Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Letters from Spain
Author: White, Joseph Blanco
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters from Spain" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



(This file was produced from images generously made


Transcriber's note

  * Italics are denoted by underscores as in _italics_.
  * Small caps are represented in upper case as in SMALL CAPS.
  * Obvious printer errors have been silently corrected.
  * Original spelling was kept, but variant spellings were made
    consistent when a predominant usage was found.
  * Throughout the book, different Spanish spellings have been
    homogenized into “Colegio Mayor” and “Colegial Mayor”.



    LETTERS
    FROM
    SPAIN.

    BY

    DON LEUCADIO DOBLADO.

    SECOND EDITION.

    REVISED AND CORRECTED BY THE AUTHOR.

    LONDON:
    HENRY COLBURN, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.

    1825.



J. GREEN, PRINTER, LEICESTER-STREET, LEICESTER SQUARE.



  PREFACE
  TO THE
  SECOND EDITION.


That a work like the present should appear in a Second Edition,
implies such a reception from the Public as demands the most sincere
gratitude on my part. I am anxious, therefore, to make the only
return I have in my power, by adding, as I conceive, some value
to the work itself; not, indeed, from any material corrections,
but by stamping the facts and descriptions which it contains, with
the character of complete authenticity. The readers of _Doblado’s
Letters_ may be sure that in them they have the real Memoirs of
the person whose name is subscribed to this address. Even the
disguise of that name was so contrived, as to be a mark of identity.
_Leucadio_ being derived from a Greek root which means _white_, the
word _Doblado_ was added, in allusion to the repetition of my family
name, translated into Spanish, which my countrymen have forced upon
us, to avoid the difficulty of an orthography and sound, perfectly at
variance with their language. In short, Doblado and his inseparable
friend, the Spanish clergyman, are but one and the same person; whose
origin, education, feelings, and early turn of thinking, have been
made an introduction to the personal observations on his country,
which, with a deep sense of their kindness, he again lays before the
British Public.

    JOSEPH BLANCO WHITE.

_Chelsea, June 1st, 1825._



  PREFACE
  TO THE
  FIRST EDITION.


Some of the following Letters have been printed in the New Monthly
Magazine.

The Author would, indeed, be inclined to commit the whole collection
to the candour of his readers without a prefatory address, were it
not that the plan of his Work absolutely requires some explanation.

The slight mixture of fiction which these Letters contain, might
raise a doubt whether the sketches of Spanish manners, customs, and
opinions, by means of which the Author has endeavoured to pourtray
the moral state of his country at a period immediately preceding, and
in part coincident with the French invasion, may not be exaggerated
by fancy, and coloured with a view to mere effect.

It is chiefly on this account that the Author deems it necessary to
assure the Public of the reality of every circumstance mentioned in
his book, except the name of _Leucadio Doblado_. These Letters are in
effect the faithful memoirs of a real Spanish clergyman, as far as
his character and the events of his life can illustrate the state of
the country which gave him birth.

_Doblado’s_ Letters are dated from Spain, and, to preserve
consistency, the Author is supposed to have returned thither after
a residence of some years in England. This is another fictitious
circumstance. Since the moment when the person disguised under the
above name left that beloved country, whose religious intolerance has
embittered his life--that country which, boasting, at this moment,
of a _free_ constitution, still continues to deprive her children of
the right to worship God according to their own conscience--he has
not for a day quitted England, the land of his ancestors, and now the
country of his choice and adoption.

It is not, however, from pique or resentment that the Author has
dwelt so long and so warmly upon the painful and disgusting picture
of Spanish bigotry. Spain, “with all her faults,” is still and shall
ever be the object of his love. But since no man, within the limits
of her territory, can venture to lay open the canker which, fostered
by religion, feeds on the root of her political improvements; be
it allowed a self-banished Spaniard to describe the sources of
such a strange anomaly in the New Constitution of Spain, and thus
to explain to such as may not be unacquainted with his name as a
Spanish writer, the true cause of an absence which might otherwise be
construed into a dereliction of duty, and a desertion of that post
which both nature and affection marked so decidedly for the exertion
of his humble talents.

_Chelsea, June 1822._



TABLE OF CONTENTS.


LETTER I.

  Mistakes of Travellers.--Townsend’s Accuracy.--View of Cadiz
  from the Sea.--Religion blended with Public and Domestic Life
  in Spain.--Customs relating to the Host or Eucharist.--Manners
  and Society at Cadiz.--Passage by Sea to Port Saint Mary’s.--St.
  Lucar.--Passage up the Guadalquivir to Seville.--Construction and
  internal Economy of the Houses in that Town.--Knocking, and greeting
  at the Door.--Devotion of the People of Seville to the Immaculate
  Conception of the Virgin Mary.                                 p. 1-22


LETTER II.

  Difficulty of describing National Characters.--_Nobles_
  and _Plebeians_, in Spain.--Purity of Blood.--_Tizon de
  España._--Grandees.--_Hidalgos_ in Low Life.--Execution of an
  _Hidalgo_.--Spanish Pride, visible among the Lower Classes.--Usual
  Employment of Day at Seville.--Spanish Politeness.--Absence of
  Jealousy in Modern Times.--Dinner.--_Siesta._--Public Walks.--Dress
  of the Spanish Ladies.--Various Uses of the Fan.--Character of the
  Spanish Females.                                              p. 23-51


LETTER III.

  Eagerness of Free-thinking Spaniards to become acquainted, and
  their quickness in knowing one another. Inclosure of a detached
  Paper, intituled _A few Facts connected with the Formation of the
  Intellectual and Moral Character of a Spanish Clergyman_.     p. 52-58

  Importance of examining the Tendency of Catholicism.--Account of two
  highly devout Roman Catholics.--Auricular Confession.--Education
  of a Spanish Boy.--Evils arising from the Celibacy of the
  Clergy.--Education under the Jesuits.--Congregation of Saint Philip
  Neri.--Exercises of Saint Ignatius.--Aristotelic Philosophy taught by
  the Dominicans.--Feyjoo’s Works.--Spanish Universities and Colleges,
  called _Mayores_.--Indirect Influence of the Inquisition on the State
  of Knowledge in Spain.--Mental Struggles of a young Spaniard on
  points connected with the established System of Faith.--Impressions
  produced by the Ceremony of Catholic Ordination.--Unity and
  Consistency of the Catholic System.--Train of Thought and Feeling
  leading to the final Rejection of Catholicism.               p. 58-118


LETTER IV.

  On Bull-fights, and other National Customs connected with those
  Amusements.                                                 p. 119-140


LETTER V.

  A Journey to Osuna and Olvera.--A Spanish Country Inn.--The Play
  El Diablo Predicador.--Souls in Purgatory begged for: Lottery
  of Purgatory.--Character of Two Nuns at Osuna.--A Country
  Vicar.--Customs at Olvera.--Tapadas, or veiled Females.--A
  Dance.--The _Riberas_’ Lamp.                                p. 141-170


LETTER VI.

  The Yellow Fever at Seville, in 1800.--Spiritual Methods of stopping
  its progress.--Alcalá de Guadaíra escapes the infection.--Two
  Spanish Missionaries.--The _Virgin of the Eagle_.--The _Dawn
  Rosary_.--State of Seville after the disappearance of the Disorder.
                                                              p. 171-190


LETTER VII.

  Monks and Friars.--Instances of gross misconduct among
  them.--Their Influence.--_Brother Sebastian_ and Charles III.--The
  Carthusians.--Hermits near Cordova.                         p. 191-210


LETTER VIII.

  Nuns.--Motives for taking the Veil.--Circumstances attending that
  Ceremony.--Account of a young Lady compelled by her Mother to take
  the Monastic Vows.--_Escrúpulos_, or Religious Anxiety.--Spiritual
  Flirtation.--Nun Doctors.                                   p. 211-228


LETTER IX.

  Memorandums of some Andalusian Customs and Festivals.--Saint
  Sebastian’s Day: Carnival, p. 230.--Ash-Wednesday, p. 239.--Mid-lent,
  p. 243.--Passion, or Holy Week, p. 245.--Passion Wednesday, p.
  251.--Thursday in the Passion Week, p. 252.--Good Friday, p.
  258.--Saturday before Easter, p. 264.--May Cross, p. 267.--Corpus
  Christi, p. 268.--Saint John’s Eve, p. 274.--Saint Bartholomew, p.
  277.--Detached Prejudices and Practices, p. 280.--Funerals of Infants
  and Maids, p. 282.--Spanish Christian Names, p. 286.--Christmas,
  p. 288.


LETTER X.

  A Sketch of the Court of Madrid, in the Reign of Charles the Fourth,
  and the Intrigues connected with the Influence of the Prince of the
  Peace.                                                      p. 292-320


LETTER XI.

  Private Life at Madrid.--_Pretendientes._--Literary Characters.
                                                              p. 321-343


LETTER XII.

  Events connected with the beginning of the French Invasion.--The
  _Escurial_ at the Time of the Arrest of the Prince of
  Asturias.--Revolution at Aranjuez and Madrid.--Massacre of the 2d of
  May, 1808.                                                  p. 344-372


LETTER XIII.

  State of Spain at the time of the general Rising against the French,
  as observed in a Journey from Madrid to Seville, through the Province
  of Estremadura.                                                 p. 373


APPENDIX.--An Account of the Suppression of the Jesuits in Spain. p. 395

NOTES.                                                            p. 411



LETTERS FROM SPAIN.



LETTER I.


    _Seville, May 1798._

I am inclined to think with you, that a Spaniard, who, like myself,
has resided many years in England, is, perhaps, the fittest person
to write an account of life, manners and opinions as they exist in
this country, and to shew them in the light which is most likely
to interest an Englishman. The most acute and diligent travellers
are subject to constant mistakes; and perhaps the more so, for what
is generally thought a circumstance in their favour--a moderate
knowledge of foreign languages. A traveller who uses only his eyes,
will confine himself to the description of external objects; and
though his narrative may be deficient in many topics of interest,
it will certainly be exempt from great and ludicrous blunders. The
difficulty, which a person, with a smattering of the language of the
country he is visiting, experiences every moment in the endeavour
to communicate his own, and catch other men’s thoughts, often urges
him into a sort of mental rashness, which leads him to settle many
a doubtful point for himself, and to forget the unlimited power, I
should have said tyranny, of usage, in whatever relates to language.

I still recollect the unlucky hit I made on my arrival in London,
when, anxious beyond measure to catch every idiomatic expression, and
reading the huge inscription of the Cannon Brewery at Knightsbridge,
as the building had some resemblance to the great cannon-foundry in
this town, I settled it in my mind that the genuine English idiom,
for what I should now call _casting_, was no other than _brewing_
cannon. This, however, was a mere verbal mistake. Not so that which
I made when the word _nursery_ stared me in the face every five
minutes, as in a fine afternoon I approached your great metropolis,
on the western road. Luxury and wealth, said I to myself, in a strain
approaching to philosophic indignation, have at last blunted the best
feelings of nature among the English. Surely, if I am to judge from
this endless string of _nurseries_, the English ladies have gone a
step beyond the unnatural practice of devolving their first maternal
duties upon domestic hirelings. Here, it seems, the poor helpless
infants are sent to be kept and suckled in crowds, in a decent kind
of _Foundling-Hospitals_. You may easily guess that I knew but one
signification of the words _nursing_ and _nursery_. Fortunately I
was not collecting materials for a book of travels during a summer
excursion, otherwise I should now be enjoying all the honour of the
originality of my remarks on the customs and manners of Old England.

From similar mistakes I think myself safe enough in speaking of my
native country; but I wish I could feel equal confidence as to the
execution of the sketches you desire to obtain from me. I know you
too well to doubt that my letters will, by some chance or other, find
their way to some of the London Magazines, before they have been
long in your hands. And only think, I intreat you, how I shall fret
and fidget under the apprehension that some of your pert newspaper
writers may raise a laugh against me in some of those _Suns_ or
_Stars_, which, in spite of intervening seas and mountains, can dart
a baneful influence, and blast the character of infallibility, as
an English scholar, which I have acquired since my return to Spain.
I have so strongly rivetted the admiration of the Irish merchants
in this place, that, in spite of their objection to my not calling
tea _ta_, they submit to my decision every intricate question about
your provoking _shall_ and _will_: and surely it would be no small
disparagement, in this land of proud _Dons_, to be posted up in a
London paper as a murderer of the _King’s English_. How fortunate
was our famous Spanish traveller, my relative, _Espriella_[1] (for
you know that there exists a family connexion between us by my
mother’s side) to find one of the best writers in England, willing to
translate his letters. But since you will not allow me to write in
my own language, and since, to say the truth, I feel a pleasure in
using that which reminds me of the dear land which has been my second
home--the land where I drew my first breath of liberty--the land
which taught me how to retrieve, though imperfectly and with pain,
the time which, under the influence of ignorance and superstition,
I had lost in early youth--I will not delay a task which, should
circumstances allow me to complete it, I intend as a token of
friendship to you, and of gratitude and love to your country.

  [1] See Espriella’s “Letters from England.”

Few travellers are equal to your countryman, Mr. Townsend, in the
truth and liveliness of his descriptions, as well as in the mass of
useful information and depth of remark with which he has presented
the public[2]. It would be impossible for any but a native Spaniard
to add to the collection of traits descriptive of the national
character, which animates his narrative; and I must confess that
he has rather confined me in the selection of my topics. He has,
indeed, fallen into such mistakes and inaccuracies, as nothing short
of perfect familiarity with a country can prevent. But I may safely
recommend him to you as a guide for a fuller acquaintance with the
places whose _inhabitants_ I intend to make the chief subject of my
letters. But that I may not lay upon you the necessity of a constant
reference, I shall begin by providing your fancy with a “local
habitation” for the people whose habits and modes of thinking I will
forthwith attempt to pourtray.

  [2] He visited Spain in the years 1786 and 1787.

The view of Cadiz from the sea, as, in a fine day, you approach
its magnificent harbour, is one of the most attractive beauty.
The strong deep light of a southern sky, reflected from the lofty
buildings of white free stone, which face the bay, rivets the eye of
the navigator from the very verge of the horizon. The sea actually
washes the ramparts, except where, on the opposite side of the
town, it is divided by a narrow neck of land, which joins Cadiz to
the neighbouring continent. When, therefore, you begin to discover
the upper part of the buildings, and the white pinnacles of glazed
earthenware, resembling china, that ornament the parapets with
which their flat roofs are crowned; the airy structure, melting at
times into the distant glare of the waves, is more like a pleasing
delusion--a kind of _Fata Morgana_--than the lofty, uniform massive
buildings which, rising gradually before the vessel, bring you back,
however unwilling, to the dull realities of life. After landing on
a crowded quay, you are led the whole depth of the ramparts along
a dark vaulted passage, at the farthest end of which, new-comers
must submit to the scrutiny of the inferior custom-house officers.
Eighteen-pence slipped into their hands with the keys of your
trunks, will spare you the vexation of seeing your clothes and linen
scattered about in the utmost disorder.

I forgot to tell you, that scarcely does a boat with passengers
approach the landing-stairs of the quay, when three or four
_Gallegos_, (natives of the province of Galicia) who are the only
_porters_ in this town, will take a fearful leap into the boat, and
begin a scuffle, which ends by the stronger seizing upon the luggage.
The successful champion becomes your guide through the town to the
place where you wish to take up your abode. As only two gates are
used as a thoroughfare--the sea-gate, _Puerta de la Mar_, and the
land-gate, _Puerta de Tierra_--those who come by water are obliged to
cross the great Market--a place not unlike Covent Garden, where the
country people expose all sorts of vegetables and fruits for sale.
Fish is also sold at this place, where you see it laid out upon the
pavement in the same state as it was taken out of the net. The noise
and din of this market are absolutely intolerable. All classes of
Spaniards, not excluding the ladies, are rather loud and boisterous
in their speech. But here is a contention between three or four
hundred peasants, who shall make his harsh and guttural voice be
uppermost, to inform the passengers of the price and quality of his
goods. In a word, the noise is such as will astound any one, who has
not lived for some years near Cornhill or Temple Bar.

Religion, or, if you please, superstition, is so intimately blended
with the whole system of public and domestic life in Spain, that I
fear I shall tire you with the perpetual recurrence of that subject.
I am already compelled, by an involuntary train of ideas, to enter
upon that endless topic. If, however, you wish to become thoroughly
acquainted with the national character of my country, you must learn
the character of the national religion. The influence of religion
in Spain is boundless. It divides the whole population into two
comprehensive classes, bigots and dissemblers. Do not, however,
mistake me. I am very far from wishing to libel my countrymen. If I
use these invidious words, it is not that I believe every Spaniard
either a downright bigot or a hypocrite: yet I cannot shut my eyes
to the melancholy fact, that the system under which we live must
unavoidably give, even to the best among us, a taint of one of
those vices. Where the law threatens every dissenter from such an
encroaching system of divinity as that of the Church of Rome, with
death and infamy--where every individual is not only invited, but
enjoined, at the peril of both body and soul, to assist in enforcing
that law; must not an undue and tyrannical influence accrue to the
believing party? Are not such as disbelieve in secret, condemned to
a life of degrading deference, or of heart-burning silence? Silence,
did I say? No; every day, every hour, renews the necessity of
explicitly declaring yourself what you are not. The most contemptible
individual may, at pleasure, force out _a lie_ from an honestly proud
bosom.

I must not, however, keep you any longer in suspense as to the origin
of this flight--this unprepared digression from the plain narrative
I had begun. You know me well enough to believe that after a long
residence in England, my landing at Cadiz, instead of cheering my
heart at the sight of my native country, would naturally produce
a mixed sensation, in which pain and gloominess must have had the
ascendant. I had enjoyed the blessings of liberty for several years;
and now, alas! I perceived that I had been irresistibly drawn back
by the holiest ties of affection, to stretch out my hands to the
manacles, and bow my neck to that yoke, which had formerly galled my
very soul. The convent of San Juan de Dios--(laugh, my dear friend,
if you will: at what you call my _monachophobia_; _you_ may do so,
who have never lived within range of any of these European _jungles_,
where lurks every thing that is hideous and venomous)--well, then,
San Juan de Dios is the first remarkable object that meets the eye
upon entering Cadiz by the sea-gate. A single glance at the convent
had awakened the strongest and most rooted aversions of my heart,
when just as I was walking into the nearest street to avoid the
crowd, the well-remembered sound of a hand-bell made me instantly
aware that, unless pretending not to hear it, I could retrace my
steps, and turn another corner, I should be obliged to kneel in the
mud till a priest, who was carrying the consecrated wafer to a dying
person, had moved slowly in his sedan-chair from the farthest end of
the street to the place where I began to hear the bell.

The rule on these occasions, is expressed in a proverbial saying--_al
Rey, en viendolo; a Dios, en oyendolo_--which, after supplying its
elliptical form, means that external homage is due to the king
upon seeing him: and to God--_i. e._ the host, preceded by its
never-failing appendage, the bell--the very moment you hear him. I
must add, as a previous explanation of what is to follow, that God
and the king are so coupled in the language of this country, that
the same title of _Majesty_ is applied to both. You hear, from the
pulpit, the duties that men owe to _both Majesties_; and a foreigner
is often surprised at the hopes expressed by the Spaniards, that
_his Majesty_ will be pleased to grant them life and health for some
years more. I must add a very ludicrous circumstance arising from
this absurd form of speech. When the priest, attended by the clerk,
and surrounded by eight or ten people, bearing lighted flambeaus, has
broken into the chamber of the dying person, and gone through a form
of prayer, half Latin, half Spanish, which lasts for about twenty
minutes, one of the wafers is taken out of a little gold casket,
and put into the mouth of the patient as he lies in bed. To swallow
the wafer without the loss of any particle--which, according to the
Council of Trent, (and I fully agree with the fathers) contains the
same Divine person as the whole--is an operation of some difficulty.
To obviate, therefore, the impropriety of lodging a sacred atom, as
it might easily happen, in a bad tooth, the clerk comes forth with a
glass of water, and in a firm and loud voice asks the sick person,
“Is his Majesty gone down?”[3] The answer enables the learned clerk
to decide whether the passage is to be expedited by means of his
cooling draught.

  [3] The Spanish words are _Ha pasado su Magestad?_

But I must return to my _Gallego_, and myself. No sooner had I called
him back, as if I had suddenly changed my mind as to the direction
in which we were to go, than with a most determined tone he said
“_Dios--Su Magestad._” Pretending not to hear, I turned sharply
round, and was now making my retreat--but it would not do. Fired
with holy zeal, he raised his harsh voice, and in the barbarous
accent of his province, repeated three or four times, “_Dios--Su
Magestad_;” adding, with an oath, “This man is a heretic!” There was
no resisting that dreadful word: it pinned me to the ground. I took
out my pocket-handkerchief, and laying it on the least dirty part
of the pavement, knelt upon it--not indeed to pray; but while, as
another act of conformity to the custom of the country, I was beating
my breast with my clenched right hand, as gently as it could be done
without offence--to curse the hour when I had submitted thus to
degrade myself, and tremble at the mere suspicion of a being little
removed from the four-footed animals, whom it was his occupation to
relieve of their burdens.

In the more populous towns of Spain, these unpleasant meetings are
frequent. Nor are you free from being disturbed by the holy bell
in the most retired part of your house. Its sound operates like
magic upon the Spaniards. In the midst of a gay, noisy party, the
word--“_Su Magestad_”--will bring every one upon his knees until
the tinkling dies in the distance. Are you at dinner?--you must
leave the table. In bed?--you must, at least, sit up. But the most
preposterous effect of this custom is to be seen at the theatres. On
the approach of the host to any military guard, the drum beats, the
men are drawn out, and as soon as the priest can be seen, they bend
the right knee, and invert the firelocks, placing the point of the
bayonet on the ground. As an officer’s guard is always stationed at
the door of a Spanish theatre, I have often laughed in my sleeve at
the effect of the _chamade_ both upon the actors and the company.
“_Dios, Dios!_” resounds from all parts of the house, and every
one falls that moment upon his knees. The actors’ ranting, or the
rattling of the castanets in the _fandango_, is hushed for a few
minutes, till the sound of the bell growing fainter and fainter, the
amusement is resumed, and the devout performers are once more upon
their legs, anxious to make amends for the interruption. So powerful
is the effect of early habit, that I had been for some weeks in
London before I could hear the postman’s bell in the evening, without
feeling instinctively inclined to perform a due genuflection.

Cadiz, though fast declining from the wealth and splendour to which
she had reached during her exclusive privilege to trade with the
Colonies of South America, is still one of the few towns of Spain,
which, for refinement, can be compared with some of the second rate
in England. The people are hospitable and cheerful. The women,
without being at all beautiful, are really fascinating. Some of the
_Tertulias_, or evening parties, which a simple introduction to the
lady of the house entitles any one to attend daily, are very lively
and agreeable. No stiffness of etiquette prevails: you may drop
in when you like, and leave the room when it suits you. The young
ladies, however, will soon either find out, or imagine, the house and
company to which you give the preference; and a week’s acquaintance
will lay you open to a great deal of good-natured bantering upon the
cause of your short calls. Singing to the guitar, or the piano, is a
very common resource at these meetings. But the musical acquirements
of the Spanish ladies cannot bear the most distant comparison with
those of the female amateurs in London. In singing, however, they
possess one great advantage--that of opening the mouth--which your
English _Misses_ seem to consider as a great breach of propriety.

The inhabitants of Cadiz, being confined to the rock on which their
city is built, have made the towns of Chiclana, Puerto Real, and
Port St. Mary’s, their places of resort, especially in the summer.
The passage, by water, to Port St. Mary’s, is, upon an average,
of about an hour and a half, and the intercourse between the two
places, nearly as constant as between a large city and its suburbs.
Boats full of passengers are incessantly crossing from daybreak
till sunset. This passage is not, however, without danger in case
of a strong wind from the east, in summer, or of rough weather, in
winter. At the mouth of the Guadalete, a river that runs into the bay
of Cadiz, by Port St. Mary’s, there are extensive banks of shifting
sands, which every year prove fatal to many. The passage-boats are
often excessively crowded with people of all descriptions. The
Spaniards, however, are not so shy of strangers as I have generally
found your countrymen. Place any two of them, male or female, by the
merest chance, together, and they will immediately enter into some
conversation. The absolute disregard to a stranger, which custom
has established in England, would be taken for an insult in any part
of Spain; consequently little gravity is preserved in these aquatic
excursions.

In fine weather, when the female part of the company are not troubled
with fear or sickness, the passengers indulge in a boisterous sort
of mirth, which is congenial to Andalusians of all classes. It is
known by the old Spanish word _Arana_, pronounced with the Southern
aspirate, as if written _Haranna_. I do not know whether I shall be
able to convey a notion of this kind of amusement. It admits of no
liberties of action, while every allowance is made for words which do
not amount to gross indecency. It is--if I may use the expression--a
conversational _row_; or, to indulge a more strange assemblage of
ideas, the _Arana_ is to conversation, what romping is to walking arm
in arm. In the midst, however, of hoarse laugh and loud shouting,
as soon as the boat reaches the shoals, the steersman, raising his
voice with a gravity becoming a parish-clerk, addresses himself to
the company in words amounting to these--“Let us pray for the souls
of all that have perished in this place.” The pious address of the
boatman has a striking effect upon the company: for one or two
minutes every one mutters a private prayer, whilst a sailor-boy goes
round collecting a few copper coins from the passengers, which are
religiously spent in procuring masses for the souls in purgatory.
This ceremony being over, the riot is resumed with unabated spirit,
till the very point of landing.

I went by land to St. Lucar, a town of some wealth and consequence at
the mouth of the Guadalquivir, or Bœtis, where this river is lost in
the sea through a channel of more than a mile in breadth. The passage
to Seville, of about twenty Spanish leagues up the river, is tedious;
but I had often performed it, in early youth, with great pleasure,
and I now quite forgot the change which twenty years must have made
upon my feelings. No Spanish conveyance is either comfortable or
expeditious. The St. Lucar boats are clumsy and heavy, without a
single accommodation for passengers. Half of the hold is covered
with hatches, but so low, that one cannot stand upright under them.
A piece of canvass, loosely let down to the bottom of the boat, is
the only partition between the passengers and the sailors. It would
be extremely unpleasant for any person, above the lower class, to
bear the inconveniences of a mixed company in one of these boats.
Fortunately, it is neither difficult nor expensive to obtain the
exclusive hire of one. You must submit, however, at the time of
embarkation, to the disagreeable circumstance of riding on a man’s
shoulders from the water’s edge to a little skiff, which, from
the flatness of the shore, lies waiting for the passengers at the
distance of fifteen or twenty yards.

The country, on both sides of the river, is for the most part, flat
and desolate. The eye roves in vain over vast plains of alluvial
ground in search of some marks of human habitation. Herds of black
cattle, and large flocks of sheep, are seen on two considerable
islands formed by different branches of the river. The fierce
Andalusian bulls, kept by themselves in large enclosures, where, with
a view to their appearance on the arena, they are made more savage
by solitude; are seen straggling here and there down to the brink of
the river, tossing their shaggy heads, and pawing the ground on the
approach of the boat.

The windings of the river, and the growing shallows, which obstruct
its channel, oblige the boats to wait for the tide, except when
there is a strong wind from the south. After two tedious days, and
two uncomfortable nights, I found myself under the _Torre del Oro_,
a large octagon tower of great antiquity, and generally supposed to
have been built by Julius Cæsar, which stands by the mole or quay
of the capital of Andalusia, my native, and by me, long deserted
town. Townsend will acquaint you with its situation, its general
aspect, and the remarkable buildings, which are the boast of the
_Sevillanos_. My task will be confined to the description of such
peculiarities of the country as he did not see, or which must have
escaped his notice.

The eastern custom of building houses on the four sides of an open
area is so general in Andalusia, that, till my first journey to
Madrid, I confess, I was perfectly at a loss to conceive a habitable
dwelling in any other shape. The houses are generally two stories
high, with a gallery, or _corredor_, which, as the name implies,
_runs_ along the four, or at least the three sides of the _Pátio_,
or central square, affording an external communication between the
rooms above stairs, and forming a covered walk over the doors of the
ground-floor apartments. These two suites of rooms are a counterpart
to each other, being alternately inhabited or deserted in the seasons
of winter and summer. About the middle of October every house in
Seville is in a complete bustle for two or three days. The lower
apartments are stripped of their furniture, and every chair and
table--nay, the kitchen vestal, with all her laboratory--are ordered
off to winter quarters. This change of habitation, together with
mats laid over the brick-floors, thicker and warmer than those used
in summer, is all the provision against cold, which is made in this
country. A flat and open brass pan of about two feet diameter, raised
a few inches from the ground by a round wooden frame, on which, those
who sit near it, may rest their feet, is used to burn charcoal made
of brushwood, which the natives call _cisco_. The fumes of charcoal
are injurious to health; but such is the effect of habit, that the
natives are seldom aware of any inconvenience arising from the
choking smell of their brasiers.

The precautions against heat, however, are numerous. About the latter
end of May the whole population moves down stairs. A thick awning,
which draws and undraws by means of ropes and pullies, is stretched
over the central square, on a level with the roof of the house. The
window-shutters are nearly closed from morning till sunset, admitting
just light enough to see one another, provided the eyes have not
lately been exposed to the glare of the streets. The floors are
washed every morning, that the evaporation of the water imbibed by
the bricks, may abate the heat of the air. A very light mat, made
of a delicate sort of rush, and dyed with a variety of colours, is
used instead of a carpet. The _Pátio_, or square, is ornamented with
flowerpots, especially round a _jet d’eau_, which in most houses
occupies its centre. During the hot season the ladies sit and receive
their friends in the _Pátio_. The street-doors are generally open;
but invariably so from sunset till eleven or twelve in the night.
Three or four very large glass lamps are hung in a line from the
street-door to the opposite end of the _Pátio_; and, as in most
houses, those who meet at night for a _Tertulia_, are visible from
the streets, the town presents a very pretty and animated scene till
near midnight. The poorer class of people, to avoid the intolerable
heat of their habitations, pass a great part of the night in
conversation at their doors; while persons of all descriptions are
moving about till late, either to see their friends, or to enjoy the
cool air in the public walks.

This gay scene vanishes, however, on the approach of winter. The
people retreat to the upper floors; the ill-lighted streets are
deserted at the close of day, and become so dangerous from robbers,
that few but the young and adventurous retire home from the
_Tertulia_ without being attended by a servant, sometimes bearing
a lighted torch. The free access to every house, which prevails
in summer, is now checked by the caution of the inhabitants. The
entrance to the houses lies through a passage with two doors, one
to the street, and another called the _middle-door_ (for there is
another at the top of the stairs) which opens into the _Pátio_.
This passage is called _Zaguan_--a pure Arabic word, which means, I
believe, a porch. The middle-door is generally shut in the day-time:
the outer one is never closed but at night. Whoever wants to be
admitted must knock at the middle-door, and be prepared to answer a
question, which, as it presents one of those little peculiarities
which you are so fond of hearing, I shall not consider as unworthy of
a place in my narrative.

The knock at the door, which, by-the-by, must be single, and by no
means loud--in fact, a tradesman’s knock in London--is answered with
a _Who is there?_ To this question the stranger replies, “Peaceful
people,” _Gente de paz_--and the door is opened without farther
enquiries. Peasants and beggars call out at the door, “Hail, spotless
Mary!” _Ave, Maria purisima!_ The answer, in that case, is given
from within in the words _Sin pecado concebida_: “Conceived without
sin.” This custom is a remnant of the fierce controversy, which
existed about three hundred years ago, between the Franciscan and the
Dominican friars, whether the Virgin Mary had or not been subject
to the penal consequences of original sin. The Dominicans were not
willing to grant any exemption; while the Franciscans contended for
the propriety of such a privilege. The Spaniards, and especially the
Sevillians, with their characteristic gallantry, stood for the honour
of our Lady, and embraced the latter opinion so warmly, that they
turned the watchword of their party into the form of address, which
is still so prevalent in Andalusia. During the heat of the dispute,
and before the Dominicans had been silenced by the authority of the
Pope, the people of Seville began to assemble at various churches,
and, sallying forth with an emblematical picture of the _sinless_
Mary, set upon a sort of standard surmounted by a cross, paraded
the city in different directions, singing a hymn to the _Immaculate
Conception_, and repeating aloud their beads or rosary. These
processions have continued to our times, and constitute one of the
nightly nuisances of this place. Though confined at present to the
lower classes, those that join in them assume that characteristic
importance and overbearing spirit, which attaches to the most
insignificant religious associations in this country. Wherever one of
these shabby processions presents itself to the public, it takes up
the street from side to side, stopping the passengers, and expecting
them to stand uncovered in all kinds of weather, till the standard
is gone by. Their awkward and heavy banners are called, at Seville,
_Sinpecados_, that is, “sinless,” from the theological opinion in
support of which they were raised.

The Spanish government, under Charles III., shewed the most ludicrous
eagerness to have the _sinless purity_ of the Virgin Mary added by
the Pope to the articles of the Roman Catholic faith. The court of
Rome, however, with the cautious spirit which has at all times guided
its spiritual politics, endeavoured to keep clear from a stretch of
authority, which, even some of their own divines would be ready to
question; but splitting, as it were, the difference with theological
precision, the censures of the church were levelled against such as
should have the boldness to assert that the Virgin Mary had derived
any taint from “her great ancestor;” and, having personified the
_Immaculate Conception_, it was declared, that the Spanish dominions
in Europe and America were under the protecting influence of that
mysterious event. This declaration diffused universal joy over the
whole nation. It was celebrated with public rejoicings on both sides
of the Atlantic. The king instituted an order distinguished by the
emblem of the Immaculate Conception--a woman dressed in white and
blue; and a law was enacted, requiring a declaration, upon oath, of
a firm belief in the _Immaculate Conception_, from every individual,
previous to his taking any degree at the universities, or being
admitted into any of the corporations, civil and religious, which
abound in Spain. This oath is administered even to mechanics upon
their being made free of a Guild.[4]

  [4] See Note A, at the end of the Volume.

Here, however, I must break off, for fear of making this packet too
large for the confidential conveyance, to which alone I could trust
it without great risk of finishing my task in one of the cells of the
Holy Inquisition. I will not fail, however, to resume my subject as
soon as circumstances permit me.



LETTER II.


    _Seville ---- 1798._

TO A. D. C. ESQ.

MY DEAR SIR--Your letter, acquainting me with Lady ----’s desire
that you should take an active part in our correspondence on Spain,
has increased my hopes of carrying on a work, which I feared would
soon grow no less tiresome to our friend than to me. Objects which
blend themselves with our daily habits are most apt to elude our
observation; and will, like some dreams, fleet away through the
mind, unless an accidental word or thought should set attention on
the fast-fading track of their course. Nothing, therefore, can be
of greater use to me than your queries, or help me so much as your
observations.

You must excuse, however, my declining to give you a sketch of
the national character of the Spaniards. I have always considered
such descriptions as absolutely unmeaning--a mere assemblage
of antitheses, where good and bad qualities are contrasted for
effect, and with little foundation in nature. No man’s powers of
observation can be, at once, so accurate and extensive, so minute and
generalizing, as to be capable of embodying the peculiar features
of millions into an abstract being, which shall contain traces of
them all. Yet this is what most travellers attempt after a few
weeks residence--what we are accustomed to expect from the time
that a Geographical Grammar is first put into our hands. I shall
not, therefore, attempt either abstraction or classification, but
endeavour to collect as many facts as may enable others to perceive
the general tendency of the civil and religious state of my country,
and to judge of its influence on the improvement or degradation of
this portion of mankind, independently of the endless modifications
which arise from the circumstances, external and internal, of every
individual. I will not overlook, however, the great divisions of
society, and shall therefore acquaint you with the chief sources of
distinction which both law and custom have established among us.

The most comprehensive division of the people of Spain is that of
_nobles_ and _plebeians_. But I must caution you against a mistaken
notion which these words are apt to convey to an Englishman. In
Spain, any person whose family, either by immemorial prescription,
or by the king’s patent, is entitled to exemption from some burdens,
and to the enjoyment of certain privileges, belongs to the class of
nobility. It appears to me that this distinction originated in the
allotment of a certain portion of ground in towns conquered from
the Moors. In some patents of nobility--I cannot say whether they
are all alike--the king, after an enumeration of the privileges and
exemptions to which he raises the family, adds the general clause,
that they shall be considered in all respects, as _Hidalgos de
casa y solar conocido_--“_Hidalgos_, i. e. nobles (for the words
are become synonymous) of a known family and _ground-plot_.” Many
of the exemptions attached to this class of Franklins, or inferior
nobility, have been withdrawn in our times, not, however, without
a distinct recognition of the _rank_ of such as could claim them
before the amendment of the law. But still a Spanish gentleman, or
_Caballero_--a name which expresses the privileged gentry in all
its numerous and undefined gradations--cannot be ballotted for the
militia; and none but an _Hidalgo_ can enter the army as a cadet.
In the routine of promotion, ten cadets, I believe, must receive
a commission before a serjeant can have his turn--and even that
is often passed over. Such as are fortunate enough to be raised
from the ranks can seldom escape the reserve and slight of their
prouder fellow-officers; and the common appellation of _Pinos_,
“pine-trees”--alluding, probably, to the height required in a
serjeant, like that of _freedman_, among the Romans, implies a stain
which the first situations in the army cannot completely obliterate.

_Noblesse_, as I shall call it, to avoid an equivocal term, descends
from the father to all his male children, for ever. But though a
female cannot transmit this privilege to her issue, her being the
daughter of an _Hidalgo_ is of absolute necessity to constitute
what, in the language of the country, is called, “a nobleman on four
sides”--_noble de quatro costados_: that is, a man whose parents,
their parents, and their parents’ parents, belonged to the privileged
class. None but these _square noblemen_ can receive the order of
knighthood. But we are fallen on degenerate times, and I could name
many a knight in this town who has been furnished with more than one
_corner_ by the dexterity of the _notaries_, who act as secretaries
in collecting and drawing up the proofs and documents required on
these occasions.

There exists another distinction of blood, which, I think, is
peculiar to Spain, and to which the mass of the people are so
blindly attached, that the meanest peasant looks upon the want of
it as a source of misery and degradation, which he is doomed to
transmit to his latest posterity. The least mixture of African,
Indian, Moorish, or Jewish blood, taints a whole family to the most
distant generation. Nor does the knowledge of such a fact die away
in the course of years, or become unnoticed from the obscurity and
humbleness of the parties. Not a child in this populous city is
ignorant that a family, who, beyond the memory of man have kept a
confectioner’s shop in the central part of the town, had one of
their ancestors punished by the Inquisition for a relapse into
Judaism. I well recollect how, when a boy, I often passed that way,
scarcely venturing to cast a side glance on a pretty young woman
who constantly attended the shop, for fear, as I said to myself, of
shaming her. A person free from tainted blood is defined by law, “an
old Christian, clean from all bad race and stain,” _Christiano viejo,
limpio de toda mala raza, y mancha_. The severity of this law, or
rather of the public opinion enforcing it, shuts out its victims from
every employment in church or state, and excludes them even from the
_Fraternities_, or religious associations, which are otherwise open
to persons of the lowest ranks. I verily believe, that were St. Peter
a Spaniard, he would either deny admittance into heaven to people of
tainted blood, or send them to a retired corner, where they might not
offend the eyes of the _old Christians_.

But alas! what has been said of laws--and I believe it true in
most countries, ancient and modern, except England--that they are
like cobwebs, which entrap the weak, and yield to the strong and
bold, is equally, and perhaps more generally applicable to public
opinion. It is a fact, that many of the grandees, and the titled
noblesse of this country, derive a large portion of their blood
from Jews and Moriscoes. Their pedigree has been traced up to those
cankered branches, in a manuscript book, which neither the threats
of Government, nor the terrors of the Inquisition, have been able to
suppress completely. It is called _Tizon de España_--“the Brand of
Spain.” But wealth and power have set opinion at defiance; and while
a poor industrious man, humbled by feelings not unlike those of an
Indian _Paria_, will hardly venture to salute his neighbour, because,
forsooth, his fourth or fifth ancestor fell into the hands of the
Inquisition for declining to eat pork--the proud grandee, perhaps
a nearer descendant of the Patriarchs, will think himself degraded
by marrying the first gentlewoman in the kingdom, unless she brings
him _a hat_, in addition to the six or eight which he may be already
entitled to wear before the king. But this requires some explanation.

The highest privilege of a grandee is that of covering his head
before the king. Hence, by two or more _hats_ in a family, it is
meant that it has a right, by inheritance, to as many titles of
grandeeship. Pride having confined the grandees to intermarriages
in their own caste, and the estates and titles being inheritable by
females, an enormous accumulation of property and honours has been
made in a few hands. The chief aim of every family is constantly to
increase this preposterous accumulation. Their children are married,
by dispensation, in their infancy, to some great heir or heiress; and
such is the multitude of family names and titles which every grandee
claims and uses, that if you should look into a simple passport given
by the Spanish Ambassador in London, when he happens to be a member
of the ancient Spanish families, you will find the whole first page
of a large foolscap sheet, employed merely to tell you who the great
man is whose signature is to close the whole. As far as vanity alone
is concerned, this ambitious display of rank and parentage, might,
at this time of day, be dismissed with a smile. But there lurks a
more serious evil in the absurd and invidious system so studiously
preserved by our first nobility. Surrounded by their own dependents,
and avoided by the gentry, who are seldom disposed for an intercourse
in which a sense of inferiority prevails, few of the grandees are
exempt from the natural consequences of such a life--gross ignorance,
intolerable conceit, and sometimes, though seldom, a strong dose of
vulgarity. I would, however, be just, and by no means tax individuals
with every vice of the class. But I believe I speak the prevalent
sense of the country upon this point. The grandees have degraded
themselves by their slavish behaviour at Court, and incurred great
odium by their intolerable airs abroad. They have ruined their
estates by mismanagement and extravagance, and impoverished the
country by the neglect of their immense possessions. Should there be
a revolution in Spain, wounded pride, and party spirit, would deny
them the proper share of power in the constitution, to which their
lands, their ancient rights, and their remaining influence entitle
them. Thus excluded from their chief and peculiar duty of keeping
the balance of power between the throne and the people, the Spanish
grandees will remain a heavy burthen on the nation; while, either
fearing for their overgrown privileges, or impatient under reforms
which must fall chiefly on them and the clergy, they will always
be inclined to join the crown in restoring the abuses of arbitrary
government.

Would to Heaven that an opportunity presented itself for re-modelling
our constitution after the only political system which has been
sanctioned by the experience of ages--I mean your own. We have nearly
the same elements in existence; and low and degraded as we are by the
baneful influence of despotism, we might yet by a proper combination
of our political forces, lay down the basis of a permanent and
improvable free constitution. But I greatly fear that we have been
too long in chains, to make the best use of the first moments of
liberty. Perhaps the crown, as well as the classes of grandees and
bishops, will be suffered to exist, from want of power in the popular
party; but they will be made worse than useless through neglect and
jealousy. I am neither what you call a tory nor a bigot; nor am I
inditing a prophetic elegy on the diminished glories of crowns,
coronets and mitres. A levelling spirit I detest indeed, and from
my heart do I abhor every sort of spoliation. Many years, however,
must pass, and strange events take place, before any such evils can
threaten this country. Spanish despotism is not of that insulting
and irritating nature which drives a whole people to madness. It is
not the despotism of the taskmaster whose lash sows vengeance in the
hearts of his slaves. It is the cautious forecast of the husbandman
who mutilates the cattle whose strength he fears. The degraded animal
grows up, unconscious of the injury, and after a short training, one
might think he comes at last to love the yoke. Such, I believe, is
our state. Taxes, among us, are rather ill-contrived than grinding;
and millions of the lower classes are not aware of the share they
contribute. They all love their king, however they may dislike the
exciseman. Seigneurial rights are hardly in existence: and both
gentry and peasantry find little to remind them of the exorbitant
power which the improvident and slothful life of the grandees, at
court, allows to lie dormant and wasting in their hands. The majority
of the nation are more inclined to despise than to hate them; and
though few men would lift up a finger to support their rights, fewer
still would imitate the French in carrying fire and sword to their
mansions.

For bishops and their spiritual power _Juan Español_[5] has as
greedy and capacious a stomach, as _John Bull_ for roast beef and
ale. One single class of people feels galled and restless, and that
unfortunately neither is, nor can be, numerous in this country.
The class I mean consists of such as are able to perceive the
encroachments of tyranny on their intellectual rights--whose pride
of mind, and consciousness of mental strength, cause them to groan
and fret, daily and hourly, under the necessity of keeping within
the miry and crooked paths to which ignorance and superstition have
confined the active souls of the Spaniards. But these, compared
with the bulk of the nation, are but a mere handful. Yet, they may,
under favourable circumstances, recruit and augment their forces
with the ambitious of all classes. They will have, at first, to
disguise their views, to conceal their favourite doctrines, and
even to cherish those national prejudices, which, were their real
views known, would crush them to atoms. The mass of the people may
acquiesce for a time in the new order of things, partly from a vague
desire of change and improvement, partly from the passive political
habits which a dull and deadening despotism has bred and rooted in
the course of ages. The army may cast the decisive weight of the
sword on the popular side of the balance, as long as it suits its
views. But if the church and the great nobility are neglected in
the distribution of legislative power--if, instead of alluring them
into the path of liberty with the sweet bait of _constitutional_
influence, they are only alarmed for their rights and privileges,
without a hope of compensation, they may be shovelled and heaped
aside, like a mountain of dead and inert sand; but they will stand,
in their massive and ponderous indolence, ready to slide down at
every moment, and bury the small active party below, upon the least
division of their strength. A house, or chamber of peers, composed of
grandees in their own right--that is, not, as is done at present, by
the transfer of one of the titles accumulated in the same family--of
the bishops, and of a certain number of law lords regularly chosen
from the supreme court of judicature (a measure of the greatest
importance to discourage the distinction of _blood_, which is,
perhaps, the worst evil in the present state of the great Spanish
nobility), might, indeed, check the work of reformation to a slower
pace than accords with the natural eagerness of a popular party. But
the legislative body would possess a regulator within itself, which
would faithfully mark the gradual capacity for improvement in the
nation. The members of the privileged chamber would themselves be
improved and enlightened by the exercise of constitutional power, and
the pervading influence of public discussion: while, should they be
overlooked in any future attempt at a free constitution, they will,
like a diseased and neglected limb, spread infection over the whole
body, or, at last, expose it to the hazard of a bloody and dangerous
amputation. But it is time to return to our _Hidalgos_.

  [5] A name denoting the plain unsophisticated Spaniard.

As the _Hidalguia_ branches out through every male whose father
enjoys that privilege, Spain is overrun with _gentry_, who earn their
living in the meanest employments. The province of Asturias having
afforded shelter to that small portion of the nation which preserved
the Spanish name and throne against the efforts of the conquering
Arabs; there is hardly a native of that mountainous tract, who, even
at this day, cannot shew a legal title to honours and immunities
gained by his ancestors, at a time when every soldier had either a
share in the territory recovered from the invaders, or was rewarded
with a perpetual exemption from such taxes and services as fell
exclusively upon the _simple_[6] peasantry. The numerous assertors
of these privileges among the Asturians of the present day, lead me
to think that in the earliest times of the Spanish monarchy every
soldier was raised to the rank of a Franklin. But circumstances
are strangely altered. Asturias is one of the poorest provinces
of Spain, and the _noble_ inhabitants having, for the most part,
inherited no other patrimony from their ancestors than a strong
muscular frame, are compelled to make the best of it among the more
feeble tribes of the south. In this capital of Andalusia they have
engrossed the employments of watermen, porters, and footmen. Those
belonging to the two first classes are formed into a _fraternity_,
whose members have a right to the exclusive use of a chapel in the
cathedral. The privilege which they value most, however, is that of
affording the twenty stoutest men to convey the moveable stage on
which the consecrated host is paraded in public, on Corpus Christi
day, enshrined in a small temple of massive silver. The bearers are
concealed behind rich gold-cloth hangings, which reach the ground
on the four sides of the stage. The weight of the whole machine is
enormous; yet these twenty men bear it on the hind part of the head
and neck, moving with such astonishing ease and regularity, as if the
motion arose from the impulse of steam, or some steady mechanical
power.

  [6] _Gentle_ and _simple_, as I find in those inexhaustible
  sources of intellectual delight, the Novels by the author of
  “Waverley,” are used by the Scottish peasants in the same manner
  as _Noble_, and _Llano_, (plain, simple) by the Spaniards.

While these _Gentlemen Hidalgos_ are employed in such ungentle
services, though the law allows them the exemptions of their class,
public opinion confines them to their natural level. The only chance
for any of these disguised _noblemen_ to be publicly treated with due
honour and deference is, unfortunately, one for which they feel an
unconquerable aversion--that of being delivered into the rude hands
of a Spanish _Jack Ketch_. We had here, two years ago, an instance
of this, which I shall relate, as being highly characteristic of our
national prejudices about blood.

A gang of five banditti was taken within the jurisdiction of this
_Audiencia_, or chief court of justice, one of whom, though born
and brought up among the lowest ranks of society, was, by family,
an _Hidalgo_, and had some relations among the better class of
gentlemen. I believe the name of the unfortunate man was _Herrera_,
and that he was a native of a town about thirty English miles from
Seville, called _el Arahal_. But I have not, at present, the means
of ascertaining the accuracy of these particulars. After lingering,
as usual, four or five years in prison, these unfortunate men were
found guilty of several murders and highway robberies, and sentenced
to suffer death. The relations of the _Hidalgo_, who, foreseeing
this fatal event, had been watching the progress of the trial, in
order to step forward just in time to avert the stain which a cousin,
in the second or third remove, would cast upon their family, if he
died in mid-air like a villain; presented a petition to the judges,
accompanied with the requisite documents, claiming for their relative
the honours of his rank, and engaging to pay the expenses attending
the execution of a _nobleman_. The petition being granted as a matter
of course, the following scene took place. At a short distance from
the gallows on which the four _simple_ robbers were to be hanged in
a cluster, from the central point of the cross beam, all dressed in
white shrouds, with their hands tied before them, that the hangman,
who actually rides upon the shoulders of the criminal, may place his
foot as in a stirrup,[7]--was raised a scaffold about ten feet high,
on an area of about fifteen by twenty, the whole of which and down
to the ground, on all sides, was covered with black baize. In the
centre of the scaffold was erected a sort of arm-chair, with a stake
for its back, against which, by means of an iron collar attached to
a screw, the neck is crushed by one turn of the handle. This machine
is called _Garrote_--“a stick”--from the old-fashioned method of
strangling, by twisting the fatal cord with a stick. Two flights of
steps on opposite sides of the stage, afforded a separate access, one
for the criminal and the priest, the other for the executioner and
his attendant.

  [7] The Cortes have abolished this barbarous method of inflicting
  death.

The convict, dressed in a loose gown of black baize, rode on a horse,
a mark of distinction peculiar to his class, (plebeians riding
on an ass, or being dragged on a hurdle,) attended by a priest,
and a notary, and surrounded by soldiers. Black silk cords were
prepared to bind him to the arms of the seat; for ropes are thought
dishonourable. After kneeling to receive the last absolution from
the priest, he took off a ring, with which the unfortunate man had
been provided for that melancholy occasion. According to etiquette
he should have disdainfully thrown it down for the executioner;
but, as a mark of Christian humility, he put it into his hand. The
sentence being executed, four silver candlesticks, five feet high,
with burning wax-candles of a proportionate length and thickness,
were placed at the corners of the scaffold; and in about three hours,
a suitable funeral was conducted by the _posthumous_ friends of the
noble robber, who, had they assisted him to settle in life with half
of what they spent in this absurd and disgusting show, might, perhaps
have saved him from his fatal end. But these honours being what is
called _a positive act of noblesse_, of which a due certificate is
given to the surviving parties, to be recorded among the legal proofs
of their rank; they may have acted under the idea that their relative
was fit only to add lustre to the family by the close of his career.

The innumerable and fanciful gradations of family rank which the
Spaniards have formed to themselves, without the least foundation
in the laws of the country, are difficult to describe. Though the
_Hidalguia_ is a necessary qualification, especially in country
towns, to be admitted into the best society, it is by no means
sufficient, by itself, to raise the views of every _Hidalgo_ to a
family connexion with the “blue blood”--_sangre azul_ of the country.
The shades by which the vital fluid approaches this privileged hue,
would perplex the best colourist. These prejudices, however, have
lost much of their force at Madrid, except among the grandees,
and in such maritime towns as Malaga and Cadiz, where commerce has
raised many new, and some foreign families into consequence. But
there is a pervading spirit of vanity in the nation, which actuates
even the lowest classes, and may be discovered in the evident
mortification which menials and mechanics are apt to feel, on the
omission of some modes of address intended, as it were, to cast a
veil on the humbleness of their condition. To call a man by the
name of _blacksmith_, _butcher_, _coachman_, would be considered
an insult. They all expect to be called either by their Christian
name, or by the general appellation _Maestro_ and in both cases with
the prefixed _Señor_; unless the word expressing the employment
should imply superiority: as _Mayoral_, chief coachman--_Rabadán_,
chief shepherd--_Aperador_, bailiff. These, and similar names,
are used without an addition, and sound well in the ears of the
natives. But no female would suffer herself to be addressed _cook_,
_washer-woman_, &c.; they all feel and act as if, having a natural
claim to a higher rank, misfortune alone had degraded them. Poverty,
unless it be extreme, does not disqualify a man of family for the
society of his equals. Secular clergymen, though plebeians, are,
generally, well received; but the same indulgence is not readily
extended to monks and friars, whose unpolished manners betray too
openly the meanness of their birth. Wholesale merchants, if they
belong to the class of _Hidalgos_, are not avoided by the great
gentry. In the law, _attorneys_ and _notaries_ are considered to be
under the line of _Caballeros_, though their rank, as in England,
depends a great deal on their wealth and personal respectability.
Physicians are nearly in the same case.

Having now made you acquainted with what is here called the _best
sort_ of people, you will probably like to have a sketch of their
daily life: take it, then, neither from the first, nor the last of
the class.

Breakfast, in Spain, is not a regular family meal. It generally
consists of chocolate, and buttered toast, or muffins, called
_molletes_. Irish salt-butter is very much in use; as the heat of
the climate does not allow the luxuries of the dairy, except in
the mountainous tracts of the north. Every one calls for chocolate
whenever it suits him; and most people take it when they come
from mass--a ceremony seldom omitted, even by such as cannot be
reckoned among the highly religious. After breakfast, the gentlemen
repair to their occupations; and the ladies, who seldom call upon
one another, often enjoy the _amusement_ of music and a sermon
at the church appointed on that day for the public adoration of
the Consecrated Host, which, from morning till night, takes place
throughout the year in this, and a few other large towns. This is
called _el jubileo_--the jubilee; as, by a spiritual grant of the
Pope, those who visit the appointed church, are entitled to the
plenary indulgence which, in former times, rewarded the trouble and
dangers of a journey to Rome, on the first year of every century--a
poor substitute, indeed, for the _ludi sæculares_, which, in former
times, drew people thither from all parts of the Roman empire.
The bait, however, was so successful for a time, that _jubilees_
were celebrated every twenty-five years. But when the taste for
papal indulgences began to be cloyed by excess, few would move
a foot, and much less undertake a long journey, to spend their
money for the benefit of the Pope and his Roman subjects. In these
desperate circumstances, the Holy Father thought it better to send
the _jubilee_, with its plenary indulgence, to the distant sheep
of his flock, than to wait in vain for their coming to seek it at
Rome. To this effort of pastoral generosity we owe the inestimable
advantage of being able, every day, to perform a spiritual visit
to St. Peter’s at Rome; which, to those who are indifferent about
architectural beauty, is infinitely cheaper, and just as profitable,
as a pilgrimage to the vicinity of the Capitol.

About noon the ladies are at home, where, employed at their needle,
they expect the morning calls of their friends. I have already told
you how easy it is for a gentleman to gain an introduction to any
family: the slightest occasion will produce what is called _an offer
of the house_, when you are literally told that the house _is yours_.
Upon the strength of this offer, you may drop in as often as you
please, and idle away hour after hour, in the most unmeaning, or it
may chance, the most interesting conversation.

The mention of this offer of the house induces me to give you
some idea of the hyperbolical civility of my countrymen. When an
English nobleman, well known both to you and me, was some years
ago travelling in this country, he wished to spend a fortnight at
Barcelona; but, the inn being rather uncomfortable for himself
and family, he was desirous of procuring a country-house in the
neighbourhood of the town. It happened at this time that a rich
merchant, for whom our friend had a letter, called to pay his
respects; and in a string of high-flown compliments, assured his
Lordship that both his town-house and his villa were entirely at
his service. My lady’s eyes sparkled with joy, and she was rather
vexed that her husband had hesitated a moment to secure the villa
for his family. Doubts arose as to the sincerity of the offer, but
she could not be persuaded that such forms of expression should be
taken, in this country, in the same sense as the--“Madam I am at your
feet,”--with which every gentleman addresses a lady. After all, the
merchant, no doubt, to his great astonishment, received a very civil
note, accepting the loan of his country house. But, in answer to the
note, he sent an awkward excuse, and never shewed his face again.
The poor man was so far from being to blame, that he only followed
the established custom of the country, according to which it would
be rudeness not to offer any part of your property, which you either
mention or show. Fortunately, Spanish etiquette is just and equitable
on this point; for as it would not pardon the omission of the offer,
so it would never forgive the acceptance.

A foreigner must be surprised at the strange mixture of caution
and liberty which appears in the manners of Spain. Most rooms have
glass doors; but when this is not the case, it would be highly
improper for any lady to sit with a gentleman, unless the doors were
open. Yet, when a lady is slightly indisposed in bed, she does not
scruple to see every one of her male visitors. A lady seldom takes a
gentleman’s arm, and never shakes him by the hand; but on the return
of an old acquaintance after a considerable absence, or when they
wish joy for some agreeable event, the common salute is an embrace.
An unmarried woman must not be seen alone out of doors, nor must she
sit _tête-à-tête_ with a gentleman, even when the doors of the room
are open; but, as soon as she is married, she may go by herself where
she pleases, and sit alone with any man for many hours every day. You
have in England strange notions of Spanish jealousy. I can, however,
assure you, that if Spanish husbands were, at any time, what novels
and old plays represent them, no race in Europe has undergone a more
thorough change.

Dinners are generally at one, and in a few houses, between two and
three. Invitations to dine are extremely rare. On some extraordinary
occasions, as that of a young man performing his first mass--a
daughter taking the veil--and, in the more wealthy houses, on the
saint-days of the heads of the family, they make what is called a
_convite_, or feast. Any person accustomed to your private dinners,
would be thrown into a fever by one of these parties. The height of
luxury, on these occasions, is what we call _Comida de Fonda_--a
dinner from the coffee-house. All the dishes are dressed at an
inn, and brought ready to be served at table. The Spanish houses,
even those of the best sort, are so ill provided with every thing
required at table, that wine, plates, glasses, knives and forks,
are brought from the inn together with the dinner. The noise and
confusion of these _feasts_ is inconceivable. Every one tries to
repay the hospitable treat with mirth and noise; and though Spaniards
are, commonly, water-drinkers, the bottle is used very freely on
these occasions; but they do not continue at table after eating the
dessert. Upon the death of any one in a family, the nearest relatives
send a dinner of this kind, on the day of the funeral, that they may
save the chief mourners the trouble of preparing an entertainment for
such of their kindred as have attended the body to church. Decorum,
however, forbids any mirth on these occasions.

After I became acquainted with English hospitality, my mind was
struck with a custom, which, being a matter of course in Spain, had
never attracted my notice. An invitation to dinner, which, by the
by, is never given in writing, must not be accepted on the first
proposal. Perhaps our complimentary language makes it necessary to
ascertain how far the inviter may be in earnest, and a good-natured
civility has made it a rule to give national vanity fair play, and
never, without proper caution, to trust _pot-luck_, where fortune
so seldom smiles upon that venerable utensil. The first invitation
“to eat the soup” should be answered, therefore, with “a thousand
thanks;” by which a Spaniard civilly declines what no one wishes him
to accept. If, after this skirmish of good breeding, the offer should
be repeated, you may begin to suspect that your friend is in earnest,
and answer him in the usual words, _no se meta Usted en eso_--“do
not engage in such a thing.” At this stage of the business, both
parties having gone too far to recede, the invitation is repeated and
accepted.

I might, probably, have omitted the mention of this custom, had I not
found, as it appears to me, a curious coincidence between Spanish
and ancient Greek manners on this point. Perhaps you recollect that
Xenophon opens his little work called “The Banquet,” by stating how
Socrates and his pupils, who formed the greater part of the company
the entertainment therein described, were invited by Callias, a rich
citizen of Athens. The feast was intended to celebrate the victory
of a young man, who had obtained the crown at the Panathenæan games.
Callias was walking home with his young friend to the Pireus, when
he saw Socrates and his daily companions. He accosted the former in
a familiar and playful manner, and, after a little bantering on his
philosophical speculations, requested both him and his friends to
give him the pleasure of their company at table. “They, however,”
says Xenophon, “_at first, as was proper_, thanked him, and declined
the invitation; _but when it clearly appeared that he was angry at
the refusal_, followed him.” I am aware that the words in Xenophon
admit another interpretation, and that the phrase which I render,
_as was proper_, may be applied to the _thanks_ alone; but it may be
referred, with as much or better reason, both to thanks and refusal,
and the custom which I have stated inclines me strongly to adopt
that sense.[8] The truth is, that wherever dinner is not, as in
England, the chief and almost exclusive season of social converse,
an invitation to dine must appear somewhat in the light of a gift or
present--which every man of delicacy feels reluctant to accept at all
from a mere acquaintance, or without some degree of compulsion, from
a friend. Besides, we know the abuse and ridicule with which both
Greeks and Romans attacked the _Parasites_, or dinner-hunters; and
it is very natural to suppose that a true gentleman would be upon
his guard against the most distant resemblance to those unfortunate
starvelings.

  [8] See note B.

The custom of sleeping after dinner, called _Siesta_, is universal in
summer, especially in Andalusia, where the intenseness of the heat
produces languor and drowsiness. In winter, taking a walk, just after
rising from table, is very prevalent. Many gentlemen, previously to
their afternoon walk, resort to the coffee-houses, which now begin to
be in fashion.

Almost every considerable town of Spain is provided with a public
walk, where the better classes assemble in the afternoon. These
places are called _Alamedas_, from _Alamo_, a common name for the elm
and poplar, the trees which shade such places. Large stone benches
run in the direction of the alleys, where people sit either to rest
themselves or to carry on a long talk, in whispers, with the next
lady; an amusement which, in the idiom of the country, is expressed
by the strange phrase, _pelar la Pava_--“to pluck the hen-turkey.” We
have in our _Alameda_ several fountains of the most delicious water.
No less than twenty or thirty men with glasses, each holding nearly
a quart, move in every direction, so dextrously clashing two of them
in their hands, that without any danger of breaking them, they keep
up a pretty lively tinkling like that of well-tuned small bells.
So great is the quantity of water which these people sell to the
frequenters of the walk, that most of them live throughout the year
on what they thus earn in summer. Success in this trade depends on
their promptitude to answer every call, their neatness in washing the
glasses, and most of all, on their skilful use of the good-natured
waggery peculiar to the lower classes of Andalusia. A knowing air, an
arch smile, and some honied words of praise and endearments, as “My
rose,” “My soul,” and many others, which even a modest and high-bred
lady will hear without displeasure; are infallible means of success
among tradesmen who deal with the public at large, and especially
with the more tender part of that public. The company in these
walks presents a motley crowd of officers in their regimentals,--of
clergymen in their cassocks, black cloaks, and broad-brimmed hats,
not unlike those of the coalmen in London,--and of gentlemen wrapped
up in their _capas_, or in some uniform, without which a well-born
Spaniard is almost ashamed to shew himself.

The ladies’ walking-dress is susceptible of little variety. Nothing
short of the house being on fire would oblige a Spanish woman to step
out of doors without a black petticoat, called _Basquiña_, or _Saya_,
and a broad black veil, hanging from the head over the shoulders, and
crossed on the breast like a shawl, which they call _Mantilla_. The
_mantilla_ is, generally, of silk trimmed round with broad lace. In
summer-evenings some white _mantillas_ are seen; but no lady would
wear them in the morning, and much less venture into a church in such
a _profane_ dress.

A showy fan is indispensable, in all seasons, both in and out of
doors. An Andalusian woman might as well want her tongue as her
fan. The fan, besides, has this advantage over the natural organ
of speech--that it conveys thought to a greater distance. A dear
friend at the farthest end of the public walk, is greeted and cheered
by a quick, tremulous motion of the fan, accompanied with several
significant nods. An object of indifference is dismissed with a slow,
formal inclination of the fan, which makes his blood run cold. The
fan, now, screens the titter and whisper; now condenses a smile into
the dark sparkling eyes, which take their aim just above it. A gentle
tap of the fan commands the attention of the careless; a waving
motion calls the distant. A certain twirl between the fingers betrays
doubt or anxiety--a quick closing and displaying the folds, indicates
eagerness or joy. In perfect combination with the expressive features
of my countrywomen, the fan is a magic wand, whose power is more
easily felt than described.

What is mere beauty, compared with the fascinating power arising from
extreme sensibility? Such as are alive to those invisible charms,
will hardly find a plain face among the young women of Andalusia.
Their features may not, at first view, please the eye; but seem to
improve every day till they grow beautiful. Without the advantages
of education, without even external accomplishments, the vivacity
of their fancy sheds a perpetual glow over their conversation; and
the warmth of their heart gives the interest of affection to their
most indifferent actions. But Nature, like a too fond mother, has
spoilt them, and Superstition has completed their ruin. While the
activity of their minds is allowed to run waste for want of care
and instruction, the consciousness of their powers to please,
impresses them with an early notion that life has but one source
of happiness. Were their charms the effect of that cold twinkling
flame which flutters round the hearts of most Frenchwomen, they
would be only dangerous to the peace and usefulness of one half of
society. But, instead of being the capricious tyrants of men, they
are, generally, their victims. Few, very few Spanish women, and
none, I will venture to say, among the Andalusians, have it in their
power to be coquettes. If it may be said without a solecism, there
is more of that vice in our men than in our females. The first,
leading a life of idleness, and deprived by an ignorant, oppressive,
and superstitious government, of every object that can raise and
feed an honest ambition, waste their whole youth, and part of their
manly age, in trifling with the best feelings of the tender sex, and
poisoning, for mere mischief’s sake, the very springs of domestic
happiness. But ours is the most dire and complex disease that ever
preyed upon the vitals of human society. With some of the noblest
qualities that a people can possess (you will excuse an involuntary
burst of national partiality), we are worse than degraded--we are
depraved, by that which is intended to cherish and exalt every
social virtue. Our corrupters, our mortal enemies, are religion and
government. To set the practical proofs of this bold position in a
striking light is, undoubtedly, beyond my abilities. Yet such, I must
say, is the force of the proofs I possess on this melancholy topic,
that they nearly overcome my mind with intuitive evidence. Let me,
then, take leave of the subject into which my feelings have hurried
me, by assuring you, that wherever the slightest aid is afforded to
the female mind in this country, it exhibits the most astonishing
quickness and capacity; and that, probably, no other nation in the
world can present more lovely instances of a glowing and susceptible
heart preserving unspotted purity, not from the dread of public
opinion, but in spite of its encouragements.



LETTER III.


    _Seville, ---- 1799._

Fortune has favoured me with an acquaintance--a young clergyman of
this town--for whom, since our first introduction, I have felt a
growing esteem, such as must soon ripen into the warmest affection.
Common danger, and common suffering, especially of the mind, prove
often the readiest and most indissoluble bonds of human friendship:
and when to this influence is added the blending power of an
intercommunity of thoughts and sentiments, no less unbounded than
the confidence with which two men put thereby their liberty, their
fortune, and their life into the hands of each other--imagination
can hardly measure the warmth and devotedness of honest hearts thus
united.

Spaniards, who have broken the trammels of superstition, possess a
wonderful quickness to mark and know one another. Yet caution is so
necessary, that we never offer the right hand of fellowship till,
by gradual approaches, the heart and mind are carefully scanned on
both sides. There are _bullies_ in mental no less than in animal
courage: and I have sometimes been in danger of committing myself
with a pompous fool that was hazarding propositions in the evening,
which he was sure to lay, in helpless fear, before the confessor, the
next morning; and who, had he met with free and unqualified assent
from any one of the company, would have tried to save his own soul
and body by carrying the whole conversation to the Inquisitors. But
the character of my new friend was visible at a glance; and, after
some conversation, I could not feel the slightest apprehension that
there might lurk in his heart either the villainy or the folly
which can betray a man, in this world, under a pretext of ensuring
his happiness in the next. He too, either from the circumstance of
my long residence in England, or, as I hope, from something more
properly belonging to myself, soon opened his whole mind; and we both
uttered downright _heresy_. After this mutual, this awful pledge, the
Scythian ceremony of tasting each other’s blood could not have more
closely bound us in interest and danger.

The coolness of an orange-grove is not more refreshing to him who has
panted across one of our burning plains, under the meridian sun in
August, than the company of a few trusty friends to some unbending
minds, after a long day of restraint and dissimulation. When after
our evening walk we are at last comfortably seated round my friend’s
reading-table, where an amiable young officer, another clergyman,
and one of the most worthy and highly-gifted men that tyranny and
superstition have condemned to pine in obscurity, are always welcomed
with a cordiality approaching to rapture--I cannot help comparing
our feelings to those which we might suppose in Christian slaves at
Algiers, who, having secretly unlocked the rivets of their fetters,
could shake them off to feast and riot in the dead of night, cheering
their hearts with wild visions of liberty, and salving their wounds
with vague hopes of revenge. Revenge, did I say! what a false notion
would that word give you of the characters that compose our little
club! I doubt if Nature herself could so undo the work of her hands
as to transform any one of my kind, my benevolent friends, into a
man of blood. As to myself, mere protestations were useless. You
know me; and I shall leave you to judge. But there is a revenge of
the fancy, perfectly consistent with true mildness and generosity,
though certainly more allied to quick sensibility than to sound and
sober judgment. The last, however, should be seldom, if at all,
looked for among persons in our circumstances. Our childhood is
artificially protracted till we wonder how we have grown old: and,
being kept at an immeasurable distance from the affairs and interest
of public life, our passions, our virtues, and our vices, like those
of early youth, have deeper roots in the imagination than the heart.
I will not say that this is a prevalent feature in the character of
my countrymen; but I have generally observed it among the best and
the worthiest. As to my confidential friends, especially the one I
mentioned at the beginning of this letter, in strict conformity with
the temper which, I fear, I have but imperfectly described, they
spend their lives in giving vent, among themselves, to the suppressed
feelings of ridicule or indignation, of which the religious
institutions of this country are a perennial source to those who
are compelled to receive them as of Divine authority. England has
so far improved me, that I can perceive the folly of this conduct.
I am aware that, instead of indulging this childish gratification
of our anger, we should be preparing ourselves, by a profound
study of our ancient laws and customs, and a perfect acquaintance
with the pure and original doctrines of the Gospel, for any future
opening to reformation in our church and state. But under this
intolerable system of intellectual oppression, we have associated
the idea of Spanish law with despotism, and that of Christianity
with absurdity and persecution. After my return from England I feel
almost involuntarily relapsing into the old habits of my mind. With
my friends, who have never left this country, any endeavour to break
and counteract such habits would be perfectly hopeless. Despondency
drives them into a course of reading and thinking, which leads only
to suppressed contempt and whispered sarcasm. The violence which
they must constantly do to their best feelings, might breed some of
the fiercer passions in breasts less softened with “the milk of human
kindness.” But their hatred of the prevailing practices and opinions
does not extend to persons. Yet I for one must confess, that were I
to act from a first and habitual impulse, without listening to my
better judgment, there is not a saint or a relic in the country I
would not trample under foot, and treat with the utmost indignity. As
things are, however, I content myself with scoffing and railing the
whole day. But I trust that, on a change of circumstances, I should
act more soberly than I feel.

I should have found it very difficult, without this fortunate
intimacy with a man who, though still in the prime of youth, has
lately obtained, by literary competition, a place among what we call
the higher clergy--that is, such as are _above_ the cure of souls--to
give you an insight into the internal constitution of the Spanish
church, the vices of the system which prepares our young men for the
altar, and the ruinous foundations on which the ecclesiastical law,
aided by civil power, hazards the morals of our religious teachers
and their flocks. When I had expressed to my friend my desire of
having his assistance in carrying on this correspondence, as well
as satisfied his mind on the improbability of any thing entrusted
to you, recoiling upon himself in Spain; he shewed me a manuscript
he had drawn up some time before, under the title: “A few facts
connected with the formation of the intellectual and moral character
of a Spanish Clergyman.” “Who knows,” he said, “but that this
sketch may answer your purpose? No traveller’s-guide account of our
universities and clerical establishments, can convey such a living
picture of our state, as the history of a young mind trained up under
their influence. You might easily find a list of the professors,
endowments, and class-books of which the framework of Spanish
education consists. But who would have the patience to read it, or
what could he learn from it? I had intended that this little effusion
of an oppressed and struggling mind should lie concealed till some
future period, probably after my death, when my country might be
prepared to learn and lament the wrongs she has, for ages, heaped on
her children. But, since you have provided against discovery, and are
willing to translate into English any thing I may give you, it will
be some satisfaction to know that the results of my sad experience
are laid before the most enlightened and benevolent people of Europe.
Perhaps, if they know the true source of our evils, the day will come
when they may be able and willing to help us.”

The question with me now was, not whether I should accept the
manuscript, but whether I could do it justice in the translation.
Trusting, however, that the novelty of the matter would atone for
the faults of my style; labour and perseverance have, at length,
enabled me to enclose it in this letter. As I have thus introduced
a stranger to you. I am bound in common civility to fall into the
background, and let him speak for himself.


_A few Facts connected with the formation of the Intellectual and
    Moral Character of a Spanish Clergyman._

“I do not possess the cynical habits of mind which would enable me,
like Rousseau, to expose my heart naked to the gaze of the world.
I have neither his unfortunate and odious propensities to gloss
by an affected candour, nor his bewitching eloquence to display,
whatever good qualities I may possess: and as I must overcome no
small reluctance and fear of impropriety, to enter upon the task
of writing an account of the workings of my mind and heart, I have
some reason to believe that I am led to do so by a sincere desire
of being useful to others. Millions of human creatures are made to
venture their happiness on a form of Christianity which possesses the
strongest claims to our attention, both from its great antiquity,
and the extent of its sway over the most civilized part of the
earth. The various effects of that religious system, unmixed with
any thing unauthorized or spurious, upon my country, my friends, and
myself, have been the object of my most serious attention, from the
very dawn of reason till the moment when I am writing these lines.
If the result of my experience should be, that religion, as it is
taught and enforced in Spain, is productive of exquisite misery in
the amiable and good, and of gross depravity in the unfeeling and the
thoughtless--that it is an insuperable obstacle to the improvement of
the mind, and gives a decided ascendancy to lettered absurdity, and
to dull-headed bigotry--that it necessarily breeds such reserve and
dissimulation in the most promising and valuable part of the people
as must check and stunt the noblest of public virtues, candour and
political courage--if all this, and much more that I am not able
to express in the abstract form of simple positions, should start
into view from the plain narrative of an obscure individual; I hope
I shall not be charged with the silly vanity of attributing any
intrinsic importance to the domestic events and private feelings
which are to fill up the following pages.

“I was born of parents who, though possessed of little property, held
a decent rank among the gentry of my native town. Their characters,
however, are so intimately connected with the formation of my own,
that I shall indulge an honest pride in describing them.

“My father was the son of a rich Irish merchant, who obtained for
himself and descendants a patent of _Hidalguia_, or noblesse, early
in the reign of Ferdinand VI. During the life of my grandfather, and
the consequent prosperity of his house, my father was sent abroad
for his education. This gave a polish to his manners, which, at that
period, was not easily found even in the first ranks of the nobility.
Little more than accomplishments, however, was left him, when, in
consequence of his father’s death, the commercial concerns of the
house being managed by a stranger, received a shock which had nearly
reduced the family to poverty and want. Yet something was saved;
and my father, who, by some unaccountable infatuation, had not been
brought up to business, was now obliged to exert himself to the
utmost of his power. Joining, therefore, in partnership with a more
wealthy merchant, who had married one of his sisters, he contrived,
by care and diligence, together with a strict, though not sordid
economy, not to descend below the rank in which he had been born.
Under these unpromising circumstances he married my mother, who, if
she could add but little to her husband’s fortune, yet brought him a
treasure of love and virtue, which he found constantly increasing,
till death removed him on the first approaches of old age.

“My mother was of honourable parentage. She was brought up in that
absence of mental cultivation which prevails, to this day, among
the Spanish ladies. But her natural talents were of a superior
cast. She was lively, pretty, and sang sweetly. Under the influence
of a happier country, her pleasing vivacity, the quickness of her
apprehension, and the exquisite degree of sensibility which animated
her words and actions, would have qualified her to shine in the most
elegant and refined circles.

“_Benevolence_ prompted all my father’s actions, endued him, at
times, with something like supernatural vigour, and gave him, for
the good of his fellow-creatures, the courage and decision he wanted
in whatever concerned himself. With hardly any thing to spare, I do
not recollect a time when our house was not a source of relief and
consolation to some families of such as, by a characteristic and
feeling appellation, are called among us the _blushing poor_.[9]
In all seasons, for thirty years of his life, my father allowed
himself no other relaxation, after the fatiguing business of his
counting-house, than a visit to the general hospital of this town--a
horrible scene of misery, where four or five hundred beggars are,
at a time, allowed to lay themselves down and die, when worn out
by want and disease. Stripping himself of his coat, and having put
on a coarse dress for the sake of cleanliness, in which he was
scrupulous to a fault; he was employed, till late at night, in making
the beds of the poor, taking the helpless in his arms, and stooping
to such services as even the menials in attendance were often loth
to perform. All this he did of his own free will, without the least
connexion, public or private, with the establishment. Twice he was at
death’s door from the contagious influence of the atmosphere in which
he exerted his charity. But no danger would appal him when engaged
in administering relief to the needy. Foreigners, cast by misfortune
into that gulf of wretchedness, were the peculiar objects of his
kindness.

  [9] _Pobres vergonzantes._

“The principle of benevolence was not less powerful in my mother;
but her extreme sensibility made her infinitely more susceptible of
pain than pleasure--of fear than hope--and, for such characters,
a technical religion is ever a source of distracting terrors.
Enthusiasm--that bastard of religious liberty, that vigorous weed of
Protestantism--does not thrive under the jealous eye of infallible
authority. Catholicism, it is true, has, in a few instances, produced
a sort of splendid madness; but its visions and trances partake
largely of the tameness of a mind previously exhausted by fears and
agonies, meekly borne under the authority of a priest. The throes of
the New Birth harrow up the mind of the Methodist, and give it that
frenzied energy of despair, which often settles into the all-hoping,
all-daring raptures of the enthusiast. The Catholic Saint suffers in
all the passiveness of blind submission, till nature sinks exhausted,
and reason gives way to a gentle, visionary madness. The natural
powers of my mother’s intellect were strong enough to withstand,
unimpaired, the enormous and constant pressure of religious fears in
their most hideous shape. But, did I not deem reason the only gift of
Heaven which fully compensates the evils of this present existence, I
might have wished for its utter extinction in the first and dearest
object of my natural affection. Had she become a visionary, she had
ceased to be unhappy. But she possessed to the last an intellectual
energy equal to any exertion, except one, which was not compatible
with the influence of her country--that of looking boldly into the
dark recess where lurked the phantoms that harassed and distressed
her mind.

“It would be difficult, indeed, to choose two fairer subjects for
observing the effects of the religion of Spain. The results, in both,
were lamentable, though certainly not the most mischievous it is apt
to produce. In one, we see mental soberness and good sense degraded
into timidity and indecision--unbounded goodness of heart, confined
to the lowest range of benevolence. In the other, we mark talents of
a superior kind, turned into the ingenious tormentors of a heart,
whose main source of wretchedness was an exquisite sensibility to the
beauty of virtue, and an insatiate ardour in treading the devious
and thorny path it was made to take for the 'way which leadeth unto
life.’--A bolder reason, in the first, (it will be said) and a reason
less fluttered by sensibility, in the second, would have made those
virtuous minds more cautious of yielding themselves up to the full
influence of ascetic devotion. Is this, then, all that men are to
expect from the unbounded promises of light, and the lofty claims
of authority, which our religion holds forth? Is it thus, that,
when, to obtain the protection of an infallible guide, we have, at
his command, maimed and fast bound our reason, still a precipice
yawns before our feet, from which none but that insulted reason can
save us? Are we to call for her aid on the brink of despair and
insanity, and then spurn our faithful, though injured friend, lest
she should unlock our hand from that of our proud and treacherous
leader? Often have I, from education, habit, and a misguided love of
moral excellence, been guilty of that inconsistency, till frequent
disappointment urged me to break my chains. Painful, indeed, and
fierce was the struggle by which I gained my liberty, and doomed I am
for ever to bear the marks of early bondage. But no power on earth
shall make me again give up the guidance of my reason, till I can
find a rule of conduct and belief that may safely be trusted, without
wanting _reason_ itself to moderate and expound it.

“The first and most anxious care of my parents was to sow abundantly
the seeds of Christian virtue in my infant breast. In this, as in
all their proceedings, they strictly followed the steps of those
whose virtue had received the sanction of their church. Religious
instruction was conveyed to my mind with the rudiments of speech; and
if early impressions alone could be trusted for the future complexion
of a child’s character, the music, and the splendid pageantry of
the cathedral of Seville, which was to me the first scene of mental
enjoyment, might, at this day, be the soundest foundation of my
Catholic faith.

“Divines have declared that moral responsibility begins at the age
of seven, and, consequently, children of quick parts are not allowed
to go much longer without the advantage of confession. My mind had
scarcely attained the first climacteric, when I had the full benefit
of absolution for such sins as my good mother, who acted as the
accusing conscience, could discover in my _naughtiness_. The church,
we know, cannot be wrong; but to say the honest truth, all her pious
contrivances have, by a sad fatality, produced in me just the reverse
of their aim. Though the clergyman who was to shrive this young
sinner had mild, gentle, and affectionate manners, there is something
in auricular confession which has revolted my feelings from the day
when I first knelt before a priest, in childish simplicity, to the
last time I have been forced to repeat that ceremony, as a protection
to my life and liberty, with scorn and contempt in my heart.

“Auricular confession, as a subject of theological controversy, is,
probably, beneath the notice of many; but I could not easily allow
the name of philosopher to any one who should look upon an inquiry
into the moral influence of that religious practice, as perfectly
void of interest. It has been observed, with great truth, that the
most philanthropic man would feel more uneasiness in the expectation
of having his little finger cut off, than in the assurance that
the whole empire of China was to be swallowed up the next day by
an earthquake. If ever, therefore, these lines should meet the eye
of the public in some distant country (for ages must pass before
they can see the light in Spain), I entreat my readers to beware of
indifference about evils from which it is their happiness to be free,
and to make a due allowance for the feelings which lead me into a
short digression. They certainly cannot expect to be acquainted with
Spain without a sufficient knowledge of the powerful moral engines
which are at work in that country; and they will, perhaps, find that
a Spanish priest may have something to say which is new to them on
the subject of confession.

“The effects of confession upon young minds are, generally,
unfavourable to their future peace and virtue. It was to that
practice I owed the first taste of remorse, while yet my soul was in
a state of infant purity. My fancy had been strongly impressed with
the awful conditions of the penitential law, and the word _sacrilege_
had made me shudder on being told that the act of concealing any
thought or action, the rightfulness of which I suspected, would make
me guilty of that worst of crimes, and greatly increase my danger
of everlasting torments. My parents had, in this case, done no more
than their duty, according to the rules of their church. But, though
they had succeeded in rousing my fear of hell, this was, on the other
hand, too feeble to overcome a childish bashfulness, which made the
disclosure of a harmless trifle, an effort above my strength.

“The appointed day came at last, when I was to wait on the confessor.
Now wavering, now determined not to be guilty of sacrilege, I knelt
before the priest, leaving, however, in my list of sins, the last
place to the hideous offence--I believe it was a petty larceny
committed on a young bird. But, when I came to the dreaded point,
shame and confusion fell upon me, and the accusation stuck in my
throat. The imaginary guilt of this silence haunted my mind for four
years, gathering horrors at every successive confession, and rising
into an appalling spectre, when, at the age of twelve, I was taken
to receive the sacrament. In this miserable state I continued till,
with the advance of reason, I plucked, at fourteen, courage enough
to unburthen my conscience by a general confession of the past. And
let it not be supposed that mine is a singular case, arising either
from morbid feeling or the nature of my early education. Few, indeed,
among the many penitents I have examined, have escaped the evils
of a similar state; for, what a silly bashfulness does in children,
is often, in after-life, the immediate effect of that shame by
which fallen frailty clings still to wounded virtue. The necessity
of confession, seen at a distance, is lighter than a feather in
the balance of desire; while, at a subsequent period, it becomes
a punishment on delicacy--an instrument to blunt the moral sense,
by multiplying the subjects of remorse, and directing its greatest
terrors against imaginary crimes.

“These evils affect, nearly equally, the two sexes; but there are
some that fall peculiarly to the lot of the softer. Yet the remotest
of all--at least, as long as the Inquisition shall exist--is the
danger of direct seduction by the priest. The formidable powers
of that odious tribunal have been so skilfully arrayed against
the abuse of sacramental trust, that few are found base and blind
enough to make the confessional a _direct_ instrument of debauch.
The strictest delicacy, however, is, I believe, inadequate fully to
oppose the demoralizing tendency of auricular confession. Without the
slightest responsibility, and, not unfrequently, in the conscientious
discharge of what he believes his duty, the confessor conveys to
the female mind the first foul breath which dims its virgin purity.
He, undoubtedly, has a right to interrogate upon subjects which are
justly deemed awkward even for maternal confidence; and it would
require more than common simplicity to suppose that a discretionary
power of this nature, left in the hands of thousands--men beset with
more than common temptations to abuse it--will generally be exercised
with proper caution. But I will no longer dwell upon this subject for
the present. Men of unprejudiced minds will easily conjecture what I
leave unsaid; while to shew a hope of convincing such as have made a
full and irrevocable surrender of their judgment, were only to libel
my own.

“From the peculiar circumstances of my country, the training of my
mental faculties was an object of little interest with my parents.
There could be scarcely any doubt in the choice of a line of life
for me; who was the eldest of four children. My father’s fortune was
improving; and I might help and succeed him with advantage to myself
and two sisters. It was, therefore, in my father’s counting-house,
that, under the care of an old trusty clerk, I learned writing and
arithmetic. To be a perfect stranger to literature is not, even now,
a disgrace among the better class of Spaniards. But my mother, whose
pride, though greatly subdued, was never conquered by devotion,
felt anxious that, since, from prudential motives, I was doomed to
be buried for life in a counting-house, a little knowledge of Latin
should distinguish me from a mere mercantile drudge. A private
teacher was accordingly procured, who read with me in the evening,
after I had spent the best part of the day in making copies of the
extensive correspondence of the house.

“I was now about ten years old, and though, from a child, excessively
fond of reading, my acquaintance with books did not extend beyond a
history of the Old Testament--a collection of the Lives of the Saints
mentioned in the Catholic Almanack, out of which I chose the Martyrs,
for modern saints were never to my taste--a little work that gave
an amusing miracle of the Virgin for every day of the year[10]--and
prized above all, a Spanish translation of Fenelon’s Telemachus,
which I perused till I had nearly learned it by heart. I heard,
therefore, with uncommon pleasure, that, in acquiring a knowledge of
Latin, I should have to read stories not unlike that of my favourite
the Prince of Ithaca. Little time, however, was allowed me for study,
lest, from my love of learning, I should conceive a dislike to
mercantile pursuits. But my mind had taken a decided bent. I hated
the counting-house, and loved my books. Learning and the church were,
to me, inseparable ideas; and I soon declared to my mother that I
would be nothing but a clergyman.

  [10] See Note C.

“This declaration roused the strongest prejudices of her mind and
heart, which cold prudence had only damped into acquiescence. To have
a son who shall daily hold in his hands the real body of Christ, is
an honour, a happiness which raises the humblest Spanish woman into
a self-complacent consequence that attends her through life. What,
then, must be the feelings of one who, to the strongest sense of
devotion, joins the hope of seeing the dignities and emoluments of
a rich and proud Church bestowed upon a darling child? The Church,
besides, by the law of celibacy, averts that mighty terror of a
fond mother--a wife, who, sooner or later, is to draw away her
child from home. A boy, therefore, who at the age of ten or twelve,
dazzled either by the gaudy dress of an officiating priest--by the
importance he sees others acquire, when the bishop confers upon
them the clerical tonsure--or by any other delusion of childhood,
declares his intention of taking orders, seldom, very seldom escapes
the heavy chain which the Church artfully hides under the tinsel of
honours, and the less flimsy, though also less attainable splendour
of her gold. Such a boy, among the poor, is infallibly plunged into
a convent; if he belongs to the gentry, he is destined to swell the
ranks of the secular clergy.

“It is true that, in all ages and countries, the leading events
of human life are inseparably linked with some of the slightest
incidents of childhood. But this fact, instead of an apology, affords
the heaviest charge against the crafty and barbarous system of laying
snares, wherein unsuspecting innocence may, at the very entrance of
life, lose every chance of future peace, happiness and virtue. To
allow a girl of sixteen to bind herself, for ever, with vows--not
only under the awful, though distant guardianship of heaven, but the
odious and immediate superintendence of man--ranks, indeed, with
the most hideous abuses of superstition. The law of celibacy, it is
true, does not bind the secular clergy till the age of twenty-one;
but this is neither more nor less than a mockery of common sense,
in the eyes of those who practically know how frivolous is that
latitude.[11] A man has seldom the means to embrace, or the aptitude
to exercise a profession for which he has not been trained from
early youth. It is absurd and cruel to pretend that a young man,
whose best ten or twelve years have been spent in preparation for
orders, is at full liberty to turn his back upon the Church when he
has arrived at one-and-twenty. He may, indeed, preserve his liberty;
but to do so he must forget that most of his patrimony has been laid
out on his education, that he is too old for a cadetship in the
army, too poor for commerce, and too proud for a petty trade. He
must behold, unmoved, the tears of his parents; and, casting about
for subsistence, in a country where industry affords no resource,
love, the main cause of these struggles, must content itself with
bare possible lawfulness, and bid adieu to the hope of possession.
Wherever unnatural privations make not a part of the clerical duty,
many may find themselves in the Church who might be better elsewhere.
But no great effort is wanted to make them happy in themselves, and
useful to the community. Not so under the unfeeling tyranny of our
ecclesiastical law. For, where shall we find that virtue which,
having Nature herself for its enemy, and misery for its meed, will
be able to extend its care to the welfare of others?--As to myself,
the tenour and colour of my life were fixed the moment I expressed my
childish wish of being a clergyman. The love of knowledge, however,
which betrayed me into the path of wretchedness, has never forsaken
its victim. It is probable that I could not have found happiness in
uneducated ignorance. Scanty and truly hard-earned as it is the store
on which my mind feeds itself, I would not part with it for a whole
life of unthinking pleasure: and since the necessity of circumstances
left me no path to mental enjoyment, except that I have so painfully
trodden, I hail the moment when I entered it, and only bewail the
fatality which fixed my birth in a Catholic country.

  [11] The secular clergy are not bound by vows. Celibacy is
  enforced upon them by a law which makes their marriage illegal,
  and punishable by the Ecclesiastical Courts.

“The order of events would here require an account of the system of
Spanish education, and its first effects upon my mind; but, since I
speak of myself only to shew the state of my country, I shall proceed
with the moral influence, that, without interruption, I may present
the facts relating severally to the heart and intellect, in as large
masses as the subject permits.

“The Jesuits, till the abolition of that order, had an almost
unrivalled influence over the better classes of Spaniards. They had
nearly monopolized the instruction of the Spanish youth, at which
they toiled without pecuniary reward; and were equally zealous in
promoting devotional feelings both among their pupils and the people
at large. It is well known that the most accurate division of labour
was observed in the allotment of their various employments. Their
candidates, who, by a refinement of ecclesiastical policy, after an
unusually long probation, were bound by vows, which, depriving them
of liberty, yet left a discretionary power of ejection in the order;
were incessantly watched by the penetrating eye of the master of
novices: a minute description of their character and peculiar turn
was forwarded to the superiors, and at the end of the noviciate,
they were employed to the advantage of the community, without ever
thwarting the natural bent of the individual, or diverting his
natural powers by a multiplicity of employments. Wherever, as in
France and Italy, literature was in high estimation, the Jesuits
spared no trouble to raise among themselves men of eminence in
that department. In Spain, their chief aim was to provide their
houses with popular preachers, and zealous, yet prudent and gentle,
confessors. Pascal, and the Jansenist party, of which he was the
organ, accused them of systematic laxity in their moral doctrines:
but the charge, I believe, though plausible in theory, was perfectly
groundless in practice. If, indeed, ascetic virtue could ever be
divested of its connatural evil tendency--if a system of moral
perfection that has for its basis, however disavowed and disguised,
the Manichæan doctrine of the two principles, could be applied with
any partial advantage as a rule of conduct, it was so in the hands
of the Jesuits. The strict, unbending maxims of the Jansenists, by
urging persons of all characters and tempers to an imaginary goal
of perfection, bring quickly their whole system to the decision of
experience. They are like those enthusiasts who, venturing upon the
practice of some Gospel sayings, in the literal sense, have made
the absurdity of that interpretation as clear as noon-day light. A
greater knowledge of mankind made the Jesuits more cautious in the
culture of devotional feelings. They well knew that but few can
prudently engage in open hostility with what in ascetic language is
called the world. They now and then trained up a sturdy champion,
who, like their founder Loyóla, might provoke the enemy to single
combat with honour to his leaders; but the crowd of mystic combatants
were made to stand upon a kind of jealous truce, which, in spite of
all care, often produced some jovial meetings of the advanced parties
on both sides. The good fathers came forward, rebuked their soldiers
back into the camp, and filled up the place of deserters by their
indefatigable industry in engaging recruits.

“The influence of the Jesuits on the Spanish morals, from every
thing I have learned, was undoubtedly favourable. Their kindness
attracted the youth from the schools to their company: and, though
this intimacy was often employed in making proselytes to the order,
it also contributed to the preservation of virtue in that slippery
age, both by the ties of affection, and the gentle check of example.
Their churches were crowded every Sunday with regular attendants,
who came to confess and receive the sacrament. The practice of
choosing a certain priest, not only to be the occasional confessor,
but _director of the conscience_, was greatly encouraged by the
Jesuits. The ultimate effects of this surrender of the judgment are,
indeed, dangerous and degrading; but, in a country where the darkest
superstition is constantly impelling the mind into the opposite
extremes of religious melancholy and profligacy, weak persons are
sometimes preserved from either by the friendly assistance of a
prudent _director_; and the Jesuits were generally well qualified for
that office. Their conduct was correct, and their manners refined.
They kept up a dignified intercourse with the middling and higher
classes, and were always ready to help and instruct the poor, without
descending to their level. Since the expulsion of the Jesuits, the
better classes, for the most part, avoid the company of monks and
friars, except in an official capacity; while the lower ranks, from
which these professional saints are generally taken, and where they
re-appear, raised, indeed, into comparative importance, but grown
bolder in grossness and vice, suffer more from their influence than
they would by being left without any religious ministers.[12]

  [12] See note D.

“Since the abolition of the Jesuits, their devotional system has been
kept up, though upon a much narrower scale, by the congregations
of Saint Philip Neri (_l’Oratoire_, in France), an Italian of the
sixteenth century, who established voluntary associations of secular
clergymen, living together under an easy rule, but without monastic
vows, in order to devote themselves to the support of piety. The
number, however, of these associated priests is so small, that,
notwithstanding their zeal and their studied imitation of the
Jesuits, they are but a faint shadow of that surprising institution.
Yet these priests alone have inherited the skill of Loyóla’s
followers in the management of the ascetic contrivance, which,
invented by that ardent fanatic, is still called, from his Christian
name, _Exercises of Saint Ignatius_. As it would be impossible
to sketch the history of my mind and heart without noticing the
influence of that powerful engine, I cannot omit a description of
the establishment kept by the _Philippians_ at Seville--the most
complete of its kind that probably has ever existed.

“The _Exercises of Saint Ignatius_ are a series of meditations on
various religious subjects, so artificially disposed, that the mind
being at first thrown into distressing horror, may be gradually
raised to hope, and finally soothed, not into a certainty of Divine
favour, but a timid consciousness of pardon. Ten consecutive days
are passed in perfect abstraction from all wordly pursuits. The
persons who submit to this spiritual discipline, leave their homes
for rooms allotted to them in the religious house where the Exercises
are to be performed, and yield themselves up to the direction of the
president. The priest, who for nearly thirty years has been acting in
that capacity at Seville, enjoys such influence over the wealthy part
of the town, that, not satisfied with the temporary accommodation
which his convent afforded to the pious guests, he can now lodge
the Exercitants in a separate building, with a chapel annexed,
and every requisite for complete abstraction, during the days of
their retirement. Six or eight times in the year the Exercises
are performed by different sets of fifty persons each. The utmost
precision and regularity are observed in the distribution of their
time. Roused by a large bell at five in the morning, they immediately
assemble in the chapel to begin the meditation appointed for the
day. At their meals they observe a deep silence; and no intercourse,
even among each other, is permitted, except during one hour in
the evening. The settled gloom of the house, the almost incessant
reading and meditation upon subjects which, from their vagueness
and infinitude, harass and bewilder the fancy, and that powerful
sympathetic influence, which affects assemblies where all are intent
on the same object and bent on similar feelings, render this house a
modern cave of Trophonius, within whose dark cells cheerfulness is
often extinguished for ever.

“Unskilful, indeed, must be the hand that, possessed of this engine,
can fail to subdue the stoutest mind in which there lurks a particle
of superstitious fear. But Father Vega is one of those men who are
born to command a large portion of their fellow creatures, either by
the usual means, or some contrivance of their own. The expulsion of
the Jesuits during his probationship in that order, denied him the
ample field on which his early views had been fixed. After a course
of theological studies at the University, he became a member of the
_Oratorio_, and soon attracted the notice of the whole town by his
preaching. His active and bold mind combines qualities seldom found
in the same individual. Clear-headed, resolute, and ambitious, the
superstitious feelings which melt him into tears whenever he performs
the Mass, have not in the least impaired the mental daringness he
originally owes to nature. Though seldom mixing in society, he is a
perfect man of the world. Far from compromising his lofty claims
to respect, he flatters the proudest nobles of his spiritual train
by well-timed bursts of affected rudeness, which, being a mere
display of spiritual authority, perfectly consistent with a full
acknowledgment of their worldly rank and dignity, give them, in the
eyes of the more humble bystanders, the additional merit of Christian
condescension. As an instance of this, I recollect his ordering the
Marquis del Pedroso, one of the haughtiest men in this town, to
fetch up-stairs from the chapel, a heavy gold frame set with jewels,
in which the Host is exhibited, for the inspection of the company
during the hour of recreation allowed in the Exercises. No man
ever shewed such assurance and consciousness of Heaven’s delegated
authority as Father Vega, in the Confessional. He reads the heart of
his penitent--impresses the mind with the uselessness of disguise,
and relieves shame by a strong feeling that he has anticipated
disclosure. In preaching, his vehemence rivets the mind of the
hearers; a wild luxuriance of style engages them with perpetual
variety; expectation is kept alive by the remembered flashes of
his wit; while the homely, and even coarse, expressions he allows
himself, when he feels the whole audience already in his power, give
him that air of superiority which seems to set no bounds to the
freedom of manner.

“It is however, in his private chapel that Father Vega has prepared
the grand scene of his triumphs over the hearts of his audience.
Twice every day, during the Exercises, he kneels for the space of
one hour, surrounded by his congregation. Day-light is excluded, and
a candle is so disposed in a shade that, without breaking the gloom
of the chapel, it shines on a full-length sculpture of Christ nailed
to the Cross, who, with a countenance where exquisite suffering is
blended with the most lovely patience, seems to be on the point
of moving his lips to say--“Father, forgive them!” The mind is at
first allowed to dwell, in the deepest silence, on the images and
sentiments with which previous reading has furnished it, till the
Director, warmed with meditation, breaks forth in an impressive
voice, not, however, addressing himself to his hearers, from whom
he appears completely abstracted, but pouring out his heart in
the presence of the Deity. Silence ensues after a few sentences,
and not many minutes elapse without a fresh ejaculation. But the
fire gradually kindles into a flame. The addresses grow longer and
more impassioned; his voice, choked with sobs and tears, struggles
painfully for utterance, till the stoutest hearts are forced to yield
to the impression, and the chapel resounds with sighs and groans.

“I cannot but shudder at the recollection that my mind was made to
undergo such an ordeal at the age of fifteen; for it is a custom
of the diocese of Seville to prepare the candidates for orders
by the Exercises of Saint Ignatius; and even those who are to be
incorporated with the clergy by the ceremony of the _First Tonsure_,
are not easily spared this trial. I was grown up a timid, docile,
yet ardent boy. My soul, as I have already mentioned, had been early
made to taste the bitterness of remorse, and I now eagerly embraced
the offer of those expiatory rites which, as I fondly thought, were
to restore lost innocence, and keep me for ever in the straight path
of virtue. The shock, however, which my spirits felt, might have
unnerved me for life, and reduced my faculties to a state little
short of imbecility, had I not received from nature, probably as a
compensation for a too soft and yielding heart, an understanding
which was born a rebel. Yet, I cannot tell whether it was my heart
or my head, that, in spite of a frighted fancy, endued me with
resolution to baffle the blind zeal of my confessor, when, finding,
during these Exercises, that I knew the existence of a prohibited
book in the possession of a student of divinity, who, out of mere
good nature, assisted my early studies; he commanded me to accuse
my friend before the Inquisition. Often have I been betrayed into a
wrong course of thinking, by a desire to assimilate myself to those I
loved, and thus enjoy that interchange of sentiment which forms the
luxury of friendship. But even the chains of love, the strongest I
know within the range of nature, could never hold me, the moment I
conceived that error had bound them. This, however, brings me to the
history of my mind.

“An innate love of truth, which shewed itself on the first
developement of my reason, and a consequent perseverance in the
pursuit of it to the extent of my knowledge, that has attended me
through life, saved me from sinking into the dregs of Aristotelic
philosophy, which, though discountenanced by the Spanish government,
are still collected in a few filthy pools, fed by the constant
exertions of the Dominicans. Unfortunately for me, these monks have
a richly endowed college at Seville, where they give lectures on
Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, to a few young men whom they recruit
at the expense of flattering their parents. My father’s confessor
was a Dominican, and he marked me for a divine of his own school.
My mother, whose heart was with the Jesuits, would fain have sent
me to the University, where the last remnant of their pupils
still held the principal chairs. But she was informed by the wily
monk, that _heresy_ had began to creep among the new professors
of philosophy--heresy of such a horrible tendency, that it nearly
amounted to polytheism. The evidence on which this charge was
grounded, seemed, indeed, irresistible; for you had only to open the
second volume of one Altieri, a Neapolitan friar, whose Elements
of philosophy are still used as a class-book at the University of
Seville, and you would find, in the first pages, that he makes
_space_ uncreated, infinite, and imperishable. From such premises the
consequence was evident; the new philosophers were clearly setting up
a rival deity.

“With the usual preparation of a little Latin, but in absolute want
of all elementary instruction, I was sent to begin a course of logic
at the Dominican college. My desire of learning was great indeed; but
the _Categoriæ ad mentem Divi Thomæ Aquinatis_, in a large quarto
volume, were unsavoury food for my mind, and, after a few vain
efforts to conquer my aversion, I ended in never opening the dismal
book. Yet, untrained as I was to reading, books were necessary to
my happiness. In any other country I should have met with a variety
of works, which, furnishing my mind with facts and observations,
might have led me into some useful or agreeable pursuit. But in
Spain, the chances of lighting on a good book are so few, that I must
reckon my acquaintance with one that could open my mind, among the
fortunate events of my life. A near relation of mine, a lady, whose
education had been superior to that commonly bestowed on Spanish
females, possessed a small collection of Spanish and French books.
Among these were the works of Don Fray Benito Feyjoo, a Benedictine
monk, who, rising above the intellectual level of his country, about
the beginning of the present (18th) century, had the boldness to
attack every established error which was not under the immediate
patronage of religion. His mind was endowed with extraordinary
clearness and acuteness; and having, by an extensive reading of Latin
and French works, acquired a great mass of information on physical
and historical subjects, he displayed it, with peculiar felicity of
expression, in a long series of discourses and letters, forming a
work of fourteen large closely printed volumes.[13]

  [13] Feyjoo died in 1765. Several of his Essays were published in
  English by John Brett, Esq. 1780.

“It was not without difficulty that I obtained leave to try whether
my mind, which had hitherto lain a perfect waste, was strong enough
to understand and relish Feyjoo. But the contents of his pages came
like the spring showers upon a thirsty soil. A man’s opinion of the
first work he read when a boy, cannot safely be trusted; but, to
judge from the avidity with which at the age of fifteen I devoured
fourteen volumes on miscellaneous subjects, and the surprising
impulse they gave to my yet unfolded faculties, Feyjoo must be a
writer who deserves more notice than he has ever obtained from his
countrymen. If I can trust my recollection, he had deeply imbibed
the spirit of Lord Bacon’s works, together with his utter contempt
of the absurd philosophy which has been universally taught in Spain,
till the last third of the eighteenth century. From Bayle, Feyjoo had
learned caution in weighing historical evidence, and an habitual
suspicion of the numberless opinions which, in countries unpurified
by the wholesome gales of free contending thought, are allowed to
range unmolested, for ages, with the same claim to the rights of
prescription as frogs and insects have to their stagnant pools. In
a pleasing and popular style, Feyjoo acquainted his countrymen with
whatever discoveries in experimental philosophy had been made by
Boyle at that time. He declared open war against quackery of all
kinds. Miracles and visions which had not received the sanction of
the Church of Rome did not escape the scrutinizing eye of the bold
Benedictine. Such, in fact, was the alarm produced by his works
on the all-believing race for whom he wrote, that nothing but the
patronage of Ferdinand VI. prevented his being silenced with the
_ultima ratio_ of Spanish divines--the Inquisition.

“Had the power of Aladdin’s lamp placed me within the richest
subterraneous palace described in the Arabian Nights, it could not
have produced the raptures I experienced from the intellectual
treasure of which I now imagined myself the master. Physical strength
developes itself so gradually, that few, I am inclined to think,
derive pleasure from a sudden start of bodily vigour. But my mind,
like a young bird in the nest, had lived unconscious of its wings,
till this unexpected leader had, by his boldness, allured it into
flight. From a state of mere animal life, I found myself at once
possessed of the faculty of thinking; and I can scarcely conceive,
that the soul, emerging after death into a higher rank of existence,
shall feel and try its new powers with a keener delight. My
knowledge, it is true, was confined to a few physical and historical
facts; but I had, all at once, learned to reason, to argue, to
doubt. To the surprise and alarm of my good relatives, I had been
changed within a few weeks, into a sceptic who, without questioning
religious subjects, would not allow any one of their settled notions
to pass for its current value. My mother, with her usual penetration,
perceived the new tendency of my mind, and thanked Heaven, in my
presence, that Spain was my native country; ‘else,’ she said, ‘he
would soon quit the pale of the church.’

“The main advantage, however, which I owed to my new powers, was a
speedy emancipation from the Aristotelic school of the Dominicans.
I had, sometimes, dipped into the second volume of their Elements
of Philosophy, and had found, to my utter dismay, that they denied
the existence of a _vacuum_--one of my then favourite doctrines--and
attributed the ascent of liquids by suction, to the horror of nature
at being wounded and torn. Now, it so happened that Feyjoo had given
me the clearest notions on the theory of the sucking-pump, and the
relative gravity of air and water. Nothing, therefore, could equal my
contempt of those monks, who still contended for the whole system of
sympathies and antipathies. A reprimand from the reverend Professor
of Logic, for my utter inattention to his lectures, sprung, at
length, the mine which, charged with the first scraps of learning,
and brimful of boyish conceit, had long been ready to explode.

“Had the friar remonstrated with me in private, my habitual timidity
would have sealed up my lips. But he rated me before the whole class,
and my indignation fired up at such an indignity. Rising from my seat
with a courage so new to me that it seemed to be inspired, I boldly
declared my determination not to burden and pervert my mind with the
absurdities that were taught in their schools. Being asked, with a
sarcastic smile, which were the doctrines that had thus incurred
my disapprobation, I visibly surprised the Professor--no bright
genius himself--with the theory of the sucking-pump, and actually
nonplus’d him on the mighty question of _vacuum_. To be thus bearded
by a stripling, was more than his professional humility could bear.
He bade me thank my family for not being that moment turned out of
the lecture-room; assuring me, however, that my father should be
acquainted with my impertinence in the course of that day. Yet I
must do justice to his good-nature and moderation in checking the
students, who wished to serve me, like Sancho, with a blanketing.

“Before the threatened message could reach my father, I had, with
great rhetorical skill, engaged maternal pride and fear, in my
favour. In what colours the friar may have painted my impudence,
I neither learned nor cared: for my mother, whose dislike of the
Dominicans, as the enemies of the Jesuits, had been roused by the
public reprimand of the Professor, took the whole matter into her
hands, and before the end of the week, I heard, with raptures, that
my name was to be entered at the University.

“Having thus luckily obtained the object of my wishes, I soon
retrieved my character for industry, and received the public thanks
of my new Professor. What might have been my progress under a better
system than that of a Spanish university, vanity will probably not
allow me to judge with fairness. I will, therefore, content myself
with laying a sketch of that system before the reader.

“The Spanish universities had continued in a state worthy of the
thirteenth century till the year 1770, when the Marquis of Roda, a
favourite minister of Charles III., gave them an amended plan of
studies, which though far below the level of knowledge over the rest
of Europe, seems at least to recognise the progress of the human
mind since the revival of letters. The present plan forbids the
study of the Aristotelic philosophy, and attempts the introduction
of the inductive system of Bacon; but is shamefully deficient, in
the department of literature. Three years successive attendance in
the schools of logic, natural philosophy, and metaphysics, is the
only requisite for a master’s degree; and, though the examinations
are both long and severe, few of the Spanish universities have yet
altered the old statute which obliges the candidates to draw their
Theses from Aristotle’s logic and physics, and to deliver a long
discourse upon one chapter of each; thus leaving their daily lectures
perfectly at variance with the final examinations. Besides these
preparatory schools, every university has three or four professors
of divinity, as many of civil and canon law, and seldom less of
medicine. The students are not required to live in colleges. There
are, however, establishments of this kind for undergraduates; but
being, for the most part, intended for a limited number of poor boys,
they make no part of the Academic system. Yet some of these colleges
have, by a strange combination of circumstances, risen to such a
height of splendour and influence, that I must digress into a short
sketch of their history.

“The original division of Spanish colleges into _minor_ and _major_,
arose from the branches of learning for which they were intended.
Grammar and rhetoric alone were taught in the first; divinity, law,
and medicine, in the last. Most of the _Colegios Mayores_ were, by
papal bulls and royal decrees, erected into _universities_, where,
besides the fellows, students might repair daily to hear the public
lectures, and finally take their degrees. Thus the university of
this town (Seville) was, till lately, attached to this college, the
rector or head of which elected annually by the fellows, was, by
virtue of his office, rector of the university. This, and the great
colleges of Castille, enjoying similar privileges, but far exceeding
ours in wealth and influence, formed the literary aristocracy of
Spain. Though the statutes gave no exclusion to plebeians, the
circumstances required in the candidates for fellowships, together
with the _esprit de corps_ which actuated the electors, confined such
places to the _noblesse_. Anxious to increase their influence, none
of the six great colleges of Spain could ever be induced to elect
any one who was not connected with some of the best families. This,
however, was but a prudential step, to avoid the public disgrace to
which the _pruebas_, or interrogatories relative to _blood_, might
otherwise expose the candidates. One of the fellows was, and is still
at Seville, according to the statutes, to repair to the birth-place
of the parents of the elected member, as well as to those of his
two grandfathers and grandmothers--except when any of them is a
foreigner, a circumstance which prevents the journey, though not
the inquiry--in order to examine upon oath, from fifteen to thirty
witnesses at each place. These, either from their own knowledge,
or the current report of the town, must swear that the ancestor in
question never was a menial servant, a shopkeeper or petty tradesman;
a mechanic; had neither himself, nor any of his relations, been
punished by the Inquisition, nor was descended from Jews, Moors,
Africans, Indians, or Guanchos, _i. e._ the aborigines of the Canary
Islands. It is evident that none but the hereditary gentry could
expose themselves to this ordeal: and as the pride of the reporter,
together with the character of his college, were highly interested
in the purity of blood of every member, no room was left for the
evasions commonly resorted to for the admission of knights in the
military orders.

“Thus, in the course of years, the six great colleges[14] could
command the influence of the first Spanish families all over the
kingdom. It was, besides, a point of honour among such as had
obtained a fellowship, never to desert the interest of their college:
and, as every cathedral in Spain has three canonries, which must be
obtained by a literary competition, of which the canons themselves
are the judges, wherever a _Colegial Mayor_ had obtained a stall,
he was able to secure a strong party to any one of his college who
should offer himself as a champion at those literary jousts. The
chapters, on the other hand, were generally inclined to strengthen
their own importance by the accession of people of rank, leaving poor
and unknown scholars to grovel in their native obscurity. No place of
honour in the church and law was left unoccupied by the _collegians_:
and even the distribution which those powerful bodies made of their
members--as if not only all the best offices and situations, but
even a choice of them, were in their hands--was no secret to the
country at large. Fellows in orders, who possessed abilities, were
kept in reserve for the literary _competitions_. Such as could not
appear to advantage at those public trials were, by means of court
favour, provided for with stalls in the wealthiest cathedrals. The
absolutely dull and ignorant were made _inquisitors_, who, passing
judgment in their secret halls, could not disgrace the college by
their blunders. Medicine not being in honour, there were no fellows
of that profession. The lay members of the major colleges belonged
exclusively to the law, but they would never quit their fellowships
except for a place among the judges. Even in the present low ebb of
collegiate influence, the College of Seville would disown any of the
fellows who should act as a mere advocate.

  [14] There exist in Spain some other colleges which are also
  called _mayores_; but none, except four at Salamanca, one at
  Valladolid, and one at Seville, were reckoned as a part of the
  literary aristocracy of the country. None but these had the
  privilege of referring all their interests and concerns to a
  committee of the supreme council of the nation, expressly named
  for that purpose.

“While the colleges were still at the height of their power, a young
lawyer offered himself for one of the fellowships at Salamanca,
and was disdainfully rejected for want of sufficient proofs of
_noblesse_. By an extraordinary combination of circumstances, the
offended candidate rose to be prime minister of state, under Charles
III., with the title of Marquis of Roda. The extraordinary success
he had met with in public life, could not, however, heal the wound
his pride had received in his youth. But, besides the inducement of
his private feelings, he seems to have been an enemy to all influence
which was not exerted by the king and his ministers. Two powerful
bodies, the Jesuits and the colleges, engrossed so forcibly, and,
I may say, painfully, his attention, that it was wittily observed,
‘that the spectacles he wore had painted glasses, one representing a
Jesuit, the other a collegian’--and thus allowed him to see nothing
else. The destruction to which he had doomed them was, at length,
accomplished by his means. His main triumph was, indeed, over the
Jesuits: yet his success against the colleges, though certainly less
splendid, was the more gratifying to his personal feelings. The
method he employed in the downfall of the last is not unworthy of
notice, both for its perfect simplicity, and the light it throws upon
the state and character of the country. Having the whole patronage
of the Crown in his hands, he placed, within a short time, all the
existing members of the Salamanca colleges, in the most desirable
situations both of the church and law, filling their vacancies with
young men of no family. Thus the bond of collegiate influence was
suddenly snapped asunder: the old members disowned their successors;
and such as a few days before looked upon a fellowship as an object
of ambition, would have felt mortified at the sight of a relative
wearing the gown of a _reformed_ college. The _Colegio Mayor_ of
Seville was attacked by other means. Without enforcing the admission
of the unprivileged classes, the minister, by an arbitrary order,
deprived it of its right to confer degrees. The convocation of
doctors and masters was empowered to elect their own rector, and
name professors for the schools, which were subsequently opened to
the public in one of the deserted houses that had belonged to the
Jesuits. Such is the origin of the university where I received my
education.

“Slight, however, are the advantages which a young mind can derive
from academical studies in Spain. To expect a rational system of
education where the Inquisition is constantly on the watch to keep
the human mind within the boundaries which the Church of Rome, with
her host of divines, has set to its progress; would shew a perfect
ignorance of the character of our religion. Thanks to the league
between our church and state, the Catholic divines have nearly
succeeded in keeping down knowledge to their own level. Even such
branches of science as seem least connected with religion, cannot
escape the theological rod; and the spirit which made Galileo
recant upon his knees his discoveries in astronomy, still compels
our professors to teach the Copernican system as an hypothesis.
The truth is that, with Catholic divines, no one pursuit of the
human mind is independent of religion. Since the first appearance
of Christianity, its doctrines have ever been blended with the
philosophical views of their teachers. The scriptures themselves,
invaluable as they are in forming the moral character, frequently
touch, by incident, upon subjects unconnected with their main
object, and treat of nature and civil society according to the
notions of a rude people in a very primitive period. Hence the
encroachments of divines upon every branch of human knowledge,
which are still supported by the hand of power in a great part of
Europe, but in none so outrageously as in Spain. Astronomy must
ask the inquisitors’ leave to see with her own eyes. Geography was
long compelled to shrink before them. Divines were made the judges
of Columbus’s plans of discovery, as well as to allot a species to
the Americans. A spectre monk haunts the Geologist in the lowest
cavities of the earth; and one of flesh and blood watches the steps
of the philosopher on its surface. Anatomy is suspected, and watched
closely, whenever she takes up the scalpel; and Medicine had many
a pang to endure while endeavouring to expunge the use of bark and
inoculation from the catalogue of mortal sins. You must not only
believe what the Inquisition believes, but yield implicit faith
to the theories and explanations of her divines. To acknowlege
on the authority of Revelation, that mankind will rise from their
graves, is not sufficient to protect the unfortunate Metaphysician,
who should deny that man is a compound of two substances, one of
which is naturally immortal. It was long a great obstacle to the
rejection of the Aristotelic philosophy, that the _substantial
forms_ of the schools were found an exceedingly convenient veil for
the invisible work of _transubstantiation_; for our good divines
shrewdly suspected, that if colour, taste, smell, and all the other
properties of bodies were allowed to be mere _accidents_--the bare
impressions on our sense of one variously modified substance--it
might be plausibly urged that, in the consecrated Host, the body of
Christ had been converted into bread, not the bread into that body.
But it would be endless and tedious to trace all the links, of which
the Inquisition has formed the chain that binds and weighs down the
human mind among us. Acquiescence in the voluminous and multifarious
creed of the Roman church is by no means sufficient for safety.
A man who closes his work with the O. S. C. S. R. E. (_Omnia sub
correctione Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ_) may yet rue the moment when he
took pen in hand. Heterodoxy may be easily avoided in writing; but
who can be sure that none of his periods _smacks of heresy_ (sapiens
hæresim)--none of his sentences are of that uncouth species which is
_apt to grate pious ears_ (piarum aurium offensivas)? Who then will
venture upon the path of knowledge, where it leads straight to the
Inquisition?[15]

  [15] ... Il s’est établi dans Madrid un systême de liberté sur la
  vente des productions, qui s’étend même à celles de la presse;
  et que, pourvu que je ne parle en mes écrits ni de l’autorité,
  ni du culte, ni de la politique, ni de la morale, ni des gens
  en place, ni des corps en crédit, ni de l’Opera, ni des autres
  spectacles, ni de personne qui tienne à quelque chose, je puis
  tout imprimer librement, sous l’inspection de deux ou trois
  censeurs.--_Marriage de Figaro, Act 5, Sc. 3_.

“Yet such is the energy of the human mind, when once acquainted
with its own powers, that the best organized system of intellectual
tyranny, though so far successful as to prevent Spanish talent from
bringing any fruit to maturity, fails most completely of checking its
activity. Could I but accurately draw the picture of an ingenuous
young mind struggling with the obstacles which Spanish education
opposes to improvement--the alarm at the springing suspicions of
being purposely betrayed into error--the superstitious fears that
check its first longings after liberty--the honest and ingenious
casuistry by which it encourages itself to leave the prescribed
path--the maiden joy and fear of the first transgression--the
rapidly-growing love of newly discovered truth, and consequent hatred
of its tyrants--the final despair and wild phrenzy that possess it on
finding its doom inevitable, on seeing with an appalling evidence,
that its best exertions are lost, that ignorance, bigotry, and
superstition claim and can enforce its homage--no plot of romance
would be read with more interest by such as are not indifferent to
the noblest concerns of mankind. As I cannot, however, present an
animated picture, I shall proceed with a statement of facts.

“An imperfect knowledge of logic and natural philosophy was all I
acquired at the university before I began the study of divinity;
and like most of my countrymen, I should have completed my studies
without so much as suspecting the existence of elegant literature,
had it not been for my acquaintance with an excellent young man, much
my senior at the university, who, by his own unassisted industry, had
made some progress in the study and imitation of the classics.[16]
To him I owed my first acquaintance with Spanish poetry, and my
earliest attempts at composition in my own language. My good fortune
led me, but a short time after, to a member of the _Colegio Mayor_
of this town--another self-improved man, whose extraordinary talents
having enabled him, at the age of nineteen, to cast a gleam of good
taste over the system of his own university of Osuna, made him
subsequently, at Seville, the centre of a small club of students.[17]
Through the influence of his genius, and the gratuitous assistance he
gave them in their studies, some of his private pupils rose so far
above the mass of their academical fellows, as to shew by the fair,
though scanty, produce of their minds, the rich promise which the
state of their country yearly blasts.

  [16] Don Manuel Maria del Marmol.

  [17] Don Manuel Maria de Arjona.

“In all the Spanish universities with which I am acquainted, I
have observed a similar struggle between enterprising genius and
constituted ignorance. Valencia, Granada, the college of San
Fulgencio at Murcia; Salamanca, above all, and Seville, the least
among them; have exhibited symptoms of rebellion, arising from
the undaunted ardour of some young members, who having opened for
themselves a path to knowledge, would, at some time or other, make
a desperate effort to allure the rising generation to follow their
steps. The boldest champions in this hopeless contest, have generally
started among the professors of moral philosophy. Government had
confined them to the puny Elements of Jacquier and Heinnecius; but a
mind once set on “the proper study of mankind,” must be weak indeed
not to extend its views beyond the limits prescribed by the ignorance
of a despot or his ministers. With alarm and consternation to the
_white-tasselled_ heads,[18] and thrilling hopes to their secret
enemies, connected series of Theses have of late appeared among us,
which, in spite of the studied caution of their language, betrayed
both their origin and tendency. Genuine offspring of the French
school, the very turn of their phrases gave strong indications of a
style formed in defiance of the Holy Inquisition. But these fits of
restless impatience have only secured the yoke they were intended
to loosen. I have visited Salamanca after the great defeat of the
philosophical party, the strongest that ever was formed in Spain. A
man of first-rate literary character among us,[19] whom merit and
court favour had raised to one of the chief seats in the judicature
of the country, but whom court caprice had, about this time, sent to
rusticate at Salamanca, was doing me the honours of the place, when,
approaching the convocation-hall of the university, we perceived the
members of the faculty of divinity strolling about, while waiting for
a meeting of their body. A runaway slave, still bearing the marks
of the lash on his return, could not have shrunk more instinctively
at the sight of the planters meeting at the council-room, than my
friend did at the view of the cowls, ‘white, black, and grey,’ which
partially hid the sleek faces of his offended masters. He had, it is
true, been lucky enough to escape the imprisonment and subsequent
penance in a monastery which was the sad lot of the chief of his
routed party; but he himself was still suspected and watched closely.
The rest of his friends, the flower of the university, had been kept
for three or four years, in constant fear of their personal liberty,
being often called before the secret tribunal to answer the most
captious interrogatories about themselves and their acquaintance, but
never put in possession of every count of the indictment. After this
and a few such examples, we have, at last, perceived the folly of
engaging in a desperate game, where no possible combination can, for
the present, give the dissenting party a single chance of success.

  [18] A coloured tassel on the cap is, in Spain, the peculiar
  distinction of doctors and masters. _White_, denotes divinity:
  green, canon law: crimson, civil law: yellow, medicine; and
  blue, arts, i. e. philosophy. Those caps are worn only on public
  occasions at the universities.

  [19] Melendez Valdez.

“French philosophy had not found its way to the university of
Seville, at the time when I was studying divinity. Even the knowledge
of the French language was a rare acquirement both among the
professors and their hearers. I have mentioned, at the beginning of
this sketch, that one of the few books which delighted my childhood
was a Spanish translation of Telemachus. A fortunate incident had
now thrown into my hands the original of my old favourite, and I
attempted to understand a few lines by comparing them with the
version. My success exceeded my hopes. Without either grammar or
dictionary, I could, in a few weeks, read on: guessing a great deal,
it is true, but visibly improving my knowledge of the idiom by
comparing the force of unknown words in different passages. An odd
volume of Racine’s tragedies was my next French book. Imperfectly as
I must have understood that tender and elegant poet, his plays gave
me so much pleasure, that by repeated readings I found myself able
to understand French poetry. It was about this time that I made my
invaluable acquaintance at our college. My friend had learned both
French and Italian in a similar manner with myself. He was acquainted
with one of the judges of our _Audiencia_, or provincial court of
judicature, a man of great literary celebrity,[20] who possessed a
very good library, from whence I was indulged with French books, as
well as Italian; for by a little ingenuity and the analogy of my own
language, I had also enabled myself to read the language of Petrarch.

  [20] Don Juan Pablo Forner.

“Hitherto I had never had courage enough to take a forbidden book in
my hands. The excommunication impending over me by the words _ipso
facto_, was indeed too terrific an object for my inexperienced mind.
Delighted with my newly acquired taste for poetry and eloquence, I
had never brooded over any religious doubts--or rather, sincerely
adhering to the Roman Catholic law, which makes the examination of
such doubts as great a crime as the denial of the article of belief
they affect, I had always shrunk with terror from every heterodox
suggestion. But my now intimate friend and guide had made canon law
his profession. Ecclesiastical history, in which he was deeply
versed, had, without weakening his Catholic principles, made him a
pupil of that school of canonists who, both in Germany and France,
having exposed the forgeries, by means of which papal power had made
itself paramount to every human authority, were but too visibly
disposed to a separation from Rome. My friend denied the existence
of any power in the Church to inflict excommunication, without a
declaratory sentence in consequence of the trial of the offender.
Upon the strength of this doctrine, he made me read the ‘Discourses
on Ecclesiastical History,’ by the Abbé Fleury--a work teeming with
invective against monks and friars, doubts on modern miracles, and
strictures on the virtues of modern saints. Eve’s heart, I confess,
when

    ----her rash hand in evil hour
    Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck’d, she ate,

could not have beaten more convulsively than mine, as I opened the
forbidden book. Vague fears and doubts haunted my conscience for many
days. But my friend, besides being a sound Catholic, was a devout
man. He had lately taken priest’s orders, and was now not only my
literary but my spiritual director. His abilities and his affection
to me had obtained a most perfect command over my mind, and it was
not long before I could match him in mental boldness, on points
unconnected with articles of faith.

“This was, indeed, the happiest period of my life. The greatest
part of my time, with the exception of that required for my daily
attendance at the dull lectures of the divinity professors, was
devoted to the French critics, André, Le Bossu, Batteux, Rollin, La
Harpe, and many others of less note. The habit of analyzing language
and ideas, which I acquired in the perusal of such works, soon led me
to some of the French metaphysicians, especially Condillac.

“It was the favourite amusement of myself and those constant
associates of my youth that formed the knot of friends, of whom
the often mentioned _Colegial Mayor_ was the centre and guide; to
examine all our feelings, in order to resolve them into some general
law, and trace them to their simple elements. This habit of analysis
and generalization extended itself to the customs and habits of the
country, and the daily incidents of life, till in the course of time
it produced in me the deceitful, though not uncommon notion, that
all knowledge is the result of developed principles, and gave me a
distaste for every book that was not cast into a regular theory.

“While I was thus amused and deceived by the activity of my mind,
without endeavouring to give it the weight and steadiness which
depends upon the knowledge of facts; Catholicism, with its ten
thousand rules and practices, was mechanically keeping up the
ill-contrived structure of devotion, which it had raised more in my
fancy than my heart. It had now to contend, however, with an enemy
whom nothing but fixed hope can keep within bounds--but religion had
left me no hope. Instead of engaging love on her side, she had forced
him into an inseparable league with immorality. I will not describe
the misery that embittered my youth, and destroyed the peace of my
maturer years--the struggles, perhaps the crimes, certainly the
remorse, that were in me the consequence of the barbarous laws of my
country. They are too intimately blended with _self_, too intricately
entwined with the feelings of others, to be left exposed for ever to
the cold indifference of the multitude. Whatever on this point is
connected with the general state of Spain, has already been touched
upon. Mine, indeed, is the lot of thousands. Often did I recoil at
the approach of the moment when I was to bind myself for ever to the
clerical profession, and as often my heart failed me at the sight of
a mother in tears! It was no worldly interest--it was the eternal
welfare of my soul, which she believed to depend on my following the
call of Heaven, that made the best of mothers a snare to her dearest
child. The persuasions of my confessor, and, above all, the happiness
I experienced in restoring cheerfulness to my family, deluded me
into the hope of preserving the same feeling through life. A very
short time, however, was sufficient to open my eyes. The inexorable
law that bound me, was the bitterest foe to my virtue. Yet devotion
had not lost her power over my fancy, and I broke loose, more than
once, from her thraldom, and was as often reclaimed, before the awful
period which was to raise me to the priesthood.

“If mental excitement, attended with the most thrilling and sublime
sensations, the effect of deception, could be indulged without
injury to our noblest faculties--if life could be made a long dream
without the painful startings produced by the din and collision of
the world--if the opium of delusion could be largely administered
without a complete enervation of our rational energies--the lot
of a man of feeling, brought up in the undisturbed belief of the
Catholic doctrines, and raised to be a dispenser of its mysteries;
would be enviable above all others. No abstract belief, if I am to
trust my experience, can either soothe our fears or feed our hopes,
independently of the imagination; and I am strongly inclined to
assert, that no genuine persuasion exists upon unearthly subjects,
without the co-operation of the imaginative faculty. Hence the
powerful effects of the splendid and striking system of worship
adopted by the Roman church. A foreigner may be inclined to laugh
at the strange ceremonies performed in a Spanish cathedral, because
these ceremonies are a conventional language to which he attaches no
ideas. But he that from the cradle has been accustomed to kiss the
hand of the priest, and receive his blessing--that has associated the
name and attributes of the Deity with the consecrated bread--that has
observed the awe with which it is handled--how none but annointed
hands dare touch it--what clouds of incense, what brilliancy of gems
surround it when exposed to the view--with what heartfelt anxiety the
glare of lights, the sound of music, and the uninterrupted adoration
of the priests in waiting, are made to evince the overpowering
feeling of a God dwelling among men--such a man alone can conceive
the state of a warm-hearted youth, who, for the first time approaches
the altar, not as a mere attendant, but as the sole worker of the
greatest of miracles.

“No language can do justice to my own feelings at the ceremony
of ordination, the performance of the first mass, and during the
interval which elapsed between this fever of enthusiasm and the cold
scepticism that soon followed it. For some months previous to the
awful ceremony I voluntarily secluded myself from the world, making
religious reading and meditation the sole employment of my time. The
_Exercises of Saint Ignatius_, which immediately preceded the day
of ordination, filled my heart with what appeared to me a settled
distaste for every wordly pleasure. When the consecrating rights
had been performed--when my hands had been annointed--the sacred
vesture, at first folded on my shoulders, let drop around me by the
hands of the bishop--the sublime hymn to the all-creating Spirit
uttered in solemn strains, and the power of restoring sinners to
innocence, conferred upon me--when, at length, raised to the dignity
of a ‘fellow-worker with God,’ the bishop addressed me, in the name
of the Saviour: ‘Henceforth I call you not servant ... but I have
called you friend;’ I truly felt as if, freed from the material
part of my being, I belonged to a higher rank of existence. I had
still a heart, it is true--a heart ready to burst at the sight of
my parents, on their knees, while impressing the first kiss on my
newly-consecrated hands; but it was dead to the charms of beauty.
Among the friendly crowd that surrounded me for the same purpose,
were those lips which a few months before I would have died to press;
yet I could but just mark their superior softness. In vain did I
exert myself to check exuberance of feelings at my first mass. My
tears bedewed the _corporals_ on which, with the eyes of faith, I
beheld the disguised lover of mankind whom I had drawn from heaven to
my hands. These are dreams, indeed,--the illusions of an over-heated
fancy; but dreams they are which some of the noblest minds have
dreamt through life without waking--dreams which, while passing
vividly before the mental eye, must entirely wrap up the soul of
every one who is neither _more_ nor _less_ than a man.

“To exercise the privileges of my office for the benefit of my
fellow-creatures, was now my exclusive aim and purpose. I daily
celebrated mass, with due preparation, preached often, and rejected
none that applied to me for confession. The best ascetic writers of
the Church of Rome were constantly in my hands. I made a study of
the Fathers; but, though I had the Scriptures among my books, it
was, according to custom, more for reference than perusal. These
feelings, this state of mental abstraction, is by no means uncommon,
for a time, among young priests whose hearts have not been withered
by a course of premature profligacy. It would be absurd to expect it
in such as embrace the clerical state as a trade, or are led to the
church by ambition, and least of all among the few that would never
bind themselves with the laws of celibacy, had they not previously
freed their minds from all religious fears. Yet, among my numerous
acquaintance in the Spanish clergy, I have never met with any one,
possessed of bold talents, who has not, sooner or later, changed
from the most sincere piety to a state of unbelief.[21] Were every
individual who has undergone this internal transformation to describe
the steps by which it was accomplished, I doubt not but the general
outline would prove alike in all. I shall, however, conclude my
narrative by faithfully relating the origin and progress of the
total change that took place in my mind within little more than a
year after taking priest’s orders.

  [21] See Note E.

“The ideas of consistency and perfection are strongly attached by
every sincere Catholic to his system of faith. The church of Rome
has played for many centuries a desperate though, till lately, a
successful game. Having once proclaimed the necessity of an abstract
creed for salvation, and made herself the infallible framer and
expounder of that creed, she leaves her votaries no alternative but
that of receiving or rejecting the whole of her doctrines. Luckily
for her interests, men seldom go beyond a certain link in the
chain of thought, or allow themselves to look into the sources of
traditionary doctrines. Her theological system on the other hand,
having so shaped its gradual growth as to fill up deficiencies as
they were perceived, affords an ample range to every mind that,
without venturing to examine the foundations, shall be contented with
the symmetry, of the structure. I have often heard the question,
how could such men as Bossuet and Fenelon adhere to the church
of Rome and reject the Protestant faith? The answer appears to
me obvious. Because, according to their fixed principles on this
matter, they must have been either Catholics or Infidels. Laying it
down as an axiom, that Christianity was chiefly intended to reveal
a system of doctrines necessary for salvation, they naturally and
consistently inferred the existence of an authorized judge upon
questions of faith, otherwise the inevitable doubts arising from
private judgment would defeat the object of revelation. Thus it is
that Bossuet thought he had triumphantly confuted the Protestants
by merely shewing that they could not agree in their Articles. Like
Bossuet, most Catholic divines can see no medium between denying the
infallible authority of the Church and rejecting revelation.

“No proposition in Euclid could convey stronger conviction to my
mind than that which I found in this dilemma. Let me but prove, said
I to myself, that there exists a single flaw in the system, and it
will all crumble into dust. Yet, as in a Catholic, ‘once to doubt is
once to be resolved,’ I might have eternally closed my eyes, like
many others, against the impression of the most glaring falsehoods;
for how could I retrieve the rash step of holding my judgment in
suspense while I examined? The most hideous crimes fall within the
jurisdiction of a confessor; but the mortal taint of heresy cannot be
removed except by the Pope’s delegated authority, which, in Spain, he
has deposited in the hands of the Inquisition. Should I deliberately
indulge my doubts for a moment, what a mountain of crime and misery
I should bring upon my head! My office would, probably, lay me under
the necessity of celebrating mass the next day, which, to do with a
consciousness of unabsolved sin, is sacrilege; while this particular
offence would besides involve me in the ecclesiastical sentence of
_suspension_ and _interdict_. The recurring necessity of officiating
at the altar, before I could remove these inabilities, would increase
them every day tenfold, and give my life a foretaste of the torturing
fire to which I should be doomed by the sentence of my church. These
fears are not peculiar to timid or weak characters: they are the
legitimate consequences of a consistent and complicated system, and
cannot be dispelled but by a decided rejection of the whole.

The involuntary train, however, both of feeling and thought, which
was to make me break out into complete rebellion, had long been
sapping the foundations of my faith, without my being aware that
the whole structure nodded to its ruin. A dull sense of existence,
a heaviness that palled my taste for life and its concerns, had
succeeded my first ardour of devotion. Conscientiously faithful to
my engagements, and secluded from every object that might ruffle
the calm of my heart, I looked for happiness in the performance of
my duty. But happiness was fled from me; and, though totally exempt
from remorse, I could not bear the death-like silence of my soul.
An unmeaning and extremely burdensome practice laid by the Church
of Rome upon her clergy, contributed not a little to increase the
irksomeness of my circumstances. A Catholic clergyman, who employs
his whole day in the discharge of his duty to others, must yet
repeat to himself the service of the day in an audible voice--a
performance which neither constant practice, nor the most rapid
utterance can bring within the compass of less than an hour and a
half in the four-and-twenty. This exhausting exercise is enjoined
under pain of mortal sin, and the restitution of that day’s income on
which any portion of the office is omitted.

“Was mine a life of usefulness?--Did not the world, with all its
struggles, its miseries, and its vices, hold out nobler and more
exalted ends than this tame and deadening system of perfection? How
strong must be the probability of future reward, to balance the
actual certainty of such prolonged misery? Suppose, however, the
reality and magnitude of the recompence--am I not daily, and hourly,
in danger of eternal perdition? My heart sinks at the view of the
interminable list of offences; every one of which may finally plunge
me into the everlasting flames. Everlasting! and why so? Can there be
revenge or cruelty in the Almighty? Such were the harassing thoughts
with which I wrestled day and night. Prostrate upon my knees I daily
prayed for deliverance; but my prayers were not heard. I tried to
strengthen my faith by reading Bergier, and some of the French
Apologists. But what can they avail a doubting Catholic? His system
of faith being indivisible, the evidences of Christianity lead him to
the most glaring absurdities. To argue with a doubting Catholic is
to encourage and hasten his desertion. Chateaubriand has perfectly
understood the nature of his task, and by engaging the feelings and
imagination in defence of his creed, has given it the fairest chance
against the dry and tasteless philosophy of his countrymen. His
book[22] propped up my faith for a while.

  [22] “Beauties of Christianity,” 3 vols. 8vo.

“Almost on the eve of my mental crisis, I had to preach a sermon
upon an extraordinary occasion; when, according to a fashion derived
from France, a long and elaborate discourse was expected. I made
infidelity my subject, with a most sincere desire of convincing
myself while I laboured to persuade others. What effect my arguments
may have had upon the audience I know not; they were certainly lost
upon the orator. Whatever, in this state, could break the habit of
awe which I was so tenaciously supporting--whatever could urge me
into uttering a doubt on one of the Articles of the Roman Creed,
was sure to make my faith vanish like a soap-bubble in the air. I
had been too earnest in my devotion, and my Church too pressing and
demanding. Like a cold, artful, interested mistress, that Church
either exhausts the ardour of her best lovers, or harasses them to
destruction. As to myself, a moment’s dalliance with her great rival,
Freedom, converted my former love into perfect abhorrence.

One morning, as I was wrapt up in my usual thoughts, on the banks
of the Guadalquivir, a gentleman, who had lately been named by the
government to an important place in our provincial judicature,
joined me in the course of my ramble. We had been acquainted but a
short time, and he, though forced into caution by an early danger
from the Inquisition, was still friendly and communicative. His
talents of forensic eloquence, and the sprightliness and elegance
of his conversation, had induced a conviction on my mind, that he
belonged to the philosophical party of the university where he had
been educated. Urged by an irresistible impulse, I ventured with him
upon neutral ground--monks, ecclesiastical encroachments, extravagant
devotion--till the stream of thought I had thus allowed to glide over
the feeble mound of my fears, swelling every moment, broke forth as a
torrent from its long and violent confinement. I was listened to with
encouraging kindness, and there was not a doubt in my heart which I
did not disclose. Doubts they had, indeed, appeared to me till that
moment; but utterance transformed them, at once, into demonstrations.
It would be impossible to describe the fear and trepidation that
seized me the moment I parted from my good-natured confidant. The
prisons of the Inquisition seemed ready to close their studded gates
upon me; and the very hell I had just denied, appeared yawning before
my eyes. Yet, a few days elapsed, and no evil had overtaken me. I
performed mass with a heart in open rebellion to the Church that
enjoined it: but I had now settled with myself to offer it up to my
Creator, as I imagine that the enlightened Greeks and Romans must
have done their sacrifices. I was like them, forced to express my
thankfulness in an absurd language.

“This first taste of mental liberty was more delicious than any
feeling I ever experienced; but it was succeeded by a burning thirst
for every thing that, by destroying my old mental habits, could
strengthen and confirm my unbelief. I gave an exorbitant price for
any French irreligious books, which the love of gain induced some
Spanish booksellers to import at their peril. The intuitive knowledge
of one another, which persecuted principles impart to such as
cherish them in common, made me soon acquainted with several members
of my own profession, deeply versed in the philosophical school
of France. They possessed, and made no difficulty to lend me, all
the Antichristian works, which teemed from the French press. Where
there is no liberty, there can be no discrimination. The ravenous
appetite raised by forced abstinence makes the mind gorge itself
with all sorts of food. I suspect I have thus imbibed some false,
and many crude notions from my French masters. But my circumstances
preclude the calm and dispassionate examination which the subject
deserves. Exasperated by the daily necessity of external submission
to doctrines and persons I detest and despise, my soul overflows
with bitterness. Though I acknowledge the advantages of moderation,
none being used towards me, I practically, and in spite of my better
judgment, learn to be a fanatic on my own side.

“Pretending studious retirement, I have fitted up a small room, to
which none but my confidential friends find admittance. There lie
my _prohibited books_, in perfect concealment, in a well-contrived
nook under a staircase. The _Breviary_ alone, in its black-binding,
clasps, and gilt leaves, is kept upon the table, to check the
suspicions of any chance intruder.”



LETTER IV.


    _Seville ----_

An unexpected event has, since my last, thrown the inhabitants of
this town into raptures of joy. The bull-fights which, by a royal
order, had been discontinued for several years, were lately granted
to the wishes of the people. The news of the most decisive victory
could not have more elated the spirits of the Andalusians, or roused
them into greater activity. No time was lost in making the necessary
preparations. In the course of a few weeks all was ready for the
exhibition, while every heart beat high with joyful expectation of
the appointed day which was to usher in the favourite amusement.

You should be told, however, that Seville is acknowledged, on all
hands, to have carried these fights to perfection. To her school of
_bullmanship_, that art owes all its refinements. Bull-fighting is
considered by many of our young men of fashion a high and becoming
accomplishment; and mimicking the scenes of the amphitheatre forms
the chief amusement among boys of all ranks in Andalusia. The
boy who personates the most important character in the drama--the
bull--is furnished with a large piece of board, armed in front, with
the natural weapons of the animal, and having handles fastened to the
lower surface. By the last the boy keeps the machine steady on the
top of the head, and with the former he unmercifully pushes such of
his antagonists as are not dexterous enough to evade, or sufficiently
swift to escape him. The fighters have small darts, pointed with
pins, which they endeavour to fix on a piece of cork stuck flat on
the horned board, till at length the bull falls, according to rule,
at the touch of a wooden sword.

Our young country-gentlemen have a substitute for the regular
bull-fights, much more approaching to reality. About the beginning
of summer, the great breeders of black cattle--generally men of rank
and fortune--send an invitation to their neighbours to be present at
the trial of the yearlings, in order to select those that are to be
reserved for the amphitheatre. The greatest festivity prevails at
these meetings. A temporary scaffolding is raised round the walls
of a very large court, for the accommodation of the ladies. The
gentlemen attend on horseback, dressed in short loose jackets of
silk, chintz, or dimity, the sleeves of which are not sewed to the
body, but laced with broad ribbons of a suitable colour, swelling
not ungracefully round the top of the shoulders. A profusion of
hanging buttons, either silver or gold, mostly silver gilt, twinkle
in numerous rows round the wrists of both sexes. The saddles,
called _Albardones_, to distinguish them from the peak-saddle,
which is seldom used in Andalusia, rise about a foot before and
behind in a triangular shape. The stirrups are iron boxes, open on
both sides, and affording a complete rest the whole length of the
foot. Both country-people and gentlemen riding in these saddles,
use the stirrups so short, that, in defiance of all the rules of
_manège_, the knees and toes project from the side of the horse,
and, when galloping, the rider appears to kneel on its back. A white
beaver-hat, of rather more than two feet diameter, fastened under the
chin by a ribbon, was till lately worn at these sports, and is still
used by the horsemen at the public exhibitions; but the _Montera_
is now prevalent. I find it difficult to describe this part of the
national dress without the aid of a drawing. Imagine, however, a
bishop’s mitre inverted, and closed on the side intended to receive
the head. Conceive the two points of the mitre so shortened that,
placed downwards on the skull, they scarcely cover the ears. Such is
our national cap. Like Don Quixote’s head-piece, the frame is made of
pasteboard. Externally it is black velvet, ornamented with silk frogs
and tassels of the same colour.

Each of the cavaliers holds a lance, twelve feet in length, headed
with a three-edged steel point. The weapon is called _Garrocha_,
and it is used by horsemen whenever they have to contend with
the bulls, either in the fields or the amphitheatre. The steel,
however, is sheathed by two strong leather rings, which are taken
off in proportion to the strength of the bull, and the sort of wound
which is intended. On the present occasion no more than half an
inch of steel is uncovered. Double that length is allowed in the
amphitheatre; though the spear is not intended to kill or disable
the animal, but to keep him off by the painful pressure of the steel
on a superficial wound. Such however, is the violence of the bulls
when attacking the horses, that I once saw the blunt spear I have
described, run along the neck into the body of the beast and kill
him on the spot. But this is a rare occurrence, and foul play was
suspected on the part of the man, who seems to have used more steel
than the lance is allowed to be armed with.

The company being assembled in and round the rural arena, the
one-year-old bulls are singly let in by the herdsmen. It might be
supposed, that animals so young would be frightened at the approach
of the horseman couching his spear before their eyes; but our
Andalusian breeders expect better things from their favourites. A
young bull must attack the horseman twice, bearing the point of the
spear on his neck, before he is set apart for the bloody honours of
the amphitheatre. Such as flinch from the trial are instantly thrown
down by the herdsmen, and prepared for the yoke on the spot.

These scenes are often concluded with a more cruel sport, named
_Derribar_. A strong bull is driven from the herd into the open
field, where he is pursued at full gallop by the whole band of
horsemen. The Spanish bull is a fleet animal, and the horses find it
difficult to keep up with him at the first onset. When he begins,
however, to slack in his course, the foremost spearsman, couching his
lance, and aiming obliquely at the lower part of the spine, above the
haunches, spurs his horse to his utmost speed, and, passing the bull,
inflicts a wound, which, being exceedingly painful, makes him wince,
lose his balance, and come down with a tremendous fall. The shock
is so violent that the bull seems unable to rise for some time. It
is hardly necessary to observe, that such feats require an uncommon
degree of horsemanship, and the most complete presence of mind.

Our town itself abounds in amusements of this kind, where the
professional bull-fighters learn their art, and the amateurs feast
their eyes, occasionally joining in the sport with the very lowest
of the people. You must know, by the way, that our town corporation
enjoys the privilege of being our sole and exclusive butchers. They
alone have a right to kill and sell meat; which, coming through
their _noble_ hands, (for this municipal government is entailed on
the first Andalusian families) is the worst and dearest in the whole
kingdom. Two droves of lean cattle are brought every week to a large
slaughter-house (_el matadero_) which stands between one of the city
gates and the suburb of San Bernardo. To walk in that neighbourhood
when the cattle approach is dangerous; for, notwithstanding the
emaciated condition of the animals, and though many are oxen and
cows, a crowd is sure to collect on the plain, and by the waving of
their cloaks, and a sharp whistling which they make through their
fingers, they generally succeed in dispersing the drove, in order
to single out the fiercest for their amusement. Nothing but the
Spanish cloak is used on these occasions. Holding it gracefully at
arm’s length before the body, so as to conceal the person from the
breast to the feet, they wave it in the eyes of the animal, shaking
their heads with an air of defiance, and generally calling out _Ha!
Toro, Toro!_ The bull pauses a moment before he rushes upon the
nearest object. It is said that he shuts his eyes at the instant
of pushing with his horns. The man keeping his cloak in the first
direction, flings it over the head of the animal, while he glances
his body to the left, just when the bull, led forward by the original
impulse, must run on a few yards without being able to turn upon his
adversary, whom, upon wheeling round, he finds prepared to delude him
as before. This sport is exceedingly lively; and when practised by
proficients, seldom attended with danger. It is called _Capéo_. The
whole population of San Bernardo, men, women and children, are adepts
in this art. Within the walls of the slaughter-house, however,
is the place where the bull-fighters by profession are allowed to
improve themselves. A member of the town corporation presides,
and admits, gratis, his friends; among whom, notwithstanding the
filth natural to such places, ladies do not disdain to appear. The
_Matadero_ is so well known as a school for bull-fighting, that
it bears the cant appellation of the _College_. Many of our first
noblesse have frequented no other school. Fortunately, this fashion
is wearing away. Yet we have often seen Viscount Miranda, the head
of one of the proudest families of the proud city of Cordova, step
into the public amphitheatre, and kill a bull with his own hand.
This gentleman had reared up one of his favourite animals, and
accustomed him to walk into his parlour, to the great consternation
of the company. The bull, however, once, in a surly mood, forgot
his acquired tameness, and gored one of the servants to death; in
consequence of which his master was compelled to kill him.

That Spanish gentlemen fight in public with bulls, I suppose you have
heard or read. But this does not regularly take place, except at the
coronation of our kings, and in their presence. Such noblemen as
are able to engage in the perilous sport, volunteer their services
for the sake of the reward, which is some valuable place under
government, if they prefer it to an order of Knighthood. They appear
on horseback, attended by the first professional fighters, on foot,
and use short spears with a broad blade, called _Rejones_.

A _Bull-day_, (Dia de Toros), as it is emphatically called at
Seville, stops all public and private business. On the preceding
afternoon, the amphitheatre is thrown open to all sorts of people
indiscriminately. Bands of military music enliven the bustling scene.
The seats are occupied by such as wish to see the promenade on the
arena, round which the ladies parade in their carriages, while every
man seems to take pleasure in moving on the same spot where the
fierce combat is to take place within a few hours. The spirits of the
company are, in fact, pitched up by anticipation to the gay, noisy,
and bold temper of the future sport.

Our amphitheatre is one of the largest and handsomest in Spain. A
great part is built of stone; but, from want of money, the rest is
wood. From ten to twelve thousand spectators may be accommodated
with seats. These rise, uncovered, from an elevation of about eight
feet above the arena, and are finally crowned by a gallery, from
whence the wealthy behold the fights, free from the inconveniences
of the weather. The lowest tier, however, is preferred by the young
gentlemen, as affording a clear view of the wounds inflicted on the
bull. This tier is protected by a parapet. Another strong fence,
six feet high, is erected round the arena, leaving a space of about
twenty, between its area and the lower seats. Openings, admitting
a man sideways, are made in this fence, to allow the men on foot
an escape when closely pursued by the bull. They, however, most
generally leap over it, with uncommon agility. But bulls of a certain
breed, will not be left behind, and literally clear the fence.
Falling into the vacant space before the seats, the animal runs about
till one of the gates is opened, through which he is easily drawn
back to the arena.

Few among the lower classes retire to their beds on the eve of a
_Bull-day_. From midnight they pour down the streets leading to
the amphitheatre, in the most riotous and offensive manner, to be
present at the Encierro--_shutting-in_ of the bulls--which being
performed at the break of day, is allowed to be seen without paying
for seats. The devoted animals are conducted from their native
fields to a large plain in the neighbourhood of Seville, from whence
eighteen, the number exhibited daily during the feasts, are led to
the amphitheatre, on the appointed day, that long confinement may not
break down their fierceness. This operation has something extremely
wild in its character. All the amateurs of the town are seen on
horseback with their lances hastening towards Tablada, the spot
where the bulls are kept at large. The herdsmen, on foot, collect
the victims of the day into a drove; this they do by means of tame
oxen, called _Cabestros_, taught to be led by a haulter, carrying,
tied round their neck, a large deep-sounding bell, with a wooden
clapper. What the habit of following the bells of the leaders fails
to do, the cracking of the herdsmen’s slings is sure to perform, when
the animals are not driven to madness. The horsemen, also, stand on
all sides of the drove till they get into a round trot. Thus they
proceed to within half a mile of the amphitheatre. At that distance a
path is closed up on both sides, with stout poles, tied horizontally
across upright stakes--a feeble rampart, indeed, against the fury of
a herd of wild bulls. Yet the Sevillian mob, though fully aware of
the danger, are mad enough to take pleasure in exposing themselves.
The intolerable noise in my street, and the invitation of a Member of
the _Maestranza_--a corporate association of noblemen, whose object
is the breeding and breaking of horses, and who in this town enjoy
the exclusive privilege of giving bull-feasts to the public--induced
me, during the last season, to get up one morning with the dawn, and
take my stand at the amphitheatre, where, from their private gallery,
I commanded a view of the plain lying between the river Guadalquivir
and that building.

At the distant sound of the oxen’s bells, shoals of people were seen
driving wildly over the plain, like clouds before a strong gale.
One could read in their motions, a struggle between fear on one
side, and vanity and habit on the other. Now they approached the
palisade, now they ran to a more distant spot. Many climbed up the
trees, while the more daring or fool-hardy, kept their station on
what they esteemed a post of honour. As our view was terminated by
a narrow pass between the river and the ancient tower called _del
Oro_, or Golden, the cavalcade broke upon us with great effect. It
approached at full gallop. The leading horsemen, now confined within
the palisades, and having the whole herd at their heels, were obliged
to run for their lives. Few, however, ventured on this desperate
service, and their greatest force was in the rear. The herdsmen
clinging to the necks of the oxen, in order to keep pace with the
horses, appeared, to an unpractised eye, doomed to inevitable
destruction. The cries of the multitude, the sound of numberless
horns, made of the hollow stem of a large species of thistle, the
shrill and penetrating whistling, which seems most to harass and
enrage the bulls, together with the confused and rapid motion of the
scene, could hardly be endured without a degree of dizziness. It
often happens, that the boldest of the mob succeed in decoying a bull
from the drove; but I was, this time, fortunate enough to see them
safely lodged in the _Toril_--a small court divided into a series of
compartments with drop-gates, in the form of sluices, into which they
are successively goaded from a surrounding gallery, and lodged singly
till the time of letting them loose upon the arena.

The custom of this town requires that a bull be given to the
populace immediately after the _shutting-in_. The irregular fight
that ensues is perfectly disgusting and shocking. The only time I
have witnessed it, the area of the amphitheatre was actually crowded
with people, both on horse and foot. Fortunately their numbers
distracted the animal: on whatever side he charged, large masses
ran before him, on which he would have made a dreadful havock, but
for the multitude which drew his attention to another spot. Yet one
of the crowd, evidently in a state of intoxication, who stood still
before the bull, was tossed up to a great height, and fell apparently
dead. He would have been gored to pieces before our eyes, had not
the herdsmen and some other good fighters, drawn away the beast with
their cloaks.

Such horrors are frequent at these irregular fights; yet neither
the cruelty of the sport, nor the unnecessary danger to which even
the most expert bull-fighters expose their lives, nor the debauch
and profligacy attendant on such exhibitions, are sufficient to
rouse the zeal of our fanatics against them. Our popular preachers
have succeeded twice, within my recollection, in shutting up the
theatre. I have myself seen a friar with a crucifix in his hand,
stop at its door, at the head of an evening procession; and, during
a considerable part of the performance, conjure the people, as
they valued their souls, not to venture into that abode of sin;
but I never heard from these holy guardians of morals the least
observation against bull-fighting: and even our _high-flyers_ in
devotion--the _Philippians_,[23] whom we might call our Methodists,
allow all, except clergymen, to attend these bloody scenes, while
they deny absolution to any who do not renounce the play.

  [23] See Letter III. p. 77.

Before quitting the amphitheatre I was taken by my friend to the
gallery from which the bulls were goaded into their separate
stalls. As it stands only two or three feet above their heads, I
could not but feel a degree of terror at such a close view of these
fiery savage eyes, those desperate efforts to reach the beholders,
accompanied by repeated and ferocious bellowings. There is an
intelligence and nobleness in the lion that makes him look much less
terrific in his den. I saw the _Divisa_, a bunch of ribbons tied to
a barbed steel point, stuck into the bulls’ necks. It is intended
to distinguish the breeds by different combinations of colours,
which are stated in handbills, sold about the streets like your
court-calendars before the assizes.

Ten is the appointed hour to begin the morning exhibition; and such
days are fixed upon as will not, by a long church-service, prevent
the attendance of the canons and prebendaries, who choose to be
present; for the chapter, in a body, receive a regular invitation
from the _Maestranza_. Such, therefore, as have secured seats,
may stay at home till the tolling of the great bell announces
the elevation of the host--a ceremony which takes place near the
conclusion of the daily morning service.

The view of the Seville amphitheatre, when full, is very striking.
Most people attend in the Andalusian dress, part of which I have
already described. The colour of the men’s cloaks, which are of silk,
in the fine season, varies from purple to scarlet. The short loose
jackets of the men display the most lively hues, and the white veils
which the females generally wear at these meetings, tell beautifully
with the rest of their gay attire.

The clearing of the arena, on which a multitude lounges till the last
moment, is part of the show, and has the appropriate appellation of
_Despejo_. This is performed by a battalion of infantry. The soldiers
entering at one of the gates in a column, display their ranks, at
the sound of martial music, and sweep the people before them as
they march across the ground. This done, the gates are closed, the
soldiers perform some evolutions, in which the commanding officer
is expected to shew his ingenuity, till, having placed his men in a
convenient position, they disband in a moment, and hide themselves
behind the fence.

The band of _Toreros_ (bull-fighters), one half in blue, the other
in scarlet cloaks, now advance in two lines across the arena, to
make obeisance to the president. Their number is generally twelve
or fourteen, including the two _Matadores_, each attended by an
assistant called _Mediaespada_ (demi-sword). Close in their rear
follow the _Picadores_ (pikemen) on horseback, wearing scarlet
jackets trimmed with silver lace. The shape of the horsemen’s jackets
resembles those in use among the English postboys. As a protection to
the legs and thighs, they have strong leather overalls, stuffed to
an enormous size with soft brown paper--a substance which is said to
offer great resistance to the bull’s horns. After making their bow to
the president, the horsemen take their post in a line to the left of
the gate which is to let in the bulls, standing in the direction of
the barrier at the distance of thirty or forty paces from each other.
The fighters on foot, without any weapon or means of defence, except
their cloaks, wait, not far from the horses, ready to give assistance
to the pikemen. Every thing being thus in readiness, a constable, in
the ancient Spanish costume, rides up to the front of the principal
gallery, and receives into his hat the key of the _Toril_ or bull’s
den, which the president flings from the balcony. Scarcely has the
constable delivered the key under the steward’s gallery, when, at the
waving of the president’s handkerchief, the bugles sound amid a storm
of applause, the gates are flung open, and the first bull rushes
into the amphitheatre. I shall describe what, on the day I allude
to, our connoisseurs deemed an interesting fight, and if you imagine
it repeated, with more or less danger and carnage, eight times in
the morning and ten in the evening, you will have a pretty accurate
notion of the whole performance.

The bull paused a moment and looked wildly upon the scene; then,
taking notice of the first horseman, made a desperate charge against
him. The ferocious animal was received at the point of the pike,
which, according to the laws of the game, was aimed at the fleshy
part of the neck. A dextrous motion of the bridle-hand and right leg
made the horse evade the bull’s horn, by turning to the left. Made
fiercer by the wound, he instantly attacked the next pikeman, whose
horse, less obedient to the rider, was so deeply gored in the chest
that he fell dead on the spot. The impulse of the bull’s thrust threw
the rider on the other side of the horse. An awful silence ensued.
The spectators, rising from their seats, beheld in fearful suspense
the wild bull goring the fallen horse, while the man, whose only
chance of safety depended on lying motionless, seemed dead to all
appearance. This painful scene lasted but a few seconds; for the men
on foot, by running towards the bull, in various directions, waving
their cloaks and uttering loud cries, soon made him quit the horse to
pursue them. When the danger of the pikeman was passed, and he rose
on his legs to vault upon another horse, the burst of applause might
be heard at the farthest extremity of the town. Dauntless, and urged
by revenge, he now galloped forth to meet the bull. But, without
detailing the shocking sights that followed, I shall only mention
that the ferocious animal attacked the horsemen ten successive times,
wounded four horses and killed two. One of these noble creatures,
though wounded in two places, continued to face the bull without
shrinking, till growing too weak, he fell down with the rider. Yet
these horses are never trained for the fights; but are bought for the
amount of thirty or forty shillings, when, worn out with labour, or
broken by disease, they are unfit for any other service.

A flourish of the bugles discharged the horsemen till the beginning
of the next combat, and the amusement of the people devolved on the
_Banderilleros_--the same whom we have hitherto seen attentive to the
safety of the horsemen. The _Banderilla_, literally, little flag,
from which they take their name, is a shaft of two feet in length,
pointed with a barbed steel, and gaily ornamented with many sheets of
painted paper, cut into reticulated coverings. Without a cloak, and
holding one of these darts in each hand, the fighter runs up to the
bull, and stopping short when he sees himself attacked, fixes the two
shafts, without flinging them, behind the horns of the beast at the
very moment when it stoops to toss him. The painful sensation makes
the bull throw up his head without inflicting the intended blow,
and while he rages in impotent endeavours to shake off the hanging
darts that gall him, the man has full leisure to escape. It is on
these occasions, when the _Banderilleros_ fail to fix the darts, that
they require their surprising swiftness of foot. Being without the
protection of a cloak, they are obliged to take instantly to flight.
The bull follows them at full gallop; and I have seen the man leap
the barrier, so closely pursued by the enraged brute, that it seemed
as if he had sprung up by placing the feet on its head. Townsend
thought it was literally so. Some of the darts are set with squibs
and crackers. The match, a piece of tinder, made of a dried fungus,
is so fitted to the barbed point, that, rising by the pressure which
makes it penetrate the skin, it touches the train of the fireworks.
The only object of this refinement of cruelty is, to confuse the
bull’s instinctive powers, and, by making him completely frantic, to
diminish the danger of the _Matador_, who is never so exposed as when
the beast is collected enough to meditate the attack.

At the waving of the president’s handkerchief, the bugles sounded the
death-signal, and the _Matador_ came forward. _Pepe Illo_, the pride
of this town, and certainly one of the most graceful and dextrous
fighters that Spain has ever produced, having flung off his cloak,
approached the bull with a quick, light, and fearless step. In his
left hand he held a square piece of red cloth, spread upon a staff
about two feet in length, and in his right, a broad sword not much
longer. His attendants followed him at a distance. Facing the bull,
within six or eight yards, he presented the red flag, keeping his
body partially concealed behind it, and the sword entirely out of
view. The bull rushed against the red cloth, and our hero slipped by
his side by a slight circular motion, while the beast passed under
the lure which the _Matador_ held in the first direction, till he
had evaded the horns. Enraged by this deception, and unchecked by
any painful sensation, the bull collected all his strength for a
desperate charge. Pepe Illo now levelled his sword, at the left side
of the bull’s neck, and, turning upon his right foot as the animal
approached him, ran the weapon nearly up to the hilt into its body.
The bull staggered, tottered, and dropped gently upon his bent legs;
but had yet too much life in him for any man to venture near with
safety.--The unfortunate _Illo_ has since perished from a wound
inflicted by a bull in a similar state. The _Matador_ observed, for
one or two minutes, the signs of approaching death in the fierce
animal now crouching before him, and at his bidding, an attendant
crept behind the bull and struck him dead, by driving a small poniard
at the jointure of the spine and the head. This operation is never
performed, except when the prostrate bull lingers. I once saw _Illo_,
at the desire of the spectators, inflict this merciful blow in a
manner which nothing but ocular demonstration would have made me
believe. Taking the poniard, called _Puntilla_, by the blade, he
poised it for a few moments, and jerked it with such unerring aim
on the bull’s neck, as he lay on his bent legs, that he killed the
animal with the quickness of lightning.

Four mules, ornamented with large morrice-bells and ribbons,
harnessed a-breast, and drawing a beam furnished with an iron hook in
the middle, galloped to the place where the bull lay. This machine
being fastened to a rope previously thrown round the dead animal’s
horns, he was swiftly dragged out of the amphitheatre.

I have now given you a more minute, and, I trust, more correct
description of every thing connected with the bull-fights than has
ever been drawn by any traveller. Townsend’s is the best account
of these sports I ever met with; yet it is not free from mistakes.
So difficult is it to see distinctly, scenes with which we are not
familiarly acquainted.

The risk of the fighters is great, and their dexterity alone
prevents its being imminent. The lives most exposed are those of
the _Matadores_; and few of them have retired in time to avoid a
tragical end. Bull fighters rise from the dregs of the people. Like
most of their equals, they unite superstition and profligacy in
their character. None of them will venture upon the arena without a
_scapulary_, two small square pieces of cloth suspended by ribbons,
on the breast and back, between the shirt and the waistcoat.
In the front square there is a print, on linen, of the Virgin
Mary--generally, the _Carmel_ Mary, who is the patron goddess of all
the rogues and vagabonds in Spain. These scapularies are blessed,
and sold by the Carmelite Friars. Our great _Matador_, Pepe Illo,
besides the usual amulet, trusted for safety to the patronage of St.
Joseph, whose chapel adjoins the Seville amphitheatre. The doors of
this chapel were, during Illo’s life, thrown open as long as the
fight continued, the image of the Saint being all that time encircled
by a great number of lighted wax-candles, which the devout gladiator
provided at his own expense. The Saint, however, unmindful of this
homage, allowed his client often to be wounded, and finally left him
to his fate at Madrid.

To enjoy the spectacle I have described, the feelings must be greatly
perverted; yet that degree of perversion is very easily accomplished.
The display of courage and address which is made at these
exhibitions, and the contagious nature of all emotions in numerous
assemblies, are more than sufficient to blunt, in a short time, the
natural disgust arising from the first view of blood and slaughter.
If we consider that even the Vestals at Rome were passionately fond
of gladiatorial shows, we shall not be surprised at the Spanish taste
for sports which, with infinite less waste of human life, can give
rise to the strongest emotions.

The following instance, with which I shall conclude, will shew you
to what degree the passion for bull-fights can grow. A gentleman of
my acquaintance had some years ago the misfortune to lose his sight.
It might be supposed, that a blind man would avoid the scene of his
former enjoyment--a scene where every thing is addressed to the eye.
This gentleman, however, is a constant attendant at the amphitheatre.
Morning and evening he takes his place with the _Maestranza_,
of which he is a member, having his guide by his side. Upon the
appearance of every bull, he greedily listens to the description of
the animal, and of all that takes place in the fight. His mental
conception of the exhibition, aided by the well known cries of the
multitude, is so vivid, that when a burst of applause allows his
attendant just to hint at the event that drew it from the spectators,
the unfortunate man’s face gleams with pleasure, and he echoes the
last clappings of the circus.



LETTER V.


    _Seville, ---- 1801._

The calamity which has afflicted this town and swept away eighteen
thousand of its inhabitants,[24] will more than sufficiently
account for my long silence. But, during the interruption of my
correspondence, there is a former period for which I owe you a more
detailed explanation.

  [24] The yellow fever in 1800.

My travels in Spain have hitherto been as limited as is used among
my countrymen. The expense, the danger, and the great inconvenience
attending a journey, prevent our travelling for pleasure or
curiosity. Most of our people spend their whole lives within their
province, and few among the females have ever lost sight of the town
that gave them birth. I have, however, brought home some of your
English restlessness; and, as my dear friend, the young clergyman,
whose account of himself is already in your hands, had to visit a
very peculiar spot of Andalusia, I joined him most willingly in his
excursion, during which I collected a few traits of our national
manners, with a view to add one more to my preceding sketches.

My friend’s destination was a town in the mountains or Sierra de
Ronda, called Olbera, or Olvera, for we make no difference in the
pronunciation of the _b_ and the _v_. A young man of that town
had been elected to a fellowship of this _Colegio Mayor_, and my
friend, who is a member of that body, was the appointed commissioner
for collecting the _pruebas_, or evidence, which, according to
the statutes, must be taken at the birth-place of the candidate,
concerning the purity of his blood and family connexions. The badness
of the roads, in that direction, induced us to make the whole
journey on horseback. We were provided with the coarse dress which
country gentlemen wear on similar occasions--a short loose jacket
and small-clothes of brown serge; thick leather gaiters; a cloak
tied up in a roll on the pommel of the saddle; and a stout spencer,
ornamented with a kind of patchwork lace, made of pieces of various
colours, which is a favourite riding-dress of our Andalusian beaux.
Each of us, as well as the servant, whose horse carried our light
luggage, was armed with a musket, hanging by a hook, on a ring,
which all travelling-saddles are furnished with for that purpose.
This manner of travelling is, upon the whole, the most pleasant
in Andalusia. Robbers seldom attack people on horseback, provided
they take care, as we did, never to pass any wooded ground without
separating to the distance of a musket-shot from each other.

My fellow-traveller took this opportunity to pay a visit to some
of his acquaintance at Osuna, a town of considerable wealth, with
a numerous _noblesse_, a collegiate church, and a university. At
the end of our first days’ journey we stopped at a pretty populous
village called El Arahal. The inn, though far from comfortable, in
the English sense of the word, was not one of the worst we were
doomed to endure in our tour, for travellers were not here obliged
to starve if they had not brought their own provisions; and we had a
room with a few broken chairs, a deal table and two flock beds, laid
upon planks raised from the brick-floor by iron tressels. A dish of
ham and eggs afforded us an agreeable and substantial dinner, and a
bottle of cheap, but by no means unpleasant wine, made us forget the
jog-trot of our day’s journey.

We had just felt the approach of that peculiar kind of _ennui_
which lurks in every corner of an inn, when the sound of a fife and
drum, with more of the sporting and mirthful than of the military
character, awakened our curiosity. But to ask a question, even at
the best Spanish _fonda_ (hotel), you must either exert your lungs,
calling the waiter, chambermaid, and landlord, in succession, to
multiply the chances of finding one disposed to hear you; or adopt
the more quiet method of searching them through the house, beginning
at the kitchen. Here, however, we had only to step out of our room
and we found ourselves within the cook’s dominions. The best country
inns, indeed, consist of a large hall contiguous to the street or
road, and paved like the former with round stones. At one end of this
hall there is a large hearth, raised about a foot from the ground. A
wood-fire is constantly burning upon it, and travellers of all ranks
and degrees, who do not prefer moping in their cold, unglazed rooms,
are glad to take a seat near it, where they enjoy, gratis, the wit
and humour of carriers, coachmen, and clowns, and a close view of the
hostess or her maid, dressing successively in the same frying pan,
now an omelet of eggs and onions, now a dish of dried fish with oil
and love-apples, or it may be the limbs of a tough fowl which but
a few moments before had been strutting about the house. The doors
of the bed-rooms, as well as that of the stable-yard, all open into
the hall. Leaving a sufficient space for carriages and horses to
cross from the front door to the stables, the Spanish carriers, or
_harrieros_, who travel in parties of twenty or thirty men and double
that number of mules, range themselves at night along the walls, each
upon his large packsaddle, with no other covering but a kind of
horse-cloth, called _manta_, which they use on the road to keep them
dry and warm in winter.

Into this truly common-hall were we brought by the sound of the drum,
and soon learned from one of the loungers who sauntered about it,
that a company of strolling-players were in a short time to begin
their performance. This was good news indeed for us, who, unwilling
to go early to bed with a certainty of not being allowed to sleep,
dreaded the close of approaching night. The performance, we were
told, was to take place in an open court, where a cow-house, open
in front, afforded a convenient situation both for the stage and
the dressing-room of the actors. Having each of us paid the amount
of a penny and a fraction, we took our seats under a bright starry
sky, muffled up in our cloaks, and perfectly unmindful of the danger
which might arise from the extreme airiness of the theatre. A
horrible screaming fiddle, a grumbling violoncello, and a deafening
French-horn, composed the band. The drop-curtain consisted of four
counterpanes sewed together; and the scenes, which were red gambroon
curtains, hanging loose from a frame, and flapping in the wind, let
us into the secrets of the dressing-room, where the actors, unable to
afford a different person for every character, multiplied themselves
by the assistance of the tailor.

The play was _El Diablo Predicador_--“The Devil turned
Preacher”--one of the numerous dramatic compositions published
anonymously during the latter part of the Austrian dynasty. The
character of this comedy is so singular, and so much of the public
mind may be learned from its popularity all over the country, that I
will give you an abstract of the plot.

The hero of the play, designated in the Dramatis Personæ by the
title of _primer galan_ (first gallant), is _Lucifer_, who, dressed
in a suit of black velvet and scarlet stockings--the appropriate
stage-dress of devils, of whatever rank and station--appears in
the first scene mounted upon a griffin, summoning his confidant
_Asmodeus_ out of a trap, to acquaint him with the danger to which
the newly-established order of Saint Francis exposed the whole
kingdom of darkness. Italy (according to the arch-demon) was overrun
with mendicant friars; and even Lucca, the scene of the play, where
they had met with a sturdy opposition, might, he feared, consent
to the building of a Franciscan convent, the foundations of which
were already laid. Lucifer, therefore, determines to assist the
Lucchese in dislodging the cowled enemies from that town; and he
sends Asmodeus to Spain upon a similar service. The chief engine he
puts in motion is _Ludovico_, a wealthy and hard-hearted man, who
had just married _Octavia_, a paragon of virtue and beauty, thus
cruelly sacrificed by her father’s ambition. _Feliciano_, a cousin
of Octavia, and the object of her early affection, availing himself
of the husband’s ignorance of their now-broken engagement, makes his
appearance at Lucca with the determination of seducing the bride
and taking revenge on Ludovico. The _Guardian_ of the new convent
of Saint Francis, being obliged by the rule of his order to support
the friars by daily alms collected from the people, and finding the
inhabitants of Lucca determined to starve them out of their city,
applies to Ludovico for help. That wicked man thrusts the Guardian
and his lay-brother _Antolín_--the _gracioso_ of the play--out of
the house, to be hooted and pelted by the mob. Nothing, therefore,
is left for the friars but to quit the town: and now, the poet
considering Horace’s rule for supernatural interference as perfectly
applicable to such a desperate state of things, the _Niño Dios_ (the
Child God),[25] and _Michael the archangel_, come down in a cloud
(you will readily conceive that the actors at our humble theatre
dispensed with the machinery), and the last, addressing himself to
Lucifer, gives him a peremptory order to assume the habit of Saint
Francis, and under that disguise to stop all the mischief he had
devised against Octavia; to obtain support from the people of Lucca
for the Franciscans; and not to depart till he had built two convents
instead of the one he was trying to nip in the bud.

  [25] See Note F.

To give, as you say in England, the Devil his due, it must be
confessed, that Lucifer, though now and then exclaiming against the
severity of his punishment, executes his commission with exemplary
zeal. He presents himself to the Guardian, in the garb of the order,
and having Brother Antolín appointed as his attendant, soon changes
the hearts of the people, and obtains abundant supplies for the
convent. The under-plot proceeds in the mean time, involving Octavia
in the most imminent dangers. She snatches from Feliciano a letter,
in which she had formerly avowed her love to him, which, imperfectly
torn to pieces, falls into Ludovico’s hands, and induces him to plan
her death. To accomplish this purpose, he takes her into the country,
and stabs her in the depth of a forest, a few minutes before Monk
Lucifer, who fairly and honestly had intended to prevent the blow,
could arrive at the place with his lay-companion.

To be thus taken by surprise puzzles the ex-archangel not a little.
Still he observes, that since Octavia’s soul had neither gone to
heaven, purgatory, nor hell, a miracle was on the point of being
performed. Nor was he deceived in this shrewd conjecture; for the
_Virgin Mary_ descends in a cloud, and touching the body of Octavia,
restores her to life. Feliciano arriving at this moment, attributes
the miracle to the two friars; and the report of this wonder exposes
Antolín to a ludicrous mobbing in the town, where his frock is torn
to pieces to keep the shreds as relics. Lucifer now endeavours to
prove to the resuscitated wife, that, according to the canon law,
her marriage has been dissolved by death; but she, distrusting the
casuistry of that learned personage, immediately returns to her
husband. Her unwilling protector is therefore compelled to prevent a
second death, which the desperate Ludovico intends to inflict upon
his too faithful wife. After this second rescue of the beautiful
Octavia, Lucifer makes a most edifying address, urging Ludovico to
redeem his sins, by giving alms to the Franciscans. His eloquence,
however, making no impression upon the miser, Saint Michael gives
the word from behind the scenes, and the obdurate man is swallowed
up by the earth. Michael now makes his appearance; and, upon a very
sensible remonstrance of Lucifer, as to the hardship of his present
case, he allows the latter to strip off the cowl, and carry on
hostilities against the Franciscans by the usual arts he employs
against the other religious orders, _i. e._ assaulting the monks’
virtue by any means except their stomachs. Food the Franciscans must
never want, according to the heavenly promise made to their founder.

This curious play is performed, at least once a year, on every
Spanish theatre; when the Franciscan friars, instead of enforcing
the standing rule, which forbids the exhibition of the monkish dress
upon the stage, regularly lend the requisite suits to the actors: so
favourable is the impression it leaves in favour of that mendicant
order.

Our truly Thespian entertainment was just concluded, when we heard
the church-bell toll what in Spain is called _Las Animas_--the Souls.
A man, bearing a large lantern with a painted glass, representing
two naked persons enveloped in flames, entered the court, addressing
every one of the company in these words:--_The Holy Souls, Brother!
Remember the Holy Souls._ Few refused the petitioner a copper coin,
worth about the eighth part of a penny. This custom is universal in
Spain. A man, whose chief employment is to be agent for the souls in
purgatory, in the evening--the only time when the invisible sufferers
are begged for about the towns--and for some saint or _Madonna_,
during the day, parades the streets after sunset, with the lantern
I have described, and never fails to visit the inns, where the
travellers, who generally entrust their safety from robbers to the
_holy souls_, are always ready to make some pecuniary acknowledgement
for past favours, or to engage their protection in future dangers.
The tenderness of all sorts of _believing_ Spaniards for the souls
in purgatory, and the reliance they place on their intercession with
God, would almost be affecting, did it not originate in the most
superstitious credulity.

The doctrine of purgatory is very easily, nay, consistently embraced
by such as believe in the expiatory nature of pain and suffering.
The best feelings of our hearts are, besides, most ready to assist
the imagination in devising means to keep up an intercourse with
that invisible world, which either possesses already, or must
soon possess, whatever has engaged our affections in this. Grief
for a departed friend loses half its bitterness with a Catholic
who can firmly believe that not a day shall pass without repeated
and effectual proofs of attachment, on his part, till he join the
conscious object of his love in bliss. While other articles of the
Catholic faith are too refined and abstract for children, their
tender and benevolent minds eagerly seize on the idea of purgatory
fire. A parent or a brother, still kind to them in another world,
yet suffering excruciating pains that may be relieved, shortened,
and perhaps put an end to by some privation or prayer, are notions
perfectly adapted to their capacity and feelings. Every year brings
round the day devoted by the church to the relief of the departed
souls. The holy vestments used at the three masses, which, by a
special grant, every priest is allowed to perform that morning,
are black. Large candles of yellow wax are placed over the graves
within the churches; and even the church-yards, those humble places
of repose appointed among us for criminals and paupers, are not
neglected on that day of revived sorrows. Lights are provided for
them at the expense of the society established in every town of
Spain for the relief of the friendless spirits, who, for want of
assistance, may be lingering in the purifying flames; and many of the
members, with a priest at their head, visit these cemeteries for nine
successive evenings.

Thus, even benevolence, under the guidance of superstition,
degenerates into absurdity. It does not, however, stop here; but,
rushing headlong into the ludicrous, forces a smile upon the face
of sympathy, and painfully compels our mirth where our tears were
ready to flow. The religious ingenuity of the Catholics has gone
so far as to publish the scheme of a lottery for the benefit of
such souls as might otherwise escape their notice. It consists of a
large sheet of paper fixed in a frame, with an open box beneath it.
Under different heads, numbered from one to ninety, the inventor of
this pious game has distributed the most interesting cases which
can occur in the _debtors’ side_ of the infernal Newgate, allotting
to each a prayer, penance or offering. In the box are deposited
ninety pieces of card, distinguished by numbers corresponding to the
ninety classes. According as the pious gambler draws the tickets, he
performs the meritorious works enjoined in the scheme--generally a
short prayer or slight penance--transferring their spiritual value to
the fortunate souls to whom each card belongs. Often in my childhood,
have I amused myself at this good-natured game. But the Inquisition
is growing fastidious; and though the _lottery of purgatory_ is as
fairly grounded on the doctrines of Rome, as the papal bulls for the
release of suffering souls, which are sold for sixpence, with a blank
for inserting the name of the person in whose behalf it is purchased;
the inquisitors, it seems, will not allow the liberation of the
departed to become a matter of chance, and the _lottery scheme_ has
lately been prohibited. Fortunately, we still have various means
of assisting our friends in _Hades_; for, besides masses, Bulls,
prayers, and penances, the Pope has established eight or ten days
in the year, on which every Spaniard (for the grant is confined to
Spain) by kneeling at five different altars, and there praying for
the _extirpation of heresy_, is entitled to send a species of _habeas
animam_ writ to any of his friends in purgatory. The name of the
person whose liberation is intended should, for fear of mistakes,
be mentioned in the prayers. But, lest the order of release should
find him already free, or perhaps within those gates to which no Pope
has ever ventured to apply his keys, we are taught to endorse the
spiritual bill with other names, addressing it finally to the _most
worthy and disconsolate_.

These privileged days are announced to the public by a printed
notice, placed over the bason of holy water, which stands near every
church-door; and, as no one enters without wetting his forehead with
the blessed fluid, there is no fear that the happy season should pass
unheeded by the pious. The words written on the tablet are plain and
peremptory: _Hoy se saca Anima_; literally, “This is a soul-drawing
day.” We must, however, proceed on our uninterrupted journey.

Osuna, where we arrived on the second day after leaving Seville,
is built on the declivity of one of the detached hills which stand
as out-posts to the Sierra de Ronda, having in front a large
ill-cultivated plain, from whence the principal church, and the
college, to which the university of that town is attached, are
seen to great advantage. The great square of the town is nearly
surrounded by an arcade or piazza, with balconies above it, and is
altogether not unlike a large theatre. Such squares are to be found
in every large town of Spain, and seem to have been intended for the
exhibition of tournaments and a kind of bull-fights, less fierce
and bloody than those of the amphitheatre, which bear the name of
_regocijos_ (rejoicings.)

The line of distinction between the _noblesse_ and the unprivileged
class being here drawn with the greatest precision, there cannot
be a more disagreeable place for such as are, by education, above
the lower ranks, yet have the misfortune of a plebeian birth. An
honest respectable labourer without ambition, yet with a conscious
dignity of mind not uncommon among the Spanish peasantry, may, in
this respect, well be an object of envy to many of his betters.
Gentlemen treat them with a less haughty and distant air than is used
in England towards inferiors and dependents. A _rabadán_ (chief
shepherd), or an _aperador_ (steward), is always indulged with a
seat when speaking on business with his master, and men of the first
distinction will have a kind word for every peasant, when riding
about the country. Yet they will exclude from their club and billiard
table a well-educated man, because, forsooth, he has no legal title
to a Don before his name.

This town, though one of the third order, supports three convents
of friars and two of nuns. A gentleman of this place who, being
a clergyman, enjoys a high reputation as a spiritual director,
introduced us to some of the ladies at the nunneries. By this means
I became acquainted with two very remarkable characters--a worker of
miracles, and a nun in despair (_monja desesperada_). The first was
an elderly woman, whose countenance and manners betrayed no symptoms
of mental weakness, and whom, from all I was able to learn, it would
be difficult to class either with the deceiving or deceived. The
firm persuasion of her companions that she is sometimes the object,
sometimes the instrument of supernatural operations, inspires them
with a respect bordering upon awe. It would be tedious to relate the
alleged instances of her prying into futurity, and searching the
recesses of the heart. Reports like these are indeed easily raised
and propagated: but I shall briefly relate one, which shows how
stories of this kind may get abroad through the most respectable
channels, and form a chain of evidence which ingenuity cannot
trace up to involuntary error, and candour would not attribute to
deliberate falsehood.

The community of the _Descalzas_ (unshod nuns) had more than once
been thrown into great consternation on seeing their prioress--for to
that office had her sanctity raised the subject of my story--reduced,
for many days together, to absolute abstinence from food and drink.
Though prostrate, and with hardly any power of motion, she was in
full possession of her speech and faculties. Dr. Carnero, a physician
well known in these parts for skill and personal respectability,
attended the patient, for though it was firmly believed by the nuns
that human art could not reach the disease, it is but justice to say,
that no attempts were visible to give it a supernatural character
among strangers. The doctor, who seems to have at first considered
the case as a nervous affection, wished to try the effect of a
decided effort of the patient under the influence of his presence and
authority; for among nuns the physician is next in influence to the
professor. Having therefore sent for a glass of water, and desiring
the attendants to bolster up the prioress into a sitting posture, he
put it into her hand, with a peremptory injunction to do her utmost
to drink. The unresisting nun put the water to her lips, and stopped.
The physician was urging her to proceed, when to his great amazement
he found the contents of the glass reduced to one lump of ice.--We
had the account of this wonder from the clergyman who introduced us
to the nun. Of his veracity I can entertain no doubt: while he, on
the other hand, was equally confident of Dr. Carnero’s.

Our visit to the other convent made me acquainted with one of the
most pitiable objects ever produced by superstition--a reluctant nun.
Of the actual existence of such miserable beings one seldom hears
in Spain. A sense of decorum, and the utter hopelessness of relief,
keep the bitter regrets of many an imprisoned female a profound
secret to all but their confessor. In the present case, however, the
vehemence of the sufferer’s feelings had laid open to the world the
state of her harassed mind. She was a good-looking woman, of little
more than thirty: but the contrast between the monastic weeds, and
an indescribable air of wantonness which, in spite of all caution,
marked her every glance and motion, raised a mixed feeling of disgust
and pity, that made us uncomfortable during the whole visit. We had,
nevertheless, to stay till the customary refreshments of preserves,
cakes, and chocolate were served from within the double grate that
divided us from the inhabitants of the convent. This is done by means
of a semicircular wooden frame which fills up an opening in the wall:
the frame turns upon its centre, presenting alternately its concave
and its convex side. The refreshments being placed within the hollow
part; a slight impulse of the hand places them within reach of the
visitors. This machine takes the name of _torno_, from its rotatory
motion. But I must leave the convents for a future letter.

After a few days not unpleasantly spent at Osuna, we proceeded to
Olbera. The roads through all the branches of the Sierra de Ronda,
though often wild and romantic, are generally execrable. A mistake
of our servant had carried us within two miles of a village called
Pruna, when we were overtaken by a tremendous storm of hail and
thunder. Rain succeeded in torrents, and forced us to give up all
idea of reaching our destination that evening. We, consequently, made
for the village, anxious to dry our clothes, which were perfectly wet
through; but so wretched was the inn, that it had not a room where
we could retire to undress. In this awkward situation, my friend as
a clergyman, thought of applying to the vicar, who, upon learning
his name, very civilly received us in his house. The dress of this
worthy priest, a handsome man of about forty, shewed that he was at
least as fond of his gun and pointer, as of his missal. He had a
little of the swaggering manner of Andalusia, but it was softened by
a frankness and a gentleman-like air, which we little expected in
a retired Spanish vicar. The fact is, that the livings being poor,
none but the sons of tradesmen or peasants have, till very lately,
entered the church, without well-grounded hopes of obtaining at once
a place among the dignified clergy. But I should rather say that the
real _vicars_ are exempted from the care of a parish, and, under the
name of _beneficiados_, receive the tithes, and spend them how and
where they please. The nomination of curates belongs to the bishops;
some of whom, much to the credit of the Spanish prelacy, have of late
contrived to raise their income, and thereby induced a few young men,
who, not long ago would have disdained the office, to take a parish
under their care. The superiority, however, which was visible in
our host, arose from his being what is known by the name of _cura y
beneficiado_, or having a church, of which, as is sometimes the case,
the incumbency is inseparable from the curacy. He was far above his
neighbours in wealth and consequence; and being fond of field sports
and freedom, he preferred the wild spot where he had been born, to a
more splendid station in a Spanish cathedral.

The principal, or rather the most frequented, room in the vicars
house was, as usual, the kitchen or great hall at the entrance.
A well-looking woman, about five and thirty, with a very pretty
daughter of fifteen, and a peasant-girl to do the drudgery of the
house, formed the canonical establishment of this happy son of St.
Peter. To scrutinize the relation in which these ladies stood to the
priest, the laws of hospitality would forbid; while to consider them
as mere servants, we shrewdly guessed, would have hurt the feelings
of the vicar. Having therefore, with becoming gallantry, wound
ourselves into their good graces, we found no difficulty, when supper
was served up, in making them take their accustomed places, which,
under some pretence, they now seemed prepared to decline.

Our hearty meal ended, the _alcalde_, the _escribano_ (attorney), and
three or four of the more substantial farmers, dropped in to their
nightly _tertulia_. As the vicar saw no professional squeamishness
in my reverend companion, he had no hesitation to acquaint us with
the established custom of the house, which was to play at _faro_
till bed-time; and we joined the party. A green glazed earthen jar,
holding a quart of brandy, flavoured with anise, was placed at the
foot of the vicar, and a glass before each of the company. The
inhabitants of the Sierra de Ronda are fond of spirits, and many
exceptions to the general abstemiousness of the Spaniards are found
among them. But we did not observe any excess in our party. Probably
the influence of the clergyman, and the presence of strangers kept
all within the strictest rules of decorum. Next morning, after taking
a cup of chocolate, and cordially thanking our kind host, we took
horse for Olbera.

Some miles from that village, we passed one of the extensive woods
of ilex, which are found in many parts of Spain. In summer, the
beauty of these forests is very great. Wild flowers of all kinds,
myrtles, honeysuckles, cystus, &c. grow in the greatest profusion,
and ornament a scene doubly delicious from the cool shade which
succeeds to the glare of open and desolate plains, under a burning
sun. Did not the monumental crosses, erected on every spot where a
traveller has fallen by the hands of robbers, bring gloomy ideas to
the mind, and keep the eye watching every turn, and scouring every
thicket, without allowing it to repose on the beauties that court
it on all sides; Spain would afford many a pleasant and romantic
tour. Wild boars, and deer, and a few wolves, are found in these
forests. Birds of all kinds, hawks, kites, vultures, storks, cranes,
and bustards, are exceedingly numerous in most parts of the country.
Game, especially rabbits, is so abundant in these mountains, that
many people live by shooting; and though the number of dogs and
ferrets probably exceeds that of houses in every village, I heard
many complaints of annual depredations on the crops.

We had traversed some miles of dreary rocky ground, without a tree,
and hardly any verdure to soften its aspect, when from a deep valley,
formed by two barren mountains, we discovered Olbera, on the top of
a third, higher than the rest, and more rugged and steep than any we
had hitherto passed Both the approach and view of the town were so
perfectly in character with what we knew of the inhabitants, that the
idea of spending a week on that spot became gloomy and uncomfortable
at that moment.

The rustic and almost savage manners of the _noblesse_ of Olbera
are unparalleled in Andalusia. Both gentlemen and peasants claim
a wild independence, a liberty of misrule for their town, the
existence of which betrays the real weakness which never fails
to attend despotism. An Andalusian proverb desires you to “Kill
your man and fly to Olbera”--_Mata al hombre y vete a Olbera_. A
remarkable instance of the impunity with which murder is committed
in that town occurred two years before our visit. The _alguacil
mayor_, a law-officer of the first rank, was shot dead by an unknown
hand, when retiring to his house from an evening _tertulia_. He had
offended the chief of a party--for they have here their Capulets and
Montagues, though I could never discover a Juliet--who was known to
have formerly dispatched another man in a similar way; and no doubt
existed in the town, that Lobillo had either killed the alguacil, or
paid the assassin. The expectation, however, of his acquittal was as
general as the belief of his guilt. To the usual dilatoriness of the
judicial forms of the country, to the corruption of the scriveners
or notaries who, in taking down, most artfully alter the written
evidence upon which the judges ground their decision, was added the
terror of Lobillo’s name and party, whose vengeance was dreaded by
the witnesses. We now found him at the height of his power; and
he was one of the persons examined in evidence of the noble birth
and family honours of the candidate in whose behalf my friend had
received the commission of his college. Lobillo is a man between
fifty and sixty, with a countenance on which every evil passion is
marked in indelible characters. He was, in earlier life, renowned
for his forwardness in the savage rioting which to this day forms
the chief amusement of the youth of this town. The fact is, that the
constant use of spirits keeps many of them in a state of habitual
intoxication. One cannot cross the threshold of a house at Olbera
without being presented with a glass of brandy, which it would be an
affront to refuse. The exploits performed at their drinking-bouts
constitute the traditional chronicle of the town, and are recounted
with great glee by young and old. The idea of mirth is associated by
the _fashionables_ of Olbera with a rudeness that often degenerates
into downright barbarity. The sports of the field are generally
terminated by a supper at one of the _cortijos_, or farm-houses of
the gentry, where the _gracioso_ or _wit_ of the company, is expected
to promote some practical joke when mischief is rife among the
guests. The word _culebra_, for instance, is the signal for putting
out the lights, and laying about with the first thing that comes to
hand, as if trying to kill the _snake_, which is the pretended cause
of the alarm. The stomachs of the party are, on other occasions,
tried with a raw hare or kid, of which no one dares refuse to eat his
share: and it is by no means uncommon to propose the alternative of
losing a tooth, or paying a fine.

The relations of the young man whose pedigree was to be examined by
my friend, made it a point to entertain us, by rotation, every night
with a dance. At these parties there was no music but a guitar,
and some male and female voices. Two or four couples stood up for
_seguidillas_, a national dance, not unlike the _fandango_, which
was, not long since, modified into the _bolero_, by a dancing-master
of that name, a native of the province of Murcia, from which it was
originally called _Seguidillas Murcianas_. The dancers, rattling
their castanets, move at the sound of a single voice, which sings
couplets of four verses, with a burthen of three, accompanied by
musical chords that, combining the six strings of the guitar into
harmony, are incessantly struck with the nails of the right hand.
The singers relieve each other, every one using different words
to the same tune. The subject of these popular compositions, of
which a copious, though not very elegant collection is preserved in
the memory of the lower classes, is love; and they are generally
appropriate to the sex of the singers.

The illumination of the room consisted of a _candíl_--a rude lamp of
cast-iron, hung up by a hook on an upright piece of wood fixed on
a three-footed stool, the whole of plain deal. Some of the ladies
wore their _mantillas_ crossed upon the chin so as to conceal their
features. A woman in this garb is called _tapada_; and the practice
of that disguise, which was very common under the Austrian dynasty,
is still preserved by a few females in some of our country-towns.
I have seen them at Osuna and El Arahal, covered from head to foot
with a black woollen veil falling on both sides of the face, and
crossed so closely before it that nothing could be perceived but the
gleaming of the right eye placed just behind the aperture. Our old
dramatic writers found in the _tapadas_ an inexhaustible resource for
their plots. As the laws of honour protected a veiled lady from the
intrusions of curiosity, jealousy was thus perpetually mocked by the
very objects that were the main source of its alarms.

My introduction, at the first evening-party, to one of the ladies
of Olbera, will give you an idea of the etiquette of that town. A
young gentleman, the acknowledged _gracioso_ of the upper ranks,
a character which in those parts must unite that of _first bully_
to support it; had from the day of our arrival taken us under his
patronage, and engaged to do for us the honours of the place. His
only faults were, drinking like a fish, and being as quarrelsome as a
bull-dog; _au reste_, he was a kind-hearted soul, and would serve a
friend the whole length of the broad-sword, which, according to the
good old fashion, he constantly carried under the left arm, concealed
by the large foldings of his cloak. At the dances, he was master of
the ceremonies, and, as such, he introduced us to the company. We
had not yet seated ourselves, when Don Juan de la Rosa--such was
our patron’s name--surprised me with the question, which of the
present ladies I preferred to sit by. Thinking it was a jest, I
made a suitable answer; but I soon found he was serious. As it was
not for me to innovate, or break through the laudable customs of
Olbera, no other cause remained for hesitation but the difficulty of
the choice. Difficult it was indeed; not, however from the balanced
influence of contending beauty, but the formidable host of either
coy or grinning faces, which nearly filled one side of the room. To
take my post by one of the rustic nymphs, and thus engage to keep up
a regular flirtation for the evening, was more, I confess, than my
courage allowed me. Reversing, therefore, the maxim which attributes
increased horrors to things unknown, I begged to be introduced to a
_tapada_ who sat in a corner, provided a young man of the town, who
was at that moment speaking with her, had not a paramount claim to
the place. The word was scarcely spoken, when my friend, Don Juan,
advanced with a bold step, and, addressing his townsman with the
liberty of an established _gracioso_, declared it was not fit for a
_clown_ to take that place, instead of the _stranger_. The young man,
who happened to be a near relation of the lady, gave up his chair
very good-humouredly, and I was glad to find that the airiness and
superior elegance of shape, which led me to the choice, had directed
me to a gentlewoman. My veiled talking partner was highly amused--I
will not say flattered--with what she chose to call my blunder, and,
pretending to be old and ugly, brought into full play all my Spanish
gallantry. The evening was passed less heavily than I dreaded; and
during our stay at Olbera we gave a decided preference to the lady
of whom I had, thus strangely, declared myself the _cortejo pro
tempore_. She was a native of Malaga, whom her husband, an officer
on half-pay, had induced to reside in his native town, which she
most cordially detested. Perhaps you wish to know the reason of her
disguise at the dance. Moved by a similar curiosity, I ventured to
make the inquiry, when I learned that, for want of time to dress, she
had availed herself of the custom of the country, which makes the
_mantilla_ a species of _dishabille_ fit for an evening party.

In the intervals of the dance we were sometimes treated with dramatic
scenes, of which the dialogue is composed on the spot by the actors.
This amusement is not uncommon in country-towns. It is known by the
name of _juegos_--a word literally answering to _plays_. The actors
are in the habit of performing together, and consequently do not
find it difficult to go through their parts without much hesitation.
Men in women’s clothes act the female characters. The truth is, that
far from being surprised at the backwardness of the ladies to join
actively in the amusement, the wit and humour of the _juegos_ is
such, that one only wonders how any modest woman can be present at
the performance.

One night the dance was interrupted by the hoarse voice of our worthy
friend Don Juan, who happened to be in the kitchen on a visit to
a favourite jar of brandy. The ladies, though possessed of strong
nerves, shewed evident symptoms of alarm; and we all hurried out of
the room, anxious to ascertain the cause of the threatening tones
we had heard. Upon our coming to the hall, we found the doughty
hero standing at a window with a cocked gun in his hands, sending
forth a volley of oaths, and protesting he would shoot the first
man who approached his door. The assault, however, which he had
thus gallantly repulsed, being now over, he soon became cool enough
to inform us of the circumstances. Two or three individuals of
the adverse party, who were taking their nightly rounds under the
windows of their mistresses, hearing the revel at Rosa’s house, were
tempted to interrupt it by just setting fire to the door of the
entrance-hall. The house might, in a short time, have been in flames,
but for the unquenchable thirst of the owner, which so seasonably
drew him from the back to the front of the building.

We were once retiring home at break of day, when Don Juan, who never
quitted us, insisted upon our being introduced at that moment to one
of two brothers of the name of Ribera, who had, the evening before,
arrived from his farm. Remonstrance was in vain: Don Juan crossed
the street, and “the wicket opening with a latch,” in primitive
simplicity, we beheld one of the most renowned _braggadocios_
of Olbera lying in bed, with a gun by his side. Ribera, so
unceremoniously disturbed, could not help greeting the visitors in
rather rough language; but he was soon appeased, on perceiving that
we were strangers. He sat up in his bed, and handed to me a tumbler
of brandy, just filled from the ever-present green jar, that stood
within his reach upon a deal table. The life I was leading had given
me a severe cough, and the muzzle of Ribera’s gun close to my head
would scarcely have alarmed me more than the brim-full rummer with
which I was threatened. A terrible fit of coughing, however, came to
my assistance; and Don Juan interposing in my favour, I was allowed
to lay down the glass.

The facetiousness of the two Riberas is greatly admired in their
town. These loving brothers had, on a certain occasion, gone to bed
at their _cortijo_ (farm), forgetting to put out the _candíl_, or
lamp, hung up at the opposite end of the hall. The first who had
retired urged that it was incumbent on him who sat up latest, to have
left every thing in proper order; but the offender was too lazy to
quit his bed, and a long contest ensued. After much, and probably
not very temperate disputing, a bright thought seemed to have crossed
the younger brother. And so it was indeed; for stopping short in
the argument, he grasped the gun, which, as usual, stood by his
bed-side, took a sure aim, and put an end both to the dispute and its
subject, by shooting down the _candíl_. The humour of this _potent
conclusion_ was universally applauded at Olbera. I have been assured
that the same extinguisher is still, occasionally, resorted to by
the brothers; and a gun heard in the night, infallibly reminds the
inhabitants, of the Riberas’ lamp.[26]

  [26] See Note G.



LETTER VI.


    _Seville, ---- 1801._

My residence in this town, after visiting Olbera, was short and
unpleasant. The yellow-fever, which had some months before appeared
at Cadiz, began to show itself in our large suburb of Triana, on the
other side of the Guadalquivir. As no measures were taken to prevent
communication with Cadiz, it is supposed that the infection was
brought by some of the numerous seafaring people that inhabit the
vicinity of the river. The progress of the malady was slow at first,
and confined to one side of the street where it began. Meetings of
all the physicians were convened by the chief magistrates, who,
though extremely arbitrary in matters of daily occurrence, are,
in Spain, very timid and dilatory on any extraordinary emergency.
Unconscious of the impending danger, the people flocked to these
meetings to amuse themselves at the expense of our doctors, who are
notoriously quarrelsome and abusive when pitted against each other.
A few of the most enlightened among them ventured to declare that
the fever was infectious; but their voice was drowned in the clamour
of a large majority who wished to indulge the stupid confidence of
the inhabitants. The disease in the mean time crossed the river; and
following the direction of the street where it originally appeared
at Triana--now quite overrun by the infection--began its ravages
within the ancient walls of our town. It was already high time to
take alarm, and symptoms of it were shewn by the chief authorities.
Their measures, however, cannot fail to strike you as perfectly
original. No separation of the infected from the healthy part of the
town: no arrangement for confining and relieving the sick poor. The
governor who, by such means, had succeeded in stopping the progress
of the fever would have been called to account for the severity of
his measures, and his success against the infection turned into a
demonstration that it never existed. Anxious, therefore, to avoid
every questionable step in circumstances of such magnitude, the civil
authorities wisely resolved to make an application to the archbishop
and chapter, for the solemn prayers called _Rogativas_, which are
used in times of public affliction. This request being granted
without delay, the _Rogativa_ was performed at the cathedral for nine
consecutive days, after sunset.

The gloom of that magnificent temple, scarcely broken by the light of
six candles on the high altar, and the glimmering of the lamps in the
aisles, combined with the deep and plaintive tones of forty singers
chanting the penitential psalms, impressed the throng of supplicants
with the strongest feelings, which superstition can graft upon fear
and distress.

When the people observed the infection making a rapid progress in
many parts of the town, notwithstanding the due performance of the
usual prayers, they began to cast about for a more effectual method
of obtaining supernatural assistance. It was early suggested by many
of the elderly inhabitants, that a fragment of the true Cross, or
_Lignum Crucis_, one of the most valuable relics possessed by the
cathedral of Seville, should be exhibited from the lofty tower called
_Giralda_; for they still remembered, when, at the view of that
miraculous splinter, myriads of locusts which threatened destruction
to the neighbouring fields, rose like a thick cloud, and conveyed
themselves away, probably to some infidel country. The _Lignum
Crucis_, it was firmly believed, would, in like manner, purify the
atmosphere, and put an end to the infection. Others, however, without
any disparagement to the holy relic, had turned their eyes to a
large wooden crucifix, formerly in great repute, and now shamefully
neglected, on one of the minor altars of the Austin Friars, without
the gates of the town. The effectual aid given by that crucifix in
the plague of 1649 was upon record. This wonderful image had, it
seems, stopped the infection, just when one half of the population
of Seville had been swept away; thus evidently saving the other half
from the same fate. On this ground, and by a most natural analogy,
the hope was very general, that a timely exhibition of the crucifix
through the streets, would give instant relief to the town.[27]

  [27] See Note H.

Both these schemes were so sound and rational, that the chief
authorities, unwilling to shew an undue partiality to either, wisely
determined to combine them into one great _lustration_. A day was,
accordingly, fixed for a solemn procession to conduct the crucifix
from the convent to the cathedral, and to ascend the tower for the
purpose of _blessing_ the four cardinal winds with the _Lignum
Crucis_. On that day, the chapter of the cathedral, attended by
the civil governor, the judges, the inquisitors, and the town
corporation, repaired to the convent of Saint Augustin, and, having
placed the crucifix upon a moveable stage covered with a magnificent
canopy, walked before it with lighted candles in their hands, while
the singers, in a mournful strain, repeated the names of the saints
contained in the Catholic litany, innumerable voices joining, after
every invocation in the accustomed response--_Ora pro nobis_. Arrived
at the cathedral, the image was exposed to public adoration within
the presbytery, or space reserved for the ministering clergy, near
the high altar. After this the dean, attended by the chapter, the
inferior ministers of the church, and the singers, moved in solemn
procession towards the entrance of the tower, and, in the same
order ascended the five-and-twenty inclined planes, which afford a
broad and commodious access to the open belfry of that magnificent
structure. The worship paid to any fragment of the true Cross is next
in degree to that which is due to the consecrated host. On the view
of the priest in his robes at one of the four central arches of the
majestic steeple, the multitude, who had crowded to the neighbourhood
of the cathedral from all parts of the city, fell upon their knees,
their eyes streaming with tears: tears, indeed, which that unusual
sight would have drawn from the weak and superstitious on any
other occasion, but which, in the present affliction, the stoutest
heart could hardly repress. An accidental circumstance heightened
the impressiveness of the scene. The day, one of the hottest of
an Andalusian summer, had been overcast with electric clouds. The
priest had scarcely begun to make the sign of the cross with the
golden vase which contains the _Lignum Crucis_, when one of the
tremendous thunderstorms, so awful in southern climates, burst upon
the trembling multitude. A few considered this phenomenon as a proof
that the public prayers were heard, and looked upon the lightning as
the instrument which was to disperse the cause of the infection.
But the greatest number read in the frowns of the sky the unappeased
anger of Heaven, which doomed them to drain the bitter cup that was
already at their lips. Alas! they were not deceived. That doom had
been sealed when Providence allowed ignorance and superstition to fix
their dwelling among us; and the evils which my countrymen feared
from a preternatural interposition of the avenging powers above,
were ready to arise as the natural consequences of the means they
themselves had employed to avert them. The immense concourse from all
parts of the town had, probably, condensed into a focus the scattered
seeds of infection. The heat, the fatigue, the anxiety of a whole day
spent in this striking, though absurd, religious ceremony, had the
most visible and fatal effect on the public health. Eight and forty
hours after the procession, the complaint had left but few houses
unvisited. The deaths increased in a tenfold proportion, and at the
end of two or three weeks the daily number was from two to three
hundred.

Providence spared me and my best friend by the most unforeseen
combination of circumstances. Though suffering under an obstinate
ague, _Leandro_--so he is called at our private club--had determined
not to quit his college, at the head of which he was placed for that
year. His family, on the other hand, had for some time resided at
Alcalá de Guadaíra, a village beautifully situated within twelve
miles of Seville. Alarmed at the state of the town, and unwilling to
leave my friend to perish, either by the infection, or the neglect to
which the general consternation exposed an invalid, I prevailed upon
him to join his family, and attended him thither. This was but a few
days before the religious ceremony which I have described from the
narrative of eye-witnesses. It was my intention to have returned to
Seville; but the danger was now so imminent, that it would have been
madness to encounter it without necessity. Thus a visit which I meant
for a week, was inevitably prolonged to six months.

For you, however, who love detail in the description of this hitherto
little known country, my time was not spent in vain. Yet I must begin
by a fact which will be of more interest to my old friend, Doctor
----, than yourself.

Alcalá de Guadaíra is a town containing a population of two thousand
inhabitants, and standing on a high hilly spot to the northeast of
Seville. The greatest part of the bread consumed in this city comes
daily from Alcalá, where the abundant and placid stream of the
Guadaíra, facilitates the construction of water-mills. Many of the
inhabitants being bakers, and having no market but Seville, were
under the necessity of repairing thither during the infection. It is
not with us as in England, where every tradesman practically knows
the advantages of the division of labour, and is at liberty, to
consult his own convenience in the sale of his articles. The bakers,
the butchers, the gardeners, and the farmers, are here obliged to
sell in separate markets, where they generally spend the whole day
waiting for customers. Owing to this regulation of the police, about
sixty men, and double that number of mules, leave Alcalá every day
with the dawn, and stand till the evening in two rows, inclosed with
iron railings, at the _Plaza del Pan_. The constant communication
with the people from all parts of the town, and so long an exposure
to the atmosphere of an infected place, might have been supposed
powerful enough to communicate the disease. We, certainly, were in
daily apprehension of its appearance at Alcalá. So little, however,
can we calculate the effects of unknown causes, that of the people
that thus braved the contagion, only one, who passed the night in
Seville, caught the disease and died. All the others, no less than
the rest of the village, continued to enjoy the usual degree of
health, which, probably owing to its airy situation, is excellent at
all times.

The daily accounts we received from our city, independent of the
danger to which we believed ourselves exposed, were such as would
cast a gloom over the most selfish and unfeeling. Superstition,
however, as if the prospect had not been sufficiently dark and
dismal, was busy among us, increasing the terrors which weighed
down the minds of the people. Two brothers, both clergymen,
wealthy, proud, conceited of the jargon they mistook for learning,
and ambitious of power under the cloak of zeal, had, upon the
first appearance of the fever, retreated to Alcalá, where they
kept a country-house. Two more odious specimens of the pampered,
thorough-bred, full-grown Spanish bigot, never appeared in the ranks
of the clergy. The eldest, a dignitary of the church, was a selfish
devotee, whose decided taste for good living, and mortal aversion
to discomfort, had made him calculate with great nicety how, by an
economy of pleasure in this world, he might secure a reasonable share
of it in the next. But whatever degree of self-denial was necessary
to keep him from gross misconduct, he amply repaid himself in the
enjoyment of control over the consciences and conduct of others.

From the comparative poverty of the parish priests, and the shade
into which they are thrown by the upper clergy, the power of the
first is so limited, that the most bigoted and violent among them can
give but little trouble to the laity. The true priest of old times is
only to be found among those ecclesiastics, who to a dignified office
join that degree of fanaticism which makes men conceive themselves
commissioned by Heaven to weed the world of evil, and tear up by the
roots whatever offends their privileged and infallible eyes. Thus it
was, for instance, that the holy personage at Alcalá claimed and
exercised a right to exclude from church such females as, by a showy
dress, were apt to disturb the abstracted, yet susceptible minds of
the clergy. The lady of a judge was, within my recollection, turned
by this proud bigot out of the cathedral of Seville, in the presence
of a multitude assembled for the ceremonies of the Passion-week. The
husband, whose displeasure would have brought ruin on a more humble
individual, was obliged to devour this insult in silence. It should
be observed, by the way, that as the walking-dress of the Spanish
females absolutely precludes immodesty, the conduct of this religious
madman admits no excuse or palliation. Yet this is so far from being
a singular instance, that, what sumptuary laws would never be able
to accomplish, the rude and insolent zeal of a few priests has fully
obtained in every part of Spain. Our females, especially those of
the better classes, never venture to church in any dress but such as
habit has made familiar to the eyes of the zealots.

Whatever be the feelings that produce it, there is, in Spain, a
sort of standing crusade against the fair sex, which our priests,
except such as have been secretly gained over to the enemy, carry
on incessantly, though not with the same vigour, at all times. The
main subject of contention is a right claimed by the clergy to
regulate the dress of the ladies, and prevent the growth of such
arts of charming as might endanger the peace of the church. Upon
the appearance of a new fashion, the “drum ecclesiastic” never
fails to sound the war-note. Innumerable are the sermons I heard
in my younger days against silk shoes--for the Spanish females
have the extravagance to use them out of doors--the wearing of
which, especially embroidered with silk or gold, was declared by
the soundest divines to be a _mortal sin_. Patience, however, and
that watchful perseverance with which Nature has armed the weaker
sex against the tyranny of the stronger, have gradually obtained a
toleration for silk shoes, while taste has extenuated the sin by
banishing the embroidery. Yet the Demon of Millinery had lately set
up another stumbling-block, by slily suggesting to the ladies that
their petticoats were monstrous long, and concealed those fairy feet
and ankles which are the pride of Andalusia. The petticoats shrunk
first by barleycorns; half an inch was then pared off by some bolder
sempstress, till at length the ground, the former place of safety for
consecrated eyes, was found thick set with snares. In vain have the
most powerful preachers thundered against this abomination; nor did
it avail that some of our bishops, deeming the occasion worthy of
their interference, grasped the long-neglected pen to enter a most
solemn protest against the _profaneness_ of the female dress. But the
case seemed hopeless. A point gained upon petticoats was sure to be
lost on top-knots; and when the pious were triumphing on the final
subjection of projecting stays, a pin threw them into utter confusion
by altering its position on the orthodox neck-kerchief.

Often had some great calamity been foretold from the pulpit as the
punishment of the incorrigible perverseness of our females; and, on
the first appearance of the fever, there was but little doubt among
the chosen few as to its real cause. Many a stitch was undone at
Seville, and many a flounce torn off, by the same pretty hand that,
but a few days before, had distributed its foldings with a conscious
feeling of its future airiness and light flutterings. The pin,
which, in Spain, forces the cambric kerchief to do, both morning and
evening, the transient morning duty of your ruffs and spencers--that
mysterious pin which vibrates daily at the toilette under the
contending influence of vanity and delicacy--the pin, in short,
which, on our females, acts as the infallible barometer of devotion,
had risen to the highest point of _dryness_, without, alas! checking
the progress of the disease.

Our two divines, fearful of being swept away with the guilty,
were, at this time, perfectly outrageous in their zeal to bring
the bakers’ wives at Alcalá to a due sense of the evil influence
of their glaring, bushy top-knots and short petticoats. Having,
therefore, with little ceremony to the vicar, taken possession of
the parish church, they began a course of preaching for nine days,
known by the name of _Novena_, a definite number which, with many
other superstitions, has been applied to religious rites among the
Catholics since the times of Roman paganism.

Most of the Spanish villages possess some miraculous image--generally
of the Virgin Mary--which is the _palladium_ of the inhabitants.
These tutelar deities are of a very rude and ancient workmanship,
as it seems to have been the case with their heathen prototypes.
The “Great Diana” of the _Alcalaians_ is a small, ugly, wooden
figure, nearly black with age, and the smoke of the lamp which burns
incessantly before it, dressed up in a tunic and mantle of silver
or gold tissue, and bearing a silver crown. It is distinguished
from the innumerable host of wooden virgins by the title of _Virgen
del Aguila_--“the Virgin of the Eagle,” and is worshipped on a high
romantic spot, where stood a high fortress of the Moors, of which
large ruins are still visible. A church was erected, probably soon
after the conquest of Andalusia, on the area of the citadel. A
spring-well of the most delicious water is seen within the precincts
of the temple, to which the natives resort for relief in all sorts
of distempers. The extreme purity of both air and water, on that
elevated spot, may indeed greatly contribute to the recovery of
invalids, for which the Virgin gets all the credit.

The _Novena_, which was to avert the infection from the village,
would have been inefficient without the presence of the _Eagle_
patroness, to whom it was dedicated. The image was, accordingly,
brought down to the parish church in a solemn procession. The eldest
_Missionary_--for such priests as preach, not for a display of
eloquence, but the conversion of sinners, assume that title among
us--having a shrill, disagreeable voice, and being apt, when he
addressed the people, to work himself into a feverish excitement
approaching to madness, generally devolved that duty on his brother,
while he devoted himself to the confessional. The brother is, indeed,
cast in the true mould of a popular preacher, such as can make a
powerful impression on the lower classes of Spain. His person is
strong, his countenance almost handsome, his voice more loud than
pleasing. He has, in fact, all the characteristics of an Andalusian
_Majo_: jet black passionate eyes, a shining bluish beard darkening
his cheeks from within an inch of his long eye-lashes, and a
swaggering gait which, in the expressive idiom of the country, gives
such as move with it, the name of _Perdonavidas_--Life sparers, as
if other people owed their lives to the mercy, or contempt of these
heroes. The effects of his preaching were just what people expect
on similar occasions. A Missionary feels baffled and disappointed
when he is not interrupted by groans, and some part of the female
audience will not go into hysterics. If he has a grain of spirit
about him, such a perverse indifference nettles him into a furious
passion, and he turns the insensibility of his hearers into a
visible proof of their reprobate state. Thus it often happens,
that, the people measuring their spiritual danger by the original
dulness or incomprehensibility of the sermon, the final triumph of
the missionary is in exact proportion to his absurdity. To make
these wild discourses more impressive, as well as to suit the
convenience of the labouring classes, they are commonly delivered
after sunset. Our orator, it is true, omitted the exhibition of a
soul in hell-flames, which a few years ago was regularly made from
the pulpit in a transparent picture; but he worked up the feelings of
the audience by contrivances less disgusting and shocking to common
sense. Among others he fixed a day for collecting all the children of
the town under seven years of age, before the image of the Virgin.
The parents, as well as all others who had attained the age of moral
responsibility, were declared to be unworthy of addressing themselves
in supplication, and therefore excluded from the centre of the
church, which was reserved for the throng of innocent suppliants.

When the first period of nine days had been spent in this mockery
of common sense and religion, the fertile minds of our missionaries
were not at a loss to find a second course of the same pious mummery,
and so on till the infection had ceased at Seville. The preservation
of the village from the fever which, more or less, had existed for
three or four months in the neighbouring towns, you will easily
believe, was attributed by the preachers to their own exertions.
The only good effect, however, which I observed, in consequence of
their sermons, was the increased attendance of the male part of the
population at the _Rosario de Madrugada_--the Dawn Rosary--one of
the few useful and pleasing customs which religion has introduced in
Spain.

It is an established practice in our country towns to awake the
labouring population before the break of day, that they may
be early in readiness to begin their work, especially in the
corn-fields, which are often at the distance of six or eight miles
from the labourers’ dwellings. Nothing but religion, however, could
give a permanency to this practice. Consequently a _rosary_, or
procession, to sing praises to the Virgin Mary before the dawn, has
been established among us from time immemorial. A man with a good
voice, active, sober, and fond of early rising, is either paid,
or volunteers his services, to perambulate the streets an hour
before daybreak, knocking at the doors of such as wish to attend
the procession, and inviting all to quit their beds and join in
the worship of the Mother of God. This invitation is made in short
couplets, set to a very simple melody, and accompanied by the pretty
and varied tinkling of a hand-bell, beating time to the tune. The
effect of the bell and voice, especially after a long winter-night,
has always been very pleasing to me. Nor is the fuller chorus of
the subsequent procession less so. The chant, by being somewhat
monotonous, harmonizes with the stillness of the hour; and without
chasing away the soft slumbers of the morning, relieves the mind from
the ideas of solitude and silence, and whispers life and activity
returning with the approaching day.

The fever having stopped its ravages about the end of autumn, and
nearly disappeared a few weeks before Christmas, my friend and myself
prepared to return home. I shall never forget our melancholy arrival
in this town on the last evening of December. Besides the still
existing danger of infection to those who had been absent, there was
a visible change in the aspect of the town, no less than in the looks
and manner of the inhabitants, which could not but strike the most
thoughtless on the first approach to that scene of recent misery and
woe. An unusual stillness reigned in every street; and the few pale
faces which moved in them, worked in the mind a vivid representation
of the late distress. The heart seemed to recoil from the meeting of
old acquaintances; and the signs of mourning were every where ready
to check the first risings of joy at the approach of friends that had
been spared.

The Sunday after our arrival, we went, according to custom, to
the public walk on the banks of the river. But the thousands who
made it their resort before the late calamity, had now absolutely
deserted it. At the end of the walk was the burying-ground, which,
during the great mortality, had been appointed for that quarter
of the city. The prevalent custom of burying in vaults within the
churches kept the town unprovided with an appropriate place for
interment out of the walls; and a portion of waste land, or common,
now contained the remains of ten thousand inhabitants, who in their
holiday rambles had, not long before, been sporting unconsciously
over their graves. As we approached the large mounds, which, with
the lofty cross erected on the turf, were yet the only marks which
distinguished the consecrated from the common ground, we saw one
of the _Rosarios_, or processions in honour of the Virgin, slowly
advancing along the avenue of the public walk. Many who formerly
frequented that place for recreation, had, under the impression of
grief and superstitious terror, renounced every species of amusement,
and marshalling themselves in two files, preceded by a cross, and
closed by the picture of the Virgin on a standard, repaired every
Sunday to the principal place of burial, where they said prayers for
the dead. Four or five of these processions, consisting either of
males or females, passed towards the cemetery as we were returning.
The melancholy tone in which they incessantly sang the Ave Maria and
the Lord’s Prayer, as they glided along a former scene of life and
animation; and the studied plainness of the dresses, contrasted with
the gay apparel which the same persons used to display on that very
spot, left us no wish to prolong our walk. Among the ladies whose
penitent dress was most striking, we observed many who, not satisfied
with mere plainness of attire, had, probably under a private vow,
clothed themselves in a stuff peculiar to some of the religious
orders. The grey mixture used by the Franciscans was most prevalent.
Such vows are indeed very common in cases of danger from illness;
but the number and class of the females whom we found submitting to
this species of penance, shewed the extent and pressure of the past
affliction.

So transient, however, are the impressions of superstitious fear when
unsupported by the presence of its object, that a few months have
sufficed nearly to obliterate the signs of the past terror. The term
of the vows having expired with most, our females have recovered
their wonted spirits, and put aside the dull weeds of their holy
patrons. Many, it is probable, have obtained from their confessors
a commutation of the rash engagement, by means of a few pence paid
towards the expenses of any war that may arise between his Catholic
Majesty and Turks or infidels--a Crusade, for which government
collects a vast yearly sum, in exchange for various ghostly
privileges and indulgences, which the King buys from the Pope at a
much cheaper rate than he retails them to his loving subjects.

One loss alone will, I fear, be permanent, or of long duration to the
gay part of this town. The theatrical representations, which, on the
first appearance of the epidemic fever, were stopped, more by the
clamour of the preachers than the apprehensions of the inhabitants;
will not be resumed for years. The opinion formerly entertained by
a comparatively small number, that the opening of the theatre at
Seville had never failed to draw the vengeance of heaven sometimes
on its chief supporters, sometimes on the whole town; has been
wonderfully spread under the influence of the last visitation: and
government itself, arbitrary and despotic as it is among us, would
have to pause before any attempt to involve this most religious city
in the unpardonable guilt of allowing a company of comedians within
its walls.



LETTER VII.


    _Seville, ---- 1803._

I have connected few subjects with more feelings of disgust and
pain than that of the Religious Orders in this country. The evil of
this institution, as it relates to the male sex, is so unmixed, and
unredeemed by any advantage, and its abuse, as applied to females,
so common and cruel, that I recoil involuntarily from the train of
thought which I feel rising in my mind. But the time approaches, or
my wishes overstep my judgment, when this and such gross blemishes
of society will be finally extirpated from the face of the civilized
world. The struggle must be long and desperate; and neither the
present nor the ensuing generation are likely to see the end. Let
me, however, flatter myself with the idea, that by exposing the
mischievous effects of the existing system, I am contributing--no
matter how little--towards its final destruction. Such a notion alone
can give me courage to proceed.

Gibbon has delineated, with his usual accuracy, the origin and
progress of monastic life;[28] and to his elegant pages I must refer
you for information on the historical part of my subject. But his
account does not come down to the establishment of the Mendicant
Orders of Friars. The distinction, however, between these and
the Monks is not very important. The Monks, as the original name
implies, retired from the world to live in perfect solitude. As these
fanatics increased, many associations were formed, whose members,
professing the same rule of religious life, were distinguished by the
appropriate name of _Cœnobites_.[29] When, at length, the frantic
spirit which drove thousands to live like wild beasts in the deserts,
had relaxed, and the original _Eremites_ were gradually gathered into
the more social establishment of convents, the original distinction
was forgotten, and the primitive name of Monks became prevalent.
Still holding up their claims to be considered _Anachorites_, even
when they had become possessed of lands and princely incomes, their
monasteries were founded in the neighbourhood, but never within the
precincts of towns: and though the service of their churches is
splendid, it is not intended for the benefit of the people, and the
Monks are seldom seen either in the pulpit or the confessional.

  [28] Chapter xxxvii.

  [29] Persons who live in common.

The Friars date their origin from the beginning of the thirteenth
century, and were instituted for the express purpose of acting as
auxiliaries to the clergy. Saint Dominic, the most odious, and Saint
Francis, the most frantic of modern saints, enlisted their holy
troops without any limitation of number; for, by quartering them
on the productive population of Christendom, the founders took no
concern for the daily supply of their numerous followers.

The Dominicans, however, having succeeded in the utter destruction
of the Albigenses, and subsequently monopolized, for more than three
centuries, the office of inquisitors, enriched themselves with the
spoils of their victims, and are in the enjoyment of considerable
wealth. The Franciscans continue to thrive upon alms; and, relying
on the promise made to Saint Francis in a vision, that his followers
should never feel want, point to the abundant supplies which flow
daily into their convents as a permanent miracle which attests the
celestial origin of their order. With the historical proofs of St.
Francis’s financial vision I confess myself perfectly unacquainted.
But when I consider that the general or chief of these holy beggars,
derives from the collections daily made by his friars, a personal
income of twenty thousand a year, I cannot withhold my assent to its
genuineness; for who, except a supernatural being, could possess such
a thorough knowledge of the absurdity of mankind?

It would be tedious to enter into a description of the numerous
orders comprehended under the two classes of Monks and Friars.
The distinguishing characters of the first are wealth, ease, and
indulgence--those of the last, vulgarity, filth, and vice. I shall
only add that, among the Monks, the Benedictines are at the top of
the scale for learning and decency of manners, while the Hieronimites
deservedly occupy the bottom. To the Friars I am forced to apply the
Spanish proverb--“There is little to choose in a mangy flock.” The
Franciscans, however, both from their multitude and their low habits
of mendicity, may be held as the proper representatives of all that
is most objectionable in the religious orders.

The inveterate superstition which still supports these institutions
among us has lost, of late, its power to draw recruits to the
cloister, from the middle and higher classes. Few monks, and scarcely
a friar, can be found, who by taking the cowl, has not escaped a life
of menial toil. Boys of this rank of life are received as novices at
the age of fifteen, and admitted, after a year’s probation, to the
perpetual vows of _obedience_, _poverty_, and _celibacy_. Engagements
so discordant with the first laws of human nature could hardly stand
the test of time, even if they arose from the deepest feelings of
enthusiasm. But this affection of the mind is seldom found in our
convents. The year of noviciate is spent in learning the cant and
gestures of the vilest hypocrisy, as well as in strengthening, by the
example of the professed young friars, the original gross manners
and vicious habits of the probations.[30] The result of such a system
is but too visible. It is a common jest among the friars themselves,
that in the act of taking the vows, when the superior of the convent
draws the cowl over the head of the novice, he uses the words _Tolle
verecundiam_--“Put off shame.” And indeed, were the friars half so
true to their profession as they are to this supposed injunction, the
Church of Rome would really teem with saints. Shameless in begging,
they share the scanty meal of the labourer, and extort a portion of
every product of the earth from the farmer. Shameless in conduct,
they spread vice and demoralization among the lower classes, secure
in the respect which is felt for their profession, that they may
engage in a course of profligacy without any risk of exposure. When
an instance of gross misconduct obtrudes itself upon the eyes of the
public, every pious person thinks it his duty to hush up the report,
and cast a veil on the transaction. Even the sword of justice is
glanced aside from these consecrated criminals. I shall not trouble
you with more than two cases, out of a multitude, which prove the
power of this popular feeling.

  [30] See Note I.

The most lucrative employment for friars, in this town, is preaching.
I have not the means to ascertain the number of sermons delivered
at Seville in the course of the year; but there is good reason
to suppose that the average cannot be less than twelve a-day.
One preacher, a clergyman, I know, who scarcely passes one day
without mounting the pulpit, and reckons on three sermons every
four-and-twenty hours, during the last half of Lent.

Of these indefatigable preachers, the greatest favourite is a young
Franciscan friar, called Padre R----z, whose merit consists in a
soft clear-toned voice, a tender and affectionate manner, and an
incredible fluency of language. Being, by his profession, under a vow
of absolute poverty, and the Franciscan rule carrying this vow so
far as not to allow the members of the order to touch money, it was
generally understood that the produce of these apostolical labours
was faithfully deposited to be used in common by the whole religious
community. An incident, however, which lately came to light, has
given us reason to suspect that we are not quite in the secret of
the internal management of these societies of saintly paupers, and
that individual industry is rewarded among them with a considerable
share of profits. A young female cousin of the zealous preacher in
question, was living quite alone in a retired part of this town,
where her relative paid her, it should seem, not unfrequent visits.
Few, however, except her obscure neighbours, suspected her connexion
with the friar, or had the least notion of her existence. An old
woman attended her in the day-time, and retired in the evening,
leaving her mistress alone in the house. One morning the street was
alarmed by the old servant, who, having gained admittance, as usual,
by means of a private key, found the young woman dead in her bed, the
room and other parts of the house being stained with blood. It was
clear, indeed, upon a slight inspection of the body, that no violence
had taken place; yet the powerful interest excited at the moment,
and before measures had been taken to hush the whole matter, spread
the circumstances of the case all over the town, and brought the
fact to light, that the house itself belonged to the friar, having
been purchased by an agent with the money arising from his sermons.
The hungry vultures of the law would have reaped an abundant harvest
upon any lay individual who had been involved in such a train of
suspicious circumstances. But, probably, a proper _douceur_ out of
the sermon fees increased their pious tenderness for the friar; while
he was so emboldened by the disposition of the people to shut their
eyes on every circumstance which might sully the fair name of a son
of Saint Francis, that, a few days after the event, he preached a
sermon, denouncing the curse of Heaven on the impious individuals who
could harbour a belief derogatory to his sacred character.

Crimes of the blackest description were left unpunished during the
last reign, from a fixed and avowed determination of the King[31]
not to inflict the punishment of death upon a priest. Townsend has
mentioned the murder of a young lady committed by a friar at San
Lucar de Barrameda; and I would not repeat the painful narrative,
were it not that my acquaintance with some of her relatives, as
well as with the spot on which she fell, enables me to give a more
accurate statement.

  [31] Charles III.

A young lady, of a very respectable family in the above-mentioned
town, had for her confessor a friar of the Reformed or _Unshod_
Carmelites. I have often visited the house where she lived, in front
of the convent. Thither her mother took her every day to mass, and
frequently to confession. The priest, a man of middle age, had
conceived a passion for his young penitent, which, not venturing to
disclose, he madly fed by visiting the unsuspecting girl with all
the frequency which the spiritual relation in which he stood towards
her, and the friendship of her parents, allowed him. The young woman
now about nineteen, had an offer of a suitable match, which she
accepted with the approbation of her parents. The day being fixed
for the marriage, the bride, according to custom, went, attended by
her mother, early in the morning to church, to confess and receive
the sacrament. After giving her absolution, the confessor, stung
with the madness of jealousy, was observed whetting a knife in the
kitchen. The unfortunate girl had, in the mean time, received the
host, and was now leaving the church, when the villain, meeting her
in the porch, and pretending to speak a few words in her ear--a
liberty to which his office entitled him--stabbed her to the heart
in the presence of her mother. The assassin did not endeavour to
escape. He was committed to prison; and after the usual delays of
the Spanish law, was condemned to death. The King, however, commuted
this sentence into a confinement for life in a fortress at Puerto
Rico. The only anxiety ever showed by the murderer was respecting
the success of his crime. He made frequent enquiries to ascertain
the death of the young woman; and the assurance that no man could
possess the object of his passion, seemed to make him happy during
the remainder of a long life.

Instances of enthusiasm are so rare, even in the most austere orders,
that there is strong ground to suspect its seeds are destroyed by
a pervading corruption of morals. The Observant Franciscans, the
most numerous community in this town, have not been able to set up
a living saint after the death, which happened four or five years
since, of the last in the series of servants to the order, who, for
time immemorial, have been a source of honour and profit to that
convent. Besides the lay-brothers--a kind of upper servants under
religious vows, but excluded from the dignity of holy orders--the
friars admit some peasants, under the name of Donados, (_Donati_,
in the Latin of the middle ages,) who, like their predecessors of
servile condition, give themselves up, as their name expresses it,
to the service of the convent. As these people are now-a-days at
liberty to leave their voluntary servitude, none are admitted but
such as by the weakness of their understanding, and the natural
timidity arising from a degree of imbecility, are expected to
continue for life in a state of religious bondage. They wear the
habit of the order, and are employed in the most menial offices,
unless, being able to act, or rather to bear the character of
extraordinary sanctity, they are sent about town to collect alms for
their employers. These idiot saints are seen daily with a vacillating
step, and look of the deepest humility, bearing about an image of the
child Jesus, to which a basket for alms is appended, and offering,
not their hand, which is the privilege of priests, but the end of
their right sleeve, to be kissed by the pious. To what influence
these miserable beings are sometimes raised, may be learned from a
few particulars of the life of Hermanito Sebastian (Little Brother
Sebastian) the last but one of the Franciscan collectors in this town.

During the last year of Philip V. Brother Sebastian was presented
to the _Infantes_, the king’s sons, that he might confer a blessing
upon them. The courtiers present, observing that he took most notice
of the king’s third son, Don Carlos, observed to him that his
respects were chiefly due to the eldest, who was to be king. “Nay,
nay, (it is reported he answered, pointing to his favourite) this
shall be king too.” Some time after this interview, Don Carlos was,
by the arrangements which put an end to the Succession War, made
Sovereign Prince of Parma. Conquest subsequently raised him to the
throne of Naples; and, lastly, the failure of direct heirs to his
brother Ferdinand VI. put him in possession of the crown of Spain.
His first and unexpected promotion to the sovereignty of Parma had
strongly impressed Don Carlos with the idea of Sebastian’s knowledge
of futurity. But when, after the death of the prophet, he found
himself on the throne of Spain, he thought himself bound in honour
and duty to obtain from the Pope the _Beatification_, or Apotheosis,
of _Little Sebastian_. The Church of Rome, however, knowing the
advantages of strict adherence to rules and forms, especially when a
king stands forward to pay the large fees incident to such trials,
proceeded at a pace, compared to which your Court of Chancery would
seem to move with the velocity of a meteor. But when the day arrived
for the exhibition, before the Holy Congregation of Cardinals, of
all papers whatever which might exist in the hand-writing of the
candidate for saintship, and it was found necessary to lay before
their Eminences an original letter, which the King carried about his
person as an amulet; good Carlos found himself in a most perplexing
dilemma. Distracted between duty to his ghostly friend, and his
fears of some personal misfortune during the absence of the letter,
he exerted the whole influence of his crown through the Spanish
ambassador at Rome, that the trial might proceed upon the inspection
of an authentic copy. The Pope, however, was inexorable, and nothing
could be done without the autograph. The king’s ministers at home,
on the other hand, finding him restless, and scarcely able to enjoy
the daily amusement of the chase, succeeded, at length, in bringing
about a plan for the exhibition of the letter, which, though attended
with an inevitable degree of anxiety and pain to his majesty, was,
nevertheless, the most likely to spare his feelings. The most active
and trusty of the Spanish messengers was chosen to convey the
invaluable epistle to Rome, and his speed was secured by the promise
of a large reward. Orders were then sent to the ambassador to have
the Holy Congregation assembled on the morning when the messenger
had engaged to arrive at the Vatican. By this skilful and deep-laid
plan of operations, the letter was not detained more than half an
hour at Rome; and another courier returned it with equal speed to
Spain. From the moment when the King tore himself from the sacred
paper, till it was restored to his hands, he did not venture once out
of the palace. I have given these particulars on the authority of a
man no less known in Spain for the high station he has filled, than
for his public virtues and talents. He has been minister of state to
the present King, Charles IV., and is intimately acquainted with the
secret history of the preceding reign.[32]

  [32] Jovellanos; see Appendix.

Great remnants of self-tormenting fanaticism are still found among
the Carthusians. Of this order we have two monasteries in Andalusia,
one on the banks of the Guadalquivir, within two miles of our gates,
and another at Xeréz, or Sherry, as that town was formerly called in
England, a name which its wines still bear. These monasteries are
rich in land and endowments, and consequently afford the monks every
comfort which is consistent with their rule. But all the wealth in
the universe could not give those wretched slaves of superstition a
single moment of enjoyment. The unhappy man who binds himself with
the Carthusian vows, may consider the precincts of the cell allotted
him as his tomb. These monks spend daily eight or nine hours in the
chapel, without any music to relieve the monotony of the service.
At midnight they are roused from their beds, whither they retire at
sunset, to chaunt matins till four in the morning. Two hours rest
are allowed them between that service and morning prayers. Mass
follows, with a short interruption, and great part of the afternoon
is allotted to vespers. No communication is permitted between the
monks, except two days in the week, when they assemble during an
hour for conversation. Confined to their cells when not attending
church-service, even their food is left them in a wheel-box, such as
is used in the nunneries,[33] from which they take it when hungry,
and eat it in perfect solitude. A few books and a small garden, in
which they cultivate a profusion of flowers, are the only resources
of these unfortunate beings. To these privations they add an absolute
abstinence from flesh, which they vow not to taste even at the risk
of their lives.

  [33] See Letter V. page 141.

I have on different occasions spent a day with some friends at the
_Hospederia_, or Stranger’s Lodge, at the Carthusians of Seville,
where it is the duty of the steward, the only monk who is allowed to
mix in society, to entertain any male visitors who, with a proper
introduction, repair to the monastery. The steward I knew before
my visit to England, had been a merchant. After several voyages to
Spanish America, he had retired from the world, which, it was evident
in some unguarded moments, he had known and loved too well to have
entirely forgotten. His frequent visits to the town, ostensibly upon
business, were not entirely free from suspicion among the idle and
inquisitive; and I have some reason to believe that these rumours
were found too well grounded by his superiors. He was deprived of the
stewardship, and disappeared for ever from the haunts of men.

The austerity of the Carthusian rule of life would cast but a
transient gloom on the mind of an enlightened observer, if he could
be sure that the misery he beheld was voluntary; that hope kept a
crown of glory before the eyes of every wretched prisoner, and that
no unwilling victim of a temporary illusion, was pining for light and
liberty, under the tombstone sealed over him by religious tyranny.
But neither the view of the monks, fixed as statues in the stalls of
their gloomy church, nor those that are seen in the darkest recesses
of the cloisters, prostrate on the marble pavement, where, wrapt up
in their large white mantles, they spend many an hour in meditation;
nor the bent, gliding figures which wander among the earthy mounds
under the orange-trees of the cemetery--that least melancholy spot
within the wall of the monastery,--nothing did ever so harrow my
feelings in that mansion of sorrow, as the accidental meeting of a
repining prisoner. This was a young monk, who, to my great surprise,
addressed me as I was looking at the pictures in one of the cloisters
of the Carthusians near Seville, and very politely offered to shew me
his cell. He was perfectly unknown to me, and I have every reason to
believe that I was equally so to him. Having admired his collection
of flowers, we entered into a literary conversation, and he asked
me whether I was fond of French literature. Upon my shewing some
acquaintance with the writers of that nation, and expressing a mixed
feeling of surprise and interest at hearing a Carthusian venturing
upon that topic, the poor young man was so thrown off his guard,
that, leading me to a bookcase, he put into my hands a volume of
Voltaire’s _Pièces Fugitives_, which he spoke of with rapture. I
believe I saw a volume of Rousseau’s works in the collection; yet
I suspect that this unfortunate man’s _select library_ consisted
of amatory rather than philosophical works. The monk’s name is
unknown to me, though I learned from him the place of his birth; and
many years have elapsed since this strange meeting, which from its
insulation amidst the events and impressions of my life, I compare to
an interview with an inhabitant of the invisible world. But I shall
never forget the thrilling horror I felt, when the abyss of misery
into which that wretched being was plunged, opened suddenly upon my
mind. I was young, and had, till that moment, mistaken the nature
of enthusiasm. Fed as I saw it in a Carthusian convent, I firmly
believed it could not be extinguished but with life. This ocular
evidence against my former belief was so painful, that I hastened
my departure, leaving the devoted victim to his solitude, there to
wait the odious sound of the bell which was to disturb his sleep, if
the subsequent horror of having committed himself with a stranger,
allowed him that night to close his eyes.

Though the number of Hermits is not considerable in Spain, we are not
without some establishments on the plan of the _Lauras_ described
by Gibbon.[34] The principal of these solitudes is Monserrat in
Catalonia, an account of which you will find in most books of
travels. My own observation on this point does not, however, extend
beyond the hermitages of Cordoba, which, I believe, rank next to the
above-mentioned.

  [34] Chapter xxxvii.

The branch of Sierra Morena, which to the north of Cordoba separates
Andalusia from La Mancha, rises abruptly within six miles of
that city. On the first ascent of the hills the country becomes
exceedingly beautiful. The small rivulets which freshen the valleys,
aided by the powerful influence of a southern atmosphere, transform
these spots, during April and May, into the most splendid gardens.
Roses and lilies, of the largest cultivated kinds, have sown
themselves in the greatest profusion upon every space left vacant by
the mountain-herbs and shrubs, which form wild and romantic hedges to
these native flower-plots. But as you approach the mountain-tops to
the right and left, the rock begins to appear, and the scanty soil,
scorched and pulverized by the sun, becomes unfit for vegetation.
Here stands a barren hill of difficult approach on all sides, and
precipitous towards the plain, its rounded head inclosed within a
rude stone parapet, breast high, a small church rising in the centre,
and about twenty brick tenements irregularly scattered about it. The
dimensions of the huts allow just sufficient room for a few boards
raised about a foot from the ground, which, covered with a mat, serve
for a bed: a trivet to sit upon, a diminutive deal table supporting
a crucifix, a human skull, and one or two books of devotion. The
door is so low that it cannot be passed without stooping; and the
whole habitation is ingeniously contrived to exclude every comfort.
As visiting and talking together is forbidden to the hermits, and the
cells are at some distance from one another, a small bell is hung
over the door of each, to call for assistance in case of sickness or
danger. The hermits meet at chapel every morning to hear mass and
receive the sacrament from the hands of a secular priest; for none
of them are admitted to orders. After chapel, they retire to their
cells, where they pass their time in reading, meditation, plaiting
mats, making little crosses of Spanish broom, which people carry
about them as a preservative from erysipelas, and manufacturing
instruments of penance, such as scourges and a sort of wire bracelets
bristled inside with points, called _Cilicios_, which are worn near
the skin by the _ultra-pious_ among the Catholics. Food, consisting
of pulse and herbs, is distributed once a day to the hermits, leaving
them to use it when they please. These devotees are usually peasants,
who, seized with religious terrors, are driven to this strange method
of escaping eternal misery, in the next world. But the hardships of
their new profession are generally less severe than those to which
they were subject by their lot in life; and they find ample amends
for their loss of liberty in the certainty of food and clothing
without labour, no less than in the secret pride of superior
sanctity, and the consequent respect of the people.

Thus far these hermitages excite more disgust than compassion. But
when, distracted by superstition, men of a higher order and more
delicate feelings, fly to these solitudes as to a hiding-place from
mental terrors; the consequences are often truly melancholy. Among
the hermits of Cordoba, I found a gentleman who, three years before,
had given up his commission in the army, where he was a colonel of
artillery, and, what is perhaps more painful to a Spaniard, his cross
of one of the ancient orders of knighthood. He joined our party, and
showed more pleasure in conversation than is consistent with that
high fever of enthusiasm, without which his present state of life
must have been worse than death itself. We stood upon the brow of the
rock, having at our feet the extensive plains of Lower Andalusia,
watered by the Guadalquivir, the ancient city of Cordoba with its
magnificent cathedral in front, and the mountains of Jaén, sweeping
majestically to the left. The view was to me, then a very young man,
truly grand and imposing; and I could not help congratulating the
hermit on the enjoyment of a scene which so powerfully affected the
mind, and wrapt it up in contemplation. “Alas! (he answered with
an air of dejection) I have seen it every day these three years!”
As hermits are not bound to their profession by irrevocable vows,
perhaps this unfortunate being has, after a long and painful
struggle, returned to the habitations of men, to hide his face in
an obscure corner, bearing the reproach of apostacy and backsliding
from the bigoted, and the sneer of ridicule from the thoughtless;
his prospects blasted for ever in this world, and darkened by fear
and remorse, in the next. Woe to the incautious who publicly engage
their services to religion, under the impression that they shall be
allowed to withdraw them upon a change of views, or an abatement of
fervour. The very few establishments of this kind, where solemn vows
do not banish the hopes of liberty for ever, are full of captives,
who would fain burst the invisible chains that bind them; but cannot.
The church and her leaders are extremely jealous of such defections:
and as few or none dare raise the veil of the sanctuary, redress is
nearly impossible for such as trust themselves within it. But of this
more in my next.



LETTER VIII.


    _Seville, ---- 1805._

When the last census was made, in 1787, the number of Spanish females
confined to the cloister, for life, amounted to thirty-two thousand.
That in a country where wealth is small and ill distributed, and
industry languishes under innumerable restraints, there should be a
great number of portionless gentlewomen unable to find a suitable
match, and consequently glad of a dignified asylum, where they might
secure peace and competence, if not happiness; is so perfectly
natural, that the founders and supporters of any institution intended
to fulfil those objects, would deserve to be reckoned among the
friends of humanity. But the cruel and wicked church law, which,
aided by external force, binds the nuns with perpetual vows, makes
the convents for females the _Bastilles_ of superstition, where many
a victim lingers through a long life of despair or insanity.

Though I do not mean to enter into a point of theological
controversy, I find it impossible to dwell for a moment on this
subject without expressing my utter abhorrence and detestation of
the cold indifference with which our Church looks on the glaring
evil consequences of some of its laws, when, according to her
own doctrines, they might be either repealed or amended, without
relinquishing any of her claims. The authority of the Roman Pontiff,
in all matters of church government, is not questioned among
Catholics. Yet, from a proud affectation of infallibility, even upon
such points as the most violent partisans of that absurd pretention
have never ventured to place within its reach, the church of Rome
has been so sparing of the power to reform her laws, that it might
be suspected she wished to abandon it by prescription. Always ready
to _bind_, the heirs of Saint Peter have shewn themselves extremely
averse to the more humane office of _loosing on earth_, except when
it served the purposes of gain or ambition. The time, I believe, will
never come when the church of Rome will agree to make concessions
on what are called _matters of faith_. But I cannot discover the
least shadow of reason or interest for the obstinacy which preserves
unaltered the barbarous laws relating to the religious vows of
females; unless it be that vile animal jealousy, which persons,
deprived of the pleasures of love, are apt to mistake for zeal in the
cause of chastity; such zeal as your Queen Elizabeth felt for the
purity of her maids.

The nunneries in this town amount to twenty-nine. Of these, some
are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Friars, whose rule of
religious life they profess; and some under that of the Episcopal
See. The last, generally follow the monastic rules of Saint Benedict,
Saint Bernard, or Saint Jerom; and it is remarkable, that the same
superiority which is observable in the secular above the regular
clergy, is found in the nuns under the episcopal jurisdiction. Some
of these inhabit large convents, whose courts and gardens allow the
inhabitants ample space for exercise and amusement. Instead of narrow
cells, the nuns live in a comfortable suite of apartments, often at
the head of a small family of younger nuns whom they have educated,
or of pupils, not under religious vows, whom their parents place
there for instruction. The life, in fact, of these communities, is
rather collegiate than monastic; and were it not for the tyrannical
law which deprives the professed nuns of their liberty, such
establishments would be far from objectionable. The dress of these
nuns is still that which the _Dueñas_, or elderly matrons, wore when
the convents were founded; with the addition of a large mantle,
black, white, or blue, according to the custom of the order, which
they use at the choir. From a head-dress not unlike that which, if I
may venture upon such matters, I believe you call a _mob-cap_, hangs
the black veil. A rosary, or chaplet of black beads with a cross
at the end, is seen hanging over the neck and shoulders, or loosely
coiled on a leather strap, which tightens the tunic or gown to the
waist. A slip of cloth of the breadth of the shoulders, called the
_scapulary_, hangs down to the feet both before and behind, probably
with a view to conceal every outline of the female shape.

The mildness of these monastic rules being unsatisfactory to the
fiery spirit of bigotry, many convents have been founded under the
title of _Reformed_, where, without the least regard to the sex of
the votaries, young and delicate females are subjected to a life of
privation and hardship, as the only infallible method of obtaining
the favour of Heaven. Their dress is a tunic of sackcloth, tied
round the waist with a knotted rope. The rule allows them no linen
either for clothing or bedding. Woollen of the coarsest kind frets
their bodies, day and night, even during the burning summers of the
South of Spain. A mantle of the same sackcloth is the only addition
which the nuns make to their dress in winter, while their feet,
shod with open sandals, and without either socks or stockings, are
exposed to the sharp winter blasts, and the deadening chill of the
brick-floors. A band of coarse linen, two inches in breadth, is worn
by the Capuchin nuns, bound tight six or eight times round the head,
in remembrance, it is said, of the _crown of thorns_; and such is
the barbarous spirit of the rule, that it does not allow this band
to be taken off, even under an access of fever. A young woman who
takes the veil in any of the reformed convents, renounces the sight
of her nearest relations. The utmost indulgence, as to communication
with parents and brothers, extends only to a short conversation
once a month, in the presence of one of the elder nuns, behind a
thick curtain spread on the inner side of the iron grating, which
completely intercepts the view. The religious vows, however, among
the Capuchin nuns, put a final end to all communication between
parents and children.

To those unacquainted with the character of our species of
Christianity, it will be difficult to conceive what motive can
influence the mind of a young creature of sixteen thus to sacrifice
herself upon the altars of these Molochs, whom we call Saints and
Patriarchs. To me these horrid effects of superstition appear so
natural, that I only wonder when I see so many of our religious
young females still out of the convent. Remorse and mental horrors
goad some young men into the strictest monasteries, while more
amiable, though equally mistaken views, lead our females to a similar
course of life. We are taught to believe self-inflicted pain to be
acceptable to the Deity, both as an atonement for crime, and a token
of thankfulness. The female character, among us, is a compound of the
most ardent feelings--vehement to delirium, generous to devotedness.
What wonder then if, early impressed with the loveliness and
sufferings of an incarnate Deity, an exquisitely tender mind grow
restless and dissatisfied with a world, as yet known only through the
pictures of morose fanatics, and pant after the most effectual means
of giving her celestial lover an unquestionable proof of gratitude?
The first nascent wish of taking the veil is eagerly watched and
seized by a confessor, who, to a violent jealousy of earthly
bridegrooms, joins a confident sense of merit in adding one virgin
more to the ten thousand of the spiritual _Harem_. Pious parents
tremble at the thought of standing between God and their daughter,
and often with a bleeding heart lead her to the foot of the altar.

There is an extreme eagerness in the Catholic professors of
celibacy, both male and female, to decoy young persons into the
toils from which they themselves cannot escape. With this view they
have disguised the awful ceremony which cuts off an innocent girl
from the sweetest hopes of nature, with the pomp and gaiety, which
mankind have unanimously bestowed on the triumph of legitimate love.
The whole process which condemns a female “to wither on the virgin
thorn,” and “live a barren sister all her life,” is studiously made
to represent a wedding. The unconscious victim, generally in her
fifteenth year, finds herself, for some time previous to her taking
the veil, the queen--nay, the idol of the whole community which has
obtained her preference. She is constantly addressed by the name of
bride, and sees nothing but gay preparations for the expected day of
her spiritual nuptials. Attired in a splendid dress, and decked with
all the jewels of her family and friends, she takes public leave of
her acquaintance; visits, on her way to the convent, several other
nunneries, to be seen and admired by the recluse inhabitants; and
even the crowd which collects in her progress, follows her with
tears and blessings. As she approaches the church of her monastery,
the dignified ecclesiastic who is to perform the ceremony, meets
the intended novice at the door, and leads her to the altar, amid
the sounds of bells and musical instruments. The monastic weeds
are blessed by the priest in her presence; and having embraced her
parents and nearest relations, she is led by the lady who acts as
bride’s-maid to the small door next to the double grating, which
separates the nuns’ choir from the body of the church. A curtain is
drawn while the abbess cuts off the hair of the novice, and strips
her of her worldly ornaments. On the removal of the curtain she
appears in the monastic garb, surrounded by the nuns bearing lighted
tapers, her face covered with the white veil of probationship,
fixed on the head by a wreath of flowers. After the Te Deum, or
some other hymn of thanksgiving, the friends of the family adjourn
to the _Locutory_, or visiting-room, where a collation of ices and
sweetmeats is served in the presence of the mock bride, who, with
the principal nuns, attends behind the grating which separates
the visitors from the inmates of the convent. In the more austere
nunneries the parting visit is omitted, and the sight of the novice
in the white veil, immediately after having her hair cut off, is the
last which, for a whole year, is granted to the parents. They again
see her on the day when she binds herself with the irrevocable vows,
never to behold her more, unless they should live to see her again
crowned with flowers, when she is laid in the grave.

Instances of novices quitting the convent during the year of
probation are extremely rare. The ceremony of taking the veil is too
solemn, and bears too much the character of a public engagement,
to allow full liberty of choice during the subsequent noviciate.
The timid mind of a girl shrinks from the idea of appearing again
in the world, under the tacit reproach of fickleness and relaxed
devotion. The nuns, besides, do not forget their arts during the
nominal trial of the victim, and she lives a whole year the object
of their caresses. Nuns, in fact, who, after profession, would have
given their lives for a day of free breathing out of their prison, it
has been my misfortune to know; but I cannot recollect more than one
instance of a novice quitting the convent; and that was a woman of
obscure birth, on whom public opinion had no influence.

That many nuns, especially in the more liberal convents, live happy,
I have every reason to believe; but, on the other hand, I possess
indubitable evidence of the exquisite misery which is the lot of some
unfortunate females, under similar circumstances. I shall mention
only one case, in actual existence, with which I am circumstantially
acquainted.

A lively and interesting girl of fifteen, poor, though connected
with some of the first gentry in this town, having received her
education under an aunt who was at the head of a wealthy, and not
austere, Franciscan convent, came out, as the phrase is, _to see the
world_, previous to her taking the veil. I often met the intended
novice at the house of one of her relations, where I visited daily.
She had scarcely been a fortnight out of the cloister, when that
world she had learned to abhor in description, was so visibly and
rapidly winning her affections, that at the end of three months she
could hardly disguise her aversion to the veil. The day, however, was
now fast approaching which had been fixed for the ceremony, without
her feeling sufficient resolution to decline it. Her father, a good
but weak man, she knew too well, could not protect her from the
ill-treatment of an unfeeling mother, whose vanity was concerned in
thus disposing of a daughter for whom she had no hopes of finding a
suitable match. The kindness of her aunt, the good nun to whom the
distressed girl was indebted for the happiness of her childhood,
formed, besides, too strong a contrast with the unkindness of the
unnatural mother, not to give her wavering mind a strong though
painful bias towards the cloister. To this were added all the arts
of pious seduction so common among the religious of both sexes. The
preparations for the approaching solemnity were, in the mean time,
industriously carried on with the greatest publicity. Verses were
circulated, in which her confessor sang the triumph of Divine Love
over the wily suggestions of the _impious_. The _wedding-dress_ was
shewn to every acquaintance, and due notice of the appointed day was
given to friends and relatives. But the fears and aversion of the
devoted victim grew in proportion as she saw herself more and more
involved in the toils she had wanted courage to burst when she first
felt them.

It was in company with my friend Leandro, with whose private history
you are well acquainted,[35] that I often met the unfortunate Maria
Francisca. His efforts to dissuade her from the rash step she was
going to take, and the warm language in which he spoke to her
father on that subject, had made her look upon him as a warm and
sincere friend. The unhappy girl on the eve of the day when she
was to take the veil, repaired to church, and sent him a message,
without mentioning her name, that a female penitent requested his
attendance at the confessional. With painful surprise he found the
future novice at his feet, in a state bordering on distraction. When
a flood of tears had allowed her utterance, she told him that, for
want of another friend in the whole world to whom she could disclose
her feelings, she came to him, not, however, for the purpose of
confession, but because she trusted he would listen with pity to her
sorrows. With a warmth and eloquence above her years, she protested
that the distant terrors of eternal punishment, which, she feared,
might be the consequence of her determination, could not deter
her from the step by which she was going to escape the incessant
persecution of her mother. In vain did my friend volunteer his
assistance to extricate her from the appalling difficulties which
surrounded her: in vain did he offer to wait upon the archbishop, and
implore his interference: no offers, no persuasions could move her.
She parted as if ready to be conveyed to the scaffold, and the next
day took the veil.

  [35] See Letter III.

The real kindness of her aunt, and the treacherous smiles of
the other nuns, supported the pining novice through the year of
probation. The scene I beheld when she was bound with the perpetual
vows of monastic life, is one which I cannot recollect without an
actual sense of suffocation. A solemn mass, performed with all the
splendour which that ceremony admits, preceded the awful oaths of
the novice. At the conclusion of the service, she approached the
superior of the order. A pen, gaily ornamented with artificial
flowers, was put into her trembling hand, to sign the engagement for
life, on which she was about to enter. Then, standing before the
iron grate of the choir, she began to chaunt, in a weak and fainting
voice, the act of consecration of herself to God; but, having uttered
a few words, she fainted into the arms of the surrounding nuns. This
was attributed to mere fatigue and emotion. No sooner had the means
employed restored to the victim the powers of speech, than, with a
vehemence which those who knew not her circumstances attributed to
a fresh impulse of holy zeal, and in which the few that were in the
painful secret saw nothing but the madness of despair; she hurried
over the remaining sentences, and sealed her doom for ever.

The real feelings of the new votaress were, however, too much
suspected by her more bigoted or more resigned fellow-prisoners; and
time and despair making her less cautious, she was soon looked upon
as one likely to bring disgrace on the whole order, by divulging
the secret that it is possible for a nun to feel impatient under
her vows. The storm of conventual persecution, (the fiercest and
most pitiless of all that breed in the human heart), had been
lowering over the unhappy young woman during the short time which
her aunt, the prioress, survived. But when death had left her
friendless, and exposed to the tormenting ingenuity of a crowd of
female zealots, whom she could not escape for an instant; unable to
endure her misery, she resolutely attempted to drown herself. The
attempt, however, was ineffectual. And now the merciless character of
Catholic superstition appeared in its full glare. The mother, without
impeaching whose character no judicial steps could be taken to prove
the invalidity of the profession, was dead; and some relations and
friends of the poor prisoner were moved by her sufferings to apply
to the church for relief. A suit was instituted for this purpose
before the ecclesiastical court, and the clearest evidence adduced
of the indirect compulsion which had been used in the case. But the
whole order of Saint Francis, considering their honour at stake, rose
against their rebellious subject, and the judges sanctioned her vows
as voluntary and valid. She lives still in a state approaching to
madness, and death alone can break her chains.[36]

  [36] She died in 1821.

Such an instance of misery is, I hope, one of those extreme cases
which seldom take place, and more seldom transpire. The common source
of suffering among the Catholic recluses proceeds from a certain
degree of religious melancholy, which, combined with such complaints
as originate in perpetual confinement, affect more or less the
greater number.

The mental disease to which I allude is commonly known by the name
of _Escrúpulos_, and might be called _religious anxiety_. It is the
natural state of a mind perpetually dwelling on hopes connected
with an invisible world, and anxiously practising means to avoid an
unhappy lot in it, which keep the apprehended danger for ever present
to the imagination. Consecration for life at the altar promises, it
is true, increased happiness in the world to come; but the numerous
and difficult duties attached to the religious profession, multiply
the hazards of eternal misery by the chances of failure in their
performance; and while the plain Christian’s offences against the
moral law are often considered as mere frailties, those of the
professed votary seldom escape the aggravation of sacrilege. The
odious diligence of the Catholic moralists has raked together an
endless catalogue of sins, by _thought, word, and deed_, to every one
of which the punishment of eternal flames has been assigned. This
list, alike horrible and disgusting, haunts the imagination of the
unfortunate devotee, till, reduced to a state of perpetual anxiety,
she can neither think, speak, nor act, without discovering in every
vital motion a sin which invalidates all her past sacrifices, and
dooms her painful efforts after Christian perfection, to end in
everlasting misery. Absolution, which adds boldness to the resolute
and profligate, becomes a fresh source of disquietude to a timid
and sickly mind. Doubts innumerable disturb the unhappy sufferer,
not, however, as to the power of the priest in granting pardon, but
respecting her own fulfilment of the conditions, without which to
receive absolution is _sacrilege_. These agonizing fears, cherished
and fed by the small circle of objects to which a nun is confined,
are generally incurable, and usually terminate in an untimely death,
or insanity.

There are, however, constitutions and tempers to which the atmosphere
of a nunnery seems natural and congenial. Women of uncommon
cleverness and judgment, whose strength of mind preserves them in a
state of rational happiness are sometimes found in the cloisters.
But the true, the genuine nun--such, I mean, as, unincumbered by a
barbarous rule, and blessed with that Liliputian activity of mind
which can convert a parlour or a kitchen into an universe--presents a
most curious modification of that amusing character, _the old maid_.
Like their virgin sisters all over the world, they too have, more or
less, a flirting period, of which the confessor is always the happy
and exclusive object. The heart and soul of almost every nun not
passed fifty, are centred in the priest that directs her conscience.
The convent messengers are seen about the town with lots of spiritual
_billets-doux_, in search of a soothing line from the ghostly
fathers. The nuns not only address them by that endearing name, but
will not endure from them the common form of speech in the third
person:--they must be _tutoyé_, as children are by their parents.
Jealousy is a frequent symptom of this nameless attachment; and
though it is impossible for every nun to have exclusive possession of
her confessor, few will allow the presence of a rival within their
own convent.

I do not intend, however, to cast an imputation of levity on the
class of Spanish females which I am describing. Instances of gross
misconduct are extremely rare among the nuns. Indeed, the physical
barriers which protect their virtue are fully adequate to guard
them against the consequences of a most unbounded intimacy with
their confessors. Neither would I suggest the idea that nothing but
obstacles of this kind keeps them, in all cases, within the bounds of
modesty. My only object is to expose the absurdity and unfeelingness
of a system which, while it surrounds the young recluses with strong
walls, massive gates, and spiked windows, grants them the most
intimate communication with a man--often a young man--that can be
carried on in words and writing. The struggle between the heart thus
barbarously tried, and the unnatural duties of the religious state,
though sometimes a mystery to the modest sufferer, is plainly visible
in most of the young captives.

About the age of fifty, (for spiritual flirtation seldom exhausts
itself before that age,) the genuine nun has settled every feeling
and affection upon that shifting centre of the universe, which,
like some circles in astronomy, changes with every step of the
individual--I mean _self_. It has been observed that no European
language possesses a true equivalent for your English word _comfort_;
and, considering the state of this country, Spanish would have little
chance of producing a similar substantive, were it not for some
of our nuns, who, as they make a constant practical study of the
subject, may, at length, enrich our dictionary with a name for what
they know so well without it. Their comforts, however, poor souls!
are still of an inferior kind, and arise chiefly from the indulgence
of that temper, which, in the language of your _ladies’ maids_,
makes their mistresses _very particular_; and which, by a strange
application of the word, confers among us the name of _impertinente_.
The squeamishness, fastidiousness, and morbid sensibility of nuns,
make that name a proverbial reproach to every sort of affected
delicacy. As great and wealthy nunneries possess considerable
influence, and none can obtain the patronage of the Holy Sisters
(_Mothers_, they are called by the Spaniards,) without accommodating
themselves to the tone and manners of the society; every person,
male or female, connected with it, acquires a peculiar mincing air,
which cannot be mistaken by an experienced observer. But in none does
it appear more ludicrously than in the old-fashioned _nun-doctors_.
Their patience in listening to long, minute, and often-told
reports of cases; the mock authority with which they enforce their
prescriptions, and the peculiar wit they employ to raise the spirits
of their patients, would, in a more free country, furnish comedy with
a most amusing character. Some years ago a very stupid practitioner
bethought himself of taking orders, thus to unite the spiritual and
bodily leech, for the convenience of nuns. The Pope granted him a
dispensation of the ecclesiastical law, which forbids priests to
practise physic; and he found himself unrivalled in powers, among the
faculty. The scheme succeeded so well that our doctor sent home for a
lad, his nephew, whom he has brought up in this twofold trade, which,
for want of direct heirs, of which priests in this country cannot
boast, is likely to be perpetuated in the collateral branches of that
family. With regard to their curative system, as it applies to the
souls, I am a very incompetent judge: the body, I know--at least the
half-spiritualized bodies of the nuns--they treat exclusively with
syrups. This is a fact of which I have a melancholy proof in a near
relation, a most amiable young woman, who was allowed to drop into
an early grave, while her growing disease was opposed with nothing
but syrup of violets! I must add, however, that the wary doctor, not
forgetting the ghostly concerns of his patient, never omitted to
add a certain dose of _Agnus Castus_ to every ounce of the syrup; a
practice to which, he once told a friend of mine, both he and his
uncle most religiously adhered when attending young nuns, with the
benevolent purpose of making their religious duties more easy.



LETTER IX.


    _Seville, ---- 1806._

As, in order to help my memory, I have been for some time collecting
notes under different heads, relative to the customs, both public
and private, which are most remarkable in the annual circle of
_Sevillian_ life, I find myself possessed of a number of detached
scraps, which, though affording abundant matter for more than one of
my usual dispatches, are much too stubborn to bend themselves into
any but their original shape. After casting about in my mind for some
picturesque or dramatic plan of arrangement, I had, most cowardly, I
confess, and like a mere novice in the art of authorship, determined
to suppress the detached contents of my common-place book, when it
occurred to me that, as they were no less likely to gratify your
curiosity in their present state than in a more elaborate form, a
simple transcript of my notes would not stand amiss in the collection
of my letters. I shall, therefore, present you with the following
sample of my _Fasti Hispalenses_, or Sevillian Almanack, without,
however, binding myself to furnish it with the three hundred and
sixty-five articles which that name seems to threaten. Or, should you
still find the title too ambitious and high-sounding for the mere
gossip and prattle of this series of scraps, I beg you will call
it (for I have not the heart to send out my productions not only
shapeless, but nameless)


  MEMORANDUMS OF SOME ANDALUSIAN CUSTOMS AND FESTIVALS.

  JANUARY 20TH. SAINT SEBASTIAN’S DAY.

Carnival has been ushered in, according to an ancient custom which
authorises so early a commencement of the gaieties that precede Lent.
Little, however, remains of that spirit of mirth which contrived such
ample amends for the demure behaviour required during the annual
grand fast. To judge from what I have seen and heard in my boyhood,
the generation who lived at Seville before me, were, in their love
of noisy merriment, but one step above children; and contrived to
pass a considerable portion of their time in a round of amusements,
more remarkable for jollity than for either show or refinement; yet
unmixed with any grossness or indecorum. I shall give a specimen
in a family of middle rank, whose circumstances were not the most
favourable to cheerfulness.

The joy and delight of my childhood was centered in the house of four
spinsters of the good old times, who, during a period of between
fifty and sixty years, passed “in single blessedness,” and with
claims to respectability, as ample as their means of supporting
it were scanty; had waged the most resolute and successful war
against melancholy, and were now the seasoned veterans of mirth.
Poverty being no source of degradation among us, these ladies had a
pretty numerous circle of friends, who, with their young families,
frequented their house--one of the old, large, and substantial
buildings which, for a trifling rent, may be had in this town, and
which care and neatness have kept furnished for more than a century,
without the addition or substitution of a single article. In a
lofty drawing-room, hung round with tapestry, the faded remnants of
ancient family pride, the good old ladies were ready, every evening
after sunset, to welcome their friends, especially the young of both
sexes, to whom they showed the most good-natured kindness. Their
scanty revenue did not allow them to treat the company with the usual
refreshments, except on particular days--an expense which they met
by a well-planned system of starvation, carried on throughout the
year, with the utmost good humour. An ancient guitar, as large as a
moderate violoncello, stood up in a corner of the room, ready at a
moment’s notice, to stir up the spirits of the young people into a
dance of the Spanish _Seguidillas_, or to accompany the songs which
were often _forfeited_ in the games that formed the staple merriment
at this season.

The games, in truth, which in England are nearly forgotten, even
within their last asylums--ladies’ schools and nurseries,--were
thirty years ago a favourite amusement in this country. That they
have, at some period, been common to a great part of Europe, will not
be doubted by any one who, like myself, may attach such importance
to this subject as to be at the trouble of comparing the different
sports of that kind which prevail in France, England, and Spain. I
wish, indeed, that antiquarians were a more jovial and volatile race
than I have found them in general; and that some one would trace up
these amusements to their common source. The French, with that spirit
of system and scientific arrangement which even their perfumers,
_Marchandes de Modes_, and dancing-masters display, have already,
according to a treatise now lying before me, distributed these games
into _Jeux d’action_ and _Jeux d’esprit_.

In marking their similarity among the three nations I have mentioned,
I shall pass over the former; for who can doubt that _romping_ (so I
will venture, though less elegantly, to express the French _action_)
is an innate principle in mankind, impelling the human animal to
similar pranks all over the globe, from the first to the third of his
climacterics? But to find that, just at the age when he perceives
the necessity of assuming the demureness of maturity, he should, in
different places and under a variety of circumstances, fall upon
the same contrivances in order to _desipere in loco_, or to find a
loop-hole to indulge himself in _playing the fool_, is a phenomenon
which I beg leave to recommend to the attention of philosophers.

The _jeux d’esprit_, which I find to be used, with some slight
variations, in France, England, and Spain, or, at least, in some
two of those countries, are--_The Aviary_, or giving the heart
to one bird, committing one’s secret to another, and plucking a
feather from a third; at the risk of mistaking the objects of the
intended raillery or gallantry, disguised under the name of different
birds.--In _The Soldier_, the players being questioned by the leader
about the clothing they mean to give a decayed veteran, must avoid
the words _yes_, _no_, _white_, and _black_. The ingenuity displayed
in this game is much of the kind that appears in some of our tales
of the seventeenth century, where the author engaged to omit some
particular vowel throughout his narrative.--_Exhausting a letter_,
each player being obliged to use three words with the initial
proposed by the leader. The English game, _I love my love_, is a
modification of this: in Spanish it is commonly called _el Jardin_,
the Garden.--_La Plaza de Toros_, or the Bull Amphitheatre, in
French, _L’Amphigouri_, is a story made up of words collected from
the players, each of whom engages to name objects peculiar to some
trade.--_Le mot placé_, a refinement on _Cross purposes_, in Spanish
_Los Despropósitos_, is a game in which every player in the ring,
having whispered to his neighbour, on the right, the most unusual
word he can think of, questions are put in the opposite direction,
the answer to which, besides being pertinent, must contain the given
word.--_The stool of repentance_, (Gallicè) _La Sellette_, (Hispan.)
_La Berlina_, is, as my French author wisely observes, a dangerous
game, where the penitent hears his faults from every one in company
through the medium of the leader, till he can guess the person who
has nettled him most by his remarks.

I will not deny that a taste among grown people for these childish
amusements, bespeaks a great want of refinement; but I must own, on
the other hand, that there is a charm in the remnants of primitive
simplicity, which gave a relish to these scenes of domestic gaiety,
not to be found in the more affected manners of the present day. The
French, especially in the provinces, are still addicted to these
joyous, unsophisticated family meetings. For my part, I lament that
the period is nearly gone by, when neither bigotry nor fastidiousness
had as yet condemned those cheap and simple means of giving vent to
the overflow of spirits, so common in the youth of all countries,
but more especially under this our animating sky; and cannot endure
with patience, that fashion should begin to disdain those friendly
meetings, where mirth and joy, springing from the young, diffused a
fresh glow of life over the old, and Hope and Remembrance seemed to
shake hands with Pleasure in the very teeth of Time.

As Carnival approached, the spirit of romping gained fast upon its
assiduous votaries, till it ended in a _full possession_, which
lasted the three days preceding Ash-Wednesday.

The custom alluded to by Horace of _sticking a tail_,[37] is still
practised by the boys in the streets, to the great annoyance of
old ladies, who are generally the objects of this sport. One of
the ragged striplings that wander in crowds about Seville, having
tagged a piece of paper with a hooked pin, and stolen unperceived
behind some slow-paced female, as, wrapt up in her veil, she tells
the beads she carries in her left hand; fastens the paper-tail on
the back of the black or walking petticoat, called _Saya_. The whole
gang of ragamuffins, who, at a convenient distance, have watched
the dexterity of their companion, set up a loud cry of _Lárgalo,
lárgalo_--Drop it, drop it--which makes every female in the street
look to the rear, which, they well know is the fixed point of attack
with the merry light-troops. The alarm continues till some friendly
hand relieves the victim of sport, who, spinning and nodding like a
spent top, tries in vain to catch a glance at the fast-pinned paper,
unmindful of the physical law which forbids her head to revolve
faster than the great orbit on which the ominous comet flies.

  [37]

    ... Nihilo ut sapientior, ille
    Qui te deridet, caudam trahat,
                                      SAT. II. iii.

    So he who dared thy madness to deride,
    Though you may frankly own yourself a fool,
    Behind him trails his mark of ridicule.
                                      FRANCIS.

Carnival, properly so called, is limited to Quinquagesima-Sunday,
and the two following days, a period which the lower classes pass
in drinking and rioting in those streets where the meaner sort of
houses abound, and especially in the vicinity of the large courts,
or halls, called _Corrales_, surrounded with small rooms or cells,
where numbers of the poorest inhabitants live in filth, misery, and
debauch. In front of these horrible places are seen crowds of men,
women, and children, singing, dancing, drinking, and pursuing each
other with handfuls of hair-powder. I have never seen, however, an
instance of their taking liberties with any person above their class;
yet, such bacchanals produce a feeling of insecurity, which makes the
approach of those spots very unpleasant during the Carnival.

At Madrid, where whole quarters of the town, such as _Avapiés_
and _Maravillas_, are inhabited exclusively by the rabble, these
Saturnalia are performed upon a larger scale. I once ventured with
three or four friends, all muffled in our cloaks, to parade the
Avapiés during the Carnival. The streets were crowded with men, who,
upon the least provocation, real or imaginary, would have instantly
used the knife, and of women equally ready to take no slight share in
any quarrel: for these lovely creatures often carry a poniard in a
sheath, thrust within the upper part of the left stocking, and held
up by the garter. We were, however, upon our best behaviour, and
by a look of complacency on their sports, and keeping at the most
respectful distance from the women, came away without meeting with
the least disposition to insolence or rudeness.

A gentleman who, either out of curiosity or depraved taste, attends
the amusements of the vulgar, is generally respected, provided he is
a mere spectator, and appears indifferent to the females. The ancient
Spanish jealousy is still observable among the lower classes; and
while not a sword is drawn in Spain upon a love-quarrel, the knife
often decides the claims of more humble lovers. Yet, love is, by
no means, the main instigator of murder among us. A constitutional
irritability, especially in the southern provinces, leads, without
any more assignable reason, to the frequent shedding of blood. A
small quantity of wine, nay, the mere blowing of the easterly wind,
called _Soláno_, is infallibly attended with deadly quarrels in
Andalusia. The average of dangerous or mortal wounds, on every great
festival at Seville, is, I believe, about two or three. We have,
indeed, a well-endowed hospital, named _de los Herídos_, which,
though open to all persons who meet with dangerous accidents, is
from this unhappy disposition of the people, almost confined to the
wounded. The large arm-chair where the surgeon in attendance examines
the patient just as he is brought in, usually upon a ladder, is
known in the whole town by the name of the Bullies’ chair--_Silla
de los Guapos_. Every thing, in fact, attests both the generality
and inveteracy of that horrible propensity among the Spaniards. I
have met with an original unpublished privilege granted in 1511, by
King Don Manoel of Portugal, to the German merchants established at
Lisbon, whereby their servants, to the number of six, are allowed to
carry arms both day and night, provided such privileged servants be
not Spaniards.[38] Had this clause been inserted after the Portuguese
nation had thrown off the Spanish yoke, I should attribute it to
political jealousy; but, considering its date, I must look upon it as
proving the inveteracy and notoriety of the barbarous disposition,
the mention of which has led me into this digression.

  [38] “Os quais servidores naô seraô Hespanhôes para gozarem de
  dita libertade.”

The Carnival amusements still in use among the middling ranks of
Andalusia are, swinging, playing all manner of tricks on the unwary,
such as breaking egg-shells full of powdered talc on the head, and
throwing handfuls of small sugar-plums at the ladies, which they
repay with besprinkling the assailants with water from a squirt. This
last practical joke, however, begins to be disused, and increased
refinement will soon put an end to them all. Dancing and a supper to
the frequenters of the daily _Tertulia_, is, on one of the three days
of Carnival, a matter of course among the wealthy.


ASH-WEDNESDAY.

The frolics of Carnival are sometimes carried on till the dawn of
this day, the first of the long fast of Lent, when a sudden and most
unpleasant transition takes place for such as have set no bounds to
the noisy mirth of the preceding season. But, as the religious duties
of the church begin at midnight, the amusements of Shrove-Tuesday
cease, in the more correct families, at twelve, just as your Opera is
hurried, on Saturdays, that it may not encroach on the following day.

Midnight is, indeed, a most important period with us. The obligation
of fasting begins just when the leading clock of every town strikes
twelve; and as no priest can celebrate mass, on any day whatever,
if he has taken the smallest portion of meat or drink after the
beginning of the civil day, I have often seen clergymen devouring
their supper against time, the watch upon the table, and the anxious
eye upon the fatal hand, while large mouthfuls, chasing one
another down their almost convulsed throats, appeared to threaten
suffocation. Such hurry will seem incredible to your well-fed
Englishmen, for whom supper is an empty name. Not so to our worthy
divines, who, having had their dinner at one, and a cup of chocolate
at six, feel strongly the necessity of a substantial supper before
they retire to bed. A priest, therefore, who, by some untoward
accident, is overtaken by “the dead waste and middle of the night,”
with a craving stomach, having to perform mass at a late hour next
morning, may well feel alarmed at his impending sufferings. The
strictness, in fact, with which the rule of receiving the Sacrament
into a fasting stomach is observed, will hardly be believed in a
Protestant country. I have known many a profligate priest; yet never
but once met with any who ventured to break this sacramental fast.
The infraction of this rule would strike horror into every Catholic
bosom; and the convicted perpetrator of such a daring sacrilege as
dividing the power of digestion between the Host and common food,
would find it difficult to escape the last vengeance of the Church.
This law extends to the laity whenever they intend to communicate.

I must now acquaint you with the rules of the Roman Catholic fast,
which all persons above the age of one-and-twenty, are bound to
observe during Lent, Sundays excepted. One meal alone, from which
flesh, eggs, milk, and all its preparations, such as cheese and
butter, called _Lacticinia_, are excluded, is allowed on a fast day.
It is under this severe form that your English and Irish Catholics
are bound to keep their Lent. But we Spaniards are the darlings
of our Mother Church of Rome, and enjoy most valuable privileges.
The _Bull of the Crusade_, in the first place, dispenses with our
abstinence from eggs and milk. Besides throwing open the hen-house
and dairy, the said Bull unlocks the treasure of laid-up merits,
of which the Pope keeps the key, and thus we are refreshed both in
body and soul, at the trifling cost of about three-pence a-year.
Yet we should have been compelled to live for forty days on your
Newfoundland fish--not a savoury food in these hot countries--had
it not been for a new kind of hostilities which our Government, in
concert with the Pope, devised against England, I believe during
the siege of Gibraltar. By allowing the Spaniards to eat meat four
days in the Lent weeks, it was proposed to diminish the profits
which Great Britain derives from the exportation of dried fish. We
had accordingly another privilege, under the title of _Flesh-Bull_,
at the same moderate price as the former. This additional revenue
was found too considerable to be relinquished on the restoration of
peace; and the Pope, who has a share in it, soon discovered that the
weakness of our constitutions requires more solid nutriment than the
dry chips of the Newfoundland fish can afford.

The _Bull of the Crusade_ is proclaimed, every year before Lent,
by the sound of kettle-drums and trumpets. As no one can enjoy the
privileges expressed in these papal rescripts without possessing a
printed copy thereof, wherein the name of the owner is inserted;
there is a house at Seville with a printing-office, by far the
most extensive in Andalusia, where, at the expense of Government,
these Bulls are reprinted every year, both for Spain and Spanish
America. Now, it has been wisely arranged that, on the day of the
yearly publication, copies for the preceding twelvemonth shall
become absolutely stale and unprofitable; a measure which produces a
most prodigious hurry to obtain new Bulls, in all who wish well to
their souls and do not quite overlook the ease and comfort of their
stomachs.

The article of _Bulls_ hold a conspicuous station in the Spanish
budget. The price of the copies being, however, more than double in
Spanish America, it is from thence that the chief profit of this
spiritual juggle arises. Cargoes of this holy paper are sent over
every year by Government to all our transatlantic possessions, and
one of the most severe consequences of a war with England, is the
difficulty of conveying these ghostly treasures to our brethren of
the New World, no less than that of bringing back the worldly, yet
necessary, dross, which they give in exchange to the Mother-country.
But I fear I am betraying state secrets.


MID-LENT.

We have still the remnants of an ancient custom this day, which
shews the impatient feelings with which men sacrifice their comforts
to the fears of superstition. Children of all ranks--those of the
poor in the streets, and such as belong to the better classes in
their houses--appear fantastically decorated, not unlike the English
chimney-sweepers on May-day, with caps of gilt and coloured paper,
and coats made of the _Crusade Bulls_ of the preceding year. In this
attire they keep up an incessant din the whole day, crying, as they
sound their drums and rattles, _Aserrar la vieja; la pícara pelleja_:
“Saw down the old woman, the roguish b--ch.” About midnight, parties
of the common people parade the streets, knocking at every door,
and repeating the same words. I understand that they end this revel
by sawing in two, the figure of an old woman, which is meant as the
emblem of Lent.

There is little ground, however, for these peevish feelings against
old Lent, among the class that exhibits them most; for few of the
poorer inhabitants of large towns taste any meat in the course of
the year, and, living as they do upon a very scanty pittance of
bread and pulse, can ill afford to confine themselves to one meal
in the four-and-twenty hours. The privations of the fasting season
are felt chiefly by that numerous class who, unable the other hand,
a strong sense of religious duty; submit like unwilling slaves
to the unwelcome task which they dare not omit. Many, however,
fall off before the end of Lent, and take to their breakfasts
and suppers under the sanction of some good-natured Doctor, who
declares fasting injurious to their health. Others, whose healthy
looks would belie the dispensing physician, compound between the
Church and their stomachs by adding an ounce of bread to the cup of
chocolate which, under the name of _Parvedad_, our divines admit as
a venial infraction. There is, besides, a fast-day supper, which was
introduced by those good souls the primitive Monks at their evening
conferences, where, finding that an empty stomach was apt to increase
the hollowness of their heads, they allowed themselves a crust of
bread and a glass of water, as a support to their fainting eloquence.
This relaxation of the primitive fast took the name of _Collatio_, or
conference, which it preserves among us. The Catholic casuists are
not agreed, however, on the quantity of bread and vegetables, (for
any other food is strictly excluded from the _collation_,) which may
be allowed without being guilty of a _deadly sin_. The _Probabilistæ_
extend this liberty as far as six ounces by weight, while the
_Probabilioristæ_ will not answer for the safety of a hungry soul,
who indulges beyond four ounces. Who shall decide when doctors
disagree? I have known an excellent man who weighed his food on these
occasions till he brought it within some grains of four ounces. But
few are inclined to take the matter so seriously, and, confiding in
the deceitful balance of their eyes, use a system of weights in which
four ounces fall little short of a pound.[39]

  [39] The Casuists are divided into _Probabilistæ_ and
  _Probabilioristæ_. The first, among whom were the Jesuits,
  maintain that a certain degree of probability as to the
  lawfulness of an action is enough to secure against sin. The
  second, supported by the _Dominicans_ and the _Jansenists_ (a
  kind of Catholic Calvinists, condemned by the Church) insist on
  the necessity of always taking the _safest_, or most probable
  side. The French proverb _Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien_, is
  perfectly applicable to the practical effects of these two
  systems, as they are observed in Spain.


PASSION, OR HOLY WEEK.

_Pandite, nunc, Helicona, Deæ_, might I say, in the true spirit of a
native of Seville, when entering upon a subject which is the chief
pride of this town. To tell the honest truth, we are _quizzed_ every
where for our conceit of these solemnities; and it is a standing joke
against the _Sevillians_, that on the arrival of the King in summer,
it was moved in the _Cabildo_, or town corporation, to repeat the
Passion-week for the amusement of his Majesty. It must be owned,
however, that our Cathedral service on that solemn Christian festival
yields not in impressiveness to any ceremonies of modern worship, to
dispel their superstitious fear, and wanting, on with which I am
acquainted, either by sight or description.

It is impossible to convey in words an adequate idea of architectural
grandeur. The dimensions of a temple do not go beyond a certain point
in augmenting the majesty of effect. A temple may be so gigantic as
to make the worshippers mere pigmies. An immense structure, though
it may be favourable to contemplation, must greatly diminish the
effect of such social rites as aim at the imagination through the
senses. I have been told by a native of this town, who visited Rome,
and on whose taste and judgment I greatly depend, that the service
of the Passion-week at Saint Peter’s, does not produce a stronger
effect on the mind than that of our Cathedral. If this impression
did not arise from the power of early habit, I should account for it
from the excessive magnitude of the first temple in Christendom. The
practice, also, of confining the most striking and solemn ceremonies
to the Sixtine Chapel seems to shew that the Romans find the Church
of Saint Peter unfavourable to the display of religious pomp. I shall
add, though fearful of venturing too far upon a subject with which
I am but slightly acquainted, that the ancients appear to have been
careful not to diminish the effect of their public worship by the too
large dimensions of the temples.

The size of our Cathedral seems to me happily adapted to the object
of the building. Three hundred and ninety-eight feet long by two
hundred and ninety-one broad--the breadth distributed into five
aisles, formed by one hundred and four arches, of which those of
the centre are one hundred and thirty-four feet high, and the rest
ninety-six--remove the limits of an undivided structure enough to
require that effort of the eye and pause of the mind before we
conceive it as a whole, which excites the idea of grandeur. This, I
believe, is the impression which a temple should produce. To aim at
more is to forget the solemn performances for which the structure is
intended. Let the house of prayer, when solitary, appear so ample as
not to exclude a single suppliant in a populous town; yet let the
throng be visible on a solemn feast. Let the loftiness of the aisles
soften the noise of a moving multitude into a gentle and continuous
rustling; but let me hear the voice of the singers and the peals of
the organ returned in deep echoes; not lost in the too distant vaults.

The simultaneous impression of architectural and ritual magnificence
produced at the Cathedral of Seville is, I conceive, difficult to be
rivalled. The pillars are not so massive as to obstruct the sight
at every turn; and were the influence of modern taste strong enough
to prevail over the canonical vanity which blocks up the middle of
every Cathedral with the clumsy and absurd inclosure of the choir, it
would be difficult to imagine a more striking view than that which
our Church presents on Holy Thursday.--In one respect, and that a
most important one, it has the advantage over Saint Peter’s at Rome.
The scene of filth and irreverence which, according to travellers,
sometimes disgusts the eye and revolts the mind at the Church of the
Vatican--those crowds of peasants and beggars, eating, drinking, and
sleeping, on Christmas eve, within the precincts of the temple; are
not to be seen at Seville. Our Church, though almost thronged day and
night on the principal festivals, is not profaned by any external
mark of indevotion. The strictest watch is kept by members of the
chapter appointed for that purpose, who, attended by their vergers,
go their rounds for the preservation of order. The exclusion of
every kind of seats from the Church, though rather inconvenient for
the people, prevents its being made a lounging-place; and, besides
allowing the beautiful marble pavement to appear unbroken, avoids
that dismal look of an empty theatre, which benches or pews give to
churches in the intervals of divine service.

Early on Palm-Sunday the melancholy sound of the _Passion-bell_
announces the beginning of the solemnities for which the fast of Lent
is intended to prepare the mind. This bell is one of the largest
which are made to revolve upon pivots. It is moved by means of two
long ropes, which, by swinging the bell into a circular motion, twine
gently at first, round the massive arms of a cross, of which the
bell forms the foot, and the head its counterpoise. Six men then
draw back the ropes till the enormous machine conceives a sufficient
impetus to coil them in an opposite direction; and thus alternately,
as long as ringing is required. To give this bell a tone appropriate
to the sombre character of the season, it has been cast with several
large holes disposed in a circle round the top--a contrivance which,
without diminishing the vibration of the metal, prevents the distinct
formation of any musical note, and converts the sound into a dismal
clangour.

The chapter, consisting of about eighty resident members, in their
choral robes of black silk with long trains and hoods, preceded by
the inferior ministers, by thirty clergymen, in surplices, whose deep
bass voices perform the plain or Ambrosian chaunt, and by the band
of wind-instruments and singers, who execute the more artificial
strains of modern or counterpoint music; move in a long procession
round the farthest aisles, each holding a branch of the oriental or
date palm, which, overtopping the heads of the assembled multitude,
nod gracefully, and bend into elegant curves at every step of the
bearers. For this purpose, a number of palm-trees are kept with their
branches tied up together, that, by the want of light, the more
tender shoots may preserve a delicate yellow tinge. The ceremony of
blessing these branches is solemnly performed by the officiating
priest, previously to the procession; after which they are sent by
the clergy to their friends, who tie them to the iron bars of the
balconies, to be, as they believe, a protection against lightning.

At the long church-service for this day, the organ is silent, the
voices being supported by hautboys and bassoons. All the altars are
covered with purple or grey curtains. The holy vestments, during
this week, are of the first-mentioned colour, except on Friday, when
it is changed for black. The four accounts of our Saviour’s passion
appointed as gospels for this day, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday,
are dramatized in the following manner. Outside of the gilt-iron
railing, which incloses the presbytery, are two large pulpits of
the same materials, from one of which, at the daily high-mass, the
subdeacon chaunts the epistle, as the deacon does the gospel from
the other. A moveable platform with a desk, is placed between the
pulpits on the _Passion-days_; and three priests or deacons, in
_albes_ (the white vestment, over which the dalmatic is worn by the
latter, and the chasuble by the former) appear on these elevated
posts, at the time when the gospel should be said. These officiating
ministers are chosen among the singers in holy orders; one a bass,
another a tenor, and the third a counter-tenor. The tenor chaunts
the narrative, without changing from the key note, and makes a pause
whenever he comes to the words of the interlocutors mentioned by the
Evangelist. In those passages the words of our Saviour are sung by
the bass, in a solemn strain. The counter-tenor, in a more florid
style, personates the inferior characters, such as Peter, the Maid,
and Pontius Pilate. The cries of the priests and the multitude, are
imitated by the band of musicians within the choir.


PASSION-WEDNESDAY.

The mass begins within a white veil, which conceals the officiating
priest and ministers, and the service proceeds in this manner till
the words “the veil of the temple was rent in twain” are chaunted.
At this moment the veil disappears, as if by enchantment, and the
ears of the congregation are stunned with the noise of concealed
fireworks, which are meant to imitate an earthquake.

The evening service named _Tinieblas_ (darkness) is performed this
day after sunset. The cathedral, on this occasion, exhibits the most
solemn and impressive aspect. The high altar, concealed behind dark
grey curtains which fall from the height of the cornices, is dimly
lighted by six yellow-wax candles, while the gloom of the whole
temple is broken in large masses by wax torches, severally fixed on
each pillar of the centre aisle, at about one-third of its length
from the ground. An elegant candlestick of brass, from fifteen to
twenty feet high, is placed, this and the following evening, between
the choir and the altar, holding thirteen candles, twelve of yellow,
and one of bleached wax, distributed on the two sides of the triangle
which terminates the machine. Each candle stands by a brass figure
of one of the apostles. The white candle occupying the apex, is
allotted to the Virgin Mary. At the conclusion of each of the twelve
psalms appointed for the service, one of the yellow candles is
extinguished, till, the white taper burning alone, it is taken down
and concealed behind the altar. Immediately after the ceremony, the
_Miserere_, as we call the fifty-first psalm, set, every other year,
to a new strain of music, is sung in a grand style. This performance
lasts neither more nor less than one hour. At the conclusion of the
last verse the clergy break up abruptly without the usual blessing,
making a thundering noise by clapping their moveable seats against
the frame of the stalls, or knocking their ponderous _breviaries_
against the boards, as the Rubric directs.


THURSDAY IN THE PASSION WEEK.

The ceremonies of the high mass (the only one which is publicly
performed on this and the next day) being especially intended as
a remembrance of the last supper, are, very appropriately, of a
mixed character--a splendid commemoration which leads the mind from
gratitude to sorrow. The service, as it proceeds, rapidly assumes
the deepest hues of melancholy. The bells, which were joining in one
joyous peal from every steeple, cease at once, producing a peculiar
heavy stillness, which none can conceive but those who have lived in
a populous Spanish town, long enough to lose the conscious sense of
that perpetual tinkling which agitates the ear during the day, and
great part of the night.

A host, consecrated at the mass, is carried with great solemnity
to a temporary structure called the _Monument_, erected in every
church with more or less splendour, according to the wealth of the
establishment. There it is deposited in a silver urn, generally
shaped like a sepulchre, the key of which, hanging from a gold chain,
is committed by the priest to the care of one of the most respectable
inhabitants of the parish, who wears it round his neck as a badge
of honour, till the next morning. The key of the Cathedral Monument
is entrusted to the archbishop, if present, or to the dean in his
absence.

The striking effect of the last-mentioned structure is not easily
conceived. It fills up the space between four arches of the nave,
rising in five bodies to the roof of the temple. The columns of
the two lower tiers, which, like the rest of the monument, imitate
white marble filletted with gold, are hollow, allowing the numerous
attendants who take care of the lights that cover it from the ground
to the very top, to do their duty during four-and-twenty hours,
without any disturbance or unseemly bustle. More than three thousand
pounds of wax, besides one hundred and sixty silver lamps, are
employed in the illumination.

The gold casket set with jewels, which contains the host, lies
deposited in an elegant temple of massive silver, weighing five
hundred and ten marks, which is seen through a blaze of light, on
the pediment of the monument. Two members of the chapter in their
choral robes, and six inferior priests in surplices, attend on their
knees before the shrine, till they are relieved by an equal number
of the same classes, at the end of every hour. This act of adoration
is performed without interruption from the moment of depositing the
host in the casket till that of taking it out the next morning. The
cathedral, as well as many others of the wealthiest churches, is kept
open and illuminated the whole night.

One of the public sights of the town, on this day, is the splendid
cold dinner which the archbishop gives to twelve paupers, in
commemoration of the Apostles. The dinner is to be seen laid out on
tables, filling up two large rooms in the palace. The twelve guests
are completely clothed at the expense of their host; and having
partaken of a more homely dinner in the kitchen, are furnished with
large baskets to take away the splendid commons allotted to each in
separate dishes, which they sell to the _gourmands_ of the town.
Each, besides, is allowed to dispose of his napkin, curiously made
up into the figure of some bird or quadruped, which people buy both
as ornaments to their china cupboards, and as specimens of the
perfection to which some of our poorer nuns have carried the art of
plaiting.

At two in the afternoon the archbishop, attended by his chapter,
repairs to the Cathedral, where he performs the ceremony, which, from
the notion of its being literally enjoined by our Saviour, is called
the _Mandatum_. The twelve paupers are seated on a platform erected
before the high altar; and the prelate, stripped of his silk robes,
and kneeling successively before each, washes their feet in a large
silver bason.

About this time the processions, known by the name of _Cofradías_,
(Confraternities) begin to move out of the different churches to
which they are attached. The head of the police appoints the hour
when each of these pageants is to appear in the square, where stand
the Town Hall, and the _Audiencia_ or Court of Justice. From thence
their route to the Cathedral, and out of it, to a certain point, is
the same for all. These streets are lined by two rows of spectators
of the lower classes, the windows, being occupied by those of a
higher rank. An order is previously published by the town-crier,
directing the inhabitants to decorate their windows, which they do
by hanging out the showy silk and chintz counterpanes of their beds.
The processions themselves, except one which enjoys the privilege of
parading the town in the dead of night, have little to attract the
eye or affect the imagination. Their chief object is to convey groups
of figures, as large as life, representing different scenes of our
Saviour’s passion.

There is something remarkable in the established and characteristic
marks of some figures. The Jews are distinguished by long aquiline
noses. Saint Peter is completely bald. The dress of the Apostle
John is green, and that of Judas Iscariot yellow; and so intimately
associated is this circumstance with the idea of the traitor, that it
has brought that colour into universal discredit. It is, probably,
from this circumstance (though yellow may have been allotted to Judas
from some more ancient prejudice,) that the Inquisition has adopted
it for the _Sanbeníto_, or coat of infamy, which persons convicted
of heresy are compelled to wear. The red hair of Judas, like Peter’s
baldness, seems to be agreed upon by all the painters and sculptors
of Europe. _Judas hair_ is a usual name in Spain; and a similar
appellation, it should seem, was used in England in Shakspeare’s
time. “His hair,” says Rosalind, in As you like it, “is of the
dissembling colour:” to which Celia answers--“Something browner than
Judas’s.”

The midnight procession derives considerable effect from the
stillness of the hour, and the dress of the attendants on the sacred
image. None are admitted to this religious act but the members of
that _fraternity_; generally young men of fashion. They all appear
in a black tunic, with a broad belt so contrived as to give the
idea of a long rope tied tight round the body; a method of penance
commonly practised in former times. The face is covered with a long
black veil, falling from a sugar-loaf cap three feet high. Thus
arrayed, the nominal _penitents_ advance, with silent and measured
steps, in two lines, dragging a train six feet long, and holding
aloft a wax-candle of twelve pounds, which they rest upon the
hip-bone, holding it obliquely towards the vacant space between them.
The veils, being of the same stuff with the cap and tunic, would
absolutely impede the sight but for two small holes, through which
the eyes are seen to gleam, adding no small effect to the dismal
appearance of such strange figures. The pleasure of appearing in a
disguise, in a country where masquerades are not tolerated by the
Government, is a great inducement to our young men for subscribing
to this religious association. The disguise, it is true, does not
in the least relax the rules of strict decorum which the ceremony
requires; yet the mock penitents think themselves repaid for the
fatigue and trouble of the night by the fresh impression which they
expect to make on the already won hearts of their mistresses, who,
by preconcerted signals, are enabled to distinguish their lovers, in
spite of the veils and the uniformity of the dresses.

It is scarcely forty years since the disgusting exhibition of people
streaming in their own blood, was discontinued by an order of the
Government. These _penitents_ were generally from among the most
debauched and abandoned of the lower classes. They appeared in white
linen petticoats, pointed white caps and veils, and a jacket of the
same colour, which exposed the naked shoulders to view. Having,
previously to their joining the procession, been scarified on the
back, they beat themselves with a cat-o’-nine-tails, making the blood
run down to the skirts of their garment. It may be easily conceived
that religion had no share in these voluntary inflictions. There was
a notion afloat that this act of penance had an excellent effect on
the constitution; and while vanity was concerned in the applause
which the most bloody flagellation obtained from the vulgar, a still
stronger passion looked forward to the irresistible impression it
produced on the strapping belles of the lower ranks.


GOOD FRIDAY.

The crowds of people who spent the evening and part of the night
of Thursday in visiting the numerous churches where the host is
entombed, are still seen, though greatly thinned, performing this
religious ceremony, till the beginning of service at nine. This is,
perhaps, the most impressive of any used by the Church of Rome.
The altars, which, at the end of yesterday’s mass, were publicly
and solemnly stripped of their cloths and rich table-hangings by
the hands of the priest, appear in the same state of distressed
negligence. No musical sound is heard, except the deep-toned voices
of the psalm, or plain chaunt singers. After a few preparatory
prayers, and the dramatized history of the Passion, already
described, the officiating priest, (the archbishop at the cathedral)
in a plain albe or white tunic, takes up a wooden cross six or seven
feet high, which, like all other crosses, has for the last two weeks
of Lent been covered with a purple veil; and standing towards the
people, before the middle of the altar, gradually uncovers the sacred
emblem, which both the clergy and laity worship upon their knees.
The prelate is then unshod by the assistant ministers, and taking
the cross upon his right shoulder, as our Saviour is represented
by painters on his way to Calvary, walks alone from the altar to
the entrance of the presbytery or chancel, and lays his burden upon
two cushions. After this, he moves back some steps, and approaching
the cross with three prostrations, kisses it, and drops an oblation
of a piece of money, into a silver dish. The whole chapter, having
gone through the same ceremony, form themselves in two lines, and
repair to the monument, from whence the officiating priest conveys
the deposited host to the altar, where he communicates upon it
without consecrating any wine. Here the service terminates abruptly;
all candles and lamps are extinguished; and the tabernacle, which
throughout the year contains the sacred wafers, being left open,
every object bespeaks the desolate and widowed state of the church,
from the death of the Saviour to his resurrection.

The ceremonies of Good-Friday being short and performed at an early
hour, both the gay and the devout would be at a loss how to spend the
remainder of the day but for the grotesque _Passion Sermons_ of the
suburbs and neighbouring villages; and the more solemn performance
known by the name of _Tres Horas_--three hours.

The practice of continuing in meditation from twelve to three o’clock
of this day--the time which our Saviour is supposed to have hung on
the cross--was introduced by the Spanish Jesuits, and partakes of
the impressive character which the members of that order had the
art to impart to the religious practices by which they cherished
the devotional spirit of the people. The church where the _three
hours_ are kept, is generally hung in black, and made impervious
to day-light. A large crucifix is seen on the high altar, under a
black canopy, with six unbleached wax-candles, which cast a sombre
glimmering on the rest of the church. The females of all ranks
occupy, as usual, the centre of the nave, squatting or kneeling on
the matted ground, and adding to the dismal appearance of the scene,
by the colour of their veils and dresses.

Just as the clock strikes twelve, a priest in his cloak and cassock
ascends the pulpit, and delivers a preparatory address of his own
composition. He then reads the printed Meditation on the _Seven
Words_, or Sentences spoken by Jesus on the cross, allotting to each
such a portion of time as that, with the interludes of music which
follow each of the readings, the whole may not exceed three hours.
The music is generally good and appropriate, and, if a sufficient
band can be collected, well repays to an amateur the inconvenience
of a crowded church, where, from the want of seats, the male part
of the congregation are obliged either to stand or kneel. It is, in
fact, one of the best works of Haydn, composed, a short time ago, for
some gentlemen of Cadiz, who shewed both their taste and liberality
in thus procuring this masterpiece of harmony for the use of their
country. It has been lately published in Germany, under the title of
“Sette Parole.”

Every part of the performance is so managed that the clock strikes
three about the end of the meditation, on the words _It is
finished_.--The description of the expiring Saviour, powerfully drawn
by the original writer of the _Tres Horas_, can hardly fail to strike
the imagination when listened to under the influence of such music
and scenery; and when, at the first stroke of the clock, the priest
rises from his seat, and in a loud and impassioned voice, announces
the consummation of the awful and mysterious sacrifice, on whose
painful and bloody progress the mind has been dwelling so long; few
hearts can repel the impression, and still fewer eyes can conceal it.
Tears bathe every cheek, and sobs heave every female bosom.--After a
parting address from the pulpit, the ceremony concludes with a piece
of music, where the powers of the great composer are magnificently
displayed in the imitation of the disorder and agitation of nature
which the Evangelists relate.

The _Passion Sermons_ for the populace might be taken for a parody
of the _Three Hours_. They are generally delivered, in the open
air, by friars of the Mendicant Orders, in those parts of the city
and suburbs which are chiefly, if not exclusively, inhabited by the
lower classes. Such gay young men, however, as do not scruple to
relieve the dulness of Good-Friday with a ride, and feel no danger
of exposing themselves by any unseasonable laughter, indulge not
unfrequently in the frolic of attending one of the most complete
and perfect sermons of this kind, at the neighbouring village of
Castilleja.

A moveable pulpit is placed before the church door, from which a
friar, possessed of a stentorian voice, delivers an _improved_
history of the Passion, such as was revealed to Saint Bridget, a
Franciscan nun, who, from the dictation of the Virgin Mary, has left
us a most minute and circumstantial account of the life and death of
Christ and his mother. This yearly narrative, however, would have
lost most of its interest but for the scenic illustrations which
keep up the expectation and rivet the attention of the audience.
It was formerly the custom to introduce a living Saint Peter--a
character which belonged by a natural and inalienable right to the
baldest head in the village--who acted the Apostle’s denial, swearing
_by Christ_, he did not know the man. This edifying part of the
performance is omitted at Castilleja; though a practised performer
crows with such a shrill and natural note as must be answered with
a challenge by every cock of spirit in the neighbourhood. The
flourish of a trumpet announces, in the sequel, the publication
of the sentence passed by the Roman governor; and the town crier
delivers it with legal precision, in the manner it is practised in
Spain, before an execution. Hardly has the last word been uttered,
when the preacher, in a frantic passion, gives the crier the _lie
direct_, cursing the tongue that has uttered such blasphemies.[40] He
then invites an angel to contradict both Pilate and the Jews: when,
obedient to the orator’s desire, a boy gaudily dressed, and furnished
with a pair of gilt pasteboard wings, appears at the window, and
proclaims the _true verdict of Heaven_. Sometimes in the course of
the preacher’s narrative, an image of the Virgin Mary is made to meet
that of Christ, on his way to Calvary, both taking an affectionate
leave in the street. The appearance, however, of the Virgin bearing
a handkerchief to collect a sum for her son’s burial, is never
omitted, both because it melts the whole female audience into tears,
and because it produces a good collection for the convent. The whole
is closed by the _Descendimiento_, or unnailing a crucifix as large
as life from the cross; an operation performed by two friars, who,
in the character of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, are seen with
ladders and carpenters’ tools, letting down the jointed figure, to be
placed on a bier and carried into the church in the form of a funeral.

  [40] “_Calla, maldita lengua_,” the usual exclamation which stops
  the crier, has become a jocular expression in Andalusia.

I have carefully glided over such parts of this absurd performance
as would shock many an English reader even in narrative. Yet such is
the strange mixture of superstition and profaneness in the people
for whose gratification these scenes are exhibited, that though any
attempt to expose the indecency of these shows would rouse their zeal
“to the knife,” I cannot venture to translate the jokes and sallies
of wit that are frequently heard among the Spanish peasantry upon
these sacred topics.


SATURDAY BEFORE EASTER.

I have not been able to ascertain the reason why the Roman Catholic
celebrate the resurrection this morning, with an anticipation of
nearly four and twenty hours, and yet continue the fast till midnight
or the beginning of Sunday. This practice is, I believe, of high
antiquity.

The service begins this morning without either the sound of bells
or of musical instruments. The _Paschal Candle_ is seen by the
north-side of the altar. But, before I mention the size of that used
at our cathedral, I must protest against all charges of exaggeration.
It is, in fact, a pillar of wax, nine yards in height, and thick in
proportion, standing on a regular marble pedestal. It weighs eighty
_arrobas_, or two thousand pounds, of twelve ounces. This candle
is cast and painted new, every year; the old one being broken to
pieces on the Saturday preceding Whitsunday, the day when part of
it is used for the consecration of the baptismal font. The sacred
torch is lighted with the _new fire_, which this morning the priest
strikes out of a flint, and burns during service till Ascension-day.
A chorister in his surplice climbs up a gilt-iron rod, furnished with
steps like a flag-staff, and having the top railed in, so as to admit
of a seat on a level with the end of the candle. From this _crow’s
nest_, the young man lights up and trims the wax pillar, drawing off
the melted wax with a large iron ladle.

High mass begins this day behind the great veil, which for the two
last weeks in Lent covers the altar. After some preparatory prayers,
the priest strikes up the hymn _Gloria in excelsis Deo_. At this
moment the veil flies off, the explosion of fireworks in the upper
galleries reverberates in a thousand echoes from the vaults of the
church, and the four-and-twenty large bells of its tower, awake,
with their discordant though gladdening sounds, those of the one
hundred and forty-six steeples which this religious town boasts
of. A brisk firing of musketry, accompanied by the howling of the
innumerable dogs, which, unclaimed by any master, live and multiply
in our streets, adds strength and variety to this universal din. The
firing is directed against several stuffed figures, not unlike the
Guy Fawkes of the fifth of November; which are seen hanging by the
neck on a rope, extended across the least frequented streets. It is
then that the pious rage of the people of Seville is vented against
the archtraitor Judas, whom they annually hang, shoot, draw and
quarter in effigy.

The church service ends in a procession about the aisles. The priest
bears the host in his hands, visible through glass, as a picture
within a medallion. The sudden change from the gloomy appearance of
the church and its ministers, to the simple and joyous character
of this procession, the very name of _Pasqua Florída_, the flowery
Passover, and, more than the name, the flowers themselves, which
well-dressed children, mixed with the censer-bearers, scatter on the
ground, crowd the mind and heart with the ideas, hopes, and feelings
of renovated life, and give to this ceremony, even for those who
disbelieve the personal presence in the host, of a Deity triumphant
over death; a character of inexpressible tenderness.


MAY CROSS.

The rural custom of electing a May Queen among the country belles is,
I understand, still practised in some parts of Spain. The name of
_Maia_, given to the handsomest lass of the village, who, decorated
with garlands of flowers, leads the dances in which the young people
spend the day, shews how little that ceremony has varied since the
time of the Romans. The villagers, in other provinces, declare their
love by planting, during the preceding night, a large bough or a
sapling, decked with flowers, before the doors of their sweethearts.

As most of our ancient church festivals were contrived as substitutes
for the Pagan rites, which the Christian priesthood could not
otherwise eradicate, we still have some remnants of the sanctified
_May-pole_ in the little crosses, which the children ornament with
flowers, and place upon tables, holding as many lighted tapers as,
from the contributions of their friends, they can afford to buy.

I have heard that the children at Cambridge dress up a figure called
the _May-lady_, and setting it upon a table, beg money of the
passengers. The difference between this and the analogous Spanish
custom arose, in all probability, from the respective prevalence in
either country of the _May-pole_, or the _Maia_. A figure of the
Virgin, which the Reformation has reduced to a nameless as well as
shapeless puppet, took place of the latter, while the cross was
employed to banish the former. I am inclined to believe that the
illuminated grottos of oyster-shells, for which the London children
beg about the streets, are the representatives of some Catholic
emblem, which had its day as a substitute for a more classical idol.
I was struck in London with the similarity of the plea which the
children of both countries urge in order to obtain a halfpenny. The
“it is but once a year, sir!” often reminded me of the

    La Cruz de Mayo
    que no come ni bebe
    en todo el año.

    The Cross of May
    Remember pray,
    Which fasts a year and feasts a day.


CORPUS CHRISTI.

This is the only day in the year when the consecrated Host is
exposed, about the streets, to the gaze of the adoring multitude. The
triumphal character of the procession which issues forth from the
principal church of every town of note in the kingdom, and a certain
dash of bitter and threatening zeal which still lies disguised under
the ardent and boundless devotion displayed on this festival, shew
but too clearly the spirit of defiance which suggested it in the heat
of the controversies upon the real presence. It is within my memory
that the taste for dignity and decorum which this Metropolitan
Church has ever evinced in the performance of religious worship,
put an end to the boisterous and unbecoming appendages which an
inveterate custom had annexed to this pageant.

At a short distance in front of the procession appeared a group of
seven gigantic figures, male and female, whose dresses, contrived
by the most skilful tailors and milliners of the town, regulated
the fashion at Seville for the ensuing season. A strong man being
concealed under each of the giants and giantesses, the gaping
multitude were amused at certain intervals with a very clumsy dance,
performed by the figures, to the sound of the pipe and tabor. Next to
the Brobdignag dancers, and taking precedence of all, there followed,
on a moveable stage, the figure of a Hydra encircling a castle,
from which, to the great delight of all the children of Seville, a
puppet not unlike Punch, dressed up in a scarlet jacket trimmed with
morrice-bells, used often to start up; and having performed a kind of
wild dance, vanished again from view into the body of the monster.
The whole of this compound figure bore the name of _Tarasca_, a word
of which I do not know either the meaning or derivation. That these
figures were allegorical no one can doubt who has any knowledge of
the pageants of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It would
be difficult, however, without the help of an obscure tradition,
to guess that the giants in perriwigs and swords, and their fair
partners in caps and petticoats, were emblems of the seven deadly
sins. The Hydra, it should seem, represented Heresy, guarding the
castle of Schism, where Folly, symbolized by the strange figure in
scarlet, displayed her supreme command. This band of monsters was
supposed to be flying in confusion before the triumphant sacrament.

Mixed with the body of the procession, there appeared three sets of
dancers; the _Valencianos_, or natives of the kingdom of Valencia,
who, in their national costume of loose waistcoats, puffed linen
sleeves, bound at the wrists and elbows with ribbons of various
colours, and broad white trowsers reaching only to the knees,
performed a lively dance, mingling their steps with feats of
surprising agility: after these followed the sword-dancers in the old
martial fashion of the country: and last of all, the performers of
an antiquated Spanish dance--I believe the _Chacona_, dressed in the
national garb of the sixteenth century.

A dance of the last-mentioned description, and in a similar
costume, is still performed before the high altar in the presence
of the chapter, at the conclusion of the service on this day and
the following se’nnight. The dancers are boys of between ten and
fourteen, who, under the name of _Seizes_,[41] are maintained at
the college which the Cathedral supports for the education of the
acolytes, or inferior ministers. These boys, accompanied by a full
orchestra, sing a lyric composition in Spanish, which, like the
Greek chorusses, consists of two or three systems of metres, to
which the dancers move solemnly, going through a variety of figures
in their natural step, till, ranged at the conclusion of the song,
in two lines facing each other as at the outset, they end with a
gentle caper, rattling the castanets, which hitherto lay silent and
concealed in their hands. That this grotesque performance should be
allowed to continue, is, I believe, owing to the pride which this
chapter take in the privilege, granted by the Pope to the dancers,
of wearing their hats within view of the consecrated host--a liberty
which the King himself cannot take, and which, if I am not misled by
report, no one besides can boast of, except the Dukes of Altamira,
who, upon certain occasions, clap on their hat, at the elevation of
the host, and draw the sword, as if shewing their readiness to give a
conclusive answer to any argument against transubstantiation.

  [41] This name is, as far as I know, peculiar to Seville. The
  similarity of its sound and that of _sizars_ used at Cambridge,
  seems to denote a common origin in the two words.

The _Corpus Christi_ procession begins to move out of the cathedral
exactly at nine in the morning. It consists in the first place of the
forty communities of friars who have convents in this town. They
follow one another in two lines, according to the established order
of precedence. The strangeness and variety of their dresses, no less
than their collective numbers, would greatly strike any one but a
Spaniard, to whom such objects are perfectly familiar.--Next appears
the long train of relics belonging to the Cathedral, placed each by
itself on a small stage moved by one or more men concealed under
the rich drapery which hangs on its sides to the ground. Vases of
gold and silver, of different shapes and sizes, contain the various
portions of the inestimable treasure whereof the following is an
accurate catalogue:

    A tooth of Saint Christopher.

    An agate cup used at Mass by Pope Saint Clement, the immediate
    successor of Saint Peter.

    An arm of Saint Bartholomew.

    A head of one of eleven thousand virgins.

    Part of Saint Peter’s body.

    Ditto of Saint Lawrence.

    Ditto of Saint Blaise.

    The bones of the Saints Servandus and Germanus.

    Ditto of Saint Florentius.

    The Alphonsine tables, left to the Cathedral by King Alphonso the
    Wise, containing three hundred relics.

    A silver bust of Saint Leander, with his bones.

    A thorn from our Saviour’s crown.

    A fragment of the true cross.

Last of all appears the body of prebendaries and canons, attended
by their inferior ministers. Such, however, is the length of the
procession, and the slow and solemn pace at which it proceeds, that,
without a break in the lines, it takes a whole hour to leave the
church. The streets, besides being hung up with more taste than for
the processions of the Passion Week, are shaded all the way with a
thick awning, and the pavement is strewed with rushes. An article of
the military code of Spain obliges whatever troops are quartered in a
town where this procession takes place, to follow it under arms; and
if sufficient in number, to line the streets through which it is to
pass.

Under all these circumstances, the first appearance of the host in
the streets is exceedingly imposing. Encircled by jewels of the
greatest brilliancy, surrounded by lighted tapers and enthroned on
the massive, yet elegant temple of silver already mentioned when
describing the _Monument_,[42] no sooner has it moved to the door
of the church than the bells announce its presence with a deafening
sound, the bands of military music mix their animating notes with
the solemn hymns of the singers, clouds of incense rise before the
moving shrine, and the ear is thrilled by the loud voice of command,
and the clash of the arms which the kneeling soldiers strike down
to the ground. When the concealed bearers of the shrine[43] present
it at the top of the long street where the route commences, the
multitudes which crowd both the pavement and windows, fall prostrate
in profound adoration, without venturing to rise up till the object
of their awe is out of sight. Flowers are often scattered from the
windows, and the most beautiful nosegays adorn the platform of the
moveable stage.

  [42] See page 253.

  [43] See Letter II. p. 34.

Close behind the host follows the archbishop, surrounded by his
ecclesiastical retinue. One of his chaplains carries a large double
cross of silver, indicative of metropolitan dignity. The train of the
purple mantle is supported by another clergyman. These, like the rest
of the prelate’s attendants and pages, are young men of family, who
disdain not this kind of service, in the expectation of high church
preferment. But what gives all this state the most unexpected finish
is an inferior minister in his surplice bearing a circular fan of
richly embroidered silk about two feet in diameter, and attached to
a silver rod six feet in length. At a convenient distance from the
archbishop this fan is constantly waved, whenever during the summer
months he attends the cathedral service, thus relieving him from the
oppressive effects of his robes under the burning sun of Andalusia.
This custom is, I believe, peculiar to Seville.


SAINT JOHN’S EVE.

Feelings far removed from those of devotion prevail in the
celebration of the Baptist’s festival. Whether it is the inviting
temperature of a midsummer night, or some ancient custom connected
with the present evening, “Saint John,” says the Spanish proverb,
“sets every girl a gadding.” The public walks are crowded after
sunset, and the exclusive amusement of this night, flirtation, or in
the Andalusian phrase, _pelar la Pava_, (plucking the hen-turkey)
begins as soon as the star-light of a summer sky, unbroken by the
partial glare of lamps, enables the different groups to mix with a
liberty approaching that enjoyed in a masquerade. Nothing in this
kind of amusement possesses more zest than the chat through the
iron bars of the lower windows, which begins about midnight. Young
ladies, who can compose their mamas to sleep at a convenient hour,
glide unperceived to the lower part of the house, and sitting on
the window-sill, behind the latticework, which is used in this
country instead of blinds, wait, in the true spirit of adventure,
(if not pre-engaged to a dull, common-place matrimonial prelude,)
for the chance sparks, who, mostly in disguise, walk the streets
from twelve till dawn. Such, however, as the mere love of mirth
induces to pass the night at the windows, generally engage another
female companion, a sister, a friend, and often a favourite maid, to
take a share in the conversation, and by a change of characters to
puzzle their out-of-doors visitors. These, too, when not _seriously_
engaged, walk about in parties, each assuming such a character as
they consider themselves most able to support. One pretends to be a
farmer just arrived from the country, another a poor mechanic, this a
foreigner speaking broken Spanish, that a _Gallego_, making love in
the still less intelligible dialect of his province. The gentlemen
must come provided with no less a stock of sweetmeats (which from
the circumstance of being folded each separately in a piece of
paper, are called _Papelillos_) than of lively small talk and wit.
A deficiency in the latter is unpardonable; so that a _bore_, or
_Majadero_,[44] if not ready to quit the post when bidden, is soon
left to contemplate the out-side of the window-shutters. The habitual
distance at which the lower classes are kept from those above them,
prevents any disagreeable meddling on their part; and the ladies who
indulge in these frolics, feel perfectly safe from intrusion and
impertinence.

  [44] A word derived from the verb _Majar_, to beat in a mortar.

The sauntering about the fields, practised by the populace of
Madrid, on the same night, is there called “_Cogér la Verbena_,”
gathering Vervain; an appellation evidently derived from an ancient
superstition which attributed preternatural powers to that plant when
gathered at twelve o’clock on St. John’s Eve. The nocturnal rambles
of the present times, much as they might alarm the guardians of
public morals, if such an office existed among us, need not give any
uneasiness on the score of witchcraft to the Reverend Inquisitors.


SAINT BARTHOLOMEW.

The commemoration of this Apostle takes place on the 24th of August.
It is not, however, to record any external circumstance connected
with this church festival--which, in fact, is scarcely distinguished
by any peculiar solemnity--that I take notice of it, but for a
private superstitious practice which strikes me as a most curious
modification of one used by the pious housewives in the days of
Augustus.

Intermittent fevers, especially the Tertian and Quartan, are very
common in most parts of Andalusia. The season when they chiefly
attack the inhabitants, is summer; and whether the unbounded use,
which all sorts of people, but particularly the poor, make of grapes
and melons, contributes to the production of the disease, or whether
the mere coincidence of the two facts is, as usual, taken for cause
and effect; it is an established opinion in this part of the country
that, if fruit is not the original source of the ague, an abstinence
from that kind of food is indispensable to avoid a relapse into that
treacherous complaint.

That there should be a particular Saint, to superintend the medical
department of curing the ague, is so perfectly consistent with the
Catholic notions, that a deficiency on that point would more surprise
me than to find a toe not under the influence of some heavenly aspect
in the _Vox Stellarum_, which was one of my wonders in England. That
province, in fact, is allotted to Saint Bartholomew. Now, ninepence
is a sufficient inducement for any of our sons of Esculapius to mount
his mule as well as his wig, and dose you with the most compound
electuary he is master of; but how to fee a supernatural doctor,
would be a puzzling question, were it not that tradition teaches the
method of propitiating every individual mentioned in the calendar.
Each Saint has a peculiar fancy--from Saint _Anthony of Padua_, who
will often delay the performance of a miracle till you plunge him
into a well, or nail his print topsy-turvy upon the wall, to Saint
_Pasqual Baylon_, who is readiest to attend such as accompany their
petitions with some lively steps and a final caper. As to Saint
Bartholomew, nothing will induce him to cure an ague but a vow to
abstain, on the day of his festival, from all food except bread and
fruit--the very means which, but for his miraculous interference,
would, according to common opinion, cause either a return, or an
aggravation of the complaint.

Mark, now, the vow employed by the Roman matrons for the cure of
intermittents. It is recorded by Horace, and thus translated by
Francis:--

    “Her child beneath a quartan fever lies
    For full four months, when the fond mother cries,
    Sickness and health are thine, all-powerful Jove;
    Then, from my son this dire disease remove,
    And when your priests thy solemn fast proclaim,
    Naked the boy shall stand in Tiber’s stream.
    Should chance, or the physician’s art, upraise
    Her infant from the desperate disease;
    The frantic dame shall plunge her hapless boy,
    Bring back the fever, and the child destroy.”[45]

  [45]  Jupiter, ingentes qui das adimisque dolores,
    (Mater ait pueri menses jam quinque cubantis),
    Frigida si puerum quartana reliquerit, illo
    Mane, die quo tu indicis jejunia, nudus
    In Tiberi stabit.--Casus, medicusve levarit
    Ægrum ex precipiti; mater delira necabit
    In gelidâ fixum ripâ, febrimque reducet.
                                  HOR. SAT. L. II. 3. 288.

The existence of Heathen superstitions adapted to Christian worship
is too common to excite surprise; nor is it any similarity in the
externals of the two practices I have just compared, that constitutes
their analogy. My mind is struck alone by the unchangeable spirit of
superstition, which, attributing in all ages and nations, our own
passions and feelings to supernatural beings, endeavours to obtain
their favour by flattering their vanity. Both the ancient Roman and
modern Spanish vow for the cure of the ague, seem to set at defiance
the supposed and most probable causes of the disease, from which the
devotees seek deliverance; as if to secure to the patron deities the
undoubted and full honour of the miracle.


DETACHED PREJUDICES AND PRACTICES.

Having mentioned the superstitious method used in this country
for the cure of the ague, I wish to introduce a short account of
some popular prejudices more or less connected with the prevalent
religious notions. I shall probably add a few facts under this head,
for no better reason than that I do not know how to class them under
any other.

There is an allusion in Hudibras to an antiquated piece of gallantry
which I believe may be illustrated by a religious custom to which I
was sometimes subjected in my childhood. The passage runs thus:

    I’ll carve your name on barks of trees
    With true love-knots and flourishes, ...
    _Drink every letter on’t in stum,
    And make it brisk Champaigne become._[46]

  [46] Hudibras, Part II. Canto I.

The latter compliment is paid by sick persons to the Virgin Mary,
in the hope of recovering health through her intercession. An image
is worshipped at one of the principal parish churches in this
town, under the title of the _Virgin of Health_. The charm of this
denomination draws numbers to the sanctuary, which, being in the
centre of the wealthiest population, derives considerable splendour
from their offerings. In exchange for these they often receive a
sheet of printed paper containing at regular intervals the words
_Salus infirmorum_, in very small type. In case of illness, one
of the lines is cut off, and, being coiled into a small roll, the
patient swallows it in a glass of water.

The room where a person lies dangerously ill, generally contains more
relics and amulets than the chimney-piece of an invalid, under the
care of a London apothecary, holds phials of all shapes and sizes.
The friends of a lady near her confinement, vie with each other in
procuring her every kind of supernatural assistance for the trying
hour; when, strange to say, she is often dressed in the episcopal
robes of some saint, which are supposed to act most effectually when
in contact with the body of the distressed petitioner. But whatever
patrons the ladies may choose to implore in those circumstances,
there are two whose assistance, by means of relics, pictures, or the
apparel of their images, is never dispensed with. The names of these
invisible accoucheurs are _Saint Raymundus Nonnatus_, and _Saint
Vincent Ferrer_. That the former should be considered as peculiarly
interested in such cases, having, as his addition implies, been
extracted from the womb of his dead mother, is perfectly clear and
natural. But, _Ferrer’s_ sympathy requires a slight explanation.

That saint--a native of Valencia, and a monk of the order of Saint
Dominic, possessed the gift of miracles in such a degree, that
he performed them almost unconsciously, and not unfrequently in
a sort of frolic. Being applied to, on a certain occasion, by a
young married lady, whom the idea of approaching maternity kept in
a state of constant terror, the good-natured Saint desired her to
dismiss her fears, as he was determined to take upon himself whatever
inconvenience or trouble there might be in the case. Some weeks had
elapsed, when the good Monk, who had forgotten his engagement, was
heard in the dead of night roaring and screaming in a manner so
unusual, and so little becoming a professional Saint, that he drew
the whole community to his cell. Nothing, for a time, could relieve
the mysterious sufferings, and though he passed the rest of the night
_as well as could be expected_, the fear of a relapse would have kept
his afflicted brethren in painful suspense, had not the grateful
husband of the timid lady, who was the cause of the uproar, taken an
early opportunity to return thanks for the _unconscious_ delivery of
his consort. Saint Vincent, though according to tradition perfectly
unwilling to stand a second time proxy for nervous ladies, is, from
a very natural sympathy, constantly in readiness to act as the male
Lucina of the Spanish matrons.


FUNERALS OF INFANTS AND MAIDS.

From the birth to the death of a child the passage is often so easy
that I shall make it an apology for the abruptness of the present
transition. The moral accountableness of a human being, as I have
observed before, does not, according to Catholic divines, begin till
the seventh year; consequently such as die without attaining that
age, are, by the effect of their baptism, indubitably entitled to
a place in heaven. The death of an infant is therefore a matter of
rejoicing to all but those in whose bosoms nature speaks too loud to
be controlled by argument. The friends who call upon the parents,
contribute to aggravate their bitterness by _wishing them joy_ for
having increased the number of angels. The usual address on these
occasions is _Angelitos al Cielo!_ Little Angels to Heaven--an
unfeeling compliment, which never fails to draw a fresh gush of
tears from the eyes of a mother. Every circumstance of the funeral
is meant to _force_ joy upon the mourners. The child, dressed in
white garments, and crowned with a wreath of flowers, is followed
by the officiating priest in silk robes of the same colour; and
the clergymen who attend him to the house from whence the funeral
proceeds to the church, sing in joyful strains the psalm _Laudate,
pueri, Dominum_, while the bells are heard ringing a lively peal. The
coffin, without a lid, exposes to the view the little corpse covered
with flowers, as four well-dressed children bear it, amidst the
lighted tapers of the clergy. No black dress, no signs of mourning
whatever are seen even among the nearest relatives; the service at
church bespeaks triumph, and the organ mixes its enlivening sounds
with the hymns, which thank death for snatching a tender soul, when
through a slight and transient tribute of pain, it could obtain an
exemption from the power of sorrow. Yet no funerals are graced with
more tears; nor can dirges and penitential mournings produce even a
shadow of the tender melancholy which seizes the mind at the view of
the formal and affected joy with which a Catholic infant is laid in
his grave.

A young unmarried woman among us

    ----“is allowed her virgin crants,[47]
    Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home
    Of bell and burial.”

  [47] Garlands.

In addition to the wreath of flowers, a palm-branch is put into a
maiden’s hand; an emblem of victory against the allurements of love,
which many a poor fair conqueror would have willingly exchanged for
a regular defeat. They are dressed in every other respect like nuns,
and the coffin is covered with a black velvet pall, as in all other
funerals.

The preceding passage in Hamlet begins with an allusion to a very
ancient custom, which is still observed in Spain at the monumental
crosses erected on the highways to those who have perished by the
hands of robbers.

        “For charitable prayers,
    Sherds, flints, and pebbles, should be thrown on her.”

This is literally done by every peasant when passing one of those
rude and melancholy monuments. A heap of stones is always observed
at the foot of the cross; not, however, _instead_ of prayers, as
the passage would seem to imply, but as a tale by which the number
of _Paternosters_ said by the compassionate passengers, might be
reckoned. The antiquity of this _Christianized_ custom appears, from
a passage in the Book of Proverbs, to be very great. The proverb or
sentence, translated as it is in the margin of the English Bible,
runs thus: “As he that putteth a precious stone in a heap, so is he
that giveth honour to a fool.”[48]

  [48] Proverbs xxvi. 8.

The Latin version which, you must know, is of great antiquity,
and was made the basis of Jerom’s, about the middle of the fourth
century, renders this proverb in a remarkable manner. _Sicut qui
mittit lapidem in acervum Mercurii; ita qui tribuit insipienti
honorem._ As he that casts a stone on the _heap of Mercury_, &c. &c.
Now, bearing in mind that stones are at this day thrown upon certain
graves in Spain; that, according to the passage in Shakspeare, a
similar custom seems to have prevailed in other parts of Europe; and
that Jerom believed he rendered the spirit of the Hebrew proverb by
translating the word which the English Divines doubted, whether to
construe _a sling_, or _a heap of stones_, by the phrase, _acervus
Mercurii_; a deity, whose statues were frequently placed over
sepulchres among the Romans--bearing all this in mind, I say, it
appears to me that the custom of covering some graves with stones
thrown at random, must have existed in the time of the writer of the
Proverbs. Perhaps I may be allowed to conjecture that it originated
in the punishment of stoning, so common among the Jews; that
passengers flung stones, as a mark of abhorrence, on the heap which
hid the body of the criminal; that the primitive Christians, many of
whom were Jews, followed the same method of shewing their horror of
heathen tombs, till those places came to be known, in Jerom’s time,
by the appellation of _heaps of Mercury_; that modern Christians
applied the same custom to the graves of such as had been deemed
unworthy of consecrated ground; and, finally, that the frequency of
highway robberies and murders in Spain detached the custom from the
idea of crime, and softened a mark of detestation into one of prayer
and intercession for the unfortunate victim.


SPANISH CHRISTIAN NAMES.

The extraordinary devotion of the Catholics, especially in this
country, to the Virgin Mary, and the notion, supported by the clergy,
that as many Saints as have their names given to a child at baptism,
are, in some degree, engaged to take it under their protection,
occasion a national peculiarity not unworthy of remark. In the first
place few have less than half a dozen names entered in the parish
register, a list of which is given to the priest that he may read
them out in the act of christening the child. It would be difficult
indeed, under these circumstances, for most people to know exactly
their own names, especially if, like myself, they have been favoured
with _eleven_. The custom of the country, however, allows every
individual to forget all but the first in the list. In our devotion
to the Virgin, we have hitherto avoided the strange solecism of the
French _Monsieur Marie_, though almost every Spaniard has _Maria_ for
a second name.

The titles given to the innumerable images of the Virgin Mary, which
supply the usual names of our females, might occasion the most
ludicrous puns or misnomers, if habit had not diverted the mind from
their real meaning. No names are more common than _Encarnacion_,
Incarnation--_Concepcion_, Conception--_Visitacion_,
Visitation--_Maravillas_, Marvels--_Regla_, Rule--_Dolores_,
Pains--_Agustias_, Anguishes--_Soledad_, Solitude--_Natividad_,
Nativity, &c. Other titles of the Virgin afford, however, more agreeable
associations. Such are _Estrella_, Star--_Aurora_--_Amparo_,
Protection--_Esperanza_, Hope--_Salud_, Health--_Pastora_,
Shepherdess--_Rocio_, Dew, &c. But words, as it is said of the
chameleon, take the colour of the objects to which they are attached;
and I have known _Pains_ and _Solitudes_ among our Andalusians, who,
had they been more numerous, might have produced a revolution in the
significations of the language.


CHRISTMAS.

Since no festival of any interest takes place between summer and this
season, it is already time to conclude these notes with the expiring
year.

It was the custom, thirty or forty years since, among families
of fortune, to prepare, for an almost public exhibition, one or
two rooms of the house, where, upon a clumsy imitation of rocks
and mountains, a great number of baby-houses and clay figures,
representing the commonest actions of life, were placed amidst a
multitude of lamps and tapers. A half ruined stable, surrounded by
sheep and cattle, was seen in the front of the room, with the figures
of Joseph, Mary, and some shepherds, kneeling in adoration of the
child in the manger--an act which an ass and an ox imitated with the
greatest composure. This collection of puppets, called _Nacimiento_,
is still, though seldom intended for show, set up in many houses,
both for the amusement and the religious gratification of the family
and their more intimate friends.

At the period which I have just mentioned, the _Nacimientos_ were
made a pretext for collecting a large party, and passing several
nights in dancing, and some of the national amusements described
in the article of _Carnival_. The rooms being illuminated after
sunset, not only the friends of the family were entitled to enjoy
the festivities of the evening, but any gentleman giving his name
at the door, might introduce one or more ladies, who, if but known
by sight to the master of the house, would be requested to join in
the amusements which followed. These were singing, dancing, and
not unfrequently, speeches, taken from the old Spanish plays, and
known by the name of _Relaciones_. Recitation was considered till
lately as an accomplishment both in males and females; and persons
who were known to be skilled in that art, stood up at the request
of the company to deliver a speech with all the gesticulation of
our old school of acting, just as others gratified their friends by
performing upon an instrument. A slight refreshment of the Christmas
cakes, called _Oxaldres_, and sweet wines or home-made _liqueurs_,
was enough to free the house from the imputation of meanness: thus
mirth and society were obtained at a moderate expense. But the
present _Nacimientos_ seldom afford amusement to strangers; and with
the exception of singing carols to the sound of the _zambomba_,
little remains of the old festivities.

I must not, however, omit a description of the noisy instrument whose
no less sounding name I have just mentioned. It is general in most
parts of Spain at this season, though never used at any other. A
slender shoot of reed (Arundo Donax) is fixed in the centre of a
piece of parchment, without perforating the skin, which, softened
by moisture, is tied, like a drum-head, round the mouth of a large
earthen jar. The parchment, when dry, acquires a great tension, and
the reed being slightly covered with wax, allows the clenched hand to
glide up and down, producing a deep hollow sound of the same kind as
that which proceeds from the tambourine when rubbed with the middle
finger.

The church service on Christmas Eve begins at ten in the night, and
lasts till five in the morning. This custom is observed at every
church in the town; nor does their number, or the unseasonableness
of the hour, leave the service unattended in any. The music at the
Cathedral is excellent. It is at present confined to part of the
Latin prayers, but was, till within a few years, used in a species of
dramatic interludes in the vulgar tongue, which were sung, not acted,
at certain intervals of the service. These pieces had the name of
_Villancicos_, from _Villano_, a clown; shepherds and shepherdesses
being the interlocutors in these pastorals. The words, printed at the
expense of the Chapter, were distributed to the public, who still
regret the loss of the wit and humour of the Swains of Bethlehem.

The custom of the country requires a formal call between Christmas
and Twelfth-day, on all one’s acquaintance; and tables are placed
in the house squares, or _Patios_, to receive the cards of the
visiters. Presents of sweetmeats are common between friends;
and patients send to their medical attendants the established
acknowledgment of a turkey; so that Doctors in great practice open
a kind of public market for the disposal of their poultry. These
turkeys are driven in flocks by gipseys, who patiently walk in
the rear of the ungovernable phalanxes, from several parts of Old
Castile, and chiefly from Salamanca. The march which they perform is
of no less than four hundred miles, and lasts about one half of the
year. The turkeys, which are bought from the farmers mere chickens,
acquire their full growth, like your fashionables, in travelling, and
seeing the world.



LETTER X.


    _Madrid, 1807._

My removal to this capital has been sudden and unexpected. My friend
Leandro, from whom I am become inseparable, was advised by his
physicians to seek relief from a growing melancholy--the effect of
a mortal aversion to his professional duties, and to the intolerant
religious system with which they are connected--in the freedom and
dissipation of the court; and I found it impossible to tear myself
from him.

The journey from Seville to Madrid, a distance of about two hundred
and sixty English miles, is usually performed in heavy carriages
drawn by six mules, in the space of from ten to eleven days. A party
of four persons is formed by the coachman, (Mayoral) who fixes the
day and hour for setting out, arranges the length of the stages,
prescribes the time for getting up in the morning, and even takes
care that every passenger attends mass on a Sunday, or any other
church festival during the journey. As it was, however, of importance
not to delay my friend’s removal from Seville, we chose the more
expensive conveyance by posting, and having obtained a passport, set
off in an open and half foundered chaise--the usual vehicles till
within thirty miles of Madrid.

You will form some idea of our police and government, from the
circumstance of our being obliged to take our passport, not for
Madrid, but Salamanca, in order thus to smuggle ourselves into the
capital. The minister of _Gracia y Justicia_, or home department,
Caballero, one of the most willing and odious instruments of our
arbitrary court, being annoyed by the multitude of place-hunters,
whom we denominate Pretendientes, who flocked to Madrid from the
provinces; has lately issued an order forbidding all persons
whatever, to come to the capital, unless they previously obtain a
royal license. To await the King’s pleasure would have exposed us
to great inconvenience, and probably to a positive denial. But as
the minister’s order was now two or three months old, a period at
which our court-laws begin to grow obsolete, and we did not mean to
trouble _his excellency_; we trusted to luck and our purse, as to any
little obstacles which might arise from the interference of inferior
officers.

I shall not detain you with a description of our journey--the
delays at the post-houses--our diminished haste at Valdepeñas for
the sake of its delicious wine just as it is drawn from the immense
earthen-jars, where it is kept buried in the ground; and, finally,
the ugly but close and tight post-chaises drawn by three mules
a-breast, which are used from Aranjuez to Madrid. I do not love
description, probably because I cannot succeed in it. You will,
therefore, have the goodness to apply for a picture of this _town_
(for I wish you to remark that it is not reckoned among our _cities_)
in Burgoing, Townsend, or some other professed traveller. My
narrative shall, as hitherto, be limited to what these gentlemen were
not likely to see or understand with the accuracy and distinctness of
a native.

The influence of the court being unlimited in Spain, no object
deserves a closer examination from such as wish to be acquainted
with the moral state of this country. I must, therefore, begin
with a sketch of the main sources of that influence, carefully
excluding every report which has reached me through any but the most
respectable channels, or an absolute notoriety. The fountain-head
of power and honours among us has, till lately, been the Queen, a
daughter of the late Duke of Parma, a very ugly woman, now fast
approaching old age, yet affecting youth and beauty. She had been but
a short time married to the present King, then Prince of Asturias,
when she discovered a strong propensity to gallantry, which the
austere and jealous temper of her father-in-law Charles III. was
scarcely able to check. Her husband, one of those happy beings born
to derive bliss from ignorance, has ever preserved a strong and
exclusive attachment to her person. This attachment, combined with a
most ludicrous simplicity, closes his mind against every approach of
suspicion.

The first favourite of the Princess that awakened the King’s
jealousy, was a gentleman of his son’s household, named Ortíz.
Concerned for the honour of the Prince, no less than for the
strictness of morals, which, from religious principles, he had
anxiously preserved in his court; he issued an order, banishing
Ortíz to one of the most distant provinces. The Princess, unable to
bear this separation, and well acquainted with the character of her
husband, engaged him to obtain the recall of Ortíz from the King.
Scrupulously faithful to his promise, the young Prince watched the
first opportunity to entreat his father’s favour, and falling upon
his knees, asked the boon of Ortíz’s return, gravely and affectingly
urging that “his wife Louisa was quite unhappy without him, as he
used to amuse her amazingly.” The old King, surprised and provoked
by this wonderful simplicity, turned his back upon the good-natured
petitioner, exclaiming: _Calla, tonto! Déxalo irse: Qué simple que
eres!_ “Hold your tongue, booby! Let him go: What a simpleton thou
art!”

Louisa deprived, however, of her _entertaining_ Ortíz, soon found a
substitute in a young officer named Luis de Godoy. He was the eldest
of three brothers, of an ancient but decayed family, in the province
of Estremadura, who served together in the Horse-Guards, a corps
exclusively composed of gentlemen, the lowest ranks being filled by
commissioned officers. Scarcely had this new attachment been formed,
when the old King unmercifully nipped it in the bud, by a decree
of banishment against Don Luis. The royal order was, as usual, so
pressing, that the distressed lover could only charge his second
brother Manuel with a parting message, and obtain a promise of his
being the bearer of as many tokens of constancy and despair, as could
be safely transmitted by the post.

It is a part of the cumbrous etiquette of the Spanish Court to give
a separate guard to every member of the royal family, though all
live within the King’s palace; and to place sentinels with drawn
swords at the door of every suite of apartments. This service is
performed without interruption day and night, by the military corps
just mentioned. Manuel Godoy did not find it difficult to be on duty
in the Prince’s guard, as often as he had any letter to deliver. A
certain tune played on the flute, an instrument with which that young
officer used to beguile the idle hours of the guard, was the signal
which drew the Princess to a private room, to which the messenger had
secret, but free access.

There is every reason to believe that _Luis’s_ amorous dispatches had
their due effect for some weeks, and that his royal mistress lived
almost exclusively upon their contents. Yet time was working a sad
revolution in the fortunes of the banished lover. Manuel grew every
day more interesting, and the letters less so, till the faithless
confidant became the most _amusing_ of mortals to the Princess, and
consequently a favourite with her good-natured husband.

The death of the old King had now removed every obstacle to the
Queen’s gallantries, and Manuel Godoy was rapidly advanced to the
highest honours of the state, and the first ranks of the army. But
the new sovereign did not yet feel quite easy upon the throne; and
the dying King’s recommendation of his favourite Floridablanca,
by prolonging that minister’s power, still set some bounds to the
Queen’s caprices. Charles IV., though perfectly under his wife’s
control, could not be prevailed upon to dismiss an old servant of
his father without any assignable reason; and some respect for
public opinion, a feeling which seldom fails to cast a transient
gleam of hope on the first days of every reign, obliged the Queen
herself to employ other means than a mere act of her will in the
ruin of the premier. He might, however, have preserved his place
for some time, and been allowed to retire with his honours, had not
his jealousy of the rising Godoy induced him to oppose the tide of
favour which was now about to raise that young man to a Grandeeship
of the first class. To provide for the splendour of that elevated
rank, the Queen had induced her husband to bestow upon Godoy a
princely estate, belonging to the crown, from which he was to take
the title of the Duke de la Alcúdia. Floridablanca, either from
principle, or some less honourable motive, thought it necessary to
oppose this grant as illegal; and having induced the King to consult
the Council of Castille upon that point, endeavoured to secure an
answer agreeable to his wishes, by means of a letter to his friend
the Count Cifuentes. Most unluckily for the minister, before this
letter arrived from San Ildefonso, where the court was at that time,
the president was seized with a mortal complaint, and the dispatches
falling into the hands of his substitute Cañada, were secretly
transmitted to the Queen. It is needless to add, that the report of
the council was favourable, that Godoy was made Duke de la Alcúdia,
and that both he and the Queen were now wholly bent upon their
opposer’s ruin.

During Floridablanca’s influence with the King, a manuscript satire
had been circulated against that minister, in which he was charged
with having defrauded one _Salucci_, an Italian banker connected with
the Spanish Government. Too conscious, it should seem, of the truth
of the accusation, Floridablanca suspected none but the injured party
of being the contriver and circulator of the lampoon. The obnoxious
composition was, however, written in better Spanish than Salucci
could command, and the smarting minister could not be satisfied
without punishing the author. His spies having informed him that
the Marquis de Manca, a man of wit and talent, was intimate at
Salucci’s, he had no need of farther proofs against him. The banker
was immediately banished out of the kingdom, and the poet confined
to the city of Burgos, under the inspection and control of the civil
authorities.

But the time was now arrived when these men, who were too well
acquainted with the state of Spain to look for redress at the hands
of justice, were to obtain satisfaction from the spirit of revenge
which urged the Queen to seek the ruin of her husband’s minister.
Charles IV. being informed of Floridablanca’s conduct towards Salucci
and Manca, the last was recalled to Court. His enemy’s papers,
including a large collection of _billets-doux_, were seized and put
into the Marquis’s hands, to be used as documents in a secret process
instituted against the minister: who, according to his own rules
of justice, was, in the mean time, sent a prisoner to the fortress
of Pamplona. His confinement, however, was not prolonged beyond
the necessary time to ruin him in the King’s opinion; and upon the
marriage of two of the Royal Princesses, an _indulto_, or pardon,
was issued, by which, though declared guilty of embezzling forty-two
millions of _reals_, he was enlarged from his close confinement, and
allowed to reside at Murcia, his native town.

I am not certain, however, whether Floridablanca’s dismissal did
not shortly precede his accusation by _Manca_, as the immediate
consequence of his efforts to make the King join the coalition
against France after the death of Louis XVI. Charles IV. was, it
seems, the only sovereign in Europe, who felt no alarm at the fate
of the unfortunate Louis; and had more at heart the recollection
of a personal slight from his cousin, than all the ties of common
interest and blood. Charles had learned that, on his accession to the
throne of Spain, the usual letter of congratulation being presented
for signature to Louis, that monarch humourously observed, that he
thought the letter hardly necessary, “for the poor man,” he said,
“is a mere cypher, completely governed and henpecked by his wife.”
This joke had made such a deep impression on the King, as to draw
from him, when Louis was decapitated, the unfeeling and almost brutal
remark that “a gentleman so ready to find fault with others, did not
seem to have managed his own affairs very well.” The Count de Aranda,
who, in the cabinet councils, had constantly voted for peace with
France, was appointed, in February, 1792, to succeed Floridablanca.
But the turn of affairs, and the pressing remonstrances of the allied
sovereigns, altered the views of Charles; and having, at the end of
seven months, dismissed Aranda with all the honours of his office,
Godoy, then Duke of Alcúdia, was appointed his successor to begin
hostilities against France. I need not enter into a narrative of that
ill-conducted and disastrous war. An appearance of success cheered
up the Spaniards, always ready to fight with their neighbours on the
other side of the Pyrenees. But the French armies having received
reinforcements, would have soon paid a visit to Charles at Madrid, if
his favourite minister, with more address than he ever discovered in
his subsequent management of political affairs, had not concluded and
ratified the peace of Basle.

The fears of the whole country at the progress of the French arms
had been so strong, that peace was hailed with enthusiasm; and the
public joy, on that occasion, would have been unalloyed but for the
extravagant rewards granted to Godoy for concluding it. A new dignity
above the grandeeship was created for him alone, and, under the
title of _Prince of the Peace_, Godoy was placed next in rank to the
Princes of the royal blood.

There was but one step in the scale of honours which could raise a
mere subject higher than the Queen’s favour had exalted Godoy--a
marriage into the royal family. But the only distinction which love
seemed not blind enough to confer on the favourite, he actually owed
to the jealousy of his mistress.

Among the beauties whom the hope of the young minister’s favour drew
to Madrid from all parts of Spain, there was an unmarried lady of
the name of Tudó, a native of Malaga, whose charms both of person
and mind would have captivated a much less susceptible heart than
Godoy’s. From the moment she was presented by her parents, La Tudó
(we are perfectly unceremonious in naming ladies of all ranks)
obtained so decided a supremacy above the numerous sharers in the
favourite’s love, that the Queen, who had hitherto overlooked a
crowd of occasional rivals, set her face against an attachment which
bid fair to last for life. It had, indeed, subsisted long enough
to produce unquestionable proof of the nature of the intimacy, in
a child whose birth, though not blazoned forth as if sanctioned by
public opinion, was not hidden with any consciousness of shame.
A report being circulated at court, that the Prince of the Peace
was secretly married to La Tudó, the Queen, in a fit of jealousy,
accused him to the King as guilty of ingratitude, in thus having
allied himself to a woman of no birth, without the slightest mark
of deference to his royal benefactors. The King, whose fondness
for Godoy had grown above his wife’s control, seemed inclined to
discredit the story of the marriage; but, being at that time at one
of the royal country residences called _Sitios_--the _Escurial_,
I believe, where the ministers have apartments within the palace;
the Queen led her husband through a secret passage, to a room where
they surprised the lovers taking their supper in a comfortable
_tête-à-tête_.

The feelings excited by this sight must have been so different in
each of the royal couple, that one can scarcely feel surprised at the
strangeness of the result. Godoy had only to deny the marriage to
pacify the King, whose good nature was ready to make allowances for
a mere love-intrigue of his favourite. The Queen, hopeless of ever
being the exclusive object of the gallantries of a man to whom she
was chained by the blindest infatuation, probably feared lest the
step she had taken should tear him away from her presence. A slave
to her vehement passions, and a perfect stranger to those delicate
feelings which vice itself cannot smother in some hearts, she seemed
satisfied with preventing her chief rival from rising above her own
rank of a mistress; and, provided the place was occupied by one to
whom her paramour was indifferent, wished to see him married, and be
herself the match-maker.

The King’s late brother, Don Luis, who, in spite of a cardinal’s hat,
and the archbishoprick of Seville, conferred on him before he was of
age to take holy orders, stole a kind of left-handed marriage with a
Spanish lady of the name of Vallabríga; had left two daughters and
a son, under the guardianship of the archbishop of Toledo. Though
not, hitherto, allowed to take their father’s name, these children
were considered legitimate; and it is probable that the King had been
desirous of putting them in possession of the honours due to their
birth, long before the Queen proposed the eldest of her nieces both
as a reward for Godoy’s services, and a means to prevent in future
such sallies of youthful folly as divided his attention between
pleasure and the service of the crown. These or similar reasons
(for history must content herself with conjecture, when the main
springs of events lie not only behind the curtain of state, but those
of a four-post bed) produced in the space of a few weeks, a public
recognition of Don Luis’s children, and the announcement of his
eldest daughter’s intended marriage with the Prince of the Peace.

The vicious source of Godoy’s unbounded power, the temper of the
Court where he enjoyed it, and the crowd of flatterers which his
elevation had gathered about him, would preclude all expectation
of any great or virtuous qualities in his character. Yet there are
facts connected with the beginning of his government which prove
that he was not void of those vague wishes of doing good, which,
as they spring up, are “choked with cares and riches and pleasures
of this world.” I have been assured by an acute and perfectly
disinterested observer, whose high rank gave him free access to the
favourite, during part of the period when with the title of Duke de
la Alcúdia he was at the head of the Spanish ministry, that “there
was every reason to believe him active, intelligent, and attentive
in the discharge of his duty; and that he was perfectly exempt from
all those airs and affectation which men who rise by fortune more
than merit, are apt to be justly accused of.” Though, like all the
Spanish youth brought up in the military profession, he was himself
unlettered, he shewed great respect for talents and literature in
the formation of the ministry which succeeded his own; when, from his
new rank, and his marriage into the royal family, he was considered
above the duties of office.

Saavedra, whom he made first minister of state, is a man of great
natural quickness, improved both by reading and the observation of
real life; but so irresolute of purpose, so wavering in judgment, so
incapable of decision, that, while in office, he seemed more fit to
render public business interminable, than to direct its course in his
own department. Jovellanos, appointed to be Saavedra’s colleague, is
justly considered as one of the living ornaments of our literature.
Educated at Salamanca in one of the _Colegios Mayores_, before the
reform which stripped those bodies of their honours and influence, he
was made a judge in his youth, and gradually ascended to one of the
supreme councils of the nation. His upright and honourable conduct
in every stage of his life, both public and private, the urbanity of
his manners, and the formal elegance of his conversation, render him
a striking exemplification of the old Spanish _Caballero_. With the
virtues and agreeable qualities of that character, he unites many of
the prejudices peculiar to the period to which it belongs. To a most
passionate attachment to the privileges and distinctions of blood,
he joins a superstitious veneration for all kinds of external forms.
The strongest partialities warp his fine understanding, confining
it, upon numerous subjects, to distorted or limited views. As a judge
and a man of letters, he was respected and admired by all. As a chief
justice in any of our provincial courts of law, he would have been a
blessing to the people of his district; while the dignified leisure
of that situation would have enabled him to enrich our literature
with the productions of his elegant mind. As a minister, however,
through whose hands all the gifts of the Crown were to be distributed
to a hungry country, where two-thirds of the better classes look
up to patronage for a comfortable subsistence, he disappointed the
hopes of the nation. At Court, his high notions of rank converted his
rather prim manner into downright stiffness; and his blind partiality
for the natives of Asturias, his province--probably because he
thought them the purest remnant of Gothic blood in Spain--made him
the most unpopular of ministers. Instead of promoting the welfare
of the nation by measures which gradually, and upon a large scale,
might counteract the influence of a profligate Court, he tried to
oppose the Queen’s established interference in detail. She once made
a personal application to Jovellanos in favour of a certain candidate
for a prebendal stall. The minister gave her a flat denial, alleging
that the person in question had not qualified himself at any of the
universities. “At which of them,” said the Queen, “did you receive
your education?”--“At Salamanca, Madam.”--“What a pity,” rejoined
she, “that they forgot to teach you manners!”

While employed in this petty warfare, which must have soon ended in
his dismissal, a circumstance occurred, which, though it was the
means of reconciling the Queen to Jovellanos for a time, has finally
consigned him to a fortress in Majorca, where to this day he lingers
under a confinement no less unjust than severe.

The ceremony of Godoy’s marriage was scarcely over, when he resumed
his intimacy with La Tudó in the most open and unguarded manner. The
Queen, under a relapse of jealousy, seemed so determined to clip the
wings of her spoiled favourite, that Jovellanos was deceived into a
hope of making this pique the means of reclaiming his patron, if not
to the path of virtue, at least to the rules of external propriety.
Saavedra, better acquainted with the world, and well aware that Godoy
could, at pleasure, resume any degree of ascendancy over the Queen,
entered reluctantly into the plot. Not so Jovellanos. Treating this
Court intrigue as one of the regular lawsuits on which he had so long
practised his skill and impartiality, he could not bring himself
to proceed without serving a notice upon the party concerned. He
accordingly forwarded a remonstrance to the Prince of the Peace, in
which he reminded him of his public and conjugal duties, in the most
forcible style of forensic and moral eloquence. The Queen, in the
mean time, had worked up her husband into a feeling approaching to
anger against Godoy, and the decree for his banishment was all but
signed before the offending gallant thought himself in such danger
as to require the act of submission, which alone could restore him
to the good graces of his neglected mistress. He owed, however, his
safety to nothing but Saavedra’s indecision and dilatoriness. That
minister could not be persuaded to present the decree of banishment
for the royal signature, till the day after it had been agreed upon.
Godoy, in the mean time, obtained a private interview with the Queen,
who, under the influence of a long-checked and returning passion, in
order to exculpate herself, represented the Ministers--the very men
whom Godoy had raised into power--as the authors of the plot; and
probably attributed the plan to Jovellanos, making him, from this
moment, the marked object of the favourite’s resentment.

The baffled Ministers, though not immediately dismissed, must have
felt the unsteadiness of the ground on which they stood, and dreaded
the revenge of an enemy, who had already shewn, in the case of
Admiral Malaspina, that he was both able and willing to wreak it on
the instruments of the Queen’s jealousy. That officer, an Italian by
birth, had just returned from a voyage round the globe, performed
at the expense of this Government, when the Queen, who found it
difficult to regulate the feelings of her husband towards Godoy, to
the sudden and rapid variations of her own, induced her confidant,
the Countess of Matallana, to engage him in drawing up a memorial to
the King, containing observations on the public and private conduct
of the favourite, and representing him in the blackest colours.
Malaspina was at this time preparing the account of his voyage for
publication, with the assistance of a conceited sciolist, a Sevillian
friar called Padre Gil, who, in our great dearth of real knowledge,
was looked upon as a miracle of erudition and eloquence. The Admiral,
putting aside his charts and log-books, eagerly collected every
charge against Godoy which was likely to make an impression upon the
King; while the friar, inspired with the vision of a mitre ready
to drop on his head, clothed them in the most florid and powerful
figures which used to enrapture his audience from the pulpit. Nothing
was now wanting but the Queen’s command to spring the mine under the
feet of the devoted Godoy, when the intended victim, informed of
his danger, and taking advantage of one of those soft moments which
made the Queen and all her power his own, drew from her a confession
of the plot, together with the names of the conspirators. In a few
days, Malaspina found himself conveyed to a fortress, where, with his
voyage, maps, scientific collections, and every thing relating to
the expedition, he remains completely forgotten; while the reverend
writer of the memorial was forwarded under an escort to Seville,
the scene of his former literary glory, to be confined in a house of
correction, where juvenile offenders of the lower classes are sent to
undergo a salutary course of flogging.

The Queen was preparing the dismissal of Saavedra and Jovellanos,
when a dangerous illness of the former brought forward a new actor in
the intricate drama of Court intrigue, who, had he known how to use
his power, might have worked the complete ruin of its hero.

The First Clerk of the Secretary of State’s Office--a place answering
to that of your under-secretary of State--was a handsome young man,
called Urquijo. His name is probably not unknown to you, as he was
a few years ago with the Spanish Ambassador in London, where his
attachment to the French jacobins and their measures could not
fail to attract some notice, from the unequivocal heroic proof of
self-devotion which he shewed to that party. It was, in fact, an
attempt to drown himself in the pond at Kensington Gardens, upon
learning the peace made by Buonaparte with the Pope at Tolentino; a
treaty which disappointed his hopes of seeing the final destruction
of the Papal See, and Rome itself a heap of ruins, in conformity
to a decree of the French Directory. Fortune, however, having
determined to transform our brave _Sans-Culotte_ into a courtier,
afforded him a timely rescue from the muddy deep; and when, under
the care of Doctor V----, he had been brought to understand how
little his drowning would influence the events of the French war, he
returned to Madrid, to wield his pen in the office where his previous
qualification of _Joven de Lenguas_,[49] had entitled him to a place,
till he rose, by seniority, to that of Under-Secretary.

  [49] Young men are appointed to go abroad with the Spanish
  ambassadors in order to learn foreign languages, and thus qualify
  themselves as diplomatists.

Every Spanish minister has a day appointed in the course of the
week--called _Dia de Despacho_--when he lays before the King the
contents of his portfolio, to dispose of them according to his
Majesty’s pleasure. The Queen, who is excessively fond of power,[50]
never fails to attend on the occasions. The minister, during this
audience, stands, or, if desired, sits on a small stool near a
large table placed between him and the King and Queen. The love
of patronage, not of business, is, of course, the object of the
Queen’s assiduity; while nothing but the love of gossip enables her
husband to endure the drudgery of these sittings. During Saavedra’s
ministry, his Majesty was highly delighted with the premier’s powers
of conversation, and his inexhaustible fund of good stories. The
portfolio was laid upon the table; the Queen mentioned the names of
her _protegés_, and the King, referring all other business to the
decision of the minister, began a comfortable chat, which lasted till
bed-time. When Saavedra was taken with that sudden and dangerous
illness which Godoy’s enemies were inclined to attribute to poison,
(a suspicion, however, which both the favourite’s real good nature,
and his subsequent lenity towards Saavedra, absolutely contradict)
the duty of carrying the portfolio to the King devolved upon the
Under-secretary. Urquijo’s handsome person and elegant manners made
a deep impression upon the Queen; and ten thousand whispers spread
the important news the next morning, that her Majesty had desired the
young clerk to take a seat.

  [50] It is a well known fact that there are letters in existence
  addressed by her, while Princess of Asturias, to the judges in
  the provinces, asking their votes in pending lawsuits.

This favourable impression, it is more than probable, was heightened
by a fresh pique against Godoy, whose growing disgust of his royal
mistress, and firm attachment to La Tudó, offered her Majesty daily
subjects of mortification. She now conceived the plan of making
Urquijo, not only her instrument of revenge, but, it is generally
believed, a substitute for the incorrigible favourite. But in this
amorous Court even a Queen can hardly find a vacant heart; and
Urquijo’s was too deeply engaged to one of Godoy’s sisters, to appear
sensible of her Majesty’s condescension. He mustered, however,
a sufficient portion of gallantry to support the Queen in her
resolution of separating Godoy from the Court, and depriving him of
all influence in matters of government.

It is, indeed, surprising, that the Queen’s resentment proceeded no
farther against the man who had so often provoked it, and that his
disgrace was not attended with the usual consequences of degradation
and imprisonment. Many and powerful circumstances combined, however,
in Godoy’s favour--the King’s almost parental fondness towards
him--the new minister’s excessive conceit of his own influence
and abilities, no less than his utter contempt of the discarded
favourite--and, most of all, the Queen’s unextinguished and ever
reviving passion, backed by her fears of driving to extremities a man
who had, it is said, in his power, the means of exposing her without
condemning himself.

During Saavedra’s ministry, and that interval of coldness produced by
Godoy’s capricious gallantries, which enabled his enemies to make the
first attempt against him; his royal mistress had conceived a strong
fancy for one Mallo, a native of Caraccas, and then an obscure _Garde
du Corps_. The rapid promotion of that young man, and the display of
wealth and splendour which he began to make, explained the source of
his advancement to every one but the King. Godoy himself seems to
have been stung with jealousy, probably not so much from his rival’s
share in the Queen’s affections, as from the ill-concealed vanity
of the man, whose sole aim was to cast into shade the whole Court.
Once, as the King and Queen, attended by Godoy and other grandees of
the household, were standing at the balcony of the royal seat El
Pardo, Mallo appeared at a distance, driving four beautiful horses,
and followed by a brilliant retinue. The King’s eye was caught by the
beauty of the equipage, and he inquired to whom it belonged. Hearing
that it was Mallo’s--“I wonder,” he said, “how that fellow can afford
to keep such horses.”--“Why, please your Majesty,” replied Godoy,
“the scandal goes, that he himself is kept by an ugly old woman--I
quite forget her name.”

Mallo’s day of prosperity was but short. His vanity, coxcombry
and folly, displeased the King, and alarmed the Queen. But in the
first ardour of her attachments, she generally had the weakness of
committing her feelings to writing; and Mallo possessed a collection
of her letters. Wishing to rid herself of that absurd, vain fop, and
yet dreading an exposure, she employed Godoy in the recovery of her
written tokens. Mallo’s house was surrounded with soldiers in the
dead of night; and he was forced to yield the precious manuscripts
into the hands of his rival. The latter, however, was too well aware
of their value to deliver them to the writer; and he is said to keep
them as a powerful charm, if not to secure his mistress’s affection,
at least to subdue her fits of fickleness and jealousy. Mallo was
soon banished and forgotten.

The two ministers, Saavedra and Jovellanos, had been rusticated to
their native provinces; the first, on account of ill health; the
second, from the Queen’s unconquerable dislike. Urquijo, who seems
to have been unable either to gain the King’s esteem, or fully to
return the Queen’s affection, could keep his post no longer than
while the latter’s ever ready fondness for Godoy, was not awakened
by the presence of its object. The absence of the favourite, it
is generally believed, might have been prolonged, by good policy,
and management of the King on the part of Urquijo, if his rashness
and conceit of himself had ever allowed him to suspect that any
influence whatever, was equal to that of his talents and person.
Instead of strongly opposing a memorial of the Prince of the Peace,
asking permission to kiss their majesties’ hands upon the birth of a
daughter, borne to him by the Princess his wife, Urquijo imagined the
Queen so firmly attached to himself, that he conceived no danger from
this transient visit of his offended rival. Godoy made his appearance
at Court; and from that moment Urquijo’s ruin became inevitable.
His hatred of the Court of Rome had induced the latter to encourage
the translation of a Portuguese work, against the extortions of the
Italian _Dataria_, in cases of dispensations for marriage within the
prohibited degrees. Thinking the public mind sufficiently prepared
by that work, he published a royal mandate to the Spanish bishops,
urging them to resume their ancient rights of dispensation. This step
had armed against its author the greater part of the clergy; and the
Prince of the Peace found it easy to alarm the King’s conscience by
means of the Pope’s nuncio, Cardinal _Casoni_, who made him believe
that his minister had betrayed him into a measure which trespassed
upon the rights of the Roman Pontiff. I believe that Godoy’s growing
dislike of the Inquisition spared Urquijo the horrors of a dungeon
within its precincts. He had not, however, sufficient generosity to
content himself with the banishment of his enemy to Guipuzcoa. An
order for his imprisonment in a fortress followed him thither in
a short time--a circumstance, which might raise a suspicion that
Urquijo had employed his personal liberty to make a second attempt
against the recalled favourite.

This supposition would be strongly supported by the general mildness
of Godoy’s administration, if one instance of cruel and implacable
revenge were not opposed to so favourable a view of his conduct.
Whether the Queen represented Jovellanos to the Prince of the Peace
as the chief actor in the first plot which was laid against him,
or that he charged that venerable magistrate with ingratitude for
taking any share in a conspiracy against the man who had raised him
to power; Godoy had scarcely been restored to his former influence,
when he procured an order to confine Jovellanos in the Carthusian
Convent of Majorca. The unmanliness of this second and long-meditated
blow, roused the indignation of his fallen and hitherto silent
adversary, calling forth that dauntless and dignified inflexibility
which makes him, in our days, so fine a specimen of the old Spanish
character. From his confinement he addressed a letter to the King,
exposing the injustice of his treatment in terms so removed from the
servile tone of a Spanish memorial, so regardless of the power of
his adversary, that it kindled anew the resentment of the favourite,
through whose hands he well knew it must make its way to the throne.
Such a step was more likely to aggravate than to obtain redress for
his wrongs. The virtues, the brilliant talents, and pleasing address
of Jovellanos had so gained upon the affections of the monks, that
they treated him with more deference than even a minister in the
height of his power could have expected. Godoy’s spirit of revenge
could not brook his enemy’s enjoyment of this small remnant of
happiness; and with a cruelty which casts the blackest stain on his
character, he removed him to a fortress in the same island, where,
under the control of an illiterate and rude governor, Jovellanos
is deprived of all communication, and limited to a small number of
books for his mental enjoyment. The character of the gaoler may be
conceived from the fact of his not being able to distinguish a _work_
from a _volume_. Jovellanos’s friends are not allowed to relieve his
solitude with a variety of books, even to the number contained in
the governor’s instructions; for he reckons literary works by the
piece, and a good edition of Cicero, for instance, appears to him a
complete library.[51]

  [51] See Note K.

Since his restoration to favour, the Prince of the Peace has been
gradually and constantly gaining ascendancy. The usual titles
of honour being exhausted upon him, the antiquated dignity of
_High-Admiral_ has been revived and conferred upon him, just at the
time when your tars have left us without a navy. Great emoluments,
and the address of _Highness_ have been annexed to this dignity.
A brigade of cavalry, composed of picked men from the whole army,
has been lately given to the High-Admiral as a guard of honour.
His power, in fine, though delegated, is unlimited, and he may be
properly said to be the acting Sovereign of Spain. The King, by the
unparalleled elevation of this favourite, has obtained his heart’s
desire in a perfect exemption from all sorts of employment, except
shooting, to which he exclusively devotes every day of the year.
Soler, the minister of finance, is employed to fleece the people; and
Caballero, in the home department, to keep them in due ignorance and
subjection. I shall just give you a sample of each of these worthies’
minds and principles.--It has been the custom for centuries at
Valladolid to make the Dominican Convent of that town a sort of bank
for depositing sums of money, as it was done in the ancient temples,
under similar circumstances of ignorance, of commerce and insecurity
of property. Soler, being informed that the monks held in their
hands a considerable deposit, declared “that it was an injury to the
state to allow so much money to lie idle,” and seizing it, probably
for the Queen, whose incessant demands form the most pressing and
considerable item of the Spanish budget, gave government-paper to the
monks, which the creditors might sell, if they chose, at eighty per
cent. discount.--Caballero, fearing the progress of all learning,
which might disturb the peace of the Court, sent, not long since, a
circular order to the Universities, forbidding the study of moral
philosophy: “His Majesty,” it was said in the order, “was not in want
of philosophers, but of good and obedient subjects.”

Under the active operation of this system, the Queen has the command
of as much money and patronage as she desires; and finding it
impracticable to check the gallantries of her _cher ami_, has so
perfectly conquered her jealousy as to be able not only to be on the
most amicable terms with him, but to emulate his love of variety in
the most open and impudent manner.

I wish to have done with the monstrous heap of scandal, which the
state of our Court has unavoidably forced into my narrative. Much,
indeed, I leave untold; but I cannot omit an original and perfectly
authentic story, which, as it explains the mystery of the King’s
otherwise inexplicable blindness respecting his wife’s conduct,
justice requires to be made public. The world shall see that his
Majesty’s apathy does not arise from any disgraceful indifference
for what is generally considered by men as a vital point of honour;
but that the peace and tranquillity of his mind is grounded on a
philosophical system--I do not know whether physical or moral--which
is, I believe, peculiar to himself.

The old Duke del I---- (on the authority of whose lady I give you
the anecdote) was once, with other grandees, in attendance on the
King, when his Majesty, being in high gossiping humour, entered into
a somewhat gay conversation on the fair sex. He descanted, at some
length, on fickleness and caprice, and laughed at the dangers of
husbands in these southern climates. Having had his fill of merriment
on the subject of jealousy, he concluded with an air of triumph--“We,
_crowned heads_, however, have this chief advantage above others,
that our honour, as they call it, is safe; for suppose that queens
were as much bent on mischief as some of their sex, where could they
find kings and emperors to flirt with? Eh?”



LETTER XI.


    _Madrid, ---- 1807._

In giving you a sketch of private life at Madrid, I shall begin
by a character quite peculiar to the country, and well known all
over Spain by the name of _Pretendientes_, or place-hunters. Very
different ideas, however, are attached to these denominations in
the two languages. Young men of the proudest families are regularly
sent to Court on that errand, and few gentlemen destine their sons
either for the church or the law, without calculating the means
of supporting them three or four years at Madrid, as regular and
professed _place-hunters_. The fact is, that, with the exception of
three stalls in every cathedral, and in some collegiate churches,
that are obtained by literary competition, there is not a single
place of rank and emolument to which Court interest is not the
exclusive road. Hence the necessity for all who do not possess an
independent fortune, in other words, for more than two thirds of the
Spanish gentry, to repair to the capital, there to procure that
interest, by whatever means their circumstances may afford.

The _Pretendientes_ may be divided into four classes. Clergymen,
who aspire to any preferment not inferior to a prebend; lawyers,
who wish to obtain a place on the bench of judges in one of our
numerous courts, both of Spain and Spanish America; men of business,
who desire to be employed in the collection of the revenue; and
_advocates_, whose views do not extend beyond a _Corregimiento_--a
kind of _Recordership_, with very limited judicial powers, which
exists in every town of any note where there is not an _Audiencia_,
or superior tribunal. I shall dispatch the last two classes in a few
words.

Between our advocates or barristers, and the superior judges, called
_Oidores_, there is such a line of distinction as to be almost an
insuperable barrier. A young man, who, having studied Roman law at
the University, attends three or four years at an acting advocate’s
chambers, is, after an examination on Spanish law, qualified to
plead at the courts of justice. But once engaged in this branch of
the law, he must give up all hopes of rising above that doubtful
rank which his profession gives him in society. Success may make him
rich, but he must be contented with drudging for life at the bar of a
provincial court, and bear the slighting and insolent tone with which
the judges consider themselves at liberty to treat the advocates. It
is, therefore, not uncommon among young lawyers, who cannot command
interest enough to be placed on the bench, to offer themselves as
candidates for a _Corregimiento_. Having scraped together a little
money, and procured a few letters of recommendation, they repair
to Madrid, where they are seen almost daily in the minister’s
waiting-room with a petition, and a printed list of their university
degrees and literary qualifications, called _Papél de Méritos_,
which, after two or three hours attendance, they think themselves
happy if his excellency will take from their hands. Such as can
obtain an introduction to some of the grandees who have the right
to appoint magistrates on their estates, confine themselves to the
easier, though rather more humiliating task, of _toad-eating_ to
their patron.

The _Pretendientes_ for the higher branches of finance, must be
able to make a more decent appearance at Court, if they hope for
success. It is not, however, the minister for that department, who
is most to be courted in order to obtain these lucrative places.
A recommendation from the Queen, or from the Prince of the Peace,
generally interferes with his views, if he allows himself to have
any of his own. To obtain the first, a handsome figure, or some
pleasing accomplishment, such as singing to the guitar in the Spanish
style, are the most likely means, either by engaging her Majesty’s
attention, or the affections of some of her favourite maids of
honour. The no less powerful recommendation of the Prince of the
Peace is, I must say in justice to him, not always made the reward of
flattery, or of more degrading servility. Justice and a due regard
for merit, are, it is true, far from regulating the distribution of
his patronage: yet, very different from the ministers who tremble
before him, he can be approached by every individual in the kingdom,
without an introduction, and in the certainty of receiving a civil,
if not a favourable answer. His great failing, however, being the
love of pleasure, none are so sure of a gracious reception as those
who appear at his public levees, attended by a handsome wife or
blooming daughter. The fact is so well known all over the country,
and--I blush to say it--the national character is so far sinking
under the influence of this profligate government, that beauties
flock from every province for the chance of being noticed by the
favourite. His public levee presents every week a collection of
the handsomest women in the country, attended by their fathers or
husbands. A suit thus supported is never known to fail.

The young aspirants to a _toga_, or judge’s gown, often succeed
through some indirect influence of this kind. The strange notion that
an _advocate_--one that has pleaded causes at the bar--has, in a
manner, disqualified himself for the bench, leaves the administration
of justice open to inexperienced young men, who, having taken a
degree in Roman law, and nominally attached themselves for a short
time to an _advocate_, as practitioners, are suddenly raised to the
important station of judges, either by marrying any of the Queen’s
maids of honour, or some more humble beauty on whom the Prince of
the Peace has cast a transient gleam of favour. I have known such
a reward extended to the sister of a temporary favourite, who,
being poor, and in love with a young man of family, poor himself,
and hopeless of otherwise obtaining a place, enabled him to marry,
by bringing a judge’s gown for her portion. Yet so perfectly can
circumstances alter the connexion which some moral feelings have
between themselves under certain forms and modifications of society,
that the man I allude to, as having owed his promotion to such
objectionable influence, is an example of justice and impartiality
in the difficult station in which he has been placed. I do not mean,
however, that a person who degrades his character with a view to
promotion, gives a fair promise of honourable principles when called
to discharge the duties of a public office: the growing venality of
our judges is too sad and clear a proof of the reverse. But when
a Government becomes so perfectly abandoned as to block up with
filth and pollution every avenue to wealth, power, and even bare
subsistence, men who, in a happier country, would have looked upon
the contaminated path with abhorrence, or, had they ventured a single
step upon it, would have been confirmed in their degradation by the
indelible brand of public censure; are seen to yield for a moment to
the combined influence of want and example, and recover themselves
so far, as almost to deserve the thanks of the people for having
snatched a portion of authority from the grasp of the absolutely
worthless.

Before I proceed to the remaining class of _Pretendientes_, allow
me, as a relief from the contemplation of this scene of vice and
corruption, to acquaint you with a man in power who, unwarped by
any undue influence, has uniformly employed his patronage in the
encouragement of modest and retiring merit. His name is Don Manuel
Sixto Espinosa. His father was a musician, who having had the good
fortune to please the King by his tasteful performances on the piano,
was appointed teacher of that instrument to the Royal Family. His
son, a young man of great natural abilities, which he had applied to
the study of finance and political economy, (branches of knowledge
little attended to in Spain,) had been gradually raised to a place
of considerable influence in that department, when his well-known
talents made the Prince of the Peace fix upon him as the fittest
man to direct the establishment for the consolidation of the public
debt. Espinosa, as Director of the Sinking Fund, has been accused of
impiety by the clergy, for trespassing on their overgrown privileges;
and blamed, by such as allow themselves to canvass state matters in
whispers, for not opposing the misapplication of the funds he enables
Government to collect. It would be needless to answer the first
charge. As to the second, common candour will allow that it is unfair
to confound the duties of a collector with those of a trustee of the
national revenue.

Without, however, entering upon the only remaining question, whether,
in the unfortunate circumstances of this country, it is an honest
man’s duty to refuse his services to a Government whose object is
to fleece the subject in order to pamper its own vices--a doctrine
doubtful in theory, and almost inapplicable in practice,--Espinosa
has qualities acknowledged by all who know him, and even undenied
by his enemies, which, without raising him into an heroic model of
public virtue, make him a striking instance of the power of virtuous
and honourable principle, in the midst of every allurement and
temptation which profligacy, armed with supreme power, can employ.
Inaccessible to influence, his patronage has uniformly been extended
to men of undoubted merit. A manuscript Essay on Political Economy,
written by a friendless young man and presented to Espinosa, was
enough to obtain the author a valuable appointment. A decided enemy
to the custom of receiving presents, so prevalent in Spain, as to
have become a matter of course in every suit, either for justice or
favour; I positively know, that when a commercial transaction, to the
amount of millions, between this Government and a mercantile house in
London had received his approbation, Espinosa sent back a hamper of
wine, which one of the partners had hoped, from its trifling value,
he would have received as a token of gratitude. His private conduct
is exemplary, and his manners perfectly free from “the insolence of
office,” which he might assume from the high honours to which he has
been raised. His parents, now very old, and living in the modest,
unassuming style which becomes their original rank, are visited by
Espinosa every Sunday, (the only day which leaves him a moment of
rest) and treated with the utmost kindness and deference. Always
mild and modest in his deportment, it is on these occasions that he
seems quite to forget his honours, and carry himself back to the time
when he looked for love and protection from those two, now, helpless
beings. It is there, and only there, that I once met Espinosa, and
he has ever since possessed my respect. If I have dwelt too long on
the subject of a man perfectly unknown to you, I trust you will not
attribute it to any of the motives which generally prompt the praises
of men in power. These, indeed, can never reach the ear of him they
commend, nor has he the means to serve the eulogist. But the daily
sickening sight of this infamous Court makes the mind cling to the
few objects which still bear the impress of virtue: and having to
proceed with the disgusting picture in which I have engaged, I gladly
seized the opportunity of dispelling the impression which my subject
might leave, either that I take pleasure in vilifying my country, or
that every seed of honour has died away from the land.

I do not know how it happens that in going through the description
of the different classes of _Pretendientes_, I have inverted the
order which they hold in my enumeration, so that I still find myself
with the Reverend _Stall-hunters_ upon my hands. These, as you may
suppose, are, by the decencies of their profession, compelled to take
quite a different course from those already described; for Hymen, in
this country, expects nothing from the clergy but disturbance; and
Love, accustomed, at Court, to the glitter of lace and embroidery,
is, usually, frightened at the approach of their black cloaks, and
the flapping brims of their enormous hats.

During the last reign, and the early part of the present, the King
seldom disposed of his patronage without the advice of his Privy
Council. The _Camaristas de Castilla_ received the petitions of the
candidates, accompanied by documental proofs of their merits and
qualifications, and reported thereon to the King through the Minister
of the home department. Such was the established practice till
the Queen took to herself the patronage of the Crown, and finally
shared it with her favourite. The houses of the Privy Counsellors
were, accordingly, the great resort of the Clerical _Pretendientes_.
Letters of introduction to some of the _Camaristas_ were considered
the most indispensable provision for the Madrid journey; and no
West Indian slave was ever so dependent on the nod of his master,
as these parasites were on the humours of the whole family of the
Privy Counsellor, where each had the happiness to be received as a
constant visiter. There he might be seen in the morning relieving the
_ennui_ of the lady of the house; who, from the late period of life
at which judges are promoted to a place in the King’s Council, are
themselves of the age which we call _canonical_; and there he was
sure to be found in the evening making one at the game of _Mediatór_,
without which her ladyship would be more restless and unhappy than
if she had missed her supper. In this Egyptian bondage the clerical
aspirant would pass three or four years of his life, till his patron
was willing and able to obtain for him the first place in the list
of three candidates presented to the King at each vacancy, when the
happy man quitted the Court for some cathedral, there quietly to
enjoy the fruits of his patience and perseverance.

The road to preferment is, at present, more intricate and uncertain.
I know a few who have been promoted in consequence of having assisted
the Government with their pens. Such is the case of a clergyman,
whose work against the privileges of the province of Biscay was the
prelude to the repeal of its ancient charters under the Prince of
the Peace: such is that of a learned sycophant who has lately given
us a National Cathechism, in imitation of one published by Napoleon
after his accession to the throne of France, setting forth the
divine right of Kings, and the duty of passive obedience. But the
despotism which crushes us, is too pampered and overgrown to require
the assistance of pensioned scribblers. There was a period when the
Prince of the Peace was pleased to see his name in verse; but crowds
of sonnetteers showered so profusely their praises upon him, that he
has grown insensible to the voice of the Muses. He, now and then,
rewards some of his clerical courtiers, with a recommendation to the
minister, which amounts to a positive order; but seems rather shy
of meddling with such paltry concerns. It is the Queen who has, of
late, taken possession of the keys of the church, which she commits
into the hands of her first lady of the bed-chamber, allowing her to
levy a toll on such as apply for admittance to the snug corners of
the establishment. I do not report from hearsay. The son of a very
respectable Seville tradesman, whom I have known all my life, having
taken orders, became acquainted with a person thoroughly conversant
with the state of the Court, who put him in possession of the secret
springs which might promote him at once to a prebendal stall in the
cathedral of his own town. The young man had no qualifications but
a handsome person, and a pretty long purse, of which, however, his
father had still the strings in his own hands. Four thousand dollars,
or two years income of the prebend, was the market-price then fixed
by the lady of the bed-chamber; and though the good dull man,
the father, was not unwilling to lay out the money so evidently to
the advantage of his son, he had heard something about simony,--a
word which, together with his natural reluctance to part with his
bullion, gave him such qualms of conscience as threatened to quash
the young man’s hopes. The latter possessed but a very scanty stock
of learning, but was not easily driven to his wit’s end; and, knowing
too well the versatile nature of casuistry, proposed a consultation
of three reverend divines, in order to take their opinion as to
the lawfulness of the transaction. The point being duly debated,
it appeared that, since the essence of simony is the purchase of
spiritual things for money, and the interest of the Queen’s confidant
was perfectly wordly and temporal, it might conscientiously be bought
for the sum at which she valued it. The young man, furnished with his
gold credentials, was a short time ago properly introduced to the
Queen’s female favourite. Having attended her evening parties for a
short time, he has, without farther trouble, been presented to the
vacant stall at Seville.

The hardships of a _Pretendiente’s_ life, especially such as do not
centre their views in the church, have often furnished the theatre
with amusing scenes. The Spanish proverbial imprecation--“May you
be dragged about as a _Pretendiente_,” cannot be felt in its full
force but by such as, like myself, have lived on terms of intimacy
with some of that unfortunate race. A scanty supply of money from
their families is the only fund on which a young man, in pursuit
of a judge’s gown, must draw for subsistence, for three or four
journeys a year to the _Sitios_, in order to attend the Court; for
the court-dress which he is obliged to wear almost daily; and the
turns of ill-luck at the card-table of his lady patroness. What a
notion would an Englishman form of our degree of refinement, if he
was to enter one of the lodging-houses at Aranjuez, for instance,
and find a large paved court surrounded by apartments, each filled
by a different set of lodgers, with three or four wretched beds,
and not so many chairs for all furniture; here one of the party
blacking his shoes; there another darning his stockings; a third
brushing the court-dress he is to wear at the minister’s levee;
while a fourth lies still in bed, resting, as well as he can, from
the last night’s ball! As hackney coaches are not known either at
Madrid or the Sitios, there is something both pitiable and ludicrous
in the appearance of these judges, intendants, and governors in
embryo, sallying forth in full dress, after their laborious toilet,
to pick their way through the mud, often casting an anxious look on
the lace frills and ruffles which, artfully attached to the sleeves
and waistcoat, might by some untoward accident, betray the coarse
and discoloured shirt which they meant to conceal. Thus they trudge
to the palace, to walk up and down the galleries for hours, till
they have succeeded in making a bow to the minister, or any other
great personage, on whom their hopes depend. Having performed this
important piece of duty, they retire to a very scanty dinner, unless
their good stars should put them in the way of an invitation. In the
afternoon they must make their appearance in the public walk, where
the royal family take a daily airing; after which, the day is closed
by the attendance at the _Tertulia_ of some great lady, if they be
fortunate enough to have obtained her leave to pay her this daily
tribute of respect.

Such as visit Madrid and the _Sitios_, independent of Court favour,
may, for a few weeks, find amusement in the strangeness of the scene.
The Court of Spain is, otherwise, too dull, stiff, and formal, to
become an interesting residence. The only good society in the upper
ranks is to be found among the _Corps Diplomatique_. The King, wholly
occupied in the chase, and the Queen in her _boudoir_, are, of late,
extremely averse to the theatres. Two Spanish play-houses are still
allowed to be open every night; but the opera has been discontinued
for several years, merely because it was a daily _rendezvous_ for the
higher classes. So jealous is the Queen of fashionable assemblies,
that the grandees do not venture to admit more than four or five
individuals to their _tertulias_; and scarcely a ball is given at
Madrid in the course of the year. This, however, is never attempted
without asking the Queen’s permission. The Marchioness of Santiago,
whose evening parties were numerous, and attended by the most
agreeable and accomplished people in the capital, was, a short time
since, obliged, by an intimation communicated through the police, to
deny her house to her friends.

Even bull-fights have been forbidden, and the idle population of
the metropolis of Spain have been left no other source of amusement
than collecting every evening in the extensive walk called El Prado,
after having lounged away the morning about the streets, or basked
in the sun, during the winter, at the Puerta del Sol, a large space,
almost surrounded by public buildings. The coffee-rooms are, in the
cold season, crowded for about an hour after dinner, i. e. from three
to four in the afternoon, and in the early part of the evening; but
the noise, and the smoke of the cigars, make these places as close
and disagreeable as any tap-room in London. It would be absurd
to expect any kind of rational conversation in such places. The
most interesting topics must be carefully avoided, for fear of the
combined powers of the police and the Inquisition, whose spies are
dreaded in all public places. Hence the depraved taste which degrades
our intercourse to an eternal giggling and bantering.

Our daily resource for society is the house of Don Manuel Josef
Quintana, a young lawyer, whose poetical talents, select reading,
and various information, place him among the first of our men
of letters; while the kindness of his heart, and the lofty and
honourable principles of his conduct, make him an invaluable friend
and most agreeable companion. After our evening walk in the Prado,
we retire to that gentleman’s study, where four or five others,
of similar taste and opinions, meet to converse with freedom upon
whatever subjects are started. The political principles of Quintana
and his best friends consist in a rooted hatred of the existing
tyranny, and a great dislike of the prevailing influence of the
French Emperor over the Spanish Court.

It was in this knot of literary friends that an attempt to establish
a Monthly Magazine originated, a short time before my arrival at
Madrid. But such is the listlessness of the country on every thing
relating to literature, such the trammels in which the _Censors_
confine the invention of the writers, that the publication of the
_Miscelanea_ was given up in a few months. Few, besides, as our men
of taste are in number, they have split into two parties, who pursue
each other with the weapons of satire and ridicule.

Moratin, the first of our comic writers--a man whose genius, were he
free from the prejudices of strict adherence to the _Unities_, and
extreme servility to the Aristotelic rules of the drama, might have
raised our theatre to a decided superiority over the rest of Europe,
and who, notwithstanding the trammels in which he exerts his talents,
has given us six plays, which for the elegance, the liveliness,
and the refined graces of the dialogue, as well as the variety,
the truth, the interest, and comic power of the characters, do not
yield, in my opinion, to the best modern pieces of the French, or the
English stage--Moratin, I say, may be considered as the centre of one
of the small literary parties of this capital, while Quintana is the
leader of the other. Difference of opinion on literary subjects is
not, however, the source of this division. Moratin and his friends
have courted the favour of the Prince of the Peace, while Quintana
has never addressed a line to the favourite. This tacit reproach,
embittered, very probably, by others rather too explicit, dropped by
the independent party, has kindled a spirit of enmity among the Court
_literati_, which, besides producing a total separation, breaks out
in satire and invective on the appearance of any composition from the
pen of Quintana.

I have been insensibly led where I cannot avoid entering upon the
subject of literature, though from the nature of these letters, as
well as the limits to which I am forced to confine them, it was my
intention to pass it over in silence. I shall not, however, give you
any speculations on so extensive a topic, but content myself with
making you acquainted with the names which form the scanty list of
our living poets.

I have already mentioned Moratin and Quintana. I do not know that the
former has published any thing besides his plays, or that he has,
as yet, given a collection of them to the public. I conceive that
some fears of the Inquisitorial censures are the cause of this delay.
There has, indeed, been a time when his play, _La Mogigata_, or
Female Devotee, was scarcely allowed to be acted, it being believed
that, but for the patronage of the Prince of the Peace, it would long
before have been placed in the list of forbidden works.

Quintana has published a small collection of short poems, which
deservedly classes him among those Spaniards who are just allowed to
give a specimen of their powers, and shew us the waste of talents for
which our oppressive system of government is answerable to civilized
Europe. He has embellished the title-page of his book with an
emblematical vignette, where a winged human figure is seen chained to
the threshold of a gloomy Gothic structure, looking up to the Temple
of the Muses in the attitude of resigned despondency. I should not
have mentioned this trifling circumstance, were it not a fresh proof
of the pervading feeling under which every aspiring mind among us is
doomed hopelessly to linger.

It is not, however, the Gothic structure of our national system
alone which confines the poetic genius of Spain. There is (if I may
venture some vague conjectures upon a difficult and not yet fairly
tried subject) a want of flexibility in the Spanish language, arising
from the great length of most of its words, the little variety
of its terminations, and the bulkiness of its adverbs, which must
for ever, I fear, clog its verse. The sound of our best poetry is
grand and majestic indeed; but it requires an uncommon skill to
subdue and modify that sound, so as to relieve the ear and satisfy
the mind. Since the introduction of the Italian measures by Boscan
and Garcilaso, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, our best
poets have been servile imitators of Petrarch, and the writers of
that school. Every Spanish poet has, like the knight of La Mancha,
thought it his bounden duty to be desperately in love, deriving both
his subject and his inspiration from a minute dissection of his lady.
The language, in the mean time, condemned for centuries, from the
unexampled slavery of our press, to be employed almost exclusively
in the daily and familiar intercourse of life, has had its richest
ornaments tarnished and soiled, by the powerful influence of mental
association. Scarcely one third of its copious dictionary can be used
in dignified prose, while a very scanty list of words composes the
whole stock which poetry can use without producing either a sense of
disgust or ridicule. In spite of these fetters, Quintana’s poetical
compositions convey much deep thought and real feeling; and should
an unexpected revolution in politics allow his mind that freedom,
without which the most vigorous shoots of genius soon sicken and
perish, his powerful numbers might well inspire his countrymen with
that ardent and disinterested love of liberty which adds dignity to
the amiableness of his character.

The poet who has obtained most popularity in our days is Melendez,
a lawyer, who, having for some time been a professor of polite
literature at Salamanca, was raised by the Prince of the Peace to a
place in the Council of Castile, and, not long after, rusticated to
his former residence, where he remains to this day. Melendez is a man
of great natural talents, improved by more reading and information
than is commonly found among our men of taste. His popularity as a
poet, however, was at first raised on the very slight and doubtful
foundation of a collection of Anacreontics, and a few love-poems,
possessing little more merit than an harmonious language, and a
certain elegant simplicity. Melendez, in his youth, was deeply
infected with the mawkish sensibility of the school of Gessner; and
had he not by degrees aimed at nobler subjects than his _Dove_,
and his _Phyllis_, a slender progress in the national taste of
Spain would have been sufficient to consign his early poems to the
toilettes of our town shepherdesses. He has, however, in his maturer
age, added a collection of odes to his pastorals, where he shows
himself a great master of Spanish verse, though still deficient in
boldness and originality. That he ranks little above the degree of
a sweet versifier, is more to be attributed to that want of freedom
which clips the wings of thought in every Spaniard, than to the
absence of real genius. It is reported that Melendez is employed in a
translation of Virgil: should he live to complete it, I have no doubt
it will do honour to our country.

During the attempt to awaken the Spanish Muse, which has been made
for the last fifty years, none has struck out a fairer path towards
her emancipation from the affected, stiff, and cumbrous style in
which she was dressed by our Petrarchists of the sixteenth century
than a naval officer named Arriaza. If his admirable command of
language, and liveliness of fancy, were supported by any depth of
thought, acquired knowledge, or the least degree of real feeling; the
Spaniards would have an original poet to boast of.

Few as the names of note are in the poetical department, I fear I
must be completely silent in regard to the branch of eloquence. Years
pass with us without the publication of any original work. A few
translations from the French, with now and then a sermon, is all the
Madrid Gazette can muster to fill up its page of advertisements. A
compilation, entitled El Viagero Universal, and the translation of
Guthrie’s Grammar of Geography, are looked upon as efforts both of
literary industry and commercial enterprise.

There exist two Royal Academies--one for the improvement of the
Spanish Language, the other for the advancement of National History.
We owe to the former an ill-digested dictionary, with a very bad
grammar; and to the latter some valuable discourses, and an
incomplete geographical and historical dictionary. Had the _Spanish
Academy_ continued their early labours, and called in the aid of real
talent, instead of filling up the list of members with titled names,
which have made it ridiculous; their Dictionary might, without great
difficulty, have been improved into a splendid display of one of the
richest among modern languages; and the philosophical spirit of the
age would have been applied to the elucidation of its elements. That
Academy has published a volume of prize essays and poems, the fruits
of a very feeble competition, in which the poetry partakes largely
of the servility of imitation to which I have already alluded, and
the prose is generally stiff and affected. Our style, in fact, is, at
present, quite unsettled--fluctuating between the wordy pomposity of
our old writers, without their ease, and the epigrammatic conciseness
of second-rate French writers, stripped of their sprightliness and
graces. As long, however, as we are condemned to the dead silence in
which the nation has been kept for centuries, there is little chance
of fixing any standard of taste for Spanish eloquence. Capmany,
probably our best living philologist and prose writer, insists upon
our borrowing every word and phrase from the authors of the sixteenth
century, the golden age (as it is called) of our literature; while
the Madrid translators seem determined to make the Spanish language a
dialect of the French--a sort of _Patois_, unintelligible to either
nation. The true path certainly lies between both. The greatest part
of our language has been allowed to become vulgar or obsolete. The
languages which, during the mental progress of Europe, have been made
the vehicles and instruments of thought, have left ours far behind
in the powers of abstraction and precision; and the rich treasure
which has been allowed to lie buried so long, must be re-coined and
burnished, before it can be recognised for sterling currency. It is
neither by rejecting as foreign whatever expressions cannot be found
in the writers under the Austrian dynasty, nor by disfiguring our
idiom with Gallicisms, that we can expect to shape it to our present
wants and fashions. Our aim should be to think for ourselves in
our own language--to _think_, I say, and express our thoughts with
clearness, force, and precision; not to imitate the mere sound of
the empty periods which generally swell the pages of the old Spanish
writers.

I do not mean, however, to pester you with a dissertation. Wretched
as is the present state of Spanish literature, it would require a
distinct series of letters to trace the causes of its decay, to
relate the vicissitudes it has suffered, and to weigh the comparative
merits of such as, under the deadening influence of the most absolute
despotism, are still endeavouring to feed the smouldering fire,
which, but for their efforts, would have long since been extinguished.

You will, I trust, excuse this short digression, in the sure hope
that I shall resume the usual gossip in my next letter.



LETTER XII.


    _Seville, July 25, 1808._

Acquainted as you must be with the events which, for these last two
months, have fixed the eyes of Europe on this country, it can give
you little surprise to find me dating again from my native town. I
have arrived just in time to witness the unbounded joy which the
defeat of Dupont’s army, at Baylen, has diffused over this town. The
air resounds with acclamations, and the deafening clangour of the
Cathedral bells, announces the arrival of the victorious General
Castaños, who, more surprised at the triumph of his arms than any
one of his countrymen, is just arrived to give thanks to the body of
Saint Ferdinand, and to repose a few days under his laurels.

There is something very melancholy in the wild enthusiasm, the
overweening confidence, and mad boasting which prevail in this town.
Lulled into a security which threatens instant death to any who
should dare disturb it with a word of caution, both the _Junta_ and
the people look on the present war as ended by this single blow; and
while they spend, in processions and Te-Deums, the favourable moments
when they might advance on Madrid, their want of foresight, and utter
ignorance of the means of retaliation possessed by the enemy, induce
them loudly to call for the infraction of the capitulation which has
placed a French army in their power. The troops, which the articles
agreed upon entitle to a conveyance to their own country, are, by
the effect of popular clamour, to be confined in hulks, in the Bay
of Cadiz. General Dupont is the only individual who, besides being
treated with a degree of courtesy and respect, which, were it not
for the rumours afloat, would bring destruction upon the Junta; has
been promised a safe retreat into France. He is now handsomely lodged
in a Dominican convent, and attended by a numerous guard of honour.
The morning after his private arrival, the people began to assemble
in crowds, and consequences fatal to the General were dreaded.
Several members of the Junta, who were early to pay the general their
respects, and chiefly one Padre Gil,[52] a wild, half-learned monk,
whose influence over the Sevillian mob is unbounded; came forward,
desiring the multitude to disperse. Whether truth and the urgency of
the case forced out a secret, known only to the Junta; or whether
it was an artifice of the orator, who, among his eccentricities
and mountebank tricks, must be allowed the praise of boldness in
openly condemning the murders of which the mob has been guilty; he
asserted in his speech, that “Spain was more indebted to Dupont than
the people were aware of.” These words, uttered with a strong and
mysterious emphasis, had the desired effect, and the French general
has now only to dread the treatment which may await him in France, in
consequence of his defeat and surrender.

  [52] See Letter X. p. 309.

Having made you acquainted with the only circumstances in the last
most important event, which the public accounts are not likely to
mention, I shall have done with news--a subject to which I feel an
unconquerable aversion--and begin my account of the limited field of
observation in which my own movements, since the first approach of
the present troubles, have placed me.

The first visible symptom of impending convulsions was the arrest
of Ferdinand, then Prince of Asturias, by order of his father. My
inseparable companion, Leandro, had been for some time acquainted
with a favourite of the Prince of the Peace, who, being like my
friend, addicted to music, had often asked us to his amateur parties.
On the second of last November we were surprised by a letter from
that gentleman, requesting my friend to proceed to the Escurial
without delay, on business of great importance. As we walked to the
Puerta del Sol, to procure a one-horse chaise, called _Caleza_, the
news of the Prince’s arrest was whispered to us, by an acquaintance,
whom we met at that winter resort of all the Madrid loungers. We
consulted for a few minutes on the expediency of venturing near the
Lion’s den, when his Majesty was so perfectly out of all temper; but
curiosity and a certain love of adventure prevailed, and we set off
at a round trot for the Escurial.

The village adjacent to the building bearing that name, is one of
the meanest in that part of Castille. Houses for the accommodation
of the King’s suite have been erected at a short distance from the
monastic palace, which the royal family divide with the numerous
community of Hieronymites, to whom Philip II. assigned one wing of
that magnificent structure. But such as, following the Court on
business, are obliged to take lodgings in the neighbourhood, must be
contented with the most wretched hovels. In one of these we found
our friend, Colonel A., who, though military tutor to the youngest
of the King’s sons, might well have exchanged his room and furniture
for such as are found in England at the most miserable pot-house. My
intimacy with Leandro was accepted as an excuse for my intrusion,
and we were each accommodated with a truckle-bed, quickly set up in
the two opposite corners of the Colonel’s sitting-room. The object
of the summons which had occasioned our journey, was not long kept a
secret. The clergyman who superintended the classical studies of the
Infante Don Francisco de Paula, was suspected of having assisted the
Prince of Asturias in the secret application to Buonaparte, which
had produced the present breach in the royal family. Should the
proofs of his innocence, which the tutor had presented to the King
and Queen, fail to re-establish him in their good opinion, my friend
would be proposed as a successor, and enter without delay upon the
duties of the office. The whole business was to be decided in the
course of the next day. The present being the commemoration of the
Departed, or All-Souls’ Day, we wished to visit the church during the
evening service. On taking leave of the Colonel, he cautioned us not
to approach that part of the building where the Prince was confined
under a guard, to his own apartments.

Though this was our first visit to the Escurial, the disclosure which
had just been made to my friend, was of too important a nature to
leave us in a fit mood to enjoy the solemn grandeur of the structure
to which we were directing our steps, and the rude magnificence of
the surrounding scene. To be placed near one of the members of the
royal family, when that family had split into two irreconcileable
parties, and to be reckoned among the enemies of the heir apparent,
was, at once, to plunge headlong into the most dangerous vortex of
Court intrigue which had yet threatened to overwhelm the country. To
decline the offer, when the candidate’s name had in all probability
received the sanction of the Prince of the Peace, was to incur
suspicion from those who had arbitrary power in their hands. In this
awkward dilemma, our most flattering prospect was the acquittal
of the tutor, an event by no means improbable, considering the
well-known dulness of that grave personage, and the hints of the
approaching release of the Prince, which we had gathered from the
Colonel. We therefore proposed to divert our thoughts from the
subject of our fears by contemplating the objects before us.

The Escurial incloses within the circuit of its massive and lofty
walls, the King’s palace, the monastery, with a magnificent church,
and the Pantheon, or subterranean vault of beautiful marble,
surrounded with splendid sarcophagi, for the remains of the Spanish
Kings and their families. It stands near the top of a rugged
mountain, in the chain which separates Old from New Castille, and by
the side of an enormous mass of rock, which supplied the architect
with materials. It was the facility of quarrying the stone where it
was to be employed, that made the gloomy tyrant, Philip II., mark out
this wild spot in preference to others, equally sequestered and less
exposed to the fury of the winds, which blow here with incredible
violence. To have an adequate shelter from the blast, an ample
passage, well aired and lighted, was contrived by the architect from
the palace to the village.

The sullen aspect of the building; the bleak and rude mountain
top, near which it stands more in rivalry than contrast; the wild
and extensive glen opening below, covered with woods of rugged,
shapeless, stunted ilex, surrounded by brushwood; the solitude and
silence which the evening twilight bestowed on the whole scenery,
increased to the fancy by the shy and retiring manners of a scanty
population, trained under the alternate awe of the Court, and
their own immediate lords, the monks,--all this, heightened by the
breathless expectation which the imprisonment of the heir apparent
had created, and the cautious looks of the few attendants who had
followed the royal family on this occasion; impressed us with a vague
feeling of insecurity, which it would be difficult to express or
analyze. No one except ourselves and the monks, perambulating the
aisles with lighted tapers in their hands, in order to chant dirges
to the memory of the founder and benefactors, was to be seen within
the precincts of the temple. The vaults re-echoed our very steps when
the chorus of deep voices had yielded to the trembling accents of the
old priest who presided at the ceremony. To skulk in the dark, might
have excited suspicion, and to come within the glare of the monks’
tapers, was the sure means of raising their unbounded curiosity. We
soon therefore glided into the cloisters next to the church. But, not
being well acquainted with the locality of the immense and intricate
labyrinth which the monastery presents to a stranger, the fear of
getting upon forbidden ground, or of being locked up for the night,
induced us to retire to our lodgings.

With the approbation of our host, we ventured the next morning to
apply to the monk, who acts, by appointment, as the _Cicerone_ of
the monastery, for a view of the chief curiosities it contains. He
allowed us a walk in the magnificent and valuable library, which
is said to be one of the richest European treasures of ancient
manuscripts--a treasure, indeed, which, amidst those mountains, and
under the control of an illiberal government and a set of ignorant,
lazy monks, may be said to be hid in the earth. The collection of
first-rate pictures at the Escurial is immense; and the walls may
be said to be covered with them. One has only to lounge about the
numerous cloisters of the Monastery, to satiate the most craving
appetite for the beauties of art. Our guide, however, who took no
pleasure in going over the same ground for the ten-thousandth time,
hurried us to the collection of relics, in which he seemed to take
a never failing delight. I will not give you the list of these
spiritual treasures. It fills up a large board from three to four
feet in length, and of a proportionate breadth, at the entrance of
the choir. Yet I cannot omit that we were shewn the body of one of
the innocents massacred by Herod, and some coagulated milk of the
Virgin Mary. The monk cast upon us his dark, penetrating eyes, as
he exhibited these two most curious objects;--but the air of the
Escurial has a peculiar power to lengthen and fix the muscles of the
face. There is, in the same room which contains the relics, a curious
box of a black shining wood, probably ebony, the whole lid of which
is covered, on the inside, with the wards of a most complicated
lock. It is said to have contained the secret correspondence of the
unfortunate Don Carlos, which his unnatural father, Philip II., made
the pretext for his imprisonment, and probably for the violent death
which is supposed to have ended his misery.

On returning from the inspection of the Monastery, our suspense was
relieved by the welcome intelligence that the Infante’s tutor had
been fully acquitted. The Prince of Asturias, we were told also, had
mentioned to the King the names of his advisers, and was now released
from confinement. My friend was too conscious of the danger which, in
the shape of promotion, had hung over his head for some hours, not to
rejoice in what many would call his disappointment. He had probably
dallied some moments with ambition; but, if so, he was fortunate
enough to perceive that she had drawn him to the brink of a precipice.

The Prince of the Peace had, against his custom, remained at Madrid
during the Escurial season, that he might escape the imputation
of promoting the unhappy divisions of the royal family. Something
was rumoured at Madrid of a dismemberment of Portugal intended by
Bonaparte, in consequence of which Godoy was to obtain an independent
sovereignty. This report, originally whispered about by the friends
of the latter, was completely hushed up in a few days; while, instead
of the buoyancy of spirits which the prospect of a crown was likely
to produce in the favourite, care and anxiety were observed to
lurk in all his words and motions. He continued, however, holding
his weekly levees; and as the French troops were pouring into the
Spanish territory, endeavoured to conceal his alarm by an air of
directing their movements. When, however, the French had taken
almost violent possession of some of our fortresses, and were seen
advancing to Madrid with Murat at their head, there was no farther
room for dissimulation. Though I had no object at Godoy’s levees but
the amusement of seeing a splendid assembly, open to every male or
female who appeared in a decent dress; that idle curiosity happened
to take me to the last he held at Madrid. He appeared, as usual,
at the farthest end of a long saloon or gallery, surrounded by a
numerous suite of officers, and advanced slowly between the company,
who had made a way for him in the middle. Such as wished to speak to
him took care to stand in front, while those who, like myself, were
content to pay for their admission with a bow, kept purposely behind.
Godoy stood now before the group, of which I formed one of the least
visible figures, and bowing affably, as was his manner, said, in a
loud voice, “Gentlemen, the French advance fast upon us; we must be
upon our guard, for there is abundance of bad faith on their side.”
It was now evident that Napoleon had cast off the mask under which he
was hitherto acting; and such as heard this speech had no doubt that
the arrival of Izquierdo, Godoy’s confidential agent at Paris, had at
once undeceived him; filling him with shame and vexation at the gross
artifice to which he had been a dupe.

This happened about the beginning of March. The Court had proceeded
to their spring residence of Aranjuez, and the Prince of the Peace
joined the royal family soon after. A visible gloom had, by this
time, overcast Madrid, arising chiefly from a rumour, that it
was intended by the King and Queen to follow the example of the
Portuguese family, and make their escape to Mexico. Few among the
better classes were disposed, from love or loyalty, to oppose such
a determination. But Madrid and the royal _Sitios_ would sink
into insignificance, were the Court to be removed to a distance.
The dissolution of the most wretched Government always fills its
dependents with consternation; and the pampered guards with which the
pride of Spanish royalty had surrounded the throne, could not endure
to be levelled, by the absence of the sovereign, with the rest of
the army. The plan, therefore, of a flight out of Spain, with the
ocean at the distance of four hundred miles, was perfectly absurd and
impracticable.

The departure of the royal family had, with all possible secrecy,
been fixed for the 19th of March. Measures, however, were taken by
Ferdinand’s friends, on the first appearance of preparations for
the journey, to defeat the intentions of the King, the Queen, and
the favourite. Numbers of the peasantry were sent to Aranjuez from
villages at a considerable distance; and the Spanish foot-guards, the
Walloons, and the horse-guards engaged to support the people. Soon
after midnight, before the 19th, a furious attack was made by the
populace on the house of the Prince of the Peace, who, leaping out of
his bed, had scarcely time to escape the knives which were struck,
in frenzied disappointment, where the warmth of the sheets clearly
shewed how recently he had left them. As the doors were carefully
guarded, no doubt remained of his being still in the house; and after
the slight search which could be made by artificial light, it was
determined to guard all the outlets till the approaching day.

The alarm soon spread to the royal palace, where the Prince’s
friends, among whom policy had ranged at this critical moment, the
ministers who owed most to Godoy; hailed, in the King’s terror,
and the Queen’s anxiety to save the life of her lover, the fairest
opening for placing Ferdinand on the throne. Day-light had enabled
the ringleaders to begin the most active search after the Prince
of the Peace; and the certainty of his presence on the spot
rendered his destruction inevitable. It does honour, indeed, to the
affectionate and humane character of Charles, whatever we may think
of his other qualities, that he resigned the crown from eagerness to
rescue his faithless friend. The King’s abdication was published to
the multitude, with whom the guards had taken an open and decided
part, and Ferdinand appeared on horseback to fulfil the engagement
he had made to his parents of protecting the favourite from the
assassins. The unfortunate man, after a confinement of more than
twelve hours, in a recess over the attics of his house, where he had
lurked, with scarcely any clothing, and in absolute want of food
and drink, was, if I may credit report, compelled by thirst to beg
the assistance of a servant who betrayed him to his pursuers. What
saved him from falling on the spot, a victim to the fierceness of
his enemies--whether the desire of the leaders to inflict upon him
a public and ignominious death, or some better feelings, of such
as, at this fearful moment, surrounded his person--I am not able to
tell. Nor would I deprive the new King of whatever claim to genuine
humanity his conduct on this occasion may have given him. I can only
state the fact that, under his escort Godoy was carried a prisoner to
the Horse-guard Barracks, not, however, without receiving some severe
wounds on the way, inflicted by such as would not miss the honour of
fleshing their knives on the man whom but a few hours before, they
would not have ventured to look boldly in the face.

The news of the revolution at Aranjuez had spread through the
capital by the evening of the 19th; and it was but too evident that
a storm was gathering against the nearest relations of Godoy. Night
had scarcely come on, when a furious mob invaded the house of Don
Diego, the favourite’s younger brother. The ample space which the
magnificent Calle de Alcalá leaves at its opening into the Prado,
of which that house forms a corner, afforded room not only for the
operations of the rioters, but for a multitude of spectators, of
whom I was one myself. The house having been broken into, and found
deserted, the whole of the rich furniture it contained was thrown
out at the windows. Next came down the very doors, and fixtures of
all kinds, which, made into an enormous pile with tables, bedsteads,
chests of drawers, and pianos, were soon in a blaze, that, but for
the stillness of the evening, might have spread to the unoffending
neighbourhood. Having enjoyed this splendid and costly bonfire, the
mob ranged themselves in a kind of procession, bearing lint-torches,
taken from the numerous chandlers-shops which are found at Madrid;
and directed their steps to the house of the Prince Franciforte,
Godoy’s brother-in-law.

The magistrates, however, had by this time fixed a board on the
doors both of that and Godoy’s own house, giving notice that the
property both of the favourite and his near relations had been
confiscated by the new King. This was sufficient to turn away the mob
from the remaining objects of their fury; and without any farther
mischief, they were contented with spending the whole night in the
streets, bearing about lighted torches, and drinking at the expense
of the wine-retailers, whose shops, like your pot-houses, are the
common resort of the vulgar. The riot did not cease with the morning.
Crowds of men and women paraded the streets the whole day, with cries
of “Long live King Ferdinand!--Death to Godoy!” The whole garrison of
Madrid were allured out of their barracks by bands of women bearing
pitchers of wine in their hands; and a procession was seen about the
streets in the afternoon, where the soldiers, mixed with the people,
bore in their firelocks the palm-branches which, as a protection
against lightning, are commonly hung at the windows. Yet, amidst this
fearful disorder, no insult was offered to the many individuals of
the higher classes, who ventured among the mob. Nothing, however,
appears to me so creditable to the populace of Madrid, as their
abstaining from pillage at the house of Diego Godoy--every article,
however valuable, was faithfully committed to the flames.

Murat, with his army, was, during these events, at a short distance
from Madrid. The plan of putting the royal family to flight had been
frustrated by the popular commotion at Aranjuez, and the unexpected
accession of Ferdinand. But the new King, no less than his parents,
hastening by professions of friendship to court the support of French
power, Murat proceeded to the Spanish capital, there to pursue the
course which might be most conducive to the views of his sovereign.
I saw the entrance of the division which was to make the town their
head-quarters. The rest occupied the environs, some in a camp within
half a mile, and some in the neighbouring villages. The French
entered as friends, and they cannot say that the inhabitants shewed,
upon that occasion, the least symptoms of hostility. The prominent
feeling which might be observed in the capital, was a most anxious
expectation; but I know several instances of French soldiers relieved
by the common people; and had Murat acknowledged Ferdinand VII., he
with his troops would have been hailed and treated as brothers.

The French troops had been but a few days at Madrid, when Ferdinand
left Aranjuez for his capital, where Murat inhabited the magnificent
house of the Prince of the Peace, within a very short distance of the
royal palace. From thence he encouraged the young King’s hopes of
a speedy recognition by the Emperor, excusing himself, at the same
time, for taking no notice of Ferdinand’s approach and presence,
either by himself or his troops. Without any other display but that
of the most enthusiastic applause from the multitude, Ferdinand, on
horseback, and attended by a few guards, appeared at the gate of
Atocha. I had placed myself near the entrance, and had a full view
of him, as, surrounded by the people on foot, he moved on slowly,
up the beautiful walk called El Prado. Never did monarch meet with
a more loyal and affectionate welcome from his subjects; yet, never
did subjects behold a more vacant and unmeaning countenance, even
among the long faces of the Spanish Bourbons. To features not at all
prepossessing, either shyness or awkwardness had added a stiffness,
which, but for the motion of the body, might induce a suspicion that
we were wasting our greetings on a wax figure.

As if for the sake of contrast, Murat, whose handsome figure on
horseback was shewn to the greatest advantage by a dress almost
theatrical, appeared every Sunday morning in the Prado, surrounded
by generals and aid-de-camps, no less splendidly accoutred, there to
review the picked troops of his army. Numbers of people were drawn
at first by the striking magnificence of this martial spectacle; but
jealousy and distrust were fast succeeding to the suspense and doubt
which the artful evasions of the French Prince had been able to keep
up for a time.

The first burst of indignation against the French was caused by
their interference in favour of the Prince of the Peace. The people
of Madrid were so eager for the public execution of Godoy, that
when it was known that the man on whose hanging carcase they daily
expected to feast their eyes, was proceeding out of the kingdom under
a French escort; loud and fierce murmurs from all quarters of the
town announced the bitter resentment of disappointed revenge. It
was, nevertheless, still in the power of Napoleon to have kept the
whole nation at his devotion, by making the long-expected recognition
of Ferdinand. Even when, through the unworthy artifices which are
already known to the world, Ferdinand had been decoyed to Bayonne,
and the greatest anxiety prevailed at Madrid as to the result of the
journey, I witnessed the joy of an immense multitude collected at
the Puerta del Sol, late in the evening, when, probably with a view
to disperse them, the report was spread that the courier we had seen
arrive, brought the intelligence of Napoleon’s acknowledgement of the
young King, and his determination to adopt him by marriage into his
own family. The truth, however, could not be concealed any longer;
and the plan of usurpation, which was disclosed the next morning,
produced the clearest indications of an inevitable catastrophe.

The wildest schemes for the destruction of the French division at
Madrid were canvassed almost in public, and with very little reserve.
Nothing indeed so completely betrays our present ignorance as to the
power and efficiency of regular troops, as the projects which were
circulated in the capital for an attack on the French corps, which
still paraded every Sunday morning in the _Prado_. Short pikes,
headed with a sharp-cutting crescent, were expected to be distributed
to the spectators, who used to range themselves behind the cavalry.
At one signal the horses were to be houghed with these instruments,
and the infantry attacked with poniards. To remonstrate against such
absurd and visionary plans, or to caution their advocates against
an unreserved display of hostile views, which, of itself, would be
enough to defeat the ablest conspiracy; was not only useless, but
dangerous. The public ferment grew rapidly, and Murat, who was fully
apprised of its progress, began to shew his intention of anticipating
resistance.

One Sunday afternoon, towards the end of April, as I was walking with
a friend in the extensive gardens of the old royal palace El Retiro,
(which, as they adjoin the Prado, are the usual resort of such as
wish to avoid a crowded walk,) the sound of drums beating to arms
from several quarters of the town, drew us, not without trepidation,
to the inner gate of the large square, through which lay our way out
of the palace. The confused voices of men, and the more distinct
cries of the women, together with the view of two French regiments
drawn up in the square, and in the act of loading their muskets,
would have placed us in the awkward dilemma whether to venture out,
or to stay, we knew not how long, in the solitary gardens; had not
a French officer, whom I addressed, assured us that we might pass
in front of the troops without molestation. The Prado, which we had
left thronged with people, was now perfectly empty, except where
some horse-patroles of the French were scudding away in different
directions. As we proceeded towards the centre of the town, we were
told that the alarm had been simultaneous and general. Parties of
French cavalry had been scouring the streets; and, in the wantonness
of military insolence, some soldiers had made a cut now and then at
such as did not fly fast enough before them. The street-doors were,
contrary to the usual practice, all shut as in the dead of night,
and but a few groups of men were seen talking about the recent and
now subsiding alarm. Among these we saw one shewing his hat cut
through by the sabre of a French dragoon. No one could either learn
or guess the cause of this affray; but I am fully convinced that it
was intended just to strike fear into the people, and to discourage
large meetings at the public walks. It was a prelude to the second of
May--that day which has heaped the curses of every Spaniard on the
head which could plan its horrors, and the heart that could carry
them through to the last, without shrinking.

The insurrection of the second of May did not arise from any
concerted plan of the Spaniards; it was, on the contrary, brought
about by Murat, who, wishing to intimidate the country, artfully
contrived the means of producing an explosion in the capital. The
old King’s brother and one of his sons, who had been left at Madrid,
were, on that day, to start for Bayonne. The sight of the last
members of the royal family leaving the country, under the present
circumstances, could not but produce a strong sensation on a people
whose feelings had for some months been racked to distraction. The
Council of Regency strongly recommended the Infante’s departure in
the night; but Murat insisted on their setting off at nine in the
morning. Long before that hour an extensive square, of which the new
Palace forms the front, was crowded with people of the lower classes.
On the Princes appearing in their travelling dresses, both men and
women surrounded the carriages, and cutting the traces, shewed a
determination to prevent their departure. One of Murat’s aid-de-camps
presenting himself at this moment, was instantly assaulted by the
mob, and he would have fallen a victim to their fury but for the
strong French guard stationed near that general’s house. This guard
was instantly drawn up, and ordered to fire on the people.

My house stood not far from the Palace, in a street leading to one
of the central points of communication with the best part of the
town. A rush of people crying “To arms,” conveyed to us the first
notice of the tumult. I heard that the French troops were firing
on the people; but the outrage appeared to me both so impolitic and
enormous, that I could not rest until I went out to ascertain the
truth. I had just arrived at an opening named Plazuéla de Santo
Domingo, the meeting point of four large streets, one of which leads
to the Palace, when, hearing the sound of a French drum in that
direction, I stopped with a considerable number of decent and quiet
people, whom curiosity kept rivetted to the spot. Though a strong
piquet of infantry was fast advancing upon us, we could not imagine
that we stood in any kind of danger. Under this mistaken notion we
awaited their approach; but, seeing the soldiers halt and prepare
their arms, we began instantly to disperse. A discharge of musketry
followed in a few moments, and a man fell at the entrance of the
street, through which I was, with a great throng, retreating from
the fire. The fear of an indiscriminate massacre arose so naturally
from this unprovoked assault, that every one tried to look for safety
in the narrow cross streets on both sides of the way. I hastened
on towards my house, and having shut the front door, could think
of no better expedient, in the confused state of my mind, than to
make ball-cartridges for a fowling-piece which I kept. The firing
of musketry continued, and was to be heard in different directions.
After the lapse of a few minutes, the report of large pieces of
ordnance, at a short distance, greatly increased our alarm. They
were fired from a park of artillery, which, in great neglect, and
with no definite object, was kept by the Spanish Government, in that
part of the town. Murat, who had this day all his troops under arms,
on fixing the points of which they were to gain possession, had
not forgotten the park of artillery. A strong column approached it
through a street facing the gate, at which Colonel Daoiz, a native
of my town, and my own acquaintance, who happened to be the senior
officer on duty, had placed two large pieces loaded with grape shot.
Determined to perish rather than yield to the invaders, and supported
in his determination by a few artillery-men, and some infantry under
the command of Belarde, another patriot officer; he made considerable
havock among the French, till, overpowered by numbers, both these
gallant defenders of their country fell, the latter dead, the former
desperately wounded. The silence of the guns made us suspect that the
artillery had fallen into the hands of the assailants; and the report
of some stragglers confirmed that conjecture.

A well-dressed man had, in the mean time, gone down the street,
calling loudly on the male inhabitants to repair to an old depôt of
arms. But he made no impression on that part of the town. To attempt
to arm the multitude at this moment was, in truth, little short of
madness. Soon after the beginning of the tumult, two or three columns
of infantry entered by different gates, making themselves masters of
the town. The route of the main corps lay through the _Calle Mayor_,
where the houses, consisting of four or five stories, afforded the
inhabitants the means of wreaking their vengeance on the French,
without much danger from their arms. Such as had guns, fired from the
windows; while tiles, bricks, and heavy articles of furniture, were
thrown by others upon the heads of the soldiers. But, now, the French
had occupied every central position; their artillery had struck panic
into the confused multitude; some of the houses, from which they had
been fired at, had been entered by the soldiers; and the cavalry were
making prisoners among such as had not early taken to flight. As the
people had put to death every French soldier, who was found unarmed
about the streets, the retaliation would have been fearful, had not
some of the chief Spanish magistrates obtained a decree of amnesty,
which they read in the most disturbed parts of the town.

But Murat thought he had not accomplished his object, unless an
example was made on a certain number of the lower classes of
citizens. As the amnesty excluded any that should be found bearing
arms, the French patroles of cavalry, which were scouring the
streets, searched every man they met, and making the clasp knives
which our artisans and labourers are accustomed to carry in their
pockets, a pretext for their cruel and wicked purpose, led about
one hundred men to be tried by a Court Martial; in other words,
to be butchered in cold blood. This horrid deed, the blackest,
perhaps, which has stained the French name during their whole career
of conquest, was performed at the fall of day. A mock tribunal of
French officers having ascertained that no person of note was among
the destined victims, ordered them to be led out of the Retiro, the
place of their short confinement, into the Prado; where they were
despatched by the soldiers.

Ignorant of the real state of the town, and hearing that the tumult
had ceased, I ventured out in the afternoon towards the Puerta del
Sol, where I expected to learn some particulars of the day. The
cross streets which led to that place were unusually empty; but as
I came to the entrance of one of the avenues which open into that
great rendezvous of Madrid, the bustle increased, and I could see an
advanced guard of French soldiers formed two-deep, across the street,
and leaving about one-third of its breadth open to such as wished
to pass up and down. At some distance behind them, in the irregular
square which bears the name of the _Sun’s Gate_, I distinguished
two pieces of cannon, and a very strong division of troops. Less
than this hostile display would have been sufficient to check my
curiosity, if, still possessed with the idea that it was not the
interest of the French to treat us like enemies, I had not, like
many others who were on the same spot, thought that the peaceful
inhabitants would be allowed to proceed unmolested about the streets
of the town. Under this impression I went on without hesitation, till
I was within fifty yards of the advanced guard. Here a sudden cry
of _aux armes_, raised in the square, was repeated by the soldiers
before me; the officer giving the command to make ready. The people
fled up the street in the utmost consternation; but my fear having
allowed me, instantly, to calculate both distances and danger, I made
a desperate push towards the opening left by the soldiers, where a
narrow lane, winding round the Church of San Luis, put me in a few
seconds out of the range of the French muskets. No firing however
being heard, I concluded that the object of the alarm was to clear
the streets at the approach of night.

The increasing horror of the inhabitants, as they collected the
melancholy details of the morning, would have accomplished that
end, without any farther effort on the part of the oppressors. The
bodies of some of their victims seen in several places; the wounded
that were met about the streets; the visible anguish of such as
missed their relations; and the spreading report that many were
awaiting their fate at the Retiro, so strongly and painfully raised
the apprehensions of the people, that the streets were absolutely
deserted long before the approach of night. Every street-door
was locked, and a mournful silence prevailed wherever I directed
my steps. Full of the most gloomy ideas, I was approaching my
lodgings by a place called Postígo de San Martin, when I saw four
Spanish soldiers bearing a man upon a ladder, the ends of which
they supported on their shoulders. As they passed near me, the
ladder being inclined forward, from the steepness of the street, I
recognized the features of my townsman and acquaintance, Daoiz, livid
with approaching death. He had lain wounded since ten in the morning,
in the place where he fell. He was not quite insensible when I met
him. The slight motion of his body, and the groan he uttered as the
inequality of the ground, probably, increased his pain, will never be
effaced from my memory.

A night passed under such impressions, baffles my feeble powers of
description. A scene of cruelty and treachery exceeding all limits
of probability, had left our apprehensions to range at large, with
scarcely any check from the calculations of judgment. The dead
silence of the streets since the first approach of night, only
broken by the trampling of horses which now and then were heard
passing along in large parties, had something exceedingly dismal
in a populous town, where we were accustomed to an incessant and
enlivening bustle. The _Madrid cries_, the loudest and most varied in
Spain, were missed early next morning; and it was ten o’clock before
a single street-door had been open. Nothing but absolute necessity
could induce the people to venture out.

On the third day after the massacre, a note from an intimate friend
obliged me to cross the greatest part of the town; but though my way
lay through the principal streets of Madrid, the number of Spaniards
I met, did not literally amount to six. In every street and square
of any note I found a strong guard of French infantry, lying beside
their arms on the pavement, except the sentinel, who paced up and
down at a short distance. A feeling of mortified pride mixed itself
with the sense of insecurity which I experienced on my approaching
these parties of foreign soldiers, whose presence had made a desert
of our capital. Gliding by the opposite side of the street, I passed
them without lifting my eyes from the ground. Once I looked straight
in the face of an inferior officer--a serjeant I believe, wearing
the cross of the _Legion d’honneur_--who, taking it as an insult,
loaded me with curses, accompanied with threats and the most abusive
language. The Puerta del Sol, that favourite lounge of the Madrid
people, was now the _bivouac_ of a French division of infantry and
cavalry, with two twelve-pounders facing every leading street. Not a
shop was open, and not a voice heard but such as grated the ear with
a foreign accent.

On my return home, a feeling of deep melancholy had seized upon me,
to which the troubles of my past life were lighter than a feather in
the scale of happiness and misery. I confined myself to the house
for several days, a prey to the most harassing anxiety. What course
to take in the present crisis, was a question for which I was not
prepared, and in which no fact, no conjecture could lead me. My
friend, the friend for whose sake alone I had changed my residence,
had a mortal aversion to Seville--that town where he could not avoid
acting in a detested capacity.[53] Some wild visions of freedom from
his religious fetters, had been playing across his troubled mind,
while the French approached Madrid; and though he now looked on their
conduct with the most decided abhorrence, still he could hardly
persuade himself to escape from the French bayonets, which he seemed
to dread less than Spanish bigotry.

  [53] That of a Catholic Clergyman.

But my mind has dwelt too long on a painful subject, and I hope you
will excuse me if I put off the conclusion till another Letter.



LETTER XIII.


    _Seville, July 30, 1808._

Whether Murat began to suspect that his cruel method of intimidating
the capital would rouse the provinces into open resistance, or
whether (with the unsteadiness of purpose which often attends a
narrow mind, acting more from impulse than judgment,) he wished to
efface the impressions which his insolent cruelty had left upon
the Spaniards; he soon turned his attention to the restoration
of confidence. The folly, however, of such an endeavour, while
(independent of the alarm and indignation which spread like wildfire
over the country,) every gate of Madrid was kept by a strong guard
of French infantry, must have been evident to any one but the
thoughtless man who directed it. The people, it is true, ventured
again freely out of the houses: but the public walks were deserted,
and the theatres left almost entirely to the invaders.

Yet it was visible that the French had a party, which, though feeble
in numbers, contained some of the ablest, and not a few of the most
respectable men at Madrid. Nay, I firmly believe, that had not the
Spaniards of the middle and higher classes been from time immemorial
brought up in the strictest habits of reserve on public measures, and
without a sufficient boldness to form and express their opinions; the
new French Dynasty would have obtained a considerable majority among
our gentry. In the first place, two-thirds of the above description
hold situations under Government, which they would have hoped to
preserve by adherence to the new rulers. Next, we should consider
the impression which the last twenty years had left on the thinking
part of the community. Under the most profligate and despicable Court
in Europe, a sense of political degradation had been produced among
such of the Spaniards as were not blinded by a nationality of mere
instinct. The true source of the enthusiasm which appeared on the
accession of Ferdinand, was joy at the removal of his father; for
hopes of a better government, under a young Prince of the common
stamp, seated on an arbitrary throne, must have been wild and
visionary indeed. As for the state of dependance on France, which
would follow the acknowledgement of Joseph Bonaparte, it could not
be more abject or helpless than under Ferdinand, had his wishes of a
family alliance been granted by Napoleon. It cannot be denied that
indignation at the treatment we have experienced strongly urged the
nation to revenge; but passion is a blind guide, which thinking men
will seldom trust on political measures. To declare war against an
army of veterans already in the heart of Spain, might be, indeed,
an act of sublime patriotism; but was it not, too, a provocation
more likely to bring ruin and permanent slavery on the country, than
the admission of a new King, who, though a foreigner, had not been
educated a despot, and who, for want of any constitutional claims,
would be anxious to ground his rights on the acknowledgment of the
nation?

Answers innumerable might be given to these arguments--and that I was
far from allowing them great weight on my mind I can clearly prove,
by my presence in the capital of Andalusia. But I cannot endure that
blind, headlong, unhesitating patriotism which I find uniformly
displayed in this town and province--a loud popular cry which every
individual is afraid not to swell with his whole might, and which,
though it may express the feeling of a great majority, does not
deserve the name of public _opinion_, any more than the unanimous
acclamations at an _Auto da Fé_. Dissent is the great characteristic
of liberty. I am, indeed, as willing as any man to give my feeble
aid to the Spanish cause against France; but I feel indignant at the
compulsion which deprives my views of all individuality--which, from
the national habits of implicit submission to whatever happens to be
established, forces every man into the crowd, so that nothing can
save him but running for his life with the foremost.

I repeat, that I need not an apology for my political conduct
on this momentous occasion. Feelings which will, indeed, bear
examination, but on which I ground no merit, have brought me to
the more honourable side of the question. Yet I must plead for
candour and humanity in favour of such as, from the influence of the
views I have touched upon, and in some cases, with a more upright
intention than many an outrageous patriot, have opposed the beginning
of hostilities. The name of traitor, with which they have been
indiscriminately branded, must cut them off irrevocably from our
party; and even the fear of being too late to avoid suspicion among
us, may oblige those whom chance or the watchfulness of the Madrid
Government, has hitherto prevented from joining us, to make at last,
common interest with the French.

To escape from Madrid, after the news of the insurrection of
Andalusia had reached that capital, was, in fact, an undertaking of
considerable difficulty, and, as I have found by experience, attended
with no small danger. Dupont’s army had occupied the usual road
through La Mancha, and no carriages were allowed by the French to
set off for the refractory provinces. My decision, however, to join
my countrymen, had been formed as soon as they took up arms against
the French; and though my friend shuddered at the idea of casting
his lot with the defenders of the Pope and the Inquisition, he soon
forgot all personal interest, in a question between a foreign army
and his own natural friends.

There were no means of reaching Andalusia but through the province
of Estremadura, and no other conveyance, at that time, than two
Aragonese waggons, which having stopped at a small inn, or _venta_,
three miles from Madrid, were not under the immediate control of the
French police. The attention of the new Government was, besides,
too much divided by the increasing difficulties of their situation,
to extend itself beyond the gates of the town. We had only to make
our way through the French guard, and walk to the _venta_ on the
day appointed by the waggoners. But if a single person met with no
impediment at the gates, luggage of any description was sure to
be intercepted; and we had to take our choice between staying, or
travelling a fortnight, without more than a shirt in our pocket.

Thus lightly accoutred, however, we left Madrid at three in the
afternoon of the 15th of June, and walked under a burning sun to
meet our waggons. Summer is, of all seasons, in Spain, the most
inconvenient for travellers; and nothing but necessity will induce
the natives to cross the burning plains, which abound in the country.
To avoid the fierceness of the sun, the coaches start between three
and four in the morning, stop from nine till four in the afternoon,
and complete the day’s journey between nine and ten in the evening.
We, alas! could not expect that indulgence. Each of us confined
with our respective waggoner, within the small space which the load
had left near the awning, had to endure the intolerable closeness
of the waggon, under the dead stillness of a burning atmosphere,
so impregnated with floating dust, as often to produce a feeling
of suffocation. Our stages required not only early rising, but
travelling till noon. After a disgusting dinner at the most miserable
inns of the unfrequented road we were following, our task began
again, till night, when we could rarely expect the enjoyment even of
such a bed as the Spanish _ventas_ afford. Our stock of linen allowed
us but one change, and we could not stop to have it washed. The
consequences might be easily foreseen. The heat, and the company of
our waggoners, who often passed the night by our side, soon completed
our wretchedness, by giving us a sample of one, perhaps the worst, of
the Egyptian plagues; which, as we had not yet got through one-half
of our journey, held out a sad prospect of increase till our arrival
at Seville.

There was something so cheering in the consciousness of the sacrifice
both of ease and private views we were making, in the idea of
relieving our friends from the anxiety in which the fear of our
joining the French party must have kept them--in the hopes of being
received with open arms by those with whom we had made common
interest at a time when every chance seemed to be against them--that
our state of utter discomfort could not at first make any impression
on our spirits. The slip of New Castille, which lies between Madrid
and the frontiers of Estremadura, presented nothing that could in
the least disturb these agreeable impressions; and the reception we
met with from the inhabitants was in every respect as friendly as we
had expected. An instance of simple unaffected kindness shewn to us
by a poor woman near Móstoles, would hardly deserve being mentioned,
but for the painful contrast by which the rest of our journey has
endeared it to my memory.--Oppressed by the heat and closeness of our
situation, and preferring a direct exposure to the rays of the sun
in the open air, we had left our heavy vehicles at some distance,
when the desire of enjoying a more refreshing draught than could be
obtained from the heated jars which hung by the side of our waggons,
induced us to approach a cottage, at a short distance from the road.
A poor woman sat alone near the door, and though there was nothing in
our dress that could give us even the appearance of gentlemen, she
answered our request for a glass of water, by eagerly pressing us to
sit and rest ourselves. “Water,” she said, “in the state I see you
in, is sure, Gentlemen, to do you harm. I fortunately have some milk
in the cottage, and must beg you to accept it.--You, dear Sirs,” she
added, “are, I know, making your escape from the French at Madrid.
God bless you, and prosper your journey!” Her sympathy was so truly
affecting, that it actually brought tears into our eyes. To decline
the offer of the milk, as well as to speak of payment, would have
been an affront to the kind-hearted female; and giving her back the
blessing she had so cordially bestowed upon us, was all we could do
to shew our gratitude.

Cheered up by this humble, yet hearty welcome among our countrymen,
we proceeded for two or three days; our feelings of security
increasing all the while with the distance from Madrid. It was,
however, just in that proportion that we were approaching danger. We
had, about nine in the morning, reached the Calzada de Oropesa, on
the borders of Estremadura, when we observed, with painful surprise,
a crowd of country people, who, collecting hastily round us, began
to inquire who we were, accompanying their questions with the fierce
and rude tone which forebodes mischief, among the testy inhabitants
of our southern provinces. The _Alcalde_ soon presented himself, and,
having heard the account we gave of ourselves and our journey, wisely
declared to the people that, our language being genuine Spanish, we
might be allowed to proceed. He added, however, a word of advice,
desiring us to be prepared to meet with people more inquisitive and
suspicious than those of Oropesa, who would make us pay dear for any
flaw they might discover in our narrative. As if to try our veracity
by means of intimidation, he acquainted us with the insurrections
which had taken place in every town and village, and the victims
which had scarcely failed in any instance, to fall under the knives
of the peasantry.

The truth and accuracy of this warning became more and more evident
as we advanced through Estremadura. The notice we attracted at the
approach of every village, the threats of the labourers whom we
met near the road, and the accounts we heard at every inn, fully
convinced us that we could not reach our journey’s end without
considerable danger. The unfortunate propensity to shed blood, which
tarnishes many a noble quality in the southern Spaniards, had been
indulged in most towns of any note, under the cloak of patriotism.
Frenchmen, of course, though long established in Spain, were pointed
objects of the popular fury; but most of the murders which we heard
of, were committed on Spaniards who, probably, owed their fate to
private pique and revenge, and not to political opinions. We found
the _Alcaldes_ and _Corregidores_, to whom we applied for protection,
perfectly intimidated, and fearing the consequences of any attempt
to check the blind fury of the people under them. But no description
of mine can give so clear a view of the state of the country, as the
simple narrative of the popular rising at Almaraz, the little town
which gives its name to a well-known bridge on the Tagus, as it was
delivered to us by the _Alcalde_, a rich farmer of that place. The
people of his district, upon hearing the accounts from Madrid, and
the insurrections of the chief towns of their province, flocked,
on a certain day, before the Alcalde’s house, armed with whatever
weapons they had been able to collect, including sickles, pick-axes,
and similar implements of husbandry. Most happily for the worthy
magistrate, the insurgents had no complaint against him: and on the
approach of the rustic mob, he confidently came out to meet them.
Having with no small difficulty obtained a hearing, the Alcalde
desired to be informed of their designs and wishes. The answer
appears to me unparalleled in the history of mobs. “We wish, Sir, to
kill somebody,” said the spokesman of the insurgents. “Some one has
been killed at Truxillo; one or two others at Badajoz, another at
Merida, and we will not be behind our neighbours. Sir, we will kill
a traitor.” As this commodity could not be procured in the village,
it was fortunate for us that we did not make our appearance at a time
when the good people of Almaraz might have made us a substitute, on
whom to display their loyalty. The fact, however, of their having no
animosities to indulge under the mask of patriotism, is a creditable
circumstance in their character. A meeting which we had, soon
after leaving the village, with an armed party of these patriots,
confirmed our opinion that they were among the least savage of their
province.

The bridge of Almaraz stands at the distance of between three and
four miles from the village. It was built in the time of Charles the
fifth, by the town of Plasencia; but it would not have disgraced an
ancient Roman architect. The Tagus, carrying, even at this season,
a prodigious quantity of water, passes under the greater of the
two arches, which support the bridge. Though the height and span
of these arches give to the whole an air of boldness which borders
upon grandeur, the want of symmetry in their size and shape, and the
narrow, though very deep, channel to which the rocky banks confine
the river, abate considerably the effect it might have been made to
produce. Yet there is something impressive in a bold work of art
standing single in a wild tract of country, where neither great
towns, nor a numerous and well distributed population, with all the
attending marks of industry, luxury, and refinement, have prepared
the imagination to expect it. As soon, therefore, as the bridge was
seen at a distance, we left the waggons, and allowing them to proceed
before us, lingered to enjoy the view.

Just as we stood admiring the solidity and magnitude of the
structure, casting by chance our eyes towards the mountain which
rises on the opposite side, and confines the road to a narrow space
on the precipitous bank of the river, we saw a band of from fifteen
to twenty men, armed with guns, leaving the wood where they had been
concealed, and coming down towards the waggons. The character of the
place, combined with the dresses, arms, and movements of the men,
convinced us at once that we had fallen into the hands of banditti.
But as they could take very little from us, we thought we should meet
with milder treatment if we approached them without any signs of
fear. On our coming up to the place, we observed some of the party
searching the waggons; but seeing the rest talking quietly with the
carriers, our suspicions of robbery were at an end. The whole band,
we found, consisted of peasants, who, upon an absurd report that
the French intended to send arms and ammunition to the frontiers of
Portugal, had been stationed on that spot to examine every cart and
waggon, and stop all suspicious persons. Had these people been less
good-natured and civil, we could not have escaped being sent, in that
dangerous character, to some of the Juntas which had been established
in Spain. But being told by my friend that he was a clergyman, and
hearing us curse the French in a true patriotic style; they wished us
a happy journey, and allowed us to proceed unmolested.

We expected to arrive at Merida on a Saturday evening, and to have
left it early on Sunday after the first mass, which, for the benefit
of travellers and labourers, is performed before dawn. But the
axletree of one of our waggons breaking down, we were obliged to
sleep that night at a _Venta_, and to spend the next day in the
above-mentioned city. The remarkable ruins which still shew the
ancient splendour of the Roman _Emerita Augusta_ would, in more
tranquil times, have afforded us a pleasant walk round the town, and
more than repaid us for the delay. Fatigue, however, induced us to
confine ourselves to the inn, where we expected, by the repose of
one day, to recruit our strength for the rest of our journey. Having
taken a luncheon, we retired to our beds for a long _siesta_, when
the noise of a mob rushing down the street and gathering in front of
the inn, drew us, nearly undressed, to the window. As far as the eye
could reach, nothing was to be seen but a compact crowd of peasants,
most of them with clasp knives in their hands. At the sight of us,
such as were near began to brandish their weapons, threatening they
would make mince-meat of every Frenchman in the inn. Unable to
comprehend the cause of this tumult, and fearing the consequences
of the blind fury which prevailed in the country, we hurried on our
clothes, and ran down to the front hall of the inn. There we found
twelve dragoons standing in two lines on the inside of the gate,
holding their carbines ready to fire, as the officer who commanded
them warned the people that were blockading the gate they should do
upon the first who ventured into the house. The innkeeper walked up
and down the empty hall, bewailing the fate of his house, which he
assured us would soon be set on fire by the mob. We now gathered
from him the cause of this turmoil and confusion. A young Frenchman
had been taken on the road to Portugal, with letters to Junot, and
on this ground was forwarded under an escort of soldiers to the
Captain-general of the Province at Badajoz. The crowd in the street
consisted of about two thousand peasants, who having volunteered
their services, were under training at the expense of the city. The
poor prisoner had been imprudently brought into the town when the
recruits were in the principal square indulging in the idleness
of a Sunday. On hearing that he was a Frenchman, they drew their
knives and would have cut him to pieces, but for the haste which the
soldiers made with him towards the inn.

The crowd, by this time, was so fierce and vociferous, that we could
not doubt they would break in without delay. My companion, being
fully aware of our dangerous position, urged me to follow him to the
gate, in order to obtain a hearing, while the people still hesitated
to make their way between the two lines of soldiers. We approached
the impenetrable mass; but before coming within the reach of the
knives, my friend called loudly to the foremost to abstain from doing
us any injury; for though without any marks of his profession about
him, he was a priest, who, with a brother, (pointing to me,) had
made his escape from Madrid to join his countrymen. I verily believe,
that as fear is said sometimes to lend wings, it did on this occasion
prompt my dear friend with words; for a more fluent and animated
speech than his has seldom been delivered in Spanish. The effects of
this unusual eloquence were soon visible among those of the rioters
that stood nearest; and one of the ringleaders assured the orator,
that no harm was meant against us. On our requesting to leave the
house, we were allowed to proceed into the great square.

My friend there inquired the name of the Bishop’s substitute, or
_Vicar General_; and, with an agreeable surprise, we learnt that
it was Señor Valenzuela. We instantly recognised one of our fellow
students at the University of Seville. He had been elected a Member
of the Revolutionary Junta of Merida, and though not more confident
of his influence over the populace than the rest of his colleagues,
whom the present mob had reduced to a state of visible consternation,
he instantly offered us his house as an asylum for the night, and
engaged to obtain for us a passport for the remainder of the journey.
In the mean time, the military commander of the place, attended by
some of the magistrates, had promised the crowd to throw the young
Frenchman into a dungeon, as he had done a few nights before with his
own adjutant, against whom these very same recruits had risen on the
parade, with so murderous a spirit, that though protected by a few
regulars, they wounded him severely, and would have taken his life
but for the interference of the Vicar, who, bearing the consecrated
host in his hands, placed the officer under the protection of that
powerful charm. The Frenchman was, accordingly, conducted to prison;
but neither the soldiers nor the magistrates, who surrounded him,
could fully protect him from the savage fierceness of the peasants,
who crowding upon him, as half dead with terror, he was slowly
dragged to the town gaol, stuck the points of their knives into
several parts of his body. Whether he finally was sacrificed to the
popular fury, or, by some happy chance, escaped with life, I have not
been able to learn.

Though not far from our journey’s end, we were by no means relieved
from our fears and misgivings. Often were we surrounded by bands
of reapers, who, armed with their sickles, made us go through the
ordeal of a minute interrogatory. But what cast the thickest gloom on
our minds was, the detailed account we received from an Alcalde, of
the events which had taken place at Seville. A revolution, however
laudable its object, is seldom without some features which nothing
but distance of time or place, can soften into tolerable regularity.
We were too well acquainted with the inefficiency of most of the
men who had suddenly been raised into power, not to feel a strong
reluctance to place ourselves under their government and protection.
The only man of talents in the Junta of Seville was Saavedra, the
ex-minister.[54] Dull ignorance, mixed with a small portion of
inactive honesty, was the general character of that body. But a man
of blood had found a place in it, and we could not but fear the
repetition of the horrid scene with which he opened the revolution
that was to give him a share in the supreme government of the
province.

  [54] See Letter X.

The Count Tilly, a titled Andalusian gentleman, of some talents,
unbounded ambition, and no principle, had, on the first appearance
of a general disposition to resist the French, employed himself in
the organization of the intended revolt. His principal agents were
men of low rank, highly endowed with the characteristic shrewdness,
quickness, and loquacity of that class of Andalusians, and thereby
admirably fitted to appear at the head of the populace. Tilly,
however, either from the maxim that a successful revolution must be
cemented with blood--a notion which the French Jacobins have too
widely spread among us--or, what is more probable, from private
motives of revenge, had made the death of the Count del Aguila an
essential part of his plan.

That unfortunate man was a member of the town corporation of Seville,
and as such he joined the established authorities in their endeavours
to stop the popular ferment. But no sooner had the insurrection
burst out, than both he and his colleagues made the most absolute
surrender of themselves and their power into the hands of the people.
This, however, was not enough to save the victim whom Tilly had
doomed to fall. One of the inferior leaders of the populace, one
Luque, an usher at a grammar-school, had engaged to procure the
death of the Count del Aguila. Assisted by his armed associates, he
dragged the unhappy man to the prison-room for noblemen, or Hidalgos,
which stands over one of the gates of the town; and, deaf to his
intreaties, the vile assassin had him shot on the spot. The corpse,
bound to the arm chair, in which the Count expired, was exposed for
that and the next day to the public. The ruffian who performed the
atrocious deed, was instantly raised to the rank of lieutenant in the
army. Tilly himself is one of the Junta; and so selfish and narrow
are the views which prevail in that body, that, if the concentration
of the now disjointed power of the provinces should happen, the
members, it is said, will rid themselves of his presence, by sending
a man they fear and detest, to take a share in the supreme authority
of the kingdom.[55]

  [55] This was actually the case at the creation of the Central
  Junta.

The effects of the revolutionary success on a people at large, like
those of slight intoxication on the individual, call forth every
good and bad quality in a state of exaggeration. To an acute but
indifferent observer, Seville, as we found it on our return, would
have been a most interesting study. He could not but admire the
patriotic energy of the inhabitants, their unbounded devotion to the
cause of their country, and the wonderful effort by which, in spite
of their passive habits of submission, they had ventured to dare both
the authority of their rulers, and the approaching bayonets of the
French. He must, however, have looked with pity on the multiplied
instances of ignorance and superstition which the extraordinary
circumstances of the country had produced.

To my friend and companion, whose anti-catholic prejudices are the
main source of his mental sufferings, the religious character which
the revolution has assumed, is like a dense mist concealing or
disfiguring every object which otherwise would gratify his mind. He
can see no prospect of liberty behind the cloud of priests who every
where stand foremost to take the lead of our patriots. It is in vain
to remind him that many among those priests, whose professional creed
he detests, are far from being sincere; that if, by the powerful
assistance of England, we succeed in driving the French out of the
country, the moral and political state of the nation must benefit by
the exertion. The absence of the King, also, is a fair opening for
the restoration of our ancient liberties; and the actual existence
of popular Juntas, must eventually lead to the re-establishment of
the Cortes. To this he answers that he cannot look for any direct
advantage from the feeling which prompts the present resistance to
the ambition of Napoleon, as it chiefly arises from an inveterate
attachment to the religious system whence our present degradation
takes source. That if the course of events should enable those
who have secretly cast off the yoke of superstition, to attempt a
political reform, it will be by grafting the feeble shoots of Liberty
upon the stock of Catholicism; an experiment which has hitherto,
and must ever prove abortive. That from the partial and imperfect
knowledge of politics and government which the state of the nation
permits, no less than from the feelings produced by the monstrous
abuse of power under which Spain has groaned for ages, too much
will be attempted against the crown; which, thus weakened in a
nation whose habits, forms, and manners, are moulded and shaped to
despotism, will leave it for a time a prey either to an active or an
indolent anarchy, and finally resume its ancient influence.

Partial as I must own myself to every thing that falls from my
friend, I will not deny that these views are too general, and that,
though the principles on which he grounds them are sound, the
inferences are drawn much too independently of future events and
circumstances. Yet the dim coloured medium through which he sees
the state of a country, whence he derives a constant feeling of
unhappiness, will make him, I fear, but little fit to assist with
his talents the work of Spanish reform, so long, at least, as he
shall feel the iron yoke which Spain has laid on his neck. I have,
therefore, formed a plan for his removal to England, whenever the
progress of the French arms, which our present advantages cannot
permanently check, shall enable him to take his departure, so as to
shew that if his own country oppresses him, he will not seek relief
among her enemies.



APPENDIX TO LETTERS III. AND VII.[56]

  [56] The account in Letter VII. of the anxiety manifested by
  Charles III. on the occasion of sending to Rome a manuscript in
  the hand of a Spanish simpleton, whom the superstition of that
  country wished to invest with the honours of Saintship, was
  compiled from local tradition, and the recollections preserved
  from a former perusal of the present Appendix. Its noble author,
  whose love of the literature of Spain, and great acquaintance
  with that country, would be enough to designate him, were he
  not best known by a peculiar benevolence of heart, which no man
  ever expressed so faithfully in the affability of his manners;
  has subsequently favoured the writer of the preceding Letters
  with his permission to publish this sketch. The attentive reader
  will observe some slight variations between my story of Brother
  Sebastian and that given in this Appendix. But as they all
  relate to circumstances connected with the city of Seville, I am
  unwilling to omit or to alter what I have heard from my townsmen
  and the contemporaries of Sebastian himself.

    AN ACCOUNT
    OF THE
    SUPPRESSION OF THE JESUITS IN SPAIN.

    Extracted from a Letter of Lord ----.


The suppression of the Jesuits in Spain always appeared to me a very
extraordinary occurrence; and the more I heard of the character of
Charles III. by whose edict they were expelled, the more singular
the event appeared. Don Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, who had
been acquainted with all, and intimate with many, of those who
accomplished this object, related several curious circumstances
attending it; gave me a very interesting and diverting account
of the characters concerned, and sent me, in 1809, two or three
letters, which are still in my possession, containing some of the
secret history of this very remarkable transaction. I send you the
substance of his conversation, with some additional anecdotes related
to me by other Spaniards. They may throw light on the accidents and
combinations which led to the suppression of that formidable body of
men.

Charles III. came to the throne of Spain with dispositions very
unfavourable to the Jesuits. Not only the disputes with the Court of
Rome, to which the government of Naples was at all times exposed, but
the personal affronts which he conceived himself to have received
from Father Rávago, the Jesuit, Confessor to his brother Ferdinand,
estranged him from that formidable company. The jealousy entertained
by Barbara, Queen of Spain, of any influence which the Court of
Naples might obtain in the councils of her husband, and the opposite
system of politics adopted by the two Courts, had convinced the
Jesuits of the impossibility of being well with both. Not foreseeing
the premature death of Ferdinand, and the sterility of his wife,
they had very naturally exerted all their arts to ingratiate
themselves with the powerful crown of Spain, rather than with the
less important Court of Naples. They were accordingly satisfied with
placing Padre Rávago about Ferdinand, and, either from policy or
neglect, allowed Charles to select his Confessor from another order
of regular clergy. Queen Barbara was a patroness of the Jesuits;
and, very possibly, her favourite, the eunuch Farinelli, exerted his
influence in their favour. The Marquis of Ensenada, long the minister
of Ferdinand, was their avowed protector, ally, and partizan; and
the Queen’s ascendancy over her husband’s mind was too firmly
established to be shaken even by the removal of that minister. But
upon the failure of that Princess, and the subsequent death of the
King himself, the Jesuits experienced a sudden and fatal reverse
of fortune. The policy of the Court of Madrid was altered. Charles
felt deep resentment against England for the transactions in the Bay
of Naples. The influence of the Court of Versailles was gradually
restored. It may be easily supposed that the active enemies of the
Jesuits in France and Italy began to turn their eyes to the Court of
Madrid with more hopes of co-operation in that quarter than they had
hitherto ever ventured to entertain. There is, however, no reason to
imagine that till the nomination of Roda, to the place of Minister
of Grace and Justice, any actual design was formed by persons in
trust or power, of having recourse to such violent expedients as were
afterwards resorted to for the expulsion of the Jesuits.

Don Manuel de Roda, an Aragonese by birth, and an eminent lawyer at
Madrid, had imbibed very early both the theological and political
tenets of the Jansenists. He had been distinguished at the bar by
his resolute and virulent opposition to the members of the _Colegios
Mayores_. That institution, founded for the education and assistance
of poor students, had been perverted from its original intentions:
for though no one could be admitted but upon competition and a
plurality of voices, it consisted _de facto_ entirely of persons of
family. Its members, by the aid of exclusive privileges in the career
of the law, by mutual assistance, and a corporation spirit, not
unlike that of the Jesuits themselves, had obtained a large portion
of ecclesiastical and legal patronage, and enjoyed almost a monopoly
of the highest judicial offices in Castile. The members of these
colleges were enabled to succeed to the offices of _Fiscal, Oydor_,
and other magistracies, without the previous ceremony of passing
advocates, which was a gradation none but those who were _Colegiales_
could dispense with. These privileges gave them great influence,
and the expense which attended their elections, (especially that of
the Rectors of each College, an annual office of great consideration
among them,) served as an effectual bar to the pretensions of any
who had not birth and wealth to recommend them. It is just, however,
to observe, that if they were infected with the narrow spirit of
corporations, they retained to the last the high sense of honour
which is always the boast, and sometimes the characteristic, of
privileged orders of men. It has ever been acknowledged by their
enemies, that since the abolition of their exclusive privileges,
which Roda lived to accomplish, and, yet more, since their further
discouragement by the Prince of Peace, the judicial offices have not
been filled by persons of equal character for integrity, learning,
and honour. But those who studied the laws without the advantages of
an education at the _Colegios Mayores_, were naturally and justly
indignant at the privileges which they enjoyed. The boldness of
Don Manuel de Roda’s opposition to an order of men so invidiously
distinguished, ingratiated him with the lawyers, who, in Spain as
elsewhere, constitute a large, active, and formidable body of men.
But the same high spirit having involved him in a dispute with a man
of rank and influence, his friend and protector the Duke of Alva
thought it prudent for him to withdraw from Court; and with a view
of enabling him to do so with credit to himself, entrusted him with
a public commission to Rome, where he was received as the agent of
the King of Spain. He here, no doubt, acquired that knowledge which
was so useful to him afterwards in the prosecution of his important
design. By what fatality he became minister, I know not. Charles
III. must have departed from his general rule of appointing every
Minister at the recommendation of his predecessor, for Roda succeeded
a Marquis of Campo Villar, who had been educated at the _Colegios
Mayores_, and was attached to the Jesuits. Possibly the interest of
the Duke of Alva was the cause of his promotion. He was appointed
Minister of Grace and Justice, I believe, as early as 1763, though
Jovellanos implies that he was not Minister till 1765 or even 1766.
From the period of his nomination, however, one may safely date the
design of suppressing the Jesuits in Spain. It was systematically,
though slowly and secretly pursued, by a portion of the Spanish
Cabinet. Indeed the views, not only of the ministry, but of the
understanding of Roda, were so exclusively directed to such objects,
that Azara sarcastically observed, that he wore spectacles, through
one glass of which he could perceive nothing but a _Colegial_, and
through the other nothing but a _Jesuit_. If, however, his views were
contracted, he had the advantage often attributed to a short sight--a
clear and more accurate perception of every thing that came within
the limited scope of his organs. He had the discernment to discover
those, who, with dispositions congenial to his own had talents to
assist him. He had cunning enough to devise the means of converting
to his purpose the weaknesses of such as without predisposition to
co-operate with him, were from station or accident necessary to his
design. Though a strict Jansenist himself, he selected his associates
and partizans indiscriminately from Jansenists and philosophers or
freethinkers. Among the first, the most remarkable was Tavira, bishop
of Salamanca; among the latter Campomanes and the Count de Aranda.

Before we speak of the co-operation of these powerful men, it is
necessary to explain the difficulties which occurred in securing the
sanction and assistance of the King himself. Charles III., though
no friend to the Jesuits, was still less a friend, either by habit
or principle, to innovation. He was not less averse by constitution
to all danger. Moreover, he was religious and conscientious in
the extreme. The acquiescence and sanction of his Confessor was
indispensably necessary to the adoption of any measure affecting
the interests of the Church. Neither would the bare consent of the
Confessor (in itself no easy matter to obtain) be sufficient. He
must be zealous in the cause, and cautious as well as active in the
promotion of it. Great secrecy must be observed; for the scheme might
be defeated as effectually by indifference or indiscretion as by
direct resistance or intrigue. There was little in the character of
the Confessor to encourage a man less enterprising or less cunning
than Roda.

Fr. Joaquin de Elita, or Father Osma, (so called from the place
of his birth) was a friar of little education and less ability,
attached by habit to the order to which he belonged, and in other
respects exempt from those passions of affection or ambition, as
well as from that ardour of temper or force of opinion, which
either excite men to great undertakings or render them subservient
to those of others. Roda, however, from personal observation, and
from an intimate knowledge of those passions which a monastic life
generally engenders, discovered the means of engaging even Father
Osma in his views. None who have not witnessed it can conceive the
effect of institutions, of which vows of perpetual celibacy form
a necessary part. Their convent, their order, the place of their
nativity, the village or church to which they belong, often engage
in the minds of religious men the affections which in the course
of nature would have been bestowed on their kindred, their wives,
or their children. Padre Elita was born in the city of which the
venerable and illustrious Palafox had been bishop. The sanctity of
that eminent prelate’s life, the fervour of his devotion, the active
benevolence and Christian fortitude of his character, had insured
him the reputation of a saint, and might, it was thought, by many
Catholics, entitle him to canonization.[57] Roda, however, well knew
that the Jesuits bore great enmity to his memory on account of his
disputes with them in South America; he foresaw that every exertion
of that powerful body would be made to resist the introduction of his
name into the Rubric. He therefore suggested very adroitly to Father
Osma the glory which would redound to his native town if this object
could be accomplished. He painted in glowing colours the gratitude
he would inspire in Spain, and the admiration he would excite in the
Catholic world if through his means a Spaniard of so illustrious a
name and of such acknowledged virtue could be actually sainted at
Rome. He had the satisfaction of finding that Father Osma espoused
the cause with a fervour hardly to be expected from his character.
He not only advised but instigated and urged the King to support
the pretensions of the bishop of Osma with all his influence and
authority. But here an apparent difficulty arose, which Roda turned
to advantage, and converted to the instrument of involving the Court
of Madrid in an additional dispute with the Roman Pontiff. Charles
III. was not unwilling to support the pretensions of his Confessor’s
favourite Saint; but he had a job of his own in that branch to drive
with the Court of Rome, and he accordingly solicited in his turn the
co-operation of Father Osma, to obtain the canonization of Brother
Sebastian.

  [57] There is a Life of Palafox, published at Paris, in 1767.
  The design of the unknown author is evidently to mortify and
  prejudice the Jesuits by exalting the character of one of their
  earliest and fiercest opponents. The author is, however, either
  an ardent fanatic of the Jansenist party, and as superstitious
  as those he wishes to expose; or he promotes the cause of the
  Philosophers of France and Spain by affecting devotion, and
  conciliating many true believers to the measure of suppressing
  the Jesuits.--Palafox was the illegitimate child of Don Jayme
  de Palafox y Mendoza, by a lady of rank, who, to conceal her
  pregnancy, retired to the waters of Fitero in Navarre, and being
  delivered on the 24th June, 1600, to avoid the scandal, took
  the wicked resolution of drowning her child in the neighbouring
  river. The woman employed to perpetrate this murder was detected
  before she effected her purpose, the child saved, and brought up
  by an old dependant of the house of Ariza till he was ten years
  old, when his father returned from Rome, acknowledged, relieved,
  and educated him at Alcalá and Salamanca. His mother became a
  nun of the barefooted Carmelite order. Palafox was introduced at
  Court, and to the Count Duke de Olivares in 1626, and was soon
  after named to the council of India. An illness of his paternal
  sister, the funeral of two remarkable men, and the piety of his
  mother, made such impression upon him, that he gave himself up
  to the most fervent devotion, and soon after took orders. He
  became chaplain to the Queen of Hungary, Philip IVth’s sister,
  and travelled through Italy, Germany, Flanders, and France. In
  1639, he was consecrated Bishop of Angelopolis, or Puebla de los
  Angeles, in America. His first quarrel with the Jesuits was on
  the subject of tithes. Lands on which tithes were payable had
  been alienated in favour of the Company, and they pretended, that
  when once the property of their body, they were exempt from that
  tax. The second ground was a pretended privilege of the Jesuits
  to preach without the permission of the Diocesan, against which
  Palafox contended. The Jesuits, having the Viceroy of New Spain
  on their side, obliged Palafox to fly; on which occasion he
  wrote his celebrated letters against his enemies. A brief of the
  Pope in his favour did not prevent his being recalled in civil
  terms, by the King. At the petition of the Jesuits, who dreaded
  his return to America, the King named him to the bishopric of
  Osma. Of the austerity and extravagance of his principles, the
  following resolutions of the pious bishop are specimens: Not to
  admit any woman to his presence, and never to speak to one but
  with his eyes on the ground, and the door open. Never to pay
  a woman a compliment, but when the not doing so would appear
  singular or scandalous; and never to look a female in the face.
  Whenever compelled to visit a woman, to wear a cross with sharp
  points next the skin.

The story of this last-mentioned obscure personage is so curious, and
illustrates so forcibly the singular character of Charles, that it
will not be foreign to my purpose to relate it.

During Philip the Fifth’s residence in Seville, Hermano Sebastian, a
sort of lay-brother[58] of the Convent of San Francisco el Grande,
was accustomed to visit the principal houses of the place with an
image of the Infant Jesus, in quest of alms for his order. The
affected sanctity of his life, the demure humility of his manner,
and the little sentences of morality with which he was accustomed
to address the women and children whom he visited, acquired him the
reputation of a saint in a small circle of simple devotees. The
good man began to think himself inspired, to compose short works
of devotion, and even to venture occasionally on the character of
a prophet. Accident or design brought him to the palace: he was
introduced to the apartments of the princes, and Charles then a
child, took a prodigious fancy to Brother Sebastian of the _Niño
Jesus_, as he was generally called in the neighbourhood, from the
image he carried when soliciting alms for his convent. To ingratiate
himself with the royal infant, the old man made Charles a present
of some prayers written in his own hand, and told him, with an air
of sanctified mystery, that he would one day be King of Spain, in
reward, no doubt, of his early indications of piety and resignation.
The present delighted Charles, and, young as he was, the words and
sense of the prophecy sunk deep in his superstitious and retentive
mind. Though he was seldom known to mention the circumstance for
years, yet he never parted with the manuscript. It was his companion
by day and by night, at home and in the field. When he was up, it
was constantly in his pocket; and it was placed under his pillow
during his hours of rest. But when, by his accession to the crown of
Spain, its author’s prediction was fulfilled, the work acquired new
charms in his eyes, his confidence in Brother Sebastian’s sanctity
was confirmed, and his memory was cherished with additional fondness
by the grateful and credulous monarch. At the same time, therefore,
that the pretensions of the Bishop of Osma to canonization were urged
at Rome, the Spanish minister was instructed to speak a good word
for the humble friar Sebastian. The lively and sarcastic Azara was
entrusted with this negotiation; and, as I know that he was at some
pains to preserve the documents of this curious transaction, it is
not impossible that he may have left memoirs of his life, in which
the whole correspondence will, no doubt, be detailed with minuteness
and exquisite humour.

  [58] He was not a _lay-brother_, but a _Donado_, a species of
  religious drudges, who, without taking vows, wear the habit of
  the order; and may leave it when they please. The _Donados_ are
  never called _Fray_, but _Hermano_.--_See Doblado’s Letter_ IX.

The Court of Rome is ever fertile in expedients, especially when the
object is to start difficulties and suggest obstacles to any design.
The investigation of Palafox’s pretensions was studiously protracted;
and it was easy to perceive that the influence of the Jesuits in
the Sacred College was exerted to throw new impediments in the way
of their adversary’s canonization. Though the Court of Rome could
never seriously have thought of giving Brother Sebastian a place
in the Rubric, they amused Charles III. by very long discussions on
his merits, and went through, with scrupulous minuteness, all the
previous ceremonies for ascertaining the conduct of a saint.

It is a maxim, that the original of every writing of a person
claiming to be made a saint, must be examined at Rome by the Sacred
College, and that no copy, however attested, can be admitted as
sufficient testimony, if the original document is in existence. The
book, therefore, to which the Spanish Monarch was so attached, was
required at Rome. Here was an abundant source of negotiation and
delay. Charles could not bring himself to part with his treasure,
and the forms of canonization precluded the College from proceeding
without it. At length, the King, from his honest and disinterested
zeal for the friar, was prevailed upon. But Azara was instructed to
have the College summoned, and the Cardinals ready, on the day and
even the hour at which it was calculated that the most expeditious
courier could convey the precious book from Madrid to Rome. Relays
were provided on the road, and Charles III. himself deposited the
precious manuscript in the hands of his most trusty messenger, with
long and anxious injunctions to preserve it most religiously, and not
to lose a moment in sallying forth from Rome on his return, when the
interesting contents of the volume should have been perused.

The interim was to Charles III. a “phantasma, or a hideous dream.”
He never slept, and scarcely took any nourishment during the few
days he was separated from the beloved paper. His domestic economy,
and the regulation of his hours, which neither public business nor
private affliction in any other instance disturbed, was altered; and
the chase, which was not interrupted even by the illness and death
of his children, was suspended till Brother Sebastian’s original MS.
could again accompany him to the field. He stood at the window of his
palace counting the drops of rain on the glasses, and sighing deeply.
Business, pleasure, conversation, and meals, were suspended, till
the long-expected treasure returned, and restored the monarch to his
usual avocations.

When, however, his Confessor discovered that the Court of Rome was
trifling with their solicitations, that to Palafox there was an
insurmountable repugnance, and when the King began to suspect that
the sacrifice he had been compelled to make was all to no purpose,
and that the pains of separation had been inflicted upon him without
the slightest disposition to grant him the object for which alone he
had been inclined to endure it, both he and his Confessor grew angry.
The opposition to their wishes was, perhaps, truly, and certainly
industriously traced to the Jesuits.

In the mean while a riot occurred at Madrid. In 1766, the people
rose against the regulation of police which attempted to suppress
the cloaks and large hats, as affording too great opportunities for
the concealment of assassins. These and other obnoxious measures
were attributed to the Marquis of Squilace, who, in his quality
of favourite as well as foreigner, was an unpopular minister of
finance. Charles III. was compelled to abandon him; and the Count of
Aranda, disgraced under Ferdinand VI. and lately appointed to the
captain-generalship of Valencia, was named President of the council
of Castile, for the purpose of pacifying by his popularity, and
suppressing by his vigour, the remaining discontents of the people.
He entered into all Roda’s views. As an Aragonese, he was an enemy
of the _Colegios Mayores_, for they admitted few subjects of that
Crown to their highest distinctions: and as a freethinker, and man of
letters, he was anxious to suppress the Jesuits.

Reports, founded or unfounded, were circulated in the country, and
countenanced by these powerful men, that the Jesuits had instigated
the riots of Madrid. It was confidently asserted, that many had
been seen in the mob, though disguised; and Father Isidro Lopez, an
Asturian, who was considered as one of the leading characters in the
company, was expressly named as having been active in the streets.
Ensenada, the great protector of the Jesuits in the former reign, had
been named by the populace as the proper successor of Squilace, and
there were certainly either grounds for suspecting, or pretexts for
attributing the discontent of the metropolis to the machinations of
the Jesuits and their protector the ex-minister Ensenada. Enquiries
were instituted. Many witnesses were examined; but great secrecy
was preserved. It is, however, to be presumed, that, under colour
of investigating the causes of the late riot, Aranda and Roda
contrived to collect every information which could inflame the mind
of the King against those institutions which they were determined to
subvert. They had revived the controversy respecting the conduct of
the venerable Palafox, and drawn the attention both of Charles III.
and the public to the celebrated letter of that prelate, in which he
describes the machinations of the Jesuits in South America, and which
their party had but a few years since sentenced to be publicly burnt
in the great square of Madrid.

But, even with the assistance of Father Osma, the acquiescence
of the King, and the concert of many foreign enemies of the
Company, Roda and Aranda were in want of the additional aid which
talents, assiduity, learning, and character could supply, to carry
into execution a project vast in its conception, and extremely
complicated, as well as delicate in its details. They found it in the
famous Campomanes. Perhaps the grateful recollection of services,
and the natural good-nature of Jovellanos, led him to praise too
highly his early protector and precursor, in the studies which
he himself brought to greater perfection. But Campomanes was an
enlightened man, and a laborious as well as honest minister. He was
at that time Fiscal of the Council and Chancellor of Castile, and
considered by the profession of the law, as well as by the great
commercial and political bodies throughout Spain, as an infallible
oracle on all matters regarding the internal administration of the
kingdom. _The Coleccion de Providencias tomadas por el gobierno sobre
el estrañamiento y ocupacion de temporalidades de los Regulares de
la Compañia_ (Collection of measures taken by the Government for
the alienation and seizure of the temporalities of the Regulars of
the company of Jesuits) is said to be a monument of his diligence,
sagacity, and vigour.

A royal decree was issued on 27th February, 1767, and dated from
_el Pardo_, by which a Junta, composed of several members of the
Royal Council, was instituted, in consequence of the riot of Madrid
of the preceding year. To this Junta several bishops, selected
from those who were most attached to the doctrines of Saint Thomas
Aquinas, and, consequently, least favourable to the Jesuits, (for
they espouse the rival tenets,) were added for the purpose of giving
weight and authority to their decree. In this Junta the day and form
of the measure were resolved upon, and instructions drawn out for
the Magistrates who were to execute it both in Spain and in America,
together with directions for the nature of the preparations, the
carriages to be provided at the various places inland, and the
vessels to be ready in the ports. The precautions were well laid.
The secret was wonderfully kept; and on the night of the first of
April, at midnight precisely, every College of the Jesuits throughout
Spain was surrounded by troops, and every member of each collected
in their respective chapters, priests or lay-brothers, young or old,
acquainted with the decree, and forcibly conveyed out of the kingdom.
Their sufferings are well known; and the fortitude with which they
bore them must extort praise even from those who are most convinced
of the mischiefs which their long influence in the courts of Europe
produced. The expulsion and persecution of the French priests during
the Revolution was more bloody, but scarcely less inhuman, than
the hardships inflicted by the regular and legitimate monarchies
which had originally encouraged them, on the Jesuits. On the other
hand, the suppression of that society was favourable to the cause
of liberty, morals, and even learning;--for though their system of
education has been much extolled, it must be acknowledged that in
Spain, at least, the period at which the education of youth was
chiefly entrusted to Jesuits, is that in which Castilian literature
declined, and general ignorance prevailed. If the state of education
in a country is to be judged of by its fruits, the Jesuits in Spain
certainly retarded its progress. In relation to the rest of Europe,
the Spaniards were farther advanced in science and learning during
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, than during the seventeenth
and eighteenth; and since the suppression of the Company, in 1767,
and not till then, a taste for literature and a spirit of improvement
revived among them.



NOTES.


NOTE A.

_On the Devotion of the Spaniards to the Immaculate Conception of the
Virgin Mary._--p. 22.


The history of the transactions relative to the disputes on the
immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, even when confined to those
which took place at Seville, could not be compressed within the
limits of one of the preceding letters. Such readers, besides, as
take little interest in subjects of this nature, would probably have
objected to a detailed account of absurdities, which seem at first
sight scarcely to deserve any notice. Yet there are others to whom
nothing is without interest which depicts any peculiar state of the
human mind, and exhibits some of the innumerable modifications of
society. Out of deference, therefore, to the first, we have detached
the following narrative from the text of Doblado’s Letters, casting
the information we have collected from the Spanish writers into a
note, the length of which will, we hope, be excused by those of the
latter description.

The dispute on the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin began between
the Dominicans and Franciscans as early as the thirteenth century.
The contending parties stood at first upon equal ground; but “the
merits of faith and devotion” were so decidedly on the side of the
Franciscans, that they soon had the Christian mob to support them,
and it became dangerous for any Divine to assert that the _Mother of
God_ (such is the established language of the Church of Rome) had
been, like the rest of mankind, involved in original sin. The oracle
of the Capitol allowed, however, the disputants to fight out their
battles, without shewing the least partiality, till public opinion
had taken a decided turn.

In 1613, a Dominican, in a sermon preached at the cathedral of
Seville, threw out some doubts on the Immaculate Conception. This
was conceived to be an insult not only to the Virgin Mary, but to
the community at large; and the populace was kept with difficulty
from taking summary vengeance on the offender and his convent.
Zuñiga, the annalist of Seville, who published his work in 1677,
deems it a matter of Christian forbearance not to consign the names
of the preacher and his convent to the execration of posterity.
But if the civil and ecclesiastical authorities exerted themselves
for the protection of the offenders, they were also the first to
promote a series of expiatory rites, which might avert the anger of
their Patroness, and make ample reparation to her insulted honour.
Processions innumerable paraded the streets, proclaiming the original
purity of the Virgin Mother; and _Miguél del Cid_, a _Sevillian_ poet
of that day, was urged by the Archbishop to compose the Spanish hymn,
“Todo el Mundo en general,” which, though far below mediocrity, is
still nightly sung at Seville by the associations called Rosarios,
which have been described in Doblado’s Letters.[59]

  [59] Letter I. p. 20.

The next step was to procure a decision of the Pope in favour of
the _Immaculate Conception_. To promote this important object two
commissioners were dispatched to Rome, both of them dignified
clergymen, who had devoted their lives and fortunes to the cause of
the Virgin Mary.

After four years of indescribable anxiety the long wished-for
decree, which doomed to silence the opponents of Mary’s original
innocence, was known to be on the point of passing the _seal of the
Fisherman_,[60] and the _Sevillians_ held themselves in readiness to
express their unbounded joy the very moment of its arrival in their
town. This great event took place on the 22d of October 1617, at ten
o’clock P.M. “The news, says Zuñiga, produced a universal stir in
the town. Men left their houses to congratulate one another in the
streets. The fraternity of the _Nazarenes_ joining in a procession
of more than six hundred persons, with lighted candles in their
hands, sallied forth from their church, singing the hymn in honour of
_Original Purity_. Numerous bonfires were lighted, the streets were
illuminated from the windows and terraces, and ingenious fireworks
were let off in different parts of the town. At midnight the bells of
the cathedral broke out into a general chime, which was answered by
every parish church and convent; and many persons in masks and fancy
dresses having gathered before the archbishop’s palace, his grace
appeared at the balcony, moved to tears by the devout joy of his
flock. At the first peal of the bells all the churches were thrown
open, and the hymns and praises offered up in them lent to the
stillness of night the most lively sounds of the day.”

  [60] _Sigillum_ or _annulus Piscatoris_, the great seal of the
  Popes.

A day was subsequently fixed when all the authorities were to take a
solemn oath in the Cathedral, to believe and assert the _Immaculate
Conception_. An endless series of processions followed to thank
Heaven for the late triumph against the unbelievers. In fact, the
people of Seville could not move about, for some time, without
forming a religious procession. “Any boy,” says a contemporary
historian, “who, going upon an errand, chose to strike up the hymn
_Todo el Mundo_, were sure to draw after him a train, which from one
grew up into a multitude; for there was not a gentleman, clergyman,
or friar, who did not join and follow the chorus which he thus
happened to meet in the streets.”

Besides these religious ceremonies, shows of a more worldly character
were exhibited. Among these was the Moorish equestrian game, called,
in Arabic, _El Jeerid_, and in Spanish, _Cañas_, from the reeds
which, instead of javelins, the cavaliers dart at each other, as they
go through a great variety of graceful and complicated evolutions
on horseback.[61] _Fiestas Reales_, or bull-fights, where gentlemen
enter the arena, were also exhibited on this occasion. To diversify,
however, the spectacle, and indulge the popular taste, which requires
a species of comic interlude, called _Mogiganga_, a dwarf, whose
diminutive limbs required to have the stirrups fixed on the flap
of the saddle, mounted on a milk-white horse, and attended by four
negroes of gigantic stature, dressed in a splendid oriental costume,
fought with one of the bulls, and drove a full span of his lance into
the animal’s body--a circumstance which was deemed too important to
be omitted by the historiographers of Seville.

  [61] Gentlemen of the first rank, who are members of the
  associations called _Maestranzas_, perform at these games on
  the King’s birth-day, and other public festivals. Horsemanship
  was formerly in great estimation among the Andalusian gentry,
  who joined in a variety of amusements connected with that art.
  Such was the _Parejas de Hachas_, a game performed by night, at
  which the riders bore lighted torches. When Philip the Fourth
  visited Seville, in 1624, one hundred gentlemen, each attended
  by two grooms, all with torches in their hands, ran races before
  the king. This was the only amusement which, according to the
  established notions, could be permitted in Lent.

The most curious and characteristic of the shows was, however, an
allegorical tournament, exhibited at the expense of the company of
silk-weavers, who, from the monopoly with the Spanish Colonies, had
attained great wealth and consequence at that period. It is thus
described, from the records of the times, by a modern Spanish writer.

“Near the Puerta del Pardon (one of the gates of the cathedral),
a platform was erected, terminating under the altar dedicated to
the Virgin, which stands over the gate.[62] Three splendid seats
were placed at the foot of the altar, and two avenues railed in on
both sides of the platform to admit the Judges, the challenger, the
supporters or seconds, the marshal, and the adventurers. Near one of
the corners of the stage was pitched the challenger’s tent of black
and brown silk, and in it a seat covered with black velvet. In front
stood the figure of an apple-tree bearing fruit, and hanging from its
boughs a target, on which the challenge was exposed to view.

  [62] The reader must be aware that this was an imitation of a
  foot tournament, an amusement as frequent among the ancient
  Spanish knights as the jousts on horseback. It is called in the
  Spanish Chronicles _Tornéo de a pié_.

“At five in the afternoon, the Marshal, attended by his Adjutant,
presented himself in the lists. He was followed by four children, in
the dress used to represent angels, with lighted torches in their
hands. Another child, personating Michael the Archangel, was the
leader of a second group of six angels, who were the bearers of the
prizes--a Lamb and a Male Infant. The Judges, Justice and Mercy,
appeared last of all, and took their appointed seats.

“The sound of drums, fifes, and clarions, announced soon after,
the approach of another group, composed of two savages of gigantic
dimensions, with large clubs on their shoulders, eight torch-bearers
in black, and two infernal Furies, and, in the centre, the
challenger’s shield-bearer, followed by the challenger’s supporter or
second, dressed in black and gold, with a plume of black and yellow
feathers. This band having walked round the stage, the second brought
the challenger out of the tent, who, dressed uniformly with his
supporter, appeared wielding a lance twenty-five hands in length.[63]

  [63] Though the Spanish writer has forgotten to mention the
  allegory of the challenger, it is evident, from the sequel, that
  he was intended to represent _Sin_.

The following is a list of the Adventurers, their attendants, or
torch-bearers, and supporters or seconds:--

                         Attendants              Seconds
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    Adam                 6 Clowns                { Hope and
                                                 {   Innocence.

    Cain                 6 Infernal Furies         Envy.

    Abraham              6 Dwarfs,[64] three   }
                           Angels in the habit }   Faith.
                           of Pilgrims,        }
                           and Isaac           }

    Job                  6 Pages                   Patience.

    David                6 Squires                 Repentance.

    Jeroboam             4 Jews                    Idolatry.

    Ahab                12 Squires                 Covetousness.

    John the Baptist    12 Squires               { Divine Love
                                                 {   and Grace.

  [64] Dwarfs were formerly very common among the servants of the
  Spanish nobility. But it is not easy to guess for what reason
  they were allotted to Abraham, on this occasion.

“The dresses (continues the historian) were all splendid, and suited
to the characters.

“The Adventurers engaged the challenger in succession, and all were
wounded by the first stroke of his enormous lance. In this state they
drew their swords, and fought with various success, some conquering
the common enemy, while others yielded to his superior force.
None, however, distinguished himself so much as the Baptist, who,
regardless of the wound he had received at the first onset, and being
armed with fresh weapons by _Grace_, beat the adversary in every
succeeding rencounter. His extraordinary success was rewarded with a
seat near the Judges, and the Lamb was awarded him as a prize.

“After this, the Marshal and his Adjutant, followed by _Grace_ and
_Divine Love_, left the stage. In a short time they re-appeared,
followed by twelve youths, as torch-bearers, the seven Virtues[65]
personated by children from four to five years of age, and nine
Angels, as representatives of the nine hierarchies. Two squires
attended each of the Virtues and Angels; the whole train being
closed by _Grace_ and _Divine Love_, supporting the last Adventurer,
a beautiful child seven years old, who, as intended to represent
the Holy Virgin, was more splendidly dressed than the rest, in a
suit of sky-blue and white, sprinkled with golden stars, the hair
flowing down the shoulders in curls, and held round the head by a
twelve-starred diadem.

  [65] The Spanish Catechism enumerates seven vices and seven
  opposite virtues.

“When the combatants faced each other, the challenger could not
conceal his trepidation. The female Adventurer, on the other hand,
would not use the lance with which she had entered the lists; for
it bore the words DAUGHTER OF ADAM, in a banderole which hung from
it. Having thrown away that weapon, she received another from the
seconds, with the inscription DAUGHTER OF THE FATHER. At this moment
the challenger darted his lance; but in his fear and confusion, he
could not touch his adversary, while the heroine, on the contrary,
taking an unerring aim at his breast, brought him instantly upon
his knees; and the victory was completed with two other lances,
bearing the mottoes--MOTHER OF THE SON--SPOUSE OF THE HOLY GHOST.
Unhurt by her adversary, she had now laid him on the ground, and
placed her foot and sword upon his neck, amidst a shout of universal
acclamation. The Judges awarded her the _Child Jesus_, as a prize,
and seated her above all in a throne. Next under the Virgin took
their seats _Divine Love_, _Grace_, _Michael_, and _John the
Baptist_, and a general tournament ensued, in which all the other
combatants engaged. The tournament being ended, the challenger and
his second retired through the left avenue. The rest of the actors
conducted the victor, through that on the right, attended by one
hundred and forty torch-bearers, and a band of musicians singing
her triumphal hymn, which was echoed by the immense concourse.”
_Compendio Historico de Sevilla por Don Fermin Arana de Varflora_
(Padre Valderrama) p. 77, et seq.


NOTE B.

_On a Passage in Xenophon._--p. 46.

The passage from Xenophon translated in the text is this: Οἱ οὖν
ἀμφὶ τὸν Σωκράτην πρῶτον μέν, ὥσπερ εἰκὸς ἦν, ἐπαινοῦντες τὴν κλῆσιν
οὐχ ὑπισχνοῦντο συνδειπνήσειν. ὡς δὲ πάνυ ἀχθόμενος φανερὸς ἦν, εἰ
μὴ ἕψοιντο, συνηκολούθησαν. Sympos. c. 1. 7. Ernesti is angry at
the ὥσπερ εἰκὸς, which is soon after repeated, when speaking of
the order in which the guests placed themselves at table. He wants,
in the last passage, to change it into ὡς ἔτυχον. But though the
emendation is plausible, there seems to be no necessity to alter the
reading. Xenophon is, indeed, remarkably fond of that phrase. The
εἰκὸς, in both places, probably means _according to custom_. It might
be applied to the order of precedence in England, and it should seem
to have been used by Xenophon to denote the Greek sense of propriety
in taking a place at table. In Spain, where there is no established
order, a great deal of bowing and scraping takes place before the
guests can arrange that important point. But, without any settled
rule, there is a tact which seldom misleads any one who wishes not to
give offence. This is probably the second ὥσπερ εἰκὸς of Xenophon.


NOTE C.

“_A little work that gave an amusing Miracle of the Virgin for every
Day in the Year._” p. 70.

The book alluded to in the text is the _Año Virgineo_. The moral
tendency of this and similar books may be shewn by the following
story--technically named an _Example_--which I will venture to give
from memory:--A Spanish soldier, who had fought in the Netherlands,
having returned home with some booty, was leading a profligate and
desperate life. He had, however, bled for the Faith: and his own was
perfectly orthodox. A large old picture of the Virgin Mary hung over
the inside of the door of his lodgings, which, it seems, did not
correspond in loftiness to the brave halberdier’s mind and demeanour.
Early every morning he used to sally forth in pursuit of unlawful
pleasure; but, though he never did bend his knees in prayer, he
would not cross the threshold without a loud _Hail Mary!_ to the
picture, accompanied by an inclination of the halbert, which partly
from his outrageous hurry to break out of the nightly prison, partly
from want of room for his military salute, inflicted many a wound on
the canvass. Thus our soldier went on spending his life and money,
till a sharp Spanish dagger composed him to rest, in the heat of a
brawl. “He died and made no sign.” The Devil, who thought him as
fair a prize as any that had ever been within his grasp, waited only
for the sentence which, according to Catholics, is passed on every
individual immediately after death, in what they call the _Particular
Judgment_. At this critical moment the Virgin Mary presented herself
in a black mantle, similar to that which she wore in the picture,
but sadly rent and slit in several places. “These are the marks,”
she said to the affrighted soul, “of your rude, though certainly
well-meant civility. I will not, however, permit that one who has so
cordially saluted me every day, should go into everlasting fire.”
Thus saying, she bade the evil spirit give up his prisoner, and the
gallant soldier was sent to purge off the dross of his boisterous
nature, in the gentler flames of purgatory.--A portion of the book
from which I recollect this story, was, for many years, read every
evening in one of the principal parishes at Seville. I observed the
same practice at a town not far from the capital of Andalusia; and,
for any thing I know to the contrary, it may be very common all over
Spain. Such is the doctrine which, disowned in theory by the divines
of the Roman church, but growing out of the system of saint-worship,
constitutes the main religious feeling of the vulgar, and taints
strongly the minds of the higher classes in Spain. The Chronicles
of the Religious Orders are full of narratives, the whole drift of
which is to represent their patron saint as powerful to save from the
very jaws of hell. The skill of the painter has often been engaged
to exhibit these stories to the eye, and the Spanish convents abound
in pictures more encouraging to vice than the most profligate prints
of the Palais Royal. I recollect one at Seville in the convent of
the Antonines--a species of the genus _Monachus Franciscanus_ of the
_Monachologia_--so strangely absurd, that I hope the reader will
forgive my lengthening this note with its description. The picture I
allude to was in the cloisters of the convent of San Antonio, facing
the principal entrance, so late as the year 1810, when I was last at
Seville. The subject is the hairbreadth escape of a great sinner,
whom St. Francis saved against all chances. An extract from the
Chronicles of the Order, which is found in a corner of the painting,
informs the beholder that the person whose soul is represented on the
canvass, was a lawless nobleman, who, fortified in his own castle,
became the terror and abhorrence of the neighbourhood. As neither the
life of man, nor the honour of woman, was safe from the violence of
his passions, none willingly dwelt upon his lands, or approached the
gate of the castle. It chanced, however, that two Franciscan friars,
having lost the way in a stormy night, applied for shelter at the
wicked nobleman’s gate, where they met with nothing but insult and
scorn. It was well for them that the fame of St. Francis filled the
world at that time. The holy saint, with the assistance of St. Paul,
had lately cut the throat of an Italian bishop, who had resisted the
establishment of the Franciscans in his diocese.[66]

  [66] This curious scene is the subject of another picture in the
  cloisters of Saint Francis, at Seville. The bishop is seen in
  his bed, where Saint Francis has neatly severed the head from
  the body with Saint Paul’s sword, which he had borrowed for this
  pious purpose. As the good friars might have been suspected of
  having a hand in this miracle, the saint performed an additional
  wonder. The figures of Saint Paul and Saint Francis stood side
  by side in a painted glass window of the principal convent
  of the order. The apostle had a sword in his hand, while his
  companion was weaponless. To the great surprise of the fathers,
  it was observed, one morning, that Saint Paul had given away the
  sword to his friend. The death of the bishop, which happened
  that very night, explained the wonder, and taught the world
  what those might expect who thwarted the plans of Heaven in the
  establishment of the Franciscans.

The fear of a similar punishment abated the fierceness of the
nobleman, and he ordered his servants to give the friars some clean
straw for a bed, and a couple of eggs for their supper. Having given
this explanation, the painter trusts to the appropriate language of
his art, and takes up the story immediately after the death of the
noble sinner. Michael the archangel--who by a traditional belief,
universal in Spain, and probably common to all Catholic countries, is
considered to have the charge of weighing departed souls with their
good works, against the sins they have committed--is represented
with a large pair of scales in his hand. Several angels, in a group,
stand near him, and a crowd of devils are watching, at a respectful
distance, the result of the trial. The newly-departed soul, in the
puny shape of a sickly boy, has been placed, naked, in one scale,
while the opposite groans under a monstrous heap of swords, daggers,
poisoned bows, love-letters, and portraits of females, who had been
the victims of his fierce desires. It is evident that this ponderous
mass would have greatly outweighed the slight and nearly transparent
form which was to oppose its pressure, had not Saint Francis, whose
figure stands prominent in the painting, assisted the distressed
soul by slipping a couple of eggs and a bundle of straw into its own
side of the balance. Upon this seasonable addition, the instruments
and emblems of guilt are seen to fly up and kick the beam. It appears
from this that the Spanish painter agrees with Milton in the system
of weighing Fate; and that, since the days of Homer and Virgil,
superior weight is become the sign of victory, which with them was
that of defeat--_quo vergat pondere lethum_.


NOTE D.

_On the Moral Character of the Spanish Jesuits,_ p. 77.

Whatever we may think of the political delinquencies of their
leaders, their bitterest enemies have never ventured to charge the
Order of Jesuits with moral irregularities. The internal policy of
that body precluded the possibility of gross misconduct. No Jesuit
could step out of doors without calling on the superior for leave
and a companion, in the choice of whom great care was taken to vary
the couples. Never were they allowed to pass a single night out of
the convent, except when attending a dying person: and, even then,
they were under the strictest injunctions to return at whatever
hour the soul departed. Nothing, however, can give a more striking
view of the discipline and internal government of the Jesuits than
a case well known in my family, which I shall here insert as not
devoid of interest. A Jesuit of good connexions, and more than common
abilities, had, during a long residence at Granada, become a general
favourite, and especially in a family of distinction where there
were some young ladies. On one of the three days properly named the
Carnival, he happened to call at that house, and found the whole
family indulging with a few intimate friends in the usual mirth of
the season; but all in a private domestic manner. With the freedom
and vivacity peculiar to Spanish females, the young ladies formed a
conspiracy to make their favourite Jesuit stand up and dance with
them. Resistance was in vain: they teased and cajoled the poor man,
till he, in good-natured condescension, got up, moved in the dance
for a few minutes, and retired again to his seat. Years elapsed: he
was removed from Granada, and probably forgot the transient gaiety
into which he had been betrayed. It is well known that the general
of the Jesuits, who made Rome his constant residence, appointed
from thence to every office in the order all over the world. But so
little caprice influenced those nominations, that the friends of the
unfortunate dancer were daily expecting to see him elected provincial
governor of the Jesuits in Andalusia. To their great surprise,
however, the election fell upon a much inferior man. As the elections
were triennial, the strongest interest was made for the next turn.
Pressed on all sides, the general desired his secretary to return a
written answer. It was conceived in these words: “It cannot be: he
danced at Granada.”

I have seen Capuchin friars, the most austere order of Franciscans,
rattling on a guitar, and singing Boleros before a mixed company in
the open fields; and I have heard of a friar, who being called to
watch over a death-bed, in a decent but poor family, had the audacity
to take gross liberties with a female in the very room where the
sick man lay speechless. He recovered, however, strength enough to
communicate this horrid insult to his son, from whom I have the fact.
The convent to which this friar belonged, is notorious, among the
lower classes, for profligacy.

I shall add a little trait illustrative of Spanish manners. A friar
in high glee is commonly reminded of his profession, in a jeering
tone, by the wags of the company. Cries of, _Cáñamo, Padre_, (hemp,
my father!) are heard from all sides, alluding to the scourge used
for the discipline, which is made of that substance, and recommending
it as a proper cure for rebellious spirits. These two words will cut
a friar to the heart.


NOTE E.

“_On the Prevalence of Scepticism among the Catholic Clergy._” p. 100.

I once heard an English gentleman, who had resided a long time in
Italy, where he obtained lodgings in a convent, relate his surprise
at the termination of a friendly discussion which he had with the
most able individuals of the house, on the points of difference
between the Churches of England and Rome. The dispute had been
animated, and supported with great ability on the Catholic side
by one of the youngest monks. When, at length, all, except the
chief disputants, had retired, the young monk, turning to his
English guest, asked him whether he really believed what he had
been defending? Upon receiving a serious answer in the affirmative,
he could not help exclaiming, _Allor lei crede più che tutto il
convento_.


NOTE F.

“_The Child God._” p. 147.

The representation of the Deity in the form of a child is very common
in Spain. The number of little figures, about a foot high, called
Niño Dios, or Niño Jesus, is nearly equal to that of nuns in most
convents. The nuns dress them in all the variety of the national
costumes, such as clergymen, canons in their choral robes, doctors
of divinity in their hoods, physicians in their wigs and gold-headed
canes, &c. &c. The Niño Jesus is often found in private houses; and
in some parts of Spain, where contraband trade is the main occupation
of the people, is seen in the dress of a smuggler with a brace of
pistols at his girdle, and a blunderbuss leaning on his arm.


NOTE G.

“_On the Town of Olbera._” p. 170.

In De Rocca’s “_Memoires sur la Guerre des Français en Espagne_,”
there is a trait so perfectly in character with Don Leucadio’s
description of the people of Olbera, that I must beg leave to
transcribe it:--

“Nous formâmes un bivouac dans une prairie entourée de murs,
attenante à l’auberge qui est sur la route au bas du village.
Les habitans furent, pendant le reste du jour, assez tranquilles
en apparence, et ils nous fournirent des vivres; mais, au lieu
d’un jeune bœuf que j’avais demandé, ils nous apportèrent un âne
coupé en quartiers: les hussards trouvèrent que ce veau, comme
ils l’appellaient, avait le goût un peu fade; mais ce ne fut que
long-temps après que nous apprîmes cette bizarre tromperie, par les
montagnards eux-mêmes. Ils nous criaient souvent, dans la suite, en
tiraillant avec nous, ‘Vous avez mangé de l’âne à Olbera.’ C’était,
dans leur opinion, la plus sanglante des injures qu’on pût faire à
des chrétiens.”

De Rocca’s book abounds in lively pictures of Spanish manners,
especially in the account he gives of the Serrania de Ronda; without
indulging national partialities, he does full justice to his mortal
enemies, and represents them in the most favourable colours which
were consistent with truth.


NOTE H.

“_The effectual aid given by that Crucifix in the Plague of 1649, was
upon record._” p. 174.

Zuñiga, in his Annals, copies a Spanish inscription, which still
exists in the convent of Saint Augustin, at Seville; of which I
subjoin a translation:--

“In 1649, this town being under a most violent attack of the plague,
of which great numbers died,[67] the two most illustrious Chapters,
Ecclesiastical and Secular, requested that this community of our
father St. Augustin, should allow the image of Christ to be carried
to the Cathedral. It was, accordingly, conveyed, on the second of
July of the same year, in a solemn procession, attended by the
Secular Chapter (the Town Corporation), and all the religious
communities, amidst the loud wailings of the people; when the most
illustrious Chapter of the Cathedral walked to meet the procession at
the end of the street of the _Placentines_.[68] The most holy image
was left that evening and the ensuing night in the Cathedral, and
returned the next day to its shrine, our Lord being pleased to ordain
that the plague should begin to abate from the day when the image
was brought out, and cease altogether at the end of the _Octavario_,
(eight days worship), as it was attested by the physicians. Wherefore
the most noble and most loyal city of Seville appointed the said
second of July, for ever, to repair to this convent as an act of
thanksgiving for that great benefit.”

  [67] Espinosa, the modern editor and annotator of Zuñiga, states,
  from ancient records, that within the first six weeks after the
  appearance of the plague, the number of deaths amounted to eighty
  thousand. This, however, we consider as a palpable exaggeration;
  for, though Seville was nearly depopulated on that occasion,
  it is probable that it never contained more than one hundred
  thousand inhabitants.

  [68] Seville has several streets bearing the name of foreign
  nations--a faint memorial of its former commerce and wealth. The
  street of the _Placentines_ is a continuation of that of the
  Franks (Francos). There is a Lombard Street (calle Lombardos), a
  _Genoa Street_, and some others of a similar denomination.

In spite of this solemn acknowledgment of the miracle, the
_astrologers_ of that day were unwilling to give the crucifix the
whole credit of staying the plague. Zuñiga shrewdly observes that
the conjunction of Jupiter with Mars, which, according to Captain
Francis de Ruesta, removed the infection, did not take place till the
12th of July, ten days after the wonderful effects of the procession
had become visible; and the Captain himself, probably to keep clear
of the Inquisition, declares that the favourable influence of the
planets “was previously _ensured_ by the exhibition of the Holy
Christ of Saint Augustin.” _Zuñiga, Anales de Sevilla_, t. iv. p. 404.


NOTE I.

“_Vicious Habits of the Religious Probationers._” p. 195.

The Spanish satirical novel, “_Fray Gerundio de Campazas_,” contains
a lively picture of the adventures of a Novice. It was written by
Padre Isla, a Jesuit, for the purpose of checking the foppery and
absurdity of the popular preachers. Cervantes himself could not boast
of greater success in banishing the books of Chivalry than Isla in
shaming the friars out of the affected and often profane _concetti_,
which, in his time, were mistaken for pulpit eloquence. But the
Inquisition could not endure that her great props, the religious
orders, should be exposed, in any of their members, to the shafts of
ridicule; and _Fray Gerundio_ was prohibited.


NOTE K.

A book entitled _Memorias para la vida del Excmo. Señor D. Gaspar
Melchor de Jovellanos_, was published, at Madrid, in 1814, by Cean
Bermudez. This gentleman, whose uninterrupted intimacy from early
youth with the subject of his Memoirs, enabled him to draw an
animated picture of one of the most interesting men that Spain has
produced in her decline, has, probably, from the habits of reserve
and false notions of decorum, still prevalent in that country,
greatly disappointed our hopes. What relates to Jovellanos himself
is confined to a few pages, containing little more than the dates of
events connected with his public life, some vague declamation, and a
few inuendos on the great intrigues which, having raised him to the
ministry, confined him soon after to the fortress of Bellver. The
second part contains a catalogue, and a slight analysis of his works.
The friends of Jovellanos, however, are indebted to the author of the
Memorias, for the help which this collection of notes on the life of
that truly excellent and amiable man will afford any future writer
who, with more settled habits of freedom, and altogether under more
favourable circumstances, shall undertake to draw the full-length
picture of which we yet scarcely possess a sketch.

For the satisfaction of such of our readers as may wish to know the
fate of Jovellanos, we subjoin a brief account of the last years of
his life.

Upon the accession of Ferdinand VII., Jovellanos was, by royal order,
released from his confinement, and subsequently elected a Member of
the Central Junta. When the French entered Seville in 1810, and the
Regency of Cadiz superseded the Junta, he wished to retire to his
native place, Gijon, in Asturias.

The popular feeling, exasperated by national misfortunes, was now
venting itself against the abdicated Government, to whose want of
energy the advantages of the French were indiscriminately attributed;
and Jovellanos, accidentally detained in the Bay of Cadiz, had the
mortification of learning that he was involved in the absurd and
shameful suspicion of having shared in the spoil of the Spanish
treasury, with which the Central Junta was charged. A dignified
appeal to the candour of the nation, which he sent to the Cadiz
papers for insertion, was not permitted to see the light--so narrow
and illiberal were the views of the Regency--and the feeling and
high-minded Castilian had to sail under the intolerable apprehension
that some of his countrymen might look upon him as a felon
endeavouring to abscond from justice.

If any one circumstance could add to the painfulness of Jovellanos’s
situation, it was that, while the thoughtlessness or the ingratitude
of his countrymen thus involved him in a suspicion of peculation,
the state of his finances was such as to have obliged him to accept
the sum of little more than one hundred pounds, the savings of many
year’s service, which his trusty valet pressed upon him, with tears,
that he might defray the expenses of their removal from Seville.

After being almost wrecked on the coast of Galicia, Jovellanos was
obliged to land at the small town of Muros. Here he had to endure a
fresh insult from the petty Junta of that province, by whose orders
his papers were minutely searched, and copies taken at the option of
an officer sent for that purpose with a military detachment.

A temporary retreat of the French from Gijon enabled Jovellanos to
revisit his native town; but an unexpected return of the invaders
obliged him soon after to take ship with the utmost precipitation.
His flight was so sudden that he was actually at sea without having
determined upon a place of refuge. Had the venerable and unhappy
fugitive listened to the repeated invitations which his intimate
friend Lord Holland sent him after the first appearance of danger
from the progress of the French, his life might have been prolonged
under the hospitable roof of Holland House. But Jovellanos’s notions
of public duty were too exalted and romantic: and he would not quit
Spain while there was a single spot in the possession of her patriots.

In attempting to reach by sea the port of Ribadeo, where there lay
a Spanish frigate, in which he hoped to find a passage to Cadiz,
another storm kept him for eight days under the peculiar hardships of
a dangerous navigation in a small and crowded ship. Exhausted both in
body and mind, and with a heart almost broken by the ill-treatment he
had met with at the close of a long life spent in the service of his
country, he landed at Vega, where, the poverty of the town offering
no better accommodations, he was placed in the same room with Valdés
Llanos, an old friend and relation, who had joined him in the flight,
and seemed so shattered by age and fatigue, as not to be able to
survive the effects of the late storm. Here Jovellanos employed his
remaining strength in nursing and comforting his fellow-sufferer,
till, Valdés being near his end, his friend was, according to the
notions of the country, removed to another room. But death had
also laid his hand on Jovellanos. Two days after completing his
sixty-sixth year, he was laid in the same grave with his friend.[69]

  [69] In the Appendix No. 2, to Lord Holland’s _Life of Lope de
  Vega_ are found both the originals and translations of some
  eloquent passages from Jovellanos’s pen, to which I have made an
  allusion in this note. His portrait also, from a marble bust
  executed at Seville by Don Angel Monasterio, at his lordship’s
  desire, and now in his possession, is prefixed to the second
  volume of the same work.


THE END.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Letters from Spain" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home