundred.  People who know me
not, may be disposed to call me rash; but I am far from being so, as I
never adopt a venturous course when any other is open to me.  I am not,
however, a person to be terrified by any danger, when I see that braving
it is the only way to achieve an object.

The booksellers were unwilling to sell my work; I was compelled to
establish a shop of my own.  Every shop in Madrid has a name.  What name
could I give it but the true one?  I was not ashamed of my cause or my
colours.  I hoisted them, and fought beneath them not without success.

The priestly party in Madrid, in the meantime, spared no effort to vilify
me.  They started a publication called _The Friend of the Christian
Religion_, in which a stupid but furious attack upon me appeared, which
I, however, treated with the contempt it deserved.  But not satisfied
with this, they endeavoured to incite the populace against me, by telling
them that I was a sorcerer, and a companion of Gypsies and witches, and
their agents even called me so in the streets.  That I was an associate
of Gypsies and fortune-tellers I do not deny.  Why should I be ashamed of
their company when my Master mingled with publicans and thieves?  Many of
the Gypsy race came frequently to visit me; received instruction, and
heard parts of the Gospel read to them in their own language, and when
they were hungry and faint, I gave them to eat and drink.  This might be
deemed sorcery in Spain, but I am not without hope that it will be
otherwise estimated in England, and had I perished at this period, I
think there are some who would have been disposed to acknowledge that I
had not lived altogether in vain (always as an instrument of the “Most
Highest”), having been permitted to turn one of the most valuable books
of God into the speech of the most degraded of his creatures.

In the meantime I endeavoured to enter into negotiations with the
ministry, for the purpose of obtaining permission to sell the New
Testament in Madrid, and the nullification of the prohibition.  I
experienced, however, great opposition, which I was unable to surmount.
Several of the ultra-popish bishops, then resident in Madrid, had
denounced the Bible, the Bible Society, and myself.  Nevertheless,
notwithstanding their powerful and united efforts, they were unable to
effect their principal object, namely, my expulsion from Madrid and
Spain.  The Count Ofalia, notwithstanding he had permitted himself to be
made the instrument, to a certain extent, of these people, would not
consent to be pushed to such a length.  Throughout this affair, I cannot
find words sufficiently strong to do justice to the zeal and interest
which Sir George Villiers displayed in the cause of the Testament.  He
had various interviews with Ofalia on the subject, and in these he
expressed to him his sense of the injustice and tyranny which had been
practised in this instance towards his countryman.

Ofalia had been moved by these remonstrances, and more than once promised
to do all in his power to oblige Sir George; but then the bishops again
beset him, and playing upon his political if not religious fears,
prevented him from acting a just, honest, and honourable part.  At the
desire of Sir George Villiers, I drew up a brief account of the Bible
Society, and an exposition of its views, especially in respect to Spain,
which he presented with his own hands to the Count.  I shall not trouble
the reader by inserting this memorial, but content myself with observing,
that I made no attempts to flatter and cajole, but expressed myself
honestly and frankly, as a Christian ought.  Ofalia, on reading it, said,
“What a pity that this is a Protestant society, and that all its members
are not Catholics.”

A few days subsequently, to my great astonishment, he sent a message to
me by a friend, requesting that I would send him a copy of my Gypsy
Gospel.  I may as well here state, that the fame of this work, though not
yet published, had already spread like wildfire through Madrid, and every
person was passionately eager to possess a copy; indeed, several grandees
of Spain sent messages with similar requests, all of which I however
denied.  I instantly resolved to take advantage of this overture on the
part of Count Ofalia, and to call on him myself.  I therefore caused a
copy of the Gospel to be handsomely bound, and proceeding to the palace,
was instantly admitted to him.  He was a dusky, diminutive person,
between fifty and sixty years of age, with false hair and teeth, but
exceedingly gentlemanly manners.  He received me with great affability,
and thanked me for my present; but on my proceeding to speak of the New
Testament, he told me that the subject was surrounded with difficulties,
and that the great body of the clergy had taken up the matter against me;
he conjured me, however, to be patient and peaceable, in which case he
said he would endeavour to devise some plan to satisfy me.  Amongst other
things, he observed that the bishops hated a sectarian more than an
Atheist.  Whereupon I replied, that, like the Pharisees of old, they
cared more for the gold of the temple than the temple itself.  Throughout
the whole of our interview he evidently laboured under great fear, and
was continually looking behind and around him, seemingly in dread of
being overheard, which brought to my mind an expression of a friend of
mine, that if there be any truth in metempsychosis, the soul of Count
Ofalia must have originally belonged to a mouse.  We parted in kindness,
and I went away, wondering by what strange chance this poor man had
become prime minister of a country like Spain.



CHAPTER XXXIX


The Two Gospels—The Alguazil—The Warrant—The Good Maria—The Arrest—Sent
to Prison—Reflections—The Reception—The Prison Room—Redress Demanded.

At length the Gospel of Saint Luke in the Gypsy language was in a state
of readiness.  I therefore deposited a certain number of copies in the
despacho, and announced them for sale.  The Basque, which was by this
time also printed, was likewise advertised.  For this last work there was
little demand.  Not so, however, for the Gypsy Luke, of which I could
have easily disposed of the whole edition in less than a fortnight.
Long, however, before this period had expired, the clergy were up in
arms.  “Sorcery!” said one bishop.  “There is more in this than we can
dive into,” exclaimed a second.  “He will convert all Spain by means of
the Gypsy language,” cried a third.  And then came the usual chorus on
such occasions, of _Que infamia_!  _Que picardia_!  At last, having
consulted together, away they hurried to their tool the corregidor, or,
according to the modern term, the gefe politico of Madrid.  I have
forgotten the name of this worthy, of whom I had myself no personal
knowledge whatever.  Judging from his actions, however, and from common
report, I should say that he was a stupid wrong-headed creature, savage
withal—a melange of borrico, mule, and wolf.  Having an inveterate
antipathy to all foreigners, he lent a willing ear to the complaint of my
accusers, and forthwith gave orders to make a seizure of all the copies
of the Gypsy Gospel which could be found in the despacho.  The
consequence was, that a numerous body of alguazils directed their steps
to the Calle del principe; some thirty copies of the book in question
were pounced upon, and about the same number of Saint Luke in Basque.
With this spoil these satellites returned in triumph to the gefatura
politica, where they divided the copies of the Gypsy volume amongst
themselves, selling subsequently the greater number at a large price, the
book being in the greatest demand, and thus becoming unintentionally
agents of an heretical society.  But every one must live by his trade,
say these people, and they lose no opportunity of making their words
good, by disposing to the best advantage of any booty which falls into
their hands.  As no person cared about the Basque Gospel, it was safely
stowed away, with other unmarketable captures, in the warehouses of the
office.

The Gypsy Gospels had now been seized, at least as many as were exposed
for sale in the despacho.  The corregidor and his friends, however, were
of opinion that many more might be obtained by means of a little
management.  Fellows, therefore, hangers-on of the police office, were
daily dispatched to the shop in all kinds of disguises, inquiring, with
great seeming anxiety, for “Gypsy books,” and offering high prices for
copies.  They, however, returned to their employers empty-handed.  My
Gallegan was on his guard, informing all who made inquiries, that books
of no description would be sold at the establishment for the present.
Which was in truth the case, as I had given him particular orders to sell
no more under any pretence whatever.

I got no credit, however, for my frank dealing.  The corregidor and his
confederates could not persuade themselves but that by some means
mysterious and unknown to them, I was daily selling hundreds of these
Gypsy books, which were to revolutionize the country, and annihilate the
power of the Father of Rome.  A plan was therefore resolved upon, by
means of which they hoped to have an opportunity of placing me in a
position which would incapacitate me for some time from taking any active
measures to circulate the Scriptures, either in Gypsy or in any other
language.

It was on the morning of the first of May, if I forget not, that an
unknown individual made his appearance in my apartment as I was seated at
breakfast; he was a mean-looking fellow, about the middle stature, with a
countenance on which knave was written in legible characters.  The
hostess ushered him in, and then withdrew.  I did not like the appearance
of my visitor, but assuming some degree of courtesy, I requested him to
sit down, and demanded his business.  “I come from his excellency the
political chief of Madrid,” he replied, “and my business is to inform you
that his excellency is perfectly aware of your proceedings, and is at any
time able to prove that you are still disposing of in secret those evil
books which you have been forbidden to sell.”  “Is he so,” I replied;
“pray let him do so forthwith, but what need of giving me information?”
“Perhaps,” continued the fellow, “you think his worship has no witnesses;
know, however, that he has many, and respectable ones too.”  “Doubtless,”
I replied, “and from the respectability of your own appearance, you are
perhaps one of them.  But you are occupying my time unprofitably; begone,
therefore, and tell whoever sent you, that I have by no means a high
opinion of his wisdom.”  “I shall go when I please,” retorted the fellow;
“do you know to whom you are speaking?  Are you aware that if I think fit
I can search your apartment, yes, even below your bed?  What have we
here,” he continued; and commenced with his stick poking a heap of papers
which lay upon a chair; “what have we here; are these also papers of the
Gypsies?”  I instantly determined upon submitting no longer to this
behaviour, and taking the fellow by the arm, led him out of the
apartment, and then still holding him, conducted him downstairs from the
third floor in which I lived, into the street, looking him steadfastly in
the face the whole while.

The fellow had left his sombrero on the table, which I dispatched to him
by the landlady, who delivered it into his hand as he stood in the street
staring with distended eyes at the balcony of my apartment.

“A trampa has been laid for you, Don Jorge,” said Maria Diaz, when she
had reascended from the street; “that corchete came here with no other
intention than to have a dispute with you; out of every word you have
said he will make a long history, as is the custom with these people:
indeed he said, as I handed him his hat, that ere twenty-four hours were
over, you should see the inside of the prison of Madrid.”

In effect, during the course of the morning, I was told that a warrant
had been issued for my apprehension.  The prospect of incarceration,
however, did not fill me with much dismay; an adventurous life and
inveterate habits of wandering having long familiarized me to situations
of every kind, so much so as to feel myself quite as comfortable in a
prison as in the gilded chamber of palaces; indeed more so, as in the
former place I can always add to my store of useful information, whereas
in the latter, ennui frequently assails me.  I had, moreover, been
thinking for some time past of paying a visit to the prison, partly in
the hope of being able to say a few words of Christian instruction to the
criminals, and partly with the view of making certain investigations in
the robber language of Spain, a subject about which I had long felt much
curiosity; indeed, I had already made application for admittance into the
Carcel de la Corte, but had found the matter surrounded with
difficulties, as my friend Ofalia would have said.  I rather rejoiced
then in the opportunity which was now about to present itself of entering
the prison, not in the character of a visitor for an hour, but as a
martyr, and as one suffering in the holy cause of religion.  I was
determined, however, to disappoint my enemies for that day at least, and
to render null the threat of the alguazil, that I should be imprisoned
within twenty-four hours.  I therefore took up my abode for the rest of
the day in a celebrated French tavern in the Calle del Caballero de
Gracia, which, as it was one of the most fashionable and public places in
Madrid, I naturally concluded was one of the last where the corregidor
would think of seeking me.

About ten at night, Maria Diaz, to whom I had communicated the place of
my retreat, arrived with her son, Juan Lopez.  “O señor,” said she on
seeing me, “they are already in quest of you; the alcalde of the barrio,
with a large comitiva of alguazils and such like people, have just been
at our house with a warrant for your imprisonment from the corregidor.
They searched the whole house, and were much disappointed at not finding
you.  Wo is me, what will they do when they catch you?”  “Be under no
apprehensions, good Maria,” said I; “you forget that I am an Englishman,
and so it seems does the corregidor.  Whenever he catches me, depend upon
it he will be glad enough to let me go.  For the present, however, we
will permit him to follow his own course, for the spirit of folly seems
to have seized him.”

I slept at the tavern, and in the forenoon of the following day repaired
to the embassy, where I had an interview with Sir George, to whom I
related every circumstance of the affair.  He said that he could scarcely
believe that the corregidor entertained any serious intentions of
imprisoning me: in the first place, because I had committed no offence;
and in the second, because I was not under the jurisdiction of that
functionary, but under that of the captain-general, who was alone
empowered to decide upon matters which relate to foreigners, and before
whom I must be brought in the presence of the consul of my nation.
“However,” said he, “there is no knowing to what length these jacks in
office may go.  I therefore advise you, if you are under any
apprehension, to remain as my guest at the embassy for a few days, for
here you will be quite safe.”  I assured him that I was under no
apprehension whatever, having long been accustomed to adventures of this
kind.  From the apartment of Sir George, I proceeded to that of the first
secretary of embassy, Mr. Southern, with whom I entered into
conversation.  I had scarcely been there a minute when my servant
Francisco rushed in, much out of breath, and in violent agitation,
exclaiming in Basque, “Niri jauna (_master mine_), the alguaziloac and
the corchetoac, and all the other lapurrac (_thieves_) are again at the
house.  They seem half mad, and not being able to find you, are searching
your papers, thinking, I suppose, that you are hid among them.”  Mr.
Southern here interrupting him, inquired of me what all this meant.
Whereupon I told him, saying at the same time, that it was my intention
to proceed at once to my lodgings.  “But perhaps these fellows will
arrest you,” said Mr. S., “before we can interfere.”  “I must take my
chance as to that,” I replied, and presently afterwards departed.

Ere, however, I had reached the middle of the street of Alcala, two
fellows came up to me, and telling me that I was their prisoner,
commanded me to follow them to the office of the corregidor.  They were
in fact alguazils, who, suspecting that I might enter or come out of the
embassy, had stationed themselves in the neighbourhood.  I instantly
turned round to Francisco, and told him in Basque to return to the
embassy and to relate there to the secretary what had just occurred.  The
poor fellow set off like lightning, turning half round, however, to shake
his fist, and to vent a Basque execration at the two lapurrac, as he
called the alguazils.

They conducted me to the gefatura or office of the corregidor, where they
ushered me into a large room, and motioned me to sit down on a wooden
bench.  They then stationed themselves on each side of me: there were at
least twenty people in the apartment beside ourselves, evidently from
their appearance officials of the establishment.  They were all well
dressed, for the most part in the French fashion, in round hats, coats,
and pantaloons, and yet they looked what in reality they were, Spanish
alguazils, spies, and informers, and Gil Blas, could he have waked from
his sleep of two centuries, would, notwithstanding the change of fashion,
have had no difficulty in recognizing them.  They glanced at me as they
stood lounging about the room; they gathered themselves together in a
circle and began conversing in whispers.  I heard one of them say, “he
understands the seven Gypsy jargons.”  Then presently another, evidently
from his language an Andalusian, said, “_Es muy diestro_ (he is very
skilful), and can ride a horse and dart a knife full as well as if he
came from my own country.”  Thereupon they all turned round and regarded
me with a species of interest, evidently mingled with respect, which most
assuredly they would not have exhibited had they conceived that I was
merely an honest man bearing witness in a righteous cause.

I waited patiently on the bench at least one hour, expecting every moment
to be summoned before my lord the corregidor.  I suppose, however, that I
was not deemed worthy of being permitted to see so exalted a personage,
for at the end of that time, an elderly man, one however evidently of the
alguazil genus, came into the room and advanced directly towards me.
“Stand up,” said he.  I obeyed.  “What is your name?” he demanded.  I
told him.  “Then,” he replied, exhibiting a paper which he held in his
hand, “Señor, it is the will of his excellency the corregidor that you be
forthwith sent to prison.”

He looked at me steadfastly as he spoke, perhaps expecting that I should
sink into the earth at the formidable name of prison; I however only
smiled.  He then delivered the paper, which I suppose was the warrant for
my committal, into the hand of one of my two captors, and obeying a sign
which they made, I followed them.

I subsequently learned that the secretary of legation, Mr. Southern, had
been dispatched by Sir George, as soon as the latter had obtained
information of my arrest, and had been waiting at the office during the
greater part of the time that I was there.  He had demanded an audience
of the corregidor, in which he had intended to have remonstrated with
him, and pointed out to him the danger to which he was subjecting himself
by the rash step which he was taking.  The sullen functionary, however,
had refused to see him, thinking, perhaps, that to listen to reason would
be a dereliction of dignity: by this conduct, however, he most
effectually served me, as no person, after such a specimen of
uncalled-for insolence, felt disposed to question the violence and
injustice which had been practised towards me.

The alguazils conducted me across the Plaza Mayor to the Carcel de la
Corte, or prison of the court, as it is called.  Whilst going across the
square, I remembered that this was the place where, in “the good old
times,” the Inquisition of Spain was in the habit of holding its solemn
_Autos da fe_, and I cast my eye to the balcony of the city hall, where
at the most solemn of them all, the last of the Austrian line in Spain
sat, and after some thirty heretics, of both sexes, had been burnt by
fours and by fives, wiped his face, perspiring with heat, and black with
smoke, and calmly inquired, “No hay mas?” for which exemplary proof of
patience he was much applauded by his priests and confessors, who
subsequently poisoned him.  “And here am I,” thought I, “who have done
more to wound Popery, than all the poor Christian martyrs that ever
suffered in this accursed square, merely sent to prison, from which I am
sure to be liberated in a few days, with credit and applause.  Pope of
Rome! I believe you to be as malicious as ever, but you are sadly
deficient in power.  You are become paralytic, Batuschca, and your club
has degenerated to a crutch.”

We arrived at the prison, which stands in a narrow street not far from
the great square.  We entered a dusky passage, at the end of which was a
wicket door.  My conductors knocked, a fierce visage peered through the
wicket; there was an exchange of words, and in a few moments I found
myself within the prison of Madrid, in a kind of corridor which
overlooked at a considerable altitude what appeared to be a court, from
which arose a hubbub of voices, and occasionally wild shouts and cries.
Within the corridor which served as a kind of office, were several
people; one of them sat behind a desk, and to him the alguazils went up,
and after discoursing with him some time in low tones, delivered the
warrant into his hands.  He perused it with attention, then rising he
advanced to me.  What a figure!  He was about forty years of age, and his
height might have amounted to some six feet two inches, had he not been
curved much after the fashion of the letter S.  No weazel ever appeared
lanker, and he looked as if a breath of air would have been sufficient to
blow him away; his face might certainly have been called handsome, had it
not been for its extraordinary and portentous meagreness; his nose was
like an eagle’s bill, his teeth white as ivory, his eyes black (Oh how
black!) and fraught with a strange expression, his skin was dark, and the
hair of his head like the plumage of the raven.  A deep quiet smile dwelt
continually on his features; but with all the quiet it was a cruel smile,
such a one as would have graced the countenance of a Nero.  “_Mais en
revanche personne n’etoit plus honnete_.”  “Caballero,” said he, “allow
me to introduce myself to you as the alcayde of this prison.  I perceive
by this paper that I am to have the honour of your company for a time, a
short time doubtless, beneath this roof; I hope you will banish every
apprehension from your mind.  I am charged to treat you with all the
respect which is due to the illustrious nation to which you belong, and
which a cavalier of such exalted category as yourself is entitled to
expect.  A needless charge, it is true, as I should only have been too
happy of my own accord to have afforded you every comfort and attention.
Caballero, you will rather consider yourself here as a guest than a
prisoner; you will be permitted to roam over every part of this house
whenever you think proper.  You will find matters here not altogether
below the attention of a philosophic mind!  Pray, issue whatever commands
you may think fit to the turnkeys and officials, even as if they were
your own servants.  I will now have the honour of conducting you to your
apartment—the only one at present unoccupied.  We invariably reserve it
for cavaliers of distinction.  I am happy to say that my orders are again
in consonance with my inclination.  No charge whatever will be made for
it to you, though the daily hire of it is not unfrequently an ounce of
gold.  I entreat you, therefore, to follow me, cavalier, who am at all
times and seasons the most obedient and devoted of your servants.”  Here
he took off his hat and bowed profoundly.

Such was the speech of the alcayde of the prison of Madrid; a speech
delivered in pure sonorous Castilian, with calmness, gravity, and almost
with dignity; a speech which would have done honour to a gentleman of
high birth, to Monsieur Basompierre, of the Old Bastile, receiving an
Italian prince, or the high constable of the Tower an English duke
attainted of high treason.  Now, who in the name of wonder was this
alcayde?

One of the greatest rascals in all Spain.  A fellow who had more than
once by his grasping cupidity, and by his curtailment of the miserable
rations of the prisoners, caused an insurrection in the court below only
to be repressed by bloodshed, and by summoning military aid; a fellow of
low birth, who, only five years previous, had been _drummer_ to a band of
royalist volunteers!

But Spain is the land of extraordinary characters.

I followed the alcayde to the end of the corridor, where was a massive
grated door, on each side of which sat a grim fellow of a turnkey.  The
door was opened, and turning to the right we proceeded down another
corridor, in which were many people walking about, whom I subsequently
discovered to be prisoners like myself, but for political offences.  At
the end of this corridor, which extended the whole length of the patio,
we turned into another, and the first apartment in this was the one
destined for myself.  It was large and lofty, but totally destitute of
every species of furniture, with the exception of a huge wooden pitcher,
intended to hold my daily allowance of water.  “Caballero,” said the
alcayde, “the apartment is without furniture, as you see.  It is already
the third hour of the tarde, I therefore advise you to lose no time in
sending to your lodgings for a bed and whatever you may stand in need of,
the llavero here shall do your bidding.  Caballero, adieu till I see you
again.”

I followed his advice, and writing a note in pencil to Maria Diaz, I
dispatched it by the llavero, and then sitting down on the wooden
pitcher, I fell into a reverie, which continued for a considerable time.

Night arrived, and so did Maria Diaz, attended by two porters and
Francisco, all loaded with furniture.  A lamp was lighted, charcoal was
kindled in the brasero, and the prison gloom was to a certain degree
dispelled.

I now left my seat on the pitcher, and sitting down on a chair, proceeded
to dispatch some wine and viands, which my good hostess had not forgotten
to bring with her.  Suddenly Mr. Southern entered.  He laughed heartily
at finding me engaged in the manner I have described.  “B---,” said he,
“you are the man to get through the world, for you appear to take all
things coolly, and as matters of course.  That, however, which most
surprises me with respect to you is, your having so many friends; here
you are in prison, surrounded by people ministering to your comforts.
Your very servant is your friend, instead of being your worst enemy, as
is usually the case.  That Basque of yours is a noble fellow.  I shall
never forget how he spoke for you, when he came running to the embassy to
inform us of your arrest.  He interested both Sir George and myself in
the highest degree: should you ever wish to part with him, I hope you
will give me the refusal of his services.  But now to other matters.”  He
then informed me that Sir George had already sent in an official note to
Ofalia, demanding redress for such a wanton outrage on the person of a
British subject.  “You must remain in prison,” said he, “to-night, but
depend upon it that to-morrow, if you are disposed, you may quit in
triumph.”  “I am by no means disposed for any such thing,” I replied.
“They have put me in prison for their pleasure, and I intend to remain
here for my own.”  “If the confinement is not irksome to you,” said Mr.
Southern, “I think, indeed, it will be your wisest plan; the government
have committed themselves sadly with regard to you; and, to speak
plainly, we are by no means sorry for it.  They have on more than one
occasion treated ourselves very cavalierly, and we have now, if you
continue firm, an excellent opportunity of humbling their insolence.  I
will instantly acquaint Sir George with your determination, and you shall
hear from us early on the morrow.”  He then bade me farewell; and
flinging myself on my bed, I was soon asleep in the prison of Madrid.



CHAPTER XL


Ofalia—The Juez—Carcel de la Corte—Sunday in Prison—Robber Dress—Father
and Son—Characteristic Behaviour—The Frenchman—Prison Allowance—Valley of
the Shadow—Pure Castilian—Balseiro—The Cave—Robber Glory.

Ofalia quickly perceived that the imprisonment of a British subject in a
manner so illegal as that which had attended my own, was likely to be
followed by rather serious consequences.  Whether he himself had at all
encouraged the corregidor in his behaviour towards me, it is impossible
to say; the probability is that he had not: the latter, however, was an
officer of his own appointing, for whose actions himself and the
government were to a certain extent responsible.  Sir George had already
made a very strong remonstrance upon the subject, and had even gone so
far as to state in an official note that he should desist from all
farther communication with the Spanish government until full and ample
reparation had been afforded me for the violence to which I had been
subjected.  Ofalia’s reply was, that immediate measures should be taken
for my liberation, and that it would be my own fault if I remained in
prison.  He forthwith ordered a juez de la primera instancia, a kind of
solicitor-general, to wait upon me, who was instructed to hear my account
of the affair, and then to dismiss me with an admonition to be cautious
for the future.  My friends of the embassy, however, had advised me how
to act in such a case.  Accordingly, when the juez on the second night of
my imprisonment made his appearance at the prison, and summoned me before
him, I went, but on his proceeding to question me, I absolutely refused
to answer.  “I deny your right to put any questions to me,” said I; “I
entertain, however, no feelings of disrespect to the government or to
yourself, Caballero Juez; but I have been illegally imprisoned.  So
accomplished a jurist as yourself cannot fail to be aware that, according
to the laws of Spain, I, as a foreigner, could not be committed to prison
for the offence with which I had been charged, without previously being
conducted before the captain-general of this royal city, whose duty it is
to protect foreigners, and see that the laws of hospitality are not
violated in their persons.”

_Juez_.—Come, come, Don Jorge, I see what you are aiming at; but listen
to reason: I will not now speak to you as a juez but as a friend who
wishes you well, and who entertains a profound reverence for the British
nation.  This is a foolish affair altogether; I will not deny that the
political chief acted somewhat hastily on the information of a person not
perhaps altogether worthy of credit.  No great damage, however, has been
done to you, and to a man of the world like yourself, a little adventure
of this kind is rather calculated to afford amusement than anything else.
Now be advised, forget what has happened; you know that it is the part
and duty of a Christian to forgive; so, Don Jorge, I advise you to leave
this place forthwith.  I dare say you are getting tired of it.  You are
this moment free to depart; repair at once to your lodgings, where, I
promise you, that no one shall be permitted to interrupt you for the
future.  It is getting late, and the prison doors will speedily be closed
for the night.  _Vamos_, _Don Jorge_, _a la casa_, _a la posada_!

_Myself_.—“But Paul said unto them, they have beaten us openly
uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they
thrust us out privily?  Nay, verily: but let them come themselves and
fetch us out.”

I then bowed to the juez, who shrugged his shoulders and took snuff.  On
leaving the apartment I turned to the alcayde, who stood at the door:
“Take notice,” said I, “that I will not quit this prison till I have
received full satisfaction for being sent hither uncondemned.  You may
expel me if you please, but any attempt to do so shall be resisted with
all the bodily strength of which I am possessed.”

“Your worship is right,” said the alcayde with a bow, but in a low voice.

Sir George, on hearing of this affair, sent me a letter in which he
highly commended my resolution not to leave the prison for the present,
at the same time begging me to let him know if there were anything that
he could send me from the embassy to render my situation more tolerable.

I will now leave for the present my own immediate affairs, and proceed to
give some account of the prison of Madrid and its inmates.

The Carcel de la Corte, where I now was, though the principal prison of
Madrid, is one which certainly in no respect does credit to the capital
of Spain.  Whether it was originally intended for the purpose to which it
is at present applied, I have no opportunity of knowing.  The chances,
however, are, that it was not; indeed it was not till of late years that
the practice of building edifices expressly intended and suited for the
incarceration of culprits came at all into vogue.  Castles, convents, and
deserted palaces, have in all countries, at different times, been
converted into prisons, which practice still holds good upon the greater
part of the continent, and more particularly in Spain and Italy, which
accounts, to a certain extent, for the insecurity of the prisons, and the
misery, want of cleanliness, and unhealthiness which in general pervade
them.

I shall not attempt to enter into a particular description of the prison
of Madrid, indeed it would be quite impossible to describe so irregular
and rambling an edifice.  Its principal features consisted of two courts,
the one behind the other, intended for the great body of the prisoners to
take air and recreation in.  Three large vaulted dungeons or calabozos
occupied three sides of this court, immediately below the corridors of
which I have already spoken.  These dungeons were roomy enough to contain
respectively from one hundred to one hundred and fifty prisoners, who
were at night secured therein with lock and bar, but during the day were
permitted to roam about the courts as they thought fit.  The second court
was considerably larger than the first, though it contained but two
dungeons, horribly filthy and disgusting places; this second court being
used for the reception of the lower grades of thieves.  Of the two
dungeons one was, if possible, yet more horrible than the other; it was
called the gallineria, or chicken coop, and within it every night were
pent up the young fry of the prison, wretched boys from seven to fifteen
years of age, the greater part almost in a state of nudity.  The common
bed of all the inmates of these dungeons was the ground, between which
and their bodies nothing intervened, save occasionally a manta or
horse-cloth, or perhaps a small mattress; this latter luxury was,
however, of exceedingly rare occurrence.

Besides the calabozos connected with the courts, were other dungeons in
various parts of the prison; some of them quite dark, intended for the
reception of those whom it might be deemed expedient to treat with
peculiar severity.  There was likewise a ward set apart for females.
Connected with the principal corridor were many small apartments, where
resided prisoners confined for debt or for political offences.  And,
lastly, there was a small capilla or chapel, in which prisoners cast for
death passed the last three days of their existence in company of their
ghostly advisers.

I shall not soon forget my first Sunday in prison.  Sunday is the gala
day of the prison, at least of that of Madrid, and whatever robber finery
is to be found within it, is sure to be exhibited on that day of
holiness.  There is not a set of people in the world more vain than
robbers in general, more fond of cutting a figure whenever they have an
opportunity, and of attracting the eyes of their fellow creatures by the
gallantry of their appearance.  The famous Sheppard of olden times
delighted in sporting a suit of Genoese velvet, and when he appeared in
public generally wore a silver-hilted sword at his side; whilst Vaux and
Hayward, heroes of a later day, were the best dressed men on the pavé of
London.  Many of the Italian bandits go splendidly decorated, and the
very Gypsy robber has a feeling for the charms of dress; the cap alone of
the Haram Pasha, or leader of the cannibal Gypsy band which infested
Hungary towards the conclusion of the last century, was adorned with gold
and jewels to the value of four thousand guilders.  Observe, ye vain and
frivolous, how vanity and crime harmonize.  The Spanish robbers are as
fond of this species of display as their brethren of other lands, and,
whether in prison or out of it, are never so happy as when, decked out in
a profusion of white linen, they can loll in the sun, or walk jauntily up
and down.

Snow-white linen, indeed, constitutes the principal feature in the robber
foppery of Spain.  Neither coat nor jacket is worn over the shirt, the
sleeves of which are wide and flowing, only a waistcoat of green or blue
silk, with an abundance of silver buttons, which are intended more for
show than use, as the vest is seldom buttoned.  Then there are wide
trousers, something after the Turkish fashion; around the waist is a
crimson faja or girdle, and about the head is tied a gaudily coloured
handkerchief from the loom of Barcelona; light pumps and silk stockings
complete the robber’s array.  This dress is picturesque enough, and well
adapted to the fine sunshiny weather of the Peninsula; there is a dash of
effeminacy about it, however, hardly in keeping with the robber’s
desperate trade.  It must not, however, be supposed that it is every
robber who can indulge in all this luxury; there are various grades of
thieves, some poor enough, with scarcely a rag to cover them.  Perhaps in
the crowded prison of Madrid, there were not more than twenty who
exhibited the dress which I have attempted to describe above; these were
_jente de reputacion_, tip-top thieves, mostly young fellows, who, though
they had no money of their own, were supported in prison by their majas
and amigas, females of a certain class, who form friendships with
robbers, and whose glory and delight it is to administer to the vanity of
these fellows with the wages of their own shame and abasement.  These
females supplied their cortejos with the snowy linen, washed, perhaps, by
their own hands in the waters of the Manzanares, for the display of the
Sunday, when they would themselves make their appearance dressed à la
maja, and from the corridors would gaze with admiring eyes upon the
robbers vapouring about in the court below.

Amongst those of the snowy linen who most particularly attracted my
attention, were a father and son; the former was a tall athletic figure
of about thirty, by profession a housebreaker, and celebrated throughout
Madrid for the peculiar dexterity which he exhibited in his calling.  He
was now in prison for a rather atrocious murder committed in the dead of
night, in a house at Caramanchel, in which his only accomplice was his
son, a child under seven years of age.  “The apple,” as the Danes say,
“had not fallen far from the tree”; the imp was in every respect the
counterpart of the father, though in miniature.  He, too, wore the robber
shirt sleeves, the robber waistcoat with the silver buttons, the robber
kerchief round his brow, and, ridiculous enough, a long Manchegan knife
in the crimson faja.  He was evidently the pride of the ruffian father,
who took all imaginable care of this chick of the gallows, would dandle
him on his knee, and would occasionally take the cigar from his own
moustached lips and insert it in the urchin’s mouth.  The boy was the pet
of the court, for the father was one of the valientes of the prison, and
those who feared his prowess, and wished to pay their court to him, were
always fondling the child.  What an enigma is this world of ours!  How
dark and mysterious are the sources of what is called crime and virtue!
If that infant wretch become eventually a murderer like his father, is he
to blame?  Fondled by robbers, already dressed as a robber, born of a
robber, whose own history was perhaps similar.  Is it right? . . .

O, man, man, seek not to dive into the mystery of moral good and evil;
confess thyself a worm, cast thyself on the earth, and murmur with thy
lips in the dust, Jesus, Jesus!

What most surprised me with respect to the prisoners, was their good
behaviour; I call it good when all things are taken into consideration,
and when I compare it with that of the general class of prisoners in
foreign lands.  They had their occasional bursts of wild gaiety, their
occasional quarrels, which they were in the habit of settling in a corner
of the inferior court with their long knives; the result not unfrequently
being death, or a dreadful gash in the face or the abdomen; but, upon the
whole, their conduct was infinitely superior to what might have been
expected from the inmates of such a place.  Yet this was not the result
of coercion, or any particular care which was exercised over them; for
perhaps in no part of the world are prisoners so left to themselves and
so utterly neglected as in Spain: the authorities having no farther
anxiety about them, than to prevent their escape; not the slightest
attention being paid to their moral conduct and not a thought bestowed
upon their health, comfort or mental improvement, whilst within the
walls.  Yet in this prison of Madrid, and I may say in Spanish prisons in
general, for I have been an inmate of more than one, the ears of the
visitor are never shocked with horrid blasphemy and obscenity, as in
those of some other countries, and more particularly in civilized France;
nor are his eyes outraged and himself insulted, as he would assuredly be,
were he to look down upon the courts from the galleries of the Bicetre.
And yet in this prison of Madrid were some of the most desperate
characters in Spain: ruffians who had committed acts of cruelly and
atrocity sufficient to make the flesh shudder.  But gravity and
sedateness are the leading characteristics of the Spaniards, and the very
robber, except in those moments when he is engaged in his occupation, and
then no one is more sanguinary, pitiless, and wolfishly eager for booty,
is a being who can be courteous and affable, and who takes pleasure in
conducting himself with sobriety and decorum.

Happily, perhaps, for me, that my acquaintance with the ruffians of Spain
commenced and ended in the towns about which I wandered, and in the
prisons into which I was cast for the Gospel’s sake, and that,
notwithstanding my long and frequent journeys, I never came in contact
with them on the road or in the despoblado.

The most ill-conditioned being in the prison was a Frenchman, though
probably the most remarkable.  He was about sixty years of age, of the
middle stature, but thin and meagre, like most of his countrymen; he had
a villainously-formed head, according to all the rules of craniology, and
his features were full of evil expression.  He wore no hat, and his
clothes, though in appearance nearly new, were of the coarsest
description.  He generally kept aloof from the rest, and would stand for
hours together leaning against the walls with his arms folded, glaring
sullenly on what was passing before him.  He was not one of the professed
valientes, for his age prevented his assuming so distinguished a
character, and yet all the rest appeared to hold him in a certain awe:
perhaps they feared his tongue, which he occasionally exerted in pouring
forth withering curses on those who incurred his displeasure.  He spoke
perfectly good Spanish, and to my great surprise excellent Basque, in
which he was in the habit of conversing with Francisco, who, lolling from
the window of my apartment, would exchange jests and witticisms with the
prisoners in the court below, with whom he was a great favourite.

One day when I was in the patio, to which I had free admission whenever I
pleased, by permission of the alcayde, I went up to the Frenchman, who
stood in his usual posture, leaning against the wall, and offered him a
cigar.  I do not smoke myself, but it will never do to mix among the
lower classes of Spain unless you have a cigar to present occasionally.
The man glared at me ferociously for a moment, and appeared to be on the
point of refusing my offer with perhaps a hideous execration.  I repeated
it, however, pressing my hand against my heart, whereupon suddenly the
grim features relaxed, and with a genuine French grimace, and a low bow,
he accepted the cigar, exclaiming, “_Ah_, _Monsieur_, _pardon_, _mais
c’est faire trop d’honneur a un pauvre diable comme moi_.”

“Not at all,” said I, “we are both fellow prisoners in a foreign land,
and being so we ought to countenance each other.  I hope that whenever I
have need of your co-operation in this prison you will afford it me.”

“Ah, Monsieur,” exclaimed the Frenchman in rapture, “_vous avez bien
raison_; _il faut que les étrangers se donnent la main dans ce . . . pays
de barbares_.  _Tenez_,” he added, in a whisper, “if you have any plan
for escaping, and require my assistance, I have an arm and a knife at
your service: you may trust me, and that is more than you could any of
these _sacres gens ici_,” glancing fiercely round at his fellow
prisoners.

“You appear to be no friend to Spain and the Spaniards,” said I.  “I
conclude that you have experienced injustice at their hands.  For what
have they immured you in this place?”

“_Pour rien du tout_, _c’est a dire pour une bagatelle_; but what can you
expect from such animals?  For what are you imprisoned?  Did I not hear
say for Gypsyism and sorcery?”

“Perhaps you are here for your opinions?”

“_Ah_, _mon Dieu_, _non_; _je ne suis pas homme a semblable betise_.  I
have no opinions.  _Je faisois . . . mais ce n’importe_; _je me trouve
ici_, _ou je creve de faim_.”

“I am sorry to see a brave man in such a distressed condition,” said I;
“have you nothing to subsist upon beyond the prison allowance?  Have you
no friends?”

“Friends in this country, you mock me; here one has no friends, unless
one buy them.  I am bursting with hunger; since I have been here I have
sold the clothes off my back, that I might eat, for the prison allowance
will not support nature, and of half of that we are robbed by the Batu,
as they call the barbarian of a governor.  _Les haillons_ which now cover
me were given by two or three devotees who sometimes visit here.  I would
sell them if they would fetch aught.  I have not a sou, and for want of a
few crowns I shall be garroted within a month unless I can escape,
though, as I told you before, I have done nothing, a mere bagatelle; but
the worst crimes in Spain are poverty and misery.”

“I have heard you speak Basque, are you from French Biscay?”

“I am from Bordeaux, Monsieur; but I have lived much on the Landes and in
Biscay, _travaillant a mon metier_.  I see by your look that you wish to
know my history.  I shall not tell it you.  It contains nothing that is
remarkable.  See, I have smoked out your cigar; you may give me another,
and add a dollar if you please, _nous sommes creves ici de faim_.  I
would not say as much to a Spaniard, but I have a respect for your
countrymen; I know much of them; I have met them at Maida and the other
place.” {359}

“Nothing remarkable in his history!”  Why, or I greatly err, one chapter
of his life, had it been written, would have unfolded more of the wild
and wonderful than fifty volumes of what are in general called adventures
and hairbreadth escapes by land and sea.  A soldier! what a tale could
that man have told of marches and retreats, of battles lost and won,
towns sacked, convents plundered; perhaps he had seen the flames of
Moscow ascending to the clouds, and had “tried his strength with nature
in the wintry desert,” pelted by the snow-storm, and bitten by the
tremendous cold of Russia: and what could he mean by plying his trade in
Biscay and the Landes, but that he had been a robber in those wild
regions, of which the latter is more infamous for brigandage and crime
than any other part of the French territory.  Nothing remarkable in his
history! then what history in the world contains aught that is
remarkable?

I gave him the cigar and dollar: he received them, and then once more
folding his arms, leaned back against the wall and appeared to sink
gradually into one of his reveries.  I looked him in the face and spoke
to him, but he did not seem either to hear or see me.  His mind was
perhaps wandering in that dreadful valley of the shadow, into which the
children of earth, whilst living, occasionally find their way; that
dreadful region where there is no water, where hope dwelleth not, where
nothing lives but the undying worm.  This valley is the facsimile of
hell, and he who has entered it, has experienced here on earth for a time
what the spirits of the condemned are doomed to suffer through ages
without end.

He was executed about a month from this time.  The bagatelle for which he
was confined was robbery and murder by the following strange device.  In
concert with two others, he hired a large house in an unfrequented part
of the town, to which place he would order tradesmen to convey valuable
articles, which were to be paid for on delivery; those who attended paid
for their credulity with the loss of their lives and property.  Two or
three had fallen into the snare.  I wished much to have had some private
conversation with this desperate man, and in consequence begged of the
alcayde to allow him to dine with me in my own apartment; whereupon
Monsieur Basompierre, for so I will take the liberty of calling the
governor, his real name having escaped my memory, took off his hat, and,
with his usual smile and bow, replied in purest Castilian, “English
Cavalier, and I hope I may add friend, pardon me, that it is quite out of
my power to gratify your request, founded, I have no doubt, on the most
admirable sentiments of philosophy.  Any of the other gentlemen beneath
my care shall, at any time you desire it, be permitted to wait upon you
in your apartment.  I will even go so far as to cause their irons, if
irons they wear, to be knocked off in order that they may partake of your
refection with that comfort which is seemly and convenient: but to the
gentleman in question I must object; he is the most evil disposed of the
whole of this family, and would most assuredly breed a funcion either in
your apartment or in the corridor, by an attempt to escape.  Cavalier,
_me pesa_, but I cannot accede to your request.  But with respect to any
other gentleman, I shall be most happy, even Balseiro, who, though
strange things are told of him, still knows how to comport himself, and
in whose behaviour there is something both of formality and politeness,
shall this day share your hospitality if you desire it, Cavalier.”

Of Balseiro I have already had occasion to speak in the former part of
this narrative.  He was now confined in an upper story of the prison, in
a strong room, with several other malefactors.  He had been found guilty
of aiding and assisting one Pepe Candelas, a thief of no inconsiderable
renown, in a desperate robbery perpetrated in open daylight upon no less
a personage than the queen’s milliner, a Frenchwoman, whom they bound in
her own shop, from which they took goods and money to the amount of five
or six thousand dollars.  Candelas had already expiated his crime on the
scaffold, but Balseiro, who was said to be by far the worst ruffian of
the two, had by dint of money, an ally which his comrade did not possess,
contrived to save his own life; the punishment of death, to which he was
originally sentenced, having been commuted to twenty years’ hard labour
in the presidio of Malaga.  I visited this worthy and conversed with him
for some time through the wicket of the dungeon.  He recognized me, and
reminded me of the victory which I had once obtained over him, in the
trial of our respective skill in the crabbed Gitano, at which Sevilla the
bull-fighter was umpire.

Upon my telling him that I was sorry to see him in such a situation, he
replied that it was an affair of no manner of consequence, as within six
weeks he should be conducted to the presidio, from which, with the
assistance of a few ounces distributed among the guards, he could at any
time escape.  “But whither would you flee?” I demanded.  “Can I not flee
to the land of the Moors,” replied Balseiro, “or to the English in the
camp of Gibraltar; or, if I prefer it, cannot I return to this foro
(_city_), and live as I have hitherto done, choring the gachos (_robbing
the natives_); what is to hinder me?  Madrid is large, and Balseiro has
plenty of friends, especially among the lumias (_women_),” he added with
a smile.  I spoke to him of his ill-fated accomplice Candelas; whereupon
his face assumed a horrible expression.  “I hope he is in torment,”
exclaimed the robber.  The friendship of the unrighteous is never of long
duration; the two worthies had it seems quarrelled in prison; Candelas
having accused the other of bad faith and an undue appropriation to his
own use of the _corpus delicti_ in various robberies which they had
committed in company.

I cannot refrain from relating the subsequent history of this Balseiro.
Shortly after my own liberation, too impatient to wait until the presidio
should afford him a chance of regaining his liberty, he in company with
some other convicts broke through the roof of the prison and escaped.  He
instantly resumed his former habits, committing several daring robberies,
both within and without the walls of Madrid.  I now come to his last, I
may call it his master crime, a singular piece of atrocious villainy.
Dissatisfied with the proceeds of street robbery and house-breaking, he
determined upon a bold stroke, by which he hoped to acquire money
sufficient to support him in some foreign land in luxury and splendour.

There was a certain comptroller of the queen’s household, by name
Gabiria, a Basque by birth, and a man of immense possessions: this
individual had two sons, handsome boys, between twelve and fourteen years
of age, whom I had frequently seen, and indeed conversed with, in my
walks on the bank of the Manzanares, which was their favourite promenade.
These children, at the time of which I am speaking, were receiving their
education at a certain seminary in Madrid.  Balseiro, being well
acquainted with the father’s affection for his children, determined to
make it subservient to his own rapacity.  He formed a plan which was
neither more nor less than to steal the children, and not to restore them
to their parent until he had received an enormous ransom.  This plan was
partly carried into execution: two associates of Balseiro well dressed
drove up to the door of the seminary, where the children were, and, by
means of a forged letter, purporting to be written by the father, induced
the schoolmaster to permit the boys to accompany them for a country
jaunt, as they pretended.  About five leagues from Madrid, Balseiro had a
cave in a wild unfrequented spot between the Escurial and a village
called Torre Lodones: to this cave the children were conducted, where
they remained in durance under the custody of the two accomplices;
Balseiro in the meantime remaining in Madrid for the purpose of
conducting negotiations with the father.  The father, however, was a man
of considerable energy, and instead of acceding to the terms of the
ruffian, communicated in a letter, instantly took the most vigorous
measures for the recovery of his children.  Horse and foot were sent out
to scour the country, and in less than a week the children were found
near the cave, having been abandoned by their keepers, who had taken
fright on hearing of the decided measures which had been resorted to;
they were, however, speedily arrested and identified by the boys as their
ravishers.  Balseiro perceiving that Madrid was becoming too hot to hold
him, attempted to escape, but whether to the camp of Gibraltar or to the
land of the Moor, I know not; he was recognized, however, at a village in
the neighbourhood of Madrid, and being apprehended, was forthwith
conducted to the capital, where he shortly after terminated his existence
on the scaffold, with his two associates; Gabiria and his children being
present at the ghastly scene, which they surveyed from a chariot at their
ease.

Such was the end of Balseiro, of whom I should certainly not have said so
much, but for the affair of the crabbed Gitano.  Poor wretch! he acquired
that species of immortality which is the object of the aspirations of
many a Spanish thief, whilst vapouring about in the patio, dressed in the
snowy linen; the rape of the children of Gabiria made him at once the pet
of the fraternity.  A celebrated robber, with whom I was subsequently
imprisoned at Seville, spoke his eulogy in the following manner.—

“Balseiro was a very good subject, and an honest man.  He was the head of
our family, Don Jorge; we shall never see his like again; pity that he
did not sack the parné (_money_), and escape to the camp of the Moor, Don
Jorge.”



CHAPTER XLI


Maria Diaz—Priestly Vituperation—Antonio’s Visit—Antonio at Service—A
Scene—Benedict Mol—Wandering in Spain—The Four Evangiles.

“Well,” said I to Maria Diaz on the third morning after my imprisonment,
“what do the people of Madrid say to this affair of mine?”

“I do not know what the people of Madrid in general say about it,
probably they do not take much interest in it; indeed, imprisonments at
the present time are such common matters that people seem to be quite
indifferent to them; the priests, however, are in no slight commotion,
and confess that they have committed an imprudent thing in causing you to
be arrested by their friend the corregidor of Madrid.”

“How is that?” I inquired.  “Are they afraid that their friend will be
punished?”

“Not so, Señor,” replied Maria; “slight grief indeed would it cause them,
however great the trouble in which he had involved himself on their
account; for this description of people have no affection, and would not
care if all their friends were hanged, provided they themselves escaped.
But they say that they have acted imprudently in sending you to prison,
inasmuch as by so doing they have given you an opportunity of carrying a
plan of yours into execution.  ‘This fellow is a bribon,’ say they, ‘and
has commenced tampering with the prisoners; they have taught him their
language, which he already speaks as well as if he were a son of the
prison.  As soon as he comes out he will publish a thieves’ gospel, which
will still be a more dangerous affair than the Gypsy one, for the Gypsies
are few, but the thieves! woe is us; we shall all be Lutheranized.  What
infamy, what rascality!  It was a trick of his own.  He was always eager
to get into prison, and now in evil hour we have sent him there, _el
bribonazo_; there will be no safety for Spain until he is hanged; he
ought to be sent to the four hells, where at his leisure he might
translate his fatal gospels into the language of the demons.’”

“I but said three words to the alcayde of the prison,” said I, “relative
to the jargon used by the children of the prison.”

“Three words!  Don Jorge; and what may not be made out of three words?
You have lived amongst us to little purpose if you think we require more
than three words to build a system with: those three words about the
thieves and their tongue were quite sufficient to cause it to be reported
throughout Madrid that you had tampered with the thieves, had learnt
their language, and had written a book which was to overturn Spain, open
to the English the gates of Cadiz, give Mendizabal all the church plate
and jewels, and to Don Martin Luther the archiepiscopal palace of
Toledo.”

Late in the afternoon of a rather gloomy day, as I was sitting in the
apartment which the alcayde had allotted me, I heard a rap at the door.
“Who is that?” I exclaimed.  “_C’est moi_, _mon maitre_,” cried a
well-known voice, and presently in walked Antonio Buchini, dressed in the
same style as when I first introduced him to the reader, namely, in a
handsome but rather faded French surtout, vest and pantaloons, with a
diminutive hat in one hand, and holding in the other a long and slender
cane.

“_Bon jour_, _mon maitre_,” said the Greek; then glancing around the
apartment, he continued, “I am glad to find you so well lodged.  If I
remember right, mon maître, we have slept in worse places during our
wanderings in Galicia and Castile.”

“You are quite right, Antonio,” I replied; “I am very comfortable.  Well,
this is kind of you to visit your ancient master, more especially now he
is in the toils; I hope, however, that by so doing you will not offend
your present employer.  His dinner hour must be at hand; why are not you
in the kitchen?”

“Of what employer are you speaking, mon maître?” demanded Antonio.

“Of whom should I speak but Count ---, to serve whom you abandoned me,
being tempted by an offer of a monthly salary less by four dollars than
that which I was giving you.”

“Your worship brings an affair to my remembrance which I had long since
forgotten.  I have at present no other master than yourself, Monsieur
Georges, for I shall always consider you as my master, though I may not
enjoy the felicity of waiting upon you.”

“You have left the Count, then,” said I, “after remaining three days in
the house, according to your usual practice.”

“Not three hours, mon maître,” replied Antonio; “but I will tell you the
circumstances.  Soon after I left you I repaired to the house of Monsieur
le Comte; I entered the kitchen, and looked about me.  I cannot say that
I had much reason to be dissatisfied with what I saw; the kitchen was
large and commodious, and every thing appeared neat and in its proper
place, and the domestics civil and courteous; yet I know not how it was,
the idea at once rushed into my mind that the house was by no means
suited to me, and that I was not destined to stay there long; so hanging
my haversac upon a nail, and sitting down on the dresser, I commenced
singing a Greek song, as I am in the habit of doing when dissatisfied.
The domestics came about me asking questions; I made them no answer,
however, and continued singing till the hour for preparing the dinner
drew nigh, when I suddenly sprang on the floor and was not long in
thrusting them all out of the kitchen, telling them that they had no
business there at such a season; I then at once entered upon my
functions.  I exerted myself, mon maître, I exerted myself, and was
preparing a repast which would have done me honour; there was, indeed,
some company expected that day, and I therefore determined to show my
employer that nothing was beyond the capacity of his Greek cook.  _Eh
bien_, mon maître, all was going on remarkably well, and I felt almost
reconciled to my new situation, when who should rush into the kitchen but
_le fils de la maison_, my young master, an ugly urchin of thirteen years
or thereabouts; he bore in his hand a manchet of bread, which, after
prying about for a moment, he proceeded to dip in the pan where some
delicate woodcocks were in the course of preparation.  You know, mon
maître, how sensitive I am on certain points, for I am no Spaniard but a
Greek, and have principles of honour.  Without a moment’s hesitation I
took my young master by the shoulders, and hurrying him to the door,
dismissed him in the manner which he deserved; squalling loudly, he
hurried away to the upper part of the house.  I continued my labours, but
ere three minutes had elapsed, I heard a dreadful confusion above stairs,
_on faisoit une horrible tintamarre_, and I could occasionally
distinguish oaths and execrations: presently doors were flung open, and
there was an awful rushing downstairs, a gallopade.  It was my lord the
count, his lady, and my young master, followed by a regular bevy of women
and filles de chambre.  Far in advance of all, however, was my lord with
a drawn sword in his hand, shouting, ‘Where is the wretch who has
dishonoured my son, where is he?  He shall die forthwith.’  I know not
how it was, mon maître, but I just then chanced to spill a large bowl of
garbanzos, which were intended for the puchera of the following day.
They were uncooked, and were as hard as marbles; these I dashed upon the
floor, and the greater part of them fell just about the doorway.  _Eh
bien_, mon maître, in another moment in bounded the count, his eyes
sparkling like coals, and, as I have already said, with a rapier in his
hand.  ‘_Tenez_, _gueux enrage_,’ he screamed, making a desperate lunge
at me, but ere the words were out of his mouth, his foot slipping on the
pease, he fell forward with great violence at his full length, and his
weapon flew out of his hand, _comme une fleche_.  You should have heard
the outcry which ensued—there was a terrible confusion: the count lay
upon the floor to all appearance stunned; I took no notice, however,
continuing busily employed.  They at last raised him up, and assisted him
till he came to himself, though very pale and much shaken.  He asked for
his sword: all eyes were now turned upon me, and I saw that a general
attack was meditated.  Suddenly I took a large caserolle from the fire in
which various eggs were frying; this I held out at arm’s length peering
at it along my arm as if I were curiously inspecting it; my right foot
advanced and the other thrown back as far as possible.  All stood still,
imagining, doubtless, that I was about to perform some grand operation,
and so I was; for suddenly the sinister leg advancing, with one rapid
_coup de pied_, I sent the caserolle and its contents flying over my
head, so that they struck the wall far behind me.  This was to let them
know that I had broken my staff and had shaken the dust off my feet; so
casting upon the count the peculiar glance of the Sceirote cooks when
they feel themselves insulted, and extending my mouth on either side
nearly as far as the ears, I took down my haversac and departed, singing
as I went the song of the ancient Demos, who, when dying, asked for his
supper, and water wherewith to lave his hands:

    Ό ηλιος έβασίλευε, κι ό Δημος διατάζε.
    Σύρτε, παιδιά μου, ’σ τό νερόν ψωμι να φάτ' απόψε.

And in this manner, mon maître, I left the house of the Count of ---.”

_Myself_.—And a fine account you have given of yourself; by your own
confession, your behaviour was most atrocious.  Were it not for the many
marks of courage and fidelity which you have exhibited in my service, I
would from this moment hold no farther communication with you.

_Antonio_.—_Mais qu’est ce que vous voudriez_, _mon maitre_?  Am I not a
Greek, full of honour and sensibility?  Would you have the cooks of
Sceira and Stambul submit to be insulted here in Spain by the sons of
counts rushing into the temple with manchets of bread.  Non, non, mon
maître, you are too noble to require that, and what is more, _too just_.
But we will talk of other things.  Mon maître, I came not alone; there is
one now waiting in the corridor anxious to speak to you.

_Myself_.—Who is it?

_Antonio_.—One whom you have met, mon maître, in various and strange
places.

_Myself_.—But who is it?

_Antonio_.—One who will come to a strange end, _for so it is written_.
The most extraordinary of all the Swiss, he of Saint James,—_Der schatz
graber_.

_Myself_.—Not Benedict Mol?

“_Yaw_, _mein lieber herr_,” said Benedict, pushing open the door which
stood ajar; “it is myself.  I met Herr Anton in the street, and hearing
that you were in this place, I came with him to visit you.”

_Myself_.—And in the name of all that is singular, how is it that I see
you in Madrid again?  I thought that by this time you were returned to
your own country.

_Benedict_.—Fear not, lieber herr, I shall return thither in good time;
but not on foot, but with mules and coach.  The schatz is still yonder,
waiting to be dug up, and now I have better hope than ever: plenty of
friends, plenty of money.  See you not how I am dressed, lieber herr?

And verily his habiliments were of a much more respectable appearance
than any which he had sported on former occasions.  His coat and
pantaloons, which were of light green, were nearly new.  On his head he
still wore an Andalusian hat, but the present one was neither old nor
shabby, but fresh and glossy, and of immense altitude of cone: whilst in
his hand, instead of the ragged staff which I had observed at Saint James
and Oviedo, he now carried a huge bamboo rattan, surmounted by the grim
head of either a bear or lion, curiously cut out of pewter.

“You have all the appearance of a treasure seeker returned from a
successful expedition,” I exclaimed.

“Or rather,” interrupted Antonio, “of one who has ceased to trade on his
own bottom, and now goes seeking treasures at the cost and expense of
others.”

I questioned the Swiss minutely concerning his adventures since I last
saw him, when I left him at Oviedo to pursue my route to Santander.  From
his answers I gathered that he had followed me to the latter place; he
was, however, a long time in performing the journey, being weak from
hunger and privation.  At Santander he could hear no tidings of me, and
by this time the trifle which he had received from me was completely
exhausted.  He now thought of making his way into France, but was afraid
to venture through the disturbed provinces, lest he should fall into the
hands of the Carlists, who he conceived might shoot him as a spy.  No one
relieving him at Santander, he departed and begged his way till he found
himself in some part of Aragon, but where he scarcely knew.  “My misery
was so great,” said Bennet, “that I nearly lost my senses.  Oh, the
horror of wandering about the savage hills and wide plains of Spain,
without money and without hope!  Sometimes I became desperate, when I
found myself amongst rocks and barrancos, perhaps after having tasted no
food from sunrise to sunset, and then I would raise my staff towards the
sky and shake it, crying, lieber herr Gott, ach lieber herr Gott, you
must help me now or never; if you tarry, I am lost; you must help me now,
now!  And once when I was raving in this manner, methought I heard a
voice, nay I am sure I heard it, sounding from the hollow of a rock,
clear and strong; and it cried, ‘Der schatz, der schatz, it is not yet
dug up; to Madrid, to Madrid.  The way to the schatz is through Madrid.’
And then the thought of the schatz once more rushed into my mind, and I
reflected how happy I might be, could I but dig up the schatz.  No more
begging, then, no more wandering amidst horrid mountains and deserts; so
I brandished my staff, and my body and my limbs became full of new and
surprising strength, and I strode forward, and was not long before I
reached the high road; and then I begged and bettled as I best could,
until I reached Madrid.”

“And what has befallen you since you reached Madrid?” I inquired.  “Did
you find the treasure in the streets?”

On a sudden Bennet became reserved and taciturn, which the more surprised
me, as, up to the present moment, he had at all times been remarkably
communicative with respect to his affairs and prospects.  From what I
could learn from his broken hints and innuendoes, it appeared that, since
his arrival at Madrid, he had fallen into the hands of certain people who
had treated him with kindness, and provided him with both money and
clothes; not from disinterested motives, however, but having an eye to
the treasure.  “They expect great things from me,” said the Swiss; “and
perhaps, after all, it would have been more profitable to have dug up the
treasure without their assistance, always provided that were possible.”
Who his new friends were, he either knew not or would not tell me, save
that they were people in power.  He said something about Queen Christina
and an oath which he had taken in the presence of a bishop on the
crucifix and “the four Evangiles.”  I thought that his head was turned,
and forbore questioning.  Just before taking his departure, he observed
“Lieber herr, pardon me for not being quite frank towards you, to whom I
owe so much, but I dare not; I am not now my own man.  It is, moreover,
an evil thing at all times to say a word about treasure before you have
secured it.  There was once a man in my own country, who dug deep into
the earth until he arrived at a copper vessel which contained a schatz.
Seizing it by the handle, he merely exclaimed in his transport, ‘I have
it’; that was enough, however: down sank the kettle, though the handle
remained in his grasp.  That was all he ever got for his trouble and
digging.  Farewell, lieber herr, I shall speedily be sent back to Saint
James to dig up the schatz; but I will visit you ere I go—farewell.”



CHAPTER XLII


Liberation from Prison—The Apology—Human Nature—The Greek’s Return—Church
of Rome—Light of Scripture—Archbishop of Toledo—An Interview—Stones of
Price—A Resolution—The Foreign Language—Benedict’s Farewell—Treasure Hunt
at Compostella—Truth and Fiction.

I remained about three weeks in the prison of Madrid, and then left it.
If I had possessed any pride, or harboured any rancour against the party
who had consigned me to durance, the manner in which I was restored to
liberty would no doubt have been highly gratifying to those evil
passions; the government having acknowledged, by a document transmitted
to Sir George, that I had been incarcerated on insufficient grounds, and
that no stigma attached itself to me from the imprisonment I had
undergone; at the same time agreeing to defray all the expenses to which
I had been subjected throughout the progress of this affair.

It moreover expressed its willingness to dismiss the individual owing to
whose information I had been first arrested, namely, the corchete or
police officer who had visited me in my apartments in the Calle de
Santiago, and behaved himself in the manner which I have described in a
former chapter.  I declined, however, to avail myself of this
condescension of the government, more especially as I was informed that
the individual in question had a wife and family, who, if he were
disgraced, would be at once reduced to want.  I moreover considered that,
in what he had done and said, he had probably only obeyed some private
orders which he had received; I therefore freely forgave him, and if he
does not retain his situation at the present moment, it is certainly no
fault of mine.

I likewise refused to accept any compensation for my expenses, which were
considerable.  It is probable that many persons in my situation would
have acted very differently in this respect, and I am far from saying
that herein I acted discreetly or laudably; but I was averse to receive
money from people such as those of which the Spanish government was
composed, people whom I confess I heartily despised, and I was unwilling
to afford them an opportunity of saying that after they had imprisoned an
Englishman unjustly, and without a cause, he condescended to receive
money at their hands.  In a word, I confess my own weakness; I was
willing that they should continue my debtors, and have little doubt that
they had not the slightest objection to remain so; they kept their money,
and probably laughed in their sleeves at my want of common sense.

The heaviest loss which resulted from my confinement, and for which no
indemnification could be either offered or received, was in the death of
my affectionate and faithful Basque Francisco, who having attended me
during the whole time of my imprisonment, caught the pestilential typhus
or gaol fever, which was then raging in the Carcel de la Corte, of which
he expired within a few days subsequent to my liberation.  His death
occurred late one evening; the next morning as I was lying in bed
ruminating on my loss, and wondering of what nation my next servant would
be, I heard a noise which seemed to be that of a person employed
vigorously in cleaning boots or shoes, and at intervals a strange
discordant voice singing snatches of a song in some unknown language:
wondering who it could be, I rang the bell.

“Did you ring, mon maître,” said Antonio, appearing at the door with one
of his arms deeply buried in a boot.

“I certainly did ring,” said I, “but I scarcely expected that you would
have answered the summons.”

“_Mais pourquoi non_, _mon maitre_?” cried Antonio.  “Who should serve
you now but myself?  _N’est pas que le sieur Francois est mort_?  And did
I not say, as soon as I heard of his departure, I shall return to my
functions _chez mon maitre_, Monsieur Georges?”

“I suppose you had no other employment, and on that account you came.”

“_Au contraire_, _mon maitre_,” replied the Greek, “I had just engaged
myself at the house of the Duke of Frias, from whom I was to receive ten
dollars per month more than I shall accept from your worship; but on
hearing that you were without a domestic, I forthwith told the Duke,
though it was late at night, that he would not suit me, and here I am.”

“I shall not receive you in this manner,” said I; “return to the Duke,
apologize for your behaviour, request your dismission in a regular way;
and then if his grace is willing to part with you, as will most probably
be the case, I shall be happy to avail myself of your services.”

It is reasonable to expect that after having been subjected to an
imprisonment which my enemies themselves admitted to be unjust, I should
in future experience more liberal treatment at their hands than that
which they had hitherto adopted towards me.  The sole object of my
ambition at this time was to procure toleration for the sale of the
Gospel in this unhappy and distracted kingdom, and to have attained this
end I would not only have consented to twenty such imprisonments in
succession, as that which I had undergone, but would gladly have
sacrificed life itself.  I soon perceived, however, that I was likely to
gain nothing by my incarceration; on the contrary, I had become an object
of personal dislike to the government since the termination of this
affair, which it was probable I had never been before; their pride and
vanity were humbled by the concessions which they had been obliged to
make in order to avoid a rupture with England.  This dislike they were
now determined to gratify, by thwarting my views as much as possible.  I
had an interview with Ofalia on the subject uppermost in my mind: I found
him morose and snappish.  “It will be for your interest to be still,”
said he; “beware! you have already thrown the whole corte into confusion;
beware, I repeat; another time you may not escape so easily.”  “Perhaps
not,” I replied, “and perhaps I do not wish it; it is a pleasant thing to
be persecuted for the Gospel’s sake.  I now take the liberty of inquiring
whether, if I attempt to circulate the word of God, I am to be
interrupted.”  “Of course,” exclaimed Ofalia; “the church forbids such
circulation.”  “I shall make the attempt, however,” I exclaimed.  “Do you
mean what you say?” demanded Ofalia, arching his eyebrows and elongating
his mouth.  “Yes,” I continued, “I shall make the attempt in every
village in Spain to which I can penetrate.”

Throughout my residence in Spain the clergy were the party from which I
experienced the strongest opposition; and it was at their instigation
that the government originally adopted those measures which prevented any
extensive circulation of the sacred volume through the land.  I shall not
detain the course of my narrative with reflections as to the state of a
church, which, though it pretends to be founded on Scripture, would yet
keep the light of Scripture from all mankind, if possible.  But Rome is
fully aware that she is not a Christian church, and having no desire to
become so, she acts prudently in keeping from the eyes of her followers
the page which would reveal to them the truths of Christianity.  Her
agents and minions throughout Spain exerted themselves to the utmost to
render my humble labours abortive, and to vilify the work which I was
attempting to disseminate.  All the ignorant and fanatical clergy (the
great majority) were opposed to it, and all those who were anxious to
keep on good terms with the court of Rome were loud in their cry against
it.  There was, however, one section of the clergy, a small one, it is
true, rather favourably disposed towards the circulation of the Gospel
though by no means inclined to make any particular sacrifice for the
accomplishment of such an end: these were such as professed liberalism,
which is supposed to mean a disposition to adopt any reform both in civil
and church matters, which may be deemed conducive to the weal of the
country.  Not a few amongst the Spanish clergy were supporters of this
principle, or at least declared themselves so, some doubtless for their
own advancement, hoping to turn the spirit of the times to their own
personal profit; others, it is to be hoped, from conviction, and a pure
love of the principle itself.  Amongst these were to be found, at the
time of which I am speaking, several bishops.  It is worthy of remark,
however, that of all these not one but owed his office, not to the Pope,
who disowned them one and all, but to the Queen Regent, the professed
head of liberalism throughout all Spain.  It is not, therefore,
surprising that men thus circumstanced should feel rather disposed than
not to countenance any measure or scheme at all calculated to favour the
advancement of liberalism; and surely such an one was a circulation of
the Scriptures.  I derived but little assistance from their good will,
however, supposing that they entertained some, as they never took any
decided stand nor lifted up their voices in a bold and positive manner,
denouncing the conduct of those who would withhold the light of Scripture
from the world.  At one time I hoped by their instrumentality to
accomplish much in Spain in the Gospel cause; but I was soon undeceived,
and became convinced that reliance on what they would effect, was like
placing the hand on a staff of reed which will only lacerate the flesh.
More than once some of them sent messages to me, expressive of their
esteem, and assuring me how much the cause of the Gospel was dear to
their hearts.  I even received an intimation that a visit from me would
be agreeable to the Archbishop of Toledo, the Primate of Spain.

Of this personage I can say but little, his early history being entirely
unknown to me.  At the death of Ferdinand, I believe, he was Bishop of
Mallorca, a small insignificant see, of very scanty revenues, which
perhaps he had no objection to exchange for one more wealthy; it is
probable, however, that had he proved a devoted servant of the Pope, and
consequently a supporter of legitimacy, he would have continued to the
day of his death to fill the episcopal chair of Mallorca; but he was said
to be a liberal, and the Queen Regent thought fit to bestow upon him the
dignity of Archbishop of Toledo, by which he became the head of the
Spanish church.  The Pope, it is true, had refused to ratify the
nomination, on which account all good Catholics were still bound to
consider him as Bishop of Mallorca, and not as Primate of Spain.  He
however received the revenues belonging to the see, which, though only a
shadow of what they originally were, were still considerable, and lived
in the primate’s palace at Madrid, so that if he were not archbishop _de
jure_, he was what many people would have considered much better,
archbishop _de facto_.

Hearing that this personage was a personal friend of Ofalia, who was said
to entertain a very high regard for him, I determined upon paying him a
visit, and accordingly one morning betook myself to the palace in which
he resided.  I experienced no difficulty in obtaining an interview, being
forthwith conducted to his presence by a common kind of footman, an
Asturian, I believe, whom I found seated on a stone bench in the entrance
hall.  When I was introduced the Archbishop was alone, seated behind a
table in a large apartment, a kind of drawing-room; he was plainly
dressed, in a black cassock and silken cap; on his finger, however,
glittered a superb amethyst, the lustre of which was truly dazzling.  He
rose for a moment as I advanced, and motioned me to a chair with his
hand.  He might be about sixty years of age; his figure was very tall,
but he stooped considerably, evidently from feebleness, and the pallid
hue of ill health overspread his emaciated features.  When he had
reseated himself, he dropped his head, and appeared to be looking on the
table before him.

“I suppose your lordship knows who I am?” said I, at last breaking
silence.

The Archbishop bent his head towards the right shoulder, in a somewhat
equivocal manner, but said nothing.

“I am he whom the Manolos of Madrid call Don Jorgito el Ingles; I am just
come out of prison, whither I was sent for circulating my Lord’s Gospel
in this kingdom of Spain?”

The Archbishop made the same equivocal motion with his head, but still
said nothing.

“I was informed that your lordship was desirous of seeing me, and on that
account I have paid you this visit.”

“I did not send for you,” said the Archbishop, suddenly raising his head
with a startled look.

“Perhaps not: I was, however, given to understand that my presence would
be agreeable; but as that does not seem to be the case, I will leave.”

“Since you are come, I am very glad to see you.”

“I am very glad to hear it,” said I, reseating myself; “and since I am
here, we may as well talk of an all-important matter, the circulation of
the Scripture.  Does your lordship see any way by which an end so
desirable might be brought about?”

“No,” said the Archbishop faintly.

“Does not your lordship think that a knowledge of the Scripture would
work inestimable benefit in these realms?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is it probable that the government may be induced to consent to the
circulation?”

“How should I know?” and the Archbishop looked me in the face.

I looked in the face of the Archbishop; there was an expression of
helplessness in it, which almost amounted to dotage.  “Dear me,” thought
I, “whom have I come to on an errand like mine?  Poor man, you are not
fitted to play the part of Martin Luther, and least of all in Spain.  I
wonder why your friends selected you to be Archbishop of Toledo; they
thought perhaps that you would do neither good nor harm, and made choice
of you, as they sometimes do primates in my own country, for your
incapacity.  You do not seem very happy in your present situation; no
very easy stall this of yours.  You were more comfortable, I trow, when
you were the poor Bishop of Mallorca; could enjoy your puchera then
without fear that the salt would turn out sublimate.  No fear then of
being smothered in your bed.  A siesta is a pleasant thing when one is
not subject to be disturbed by ‘the sudden fear.’  I wonder whether they
have poisoned you already,” I continued, half aloud, as I kept my eyes
fixed on his countenance, which methought was becoming ghastly.

“Did you speak, Don Jorge?” demanded the Archbishop.

“That is a fine brilliant on your lordship’s hand,” said I.

“You are fond of brilliants, Don Jorge,” said the Archbishop, his
features brightening up; “vaya! so am I; they are pretty things.  Do you
understand them?”

“I do,” said I, “and I never saw a finer brilliant than your own, one
excepted; it belonged to an acquaintance of mine, a Tartar Khan.  He did
not bear it on his finger, however; it stood in the frontlet of his
horse, where it shone like a star.  He called it Daoud Scharr, which,
being interpreted, meaneth _light of war_.”

“Vaya!” said the Archbishop, “how very extraordinary; I am glad you are
fond of brilliants, Don Jorge.  Speaking of horses, reminds me that I
have frequently seen you on horseback.  Vaya! how you ride; it is
dangerous to be in your way.”

“Is your lordship fond of equestrian exercise?”

“By no means, Don Jorge; I do not like horses; it is not the practice of
the church to ride on horseback.  We prefer mules: they are the quieter
animals; I fear horses, they kick so violently.”

“The kick of a horse is death,” said I, “if it touches a vital part.  I
am not, however, of your lordship’s opinion with respect to mules: a good
ginete may retain his seat on a horse however vicious, but a mule—vaya!
when a false mule _tira por detras_, I do not believe that the Father of
the Church himself could keep the saddle a moment, however sharp his
bit.”

As I was going away, I said, “And with respect to the Gospel, your
lordship; what am I to understand?”

“_No se_,” said the Archbishop, again bending his head towards the right
shoulder, whilst his features resumed their former vacant expression.
And thus terminated my interview with the Archbishop of Toledo.

“It appears to me,” said I to Maria Diaz, on returning home; “it appears
to me, Marequita mia, that if the Gospel in Spain is to wait for
toleration until these liberal bishops and archbishops come forward
boldly in its behalf, it will have to tarry a considerable time.”

“I am much of your worship’s opinion,” answered Maria; “a fine thing,
truly, it would be to wait till they exerted themselves in its behalf.
Ca! the idea makes me smile: was your worship ever innocent enough to
suppose that they cared one tittle about the Gospel or its cause?  Vaya!
they are true priests, and had only self-interest in view in their
advances to you.  The Holy Father disowns them, and they would now fain,
by awaking his fears and jealousy, bring him to some terms; but let him
once acknowledge them and see whether they would admit you to their
palaces or hold any intercourse with you: ‘Forth with the fellow,’ they
would say; ‘vaya! is he not a Lutheran?  Is he not an enemy to the
Church?  _A la horca_, _a la horca_!’  I know this family better than you
do, Don Jorge.”

“It is useless tarrying,” said I; “nothing, however, can be done in
Madrid.  I cannot sell the work at the despacho, and I have just received
intelligence that all the copies exposed for sale in the libraries in the
different parts of Spain which I visited, have been sequestrated by order
of the government.  My resolution is taken: I shall mount my horses,
which are neighing in the stable, and betake myself to the villages and
plains of dusty Spain.  _Al campo_, _al campo_: ‘Ride forth because of
the word of righteousness, and thy right hand shall show thee terrible
things.’  I will ride forth, Maria.”

“Your worship can do no better; and allow me here to tell you, that for
every single book you might sell in a despacho in the city, you may
dispose of one hundred amongst the villages, always provided you offer
them cheap: for in the country money is rather scant.  Vaya! should I not
know? am I not a villager myself, a villana from the Sagra?  Ride forth,
therefore; your horses are neighing in the stall, as your worship says,
and you might almost have added that the Señor Antonio is neighing in the
house.  He says he has nothing to do, on which account he is once more
dissatisfied and unsettled.  He finds fault with everything, but more
particularly with myself.  This morning I saluted him, and he made me no
reply, but twisted his mouth in a manner very uncommon in this land of
Spain.”

“A thought strikes me,” said I; “you have mentioned the Sagra; why should
not I commence my labours amongst the villages of that district?”

“Your worship can do no better,” replied Maria; “the harvest is just over
there, and you will find the people comparatively unemployed, with
leisure to attend and listen to you; and if you follow my advice, you
will establish yourself at Villa Seca, in the house of my fathers, where
at present lives my lord and husband.  Go, therefore, to Villa Seca in
the first place, and from thence you can sally forth with the Señor
Antonio upon your excursions.  Peradventure, my husband will accompany
you; and if so, you will find him highly useful.  The people of Villa
Seca are civil and courteous, your worship; when they address a foreigner
they speak to him at the top of their voice and in Gallegan.”

“In Gallegan!” I exclaimed.

“They all understand a few words of Gallegan, which they have acquired
from the mountaineers, who occasionally assist them in cutting the
harvest, and as Gallegan is the only foreign language they know, they
deem it but polite to address a foreigner in that tongue.  Vaya! it is
not a bad village, that of Villa Seca, nor are the people; the only
ill-conditioned person living there is his reverence the curate.”

I was not long in making preparations for my enterprise.  A considerable
stock of Testaments were sent forward by an arriero, I myself followed
the next day.  Before my departure, however, I received a Benedict Mol.

“I am come to bid you farewell, lieber herr; I return to Compostella.”

“On what errand?”

“To dig up the schatz, lieber herr.  For what else should I go?  For what
have I lived until now, but that I may dig up the schatz in the end?”

“You might have lived for something better,” I exclaimed.  “I wish you
success, however.  But on what grounds do you hope?  Have you obtained
permission to dig?  Surely you remember your former trials in Galicia?”

“I have not forgotten them, lieber herr, nor the journey to Oviedo, nor
‘the seven acorns,’ nor the fight with death in the barranco.  But I must
accomplish my destiny.  I go now to Galicia, as is becoming a Swiss, at
the expense of the government, with coach and mule, I mean in the galera.
I am to have all the help I require, so that I can dig down to the
earth’s centre if I think fit.  I—but I must not tell your worship, for I
am sworn on ‘the four Evangiles’ not to tell.”

“Well, Benedict, I have nothing to say, save that I hope you will succeed
in your digging.”

“Thank you, lieber herr, thank you; and now farewell.  Succeed!  I shall
succeed!”  Here he stopped short, started, and looking upon me with an
expression of countenance almost wild, he exclaimed: “Heiliger Gott!  I
forgot one thing.  Suppose I should not find the treasure after all.”

“Very rationally said; pity, though, that you did not think of that
contingency till now.  I tell you, my friend, that you have engaged in a
most desperate undertaking.  It is true that you may find a treasure.
The chances are, however, a hundred to one that you do not, and in that
event, what will be your situation?  You will be looked upon as an
impostor, and the consequences may be horrible to you.  Remember where
you are, and amongst whom you are.  The Spaniards are a credulous people,
but let them once suspect that they have been imposed upon, and above all
laughed at, and their thirst for vengeance knows no limit.  Think not
that your innocence will avail you.  That you are no impostor I feel
convinced; but they would never believe it.  It is not too late.  Return
your fine clothes and magic rattan to those from whom you had them.  Put
on your old garments, grasp your ragged staff, and come with me to the
Sagra, to assist in circulating the illustrious Gospel amongst the
rustics on the Tagus’ bank.”

Benedict mused for a moment, then shaking his head, he cried, “No, no, I
must accomplish my destiny.  The schatz is not yet dug up.  So said the
voice in the barranco.  To-morrow to Compostella.  I shall find it—the
schatz—it is still there—it _must_ be there.”

He went, and I never saw him more.  What I heard, however, was
extraordinary enough.  It appeared that the government had listened to
his tale, and had been so struck with Bennet’s exaggerated description of
the buried treasure, that they imagined that, by a little trouble and
outlay, gold and diamonds might be dug up at Saint James sufficient to
enrich themselves and to pay off the national debt of Spain.  The Swiss
returned to Compostella “like a duke,” to use his own words.  The affair,
which had at first been kept a profound secret, was speedily divulged.
It was, indeed, resolved that the investigation, which involved
consequences of so much importance, should take place in a manner the
most public and imposing.  A solemn festival was drawing nigh, and it was
deemed expedient that the search should take place on that day.  The day
arrived.  All the bells in Compostella pealed.  The whole populace
thronged from their houses, a thousand troops were drawn up in the
square, the expectation of all was wound up to the highest pitch.  A
procession directed its course to the church of San Roque; at its head
was the captain-general and the Swiss, brandishing in his hand the magic
rattan, close behind walked the _meiga_, the Gallegan witch-wife, by whom
the treasure-seeker had been originally guided in the search; numerous
masons brought up the rear, bearing implements to break up the ground.
The procession enters the church, they pass through it in solemn march,
they find themselves in a vaulted passage.  The Swiss looks around.  “Dig
here,” said he suddenly.  “Yes, dig here,” said the meiga.  The masons
labour, the floor is broken up,—a horrible and fetid odour arises. . . .

Enough; no treasure was found, and my warning to the unfortunate Swiss
turned out but too prophetic.  He was forthwith seized and flung into the
horrid prison of Saint James, amidst the execrations of thousands, who
would have gladly torn him limb from limb.

The affair did not terminate here.  The political opponents of the
government did not allow so favourable an opportunity to escape for
launching the shafts of ridicule.  The Moderados were taunted in the
cortes for their avarice and credulity, whilst the liberal press wafted
on its wings through Spain the story of the treasure-hunt at Saint James.

“After all, it was a _trampa_ of Don Jorge’s,” said one of my enemies.
“That fellow is at the bottom of half the picardias which happen in
Spain.”

Eager to learn the fate of the Swiss, I wrote to my old friend Rey
Romero, at Compostella.  In his answer he states: “I saw the Swiss in
prison, to which place he sent for me, craving my assistance, for the
sake of the friendship which I bore to you.  But how could I help him?
He was speedily after removed from Saint James, I know not whither.  It
is said that he disappeared on the road.”

Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.  Where in the whole cycle of
romance shall we find anything more wild, grotesque, and sad, than the
easily-authenticated history of Benedict Mol, the treasure-digger of
Saint James?



CHAPTER XLIII


Villa Seca—Moorish House—The Puchera—The Rustic Council—Polite
Ceremonial—The Flower of Spain—The Bridge of Azeca—The Ruined
Castle—Taking the Field—Demand for the Word—The Old Peasant—The Curate
and Blacksmith—Cheapness of the Scriptures.

It was one of the most fiercely hot days in which I ever braved the sun,
when I arrived at Villa Seca.  The heat in the shade must have amounted
at least to one hundred degrees, and the entire atmosphere seemed to
consist of flickering flame.  At a place called Leganez, six leagues from
Madrid, and about half way to Toledo, we diverged from the highway,
bending our course seemingly towards the south-east.  We rode over what
are called plains in Spain, but which, in any other part of the world,
would be called undulating and broken ground.  The crops of corn and
barley had already disappeared.  The last vestiges discoverable being
here and there a few sheaves, which the labourers were occupied in
removing to their garners in the villages.  The country could scarcely be
called beautiful, being perfectly naked, exhibiting neither trees nor
verdure.  It was not, however, without its pretensions to grandeur and
magnificence, like every part of Spain.  The most prominent objects were
two huge calcareous hills or rather one cleft in twain, which towered up
on high; the summit of the nearest being surmounted by the ruins of an
ancient castle, that of Villaluenga.  About an hour past noon we reached
Villa Seca.

We found it a large village, containing about seven hundred inhabitants,
and surrounded by a mud wall.  A plaza, or market-place, stood in the
midst, one side of which is occupied by what is called a palace, a clumsy
quadrangular building of two stories, belonging to some noble family, the
lords of the neighbouring soil.  It was deserted, however, being only
occupied by a kind of steward, who stored up in its chambers the grain
which he received as rent from the tenants and villanos who farmed the
surrounding district.

The village stands at the distance of about a quarter of a league from
the bank of the Tagus, which even here, in the heart of Spain, is a
beautiful stream, not navigable, however, on account of the sandbanks,
which in many places assume the appearance of small islands, and are
covered with trees and brushwood.  The village derives its supply of
water entirely from the river, having none of its own; such at least as
is potable, the water of its wells being all brackish, on which account
it is probably termed Villa Seca, which signifies “the dry hamlet.”  The
inhabitants are said to have been originally Moors; certain it is, that
various customs are observable here highly favourable to such a
supposition.  Amongst others, a very curious one; it is deemed infamous
for a woman of Villa Seca to go across the market-place, or to be seen
there, though they have no hesitation in showing themselves in the
streets and lanes.  A deep-rooted hostility exists between the
inhabitants of this place and those of a neighbouring village, called
Vargas; they rarely speak when they meet, and never intermarry.  There is
a vague tradition that the people of the latter place are old Christians,
and it is highly probable that these neighbours were originally of widely
different blood; those of Villa Seca being of particularly dark
complexions, whilst the indwellers of Vargas are light and fair.  Thus
the old feud between Moor and Christian is still kept up in the
nineteenth century in Spain.

Drenched in perspiration, which fell from our brows like rain, we arrived
at the door of Juan Lopez, the husband of Maria Diaz.  Having heard of
our intention to pay him a visit, he was expecting us, and cordially
welcomed us to his habitation, which, like a genuine Moorish house,
consisted only of one story.  It was amply large, however, with a court
and stable.  All the apartments were deliciously cool.  The floors were
of brick or stone, and the narrow and trellised windows, which were
without glass, scarcely permitted a ray of sun to penetrate into the
interior.

A puchera had been prepared in expectation of our arrival; the heat had
not taken away my appetite, and it was not long before I did full justice
to this the standard dish of Spain.  Whilst I ate, Lopez played upon the
guitar, singing occasionally snatches of Andalusian songs.  He was a
short, merry-faced, active fellow, whom I had frequently seen at Madrid,
and was a good specimen of the Spanish labrador or yeoman.  Though far
from possessing the ability and intellect of his wife, Maria Diaz, he was
by no means deficient in shrewdness and understanding.  He was, moreover,
honest and disinterested, and performed good service in the Gospel cause,
as will presently appear.

When the repast was concluded, Lopez thus addressed me:—“Señor Don Jorge,
your arrival in our village has already caused a sensation, more
especially as these are times of war and tumult, and every person is
afraid of another, and we dwell here close on the confines of the
factious country; for, as you well know, the greater part of La Mancha is
in the hands of the Carlinos and thieves, parties of whom frequently show
themselves on the other side of the river: on which account the alcalde
of this city, with the other grave and notable people thereof, are
desirous of seeing your worship, and conversing with you, and of
examining your passport.”  “It is well,” said I; “let us forthwith pay a
visit to these worthy people.”  Whereupon he conducted me across the
plaza, to the house of the alcalde, where I found the rustic dignitary
seated in the passage, enjoying the refreshing coolness of a draught of
air which rushed through.  He was an elderly man, of about sixty, with
nothing remarkable in his appearance or his features, which latter were
placid and good-humoured.  There were several people with him, amongst
whom was the surgeon of the place, a tall and immensely bulky man, an
Alavese by birth, from the town of Vitoria.  There was also a red
fiery-faced individual, with a nose very much turned on one side, who was
the blacksmith of the village, and was called in general El Tuerto, from
the circumstance of his having but one eye.  Making the assembly a low
bow, I pulled out my passport, and thus addressed them:—

“Grave men and cavaliers of this city of Villa Seca, as I am a stranger,
of whom it is not possible that you should know anything, I have deemed
it my duty to present myself before you, and to tell you who I am.  Know,
then, that I am an Englishman of good blood and fathers, travelling in
these countries for my own profit and diversion, and for that of other
people also.  I have now found my way to Villa Seca, where I propose to
stay some time, doing that which may be deemed convenient; sometimes
riding across the plain, and sometimes bathing myself in the waters of
the river, which are reported to be of advantage in times of heat, I
therefore beg that, during my sojourn in this capital, I may enjoy such
countenance and protection from its governors as they are in the habit of
affording to those who are of quiet and well-ordered life, and are
disposed to be buxom and obedient to the customs and laws of the
republic.”

“He speaks well,” said the alcalde, glancing around.

“Yes, he speaks well,” said the bulky Alavese; “there is no denying it.”

“I never heard any one speak better,” cried the blacksmith, starting up
from a stool on which he was seated.  “Vaya! he is a big man and a fair
complexioned like myself.  I like him, and have a horse that will just
suit him; one that is the flower of Spain, and is eight inches above the
mark.”

I then, with another bow, presented my passport to the alcalde, who, with
a gentle motion of his hand, appeared to decline taking it, at the same
time saying, “It is not necessary.”  “Oh, not at all,” exclaimed the
surgeon.  “The housekeepers of Villa Seca know how to comport themselves
with formality,” observed the blacksmith.  “They would be very loth to
harbour any suspicion against a cavalier so courteous and well spoken.”
Knowing, however, that this refusal amounted to nothing, and that it
merely formed part of a polite ceremonial, I proffered the passport a
second time, whereupon it was instantly taken, and in a moment the eyes
of all present were bent upon it with intense curiosity.  It was examined
from top to bottom, and turned round repeatedly, and though it is not
probable that an individual present understood a word of it, it being
written in French, it gave nevertheless universal satisfaction; and when
the alcalde, carefully folding it up, returned it to me, they all
observed that they had never seen a better passport in their lives, or
one which spake in higher terms of the bearer.

Who was it said that “Cervantes sneered Spain’s chivalry away?”  I know
not; and the author of such a line scarcely deserves to be remembered.
How the rage for scribbling tempts people at the present day to write
about lands and nations of which they know nothing, or worse than
nothing.  Vaya!  It is not from having seen a bull-fight at Seville or
Madrid, or having spent a handful of ounces at a posada in either of
those places, kept perhaps by a Genoese or a Frenchman, that you are
competent to write about such a people as the Spaniards, and to tell the
world how they think, how they speak, and how they act!  Spain’s chivalry
sneered away!  Why, there is every probability that the great body of the
Spanish nation speak, think, and live precisely as their forefathers did
six centuries ago.

In the evening the blacksmith, or, as he would be called in Spanish, El
Herrador, made his appearance at the door of Lopez on horseback.  “Vamos,
Don Jorge,” he shouted.  “Come with me, if your worship is disposed for a
ride.  I am going to bathe my horse in the Tagus by the bridge of Azeca.”
I instantly saddled my jaca Cordovesa, and joining him, we rode out of
the village, directing our course across the plain towards the river.
“Did you ever see such a horse as this of mine, Don Jorge?” he demanded.
“Is he not a jewel—an alaja?” And in truth the horse was a noble and
gallant creature, in height at least sixteen hands, broad-chested, but of
clean and elegant limbs.  His neck was superbly arched, and his head
towered on high like that of a swan.  In colour he was a bright chestnut,
save his flowing mane and tail, which were almost black.  I expressed my
admiration, whereupon the herrador, in high spirits, pressed his heels to
the creature’s sides, and flinging the bridle on its neck, speeded over
the plain with prodigious swiftness, shouting the old Spanish cry,
Cierra!  I attempted to keep up with him, but had not a chance.  “I call
him the flower of Spain,” said the herrador, rejoining me.  “Purchase
him, Don Jorge, his price is but three thousand reals. {384}  I would not
sell him for double that sum, but the Carlist thieves have their eyes
upon him, and I am apprehensive that they will some day make a dash
across the river and break into Villa Seca, all to get possession of my
horse, ‘The Flower of Spain.’”

It may be as well to observe here, that within a month from this period,
my friend the herrador, not being able to find a regular purchaser for
his steed, entered into negotiations with the aforesaid thieves
respecting him, and finally disposed of the animal to their leader,
receiving not the three thousand reals he demanded, but an entire herd of
horned cattle, probably driven from the plains of La Mancha.  For this
transaction, which was neither more nor less than high treason, he was
cast into the prison of Toledo, where, however, he did not continue long;
for during a short visit to Villa Seca, which I made in the spring of the
following year, I found him alcalde of that “republic.”

We arrived at the bridge of Azeca, which is about half a league from
Villa Seca; close beside it is a large water-mill, standing upon a dam
which crosses the river.  Dismounting from his steed, the herrador
proceeded to divest it of the saddle, then causing it to enter the
mill-pool, he led it by means of a cord to a particular spot, where the
water reached half way up its neck, then fastening a cord to a post on
the bank, he left the animal standing in the pool.  I thought I could do
no better than follow his example, and accordingly procuring a rope from
the mill, I led my own horse into the water.  “It will refresh their
blood, Don Jorge,” said the herrador; “let us leave them there for an
hour, whilst we go and divert ourselves.”

Near the bridge, on the side of the river on which we were, was a kind of
guard-house, where were three carbineers of the revenue, who collected
the tolls of the bridge; we entered into conversation with them: “Is not
this a dangerous position of yours,” said I to one of them, who was a
Catalan; “close beside the factious country?  Surely it would not be
difficult for a body of the Carlinos or bandits to dash across the bridge
and make prisoners of you all.”

“It would be easy enough at any moment, Cavalier,” replied the Catalan;
“we are, however, all in the hands of God, and he has preserved us
hitherto, and perhaps still will.  True it is that one of our number, for
there were four of us originally, fell the other day into the hands of
the canaille: he had wandered across the bridge amongst the thickets with
his gun in search of a hare or rabbit, when three or four of them fell
upon him and put him to death in a manner too horrible to relate.  But
patience! every man who lives must die.  I shall not sleep the worse
to-night because I may chance to be hacked by the knives of these
malvados to-morrow.  Cavalier, I am from Barcelona, and have seen there
mariners of your nation; this is not so good a country as Barcelona.
Paciencia!  Cavalier, if you will step into our house, I will give you a
glass of water; we have some that is cool, for we dug a deep hole in the
earth and buried there our pitcher; it is cool, as I told you, but the
water of Castile is not like that of Catalonia.”

The moon had arisen when we mounted our horses to return to the village,
and the rays of the beauteous luminary danced merrily on the rushing
waters of the Tagus, silvered the plain over which we were passing, and
bathed in a flood of brightness the bold sides of the calcareous hill of
Villaluenga and the antique ruins which crowned its brow.  “Why is that
place called the Castle of Villaluenga?” I demanded.

“From a village of that name, which stands on the other side of the hill,
Don Jorge,” replied the herrador.  “Vaya! it is a strange place, that
castle; some say it was built by the Moors in the old times, and some by
the Christians when they first laid siege to Toledo.  It is not inhabited
now, save by rabbits, which breed there in abundance amongst the long
grass and broken stones, and by eagles and vultures, which build on the
tops of the towers; I occasionally go there with my gun to shoot a
rabbit.  On a fine day you may descry both Toledo and Madrid from its
walls.  I cannot say I like the place, it is so dreary and melancholy.
The hill on which it stands is all of chalk, and is very difficult of
ascent.  I heard my grandame say that once, when she was a girl, a cloud
of smoke burst from that hill, and that flames of fire were seen, just as
if it contained a volcano, as perhaps it does, Don Jorge.”

The grand work of Scripture circulation soon commenced in the Sagra.
Notwithstanding the heat of the weather, I rode about in all directions.
It was well that heat agrees with my constitution, otherwise it would
have been impossible to effect anything in this season, when the very
arrieros frequently fall dead from their mules, smitten by sun-stroke.  I
had an excellent assistant in Antonio, who, disregarding the heat like
myself, and afraid of nothing, visited several villages with remarkable
success.  “Mon maître,” said he, “I wish to show you that nothing is
beyond my capacity.”  But he who put the labours of us both to shame, was
my host, Juan Lopez, whom it had pleased the Lord to render favourable to
the cause.  “Don Jorge,” said he, “_io quiero engancharme con usted_ (I
wish to enlist with you); I am a liberal, and a foe to superstition; I
will take the field, and, if necessary, will follow you to the end of the
world; _Viva Ingalaterra_; _viva el Evangelio_.”  Thus saying, he put a
large bundle of Testaments into a satchel, and springing upon the crupper
of his grey donkey, he cried “_Arrhe burra_,” and hastened away.  I sat
down to my journal.

Ere I had finished writing, I heard the voice of the burra in the
courtyard, and going out, I found my host returned.  He had disposed of
his whole cargo of twenty Testaments at the village of Vargas, distant
from Villa Seca about a league.  Eight poor harvest men, who were
refreshing themselves at the door of a wine-house, purchased each a copy,
whilst the village schoolmaster secured the rest for the little ones
beneath his care, lamenting, at the same time, the great difficulty he
had long experienced in obtaining religious books, owing to their
scarcity and extravagant price.  Many other persons were also anxious to
purchase Testaments, but Lopez was unable to supply them: at his
departure, they requested him to return within a few days.

I was aware that I was playing rather a daring game, and that it was very
possible that, when I least expected it, I might be seized, tied to the
tail of a mule, and dragged either to the prison of Toledo or Madrid.
Yet such a prospect did not discourage me in the least, but rather urged
me to persevere; for at this time, without the slightest wish to gratify
myself, I could say that I was eager to lay down my life for the cause,
and whether a bandit’s bullet, or the gaol fever brought my career to a
close, was a matter of indifference to me; I was not then a stricken man:
“Ride on because of the word of righteousness,” was my cry.

The news of the arrival of the book of life soon spread like wildfire
through the villages of the Sagra of Toledo, and wherever my people and
myself directed our course we found the inhabitants disposed to receive
our merchandize; it was even called for where not exhibited.  One night
as I was bathing myself and horse in the Tagus, a knot of people gathered
on the bank, crying, “Come out of the water, Englishman, and give us
books; we have got our money in our hands.”  The poor creatures then held
out their hands, filled with cuartos, a copper coin of the value of the
farthing, but unfortunately I had no Testaments to give them.  Antonio,
however, who was at a short distance, having exhibited one, it was
instantly torn from his hands by the people, and a scuffle ensued to
obtain possession of it.  It very frequently occurred, that the poor
labourers in the neighbourhood, being eager to obtain Testaments, and
having no money to offer us in exchange, brought various articles to our
habitation as equivalents; for example, rabbits, fruit and barley, and I
made a point never to disappoint them, as such articles were of utility
either for our own consumption or that of the horses.

In Villa Seca there was a school in which fifty-seven children were
taught the first rudiments of education.  One morning the schoolmaster, a
tall slim figure of about sixty, bearing on his head one of the peaked
hats of Andalusia, and wrapped, notwithstanding the excessive heat of the
weather, in a long cloak, made his appearance; and having seated himself,
requested to be shown one of our books.  Having delivered it to him, he
remained examining it for nearly half an hour, without uttering a word.
At last he laid it down with a sigh, and said that he should be very
happy to purchase some of these books for his school, but from their
appearance, especially from the quality of the paper and binding, he was
apprehensive that to pay for them would exceed the means of the parents
of his pupils, as they were almost destitute of money, being poor
labourers.  He then commenced blaming the government, which he said
established schools without affording the necessary books, adding that in
his school there were but two books for the use of all his pupils, and
these he confessed contained but little good.  I asked him what he
considered the Testaments were worth?  He said, “Señor Cavalier, to speak
frankly, I have in other times paid twelve reals for books inferior to
yours in every respect, but I assure you that my poor pupils would be
utterly unable to pay the half of that sum.”  I replied, “I will sell you
as many as you please for three reals each, I am acquainted with the
poverty of the land, and my friends and myself, in affording the people
the means of spiritual instruction have no wish to curtail their scanty
bread.”  He replied: “Bendito sea Dios,” (_blessed be God_,) and could
scarcely believe his ears.  He instantly purchased a dozen, expending, as
he said, all the money he possessed, with the exception of a few cuartos.
The introduction of the word of God into the country schools of Spain is
therefore begun, and I humbly hope that it will prove one of those
events, which the Bible Society, after the lapse of years, will have most
reason to remember with joy and gratitude to the Almighty.

An old peasant is reading in the portico.  Eighty-four years have passed
over his head, and he is almost entirely deaf; nevertheless he is reading
aloud the second of Matthew: three days since he bespoke a Testament, but
not being able to raise the money, he has not redeemed it until the
present moment.  He has just brought thirty farthings; as I survey the
silvery hair which overshadows his sunburnt countenance, the words of the
song occurred to me, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace
according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”

I experienced much grave kindness and simple hospitality from the good
people of Villa Seca during my sojourn amongst them.  I had at this time
so won their hearts by the “formality” of my behaviour and language, that
I firmly believe they would have resisted to the knife any attempt which
might have been made to arrest or otherwise maltreat me.  He who wishes
to become acquainted with the genuine Spaniard, must seek him not in
seaports and large towns, but in lone and remote villages, like those of
the Sagra.  There he will find all that gravity of deportment and
chivalry of disposition which Cervantes is said to have sneered away; and
there he will hear, in everyday conversation, those grandiose
expressions, which, when met with in the romances of chivalry, are
scoffed at as ridiculous exaggerations.

I had one enemy in the village—it was the curate.

“The fellow is a heretic and a scoundrel,” said he one day in the
conclave.  “He never enters the church, and is poisoning the minds of the
people with his Lutheran books.  Let him be bound and sent to Toledo, or
turned out of the village at least.”

“I will have nothing of the kind,” said the alcalde, who was said to be a
Carlist.  “If he has his opinions, I have mine too.  He has conducted
himself with politeness.  Why should I interfere with him?  He has been
courteous to my daughter, and has presented her with a volume.  Que viva!
and with respect to his being a Lutheran, I have heard say that amongst
the Lutherans there are sons of as good fathers as here.  He appears to
me a caballero.  He speaks well.”

“There is no denying it,” said the surgeon.

“Who speaks _so_ well?” shouted the herrador.  “And, who has more
formality?  Vaya! did he not praise my horse, ‘The Flower of Spain’?  Did
he not say that in the whole of Ingalaterra there was not a better?  Did
he not assure me, moreover, that if he were to remain in Spain he would
purchase it, giving me my own price?  Turn him out, indeed!  Is he not of
my own blood, is he not fair-complexioned?  Who shall turn him out when
I, ‘the one-eyed,’ say no?”

In connection with the circulation of the Scriptures I will now relate an
anecdote not altogether divested of singularity.  I have already spoken
of the water-mill by the bridge of Azeca.  I had formed acquaintance with
the tenant of this mill, who was known in the neighbourhood by the name
of Don Antero.  One day, taking me into a retired place, he asked me, to
my great astonishment, whether I would sell him a thousand Testaments at
the price at which I was disposing of them to the peasantry; saying, if I
would consent he would pay me immediately.  In fact, he put his hand into
his pocket, and pulled it out filled with gold ounces.  I asked him what
was his reason for wishing to make so considerable a purchase.  Whereupon
he informed me that he had a relation in Toledo whom he wished to
establish, and that he was of opinion that his best plan would be to hire
him a shop there and furnish it with Testaments.  I told him that he must
think of nothing of the kind, as probably the books would be seized on
the first attempt to introduce them into Toledo, as the priests and
canons were much averse to their distribution.

He was not disconcerted, however, and said his relation could travel, as
I myself was doing, and dispose of them to the peasants with profit to
himself.  I confess I was inclined at first to accept his offer, but at
length declined it, as I did not wish to expose a poor man to the risk of
losing money, goods, and perhaps liberty and life.  I was likewise averse
to the books being offered to the peasantry at an advanced price, being
aware that they could not afford it, and the books, by such an attempt,
would lose a considerable part of that influence which they then enjoyed;
for their cheapness struck the minds of the people, and they considered
it almost as much in the light of a miracle as the Jews the manna which
dropped from heaven at the time they were famishing, or the spring which
suddenly gushed from the flinty rocks to assuage their thirst in the
wilderness.

At this time a peasant was continually passing and repassing between
Villa Seca and Madrid, bringing us cargoes of Testaments on a burrico.
We continued our labours until the greater part of the villages of the
Sagra were well supplied with books, more especially those of Vargas,
Coveja, Mocejon, Villaluenga, Villa Seca, and Yungler.  Hearing at last
that our proceedings were known at Toledo, and were causing considerable
alarm, we returned to Madrid.



CHAPTER XLIV


Aranjuez—A Warning—A Night Adventure—A Fresh
Expedition—Segovia—Abades—Factious Curas—Lopez in Prison—Rescue of Lopez.

The success which had attended our efforts in the Sagra of Toledo
speedily urged me on to a new enterprise.  I now determined to direct my
course to La Mancha, and to distribute the word amongst the villages of
that province.  Lopez, who had already performed such important services
in the Sagra, had accompanied us to Madrid, and was eager to take part in
this new expedition.  We determined in the first place to proceed to
Aranjuez, where we hoped to obtain some information which might prove of
utility in the further regulation of our movements; Aranjuez being but a
slight distance from the frontier of La Mancha and the high road into
that province passing directly through it.  We accordingly sallied forth
from Madrid, selling from twenty to forty Testaments in every village
which lay in our way, until we arrived at Aranjuez, to which place we had
forwarded a large supply of books.

A lovely spot is Aranjuez, though in desolation: here the Tagus flows
through a delicious valley, perhaps the most fertile in Spain; and here
upsprang, in Spain’s better days, a little city, with a small but
beautiful palace shaded by enormous trees, where royalty delighted to
forget its cares.  Here Ferdinand the Seventh spent his latter days,
surrounded by lovely señoras and Andalusian bull-fighters: but as the
German Schiller has it in one of his tragedies:

    “The happy days in fair Aranjuez,
    Are past and gone.”

When the sensual king went to his dread account, royalty deserted it, and
it soon fell into decay.  Intriguing courtiers no longer crowd its halls;
its spacious circus, where Manchegan bulls once roared in rage and agony,
is now closed, and the light tinkling of guitars is no longer heard
amidst its groves and gardens.

At Aranjuez I made a sojourn of three days, during which time Antonio,
Lopez, and myself visited every house in the town.  We found a vast deal
of poverty and ignorance amongst the inhabitants, and experienced some
opposition: nevertheless it pleased the Almighty to permit us to dispose
of about eighty Testaments, which were purchased entirely by the very
poor people; those in easier circumstances paying no attention to the
word of God, but rather turning it to scoff and ridicule.

One circumstance was very gratifying and cheering to me, namely, the
ocular proof which I possessed that the books which I had disposed of
were read, and with attention, by those to whom I sold them; and that
many others participated in their benefit.  In the streets of Aranjuez,
and beneath the mighty cedars and gigantic elms and plantains which
compose its noble woods, I have frequently seen groups assembled
listening to individuals who, with the New Testament in their hands, were
reading aloud the comfortable words of salvation.

It is probable that, had I remained a longer period at Aranjuez, I might
have sold many more of these divine books, but I was eager to gain La
Mancha and its sandy plains, and to conceal myself for a season amongst
its solitary villages, for I was apprehensive that a storm was gathering
around me; but when once through Ocaña, the frontier town, I knew well
that I should have nothing to fear from the Spanish authorities, as their
power ceased there, the rest of La Mancha being almost entirely in the
hands of the Carlists, and overrun by small parties of banditti, from
whom, however, I trusted that the Lord would preserve me.  I therefore
departed for Ocaña, distant three leagues from Aranjuez.

I started with Antonio at six in the evening, having early in the morning
sent forward Lopez with between two and three hundred Testaments.  We
left the high road, and proceeded by a shorter way through wild hills and
over very broken and precipitous ground: being well mounted we found
ourselves just after sunset opposite Ocaña, which stands on a steep hill.
A deep valley lay between us and the town: we descended, and came to a
small bridge, which traverses a rivulet at the bottom of the valley, at a
very small distance from a kind of suburb.  We crossed the bridge, and
were passing by a deserted house on our left hand, when a man appeared
from under the porch.

What I am about to state will seem incomprehensible, but a singular
history and a singular people are connected with it: the man placed
himself before my horse so as to bar the way, and said “_Schophon_,”
which, in the Hebrew tongue, signifies a rabbit.  I knew this word to be
one of the Jewish countersigns, and asked the man if he had any thing to
communicate?  He said, “You must not enter the town, for a net is
prepared for you.  The corregidor of Toledo, on whom may all evil light,
in order to give pleasure to the priests of Maria, in whose face I spit,
has ordered all the alcaldes of these parts, and the escribanos and the
corchetes to lay hands on you wherever they may find you, and to send
you, and your books, and all that pertains to you to Toledo.  Your
servant was seized this morning in the town above, as he was selling the
writings in the streets, and they are now awaiting your arrival in the
posada; but I knew you from the accounts of my brethren, and I have been
waiting here four hours to give you warning in order that your horse may
turn his tail to your enemies, and neigh in derision of them.  Fear
nothing for your servant, for he is known to the alcalde, and will be set
at liberty, but do you flee, and may God attend you.”  Having said this,
he hurried towards the town.

I hesitated not a moment to take his advice, knowing full well that, as
my books had been taken possession of, I could do no more in that
quarter.  We turned back in the direction of Aranjuez, the horses,
notwithstanding the nature of the ground, galloping at full speed; but
our adventures were not over.  Midway, and about half a league from the
village of Antigola, we saw close to us on our left hand three men on a
low bank.  As far as the darkness would permit us to distinguish, they
were naked, but each bore in his hand a long gun.  These were rateros, or
the common assassins and robbers of the roads.  We halted and cried out,
“Who goes there?”  They replied, “What’s that to you? pass by.”  Their
drift was to fire at us from a position from which it would be impossible
to miss.  We shouted, “If you do not instantly pass to the right side of
the road, we will tread you down between the horses’ hoofs.”  They
hesitated and then obeyed, for all assassins are dastards, and the least
show of resolution daunts them.  As we galloped past, one cried, with an
obscene oath, “Shall we fire?”  But another said, “No, no! there’s
danger.”  We reached Aranjuez, where early next morning Lopez rejoined
us, and we returned to Madrid.

I am sorry to state that two hundred Testaments were seized at Ocaña,
from whence, after being sealed up, they were despatched to Toledo.
Lopez informed me, that in two hours he could have sold them all, the
demand was so great.  As it was, twenty-seven were disposed of in less
than ten minutes.

“Ride on because of the word of righteousness.”  Notwithstanding the
check which we had experienced at Ocaña, we were far from being
discouraged, and forthwith prepared ourselves for another expedition.  As
we returned from Aranjeuz to Madrid, my eyes had frequently glanced
towards the mighty wall of mountains dividing the two Castiles, and I
said to myself, “Would it not be well to cross those hills, and commence
operations on the other side, even in Old Castile?  There I am unknown,
and intelligence of my proceedings can scarcely have been transmitted
thither.  Peradventure the enemy is asleep, and before he has roused
himself, I may have sown much of the precious seed amongst the villages
of the Old Castilians.  To Castile, therefore, to Castile la Vieja!”
Accordingly, on the day after my arrival, I despatched several cargoes of
books to various places which I proposed to visit, and sent forward Lopez
and his donkey, well laden, with directions to meet me on a particular
day beneath a particular arch of the aqueduct of Segovia.  I likewise
gave him orders to engage any persons willing to co-operate with us in
the circulation of the Scriptures, and who might be likely to prove of
utility in the enterprise.  A more useful assistant than Lopez in an
expedition of this kind it was impossible to have.  He was not only well
acquainted with the country, but had friends, and even connexions on the
other side of the hills, in whose houses he assured me that we should at
all times find a hearty welcome.  He departed in high spirits,
exclaiming, “Be of good cheer, Don Jorge; before we return we will have
disposed of every copy of your evangelic library.  Down with the friars!
Down with superstition!  Viva Ingalaterra, viva el Evangelio!”

In a few days I followed with Antonio.  We ascended the mountains by the
pass called Peña Cerrada, which lies about three leagues to the eastward
of that of Guadarama.  It is very unfrequented, the high road between the
two Castiles passing through Guadarama.  It has, moreover, an evil name,
being, according to common report, infested with banditti.  The sun was
just setting when we reached the top of the hills, and entered a thick
and gloomy pine forest, which entirely covers the mountains on the side
of Old Castile.  The descent soon became so rapid and precipitous, that
we were fain to dismount from our horses and to drive them before us.
Into the woods we plunged deeper and deeper still; night-birds soon began
to hoot and cry, and millions of crickets commenced their shrill chirping
above, below, and around us.  Occasionally, amidst the trees at a
distance, we could see blazes, as if from immense fires.  “They are those
of the charcoal-burners, mon maître!” said Antonio; “we will not go near
them, however, for they are savage people, and half bandits.  Many is the
traveller whom they have robbed and murdered in these horrid
wildernesses.”

It was blackest night when we arrived at the foot of the mountains; we
were still, however, amidst woods and pine forests, which extended for
leagues in every direction.  “We shall scarcely reach Segovia to-night,
mon maître,” said Antonio.  And so indeed it proved, for we became
bewildered, and at last arrived where two roads branched off in different
directions, we took not the left hand road, which would have conducted us
to Segovia, but turned to the right, in the direction of La Granja, where
we arrived at midnight.

We found the desolation of La Granja far greater than that of Aranjuez;
both had suffered from the absence of royalty, but the former to a degree
which was truly appalling.  Nine-tenths of the inhabitants had left this
place, which, until the late military revolution, had been the favourite
residence of Christina.  So great is the solitude of La Granja, that wild
boars from the neighbouring forests, and especially from the beautiful
pine-covered mountain which rises like a cone directly behind the palace,
frequently find their way into the streets and squares, and whet their
tusks against the pillars of the porticos.

“Ride on because of the word of righteousness.”  After a stay of
twenty-four hours at La Granja, we proceeded to Segovia.  The day had
arrived on which I had appointed to meet Lopez.  I repaired to the
aqueduct, and sat down beneath the hundred and seventh arch, where I
waited the greater part of the day, but he came not, whereupon I rose and
went into the city.

At Segovia I tarried two days in the house of a friend, still I could
hear nothing of Lopez.  At last, by the greatest chance in the world, I
heard from a peasant that there were men in the neighbourhood of Abades
selling books.

Abades is about three leagues distant from Segovia, and upon receiving
this intelligence, I instantly departed for the former place, with three
donkeys laden with Testaments.  I reached Abades at nightfall, and found
Lopez, with two peasants whom he had engaged, in the house of the surgeon
of the place, where I also took up my residence.  He had already disposed
of a considerable number of Testaments in the neighbourhood, and had that
day commenced selling at Abades itself; he had, however, been interrupted
by two of the three curas of the village, who, with horrid curses
denounced the work, threatening eternal condemnation to Lopez for selling
it, and to any person who should purchase it; whereupon Lopez, terrified,
forbore until I should arrive.  The third cura, however, exerted himself
to the utmost to persuade the people to provide themselves with
Testaments, telling them that his brethren were hypocrites and false
guides, who, by keeping them in ignorance of the word and will of Christ,
were leading them to the abyss.  Upon receiving this information, I
instantly sallied forth to the market-place, and that same night
succeeded in disposing of upwards of thirty Testaments.  The next morning
the house was entered by the two factious curas, but upon my rising to
confront them, they retreated, and I heard no more of them, except that
they publicly cursed me in the church more than once, an event which, as
no ill resulted from it, gave me little concern.

I will not detail the events of the next week; suffice it to say that
arranging my forces in the most advantageous way, I succeeded, by God’s
assistance, in disposing of from five to six hundred Testaments amongst
the villages from one to seven leagues’ distance from Abades.  At the
expiration of that period I received information that my proceedings were
known in Segovia, in which province Abades is situated, and that an order
was about to be sent to the alcalde to seize all books in my possession.
Whereupon, notwithstanding that it was late in the evening, I decamped
with all my people, and upwards of three hundred Testaments, having a few
hours previously received a fresh supply from Madrid.  That night we
passed in the fields, and next morning proceeded to Labajos, a village on
the high road from Madrid to Valladolid.  In this place we offered no
books for sale, but contented ourselves with supplying the neighbouring
villages with the word of God: we likewise sold it in the highways.

We had not been at Labajos a week, during which time we were remarkably
successful, when the Carlist chieftain, Balmaseda, at the head of his
cavalry, made his desperate inroad into the southern part of Old Castile,
dashing down like an avalanche from the pine-woods of Soria.  I was
present at all the horrors which ensued,—the sack of Arrevalo, and the
forcible entry into Martin Muñoz.  Amidst these terrible scenes we
continued our labours.  Suddenly I lost Lopez for three days, and
suffered dreadful anxiety on his account, imagining that he had been shot
by the Carlists; at last I heard that he was in prison at Villallos,
three leagues distant.  The steps which I took to rescue him will be
found detailed in a communication, which I deemed it my duty to transmit
to Lord William Hervey, who, in the absence of Sir George Villiers, now
became Earl of Clarendon, fulfilled the duties of minister at Madrid:—

                                             LABAJOS, PROVINCE OF SEGOVIA,
                                                        _August_ 23, 1838.

    MY LORD,—I beg leave to call your attention to the following facts.
    On the 21st inst. I received information that a person in my employ,
    of the name of Juan Lopez, had been thrown into the prison of
    Villallos, in the province of Avila, by order of the cura of that
    place.  The crime with which he was charged was selling the New
    Testament.  I was at that time at Labajos, in the province of
    Segovia, and the division of the factious chieftain Balmaseda was in
    the immediate neighbourhood.  On the 22nd, I mounted my horse and
    rode to Villallos, a distance of three leagues.  On my arrival there,
    I found that Lopez had been removed from the prison to a private
    house.  An order had arrived from the corregidor of Avila, commanding
    that the person of Lopez should be set at liberty, and that the books
    which had been found in his possession should be alone detained.
    Nevertheless, in direct opposition to this order, (a copy of which I
    herewith transmit,) the alcalde of Villallos, at the instigation of
    the cura, refused to permit the said Lopez to quit the place, either
    to proceed to Avila or in any other direction.  It had been hinted to
    Lopez that as the factious were expected, it was intended on their
    arrival to denounce him to them as a liberal, and to cause him to be
    sacrificed.  Taking these circumstances into consideration, I deemed
    it my duty as a Christian and a gentleman, to rescue my unfortunate
    servant from such lawless hands, and in consequence, defying
    opposition, I bore him off, though entirely unarmed, through a crowd
    of at least one hundred peasants.  On leaving the place I shouted,
    “_Viva Isabel Segunda_.”

    As it is my belief that the cura of Villallos is a person capable of
    any infamy, I beg leave humbly to intreat your Lordship to cause a
    copy of the above narration to be forwarded to the Spanish
    government.—I have the honour to remain, My Lord, Your Lordship’s
    most obedient,

                                                            GEORGE BORROW.

    To the Right Honourable
       LORD WILLIAM HERVEY.

After the rescue of Lopez we proceeded in the work of distribution.
Suddenly, however, the symptoms of an approaching illness came over me,
which compelled us to return in all haste to Madrid.  Arrived there, I
was attacked by a fever which confined me to my bed for several weeks;
occasional fits of delirium came over me, during one of which, I imagined
myself in the market-place of Martin Muños, engaged in deadly struggle
with the chieftain Balmaseda.

The fever had scarcely departed, when a profound melancholy took
possession of me, which entirely disqualified me for active exertion.
Change of scene and air was recommended; I therefore returned to England.



CHAPTER XLV


Return to Spain—Seville—A Hoary Persecutor—Manchegan Prophetess—Antonio’s
Dream.

On the 31st of December, 1838, I again visited Spain for the third time.
After staying a day or two at Cadiz I repaired to Seville, from which
place I proposed starting for Madrid with the mail post.  Here I tarried
about a fortnight, enjoying the delicious climate of this terrestrial
Paradise, and the balmy breezes of the Andalusian winter, even as I had
done two years previously.  Before leaving Seville, I visited the
bookseller, my correspondent, who informed me that seventy-six copies of
the hundred Testaments entrusted to his care had been placed in embargo
by the government last summer, and that they were at the present time in
the possession of the ecclesiastical governor, whereupon I determined to
visit this functionary also, with the view of making inquiries concerning
the property.

He lived in a large house in the Pajaria, or straw-market.  He was a very
old man, between seventy and eighty, and, like the generality of those
who wear the sacerdotal habit in this city, was a fierce persecuting
Papist.  I imagine that he scarcely believed his ears when his two
grand-nephews, beautiful black-haired boys who were playing in the
courtyard, ran to inform him that an Englishman was waiting to speak with
him, as it is probable that I was the first heretic who ever ventured
into his habitation.  I found him in a vaulted room, seated on a lofty
chair, with two sinister-looking secretaries, also in sacerdotal habits,
employed in writing at a table before him.  He brought powerfully to my
mind the grim old inquisitor who persuaded Philip the Second to slay his
own son as an enemy to the church.

He rose as I entered, and gazed upon me with a countenance dark with
suspicion and dissatisfaction.  He at last condescended to point me to a
sofa, and I proceeded to state to him my business.  He became much
agitated when I mentioned the Testaments to him; but I no sooner spoke of
the Bible Society and told him who I was, than he could contain himself
no longer: with a stammering tongue, and with eyes flashing fire like hot
coals, he proceeded to rail against the society and myself, saying that
the aims of the first were atrocious, and that, as to myself, he was
surprised that, being once lodged in the prison of Madrid, I had ever
been permitted to quit it; adding, that it was disgraceful in the
government to allow a person of my character to roam about an innocent
and peaceful country, corrupting the minds of the ignorant and
unsuspicious.  Far from allowing myself to be disconcerted by his rude
behaviour, I replied to him with all possible politeness, and assured him
that in this instance he had no reason to alarm himself, as my sole
motive in claiming the books in question, was to avail myself of an
opportunity which at present presented itself, of sending them out of the
country, which, indeed, I had been commanded to do by an official notice.
But nothing would soothe him, and he informed me that he should not
deliver up the books on any condition, save by a positive order of the
government.  As the matter was by no means an affair of consequence, I
thought it wise not to persist, and also prudent to take my leave before
he requested me.  I was followed even down into the street by his niece
and grand-nephews, who, during the whole of the conversation, had
listened at the door of the apartment and heard every word.

In passing through La Mancha, we staid for four hours at Manzanares, a
large village.  I was standing in the market-place conversing with a
curate, when a frightful ragged object presented itself; it was a girl
about eighteen or nineteen, perfectly blind, a white film being spread
over her huge staring eyes.  Her countenance was as yellow as that of a
Mulatto.  I thought at first that she was a Gypsy, and addressing myself
to her, inquired in Gitano if she were of that race; she understood me,
but shaking her head, replied, that she was something better than a
Gitana, and could speak something better than that jargon of witches;
whereupon she commenced asking me several questions in exceedingly good
Latin.  I was of course very much surprised, but summoning all my
Latinity, I called her Manchegan Prophetess, and expressing my admiration
for her learning, begged to be informed by what means she became
possessed of it.  I must here observe that a crowd instantly gathered
around us, who, though they understood not one word of our discourse, at
every sentence of the girl shouted applause, proud in the possession of a
prophetess who could answer the Englishman.

She informed me that she was born blind, and that a Jesuit priest had
taken compassion on her when she was a child, and had taught her the holy
language, in order that the attention and hearts of Christians might be
more easily turned towards her.  I soon discovered that he had taught her
something more than Latin, for upon telling her that I was an Englishman,
she said that she had always loved Britain, which was once the nursery of
saints and sages, for example Bede and Alcuin, Columba and Thomas of
Canterbury; but she added those times had gone by since the re-appearance
of Semiramis (Elizabeth).  Her Latin was truly excellent, and when I,
like a genuine Goth, spoke of Anglia and Terra Vandalica (Andalusia), she
corrected me by saying, that in her language those places were called
Britannia and Terra Betica.  When we had finished our discourse, a
gathering was made for the prophetess, the very poorest contributing
something.

After travelling four days and nights, we arrived at Madrid, without
having experienced the slightest accident, though it is but just to
observe, and always with gratitude to the Almighty, that the next mail
was stopped.  A singular incident befell me immediately after my arrival;
on entering the arch of the posada called La Reyna, where I intended to
put up, I found myself encircled in a person’s arms, and on turning round
in amazement, beheld my Greek servant, Antonio.  He was haggard and
ill-dressed, and his eyes seemed starting from their sockets.

As soon as we were alone he informed that since my departure he had
undergone great misery and destitution, having, during the whole period,
been unable to find a master in need of his services, so that he was
brought nearly to the verge of desperation; but that on the night
immediately preceding my arrival he had a dream, in which he saw me,
mounted on a black horse, ride up to the gate of the posada, and that on
that account he had been waiting there during the greater part of the
day.  I do not pretend to offer an opinion concerning this narrative,
which is beyond the reach of my philosophy, and shall content myself with
observing that only two individuals in Madrid were aware of my arrival in
Spain.  I was very glad to receive him again into my service, as,
notwithstanding his faults, he had in many instances proved of no slight
assistance to me in my wanderings and biblical labours.

I was soon settled in my former lodgings, when one my first cares was to
pay a visit to Lord Clarendon.  Amongst other things, he informed me that
he had received an official notice from the government, stating the
seizure of the New Testaments at Ocaña, the circumstances relating to
which I have described on a former occasion, and informing him that
unless steps were instantly taken to remove them from the country, they
would be destroyed at Toledo, to which place they had been conveyed.  I
replied that I should give myself no trouble about the matter; and that
if the authorities of Toledo, civil or ecclesiastic, determined upon
burning these books, my only hope was that they would commit them to the
flames with all possible publicity, as by so doing they would but
manifest their own hellish rancour and their hostility to the word of
God.

Being eager to resume my labours, I had no sooner arrived at Madrid than
I wrote to Lopez at Villa Seca, for the purpose of learning whether he
was inclined to co-operate in the work, as on former occasions.  In
reply, he informed me that he was busily employed in his agricultural
pursuits: to supply his place, however, he sent over an elderly villager,
Victoriano Lopez by name, a distant relation of his own.

What is a missionary in the heart of Spain without a horse?  Which
consideration induced me now to purchase an Arabian of high caste, which
had been brought from Algiers by an officer of the French legion.  The
name of this steed, the best I believe that ever issued from the desert,
was Sidi Habismilk.



CHAPTER XLVI


Work of Distribution resumed—Adventure at Cobenna—Power of the
Clergy—Rural Authorities—Fuente la Higuera—Victoriano’s Mishap—Village
Prison—The Rope—Antonio’s Errand—Antonio at Mass.

In my last chapter, I stated that, immediately after my arrival at
Madrid, I proceeded to get everything in readiness for commencing
operations in the neighbourhood; and I soon entered upon my labours in
reality.  Considerable success attended my feeble efforts in the good
cause, for which at present, after the lapse of some years, I still look
back with gratitude to the Almighty.

All the villages within the distance of four leagues to the east of
Madrid, were visited in less than a fortnight, and Testaments to the
number of nearly two hundred disposed of.  These villages for the most
part are very small, some of them consisting of not more than a dozen
houses, or I should rather say miserable cabins.  I left Antonio, my
Greek, to superintend matters in Madrid, and proceeded with Victoriano,
the peasant from Villa Seca, in the direction which I have already
mentioned.  We, however, soon parted company, and pursued different
routes.

The first village at which I made an attempt was Cobenna, about three
leagues from Madrid.  I was dressed in the fashion of the peasants in the
neighbourhood of Segovia, in Old Castile; namely, I had on my head a
species of leather helmet or montera, with a jacket and trousers of the
same material.  I had the appearance of a person between sixty and
seventy years of age, and drove before me a borrico with a sack of
Testaments lying across its back.  On nearing the village, I met a
genteel-looking young woman leading a little boy by the hand: as I was
about to pass her with the customary salutation of _vaya usted con Dios_,
she stopped, and after looking at me for a moment, she said: “Uncle
(_Tio_), what is that you have got on your borrico?  Is it soap?”

“Yes,” I replied: “it is soap to wash souls clean.”

She demanded what I meant; whereupon I told her that I carried cheap and
godly books for sale.  On her requesting to see one, I produced a copy
from my pocket and handed it to her.  She instantly commenced reading
with a loud voice, and continued so for at least ten minutes,
occasionally exclaiming: “_Que lectura tan bonita_, _que lectura tan
linda_!  What beautiful, what charming readings!”  At last, on my
informing her that I was in a hurry, and could not wait any longer, she
said, “true, true,” and asked me the price of the book: I told her “but
three reals,” whereupon she said, that though what I asked was very
little, it was more than she could afford to give, as there was little or
no money in those parts.  I said I was sorry for it, but that I could not
dispose of the books for less than I had demanded, and accordingly,
resuming it, wished her farewell, and left her.  I had not, however,
proceeded thirty yards, when the boy came running behind me, shouting,
out of breath: “Stop, uncle, the book, the book!”  Upon overtaking me, he
delivered the three reals in copper, and seizing the Testament, ran back
to her, who I suppose was his sister, flourishing the book over his head
with great glee.

On arriving at the village, I directed my steps to a house, around the
door of which I saw several people gathered, chiefly women.  On my
displaying my books, their curiosity was instantly aroused, and every
person had speedily one in his hand, many reading aloud; however, after
waiting nearly an hour, I had disposed of but one copy, all complaining
bitterly of the distress of the times, and the almost total want of
money, though, at the same time, they acknowledged that the books were
wonderfully cheap, and appeared to be very good and Christian-like.  I
was about to gather up my merchandise and depart, when on a sudden the
curate of the place made his appearance.  After having examined the book
for some time with considerable attention, he asked me the price of a
copy, and upon my informing him that it was three reals, he replied that
the binding was worth more, and that he was much afraid that I had stolen
the books, and that it was perhaps his duty to send me to prison as a
suspicious character; but added, that the books were good books, however
they might be obtained, and concluded by purchasing two copies.  The poor
people no sooner heard their curate recommend the volumes, than all were
eager to secure one, and hurried here and there for the purpose of
procuring money, so that between twenty and thirty copies were sold
almost in an instant.  This adventure not only affords an instance of the
power still possessed by the Spanish clergy over the minds of the people,
but proves that such influence is not always exerted in a manner
favourable to the maintenance of ignorance and superstition.

In another village, on my showing a Testament to a woman, she said that
she had a child at school for whom she would like to purchase one, but
that she must first know whether the book was calculated to be of service
to him.  She then went away, and presently returned with the
schoolmaster, followed by all the children under his care; she then,
showing the schoolmaster a book, inquired if it would answer for her son.
The schoolmaster called her a simpleton for asking such a question, and
said that he knew the book well, and there was not its equal in the world
(_no hay otro en el mundo_).  He instantly purchased five copies for his
pupils, regretting that he had no more money, “for if I had,” said he, “I
would buy the whole cargo.”  Upon hearing this, the woman purchased four
copies, namely, one for her living son, another for her _deceased
husband_, a third for herself, and a fourth for her brother, whom she
said she was expecting home that night from Madrid.

In this manner we proceeded; not, however, with uniform success.  In some
villages the people were so poor and needy, that they had literally no
money; even in these, however, we managed to dispose of a few copies in
exchange for barley or refreshments.  On entering one very small hamlet,
Victoriano was stopped by the curate, who, on learning what he carried,
told him that unless he instantly departed, he would cause him to be
imprisoned, and would write to Madrid in order to give information of
what was going on.  The excursion lasted about eight days.  Immediately
after my return, I dispatched Victoriano to Caramanchal, a village at a
short distance from Madrid, the only one towards the west which had not
been visited last year.  He staid there about an hour, and disposed of
twelve copies, and then returned, as he was exceedingly timid, and was
afraid of being met by the thieves who swarm on that road in the evening.

Shortly after these events, a circumstance occurred which will perhaps
cause the English reader to smile, whilst, at the same time, it will not
fail to prove interesting, as affording an example of the feeling
prevalent in some of the lone villages of Spain with respect to
innovation and all that savours thereof, and the strange acts which are
sometimes committed by the real authorities and the priests, without the
slightest fear of being called to account; for as they live quite apart
{403} from the rest of the world, they know no people greater than
themselves, and scarcely dream of a higher power than their own.

I was about to make an excursion to Guadalajara, and the villages of
Alcarria, about seven leagues distant from Madrid; indeed I merely
awaited the return of Victoriano to sally forth; I having dispatched him
in that direction with a few Testaments, as a kind of explorer, in order
that, from his report as to the disposition manifested by the people for
purchasing, I might form a tolerably accurate opinion as to the number of
copies which it might be necessary to carry with me.  However, I heard
nothing of him for a fortnight, at the end of which period a letter was
brought to me by a peasant, dated from the prison of Fuente la Higuera, a
village eight leagues from Madrid, in the Campiña of Alcala: this letter,
written, by Victoriano, gave me to understand that he had been already
eight days imprisoned, and that unless I could find some means to
extricate him, there was every probability of his remaining in durance
until he should perish with hunger, which he had no doubt would occur as
soon as his money was exhausted.  From what I afterwards learned, it
appeared that, after passing the town of Alcala, he had commenced
distributing, and with considerable success.  His entire stock consisted
of sixty-one Testaments, twenty-five of which he sold without the
slightest difficulty or interruption in the single village of Arganza;
the poor labourers showering blessings on his head for providing them
with such good books at an easy price.

Not more than eighteen of his books remained, when he turned off the high
road towards Fuente la Higuera.  This place was already tolerably well
known to him, he having visited it of old, when he travelled the country
in the capacity of a vendor of cacharras or earthen pans.  He
subsequently stated that he felt some misgiving whilst on the way, as the
village had invariably borne a bad reputation.  On his arrival, after
having put up his cavallejo or little pony at a posada, he proceeded to
the alcalde for the purpose of asking permission to sell the books, which
that dignitary immediately granted.  He now entered a house and sold a
copy, and likewise a second.  Emboldened by success, he entered a third,
which, it appeared, belonged to the barber-surgeon of the village.  This
personage having just completed his dinner, was seated in an arm chair
within his doorway, when Victoriano made his appearance.  He was a man
about thirty-five, of a savage truculent countenance.  On Victoriano’s
offering him a Testament, he took it in his hand to examine it, but no
sooner did his eyes glance over the title-page than he burst out into a
loud laugh, exclaiming:—“Ha, ha, Don Jorge Borrow, the English heretic,
we have encountered you at last.  Glory to the Virgin and the Saints!  We
have long been expecting you here, and at length you are arrived.”  He
then inquired the price of the book, and on being told three reals, he
flung down two, and rushed out of the house with the Testament in his
hand.

Victoriano now became alarmed, and determined upon leaving the place as
soon as possible.  He therefore hurried back to the posada, and having
paid for the barley which his pony had consumed, went into the stable,
and placing the packsaddle on the animal’s back, was about to lead it
forth, when the alcalde of the village, the surgeon, and twelve other
men, some of whom were armed with muskets, suddenly presented themselves.
They instantly made Victoriano prisoner, and after seizing the books and
laying an embargo on the pony, proceeded amidst much abuse to drag the
captive to what they denominated their prison, a low damp apartment with
a little grated window, where they locked him up and left him.  At the
expiration of three quarters of an hour, they again appeared, and
conducted him to the house of the curate, where they sat down in
conclave; the curate, who was a man stone blind, presiding, whilst the
sacristan officiated as secretary.  The surgeon having stated his
accusation against the prisoner, namely, that he had detected him in the
fact of selling a version of the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue, the
curate proceeded to examine Victoriano, asking him his name and place of
residence, to which he replied that his name was Victoriano Lopez, and
that he was a native of Villa Seca, in the Sagra of Toledo.  The curate
then demanded what religion he professed? and whether he was a Mohometan,
or freemason? and received for answer that he was a Roman Catholic.  I
must here state, that Victoriano, though sufficiently shrewd in his way,
was a poor old labourer of sixty-four; and until that moment had never
heard either of Mahometans or freemasons.  The curate becoming now
incensed, called him a _tunante_ or scoundrel, and added, you have sold
your soul to a heretic; we have long been aware of your proceedings, and
those of your master.  You are the same Lopez, whom he last year rescued
from the prison of Villallos, in the province of Avila; I sincerely hope
that he will attempt to do the same thing here.  “Yes, yes,” shouted the
rest of the conclave, “let him but venture here, and we will shed his
heart’s blood on our stones.”  In this manner they went on for nearly
half an hour.  At last they broke up the meeting, and conducted
Victoriano once more to his prison.

During his confinement he lived tolerably well, being in possession of
money.  His meals were sent him twice a day from the posada, where his
pony remained in embargo.  Once or twice he asked permission of the
alcalde, who visited him every night and morning with his armed guard, to
purchase pen and paper, in order that he might write to Madrid; but this
favour was peremptorily refused him, and all the inhabitants of the
village were forbidden under terrible penalties to afford him the means
of writing, or to convey any message from him beyond the precincts of the
place, and two boys were stationed before the window of his cell for the
purpose of watching everything which might be conveyed to him.

It happened one day that Victoriano, being in need of a pillow, sent word
to the people of the posada to send him his alforjas or saddlebags, which
they did.  In these bags there chanced to be a kind of rope, or, as it is
called in Spanish, _soga_, with which he was in the habit of fastening
his satchel to the pony’s back.  The urchins seeing an end of this rope,
hanging from the alforjas, instantly ran to the alcalde to give him
information.  Late at evening, the alcalde again visited the prisoner at
the head of his twelve men as usual.  “_Buenas noches_,” said the
alcalde.  “_Buenas noches tenga usted_,” replied Victoriano.  “For what
purpose did you send for the soga this afternoon?” demanded the
functionary.  “I sent for no soga,” said the prisoner, “I sent for my
alforjas to serve as a pillow, and it was sent in them by chance.”  “You
are a false malicious knave,” retorted the alcalde; “you intend to hang
yourself, and by so doing ruin us all, as your death would be laid at our
door.  Give me the soga.”  No greater insult can be offered to a Spaniard
than to tax him with an intention of committing suicide.  Poor Victoriano
flew into a violent rage, and after calling the alcalde several very
uncivil names, he pulled the soga from his bags, flung it at his head,
and told him to take it home and use it for his own neck.

At length the people of the posada took pity on the prisoner, perceiving
that he was very harshly treated for no crime at all; they therefore
determined to afford him an opportunity of informing his friends of his
situation, and accordingly sent him a pen and inkhorn, concealed in a
loaf of bread, and a piece of writing paper, pretending that the latter
was intended for cigars.  So Victoriano wrote the letter; but now ensued
the difficulty of sending it to its destination, as no person in the
village dare have carried it for any reward.  The good people, however,
persuaded a disbanded soldier from another village, who chanced to be at
Fuente la Higuera in quest of work, to charge himself with it, assuring
him that I would pay him well for his trouble.  The man, watching his
opportunity, received the letter from Victoriano at the window: and it
was he who, after travelling on foot all night, delivered it to me in
safety at Madrid.

I was now relieved from my anxiety, and had no fears for the result.  I
instantly went to a friend who is in possession of large estates about
Guadalajara, in which province Fuente la Higuera is situated, who
furnished me with letters to the civil governor of Guadalajara and all
the principal authorities; these I delivered to Antonio, whom, at his own
request, I despatched on the errand of the prisoner’s liberation.  He
first directed his course to Fuente la Higuera, where, entering the
alcalde’s house, he boldly told him what he had come about.  The alcalde
expecting that I was at hand, with an army of Englishmen, for the purpose
of rescuing the prisoner, became greatly alarmed, and instantly
despatched his wife to summon his twelve men; however, on Antonio’s
assuring him that there was no intention of having recourse to violence,
he became more tranquil.  In a short time Antonio was summoned before the
conclave and its blind sacerdotal president.  They at first attempted to
frighten him by assuming a loud bullying tone, and talking of the
necessity of killing all strangers, and especially the detested Don Jorge
and his dependents.  Antonio, however, who was not a person apt to allow
himself to be easily terrified, scoffed at their threats, and showing
them his letters to the authorities of Guadalajara, said that he should
proceed there on the morrow and denounce their lawless conduct, adding
that he was a Turkish subject, and that should they dare to offer him the
slightest incivility, he would write to the sublime Porte, in comparison
with whom the best kings in the world were but worms, and who would not
fail to avenge the wrongs of any of his children, however distant, in a
manner too terrible to be mentioned.  He then returned to his posada.
The conclave now proceeded to deliberate amongst themselves, and at last
determined to send their prisoner on the morrow to Guadalajara, and
deliver him into the hands of the civil governor.

Nevertheless, in order to keep up a semblance of authority, they that
night placed two men armed at the door of the posada where Antonio was
lodged, as if he himself were a prisoner.  These men, as often as the
clock struck the hour, shouted “Ave Maria!  Death to the heretics.”
Early in the morning the alcalde presented himself at the posada, but
before entering he made an oration at the door to the people in the
street, saying, amongst other things, “Brethren, these are the fellows
who have come to rob us of our religion.”  He then went into Antonio’s
apartment, and after saluting him with great politeness, said, that as a
royal or high mass was about to be celebrated that morning, he had come
to invite him to go to church with him.  Whereupon Antonio, though by no
means a mass-goer, rose and accompanied him, and remained two hours, as
he told me, on his knees on the cold stones, to his great discomfort; the
eyes of the whole congregation being fixed upon him during the time.

After mass and breakfast, he departed for Guadalajara, Victoriano having
been already despatched under a guard.  On his arrival, he presented his
letters to the individuals for whom they were intended.  The civil
governor was convulsed with merriment on hearing Antonio’s account of the
adventure.  Victoriano was set at liberty, and the books were placed in
embargo at Guadalajara; the governor stating, however, that though it was
his duty to detain them at present, they should be sent to me whenever I
chose to claim them; he moreover said that he would do his best to cause
the authorities of Fuente la Higuera to be severely punished, as in the
whole affair they had acted in the most cruel tyrannical manner, for
which they had no authority.  Thus terminated this affair, one of those
little accidents which chequer missionary life in Spain.



CHAPTER XLVII


Termination of our Rural Labours—Alarm of the Clergy—A New
Experiment—Success at Madrid—Goblin-Alguazil—Staff of Office—The
Corregidor—An Explanation—The Pope in England—New Testament
expounded—Works of Luther.

We proceeded in our task of distributing the Scriptures with various
success, until the middle of March, when I determined upon starting for
Talavera, for the purpose of seeing what it was possible to accomplish in
that town and the neighbourhood.  I accordingly bent my course in that
direction, accompanied by Antonio and Victoriano.  On our way thither we
stopped at Naval Carnero, a large village five leagues to the west of
Madrid, where I remained three days, sending forth Victoriano to the
circumjacent hamlets with small cargoes of Testaments.  Providence,
however, which had hitherto so remarkably favoured us in these rural
excursions, now withdrew from us its support, and brought them to a
sudden termination; for in whatever place the sacred writings were
offered for sale, they were forthwith seized by persons who appeared to
be upon the watch; which events compelled me to alter my intention of
proceeding to Talavera and to return forthwith to Madrid.

I subsequently learned that our proceedings on the other side of Madrid
having caused alarm amongst the heads of the clergy, they had made a
formal complaint to the government, who immediately sent orders to all
the alcaldes of the villages, great and small, in New Castile, to seize
the New Testament wherever it might be exposed for sale; but at the same
time enjoining them to be particularly careful not to detain or maltreat
the person or persons who might be attempting to vend it.  An exact
description of myself accompanied these orders, and the authorities both
civil and military were exhorted to be on their guard against me and my
arts and machinations; for, I as the document stated, was to-day in one
place, and to-morrow at twenty leagues’ distance.

I was not much discouraged by this blow, which indeed did not come
entirely unexpected.  I, however, determined to change the sphere of
action, and not expose the sacred volume to seizure at every step which I
should take to circulate it.  In my late attempts, I had directed my
attention exclusively to the villages and small towns, in which it was
quite easy for the government to frustrate my efforts by means of
circulars to the local authorities, who would of course be on the alert,
and whose vigilance it would be impossible to baffle as every novelty
which occurs in a small place is forthwith bruited about.  But the case
would be widely different amongst the crowds of the capital, where I
could pursue my labours with comparative secrecy.  My present plan was to
abandon the rural districts, and to offer the sacred volume at Madrid,
from house to house, at the same low price as in the country.  This plan
I forthwith put into execution.

Having an extensive acquaintance amongst the lower orders, I selected
eight intelligent individuals to co-operate with me, amongst whom were
five women.  All these I supplied with Testaments, and then sent them
forth to all the parishes in Madrid.  The result of their efforts more
than answered my expectations.  In less than fifteen days after my return
from Naval Carnero, nearly six hundred copies of the life and words of
Him of Nazareth had been sold in the streets and alleys of Madrid; a fact
which I hope I may be permitted to mention with gladness and with decent
triumph in the Lord.

One of the richest streets is the Calle Montera, where reside the
principal merchants and shopkeepers of Madrid.  It is, in fact, the
street of commerce, in which respect, and in being a favourite promenade,
it corresponds with the far-famed “Nefsky” of Saint Petersburg.  Every
house in this street was supplied with its Testament, and the same might
be said with respect to the Puerto del Sol.  Nay, in some instances,
every individual in the house, man and child, man-servant and
maid-servant, was furnished with a copy.  My Greek, Antonio, made
wonderful exertions in this quarter; and it is but justice to say that,
but for his instrumentality, on many occasions, I might have been by no
means able to give so favourable an account of the spread of “the Bible
in Spain.”  There was a time when I was in the habit of saying “dark
Madrid,” an expression which, I thank God, I could now drop.  It were
scarcely just to call a city, “dark,” in which thirteen hundred
Testaments at least were in circulation, and in daily use.

It was now that I turned to account a supply of Bibles which I had
received from Barcelona, in sheets, at the commencement of the preceding
year.  The demand for the entire Scriptures was great; indeed far greater
than I could answer, as the books were disposed of faster than they could
be bound by the man whom I employed for that purpose.  Eight-and-twenty
copies were bespoken and paid for before delivery.  Many of these Bibles
found their way into the best houses in Madrid.  The Marquis of --- had a
large family, but every individual of it, old and young, was in
possession of a Bible, and likewise a Testament, which, strange to say,
were recommended by the chaplain of the house.  One of my most zealous
agents in the propagation of the Bible was an ecclesiastic.  He never
walked out without carrying one beneath his gown, which he offered to the
first person he met whom he thought likely to purchase.  Another
excellent assistant was an elderly gentleman of Navarre, enormously rich,
who was continually purchasing copies on his own account, which he, as I
was told, sent into his native province, for distribution amongst his
friends and the poor.

On a certain night I had retired to rest rather more early than usual,
being slightly indisposed.  I soon fell asleep, and had continued so for
some hours, when I was suddenly aroused by the opening of the door of the
small apartment in which I lay.  I started up, and beheld Maria Diaz,
with a lamp in her hand, enter the room.  I observed that her features,
which were in general peculiarly calm and placid, wore a somewhat
startled expression.  “What is the hour, and what brings you here?” I
demanded.

“Señor,” said she, closing the door, and coming up to the bedside.  “It
is close upon midnight; but a messenger belonging to the police has just
entered the house and demanded to see you.  I told him that it was
impossible, for that your worship was in bed.  Whereupon he sneezed in my
face, and said that he would see you if you were in your coffin.  He has
all the look of a goblin, and has thrown me into a tremor.  I am far from
being a timid person, as you are aware, Don Jorge; but I confess that I
never cast my eyes on these wretches of the police, but my heart dies
away within me!  I know them but too well, and what they are capable of.”

“Pooh,” said I, “be under no apprehension, let him come in, I fear him
not, whether he be alguazil or hobgoblin.  Stand, however