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Title: Spain: vol. 1/2
Author: De Amicis, Edmondo
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 "Spain: vol. 1/2" ***

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 Some typographical errors have been corrected; some but not all the
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                    [Illustration: _A Bull Fight_]

                         _EDITION ARTISTIQUE_

                          The World’s Famous
                          Places and Peoples



                           EDMONDO DE AMICIS

                   by Stanley Rhoads Yarnall, M.A._

                            In Two Volumes
                               Volume I.

                           MERRILL AND BAKER
                            New York London

COPY IS NO. .205.

Copyright, Henry T. Coates & Co., 1895


    BARCELONA     7

    SARAGOSSA    43

    BURGOS       89


    MADRID      151



    BARCELONA                                22

    STREET IN SARAGOSSA                      58

    WATER-CARRIER                            92

    STREET IN VALLADOLID                    130



    VIRGIN OF THE NAPKIN                    190

    IMPLANTING THE BANDILLERA               214

    THE CHARGE                              214

    MATADORS, MADRID                        240

    TOMB OF CHARLES V, ESCURIAL             266


It was a rainy morning in February, and lacked an hour of sunrise. My
mother accompanied me to the hall, anxiously repeating all the counsels
she had been giving me for a month: then she threw her arms about my
neck, burst into tears, and disappeared. I stood a moment stricken to
the heart, looking at the door, on the point of calling out, “Let me in!
I am not going! I will stay with thee!” Then I ran down the stairs like
an escaping thief. When I was in the street it seemed that the waves of
the sea and the peaks of the Pyrenees were already lying between me and
my home. But, although I had for a long time looked forward to that day
with feverish impatience, I was not at all cheerful. At a turn of the
street I met my friend the doctor on his way to the hospital. He had not
seen me for a month, and naturally asked:

“Where are you going?”

“To Spain,” I replied.

But he would not believe me, so far was my frowning, melancholy face
from promising a pleasure-trip. Through the entire journey from Turin
to Genoa I thought only of my mother, of my room, now empty, of my
little library, of all the pleasant habits of my domestic life, all of
which I was leaving for many months.

But, arrived at Genoa, the sight of the sea, the gardens of the
Acquasola, and the company of Anton Giulio Barili restored me to
serenity and cheerfulness. I recollect that as I was about to step into
the boat that was to take me to the ship a porter handed me a letter
which contained only these words: “Sad news from Spain. The condition of
an Italian at Madrid in time of insurrection against the king would be
perilous. Do you persist in going? Consider!” I leaped into the boat and
was off. Shortly before the ship sailed two officers came to bid me
good-bye. I can still see them standing in the middle of the boat as the
ship began to move.

“Bring me a Toledo blade!” they cried.

“Bring me a bottle of Xeres!”

“Bring me a guitar! an Andalusian hat! a stiletto!”

A little while, and I could see only their white handkerchiefs and hear
their last cry: I tried to answer, but my tongue cleaved to the roof of
my mouth; I began to laugh, but brushed my hand across my eyes. Soon I
retired to my little hole of a stateroom, where, lulled into a delicious
sleep, I dreamed of my mother, my purse, France, and Andalusia. At dawn
I awoke, and was soon on deck. We were not far from the coast, the
French coast--my first view of a foreign coast. Strange! I could not
look at it enough, and a thousand fugitive thoughts passed through my
head, and I said, “Is it France, in very truth? And is it I who am
here?” I began to doubt my own identity.

At mid-day Marseilles came into view. The first sight of a great
maritime city fills one with an amazement which destroys the pleasure of
the marvel. I see, as through a mist, a vast forest of ships; a waterman
who stretches out his hand and addresses me in an incomprehensible
jargon; a customs official who, in accordance with some law, makes me
pay _deux sous pour les Prussiens_; then a dark room in a hotel; then
the longest streets, endless squares, a throng of people and of
carriages; troops of Zouaves, unknown regimentals, a mingling of lights
and of voices, and finally come weariness and profound sadness, which
end in uneasy sleep.

By daybreak on the following morning I was in a railway-carriage on my
way from Marseilles to Perpignan, in the midst of a group of ten Zouave
officers arrived from Africa the previous day, some with crutches, some
with canes, some with bandaged arms; but all as happy and boisterous as
so many school-boys. It was a long journey, consequently conversation
was necessary. However, from all I had heard of the bitterness with
which the French regarded us, I did not venture to open my mouth. But
how foolish! One of them spoke the word and the conversation was
started: “An Italian?”


It was as good as a holiday. All but one had fought in Italy; one had
been wounded at Magenta. They began to tell anecdotes of Genoa, of
Turin, of Milan, to ask a thousand questions, to describe their life in

One began to discuss the Pope. “Oh!” said I to myself. Why? He talked
even stronger than I should have done: he said that we ought to have cut
the knot of the question, and to have gone to the root of the matter
without considering the peasantry.

Meantime, as we were approaching the Pyrenees, I amused myself by
observing the increasing difference in the pronunciation of the
passengers who entered the carriage; by remarking how the French
language died, so to speak, into the Spanish; by feeling how near Spain
was growing until Perpignan was reached; and as I hurried into a
diligence I heard the first _Buenos dias_ and _Buen viaje_, so pure and
sonorous that the words gave me infinite pleasure. Nevertheless, they do
not speak Spanish at Perpignan, but they use a dialect formed by a
mingling of French, Marseillaise, and Catalan, unpleasant to the ear. I
alighted from the diligence at the hotel in the midst of a crowd of
officers, gentlemen, Englishmen, and trunks. A waiter compelled me to
sit down at a table already spread: I ate until I almost strangled, and
was hurried into another diligence and away.

Ah me! I had so long cherished the thought of crossing the Pyrenees, and
I now was forced to make the journey by night. Before we arrived at the
foothills it was dark. Through the long, long hours, between sleeping
and waking, I saw only a bit of the road lit up by the lights of the
lantern of the diligence, the black outline of some mountain, the
projecting rocks, which seemed to be within arms’ reach of the window,
and I heard only the regular tramping of the horses and the whistling of
an accursed wind which blew without a moment’s intermission.

Beside me sat an American from the United States, a young man, the most
original fellow in the world, who slept I know not how many hours with
his head on my shoulder. Now and then he roused himself to exclaim in a
lamentable voice, “Ah what a night! what a horrible night!” without
perceiving that with his head he gave me an additional reason for making
the same lament.

At the first stopping-place we both alighted and entered a little
hostelry to get a glass of liquor; my fellow-traveller asked me if I was
travelling on business. “No, sir,” I replied; “I am travelling for
pleasure; and you, if I may ask?”--“I am travelling for love,” he
replied with perfect gravity.--“For love!--” And then, unasked, he told
me a long story of an unhappy love-affair, of a deferred marriage, of
abductions and duels, and I know not what else; and finally he said he
was travelling for a change of scene to help him forget the lady of his
affections. And, in fact, he sought distraction to the top of his bent,
for at every inn where we stopped, from the beginning of our journey
until we arrived at Gerona, he did nothing but tease the maids--always
with the utmost gravity, it is true, but nevertheless with an audacity
which even his desire for distraction failed to justify.

Three hours after midnight we arrived at the frontier. “_Estamos en
España!_” (We are in Spain!) cried a voice. The diligence came to a
stop. The American and I leaped again to the ground, and with great
curiosity entered a little inn to see the first sons of Spain within the
walls of a Spanish house.

We found a half-dozen customs officials, the host, his wife, and
children sitting around a brasier. They greeted us at once. I asked a
number of questions, and they answered in an open, spirited manner,
which I had not expected to find among the Catalans, who are described
in the gazetteers as a rude people of few words. I asked if they had
anything to eat, and they brought in the famous Spanish _chorizo_, a
sort of sausage, which is overseasoned with pepper and burns the
stomach, a bottle of sweet wine, and some hard bread.

“Well; what is your king doing?” I asked of an official after I had spit
out the first mouthful. The man to whom I spoke seemed embarrassed,
looked first at me, then at the others, and finally made this very
strange answer: “_Esta reinando_” (He is reigning). They all commenced
to laugh, and while I was preparing a closer question, I became
conscious of a whisper in my ear: “_Es un republicano_” (He is a
republican). I turned and saw mine host looking into the air. “I
understand,” said I, and changed the subject. When we had climbed again
into the diligence my companion and I had a good laugh over the warning
of the host, and we both expressed our surprise that a person of his
class should have taken the political opinions of the officials so
seriously; but at the inns where we afterward stopped we learned better.
In every one of them we found the host or some adventurer reading the
paper to a group of attentive peasants. Now and then the reading would
be interrupted by a political discussion, which I could not understand,
because they used the Catalan dialect, but I could get the drift of what
they were saying by the aid of the paper which I had heard them reading.
Well, I must say, among all of those groups there circulated a current
of republican thought which would have made the stoutest royalist
tremble. One of them, a man with a fierce scowl and a deep voice, after
he had spoken a short time to a group of silent auditors, turned to me,
whom by my impure Castilian accent he supposed to be a Frenchman, and
said with great solemnity, “Let me tell you something,
_caballero_!”--“What is it?”--“I tell you,” he replied, “that Spain is
in a worse plight than France;” and after that remark he began walking
up and down the room with bowed head and with his arms crossed upon his
breast. Others spoke confusedly of the Cortes, of the ministry, of
political ambitions, breaches of faith, and other dreadful things. One
person only, a girl at a restaurant in Figueras, noticing that I was an
Italian, said to me with a smile, “Now we have an Italian king.” And a
little while later, as we were going out, she added with graceful
simplicity, “I like him.”

When we arrived at Gerona it was still night. There King Amadeus, after
a joyful welcome, placed a stone in the house where General Alvarez
lodged during the famous siege of 1809.

We passed through the city, which seemed to us of great proportions,
sleepy as we were and impatient to tumble into our corners of the
railroad carriage. Finally we reached the station, and by dawn were on
our way to Barcelona.

Sleep! It was the first time I had seen the sun rise in Spain. How
could I have slept? I put my face close to the window, and did not turn
my head until we came to Barcelona. Ah! there is no greater pleasure
than that one feels upon entering an unfamiliar country, with one’s
imagination prepared for the sight of new and wonderful objects, with a
thousand memories of the fanciful descriptions of books in one’s head,
free from anxiety and free from care.

To press forward into that land, to bend one’s glance eagerly in every
direction in search of something which will convince one, if he is not
already sure of the fact, that he is really there--to grow conscious of
it little by little, now by the dress of a peasant, now by a tree, again
by a house; to notice as one advances the growing frequency of those
signs, those colors, those forms, and to compare all those things with
the mental picture one had previously formed; to find a field for
curiosity in everything upon which the eye rests or which strikes the
ear,--the appearance of the people, their gestures, their accent, their
conversation,--the exclamations of surprise at every step. To feel one’s
mind expanding and growing clear; so long to arrive at once and yet
never to arrive; to ask a thousand questions of one’s companions; to
make a sketch of a village or of a group of peasants; to say ten times
an hour, “I am here!” and to think of telling all about it some
day,--this is truly the liveliest and most varied of human pleasures.
The American was snoring.

The part of Catalonia through which one passes from Gerona to Barcelona
is a varied, fertile, and highly-cultivated country. It is a succession
of little valleys flanked by gently sloping hills, with tracts of heavy
woodland, roaring streams, gorges, and ancient castles; clothed with a
vegetation luxuriant and hardy and of a varied green, which reminds one
of the severe aspect of the Alpine valleys. The landscape is enlivened
by the picturesque dress of the peasants, which corresponds admirably to
the fierceness of the Catalan character. The first peasants I saw were
dressed from top to toe in black velvet, and wore about their necks a
sort of shawl with red and white stripes, and on their heads little
Zouave caps of bright red falling to the shoulder. Some wore a sort of
buskin of skins laced to the knee, others a pair of canvas shoes shaped
like slippers, with corded soles, open in front, and tied about the foot
with interlacing black ribbons--a habit, in fine, easy and elegant, and
at the same time severe. The weather was not very cold, but they were
all bundled up in their shawls, so that only the tip of the nose or the
end of the cigarette was to be seen. They had the air of gentlemen
coming from the theatre. This effect is produced not merely by the
shawls, but by the manner in which they are worn--falling at the side,
so that the arrangement appears accidental, with those plaits and
foldings which add the grace of a mantilla and dignity of a cloak. At
every railway-station there was a group of men, each wearing a shawl of
different color, and not a few dressed in fine new cloth: almost all
were very clean, and all had a dignity of bearing which heightened the
effect of their picturesque costume. There were a few dark faces, but
most of them were fair, with lively black eyes, lacking, however, the
fire and vivacity of the Andalusian glances.

Gradually as one advances the villages, houses, bridges, and aqueducts
become most frequent, with all those things which announce the proximity
of a rich and populous commercial city. Granallers, Sant’ Andrea de
Palomar, and Clot are surrounded by factories, villas, parks, and
gardens. All along the way one sees long rows of carts, troops of
peasants, and herds of cattle; the stations are crowded with passengers.
If one did not know where he was, he might think he was crossing a part
of England rather than a province of Spain. Once past the station of
Clot, the last stop before the arrival at Barcelona, one sees on every
side huge brick buildings, long walls, heaps of building material,
smoking chimneys, stacks of workshops, and many laboring-men, and hears,
or imagines he hears, a muffled roar, growing in extent and volume,
which seems like the labored breathing of a great city at its work. At
last one can see all Barcelona--at a glance the harbor, the sea, a
coronet of hills--and it all appears and disappears in a moment, and
you are sitting in the station with tingling nerves and a confused

A diligence as large as a railway-carriage took me to a neighboring
hotel, when, as soon as I entered, I heard the Italian speech. I confess
that this was as great a pleasure as if I had been an interminable
distance from Italy and a year absent from home. But it was a pleasure
of short duration. A porter, the same one whom I had heard speaking,
showed me to my room, and, doubtless assured by my smile that I was a
fellow-countryman, asked politely,

“Have you made an end of arriving?”

“Made an end of arriving?” I asked in my turn, elevating my eyebrows.

I must here note that in Spanish the word _acabor_ (to make an end of
doing a thing) corresponds to the French expression _venir de la faire_.
Consequently I did not at once understand what he said.

“Yes,” the porter replied, “I ask the _cavaliere_ if he has alighted the
selfsame hour from the way of iron?”

“Selfsame hour? Way of iron? What sort of Italian is this, my friend?”

He was a little disconcerted.

However, I afterward discovered that there is in Barcelona a large
number of hotel-porters, of waiters in the restaurants, cooks, and
servants of all kinds--Piedmontese for the most part from the province
of Navarre--who have lived in Spain from boyhood and speak this
dreadful jargon composed of French, Italian, Castilian, Catalan, and
Piedmontese. However, they do not use this dialect in addressing the
Spanish people, for they all know Spanish, but only to Italian
travellers in a playful spirit, to let them see that they have not
forgotten the speech of their fatherland.

This explains the fact that I have heard many Catalonians say, “Oh!
there is very little difference between your language and ours.” I
should think so! I ought also to repeat the words which a Castilian
singer addressed to me in a tone of lofty benevolence as we were
conversing on the boat which bore me to Marseilles five weeks later:
“The Italian language is the most beautiful of the dialects formed from

       *       *       *       *       *

As soon as I removed the traces which _the horrible night_ of the
crossing of the Pyrenees had left upon me I sallied forth from the hotel
and began to wander about the streets.

Barcelona is, in appearance, the least Spanish of the cities of Spain.
Great buildings--very few of which are old--long streets, regular
squares, shops, theatres, large and splendid restaurants, a continuous
moving throng of people, carriages, and carts from the water front to
the centre of the city, and thence to the outskirts, just as at Genoa,
Naples, and Marseilles. A very wide, straight street called the
_Rambla_, shaded by two rows of trees, divides the city from the harbor
to the hills. A fine promenade, flanked by new houses, stretches along
the sea-shore above a high dyke of masonry built like a terrace, against
which the waves beat. A suburb of vast proportions, almost another city,
extends toward the north, and on every side new houses break the old
enclosure, spread over the fields, even to the foot of the hills, range
themselves in endless rows until they reach the neighboring villages,
and on all the circling hills rise villas and palaces and factories,
which dispute the land and crowd each other as they rise even higher and
higher, forming a noble coronet about the brow of the city. Everywhere
they are creating, transforming, renewing; the people work and prosper,
and Barcelona flourishes.

       *       *       *       *       *

I saw the last days of the Carnival. Through the streets passed long
processions of giants, devils, princes, clowns, warriors, and crowds of
certain figures whom I always have the misfortune to encounter the world
over. They were dressed in yellow and carried long staves, at the ends
of which purses were bound: these they stick under every one’s nose,
into the shops and windows, even to the second stories of the houses,
begging alms--in whose name I know not, but which were most likely spent
in some classic orgy at the close of the Carnival.

The most curious sight which I saw was the

[Illustration: _Barcelona_]

masquerade of the children. It is the custom to dress the boys under the
age of eight years like men, after the French fashion, in complete
ball-dress, with white gloves, great moustaches, and long flowing hair:
some are dressed like the Spanish grandees, bedecked with ribbons and
bangles; others like Catalan peasants, with the jaunty cap and the
mantle. The little girls appear as court-ladies, Amazons, and poetesses
with lyres and laurel crowns; and boys and girls in the costumes of the
different provinces of the kingdom--one as a flower-girl of Valencia,
another as an Andalusian gypsy or a Basque mountaineer--in the gayest
and most picturesque costumes imaginable. Their parents lead them by the
hand in the procession, and it is a tournament of good taste, of
fantasy, and display in which the people share with great delight.

While I was trying to find my way to the cathedral I met a company of
Spanish soldiers. I stopped to look at them, recollecting the picture
which Baretti draws when he tells how they assailed him in a hotel, one
taking the salad from his plate, while another snatched the leg of a
fowl from his mouth. At first sight they resemble the French soldiers,
who also wear the red breeches and gray coat reaching to the knee. The
only noticeable difference is in the covering of the head. The Spanish
wear a parti-colored cap, flat behind and curved in front, and fitted
with a visor which turns down over the forehead. The caps, which are
made of gray cloth, are light, durable, and pleasing to the eye, and
are known by the name of their inventor, Ros de Olano, general and poet,
who patterned them after his hunting-cap. The greater part of the
soldiers whom I saw--they were all in the infantry--were young men,
short of stature, swarthy, alert, and clean, as one would imagine the
soldiers of an army which at one time had the lightest and most
effective infantry in Europe. Indeed, the Spanish infantry has the
reputation of containing the best walkers and swiftest runners. The men
are temperate, spirited, and full of a national pride, of which it is
difficult to get an adequate idea without studying them closely. The
officers wear a short black coat like that of the Italian officers. When
off duty they are in the habit of wearing the coat open, thereby
revealing a waistcoat buttoned to the chin. In the hours of leisure they
do not wear their swords; on the march, like the rank and file, they
wear a sort of gaiter of black cloth reaching almost to the knee. A
regiment of foot-soldiers completely equipped for action presents an
appearance at once pleasing and martial.

The cathedral of Barcelona, in the Gothic style, surmounted by noble
towers, is worthy of standing beside the most beautiful edifices in
Spain. The interior is formed of three vast naves, separated by two rows
of very high pillars slender and graceful in form. The choir, situated
in the middle of the church, is profusely decorated with bas-reliefs,
filigree-work, and small images. Beneath the sanctuary lies a small
subterranean chapel which is always lighted, and in its centre is the
tomb of Eulalia, which one may see by looking through one of the little
windows opening from the sanctuary. There is a tradition that the
murderers of the saint, who was very beautiful, wished before putting
her to death to look upon her body, but while they were taking off her
last covering a thick cloud enveloped her and hid her from their sight.
Her body still remains as fresh and beautiful as when she was alive, and
no human eye may endure to look upon it. Once an incautious bishop
(after the lapse of a century) wished to open the tomb just to see the
sacred remains, but even as he looked he was smitten with blindness.

In a little chapel to the right of the great altar, lighted by many
candles, one sees a crucifix of colored wood, with the Christ’s figure
inclined to one side. It is said that this image was carried on a
Spanish ship at the battle of Lepanto, and that it so bent itself to
avoid a cannon-ball which it saw coming straight for its heart. From the
arched roof of the same chapel hangs a little galley with all its
oars--modelled after the boat in which Don John of Austria fought
against the Turks. Below the organ, of Gothic construction and covered
with great pictorial tapestries, hangs a huge Saracen’s head with a
gaping mouth, from which, in the olden times, candies poured forth for
the children. In another chapel one may see a beautiful marble tomb, and
also some valuable paintings by Viladomat, a Barcelonian painter of the
seventeenth century.

The church is dark and mysterious. Beside it rises a cloister, supported
by grand pilasters, formed of delicate columns and surmounted by
richly-carved capitals depicting scenes from Bible history. In the
cloisters, in the church, in the square lying before it, in the narrow
streets running on either side, there broods a spirit of contemplative
peace which allures and at the same time saddens one like the gardens of
a cemetery. A group of horrid bearded old women guard the door.

After one has visited the cathedral there are no other great monuments
to be seen in the city. In the Square of the Constitution are two
palaces, called the House of the Deputation and the Consistorial, the
first built in the sixteenth, the other in the fourteenth, century.
These buildings still retain some old, noteworthy features--the one a
door, the other a court.

On one side of the House of the Deputation is the rich Gothic façade of
the Chapel of Saint George. Here is a palace of the Inquisition, with a
narrow court, windows with heavy iron bars, and secret passages, but it
has been almost entirely remodelled on the old plans. There are some
enormous Roman columns in the Street of Paradise, lost in the midst of
modern buildings, surrounded by tortuous staircases and gloomy chambers.

There is nothing else worth the attention of an artist. However, in
compensation there are fountains with rostral columns, pyramids,
statues, avenues lined with villas and gardens, and cafés and inns; a
circus for bull-fights that has a capacity of seating ten thousand
spectators; a town which covers a strip of land enclosing the harbor,
laid out with the symmetry of a chequer-board, and peopled by ten
thousand seamen; a number of libraries, a very rich museum of natural
history, and a repository of archives which contains a vast collection
of historical documents dating from the ninth century to our times,
which is to say from the first Courts of Catalonia to the War of

Of the objects outside of the city, the most remarkable is the cemetery,
about a half-hour’s ride distant from the gates, in the midst of an
extended plain. Seen from a point just outside of the entrance, it looks
like a garden, and one quickens one’s pace with a feeling of pleased
curiosity. But, once past the gate, one is confronted by a novel
spectacle, indescribable, and wholly different from one’s expectation.
One is in the midst of a silent city, traversed by long, deserted
streets, bordered by straight walls of equal height, which are bounded
in the distance by other walls. Advancing, one comes to an
intersection, and from that point sees other streets with other walls at
the end and other crossways. It is like being in Pompeii. The dead are
placed in the walls lengthwise, disposed in various orders, like the
books in a library. For every coffin there is a corresponding niche, in
which is inscribed the name of the dead. Where no one has been interred
there is the word _propriedad_, which indicates that the position has
been engaged. Most of the niches are enclosed in glass, some with iron
gratings, others, again, with very fine nettings of woven iron. They
contain a great variety of offerings placed there by the families in
memory of their dead; as, for instance, photographs, little altars,
pictures, embroidery, artificial flowers, and the little nothings that
were dear to them in life; ribbons, necklaces, toys of children, books,
brooches, miniatures--a thousand things which recall the home and the
family, and indicate the profession of those to whom they belonged; and
it is impossible to look upon them without compassion. Here and there
one sees a niche open and black within, a sign that a casket will be
placed there during the day. The family of the dead are obliged to pay
an annual sum for the space; when they fail to pay the casket is taken
from the place where it lies and is borne to the common trench of the
burialplace of the poor, which is reached by one of the streets. There
was an interment while I was there. From a distance I saw them place
the ladder and raise the casket, and I passed on. One night a madman hid
himself in one of the empty holes: a watchman passed with a lantern; the
madman gave a terrible cry, and the poor watchman fell to the ground as
though he had been struck by lightning, and it is said he never
recovered from the shock. In one niche I saw a beautiful tress of golden
hair, the hair of a girl who had been drowned in her fifteenth year, and
to it was fastened a card bearing the word _Querida_ (Beloved). At every
step one sees something which affects the mind and the heart. All those
offerings have the effect of a confused murmur, a blending of the voices
of mothers, husbands, children, and aged men, who whisper as one passes,
“Look! I am here!” At every crossway rise statues, mausoleums, shafts
bearing inscriptions in honor of the citizens of Barcelona who performed
deeds of charity during the scourge of yellow fever in 1821 and 1870.
This part of the cemetery, planned, as has been said, like a city,
belongs to the middle class of the people, and is bounded by two vast
enclosures--the one for the poor, bare and dotted with great black
crosses; the other, of an equal size, for the rich, cultivated like a
garden, surrounded by chapels various, rich, and magnificent.

In the midst of a forest of weeping willows and cypresses tower columns,
obelisks, and grand tombs on every side; marble chapels richly adorned
with sculpture, surmounted by bold statues of archangels raising their
arms toward heaven; pyramids, groups of statues, monuments as large as
houses, overtopping the highest trees; and between the monuments
grass-plots, railings, and flower-beds.

At the entrance, between this and the other cemetery, stands a
stupendous marble church, surrounded by pillars and partly hidden by
trees--a sight which amply prepares the mind for the magnificent
spectacle of the interior. On leaving this garden one again passes
through the lonely streets of this city of the dead, which seems even
more silent and sad than when one first entered it. On recrossing the
threshold one turns with pleasure to the many-colored houses of the
suburbs of Barcelona as they lie scattered over the plain, like the
advance-guard sent to announce that a populous city is expanding and

From the cemetery to the café is a great leap, but in travelling one
makes even greater ones. The cafés of Barcelona, like nearly all the
cafés in Spain, consists of one vast saloon, adorned with large mirrors,
and with as many tables as it is possible to crowd into the space. The
tables seldom remain vacant, even for half an hour, throughout the
entire day. In the evening they are all full to overflowing, so that one
is many times obliged to wait a good while even to find a seat by the
door. Around every table is a group of five or six _caballeros_ wearing
over their shoulders the _capa_, a mantle of dark cloth, provided with a
generous palmer’s hood and worn instead of our capeless cloak. In every
group they are playing dominoes. This is the most popular game among the
Spaniards. In the cafés from twilight to midnight one hears a loud,
continuous, discordant sound, like the rattling of hailstones, from the
turning and returning of thousands of dominoes by hundreds of hands, so
that one is obliged to raise one’s voice to be heard by one’s next
neighbor. The commonest beverage is the exquisite chocolate of Spain,
which is generally served in little cups, and is about as thick as
preserved juniper-berries and hot enough to scald one’s throat. One of
these cups, with a drop of milk and a peculiar cake of very delicate
flavor which they call _bollo_, makes a luncheon fit for Lucullus.
Between one _bollo_ and the next I made my studies of the Catalan
character, conversing with all the _Don Fulanos_ (a name as common in
Spain as _Tizio_ is with us) who had the good grace not to suspect me of
being a spy despatched from Madrid to sniff the air of Catalonia.

Their minds were greatly stirred by politics in those days, and it often
happened that as I was very innocently speaking of a newspaper article,
a prominent man, or of anything whatsoever, whether at the café or in a
shop or at the theatre, it happened, I say, that I felt the touch of a
toe and heard a whisper at my ear, “Take care! That gentleman on your
right is a Carlist.”--“Hush! This man is a Republican.”--“That one over
there, a Sagastino.”--“The man beside you is a Radical.”--“Yonder is a

Everybody was talking politics. I encountered a rabid Carlist in the
person of a barber, who, learning by my pronunciation that I was a
compatriot of the king, tried his best to drag me into a discussion. I
did not say a word, for he was shaving me, and the resentment of my
wounded patriotism might have led to the drawing of the first blood in
the civil war. But the barber persisted, and, as he did not know how
else to come to the point, he finally said in suave tones,

“You understand, _caballero_, if a war were to break out between Italy
and Spain, Spain would not be afraid.”

“I am fully persuaded of the fact,” I replied, with my eye on the razor.

He then assured me that France would declare war against Italy as soon
as she had paid Germany off: “There is no escape.”

I did not reply. He stood a moment in thought, and then said

“There will be great doings in a little while.”

Nevertheless, it gratified the Barcelonians that the king made his
appearance among them with an air of confidence and tranquillity, and
the mass of the people recall his entrance into the city with

I found sympathizers with the king even among some who hissed through
their closed teeth, “He is not a Spaniard,” or, as one of them put it,
“How would they like a Castilian king at Rome or Paris?” A question to
which one replies, “I don’t know much about politics,” and the
conversation is ended.

But the Carlists are the truly implacable party. They say scurrilous
things about our revolution in the best of good faith, the greater part
of them being convinced that the Pope is the true king of Italy--that
Italy wants him, and has submitted to the sword of Victor Emanuel
because she could not do otherwise, but that she is only watching for a
proper occasion to strike for liberty, as the Bourbons and others have

And I am able to offer in evidence of this the following anecdote, which
I repeat as I heard it narrated, without the least shadow of an
intention to wound the person who played the principal part of it: Upon
one occasion a young Italian, whom I know intimately, was presented to
one of the most talented women of the city, who received him with marked
courtesy. A number of Italians were present during the conversation. The
lady spoke very sympathetically of Italy, thanked the young man for the
enthusiasm which he had expressed for Spain, sustained, in a word, an
animated and pleasing conversation with her responsive guest almost all
of the evening. Suddenly she asked:

“In which city will you reside upon your return to Italy?”

“In Rome,” replied the young man.

“To defend the Pope?” asked the lady with perfect sincerity.

The young man looked at her and answered with an ingenuous smile,

“No, indeed!”

That _no_ provoked a tempest. The lady, forgetting that the young man
was an Italian and her guest, broke out into such a fury of invective
against King Victor, the Piedmontese government, and Italy from the time
the army entered Rome to the War of the Marches and Umbria that the
ill-fated stranger turned as white as a sheet with her scolding. But he
controlled himself and did not say a word, allowing the other Italians,
who were friends of long standing, to defend the honor of their country.
The discussion was continued to some length, and finally brought to a
close. The lady found that she had allowed herself to be carried too
far, and showed that she regretted her action; but it was very evident
from her words that she, and doubtless a great many others, were
convinced that the unification of Italy had been accomplished against
the will of the Italian people by Piedmont, the king, the greed of
power, and the hatred of religion.

The common people, however, are republican, and, as they have the
reputation of being quicker of action than those who talk more, they are

In Spain, whenever they wish to circulate a report of an approaching
revolution, they always begin by saying that it will break out in
Barcelona, or that it is on the point of breaking out, or has broken

The Catalans do not wish to be thought of as on a common footing with
the Spaniards of the other provinces. “We are Spaniards,” they say,
“but, be it understood, of Catalonia--a people, to be brief, that labor
and think; a people to whose ears the din of machinery is more pleasant
than the music of the guitar. We do not envy Andalusia her romance, the
praises of her poets, nor the paintings of her artists; we are content
to be the most serious and industrious people of Spain.” In fact, they
speak of their brothers of the South as at one time, though seldom now,
the Piedmontese used to speak of the Neapolitans and the Tuscans: “Yes,
they have genius, imagination, sweet speech, and amusement; but we, on
the contrary, have greater force of will, greater aptitude for science,
better popular education, ... and moreover, ... character....” I met a
Catalonian, a gentleman distinguished for his ability and learning, who
lamented that the War of Independence had too closely affiliated the
different provinces of Spain, whence it resulted that the Catalonians
had contracted some of the bad habits of the Southerners, while the
latter had acquired none of the good qualities of the Catalans. “We have
become _mas ligeros de casco_” (lighter of head), he said, and he would
not be comforted.

A merchant of whom I asked what he thought of the Castilian character
answered brusquely that in his opinion it would be a fortunate thing for
Catalonia if there were no railroad between Barcelona and Madrid,
because commerce with that race corrupted the character and the customs
of the Catalan people. When they speak of a long-winded deputy, they
say, “Oh yes, he is an Andalusian.”

They ridicule the poetic language of the Andalusians, their soft
pronunciation, their childish gaiety, their vanity and effeminacy.

The Andalusians, on the contrary, speak of the Catalans much as an
æsthetic young lady of literary and artistic tastes would speak of one
of those domestic girls who prefer the cook-book to the romances of
George Sand.

“They are a rude people,” they say, “who have a capacity only for
arithmetic and mechanics; barbarians who would convert a statue of
Montaigne into an olive-press, and one of Murillo’s canvases into a
tarpaulin--the veritable Bœotians of Spain, insupportable with their
jargon, their surliness, and their pedantic gravity.”

In reality, Catalonia is probably the province of least importance in
the history of the fine arts. The only poet who was born in
Barcelona--and he was not great, but only illustrious--was Juan Boscan,
who flourished at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and introduced
into Spanish letters the hendecasyllabic verse, the ballad, the sonnet,
and all the forms of Italian lyric poetry, for which he had a passionate
admiration. Whence arose this great transformation, as it afterward
became, in the entire literature of a people? From the fact that Boscan
took up his residence at Granada at the time when the court of Charles
V. was held there, and that he there met an ambassador from the republic
of Venice, Andrea Navagero, who knew the poems of Petrarch by heart, and
recited them to Boscan, and said to him, “It seems to me that you too
could write such verses; try it!”

Boscan tried: all the literature of Spain cried out against him. Italian
poetry was not sonorous; Petrarch’s poems were insipid and effeminate;
and Spain did not need to harness her Pegasus in the traces of any other
land. But Boscan was unyielding. Garcilasso de la Vega, the chivalrous
cavalier, his friend--he who received the glorious title of Malherbe of
Spain--followed his example. The band of reformers grew little by
little, until it became an army and conquered and dominated all
literature. The consummation of the movement was reached in Garcilasso,
but to Boscan remains the merit of giving it the first impulse, and
hence to Barcelona belongs the honor of having given to Spain the
genius who transformed her literature.

During the few days I remained at Barcelona I was accustomed to spend
the evening in company with some young Catalans, walking on the
sea-shore in the moonlight until late at night. They all knew a little
Italian, and were very fond of our poetry, so from hour to hour we did
nothing but repeat verses--they from Zorilla, Espronceda, and Lope de
Vega; I from Foscolo, Berchet, and Manzoni--alternating in a sort of
rivalry to see who could repeat the most beautiful selection.

It is a novel sensation, that of repeating the verses of one’s native
poets in a foreign country.

When I saw my Spanish friends all intent on the story of the battle of
Maclodio, and then little by little becoming excited, and finally so
inflamed that they grasped me by the arm and exclaimed, with a Castilian
accent which rendered their words doubly grateful, “Beautiful! sublime!”
then I felt my blood surge through my veins; I trembled, and if it had
been light I believe they would have seen me turn as white as a sheet.
They repeated to me verses in the Catalan language. I use the word
“language” because it has a history and a literature of its own, and was
not relegated to the condition of a dialect until the political
predominance was assumed by Castile, who imposed her idiom as
authoritative upon the rest of the provinces. And although it is a
harsh language, made up of short words, and unpleasant at first even to
one who has not a delicate ear, it has none the less some conspicuous
advantages, and of these the popular poets have availed themselves with
admirable skill, particularly in expressing the sense by the sound. A
poem which they recited, the first lines of which imitated the rumbling
of a railway-train, drew from me an exclamation of wonder. But, even
though one may know the Spanish language, Catalan is not intelligible
without explanation. The people talk rapidly, with closed teeth, without
supplementing their speech by gestures, so that it is difficult to get
the sense of the simplest sentence, and it is a great thing to catch a
few occasional words. However, the common people can speak Castilian
when it is convenient, but they do so utterly without grace, although
much better than the common people of the northern Italian provinces
speak Italian. Even the cultivated classes of Catalonia are not
proficient in the national speech.

The Castilian first recognizes the Catalan by his pronunciation, to say
nothing of his voice, but particularly by his uncouth expressions. Hence
a foreigner who comes to Spain with an illusion that he can speak the
language may easily be able to cherish the illusion so long as he
remains in Catalonia, but as soon as he enters Castile and hears for the
first time that crossfire of epigrams, that profusion of proverbs, the
apt expressions, the clear and happy idioms, he stands aghast like
Alfieri in the presence of Dame Vocabulary when they were discussing
hosiery; and then farewell illusion!

On my last night I visited the Lyceum Theatre, which is said to be the
most beautiful in Europe, and probably the largest. It was crowded with
people from the pit to the highest gallery, and could not have
accommodated a hundred more persons. From the box in which I sat the
ladies on the opposite side looked no larger than children, and on half
closing one’s eyes they appeared like so many white lines, one for each
row of boxes, tremulous and sparkling like an immense garland of
camellias impearled with dew and swayed by the breeze.

The vast boxes are divided by partitions which slope down from the wall
to the front of the box, so enabling one to have a good view of the
persons seated on the front row; consequently, the theatre looks like a
great gallery, and so acquires an air of lightness which makes it very
beautiful to look upon. All is in relief; all is open to the view; the
light strikes every part; every one sees every one else; the aisles are
wide, and one may come and go, turn with ease in any direction, look at
a lady from a thousand points of view, pass from the gallery to the
boxes and from the boxes to the gallery,--one may walk about, talk, and
wander here and there all the evening without striking elbows with a
living soul. The other parts of the building are in proportion to the
principal room--corridors, staircases, lobbies, vestibules like those of
a great palace. Then there is an immense, splendid ball-room in which
one could place another theatre. Yet even here, where the good
Barcelonians, after the fatigue of the day, should think of nothing but
recreation or the contemplation of their beautiful, superb women,--even
here the good Barcelonians buy and sell, bargain and chaffer, like souls
condemned to torment.

In this corridor there is a continual passing of bank-runners,
office-clerks, and messenger-boys, and the constant hum of the
market-place. Barbarians! How many beautiful faces, how many noble eyes,
how many splendid heads of dark hair in that crowd of ladies! In ancient
times the young Catalan lovers, to win the heart of their ladies, bound
themselves to fraternities of flagellants and beat themselves with whips
of iron beneath the windows of their loves until the blood burst from
the skin; and the ladies cheered them on, crying, “Lash thyself still
harder, so; now I love thee, I am thine!” How many times did I exclaim
that night, “Gentlemen, for pity’s sake give me a whip of iron!”

The next morning before sunrise I was on my way to Saragossa, and, to
tell the truth, not without a feeling of sadness at leaving Barcelona,
although I had been there only a few days. This city, although it is
anything but the flower of the beautiful cities of the world, as
Cervantes called it,--this city of commerce and warehouses, spurned by
poets and artists--pleased me, and its hurried, busy people inspired me
with respect. And then it is always sad to depart from a city, however
unfamiliar, with the certainty of never seeing it again. It is like
saying good-bye for ever to a travelling companion with whom one has
passed twenty-four happy hours: he is not a friend, but one seems to
love him as a friend, and will remember him all one’s life with a
feeling of affection more real than that one holds toward many who are
called by the name of friends.

As I turned to look once again at the city from the window of the
railway-carriage, the words of Alvaro Tarfe in _Don Quixote_ came to my
lips: “Adieu, Barcelona, the home of courtesy, the haven of wanderers,
the fatherland of the brave! Adieu!” And I continued sadly: “Lo, the
first leaf is torn from the rosy book of travel! So all things pass.
Another city, then another, then another, and then--I shall return, and
the journey will seem like a dream, and it will seem as though I had not
even stirred from home; and then another journey--new cities and other
sad partings, and again a memory vague as a dream; and then?” Alas for
that traveller who harbors thoughts like these! Look at the sky and at
the fields, repeat poetry, and--smoke. _Adios, Barcelona, archivio de la


A few miles from Barcelona one comes in sight of the serrated crags of
the famous Montserrat, a peculiar mountain which at first sight raises a
suspicion of an optical illusion, so hard is it to believe that Nature
could ever have yielded to so strange a caprice. Imagine a succession of
little triangles connected with each other, like those which children
use to represent a chain of mountains, or a crown with a pointed
circlet, stretched out like the teeth of a saw or a great many
sugar-loaves ranged in a row, and you have an idea of the distant
appearance of Montserrat. It is a group of immense cones which rise side
by side one behind another, or rather one great mountain formed of a
hundred mountains, cleft from the summit to a distance almost one-third
of its height in such a manner that it presents two grand peaks, around
which cluster the lesser ones. The highest altitudes arid and
inaccessible; the lower slopes mantled with pine, oak, arbutus, and
juniper, broken here and there by measureless caverns and fearful
precipices, and dotted by white hermitages, which stand out in bold
relief against the aërial crags and the deep gorges. In the cleft of
the mountain, between the two principal peaks, rises the ancient
monastery of the Benedictines, where Ignatius Loyola meditated in his
youth. Fifty thousand pilgrims and sight-seers annually visit the
monastery and the caves, and on the eighth of September a festival is
held which brings together an innumerable throng from every part of

Shortly before we arrived at the station where one gets off of the train
to ascend the mountain, a group of school-boys from an academy of some
unknown village rushed into the railway-carriage. They were making an
excursion to the monastery of Montserrat, and a priest accompanied them.
They were Catalans--with fair, ruddy faces and large eyes; each one
carried a basket containing bread and fruit; one had a scrap-book,
another a field-glass. They all laughed and talked at once, rollicked
about on the seats, and filled the car with infinite merriment. But,
although I strained my ears and racked my brain, I could not understand
a word of the miserable jargon in which they were chattering. I entered
into conversation with the priest.

“Look, sir,” said he after the preliminary sentences, as he pointed out
one of the boys: “he knows all the Odes of Horace by heart; the way in
which that other boy can solve problems in arithmetic would astonish
you; this one here is a born philosopher;” and so he described to me the
gifts of each.

Suddenly he interrupted himself to shout “_Beretina!_” (Caps). The boys
all drew their red Catalonian caps from their pockets, and with cries of
delight proceeded to put them on, some slipping them back so that they
fell over their necks, the others pulling them forward until they
dangled in front of their noses. The priest made a gesture of
disapproval, and at once those who had their caps pushed back pulled
them over their noses, and those who had them pulled forward pushed them
back over their necks, with laughter and shouts and clapping of the

I approached one of the most roguish of the boys, and, merely for the
fun of it, knowing that I might as well have talked to a wall, I asked
in Italian, “Is this the first time you have made the journey to

The boy thought for a moment, and then answered very slowly,

“Ah! my dear boy!” I cried with a feeling of satisfaction hard to
imagine, “and where have you learned Italian?”

The priest here put in a word to say that the boy’s father had lived
several years at Naples. Just as I was turning toward my little Catalan
to continue the conversation my words were cut short by a miserable
whistle, and then the wretched cry of “_Olesa!_” the village at the foot
of the mountain. The priest bade me good-bye, the boys tumbled out of
the car, the train was off again.

I put my head out of the window and shouted to my little friend, “_Buona
passeggiata!_” (A pleasant walk), and he shouted back, emphasizing each
syllable, “A-di-o!” Some may laugh at the thought of mentioning these
trifles; nevertheless, they are the liveliest pleasures of the
traveller’s experience.

The towns and villages which one sees in crossing Catalonia toward
Arragon are almost all populous and flourishing, surrounded by
workshops, factories, and buildings in course of construction, from
which in every direction one sees thick columns of smoke rising here and
there among the trees, and at every station there is great running
hither and thither of peasants and merchants. The country is a pleasing
succession of cultivated fields, gentle hills, and picturesque valleys
until one comes to the village of Cervera.

Here one begins to see great stretches of arid land with a few scattered
houses, which announce the proximity of Arragon. But then, unexpectedly,
one enters a smiling valley clothed with olive-groves, vineyards,
mulberry trees, orchards, and dotted with towns and villas. One sees on
the one side the lofty summits of the Pyrenees, on the other the
mountains of Arragon--Lerida, the glorious city of ten sieges, along the
bank of the Segre, on the slope of a beautiful hill; and all about a
luxuriance of vegetation, a variety of scenery--a glorious feast to the
eye. It is the last view of Catalonia; in a few minutes one enters

Arragon! What vague memories of wars, of bandits, queens, poets, heroes,
and storied lovers dwell in the echo of that sonorous name! And what a
profound feeling of sympathy and respect! The old, noble, haughty
Arragon, from whose brow flash the splendid rays of the glory of Spain!
upon whose ancestral shields is written in characters of blood, “Liberty
and valor!” When the world bent beneath the yoke of the tyrants the
people of Arragon said to their king, through the mouth of their
chief-justice, “We, who are as great as thou, and more potent, have
chosen thee for our lord and king on thy agreement to obey our commands
and conserve our liberties; and not otherwise.”

And the king knelt before the might of the magistrate of the people and
took his oath on this sacred formula.

In the midst of the barbarity of the Middle Ages the fiery race of
Arragon recked not of torture; the secret trial was banished from their
code; all their institutions protected the liberty of the citizen and
law held absolute sway. Discontented with their narrow mountain-home,
they descended from Sobrarbe to Huesca, from Huesca to Saragossa, and as
conquerors entered the Mediterranean. Joining with brave Catalonia,
they redeemed the Balearic Isles and Valencia from Moorish dominion;
fought Murat for their outraged rights and violated consciences; tamed
the adventurers of the house of Anjou and spoiled them of their Italian
lands; broke the chains of the port of Marseilles, which still hang on
the walls of their temples; with the ships of Roger di Lauria ruled the
seas from the Gulf of Taranto to the mouth of the Guadalquivir; subdued
the Bosphorus with the ships of Roger de Flor; swept the Mediterranean
from Rosas to Catania on the wings of victory; and, as though the West
was too narrow for their ambition, they dared to carve upon the brow of
Olympus, the stones of the Piræus, and the proud mountains which form
the gates of Asia the immortal name of their fatherland.

These were my thoughts on entering Arragon, although I did not express
them in these very words, for I did not then have before me a certain
little book by Emilio Castelar. The first sight upon which my eyes
rested was the little village of Monzon lying along the stream of Cinca,
noted for the famous assemblies of the courts and for the alternate
attacks and defences of Spanish and French--the common fate of almost
all the villages of the province during the War of Independence. Monzon
lies outstretched at the foot of a formidable mountain upon whose side
rises a castle as black, sinister, and appalling as the grimmest of the
feudal lords could have planned to condemn the most detested of
villages to a life of fear. Even the guide pauses before this monstrous
edifice and breaks forth in a timid exclamation of astonishment. There
is not, I believe, in Spain another village, another mountain, another
castle which better represents the fearful submission of an oppressed
people and the perpetual menace of a cruel ruler. A giant pressing his
knee on the breast of a mere child whom he has thrown to the
ground,--this is but a poor simile to give an idea of it; and such was
the impression it made upon me that, although I do not know how to hold
the pencil in my hand, I tried to sketch the landscape as best I could,
so that it might not fade from my memory. And while I was making
scratches I composed the first stanza of a gloomy ballad.

After Monzon the country of Arragon is merely a vast plain, bounded in
the distance by long chains of reddish hills, with a few wretched
villages, and some solitary eminences upon which rise the blackened
ruins of ancient castles. Arragon, so flourishing under her kings, is
now one of the poorest provinces of Spain. Only on the banks of the Ebro
and along the famous canal which extends for forty miles from Tudela as
far as Saragossa, serving at the same time to irrigate the fields and to
transport merchandise,--only here does commerce thrive. Elsewhere it
languishes or is dead.

The railway-stations are deserted; when the train stops one hears no
other sound save the voice of some old troubadour who strums his guitar
and chants a monotonous ditty, which one hears again at all the other
stations, and afterward in the cities of Arragon: the words varied, but
eternally the same tune. As there was nothing to be seen out of the
window, I turned to my travelling companions.

The car was well filled: we were about forty in number, counting men and
women, and as the second-class carriages in Spain do not have
compartments, we could all see each other--priests, nuns, boys,
servants, and other persons who might have been business-men or
officials or secret emisaries of Don Carlos. The priests smoked their
cigarettes, as the custom is in Spain, amicably offering their
tobacco-pouches and rolling paper to those beside them. The others ate
with all their might, passing from one to another a sort of bladder,
which when pressed with both hands sent out a spurt of wine. Others were
reading the newspaper, wrinkling their brows now and then with an air of
profound meditation.

A Spaniard will not put a piece of orange, a bit of cheese, or a
mouthful of bread into his mouth in the presence of others before he has
asked every one to eat with him; and so I saw fruit, bread, sardines,
and cups of wine pass under my nose, everything accompanied with a
polite “_Gusta usted comer, commigo?_” (Will you eat with me, sir?) To
which I replied, “_Gracias_” (No, thank you), though it went against the
grain to do so, for I was as hungry as Ugolino. Opposite to me, with her
feet almost touching mine, sat a young nun, if one were to judge of her
age by her chin, which was all of her face visible below her veil, and
by her hand, which lay carelessly on her knee. I looked at her closely
for more than an hour, hoping that she would raise her face, but she
remained motionless as a statue, although from her attitude it was easy
to see that she was obliged to resist the natural curiosity to look
around her; and for this reason she finally won my admiration. What
constancy! I thought; what strength of will! What a power of sacrifice
even in these trifling matters! What a noble contempt for human vanity!
As I was engaged with these thoughts I happened to glance at her hand;
it was a small, white hand, and it seemed to me to be moving. I watched
it more intently, and saw it escape very slowly out of the sleeve,
extend the fingers, and rest on the knee, so that for a moment it hung
gracefully down; then it turned a little to one side, was drawn back,
and again extended. Oh, ye gods! anything but contempt of human vanity!

I could not have been mistaken; she had gone to all that trouble merely
to display her little hand, yet she did not once raise her head all the
time she remained in the car, nor did she even allow her face to be
seen when she got out. Oh, the inscrutable depths of the feminine mind!

It was ordained that I should make no other friends than priests during
the journey. An old father with a benevolent expression spoke to me, and
we commenced a conversation which lasted almost to Saragossa. At first,
when I said I was an Italian, he became a little suspicious, thinking
perhaps that I had been one of those who had broken the bolts of the
Quirinal, but when I told him that I did not busy myself about politics
he was reassured and talked with perfect freedom. We chanced upon
literature. I repeated to him the whole of Manzoni’s Pentecoste, which
delighted him, and he recited for me a poem of the celebrated Luis de
Leon, a sacred poet of the sixteenth century, and we were friends. When
we came to Zuera, the last station before arriving at Saragossa, he
arose, bade me good-bye, and with his foot on the step he turned quickly
and whispered in my ear, “Beware of the women; they bring evil
consequences in Spain.” When he alighted he stood to watch the train
start, and, raising his hand with a gesture of fatherly admonition, he
said a second time, “Beware!”

It was late at night when I reached Saragossa, and as I left the train
my ear suddenly became aware of the peculiar cadence with which the
hackmen, the porters, and the boys were speaking as they quarrelled over
my baggage. In Arragon even the most insignificant people can speak
Castilian, although with some mutilation and harshness; but your pure
Castilian can recognize the Arragonese before he has spoken half a word;
and, in fact, the Andalusians can imitate their accent, and do so
occasionally in derision of its roughness and monotony, as the Tuscans
used sometimes to mock the speech of Lucca.

I entered the city with a certain feeling of reverent fear. The terrible
fame of Saragossa oppressed me; my conscience almost upbraided me for
having so often profaned its name in the school of rhetoric, when I
hurled it as a challenge in the face of tyrants. The streets were dark;
I saw only the black outline of the roofs and steeples against the
starlight sky: I heard only the rumble of the coaches as they rolled
away. At certain turns I seemed to see daggers and gun-barrels gleaming
at the windows and to hear far off the cries of the wounded. I do not
know what I should have given if I could have hastened the daybreak, and
so have gratified that eager curiosity which was stirring within me to
visit one by one those streets, those squares, those houses, famous for
desperate conflicts and horrible slaughter, painted by so many artists,
sung by so many poets, and so often in my dreams before I departed from
Italy, that I used to murmur with delight, “I shall one day see them.”
Arrived finally at my hotel, I looked at the porter who conducted me to
my room with an amiable smile, as though I would have said, “Spare me!
I am not an invader!” And with a glance at a large painting of Amadeus
hanging at an angle of the corridor--a great reassurance to Italian
travellers--I went to bed as sleepy as any of my readers.

At daybreak I hurried from the hotel. Neither shops, doors, nor windows
were yet open, but hardly had I taken a step in the street before an
exclamation of surprise escaped me, for there passed me a party of men
so strangely dressed that at first sight I believed them to be
masqueraders. Then I thought, “No, they are the silent characters of
some theatre;” and then, again, “No, they are madmen, beyond a doubt.”

Imagine them: for a cap they wore a red handkerchief bound about the
head like a padded ring, from which their dishevelled hair stuck out
above and below; a blanket, striped blue and white, worn like a mantle,
and falling almost to the ground in ample folds, like the Roman toga; a
wide blue sash around the waist; short breeches of black corduroy
gathered in tight at the knee; white stockings; a sort of sandal laced
over the instep with black ribbons; and yet bearing with all this
picturesque variety of vesture the evident impress of poverty, but with
this evident poverty a manner not only theatrical, but proud and
majestic, as shown in their carriage and gestures--the air of ruined
grandees of Spain; so that one was in doubt, on seeing them, whether to
laugh or to pity, whether to put one’s hand in one’s pocket and give
them an alms or to raise one’s hat as a mark of respect. But they were
simply peasants from the country around Saragossa, and this which I have
described was only one of a thousand varieties of the same manner of
dress. As I passed along at every step I saw a new costume. Some were
dressed in ancient, others in modern, style; some with elegance, others
simply; some in holiday attire, others with extreme plainness; but every
one wore the scarf, the handkerchief about the head, the white
stockings, the cravat and parti-colored waistcoat.

The women wore crinolines with short skirts, which showed their ankles
and made their hips seem ridiculously high. Even the boys wore the
flowing mantle and the handkerchief around the head, and posed in
dramatic attitudes like the men.

The first square I entered was full of these people, who were sitting in
groups on the doorsteps or lying about in the angles formed by the
houses, some playing the guitar, others singing, many going about
begging in patched and tattered garments, but with a high head and fiery
eye. They seemed like people who had just come from a tableau in which
together they had represented a savage tribe from some unknown country.

Gradually the shops and houses were opened and the people of Saragossa
began to fill the streets. The citizens do not appear different from us
in dress, but there is something peculiar in their faces. They unite
the serious expression of the Catalans with the alert air of the
Castilians, and then add a fierceness of expression which belongs
entirely to the blood of Arragon.

The streets of Saragossa are severe, almost depressing, in appearance,
as I had imagined they would be before I saw them. Excepting the Coso, a
wide street which runs through a large part of the city, describing a
grand semicircular curve--the Corso famous in ancient times for the
chariot-races, jousts, and tourneys which were celebrated in it at the
times of the public feasts,--excepting this beautiful and cheerful
street and a few streets which have recently been rebuilt like those of
a French city, the rest are tortuous and narrow, flanked by tall houses,
dark in color and with few windows, reminding one of ancient fortresses.
These are the streets which bear an impress and which have a character,
or, as another has said, a physiognomy, of their own--streets which once
seen can never be forgotten. Throughout one’s life at the mention of
Saragossa one will see those walls, those doors, those windows as one
saw them before. At this moment I see the court of the New Tower, and
could draw it house by house, and paint each one with its own color; and
so vividly does the picture live in my imagination that I seem to
breathe that air again, and to repeat the words which I then spoke:

[Illustration: _Street in Saragossa_]

square is tremendous!” Why? I do not know: it may have been an illusion
of mine. It is with cities as with faces--each one reads them in his own

The streets and squares of Saragossa impressed me thus, and at every
turn I said, “This place seems to have been made for a combat,” and I
looked around as though something was needed to complete the scene--a
barricade, the loopholes, and the guns. I felt again all the profound
emotions which the account of that horrible siege had produced upon me:
I saw the Saragossa of 1809, and hurried from street to street with
increasing curiosity to find the traces of that gigantic struggle at
which the world trembled. Here, I thought, indicating to myself the
place, passed the division of Grandjean, there perhaps Musnier’s command
sallied forth; at this point the troops of Morlot rushed into the fight;
at that angle before me the light infantry of the Vistula made their
charge; still farther round occurred the attack of the Polish infantry;
yonder three hundred Spaniards were cut down; at this spot burst the
great mine which blew a company of the Valencian regiment to atoms; in
this corner fell General Lacoste, his forehead pierced by a bullet.

There lie the famous streets of Santa Engracia, Santa Monica, and San
Augustine, through which the French advanced toward the Coso from house
to house with a blasting of mines and counter-mines, through crumbling
walls and smoking beams, under a tempest of bullets, grape-shot, and

There are the narrow ways, the little courts, the dark alleys, where
they fought those horrid battles, hand to hand, with bayonet and dagger,
with scythes and their very teeth; their houses barricaded and defended
room by room, in the midst of fire and ruin, the narrow stairways which
ran with blood, the gloomy halls which echoed to cries of pain and
despair, which were covered with mutilated corpses, which saw all the
horrors of pestilence, famine, and death.

As I was walking from street to street I came out in front of the
cathedral of Our Lady of the Pillar, the terrible Madonna to whom came
the squalid rout of soldiers, citizens, and women to plead for
protection and courage before they went to die on the ramparts. The
people of Saragossa still persevere in their ancient fanaticism in
regard to it, and venerate it with a peculiar sentiment of love and
fear, which still lives in the minds of persons who are strangers to all
other religious feelings. Nevertheless, from the moment you enter the
court and raise your eyes toward the church to the moment you turn on
leaving it to take a farewell look, be careful not to smile or make any
careless gesture which might possibly seem irreverent; for there are
those who see you, who watch you, and who will on occasion follow you,
and if faith is dead within you, prepare your mind, before you cross
the sacred threshold, for a confused reawakening of those childish
terrors which few churches in the world have such power to revive even
in the coldest and most callous of hearts.

The first stone of Our Lady of the Pillar was laid in the year 1686, in
a place where stood a chapel erected by St. James to receive the
miraculous image of the Virgin, which still remains. It is an immense
edifice, with a rectangular base, surmounted by eleven domes painted in
different colors, giving the whole a pleasing Moorish effect. The walls
are unadorned and dark in color. Let us enter. It is a vast cathedral,
dark, bare, and cold, divided into three naves, encircled by modest
chapels. One’s eye turns quickly to the sanctuary which rises in the
middle: there stands the statue of the Virgin. It is a temple within a
temple, and might stand alone in the middle of the square if the
building which surrounds it were torn away. A circle of beautiful marble
columns, arranged in the form of an ellipse, bear up a dome richly
adorned with sculpture, open at the top, and ornamented within the
opening by aspiring figures of angels and saints. In the centre stands
the great altar; on its right the statue of St. James; on the left, far
back under a silver canopy which gleams against a background of a
richly-draped velvet curtain sown with stars, amid the flashing of
thousands of costly offerings, in the glare of innumerable lights, the
famous statue of the Virgin, where St. James placed it nineteen
centuries ago, carved in wood, black with age, all enveloped in a
bishop’s gown, excepting its head and the head of the Christ child. In
front of it, between the columns grouped around the sanctuary and in the
far recesses of the naves, in every place from which one can see the
venerated image, kneel faithful worshippers, prostrate, their heads
almost touching the pavement, their hands clasping the crucifix--poor
women, laboring-men, ladies, soldiers, boys, and girls--and through the
different doorways of the cathedral passes a continuous stream of
people, walking slowly on tiptoe, with solemn faces; and in that deep
silence not a murmur, not a rustle, not a sigh; the very life of the
crowd seems suspended: it seems as though they were all expecting a
divine apparition, a mysterious voice, some awful revelation from the
dim sanctuary; and even one who does not have their faith, and who does
not pray, is forced to gaze himself at that point where all eyes are
turned, and the current of his thoughts is interrupted by a sort of
restless expectation.

“Oh, would that some voice would speak!” I thought. “Would that the
apparition would appear! Would that there might be a word or a sigh
which would turn my hair white with fear and make me utter a cry the
like of which was never heard on earth, if so I might for ever be
delivered from that horrible doubt which saps my brain and saddens my

I tried to enter the sanctuary, but I could not have done so without
passing over the shoulders of a hundred worshippers, some of whom had
already begun to look surly because I was going around with a note-book
and pencil in my hand. I attempted to go down into the subterranean
crypt where are the tombs of the archbishops and the urn which holds the
heart of John II. of Austria, the natural son of Philip IV., but this I
was not allowed to do. I asked to see the vestments, the gold, the
jewels, which had been poured out at the feet of the Virgin by the
lords, the rulers, and the monarchs of every age and every land, but I
was told that it was not the proper time, and not even by showing a
shiny peseta was I able to corrupt the honest sacristan. But I was not
refused some information concerning the worship of the Virgin after I
had told him, to win favor in his eyes, that I was born in Rome in the
Borgo Pio, and that from the little terrace in front of my home I could
see the windows of the Pope’s apartments.

“It is a fact,” said he, “almost a miracle--and one would not believe it
if it were not attested by tradition--that at the very early time when
the statue of the Virgin was placed on its pedestal, even down to the
days in which we are living, except in the night when the cathedral is
closed, the sanctuary has never been empty a moment--not even a moment,
in the full sense of the word. Our Lady of the Pillar has never been
alone. In the pedestal there has been a hollow worn by kisses in
which I could put my head. Not even the Moors dared to forbid the
worship of Our Lady; the chapel of St. James was always respected.
The cathedral has been struck by lightning many times, and the
sanctuary too, even on theinside, right in the midst of a crowd of people.
Well! the souls of the lost may deny the protection of the Virgin, but
no--one--has--ever--been--struck! And the bombs of the French? They have
burned and ruined other buildings, but when they fell on the cathedral
of Our Lady it was as though they had fallen on the rocks of the Sierra
Morena. And the French, who pillaged on every hand, did they have the
heart to touch the treasures of Our Lady? One general only allowed
himself to take some trifling thing to give to his wife, offering a rich
gift to the Virgin in compensation, but do you know what followed? In
the next battle a cannon-ball carried away one of his legs. There is not
a trace of a general or a king who has imposed on Our Lady, and moreover
it is written up above that this church will stand to the end of the
world.” And he ran on in this vein until a priest made a mysterious sign
from a dark corner of the sacristy, and he at once bowed and

As I came out of the cathedral, with my mind occupied with a picture of
the solemn sanctuary, I met a long procession of Carnival chariots, led
by a band of music, accompanied by a crowd, followed by a great number
of carriages, on their way to the Coso. I do not ever remember to have
seen faces so grotesque, ridiculous, and preposterous as those worn by
the maskers, and, although I was alone and not at all disposed to
merriment, I could no more have kept from laughing than I could have
done at the close of one of Fucini’s sonnets. The crowd, on the other
hand, was decorous and silent and the maskers were as grave as possible.
One would have said that both parties were more impressed by the
melancholy presentiment of Lent than by the short-lived gaiety of the
Carnival. I saw some pretty little faces at the windows, but as yet no
type of that proverbial Spanish beauty, of the rich dark complexion, and
the _fiery black eyes_ which Martinez de la Rosa, an exile in London,
remembered with such passionate sighs among the beauties of the North. I
passed between two carriages, pushed my way out of the crowd, thereby
drawing down some curses which I promptly entered in my note-book, and
turned at random down two or three narrow little streets. I came out at
the square of San Salvador in front of the cathedral of the same name,
which is also called the Seo--a richer and more splendid edifice than
that of Our Lady of the Pillar.

Neither the Græco-Roman façade, although majestic in its proportions,
nor the high, light tower, is a preparation for the grand spectacle of
the interior. On entering I found myself surrounded by gloomy shadows.
For an instant my eyes could not discover the outlines of the building.
I saw only a shimmer of broken light resting here and there on column
and arch. Then slowly I distinguished five naves, divided by four orders
of Gothic pilasters, the walls far in the distance, and the long series
of lateral chapels, and I was overwhelmed by the sight. It was the first
interior which corresponded with the image I had formed of the Spanish
cathedrals, so varied, magnificent, and rich. The principal chapel,
surrounded by a great Gothic dome in the form of a tiara, alone contains
the riches of a great church. The large altar is of alabaster covered
with rosettes, scrolls, and arabesques; the vaulted roof is adorned with
statues; on the right and left are tombs and urns of princes; in an
angle stands the chair in which the kings of Arragon sat at their
coronation. The choir rising in the middle of the great nave is a
mountain of treasures. Its exterior, broken by some passages leading to
little chapels, presents an incredible variety of statuettes, little
columns, bas-reliefs, friezes, and mosaics, and one would have to look
all day to see it thoroughly. The pilasters of the two outer naves and
the arches which span the chapels are richly adorned from the base to
the capital with statues--some so enormous that they seem to be raising
the edifice on their shoulders--with pictures, sculpture, and ornament
of every style and of every size. In the chapels there is a wealth of
statues, rich altars, royal tombs, busts, and paintings, which are so
shrouded by the deep gloom that they appear only as a confused mass of
colors, reflections, and shadowy forms, among which the eye loses itself
and the imagination faints. After much running hither and thither, with
my note-book open and pencil in hand, noting this and sketching that,
with my brain in a whirl, I tore out the chequered leaves, and,
promising myself that I would not write another word, I left the
cathedral and began to walk through the city, seeing for at least an
hour only long dim aisles and statues gleaming in the deep recesses of
mysterious chapels.

There come moments to the gayest and most enamored traveller, as he
walks the streets of a strange city, in which he is suddenly overwhelmed
by such a strong feeling of utter weariness that if he were able by a
word to fly back to his home and his dear ones with the rapidity of the
genii of the “Arabian Nights,” he would pronounce that word with a cry
of joy. I was seized by such a feeling just as I turned into a narrow
street far from the centre of the city, and it almost terrified me. I
anxiously rehearsed all the images I had formed of Madrid, Seville, and
Granada, hoping in this way to arouse and rekindle my curiosity and
enthusiasm; but those images now seemed dull and lifeless. My thoughts
carried me back to my home, when on the day before my departure in my
feverish impatience I could hardly wait for the hour of starting; but
even that did not remove my sadness. The idea of having to see so many
more new cities, of having to pass so many nights in hotels, of having
to find myself for so long a time in the midst of a strange people,
disheartened me. I asked myself how I could have resolved to leave home.
It seemed as if I were suddenly separated from my country by a
measureless distance--that I was in a wilderness alone, forgotten by
all. I looked around; the street was empty, my heart turned cold, tears
gathered in my eyes. “I cannot stay here,” I said to myself; “I shall
die of melancholy. I will return to Italy.”

I had not made an end of speaking these words before I almost burst into
hysterical laughter. In an instant everything regained life and splendor
in my eyes. I thought of Castile and of Andalusia with a sort of frantic
joy, and, shaking my head with an air of pity for my recent dejection, I
lighted a cigar and walked on, happier than I had been at first.

It was the last day of the Carnival: in the evening on the principal
streets I saw a procession of maskers, carriages, bands of young men,
large family parties with children and nurses and budding girls,
walking two by two. But there was no disagreeable shouting, no coarse
songs of drunken men, no troublesome crowding and pushing. Now and then
one felt a light rub on the elbow, but light enough to seem like the
greeting of a friend who would say, “It is I,” rather than the jostling
of some thoughtless fellow; and together with the touch at the elbow
there were voices, much gentler than of old when the Saragossa women
used to scream from the windows of their tottering houses, and much more
ardent than the boiling oil which they poured down on the invaders. Oh!
those were certainly not the times of which I heard recently at Turin,
when an old priest of Saragossa assured me that in seven years he had
not received the confession of a mortal sin.

That night I found at the hotel a madcap of a Frenchman whose equal I
believe does not exist under the sun. He was a man of forty, with one of
those putty-like faces which say “Here I am; come and cheat me”--a
wealthy merchant, as it appeared, who had just arrived from Barcelona
and expected to leave the next day for St. Sebastian. I found him in the
dining-room telling his story to a group of tourists, who were bursting
with laughter. I too joined the circle and listened to his story.

The fellow was a native of Bordeaux, and had lived for years at
Barcelona. He had left France because his wife had run away from him,
without saying good-bye, with the ugliest man in the town, leaving four
children on his hands. He had never heard of her since the day of her
flight. Some told him she had gone to America, others that she was in
Africa or Asia, but those were mere groundless conjectures. For four
years he had believed her to be dead. One fine day at Barcelona, as he
was dining with a friend from Marseilles, his guest said to him (but you
ought to have seen with what comical dignity he described the

“My friend, I am going to make a trip to St. Sebastian one of these

“What for?”

“Just a little diversion.”

“A love-affair, eh?”

“Yes, at least--I will tell you. It is not exactly a love-affair,
because, as for me, I do not care to come in at the tail end of a
love-affair. It is a caprice. A pretty little woman, however. Why, only
the day before yesterday I received a letter. I did not want to go, but
there were so many _comes_ and _I expect yous_ and _my friends_ and
_dear friends_, that I allowed myself to be tempted.” So saying, he drew
out the letter with a grimace of lordly pride.

The merchant takes it, opens it, and reads.

“By the gods! my wife!” and without another word he leaves his friend,
runs home, packs his valise, and hurries to the station.

When I entered the room the man had just shown the letter to everybody
present, and had spread on the table, so that every one could see them,
his certificate of baptism, his marriage articles, and other papers
which he had brought along in case his wife might not wish to recognize

“What are you going to do?” we all asked with one voice.

“I shall not do her any harm. I have made up my mind: there will be no
bloodshed, but there will be a punishment even more terrible.”

“But what will that be?” demanded one of his auditors.

“I have made up my mind,” replied the Frenchman with profoundest
gravity, and, taking from his pocket a pair of enormous scissors, he
added solemnly, “I am going to cut off her hair and her eyebrows!”

We all burst into a shout of laughter.

“Messieurs!” cried the abused husband, “I have said it, and I will keep
my word. If I have the pleasure of meeting you here again, I will see
that you are presented with her wig.”

Here ensued a pandemonium of laughter and shouts of applause, but the
Frenchman did not for a moment relax his tragic scowl.

“But if you find a Spaniard in the house?” some one asked.

“I shall then throw him out of the window,” he responded.

“But if there are a number there?”

“All the world out of the window.”

“But you will make a scandal; the neighbors will run in, the police, and
the people.”

“And I,” cried the terrible man, striking his hand on his chest, “I will
throw the neighbors, the police, the people, and the whole city out of
the window if it is necessary.”

And he went on in this vein, swaggering about and gesticulating with the
letter in one hand and the scissors in the other, in the midst of the
convulsive laughter of the tourists.

_Vivir para ver_ (Live and see), says the Spanish proverb; and it ought
rather to say _viager_ (travel), for it seems that only in hotels and on
the train does one fall in with such originals. Who knows how it all
came out in the end?

On entering my room I asked the waiter what those two things on the wall
were which I had been seeing since the evening of my arrival, and which
seemed to have some claims to pass as paintings.

“Sir,” he replied, “they are nothing less than the brothers Argensola,
Arragonese, natives of Barbastro, most celebrated poets of Spain.”

And truly such were the two brothers Argensola, two veritable literary
twins, who had the same temperament, studied the same subjects, wrote in
the same style, pure, dignified, and refined, striving with all their
powers to raise a barrier against the torrent of depraved taste which in
their time, the end of the sixteenth century, had begun to invade the
literature of Spain. One of them died in Naples, the secretary of the
viceroy, and the other died at Tarragona, a priest. The two left a name
illustrious and beloved, upon which Cervantes and Lope de Vega have
placed the noble seal of their praise. The sonnets of the Argensola
brothers are recognized as the most beautiful in Spanish literature for
their clearness of thought and dignity of form, and there is one of them
in particular, to Lupercio Leonardo, which the legislators repeat in
answer to the grandiloquent philippics of the orators on the left,
emphasizing the last lines. I quote it with the hope that it may supply
some of my readers with an answer to their friends who reprove them for
being enamored, as was the poet, of a lady with a weakness for rouge:

      “Yo os quiero confesar, don Juan, primero
    Que aquel blanco y carmin de doña Elvira
    No tiene de ella mas, si bien se mira,
    Que el haberle costado su dinero:

      “Pero tambien que me confieses quiero
    Que es tanto la beldad de su mentira,
    Que en vano à competir con ella aspira
    Belleza igual de rostro verdadero.

      “Mas que mucho que yo perdido ande
    Por un engaño tal, pues que sabemos
    Que nos engaña asì naturaleza?

      “Porque ese cielo azul que todos vemos
    No es cielo, ni es azul; làstima grande
    Que no sea verdad tanta belleza!”

(_First, Don Juan, I wish to confess that the comely white and red of
Lady Elvira are no more hers than the money with which she bought them.
But in thy turn I wish thee to confess that no like beauty of an honest
cheek may dare compete with the beauty of her feigning. But why should I
be vexed by such deception if it be known that Nature so deceives us?
And, in fact, that the azure sky which we all see is truly neither sky
nor is it azure? Alas, that so much beauty is not true!_)

       *       *       *       *       *

The following morning I wished to try a pleasure similar to that which
Rousseau indulged in following the flight of flies--the pleasure of
wandering through the streets of the city at random, stopping to look at
the most insignificant things, as one would do in the streets at home if
one were obliged to wait for a friend. I visited some public buildings,
among them the palace of the Bourse, containing a magnificent hall in
which are twenty-four columns, each ornamented with four shields placed
above the four faces of the capital and bearing the arms of Saragossa. I
visited the old church of Santiago and the beautiful palace of the
archbishop; stood in the centre of the vast, cheerful Square of the
Constitution, which divides the Coso, and into which run the two other
principal streets of the city; and from that point I set out and
wandered about until noon, to my infinite delight. Now I stopped to
watch a boy playing _nocino_; now I poked my curious head into a little
café frequented by scholars; now I slackened my pace to overhear
servants joking with each other at a street-corner; now I flattened my
nose against the window of a bookshop; now I almost pestered a
tobacconist to death by asking for cigars in German; now I stopped to
chat with a peddler of matches; here I bought a diary, then asked a
soldier for a light, again asked a girl to show me the way, and,
pondering the lines of Argensola, I commenced facetious sonnets, hummed
the hymn of Riego, thought of Florence, the wine of Malaga, the counsels
of my mother, of King Amadeus, my purse, a thousand things and nothing;
and I would not have changed places with a grandee of Spain.

Toward evening I started to see the New Tower, one of the most curious
monuments in Spain. It is eighty-four metres high, or four metres higher
than Giotto’s tower, and without a crack leans about two and a half
metres from the perpendicular, like the Tower of Pisa. It was erected in
1304. Some affirm that it was built just as it now stands, others that
it settled afterward; there are different opinions. It is octagonal in
form, and is built entirely of bricks, but presents a marvellous variety
of design and ornamentation--a different appearance at every point, a
graceful blending of Gothic and Moorish architecture. To gain admittance
I was obliged to ask permission of some municipal official who lived
hard by, who, after he had eyed me carefully from the tips of my boots
to the hairs of my head, gave the key to the keeper and said to me, “You
may go, sir.”

The keeper was a vigorous old man, who climbed up the interminable steps
much more rapidly than I could follow.

“You will have a magnificent view, sir,” said he.

I told him that we Italians also had a leaning tower like that of
Saragossa. He turned so that he could look at me and said sternly, “Ours
is the only one in the world.”--“Oh, nonsense! I say that we have one
too, and I have seen it with my eyes, at Pisa, but then, if you don’t
want to believe me, you may read it here. See, the guide-book tells
about it.”

He gave me a look and muttered, “Perhaps so.”

Perhaps so! the stubborn old numbskull! I could have thrown the book at
his head.

Finally we reached the top. It is a wonderful sight. One sees Saragossa
at a glance--the great Coso, the avenue of Santa Engracia, the suburbs;
and then below, where it seems one can almost touch them, the
richly-colored domes of Our Lady of the Pillar; just beyond, the bold
tower of the Seo; yonder the famous Ebro sweeping around the city with a
majestic curve, and the wide valley, enamored, in the words of
Cervantes, with the beauty of her waters and the dignity of their flow;
and the Huerba and the bridges and the hills, which could tell of so
many bloody repulses and desperate assaults.

The keeper read in my face the thoughts which were passing through my
mind, and, as though he was continuing a conversation which I had
commenced, he began to point out the places at which the French forced
their entrance, and where the citizens made the most stubborn
resistance. “It was not the bombs of the French,” said he, “which made
us surrender. We ourselves burned the houses and blew them up with
mines. It was the plague. During the last days there were in the
hospitals more than fifteen thousand of the forty thousand men who
defended the city. There was not time to bring in the wounded or to bury
the dead. The ruins of the houses were covered with putrefying corpses,
which poisoned the air. One-third of the buildings of the city were
destroyed, yet no one said surrender, and if any one had done so, he
would have been strung up on one of the gallows which had been erected
in every square.

“We would have died behind the barricades, in the fire, beneath the
rubbish of our walls, rather than have bowed the head. But when Palafox
found himself at the point of death, when it was known that the French
were victorious in other places, and that there was no longer any hope,
then we were obliged to lay down our arms. But the defenders of
Saragossa surrendered themselves with all the honors of war, and when
that crowd of soldiers, peasants, monks, and boys--haggard, ragged,
blood-stained, and battle-scarred--filed out before the French army, the
victors trembled with awe and had not the heart to rejoice over their
victory. The lowest of our peasants could carry his head as high as the
first of their marshals. Saragossa”--and, speaking these words, the old
man was magnificent--“Saragossa _has spit in the face of Napoleon_!”

I thought at that moment of Thiers’ history, and the remembrance of his
account of the fall of Saragossa raised within me a feeling of disdain.
Not one generous word for the sublime sacrifice of that devoted people!
To him their valor was but the raging of fanatics or a senseless mania
for war on the part of the peasants weary of their monotonous life in
the fields, and of monks surfeited with the solitude of the cell; their
unyielding heroism was only obstinacy; their love of country, foolish
pride. They did not die _pour cet ideal de grandeur_ which animated the
courage of the imperial troops. As if liberty, justice, and the honor of
a people were not nobler than the ambition of an emperor seeking to
triumph by treachery and wishing to rule with violence!

The sun was setting, the towers and minarets of Saragossa were gilded by
the last rays, the sky was liquid. Again I looked around to impress
clearly upon my memory the picture of the city and the country, and
before I descended I said to the keeper, who regarded me with an air of
benevolent curiosity: “Tell the strangers who in after-time may come to
visit this tower that one day a young Italian a few hours before he
started for Castile, in bidding a last farewell to the capital of
Arragon from this balcony, bared his head with a sentiment of the
deepest reverence, thus, and, as he was not able to kiss, one by one,
the brows of all the descendants of the heroes of 1809, he gave a kiss
to the keeper;” and so I kissed him and he me, and I went away content,
and he too; and you may laugh who will.

       *       *       *       *       *

After this it seemed to me that I could say I had seen Saragossa, and I
turned toward the hotel, summing up my impressions. I was still very
desirous of having a conversation with some good Saragossan, and after
dinner I entered a café, where I quickly found an architect and a
shopkeeper, who between sips of chocolate explained to me the political
situation of Spain and the most effectual means of “bringing her safely
through her troubles.” They thought very differently. The shopkeeper, a
little man with a flat nose and a great furrow between his eyes, wanted
a federal republic right off hand, that very night, before he went to
bed, and he provided, as a _sine-quâ-non_ condition for the prosperity
of the new government, the execution of Serrano, Sagasta, and Zorilla,
to convince them, once for all, that “they cannot trifle with the
Spanish people.” “And to that king of yours,” he concluded, looking me
in the eyes--“to your king, whom you have sent us--pardon me, my dear
Italian, for the frankness with which I say it--to your king I would
give a first-class ticket to return to his native Italy, where the air
is better for kings. We are Spanish, my dear Italian,” said he, laying
his hand on my knee,--“we are Spanish, and we do not want foreigners,
either cooked or raw.”

“I think I have caught your meaning; and you?” I asked, turning to the
architect, “how do you believe Spain can be saved?”

“There is but one way,” he answered solemnly; “there is but one way--a
federal republic; in this I am of the same mind as my friend, but with
Don Amadeus for president.” (The friend shrugged his shoulders.) “I
repeat it--with Don Amadeus as president! He is the only man who could
direct the republic. This is not my opinion alone; it is the opinion of
a great many. Let Don Amadeus make it plain to his father that a
monarchy will never please us here; let him call Castelar, Figueras, and
Pi y Margal to the government; let him proclaim a republic and have
himself elected president, and cry to Spain, ‘Sirs, I am now in command,
and if any one raises his horns, let him beware of the rod!’ And then we
shall have true liberty.”

The shopkeeper, who did not believe that true liberty consisted in being
beaten over the horns, protested, the other replied, and the discussion
lasted some time. Then they began to speak of the queen, and the
architect declared that, although he was a republican, he had profound
respect and warm admiration for Donna Victoria. “She has a great deal in
here,” said he, touching his forehead with his finger. “Is it true that
she knows Greek?”

“Oh yes,” I replied.

“Did you hear that, eh?” he asked the other.

“Yes,” replied the shopkeeper in a low voice, “but you don’t govern
Spain with Greek.” He admitted, however, that, since one must have a
queen, it was desirable to have one who was learned and intelligent, and
worthy of sitting on the throne of Isabella the Catholic--who, as every
one knows, knew as much Latin as a well-read professor--rather than to
have one of those hare-brained queens who have no head for anything but
festivities and favorites. In a word, he did not wish to see the house
of Savoy in Spain. But if anything could plead a little in its favor, it
would be the Greek of the queen.

What a gallant republican!

There is, however, in this race a generosity of heart and a vigor of
mind which justify their honorable fame. The Arragonese are respected in
Spain. The people of Madrid, who pick flaws in the Spaniards of all the
provinces--who call the Catalans rough, the Andalusians vain, the
Valencians fierce, the Galicians miserable, the Basques ignorant--even
they speak with a little more reserve of the haughty sons of Arragon,
who in the nineteenth century have written in their own blood the most
glorious page in the history of Spain. The name of Saragossa sounds to
the people like a cry of liberty, and to the army it is a battle-cry.
But, since there is no rose without a thorn, this noble province is also
a seed-bed of restless demagogues, of guerilla chieftains, of
magistrates, of a people with the hot head and steady hand, who give all
the government departments a great deal to do. The government is obliged
to caress Arragon like a morose, passionate son who lays his plans to
blow up the house if his will is crossed in the least thing.

The entrance of King Amadeus into Saragossa and the short stop he made
there in 1871 offered an occasion for some deeds which are worthy of
being retold, not only because they refer to the prince, but because
they are an eloquent expression of the character of the people; and
before everything else should come the speech of the mayor, which made
such a stir in and out of Spain, and will probably remain among the
traditions of Saragossa as a classic example of republican audacity.
Toward evening the king arrived at the railroad-station, where,
accompanied by an immense crowd, the delegates of the many
municipalities, the societies, and the civil and military corps of the
various cities of Arragon had gathered to meet him. After the customary
cheers and applause had subsided the alcayde of Saragossa presented
himself before the king, and read the following address in an emphatic

“Sir! It is not my own humble self, and it is not the man of deep
republican convictions, but in truth the alcayde of Saragossa, invested
with the sacred universal suffrage, who, through a sense of unavoidable
duty, presents himself here before you and submits himself to your
commands. You are about to enter the precincts of a city which, sated at
length with glory, bears the title of enduring heroism--a city which,
when danger threatened the integrity of the nation, became a new
Numantia--a city which humbled the armies of Napoleon in their very
triumphs. Saragossa was the advance-guard of liberty; to her no
government has ever seemed too liberal. Treason has never found shelter
in the breast of any of her sons. Enter, then, within the precincts of
Saragossa. If you lack courage, you have no need of it, for the sons of
their ever-heroic mother are brave in open field and are incapable of
treachery. There is at this moment no shield nor any army more ready to
defend your person than the loyalty of the descendants of Palafox, for
their very enemies find an inviolate asylum beneath their roofs. Think
and consider that if you walk steadfastly in the path of justice; if
you further the observance of the laws of the strictest morality; if you
protect the producer, who hitherto has given so much and received so
little; if you maintain the integrity of the ballot; if Saragossa and
Spain shall one day owe to you the achievement of the sacred aspiration
of the majority of this great people whom you have learned to
know,--then perhaps you may be honored by a more glorious title than
that of king. You may then be the first citizen of the nation, and the
most dearly loved in Saragossa, and the Spanish republic will owe to you
her complete felicity.”

To this address, which signified, after all, “We do not recognize you as
king, but, however, you may come in, and we will not murder you, because
heroes do not murder by treachery; and if you will be brave and will
treat us as you ought to do, we will possibly consent to support you as
president of the republic,”--to this the king replied with a
bitter-sweet smile which seemed to say, “Too great a condescension,” and
pressed the hand of the alcayde, to the great surprise of all present.
He then mounted his horse and entered Saragossa. The people, from all
accounts, received him with delight, and from the windows many ladies
threw poems, garlands, and doves down upon him. At some points General
Cordova and General Rosell, who accompanied him, were obliged to clear
the street with their horses. When he entered the Coso a woman of the
people rushed out to present him with some memorial. The king, who had
ridden past without noticing her, turned back and took it. Soon after a
charcoal-man presented himself and stretched out his sooty hand, which
the king grasped. In the square of Santa Engracia he was received by a
pompous masquerade of dwarfs and giants, who welcomed him with some
traditional dances, amid the discordant cheers of the multitude. So he
passed through the entire city. The next day he visited the church of
Our Lady of the Pillar, the hospitals, the prisons, and the circus of
the bull-fights, and everywhere his presence was hailed almost with the
enthusiasm due a monarch, not altogether without the secret chagrin of
the alcayde, who accompanied him, and who would have been better pleased
had the people of Saragossa contented themselves with the observance of
the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” without entering further
upon his modest promises.

However, the king had a joyous welcome on the way from Saragossa to

At Logroño, in the midst of an innumerable crowd of peasants, national
guardsmen, women, and boys, he saw for the first time the venerable
General Espartero. As soon as they saw each other they ran together; the
general sought the hand of the king, the king opened his arms, and the
crowd gave a shout of joy. “Your Majesty!” said the illustrious soldier
in a husky voice, “the people welcome you with patriotic enthusiasm,
because they see in their young monarch the firmest support of the
liberty and independence of their country, and are sure that if by any
misfortune our enemies were to cause trouble, Your Majesty, at the head
of the army and the citizen militia, would overwhelm and rout them. My
broken health did not suffer me to go to Madrid to felicitate Your
Majesty and your august consort upon your establishment on the throne of
Ferdinand. To-day I do so, and I repeat, once again, that I will serve
faithfully the person of Your Majesty as king of Spain, chosen by the
will of the nation. Your Majesty, I have in the city a modest home, and
I offer it to you, and ask of you to honor it with your presence.” In
these simple words the new king was greeted by the oldest, the
best-beloved, and the most renowned of his subjects. A happy augury,
though sadly at variance with the final outcome!

       *       *       *       *       *

Toward midnight I went to a masquerade in a theatre of moderate size on
the Coso, a short distance from the Square of the Constitution. The
maskers were few and very shabby, but there was a compensation for this
in a dense crowd of people, fully a third of whom were dancing
furiously. Except for the language, I should not have known that I was
at a masked ball in a theatre in Spain rather than in Italy. I seemed to
see precisely the same faces. There was the same familiarity, the same
freedom of speech and movement, the usual degeneracy of the ball into
noisy and unbridled brawl.

Of the hundred couples of dancers who waltzed past me, only one pair
remains impressed upon my memory--a youth of twenty years, tall, lithe,
and fair, with great black eyes, and a girl of the same age, brown as an
Andalusian--both beautiful and noble in their bearing, dressed in the
ancient costumes of Arragon, clasped in each other’s arms, face to face,
as though the one wished to breathe the other’s breath, rosy as two
flowers, and radiant with joy. They paused in the middle of the crowd,
glancing about with an air of disdain, and a thousand eyes followed them
with a low murmur of admiration and envy.

On leaving the theatre I stood a moment at the door to see them pass
again, and then I turned toward the hotel melancholy and alone. The next
morning before dawn I was on my way to the Castiles.


To go from Saragossa to Burgos, the capital city of Old Castile, one
travels the whole length of the great valley of the Ebro, crosses a part
of Arragon and a part of Navarre, as far as the city of Miranda,
situated on the branch road which passes through St. Sebastian and

The country is full of historic memories, of ruins, monuments, and
famous names; every village recalls a battle, every province a war. At
Tudela, the French defeated General Castaños; at Calahorra, Sertorius
withstood Pompey; at Navarrete, Henry de Transtamare was conquered by
Peter the Cruel. One sees the remains of the city of Egon ad Agoncilla;
the ruins of the Roman aqueduct at Alcanadre; and the remains of the
Moorish bridge at Logroño. The mind grows tired of recalling the
memories of so many centuries and of so many peoples, and the eye grows
weary with the mind.

The appearance of the country changes every moment. Near Saragossa there
are green fields dotted with houses, while here and there one sees
groups of peasants wrapped in their many-colored shawls, and
occasionally donkeys and carts. Farther on there are only vast
undulating plains, bare and arid, without a tree, or a house, or a road,
where for miles and miles one sees only a herd of cattle, a cowherd, and
a hut, or some little village of mud-colored, thatched cottages, so low
that one can scarcely distinguish them from the ground--groups of huts
rather than villages, true pictures of poverty and squalor.

The Ebro winds beside the railroad in great curves, now so close that
the train seems on the point of plunging into it, now looking in the
distance like a silver line appearing and disappearing between the
hillocks and through the underbrush along its banks. In the distance one
sees a purple chain of mountains, and beyond them the snowy peaks of the
Pyrenees. Near Tudela one sees a canal, and after Custejon the country
becomes green again; as one advances the arid plains alternate with
olive-groves, and here and there lines of varied green break the yellow
expanse of the deserted land. On the distant hilltops one sees the ruins
of enormous castles, surmounted by towers broken, gaping, and fallen to
decay, like the great trunks of giants, prostrate, but threatening.

At every station I bought a paper; before I had travelled half the
distance I had a mountain, the journals of Madrid and Arragon, big and
little, black and red, but, unfortunately, not one friendly to

[Illustration: _Water Carrier_]

Amadeus. And I say “unfortunately,” because to read those papers was to
fall into the temptation to turn my back on Madrid and start for home.
From the first column to the last there was a passionate outburst of
insults, imprecations, and threats directed against Italy, scandals
about our king, burlesques of our ministers, the wrath of God implored
to descend upon our army,--the whole founded upon the report, then
current, of a coming war in which the allied powers of Italy and Germany
would suddenly attack France and Spain for the purpose of destroying
Catholicism, the eternal enemy of them both, of establishing the duke of
Genoa upon the throne of St. Louis, and of securing the throne of Philip
II. for the duke of Aosta. There were threats in the leading articles,
threats in the clippings, threats in the notices, threats in prose and
in verse, displayed with sketches, capital letters, and long rows of
exclamation points; dialogues between father and son, the one at Rome,
the other in Madrid, one of whom would ask, “What shall I do?” Whereupon
the other would reply, “Shoot!” or, again, “Let them come; we are ready:
we are ever the Spain of 1808. The conquerors of the armies of Napoleon
have no fear of the ugly mugs of King William’s Uhlans or of the yells
of Victor Emanuel’s sharpshooters.” And then King Amadeus would be
called “poor child;” the Italian army described as a crowd of
ballet-dancers and opera-singers; the Italians in Spain requested to
take their departure by the gentle hint, “Italians to the train.” In
short, ask what you would, and there was something to meet your wish. I
must confess that for a short time I was a little disturbed. I imagined
that, at Madrid, Italians could hardly fail to be hooted in the streets;
I remembered the letter which I had received at Genoa, repeated to
myself, “Italians to the train” as advice worthy of serious
consideration; I glanced with suspicion at the travellers who entered
the carriage, and at the railroad-employees, and expected that on first
spying me they would say, “Look at that Italian emissary! Let us send
him to keep company with General Prim.”

On nearing Miranda the railroad enters a mountainous region, varied and
picturesque, where on every side, wherever one looks, one sees only dark
gray rocks which suggest to the imagination a sea turned into stone at
the time of a storm, stretching away as far as the eye can reach. It is
a country full of savage beauty, lonely as a desert, silent as a
glacier, which represents to the fancy, as it were, a vision of an
uninhabited planet, and impresses one with a mingled feeling of sadness
and fear. The train passed between two walls of rock, sharp-pointed,
hollowed, and crested, serrated in every manner and form, so that it
seemed as though a crowd of stonecutters had spent their entire lives in
cutting furiously on every side, working blindly to see who could make
the most erratic marks. The railroad then comes out into a vast plain
thickly wooded with poplar, among which rises Miranda.

The station is a long way from the city, and I was obliged to wait in
the café until nightfall for the train to Madrid. For three hours I had
no other company than that of the two custom-officers, called in Spain
_carabineros_, dressed in a severe uniform, with a dagger and pistols
and a carbine slung across their shoulders.

There were two or three of them at every station. The first few times I
saw the barrels of their carbines opposite the window I thought they had
come there to arrest some one, and perhaps...; and without thinking I
put my hand on my passport.

They are handsome young fellows, brave and courteous, and the traveller
who is obliged to wait can be pleasantly entertained by talking with
them about Carlists and contrabands, as I did, with great advantage to
my Spanish vocabulary. Toward evening a Mirandese came in: he was a man
of about fifty, a politician, bright and talkative, and so I left the
_carabineros_ to join him. He was the first Spaniard who fully explained
the political situation to me. I asked him to unravel a little this
precious tangle of parties, of which I had not succeeded in finding the
thread, and he was well pleased to do so, and went into the subject very

“It is described in two words,” he began. “See how matters stand! There
are five principal parties--the Absolutist, the Moderate, the
Conservative, the Radical, and the Republican. The Absolutist is divided
into two other parties, the out-and-out Carlists and the dissenting
Carlists. The Moderate party has separated into two, one of which favors
Isabella, the other Alphonso. The Conservative party is made up of
four--get them clearly fixed in your mind: the Canovists, led by Canovas
del Castillo; the ex-Montpensierists, led by Rios y Rosas; the
Fronterizos, led by General Serrano; and the Historical Progressionists,
led by Sagasta. The Radical party is divided into four--the Democratic
Progressionists, headed by Zorilla; the Cimbrios, headed by Martos; the
Democrats, by Ribero; and the Economists, headed by Rodriguez. The
Republican party is composed of three elements--the Unionists, led by
Garcia Ruiz; the Federalists, headed by Figueras; and the Socialists, by
Garrido. The Socialists are again divided into two parties--the
International Socialists, and the Socialists without international
sympathies. In all there are sixteen parties, and these sixteen are
still further subdivided. Martos is trying to constitute a party of his
own, Candan to form a second party, and Moret a third. Rios y Rosas, Pi
y Margal, and Castelar are each forming their own party. There are
accordingly twenty-two parties already formed or in process of
formation. Add to these the partisans of the republic, with Amadeus for
president; the partisans of the queen, who would gladly trip up the
heels of Amadeus; the partisans of the Montpensier monarchy; those who
are republicans on the condition that Cuba be retained; those who are
republicans on the condition that Cuba be given up; those who have not
yet renounced the prince of Hohenzollern; those who long for a union
with Portugal; and you will have thirty parties.

“If one wished to be still more accurate, one might subdivide still
further, but it is better to get a clear idea of matters as they stand.
Sagasta inclines toward the Unionists, Zorilla toward the Republicans;
Serrano is disposed to support the Moderates; the Moderates, if they had
an opportunity, would join hands with the Absolutists, who, in their
turn, would join with the Republicans, who would unite with a part of
the Radicals to blow the minister Sagasta skyhigh, as he is too
conservative for the Democratic Progressionists and too liberal for the
Unionists, who are afraid of the Federalists, while they, the
Federalists, on their part, do not place much confidence in the
Radicals, who are always vacillating between the Democrats and the
followers of Sagasta.

“Have I given you a clear idea of the situation?”

“As clear as amber,” I answered with a shudder.

       *       *       *       *       *

I recall the journey from Miranda to Burgos as I would the page of a
book read in bed when the eyes begin to close and the flame of the
candle droops, for I was dead with sleep. From time to time one of my
fellow-travellers shook me to make me look out. The night was calm and
glorious, with clear moonlight. Whenever I looked out of the window I
saw on both sides of the track huge rocks of fantastic form, so close
that they seemed about to fall upon the train. They were white as
marble, and shone so brightly that one could have counted all the
points, the hollows and the boulders, as easily as in broad daylight.

“We are at Pancorbo,” said my neighbor. “Look at that height! Up there
stood a terrible castle which the French destroyed in 1813. This is
Briviesca. Look! here John I. of Castile summoned the States General,
who granted the title of prince of Asturia to the heir to the throne.
Look! there is the mountain of Brujola, which touches the stars.”

He was one of those indefatigable cicerones who would talk even to an
umbrella, and while he was eternally saying “Look!” he kept punching me
in the side near my pocket. At last we arrived at Burgos; my neighbor
disappeared, without saying good-bye. I took a cab to a hotel, and just
as I was about to pay the driver I discovered that the little purse in
which I carried change, and which I was in the habit of carrying in my
overcoat pocket, was missing. I thought of the States General of
Briviesca, and ended the matter with a philosophic “I deserved it,”
without making an outcry, as many do on similar occasions, “By the gods!
where can we be? what a terrible country!” as though there are not in
their own lands light-fingered people, who would carry off a purse
without even having the courtesy to tell one of the history or geography
of the country.

The hotel where I stopped was served by girls, as are all the hotels in
Castile. There were six or seven of them, like great overgrown children,
plump and muscular, who came and went with their arms full of mattresses
and linen, bending back in athletic attitudes, rosy, panting, and
laughing, so that it made one happy to see them. A hotel with
women-servants is an entirely different thing from an ordinary hotel.
The traveller seems to feel less strange and goes to rest with a quieter
heart. The women impart a certain home-like air to the house which
almost makes one forget one’s loneliness wheresoever one may be. They
are more attentive than men; knowing that the traveller is inclined to
be melancholy, they try to change his thoughts. They laugh and talk in a
familiar way in an effort to make one feel like a member of the family
and in safe hands. There is an air of housewifery about them, and they
serve one, not because it is their business, but because they like to
make themselves useful. They sew on buttons with an air of protection;
they take the clothes-brush out of one’s hand with a gesture of
impatience, as much as to say, “Let me have it, you good-for-nothing
thing!” They pick the hairs off of your clothes when you are going out,
and when you come back, all bespattered with mud, they say, “Oh! poor
fellow!” They advise you not to sleep with your head too low when they
bid you good-night; they bring your coffee to you in bed, telling you
benevolently to “Lie still; don’t get up!” One of them was named
Beatrice, another Carmelita, and a third Amparo (protection), and they
all three possessed that ponderous highland beauty which makes one
exclaim in a deep voice, “What splendid creatures!” When they ran along
the corridors they shook the whole house.

At sunrise next morning Amparo called in my ear, “_Caballero!_” A
quarter of an hour later I was in the street.

Burgos, built at the foot of a mountain on the right bank of the
Arlanzon, is an irregular city, with narrow, winding streets, with few
noteworthy buildings, and the larger part of its houses not older than
the seventeenth century. But it possesses one particular characteristic
which gives it a curious and genial appearance. It is painted in many
colors, like one of those scenes in a puppet-show by which the painters
are expected to draw cries of admiration from the servants in the pit.
It seems like a city colored on purpose for a Carnival celebration,
with the intention of having it whitewashed afterward. The houses are
red, yellow, blue, gray, and orange, with ornaments and trimmings of a
thousand other colors; and everything is painted--the doorframes, the
railings of the landings, the gratings, cornices, corbels, reliefs,
balconies, and windowsills. All the streets seem to have been prepared
for a festival. At every turn a new effect strikes the eye; in every
direction there is, as it were, a rivalry in displaying the most
conspicuous colors. It almost makes one laugh: they are such colors as
have never before been seen on walls--green, flesh-color, purple, colors
of rare flowers, of sauces, sweets, and stuffs for ball-dresses. If
there were at Burgos an asylum for mad painters, one would say that the
city had been painted one day when its doors had been broken open.

To make the appearance of the houses more pleasing, a great many windows
have in front of them a sort of covered balcony enclosed with an
abundance of glass like a case in a museum. There is, as a rule, one of
these on every floor, the one above resting on the one below, and the
lowest of all on the show-window of a shop, in such a way that from the
ground to the roof they look altogether like the single window of an
immense store. Through the windows on every floor one sees, as though
they were on exhibition, visions of girls and children, flowers,
landscapes, and cardboard figures from France, embroidered curtains,
lace, and Moorish ornaments. If I had not known differently, it would
not have occurred to me that such a city could be the capital of Old
Castile--of a people who have a reputation for gravity and anxiety; I
should have believed it to be a city of Andalusia, where the people are
gayest. I had expected to see a decorous nation where I found a
coquettish masker.

After two or three turns I came out into a vast square called the Plaza
Mayor, or the Square of the Constitution. It was entirely surrounded by
ochre houses with porticoes, and in the middle stood a bronze statue of
Charles III. I had not yet looked around when a boy ran toward me,
enveloped in a long cape torn off at the bottom, and dragging behind him
two old shoes and waving a paper in the air:

“Want the _Imparcial_, caballero?”


“Want a Madrid lottery-ticket?”

“No indeed!”

“Want some contraband cigars?”




My friend scratched his chin: “Want to see the remains of the Cid?”

Gracious! what a leap! But no matter; let us go and see the remains of
the Cid.

We went to the municipal palace, and there an old janitress made us
cross three or four narrow passages until she stopped us where all of
them converged. “Behold the remains!” said the woman, pointing to a sort
of coffin resting upon a pedestal in the centre of the room. I
approached and raised the cover and looked in. There were two
compartments, at the bottom of which one could see some bones heaped
together like fragments of broken furniture. “These,” said the old
woman, “are the bones of the Cid, and these others the bones of Ximenes
his wife.”

I took in my hand the shin-bone of one and a rib of the other, looked at
them, felt them, and turned them over, but, as I was unable by their aid
to resurrect the features of husband and wife, I replaced them. The
woman showed me a wooden seat, almost in pieces, propped against the
wall, and bearing an inscription which said that it was the seat upon
which sat the first judges of Castile, Nunnius Rasura and Calvo Lainus,
the great-great-grandfathers of the Cid; which is the same thing as
saying that this precious piece of furniture has stood in the very same
place for the goodly period of nine hundred years. I have it before my
eyes at this moment, sketched in my note-book in serpentine lines, and I
seem to hear the good woman asking, “Are you a painter?” as I stood
leaning my chin on my pencil to admire my masterpiece. In the next room
she showed me a brazier of the same antiquity as the old seat, and two
paintings--one of the Cid and the other of Ferdinand Gonzales, the first
count of Castile, both of which are so dark and faded that they do not
suggest the image of those personages any better than did the shin-bone
and the ribs of the illustrious consorts.

From the municipal palace I was conducted along the bank of the Arlanzon
to an extensive square, with gardens, fountains, and statues, surrounded
by handsome new buildings. Across the river lies the suburb of Bega, and
behind it rise the barren hills which tower above the city. At one end
of the square stands the monumental gate of Santa Maria, erected in
honor of Charles V., and ornamented with statues of the Cid, Ferdinand
Gonzales, and the emperor, while beyond the gate rise the majestic
spires of the cathedral.

It was raining; I was alone in the middle of the square, without an
umbrella. I raised my eyes to a window and saw a woman, who appeared to
be a servant, looking at me and laughing, as if to say, “Who is that
crazy man?” This was so unexpected that I was a little disconcerted, but
I tried my best to appear indifferent, and started toward the cathedral
by the shortest cut.

The cathedral of Burgos is one of the largest, most beautiful, and
richest monuments of Christendom. Ten times I wrote these words at the
top of the page, and ten times I lacked the courage to continue, so
feeble and inadequate are the powers of my mind for the task of
describing it.

The façade runs along a little square from which one is able to see only
a part of the immense structure; on the other sides run crooked, narrow
streets which shut off the view. From all parts of the vast roof spring
graceful spires, rising above the highest buildings of the city, and
richly adorned with ornaments of the color of dark limestone. In front,
to the right and left of the façade, rise two tapering belfries covered
with sculpture from base to summit, ornamented with open-work carving
and stone embroidery of charming grace and delicacy. Farther on, from a
point near the centre of the church, rises a tower equally rich with
bas-reliefs and carvings. On the façade, at the angles of the belfries
and along the different elevations, beneath the arches and on all the
walls, stand an innumerable multitude of statues--angels, martyrs,
warriors, and princes--so close, so various in pose, and brought out in
such strong relief by the light background of the edifice, that they
almost present to the view an appearance of life, like a celestial
legion stationed to guard the monument.

On raising the eyes beyond the façade to the pinnacles of the farthest
spires, comprehending at a glance all that delicate harmony of line and
color, one experiences a feeling of exquisite pleasure, as when one
listens to a strain of music which sweeps gradually upward from the
expression of solemn prayer to an ecstasy of sublime inspiration.

Before one enters the church one’s imagination is far beyond the things
of earth. You enter. The first emotion of which you are conscious is a
sudden strengthening of faith if you have it, and a yearning of the soul
toward faith if you have it not. It does not seem possible that this
measureless mass of stone can be a vain work of man’s superstition. It
seems to affirm, to prove, to command something. It is like a superhuman
voice crying to the earth, “I AM!” It exalts and abases, like a promise
and a threat, like a dazzling burst of sunlight followed by a
thunder-clap. Before you have looked about you feel the need of
rekindling in your heart the dying embers of divine love; you feel
unfamiliar and humiliated before that miracle of aspiration, genius, and
labor. The timid no which whispers in the depths of your soul dies with
a groan beneath the dreadful YES which reverberates in your brain. First
you look vaguely round, trying to discover the limits of the edifice,
which are concealed by the choir and the enormous pilasters. Then you
run your eyes along the columns and the highest arches, your glance
rising and falling, darting rapidly along the endless lines, which
follow each other, interweave, correspond, and are lost, like rockets
crossing in space; up and through the great vaults, and your heart is
lost in boundless admiration, as though all those lines issued from your
own brain, inspired by the act of following them with your eyes. Then
suddenly you are assailed, as it were, by dismay, a feeling of sadness
that you have not time in which to see it all, the genius to comprehend
it, nor the memory to retain the innumerable miracles which you have but
dimly seen on every side, crowded about you, towering above you,
stupefying you--miracles which come, you would say, not by the hands of
men, but by a second creation from the hand of God.

The church belongs to the order of architecture known as Gothic of the
Renaissance period. It is divided into three very long naves, crossed in
the middle by a fourth, which separates the choir from the great altar.
Over the space between the altar and the choir rises a dome formed by
the tower which one sees from the square. You turn your eyes upward and
stand a quarter of an hour gazing with open mouth. You are enraptured by
a vision of bas-reliefs, statues, columns, little windows, arabesques,
flying arches, and airy carvings, all harmonizing in a design at once
grand and delicate, which at the first sight makes you tremble and smile
like the sudden bursting and flashing of an immense display of
fireworks. A thousand vague images of paradise, which hovered round our
childish slumbers, spring together from the ecstatic mind and soar
upward like a cloud of butterflies alighting on the thousand reliefs of
the highest vault, flying about and intermingling, and your eyes follow
them as though you really saw them, and your heart beats faster and a
sigh escapes you.

If you turn from the dome and look around, an even grander spectacle
awaits you. The chapels are like so many other churches in size,
variety, and richness. In each of them lies entombed a prince, a bishop,
or a grandee. The tomb is placed in the centre, and upon it rests a
memorial statue of the dead, the head lying on a pillow and the hands
clasped on the breast; the bishops clothed in their most gorgeous robes,
the princes in their armor, and the women in their gala attire. Each of
the tombs is covered by an ample pall, which falls over the sides and
takes the form of the raised portions of the statue, so that it really
makes them look like the rigid limbs of a human corpse. Whichever way
one turns, one sees in the distance, between the measureless pilasters,
behind the rich gratings, in the uncertain shimmer of light descending
from the high windows, the mausoleums, the funereal hangings, and the
rigid outlines of the dead. On approaching the chapels one is amazed by
the lavish use of sculpture, marbles, and gold in the ornamentation of
the walls, ceilings, and altars. Each chapel contains a host of angels
and saints carved in marble or wood, colored, gilded, and draped.

On whatever part of the pavement one’s glance may fall it is at once led
upward from bas-relief to bas-relief, from niche to niche, from
arabesque to arabesque, from painting to painting, to the very roof, and
then by another chain of carvings and frescoes it is led down from the
roof to the pavement.

On whatever side you turn your eyes you see eyes gazing back into your
own, beckoning hands, the heads of cherubs peeping at you, draperies
which seem instinct with life, floating clouds, crystal spheres
tremulous with light--an infinite variety of forms, colors, and
reflections which dazzle the eyes and confuse the brain.

A volume would not be sufficient for a description of all the
masterpieces of sculpture and painting which are scattered through this
vast cathedral. In the vestry of the chapel of the constables of Castile
hangs a very beautiful Magdalene, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci; in
the chapel of the Presentation, a Virgin attributed to Michelangelo; and
in another chapel, a Holy Family attributed to Andrea del Sarto. It is
not certainly known who the painters of these pictures were, but when I
saw the curtains which concealed them withdrawn and heard those names
reverently spoken, I shivered from head to foot. Then, for the first
time, I experienced in its fulness that sense of gratitude which we owe
to the great artists who have made the name of Italy honored and
precious the world over. I learned for the first time that they are not
only the illustrators, but also the benefactors, of their
country--benefactors not only of those who have the ability to
appreciate and admire them, but of those also who are blind to their
works, and even of those who are careless and ignorant of them. For he
who lacks the sense of beauty does not lack national pride, or, if he
lacks even this, he still has personal pride, and feels his heart deeply
stirred when he hears some one, even though it be only a sacristan, say,
“He was born in Italy,” and the careless man smiles and is happy. But
for his smiles and his enjoyment he is a debtor to those great names,
which inspired no feeling of admiration in him before he passed the
confines of his country. Wherever one goes these great names accompany
and protect one like invisible friends; they make one seem less foreign
among foreigners; they cast upon one’s face the lustre of their own
glory. How many smiles, how many hand-clasps, how many courteous words
from unknown people do we Italians not owe to Raphael, Michelangelo,
Ariosto, and Rossini!

If one wishes to see this cathedral in a day, one must run past the
masterpieces. The carved door which opens into the cloister is said to
be the most beautiful in the world after the doors of the Baptistery of
Florence. Behind the great altar stands a stupendous bas-relief by
Philip of Borgogna, representing the Passion of Christ--a marvellous
composition, for the execution of which one man’s lifetime does not seem
sufficient. The choir is a veritable museum of sculpture of incredible
richness. The cloister is full of tombs surmounted by recumbent statues,
and about them runs a profusion of bas-reliefs. In the chapels, around
the choir, in the passages of the sacristy, everywhere, are paintings by
the greatest Spanish masters, statuettes, columns, and ornaments. The
great altar, the organs, the doors, the staircases, the gratings,
everything, is grand and magnificent, and at the same time arouses and
rebukes one’s admiration. But why add word to word? Could the most
minute description give a living image of it all? And even if I were to
write a page for every painting, for every statue, for every bas-relief,
could I produce in another’s heart, even for a moment, the emotions
which I felt myself?

A sacristan came up to me and whispered in my ear, as though he was
telling me a secret.

“Do you wish to see the Christ?”

“What Christ?”

“Why,” he answered, “the famous one, as every one knows.”

The famous Christ of the cathedral of Burgos, which bleeds every Friday,
is worthy of particular attention. The sacristan leads the way into a
mysterious chapel, closes the window-shutters, lights the candles on
the altar, pulls a cord; the curtain falls back, and--there is the
Christ! If you do not take to your heels at the first sight, you are
brave indeed. A real corpse hanging on a cross could not be more
horrible. It is not a painted wooden statue like other images: it is a
stuffed skin, and they say the skin is that of a man. It has real hair,
real eyebrows and eyelashes, and a real beard. The hair is matted with
blood, and there are streaks of blood on the breast, the legs, and the
hands. The wounds which seem like real wounds, the color of the skin,
the contraction of the face, the attitude, the expression,--each thing
is terribly real. If you touched the body, you would expect to feel the
tremor of the limbs and the warmth of the blood. The lips seem to be
moving and to be opened in a cry of lamentation. You cannot long endure
the sight, and in spite of yourself you avert your face and say to the
sacristan, “I have seen it.”

After the Christ one ought to see the celebrated coffer of the Cid. It
is a battered, worm-eaten coffer, suspended from the wall of one of the
rooms in the sacristy. The story runs that the Cid took this coffer with
him in his wars against the Moors, and that the priests used it for an
altar in the celebration of mass. One day the doughty warrior, finding
his money-bags empty, filled the coffer with stones and scraps of iron,
and had it carried to a Hebrew money-lender, to whom he said, “The Cid
has need of money. He might sell his treasures, but he does not wish to
do so. Give him the money which he stands in need of, and he will
speedily return it with usury of ninety-nine per cent., and he leaves in
your hands as a pledge this precious coffer which contains his fortune.
But upon one condition--that you swear to him not to open it until he
has restored what he owes you. It is a secret that must be known only to
God and me. Make your decision.” Either money-lenders of that day
reposed greater faith in army officers, or else they had an ounce less
of shrewdness, than they now have; at any rate, it is a fact that the
usurer accepted the proposal of the Cid, took the oath, and gave him the
money. Whether or not the Cid lived up to his promise I do not know, nor
can I tell if the Jew brought suit. But the fact remains that the coffer
is still in existence, and that the sacristan tells the story with great
gusto, without the shadow of a suspicion that the transaction was the
act of a hardened villain rather than an ingenious caprice of a
facetious man of honor.

Before leaving the cathedral you should get the sacristan to tell you
the famous legend of Papa-Moscas. Papa-Moscas is an automaton of
life-size placed on the case of a clock above the door inside of the
church. Once upon a time, like the celebrated automatons of the clock of
Venice, he would come forth from his hiding-place at the stroke of the
hour, and at every stroke he would utter a cry and make an odd gesture,
whereupon the faithful were filled with the greatest delight, the boys
laughed, and the religious services were disturbed. To end this
scandalous behavior, a stern bishop had some of Papa-Moscas’ sinews cut,
and from that day he has stood there motionless and silent. But,
nevertheless, they do not stop telling of his deeds in Burgos and
throughout all Spain, and even beyond Spain. Papa-Moscas was a creature
of Henry III., and hence arose his great importance.

The story is exceedingly curious. Henry III., the king of gallant
adventures, who once sold his cloak to buy something to eat, was
accustomed to go to the cathedral every day incognito to pray. One
morning his eyes met those of a young woman who was praying before the
tomb of Ferdinand Gonzales: their glances were bound together, as
Théophile Gautier would say. The young woman arose; the king followed as
she left the church, and walked behind her to her home. For many days,
at the same place and hour, they again saw each other, looked into each
other’s eyes, and told their love and sympathy by their glances and
their smiles. The king always followed the lady as far as her home,
without speaking a word and without her giving a sign that she desired
him to speak. One morning, on leaving the church, the beautiful unknown
dropped her handkerchief; the king picked it up, hid it in his bosom,
and offered her his own. The lady took it with many blushes, and, drying
her tears, she disappeared. From that day Henry saw her no more. A year
later, while hunting in a wood, the king was attacked by six ravenous
wolves. After a long struggle he killed three of them with his sword,
but his strength was already failing and he was on the point of being
devoured by the others. At that moment he heard the report of a gun and
a strange cry, at which the remaining wolves took to flight. He turned
and saw a mysterious woman staring at him with fixed eyes, without the
power to utter a word. The muscles of her face were horribly distorted,
and a shrill cry of lamentation burst from her breast. Recovering from
his first surprise, the king recognized in the woman the lady whom he
had loved in the cathedral. With a cry of joy he rushed to embrace her,
but the lady stopped him by exclaiming with a heavenly smile, “I have
loved the memory of the Cid and of Ferdinand Gonzales because my heart
loves all that is noble and generous; therefore I loved thee also, but
my duty restrains me from fulfilling this love, which would have been
the happiness of my life. Accept the sacrifice.” As she spoke these
words she fell to the ground and died without finishing the sentence,
pressing the king’s handkerchief to her heart. A year afterward
Papa-Moscas stepped out on the case of the clock to announce the hour
for the first time. King Henry had him made to honor the memory of the
woman whom he loved. Papa-Moscas’ cry reminded the king of the cry with
which his deliverer had frightened off the three wolves in the forest.
The story runs that King Henry wanted to hear Papa-Moscas repeat also
the words of love which the woman spoke. But the Moorish artist who
constructed the automaton declared, after many vain efforts, that it was
impossible to satisfy this desire of the tender-hearted monarch.

After hearing this story I took another turn through the cathedral,
thinking with sadness that I should never see it again--that in a little
while all these marvellous works of art would only linger with me as a
memory, and that one day this memory would be obscured or confused with
others, and finally be obliterated. A priest was preaching from the
pulpit in front of the great altar. His voice was scarcely audible. A
crowd of women were kneeling on the pavement with bowed heads and
clasped hands, listening to him. The preacher was an old man of
venerable appearance; he spoke in gentle accents of death, eternal life,
and angels, making a gesture with his head at every period, as though he
were seeking to lift up some fallen one and saying, “Arise!” I could
have given him my hand with the cry, “Raise me!”

The cathedral of Burgos is not so depressing as all the other cathedrals
of Spain. It calmed my spirit and disposed me to quiet religious
thought. I went out, repeating softly, almost unconsciously, “Raise
me!” Turning to look once more at the bold spires and the airy belfries,
I started toward the centre of the city, musing on many things.

Turning a corner, I found myself in front of a shop which made me
shudder. There are others like it in Barcelona and Saragossa, and indeed
in all other Spanish cities, but somehow I had not seen them. It was a
large, clean shop, with show-windows to the right and left of the door.
On the threshold stood a woman knitting a stocking and smiling, and at
the back of the shop a boy was playing. Nevertheless, when he saw that
shop the most phlegmatic man would feel faint at heart and the gayest
would be troubled. I give you a thousand chances to guess what it
contained. In the windows, behind the doors, along the walls, and as
high as they could be placed one above another, in nice rows like crates
of fruit, some covered by a finely embroidered curtain, others figured,
gilded, carved, and painted, were coffins--at the back, coffins for
adults; in front, coffins for children. One of the show-windows adjoined
the window of a butcher-shop in such a way that the coffins almost
touched the eggs and cheese. And one can easily imagine how a flustered
citizen, thinking he was going to buy his breakfast, might miss the door
and stumble in among the caskets--a mistake not likely to increase his

While we are speaking of shops let us enter a tobacco-shop and notice
how it differs from our own. In Spain, with the exception of cigarettes
and Havanas--which are sold in special shops--they do not smoke cigars
which cost less than tres cuartos, a sum equal to about three cents.
These resemble our Roman cigars, although they are not quite so large,
and are very good indeed or very bad according to their manufacture,
which has become rather careless. Regular customers, who are called in
Spanish by the very curious name of _parroquianos_, can get _escogidos_
(selected cigars) by paying something extra; the man of fastidious
taste, by adding still more to the sum, can secure _los escogidos de la
escogidos_ (the choicest of the choice). On the counter stands a little
plate with a wet sponge to moisten stamps, without the annoyance of
having to lick them, and in a corner is a little box for letters and
stamps. The first time one enters one of these shops, especially if
there are many in it, it makes one laugh to see the three or four
salesmen throwing the money on the counter so hard that it bounces up
higher than their heads, and catching it in the air with the ease of
dice-throwers. They do this only to ascertain by the sound if the money
is good, for there are a great many counterfeits in circulation. The
coin in commonest circulation is the _real_, which is equal to about
four cents; four _reales_ make a _peseta_; five _pesetas_, a _duro_,
which is equal to one dollar of blessed memory if you will add a few
pennies. Five dollars make a _doblon de Isabel_, a gold-piece. The
people calculate by _reales_. The _real_ is divided into eight
_cuartos_, or seventeen _ochavos_, or thirty-four _maravedis_--Moorish
coins which have lost their original form and resemble worn buttons
rather than coins. Portugal also has a monetary unit smaller than ours,
the _reis_, which is not equal to a half cent in value, and everything
is counted by the _reis_. Imagine a poor traveller who has arrived in
all his ignorance, eaten a good breakfast, and asked for his bill, when
he hears the waiter say with a stern face, not eighty cents, but _eight
hundred reis_! It makes his hair stand on end.

Before evening I went to see the birthplace of the Cid. If I had not
thought of it myself, the guides would certainly have suggested it to
me, for everywhere I went they kept whispering in my ear, “The remains
of the Cid!” “Monument of the Cid!” An old man, majestically wrapped in
his cloak, said to me with an air of protection, “_Venga usted commigo_”
(Come with me, sir), and he made me climb a hill overlooking the city,
on the top of which one can still see the remains of an enormous castle,
the ancient dwelling-place of the kings of Castile. Before reaching the
monument of the Cid one comes to a triumphal arch in the Doric style,
simple and graceful, which was erected by Philip II. in honor of
Ferdinand Gonzales on the same spot, it is said, where stood the house
in which the famous commander was born. A little farther on one finds
the monument of the Cid, erected in 1784. It is a stone column, standing
on a pedestal of masonry and surrounded by an heraldic shield which
bears this inscription: “In this place stood the house where was born,
in the year 1026, Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar, known as the Cid Campeador. He
died in Valencia in 1099, and his body was borne to the monastery of St.
Peter of Cardena near this city.” While I was reading these words the
cicerone told me a popular legend about the death of the hero. “When the
Cid died,” said he, very gravely, “there was no one left to guard his
corpse. A Jew entered the church, approaching the bier, and said,
‘Behold the great Cid, whose beard no one dared to touch so long as he
was alive. I will touch it now, and will see what he is able to do.’ So
saying, he stretched out his hand, but as he was just on the point of
touching it the corpse grasped the hilt of his sword and drew it a
hand’s-breadth out of the scabbard. The Jew uttered a cry and fell to
the ground half dead. The priests ran in, the Jew was lifted up, and
when he came to himself he told the miracle. Then they all looked toward
the Cid, and saw that his hand still rested on the hilt of his sword in
a threatening attitude. God willed that the body of the great warrior
should not be defiled by the hand of an unbeliever.” When the guide had
said this he looked at me, and, perceiving that I made not the least
sign of incredulity, he led me underneath a stone arch, which must have
been one of the old gates, a few steps distant from the monument, and,
pointing out a horizontal mark which was visible on the wall a few feet
above the ground, he said to me, “This is the measure of the Cid’s arms
when he was young and came here to play with his companions;” and he
stretched his arms along the mark to let me see how much longer it was.
Then he wished me to measure also, and I too was too short, whereupon he
gave me a look of triumph and started to go back to the city. Coming to
a lonely street, he stopped before the door of a church and said to me,
“This is the church of Saint Agnes, where the Cid made King Alfonso VI.
swear that he had not had any part in the murder of his brother Sancho.”
I asked him to tell me the whole story, and he continued:

“The prelates, the knights, and the other dignitaries of the state were
present. The Cid put the Bible on the altar and made the king place his
hand on it, and then the Cid said to him: ‘King Alfonso, you must swear
to me that you are not stained by the blood of Don Sancho my lord, and,
if you swear falsely, may you die by the hand of a traitorous vassal!’
and the king said, ‘Amen,’ but he changed color. And the Cid said again:
‘King Alfonso, you must swear that you neither ordered nor counselled
the death of Don Sancho my lord; and, if you swear falsely, may you die
by the hand of a traitorous vassal!’ and the king said, ‘Amen,’ but he
changed color a second time. Twelve vassals confirmed the oath of the
king. The Cid would have kissed his hand, but the king would not permit
him to do so, and hated him from that moment to the end of his life.”
The old man added, however, that another tradition records the fact that
he did not have King Alfonso sworn on the Bible, but on a bolt of the
church-door, and that for a long time travellers came from all the
countries of the world to see that bolt; that the people attributed to
it I know not what supernatural virtues, and so it was much spoken of in
every place; and that it gave rise to so many and such extravagant
fables that the bishop, Don Fray Pascual, was constrained to have it
removed, because it created a dangerous rivalry between the door and the
high altar. The cicerone told me nothing more, but one could fill
several volumes if he wished to collect all the traditions of the Cid
which are current in Spain. No legendary warrior was ever dearer to his
people than this terrible Rodrigo Diaz de Bivar. Poetry has made him
little less than a god; his glory lives in the national spirit of the
Spaniards, as though a few lustres, instead of eight centuries, had
passed since the times in which he lived. The heroic poem which is
called by his name, the greatest monument of the poetry of Spain, still
continues to be the most powerful national work in Spanish literature.

       *       *       *       *       *

As evening was drawing on I went to walk beneath the portico of the
Plaza Mayor, in the hope of seeing something of the people. But the rain
was pouring down and a high wind was blowing, so I found only some
groups of boys, workmen, and soldiers, and directly turned back to the
hotel. The emperor of Brazil had arrived in the morning, and was leaving
for Madrid that night. In the room where I dined, together with some
Spaniards--who talked pleasantly with me until the hour of departure
arrived--there dined also all the major-domos, the valets, servants, and
clerks of His Imperial Majesty, and the dear knows who else, a household
which sat around a large table and filled it full. In all my life I have
never seen a more motley crowd of human beings. There were white, black,
yellow, and copper-colored faces, with some eyes and noses and mouths
which could not be equalled in the whole collection of the _Pasquino_ of
Teza. Every one was talking in a different and much-abused language; one
spoke English, another Portuguese, another French, another Spanish,
while some spoke a mixture of all four languages, the like of which was
never heard before, adding words, sounds, and accents of some outlandish
dialect. However, they understood each other and jabbered all together,
making such a confusion that it seemed as though they were speaking the
horrible secret language of some savage land unknown to the world.

Before I left Old Castile, the cradle of the Spanish monarchy, I wished
to see Soria, the town built on the ruins of ancient Numantia; Segovia,
with its immense Roman aqueduct; Sant Idelfonso, the delightful garden
of Philip V.; and Avilo, the native city of Saint Theresa. But when I
had hurriedly and in desperation gone through the four elementary
operations of arithmetic before buying my ticket to Valladolid, I said
to myself that there was nothing great to be seen in those four cities,
that the “Guide” exaggerated, that fame has pieced out their little
attractions, that it is better to see a few things rather than many, if
only those few are well seen and will be remembered. I indulged in these
and other sophistries, and they corresponded perfectly with the results
of my calculation and the motives of my hypocrisy.

So I left Burgos without having really seen anything but monuments,
cicerones, and soldiers, for the fair Castilians, frightened by the
rain, had not dared to risk their little feet in the streets, and
therefore my recollections of the city are rather sad, in spite of the
gorgeousness of its colors and the magnificence of its cathedral.

From Burgos to Valladolid the country is almost the same as that from
Saragossa to Miranda. There are the same vast, desolate plains, bounded
by dun-colored hills of angular form with bare summits. These silent,
solitary wastes, flooded by dazzling light, bear one away in fancy to
African deserts, to the hermit’s life, to the sky, to the infinite, and
raise in the heart an irrepressible feeling of weariness and melancholy.
Surrounded by these plains, this solitude, this silence, one understands
the mystical nature of the Castilian people, the ardent faith of their
kings, the sacred inspiration of their poets, the divine ecstasy of
their saints, their churches, their grand cloisters, and their glorious


Valladolid, “the rich,” as Quevedo calls it, a famous dispenser of
colds,--Valladolid, of all the cities lying north of the Tagus, was the
city which I had the liveliest desire to see, although I knew that it
contained no grand artistic monuments and no modern buildings of
importance. Its name, its history, and its character had a peculiar
attraction for me as I had imagined them in my own way from my knowledge
of its inhabitants. I expected that it would be a noble, cheerful, and
studious city, and I could not picture its streets to my mind without
seeing Gongora walking here or Cervantes there or Leonardo de Argensola
yonder, and all the other poets, historians, and scholars who dwelt
there when it was the seat of the splendid court of the monarch. And as
I thought of the court I saw in the vast squares of this city, which had
so won my heart, a confused mingling of religious processions,
bull-fights, military parades, masquerades, balls--all the mad merriment
of the festival in celebration of the birth of Philip IV., from the
arrival of the English admiral with his retinue of six hundred to the
final banquet famous for the twelve hundred dishes of meat, to repeat
the popular tradition, without counting the plates of those who were not
served. I arrived in the night and went to the first hotel, when I fell
asleep with the delightful thought that I should awake in an unknown

And to awake in an unknown city when one has gone there from choice is
indeed a very lively pleasure. The thought that from the moment you step
out of the house in the morning until you return to it at night you will
do nothing but pass from curiosity to curiosity, from pleasure to
pleasure, that everything you see will seem new, and that at every step
you will be learning something, and that all will be impressed upon your
memory so long as you live; that through the livelong day you will be as
free as air and as gay as a lark, without a thought in the world unless
it be to amuse yourself, and that by amusing yourself you are at the
same time gaining health of body, mind, and soul; that, finally, the
termination of all these pleasures, instead of bringing to you a feeling
of melancholy, like the evening of a holiday, will be only the beginning
of another company of delights, which will attend you from that city to
the next, and from it to a third, and so on as long as your fancy is
pleased not to confine them within bounds,--all these thoughts, I say,
which present themselves in a crowd as soon as you open your eyes, give
you such a joyful surprise that

[Illustration: _Street in Valladolid_]

before you know it you find yourself standing in the middle of the room
with your hat on and the Guide in your hands.

Let us go, then, to enjoy Valladolid.

Alas! how changed from the time of Philip III.! The population, which
was then above one hundred thousand, has dwindled to less than twenty
thousand; in the principal streets there is a fair showing of university
students and tourists on their way to Madrid; the other streets are
dead. The city makes upon one the impression of a great abandoned
palace, where one still sees traces of carving, gilding, and mosaic, and
finds in some of the central rooms a few poor families which reflect by
their melancholy life the vast solitude of the edifice.

There are many spacious squares, an old palace, houses in ruins, empty
convents, long streets grass-grown and deserted; in short, all the
appearances of a great city fallen into decay. The most beautiful part
is the Plaza Mayor, a vast arena, encircled all around by a portico
supported by heavy columns of bluish granite, behind which rise houses,
all three stories in height. In front of the houses run three orders of
terraces of great length, where it is said twenty-four thousand people
can be conveniently seated. The portico extends along the two sides of a
wide street which opens into the square, and here and in two or three
other adjacent streets there is a great concourse of people. It was
market-day: under the porticoes and in the square swarmed a crowd of
country-folk, vegetable-sellers, and market-men, and, as they speak
Castilian with admirable purity of expression and pronunciation at
Valladolid, I began to stroll about among the baskets of lettuce and the
piles of oranges, to catch as I might the _bon-mots_ and the cadences of
that most beautiful language.

Among other things I remember a curious proverb repeated by a woman who
was vexed beyond endurance by a young bully. “_Sabe Usted_,” she said,
planting herself before him, “_lo que es que destruye al hombre?_” (I
stopped and pricked up my ears.) “_Tres muchos y tres pocos: mucho
hablar y poco saber; mucho gastar y poco tener; mucho presumir y nada
valer._” (Do you know, sir, what it is that ruins a man? Three muckles
and three mickles: much talking and little sense; much spending and
little keeping; much presumption and no worth.)

It seemed to me that I could perceive a great difference between the
voices of these people and those of the Catalans: here they were more
liquid and silvery, and the gestures too were livelier and the
expression of the faces more animated; but there was nothing remarkable
about their features and complexion, and in their dress they differed
very little from the peasants of Northern Italy.

It was in the square at Valladolid that it occurred to me for the first
time that I had not seen a pipe since I entered Spain. The
laboring-men, the peasants, the poor, all classes, smoke the cigarette,
and it is ridiculous to see great strapping fellows, with long
moustaches, going about with that little microscopic thing in their
mouths, half hidden in their beards. And they are very careful to smoke
it up to the very last particle of tobacco, until they have only a bit
of smouldering ashes left on their lower lip, and they even cling to
this as though it were a drop of liquor, and finally they spit out the
ashes with the air of one who is making a sacrifice.

Something else occurred to me also--a fact which I often observed
afterward as long as I remained in Spain: I never heard any whistling.

From the Plaza Mayor I passed on to the wide, cheerful Plaza of San
Pablo, where is the ancient royal palace. The façade is not remarkable
either for grandeur or beauty. I entered the doorway, and before I could
feel a sense of admiration for the magnificence of the hall I felt only
sadness at the sepulchral silence which reigned in it. Nothing else
produces the impression made upon one by a cemetery so closely as does
an abandoned castle, for there especially, to a greater extent than in
other places, the contrast is very strong and sharp between the
remembrance of what has been and the actual condition in which one finds
it. Alas for the superb retinue of plumed cavaliers! Alas for the
splendid feasts, the fervid enjoyment of a prosperity which seemed
eternal! It is a novel pleasure--that of coughing a little in front of
those hollow sepulchres, as invalids sometimes cough to test their
strength, and of hearing the echo of your lusty voice, which assures you
that you are young and hearty. On the inside of the palace there is a
court of generous size surrounded by busts of the Roman emperors in
demi-relief, a beautiful staircase, and wide galleries on the upper
stories. I coughed and the echo answered, “What health!” and I went out

A drowsy porter showed me another palace in the same square which I had
overlooked, and told me that in it was born the great king Philip II.,
from whom Valladolid had received the title of a city. “You know, sir,
Philip II., son of Charles V., father of”--“I know, I know,” I hastened
to reply to save the narration, and, casting a gloomy glance at the
gloomy palace, I passed on.

Opposite to the royal palace is the Dominican convent of San Pablo, with
a façade of the Gothic order so richly and extravagantly ornamented with
statuettes, bas-reliefs, and traceries of every sort that one half of
them would amply adorn an immense palace. At that moment the sun was
shining on it, and the effect was magnificent. While I stood
contemplating at my ease that labyrinth of sculpture, from which it
seems one’s eye will never turn when once it has become fixed upon it, a
little rogue, six or eight years old, who had been sitting in a distant
corner of the square, rushed from his place as though he had been thrown
from a sling, and ran toward me, crying in an affectionate, plaintive
tone, “_Señorito! Señorito!_ I like you so much!”

This is something new, I thought, for the ragamuffins to make
declarations of love. He came and stood in front of me, and I asked,
“Why do you love me?”

“Because,” he answered frankly, “you will give me alms.”

“And why should I give you alms?”

“Because,” he replied, hesitating, and then resolutely, in the tones of
one who has found a good reason--“because, sir, you have a book.”

The Guide which I held under my arm! But, you see, one must travel to
learn these new things. I carried a Guide, foreigners carry Guides;
foreigners give alms; therefore I ought to give him alms; all this
reasoning instead of saying, “I am hungry!”

I was pleased by the plausibility of this discovery, and dropped into
the hands of this profound boy the few _cuartos_ which I found in my

Turning into a street near by, I saw the façade of the Dominican college
of San Gregorio, Gothic in its architecture, and more dignified and
richer than the convent of San Pablo. Then I went from street to street
until I came to the square of the cathedral. At the point where the
street widens into the square I met a very graceful little Spanish
lady, to whom I might have applied those two verses of Espronceda:

    “Y que yo la he de querer
     Por su paso de andadura,”

or that line of ours, “She walks not like a mortal thing,” for in their
gait lies the supreme grace of the Spanish women. She had in her walk
those thousand fugitive little friskings and easy undulating motions
which the eye cannot follow one by one, nor the memory retain, nor words
express, but which, taken altogether, form the most feminine of woman’s
charms. Here I found myself in an embarrassing position. I saw the great
mass of the cathedral looming up at the end of the square, and curiosity
prompted me to look at it; but a few feet in front of me I saw this
little person, and a curiosity not less lively constrained me to look at
her; and so, as I did not wish to lose the first glimpse of the church
nor the fleeting sight of the woman, my glances ran from her face to the
dome and from the dome to her face with such breathless rapidity that
the fair unknown must have certainly thought that I had discovered a
correspondence of line or some mysterious bond of sympathy between the
building and herself, for she also turned and looked at the church, and
smiled as she passed me.

The cathedral of Valladolid, although it is unfinished, is one of the
largest cathedrals in Spain. It is an imposing mass of granite, and
produces upon the mind of the incredulous an effect similar to that
produced by the church of the Pillar at Saragossa. On first entering one
flies in thought to the Basilica of St. Peter’s. Architecturally, it is
dignified and simple, and receives a sombre reflection from the dark
color of the stone. The walls are bare, the chapels dark, the arched
columns, the doors, and everything gigantic and severe. It is one of
those cathedrals which make one stammer out his prayers with a sense of
secret dread. I had not yet seen the Escurial, but I thought of it. It
was, in fact, designed by the same architect. The church was left
unfinished, so that the work of building the convent might be carried
on, and on visiting the convent one is reminded of the church.

In a little chapel to the right of the great altar rises the tomb of
Pedro Ansurez, a gentleman and benefactor of Valladolid, whose sword has
been placed above his monument. I was alone in the church and heard the
echoing of my footsteps. Suddenly a keen sense of fear seized me and an
indescribable feeling of childish fright: I turned my back upon the tomb
and went out.

As I was going out I met a priest and asked where the house of Cervantes
was. He answered that it was in the street of Cervantes, and pointed out
the way I ought to take. I thanked him, and he asked me if I was a
stranger; I said I was.

“From Italy?”

“Yes, from Italy.”

He scanned me from head to foot, raised his hat, and went on his way
down the street. I too started off, in the opposite direction, and the
thought came to me: “I’ll wager that he has stopped to see how one of
the Pope’s prison-keepers is made.” I looked back, and there he was,
sure enough, standing stock still in the middle of the square, staring
at me with all his eyes. I could not keep from laughing, so I excused my
amusement with the salutation, “_Beso a usted la mano!_” (I give you my
hand), and he called back, “_Buenos dias!_” (Good-day), and was off. But
he ought to have added, not without surprise, that for an Italian I had
not such a villainous face, after all. I crossed two or three quiet,
narrow streets, and entered the street of Cervantes, a long, straight,
dirty thoroughfare lined with wretched houses. I walked along it for
some distance without meeting anybody but some soldiers and
servants-girls and an occasional mule, my eyes busily scanning the walls
for the inscription, “_A qui vivio Cervantes_,” etc. (“Here lived
Cervantes,” etc.). But I found nothing. On reaching the end of the
street I found myself in the open country. There was not a soul in
sight. I stood a while to look around, and then I retraced my steps. I
happened to meet a muleteer and asked him, “Where is the house in which
Cervantes lived?” The only answer he gave me was a blow for the mule as
he went on his way. I questioned a soldier: he sent me to a shop. In the
shop I questioned an old woman. She did not understand, and, believing
that I wished to buy a copy of _Don Quixote_, sent me to a book-store.
The bookseller, who wanted to play the wiseacre and could not bring his
mind to confess that he knew nothing about the house of Cervantes, began
to beat about the bush, talking of the life and works of that
“marvellously great writer;” so that, to cap the climax, I went off
about my own affairs, without seeing anything. However, the memory of
this house must be preserved (and no doubt if I had searched more
diligently I should have been successful), not only because Cervantes
lived in it, but because an act was committed there which all of his
biographers mention. One night, a short time after the birth of Philip
II., a cavalier of the court happened to meet an unknown man, and for
some unknown reason high words were passed between them: both drew their
swords and fell to fighting, and the cavalier was mortally wounded. The
other disappeared. The wounded man, all drenched with blood, ran to a
neighboring house to find succor. In the house lived Cervantes with his
family, together with a widow of a famous chronicler and her two sons.
One of them ran and lifted the wounded man from the ground and called
Cervantes, who was already in bed. Cervantes got up and helped his
friend carry the cavalier into the widow’s house, where he died two days
later. Justice took a hand in the case and sought to ferret out the
cause of the duel. It was believed that the combatants were both paying
court to the daughter or niece of Cervantes. The entire family were cast
into prison. Shortly afterward they were set at liberty, and nothing
more was heard of it. But even this had to befall the poor author of
_Don Quixote_, so that he might truly say that he had experienced every

In this same street of Cervantes it was my good fortune to witness a
scene which repaid me a thousand times for not finding the house. As I
passed a door I spied a little Castilian girl of twelve or thirteen
years, as beautiful as an angel, standing at the foot of the stairs with
a baby in her arms. I cannot find words sufficiently delicate and
refined to describe what she was doing. A childish curiosity to know the
delight of mother-love had softly tempted her. The buttons of her little
bodice had been slowly slipped through the button-holes one by one under
the pressure of a trembling finger. She was alone; there was not a sound
in the street; she had hidden her hand in her bosom; then perhaps she
stood a moment in doubt, but, glancing at the baby and feeling her
courage renewed, and making a final effort with the hidden hand, she
uncovered her breast as well as she could, and, opening the chubby lips
of the baby with her thumb and finger, she said tenderly, “_Hela aqui_”
(Here it is), her face glowing and a sweet smile in her eyes. Hearing my
step, she gave a cry and disappeared.

Instead of the house of Cervantes I found, a little farther along, the
house in which was born José Zorrilla, one of the most gifted of the
Spanish poets of our time, who is still living, but must not be
mistaken, as many in Italy do mistake him, for Zorilla the radical
leader, although he too has some poetry in his head and scatters it with
a liberal hand through his political speeches, supplementing it with
bursts of eloquence and furious gestures. In my opinion José Zorrilla is
to Spanish letters a little more than Prati is to our Italian
literature, and the two have many points of similarity--religious
feeling, passion, productiveness, spontaneity, and a certain indefinable
quality, vague and daring, which fires the youthful fancy. Zorrilla has
a way of reading in resonant, solemn tones, it is said, somewhat
monotonous, and yet many Spaniards rave over it. In form I should say
the Spanish poet is more correct; they are both prolix, and in each
there is the germ of a great poet. Admirable above every other work of
Zorrilla are his “Songs of the Troubadour,” narrative poems and legends,
full of the tenderest love-lyrics and descriptions of incomparable
beauty. He has written also for the stage. His _Don Juan Tenario_, an
ideal drama, in eight-line rhymed stanzas, is one of the most popular
dramatic operas of Spain. It is performed once a year on All Souls’ Day
with great magnificence, and the people crowd to the performance as they
would to a festival. Some of the lyrics scattered through the drama run
through the speech of all, and especially is this true of Don Juan’s
declaration to his love, whom he has stolen away; which is one of the
gentlest, tenderest, and most ardent expressions that could possibly
fall from the lips of an enamored youth in the most impetuous burst of
passion. I am confident that the coldest of men could not read these
lines without a thrill. The woman’s answer is possibly even stronger:
“Don Juan! Don Juan! I implore thee, of thy noble compassion, rend my
heart or love me, for I adore thee!” Let some fair Andalusian repeat
these lines and see if you do not appreciate them; or, if this be
impossible in your case, read the ballad called “La Pasionaria,” which
is rather long, but full of affection and an entrancing melancholy. I
cannot think of it without my eyes filling with tears. I always see the
two lovers, Aurora and Felice, in the flush of youth, alone at the close
of day in the deserted fields, going their opposite ways, turning at
every step, waving good-bye, and never satisfied with gazing back at
each other. The lines are what the Spanish call _asonantes_ (unrhymed),
but so composed and arranged that the penult of each line, equal or
unequal, is accented and always has the same vowel. This is the most
popular verse in Spain--the verse of the _Romancero_, in which very many
can improvise with surprising facility; nor is a foreigner able to
perceive all its harmony unless his ear has been trained.

“May I see the picture-gallery?”

“Why not, caballerito?” The portress opened the door of the Colegio de
Santa Cruz, and followed me inside. There are many paintings, but
besides some by Rubens, Mascagni, Cardenas, Vincenzo Carduccio, the rest
of them are of very slight merit, gathered together from convents here
and there, and hung at random in the rooms, along the corridors,
staircases, and galleries. None the less, it is a museum which leaves
upon the mind a profound impression, not very unlike that produced by
one’s first sight of a bull-fight; in fact, it is more than six months
since that day, and yet the impression is still as distinct as though it
was made only a few hours ago. The gloomiest, the bloodiest, the most
horrid work from the brushes of the finest Spanish painters are found
there. Imagine gaping wounds, mutilated limbs, heads severed from the
trunks, ghastly corpses, bodies that have been bruised, torn asunder,
racked with the cruelest tortures you have found described in the
romances of Guerrazzi or in the _History of the Inquisition_, and you
will have formed an adequate idea of the gallery of Valladolid. You pass
from room to room and see only faces distorted by death, faces of the
dying, of demoniacs, of executioners, and on every side blood, blood,
blood! until you seem to see blood spurting from the walls and feel as
though you were wading in it, like Father Bresciani’s Babette in the
prisons of Naples. It is a collection of woes and horrors enough to fill
to overflowing all the hospitals in the country.

At first one feels a sense of sadness, then a shudder of abhorrence, and
finally far more than abhorrence--indignation against the
butcher-artists who have so shamelessly debased the art of Raphael and

The most noticeable painting which I saw, among the many bad ones,
although it too was a cruel Spanish realism, was a picture representing
the circumcision of Jesus, with all the most minute details of the
instruments and the operation, and a circle of spectators standing
motionless with bowed heads, like the students of a surgical clinic
around their chief.

“Let us go! let us go!” I said to the courteous portress; “if I stay
here half an hour longer I shall be burned, flayed, or quartered. Have
you nothing more cheerful to show me?”

She took me to see Rubens’ “Assumption,” a grand, effective painting
which would look well above a great altar--a majestic, radiant Virgin,
ascending to heaven, and around her, above and below, a host of angelic
faces, wreaths of flowers, golden hair, white wings, waving pinions,
and dancing sunbeams. It is all tremulous, and pierces the air and soars
upward like a flock of doves, so that it seems from moment to moment
that the whole scene ought to rise and disappear.

But it was not ordered that I should leave the museum with a pleasant
picture before my eyes. The portress opened a door and with a laugh bade
me enter. I entered, and turned back in fright. It seemed to me that I
had fallen upon a madhouse of giants. The vast room was full of colossal
statues of painted wood which represented the drama of the
Passion--soldiers, jailers, and spectators, each in the attitude
befitting his office, some in the act of scourging, others binding the
criminals, others smiting, and wagging their heads--horrid faces
horribly distorted, a few kneeling women, Jesus nailed to an enormous
cross, the thieves, the ladder, the instruments of torture,--in short,
everything one could think of to represent the Passion as it was once
portrayed in the square, with a group of these huge statues which must
have required as much room as a house. And here too were wounds, heads
dripping with blood, and gashes enough to sicken you.

“See that Judas there?” said the woman as she pointed out one of the
statues--a gallows face which I shall dream of sometimes. “When they
arranged the groups outside, they had to take it down, it was so ugly
and sad. The people hated it like death, and wanted to break it to
pieces, and as there was always such a great to-do to guard it and to
keep their threats from becoming deeds, it was decided to form the
groups without it.” The most beautiful statue, to my eyes, was a
Madonna, the work of Berruguete, Juan de Juni, or Hernandez--I do not
know which, for they all three have statues there. She was kneeling with
her hands clasped, and her eyes turned toward heaven with an expression
of such passionate sorrow that one is moved to pity as though the statue
were a living person; and, in fact, a few steps distant it seems to be
alive, so that on seeing it suddenly one cannot check an exclamation of

“The English,” said the portress (for the cicerones repeat the opinions
of the English as a confirmation of their own, and sometimes attribute
to them the most tiresome extravagances),--“the English say that only
words are lacking.”

I joyfully assented to the opinion of the English, gave the portress the
customary _reales_, and, taking my departure with a head full of
sanguinary images, hailed the cheerful sky with an unwonted feeling of
pleasure, like a young student leaving the dissecting-room where he has
been assisting at his first autopsy.

I visited the beautiful palace of the University, La Plaza Campo Grande,
where the Holy Inquisition kindled its fagots--a wide, cheerful square,
surrounded by fifteen convents. I went to see a church adorned with
famous paintings, and then my brain began to confuse the images of the
things I had seen. I slipped the guide-book into my pocket and took my
way toward the great square. I did the same thing in all the other
cities, for when the mind becomes tired it may be a good sign of
constancy to force one’s attention in deference to that mistaken idea of
following the guide-book, but it is a dangerous practice for one who is
travelling with the intention of afterward telling the impressions of
what he had seen. For one cannot remember everything, and it is better
not to confuse the vivid remembrances of the principal objects with a
crowd of vague recollections of things of less account. Moreover, one
never has pleasant recollections of a city where he has used his head
for a storehouse.

To see how the city appeared in the evening I took a walk under the
porticoes, where they were beginning to light up the shops, and there
was a continual passing of soldiers, students, and girls, who
disappeared through the little passages, darted between the columns, and
glided here and there to escape the eager hands of their pursuers, who
were enveloped in their flowing capes; a troop of boys were romping
about the square, filling the air with their sonorous cries: and
everywhere there were groups of _caballeros_, among whom one
occasionally heard the names Serrano, Sagasta, and Amadeus alternating
with the words _justicia_, _libertad_, _traición_, _honra de España_,
and the like. I entered a very large café which was full of students,
and there satisfied the natural talent of eating and drinking, as a
refined writer would say. Then, as I had a great desire to talk, I
noticed two students who were sipping their coffee and milk at a
neighboring table, and without any introduction I addressed one of
them--a very natural thing to do in Spain, where one is always sure of
receiving a courteous response. The two students came over, and, as
every one may imagine, we discussed the absorbing subjects of Italy,
Amadeus, the university, Cervantes, the Andalusian women, balls, Dante,
travels; in short, it was a course in the geography, the literary
history, and the customs of the two countries; then a glass of Malaga
and a friendly hand-clasp.

O caballeros of happy memory, comrades in every café, companions at all
the hotel tables, near neighbors in every theatre, fellow-travellers on
all the railway-trains in Spain! who so often, moved by gentle pity for
an unknown stranger, scanning with sad eyes the railway-guide or the
_Correspondencia Española_, thinking of his family, his friends, his
distant country,--who with generous impulse have offered him the
cigarette and drawn him into conversation; who have broken the course of
his gloomy thoughts and have calmed and cheered him,--I thank you,
caballeros of happy memory, whoever you may be, Carlists or Alphonsists
or Amadeists or Liberals--from the bottom of my heart I thank you in the
name of all Italians who are travelling or who will travel in your dear
country; and I swear on the eternal volume of Miguel Cervantes that
whenever I hear your highly-civilized European brothers condemning your
fierce nature and savage manners, I will rise in your defence with the
fire of an Andalusian and the constancy of a Catalan so long as I have
the strength to cry, “Long live hospitality!”

A few hours later I found myself in the carriage of a train bound for
Madrid; the starting whistle was still sounding when I clapped my hand
to my forehead. Alas! it was too late! I had been to Valladolid and had
forgotten to visit the room where Christopher Columbus died!


It was day when one of my companions shouted “Caballero!” in my
ear.--“Are we at Madrid?” I asked as I awoke.--“Not yet,” was the
answer, “but look!” I turned toward the country and saw, half a mile
away on the side of a high mountain, the convent of the Escurial
illuminated by the first rays of the sun. “The grandest of the grand
things on the earth”--as it has been called by an illustrious
traveller--did not seem to me at first sight that immense edifice which
the Spaniards consider “the eighth wonder of the world.” However, I
uttered my “Oh!” like the other travellers who then saw it for the first
time, reserving all my admiration for the day when I should see it near
at hand. From the Escurial to Madrid the railroad crosses a barren plain
which reminds one of the country around Rome.

“Have you never seen Madrid?” asked my neighbor. I replied that I had

“Impossible!” exclaimed the good Spaniard, turning to look at me with a
air of curiosity, as though he was saying to himself, “Let us see what
sort of a creature a man is who never saw Madrid.” Then he began to
enumerate the grand things that I should see: “What walks! what cafés!
what theatres! what women! If one has a hundred thousand dollars to
spend, there is nothing better than Madrid; it is a great monster that
lives on fortunes. If I were in your place, I should take pleasure in
thrusting my fortune also down its throat.”

I felt for my flabby pocket-book and murmured, “Poor monster!”

“Here we are!” cried the Spaniard. “Look!”

I put my head out of the window.

“That is the royal palace.”

I saw an immense pile on an eminence, but shut my eyes quickly, for the
sun was shining in my face. Everybody got out, and then commenced the
customary bustling

    “Of cloaks and shawls and other rags”

which almost always shuts out the first view of the city. The train
stopped, and I alighted to find myself in a square full of coupés
surrounded by a clamorous crowd. A hundred hands are extended for my
valise, a hundred mouths shout in my ear; it is a devilish pack of
porters, cabbies, cicerones, hotel-clerks, guards, and boys. I elbow my
way through them, jump on an omnibus full of people, and am off. We go
down an avenue, cross a great square, turn into a long straight street,
and arrive at the Puerta del Sol.

It is a stupendous sight! A semicircular square of vast extent,
surrounded by high buildings, at the mouth of ten great streets like so
many torrents, from every one of which pours a continuous roaring flood
of people and of vehicles. Everything one sees is in proportion to the
immensity of the place: sidewalks as wide as streets, cafés as wide as
squares, a fountain the size of a lake--on every side a dense,
rapidly-shifting crowd, a discordant roar, a subtle air of cheerfulness
and gaiety in the faces, the gestures, and the colors, which makes one
feel that neither the people nor the city is entirely strange, and gives
one an insane desire to join in the uproar, to salute everybody, to run
here and there, as if one were revisiting those sights and people rather
than seeing them for the first time. I enter a hotel, and leave it
immediately, and begin to wander at random through the city. There are
no grand palaces, no ancient monuments of art, but wide, clean, cheerful
streets, flanked by houses painted in lively colors, and interrupted by
open squares of a thousand different forms, as though they have been
dropped here and there by chance, and in every square there is a garden,
a fountain, and a statuette. Some streets run up hill in such a manner
that on turning into them one sees the sky at the end, and one imagines
that they open into the country, but when one has reached the top
another long street stretches off as far as one can see.

Every little while there are crossways where five, six, and even eight
streets meet, and here there is a continuous stream of carriages and
people passing each other. The walls are covered for long spaces with
show-bills and placards; in the shops there is an incessant coming and
going; the cafés are crowded; everywhere there is the rush of a great
city. Alcalá (Castle) Street, so wide that it looks like a rectangular
square, cuts Madrid in half from the Puerta del Sol eastward, and ends
in a vast park which extends all along one side of the city and contains
gardens, promenades, open squares, theatres, bull-rings, triumphal
arches, museums, palaces, and fountains.

I jumped into a carriage, saying to the driver, “Where you will.” Past
the statue of Murillo, up Alcalá Street, down the Street of the Turk,
where General Prim was assassinated; across the square of the Cortes,
where stands the statue of Miguel Cervantes; through the Plaza Mayor,
where blazed the fires lighted by the Inquisition; and then back again,
past the house of Lope de Vega, out into the vast Plaza del Oriente,
which stretches in front of the royal palace, where towers the
equestrian statue of Philip IV. in the midst of an oval garden
surrounded by forty colossal statues--climbing up toward the centre of
the city, across other wide streets and cheerful squares, and crossways
thronged with people, until finally I return to the hotel, declaring
that Madrid is rich, grand, gay, populous, and attractive, and that I am
going to see it all, and stay and enjoy it so long as my account-book
and the mildness of the season will permit.

In the course of a few days a good friend found me a _casa de
huéspedes_, a guest-house, and I installed myself there. These
guest-houses are nothing else than the homes of families who give board
and lodging to students, artists, and foreigners at prices which vary,
understand, according to the manner in which you choose to eat and
sleep, but which are always lower than the hotel rates, with the
inestimable advantage of breathing the air of home-life, forming
friendships, and being treated as a member of the family rather than as
a boarder. The mistress of the house was a pleasant lady on the hither
side of fifty, the widow of a painter who had studied at Rome, Florence,
and Naples, and who had all his life cherished a grateful and
affectionate remembrance of Italy. She too, as was natural, displayed a
very lively sympathy toward our country, and manifested it by joining me
every day at dinner, when she would recount the life, death, and
miraculous doings of all her relatives and friends, as though I was the
only confidant she had in Madrid. I met few Spaniards who spoke so
rapidly, so frankly, and with such an easy flow of phrases, _bon-mots_,
similes, proverbs, and expressions. At first this disconcerted me, for I
understood little and was every moment obliged to ask her to repeat; nor
was I always able to make myself understood. In a word, it was impressed
upon me that in studying the language of the books I had wasted a great
deal of time in storing my memory with words and phrases which are
seldom used in ordinary conversation, while, on the other hand, I had
neglected very many other forms of speech which are indispensable. I was
obliged, therefore, to begin again, to rally my forces, to make notes,
and, above all, to keep my ear always on the _qui vive_, so that I might
profit as much as possible by the speech of the people. And I was
convinced of this fact: that one may live for ten, thirty, or forty
years in a foreign city, but unless one makes an effort at once, unless
one devotes considerable time to study, unless one is always standing,
as Giusti said, “with one’s eyes wide open,” one will either never learn
to speak the language or will speak it incorrectly. At Madrid I was
acquainted with some old Italians who had lived in Spain from their
earliest youth, and yet they spoke wretched Spanish. Indeed, it is not
an easy language, even for us Italians, or, to speak more clearly, it
presents the great difficulty of easy languages, for it is not allowable
to speak them poorly, and yet by so doing one can make one’s self
understood. The Italian who wishes to speak Spanish in conversation
with cultured people, where every one would understand him if he spoke
French, must justify his audacity by speaking with facility and grace.

Now, the Spanish language, precisely because it is more closely allied
to the Italian than to the French, is also more difficult to speak
rapidly, and, for the same reason, more difficult to speak by ear,
without making awkward mistakes, because, for example, it is much easier
to say _propre_, _mortuaire_, _delice_ (the French words) without danger
of letting slip the Italian _proprio_, _mortuairo_, _delizia_, than it
is to say the Spanish _propio_, _mortuorio_, _delicia_. One falls back
into Italian unconsciously--inverts the syntax every moment, and always
has one’s own language in one’s ear or on one’s tongue, so that one
keeps stammering, confusing words, and betraying one’s self.

Neither is the pronunciation of Spanish less difficult than that of
French. The Moorish, although easy to pronounce, is very difficult when
two _j_’s occur in a word or several of them in a clause. The _y_, which
is pronounced as stutterers pronounce _s_, can only be acquired by
patient effort, for it is a sound which at first proves very unpleasant,
and many who are familiar with the sound do not like to hear it. But if
there is a city in Europe where one is able to acquire the language of a
country thoroughly, that city is Madrid, and the same thing may be said
of Toledo, Valladolid, and Burgos. The people speak as the scholars
write: the differences in the pronunciation of the cultured classes and
the people of the town are very slight.

And, even leaving these four cities out of the question, the Spanish
language is much more used and much more common, and consequently much
more vigorous and forcible, in the daily press, on the stage, and in the
popular literature than is the case with the Italian language. There are
in Spain the Valencian, the Catalan, the Galician, and the Murcian
dialects and the very ancient language of the Basque provinces. But
Spanish is spoken in the two Castiles, in Arragon, in Estremadura, and
in Andalusia; that is, in the five great provinces. The squib enjoyed at
Saragossa is enjoyed at Seville also; the popular phrase which makes a
hit in the theatres of Salamanca produces the same effect in the
theatres of Granada. They say that the Spanish of to-day is not at all
the language of Cervantes, Quevedo, and Lope de Vega; that the French
have corrupted it; that if Charles V. should come to life again, he
would no longer call it “the language to speak with God;” and that
Sancho Panza would not be understood and enjoyed. Alas! he who has
frequented the little cook-shops and the low-rates theatre of the
suburbs unwillingly acquiesces in this sentence.

To pass from the tongue to the palate, one needs a little good-will to
accustom one’s self to certain sauces, gravies, and poor soups of the
Spanish cuisine, but I accustomed myself to them. The French, who are as
fussy in the matter of eating as spoiled children, invoke the wrath of
Heaven upon it. Dumas says that in Spain he has suffered from hunger. In
a book on Spain which was lately before my eyes it was stated that the
Spanish live only on honey, fungi, eggs, and snails. But this is all
stuff and nonsense. The same might be said of our cooking. I have known
many Spaniards whose stomachs were turned by the sight of maccaroni and
gravy. They make most too many potpies, they do not know how to use fat,
and they season a little too highly, but hardly enough to take away
Dumas’s appetite, and, among other things, they are master-hands at

Then their _puchero_, the national dish, eaten every day by everybody in
every place--I speak the truth, I ate it like an out-and-out
glutton,--the _puchero_ is to the culinary art what the anthology is to
literature, a little of the best of everything. A good piece of boiled
beef forms the nucleus of the dish, and around this a wing of a fowl, a
slice of _chorizo_ (sausage), lard, herbs, and bacon, and, above and
below and in all the interstices, _garbanzos_. Epicures pronounce the
name of _garbanzos_ with reverence. They are a sort of chick-pea, very
large, very tender, and very succulent--peas, an extravagant man might
say, that have fallen down from some world where a vegetation equal to
ours is made fruitful by a stronger sun. Such is the ordinary _puchero_.
But every family modifies it according to its purse. The poor are
content with meat and _garbanzos_. The rich add a hundred exquisite
tidbits. After all, it is a dinner rather than a dish, and very many eat
nothing else.

A good _puchero_ and a bottle of _Val de Peñas_ are enough to satisfy
any one. I say nothing of the oranges, the Malaga grapes, asparagus,
artichokes, and every sort of vegetable and fruit, which, as every one
knows, are very fine and good in Spain. Nevertheless, the Spanish are
small eaters, and because the pepper and highly-seasoned sauces and salt
meats predominate in their cuisine, because they eat chorizos
(sausages), which, as they say, _levantan las piedras_, or rather burn
their intestines, they drink very little wine. After the fruit, instead
of beginning to sip a good bottle, they usually take a cup of coffee and
milk, and they rarely drink wine in the morning. At the table d’hote in
the hotels I have never seen a Spaniard empty a bottle, while I, who
emptied mine, was stared at in astonishment, as though I was a
scandalous beast. One rarely meets a drunken man in a Spanish city, even
on a holiday, and on this account, when one considers their hot blood
and the very free use they make of knives and daggers, there occur fewer
fights which lead to death or bloodshed than is generally believed
outside of Spain.

As I had found board and lodging, there remained nothing else for me to
do but wander through the city with the Guidebook in my pocket and a
_tres-cuartos_ cigar in my mouth--“an occupation easy and

During the first days I could not keep away from the plaza of the Puerta
del Sol. I would stay there hour after hour, and was so amused by it
that I could willingly have spent days there. The square is worthy of
its fame, not so much for its size and beauty as for the people, the
life, the variety of scene which it presents at every hour of the day.
It is not a square like other squares: it is at once a great
reception-hall, a promenade, a theatre, an academy, a garden, a
parade-ground, and a bazaar. From the peep of day until after midnight
it contains one stationary crowd, and another crowd that comes and goes
through the ten great streets which meet there, and all the while a
procession and intermingling of carriages which make one’s head whirl.
Business-men congregate there; there gather the demagogues who have
nothing to do, unemployed clerks, old pensioners, and young dandies;
there they talk business and politics, make love, promenade, read the
papers, dun their debtors, search for their friends, hatch plots against
the ministry, coin the false reports which make the round of Spain, and
weave the scandalous chronicle of the city.

On the sidewalks, which are wide enough to hold four carriages abreast,
one is obliged to force one’s way. In a space no larger than a flagstone
you see a civil guard, a matchseller, a broker, a beggar, and a soldier,
all in a bunch. Troops of scholars pass servants, generals, ministers,
peasants, _toreros_, and gentlemen. Ruined spendthrifts ask for alms in
a whisper, so as not to be discovered; lewd wretches look at you with
questioning eyes; women lightly nudge you on the elbow; on every side
there are hats in the air, smiles, shaking of hands, cheery greetings,
cries of “_Largo!_” from the laden porters and from the hawkers with
their wares hanging about their necks; the shouts of newsboys, the
shrill cry of the water-carrier, the tooting of the coach-horns, the
cracking of whips, the clank of swords, the tinkling of guitars, and the
songs of blind beggars. There regiments pass with bands of music; the
king passes; the square is sprinkled with great jets of water, which
cross in the air; men go by carrying placards to advertise the shows;
swarms of gamins with their arms full of extra editions; then an army of
government clerks; the bands of music pass again; lights appear in the
shops; the crowd grows denser; the blows on the elbow become more
frequent; the voices grow louder; the uproar and commotion increase. It
is not the activity of a busy people: it is the vivacity of a
high-spirited race; it is a Carnival gaiety, an idleness that cannot
rest and overflows in a feverish desire for pleasure, which seizes one
and holds him fast or drives him around like a reel and forbids him to
leave the square--a curiosity which never wearies, a happy desire to be
amused, to think of nothing, to talk small talk, to stroll about and
laugh. Such is the famous plaza of the Puerta del Sol.

An hour spent there is enough to make one familiar with the people of
Madrid in their various aspects. The common people dress like those of
our great cities; the upper classes, when they lay aside the cloak which
is worn in winter, are attired in the Parisian mode; and from the duke
to the clerk, from the stripling to the tottering old man, they are all
neat and tastefully dressed, bepowdered and perfumed, as though they had
just stepped out of a toilet-room. In this respect they resemble the
Neapolitans with their fine heads of black hair, their carefully-trimmed
beards, and their feminine hands and feet. One rarely sees a low hat:
they all wear high hats. Then there are canes, chains, ornaments, pins
and ribbons in their buttonholes by the thousand.

Except on certain holidays the ladies also dress like the French. The
women of the middle classes still wear the mantilla, but the ancient
satin shoes, the _peineta_, the bright colors--the national costume, in
a word--have disappeared. They are, however, the same little women, so
praised for their large eyes, their tiny hands, and small feet, with
jet-black hair, a skin that is rather fair than dark, well formed, of
good carriage, active, and vivacious.

In order to view the fair sex of Madrid one should go to the promenade
of the _Prado_, which is to Madrid what the _Cascine_ are to Florence.

The Prado, to be precise, is a very wide avenue, of no great length,
flanked by smaller avenues which run toward the eastern part of the
city. It lies beside the famous gardens of _Buen Retiro_, and is closed
at both ends by two enormous stone vases, the one surmounted by a
colossal Cybele sitting on a shell and drawn by sea-horses; the other,
by a Neptune of equal size, both of them crowned with copious fountains,
whose waters interlace and fall gracefully with a pleasant murmur.

This great avenue, lined along the sides with thousands of chairs and
hundreds of benches, where men sell water and oranges, is the most
frequented part of the Prado, and is called the _Salon del Prado_. But
the walk extends beyond the fountain of Neptune: there are other
avenues, other fountains, and other statues, and one may walk among the
trees and fountains as far as Our Lady of Atocha, the famous church
loaded with gifts by Isabella II. after the outrage of February 2, 1852,
and where King Amadeus went to visit the body of General Prim. From that
point there is an extended view of a vast tract of the desert plain
around Madrid and of the snowy summits of the Guadarrama. But the Prado
is the most

[Illustration: _Fountain of Cybele, Alcalá, Madrid_]

famous, not the most beautiful nor the largest, promenade in the city.
Beyond the Salon, toward the fountain of Cybele, the promenade of
_Recoletos_ extends for almost two miles, flanked on the right by the
large, cheerful town of Salamanca, the home of the rich, of the
deputies, and the poets, and on the left by a long chain of small
palaces, villas, theatres, and new buildings painted in vivid colors. It
is not a single promenade: there are ten avenues, one beside another,
and each more beautiful than the last--streets for driving, streets for
riding, walks for persons who like a crowd, and walks for those who
prefer to be alone, divided from each other by endless hedges of myrtle,
bordered and broken by gardens and groves, in which appear statues and
fountains, and little footpaths which cross each other. On fête-days one
may there enjoy a charming spectacle. From one end of the avenues to the
other pass two processions of people, carriages, and horsemen, going in
opposite directions.

In the Prado one can scarcely walk. The gardens are crowded by thousands
of boys; the theatres are full of music; every one hears the murmur of
fountains, the swish of skirts, the shouting of children, and the
cantering of horses. It is not only the movement and the gaiety of a
promenade: it is the pomp, the uproar, the confusion, the feverish
delight of a fête. The city is deserted during those hours. At dusk the
whole of that immense crowd turns back into the great Alcalá Street,
and then from the fountain of Cybele, as far as the Puerta del Sol, one
sees only a sea of heads, furrowed by a line of carriages as far as the
eyes can reach.

For promenades--and, in fact, for theatres and spectacular
exhibitions--Madrid is, without doubt, one of the first cities of the
world. Besides the great opera-house, which is very large and rich,
besides the theatre for comedy, the theatre of the Zarzuela, the Madrid
circus--all of which are first class in point of size, appointments, and
attendance--there is a circle of smaller theatres for dramatic
companies, for equestrian exhibitions, musical organizations, and
vaudevilles--parlor theatres, theatres with boxes and galleries,
theatres, big and little, for high and low, to suit all purses and all
tastes, and for all hours of the night; and there is not one among so
many that is not crowded at every performance.

Then there are the cock-pits, the bull-rings, the popular balls, and the
games. Some days there are as many as twenty different entertainments,
commencing at noon and continuing almost to dawn. The opera, of which
the Spanish are passionately fond, is always magnificent, not only at
the time of the Carnival, but at all seasons. While I was at Madrid,
Fricci sang at the Zarzuela and Stagno at the circus; both were
supported by very able artists, with excellent orchestra and splendid

The most celebrated singers in the world make an effort to sing in the
capital of Spain, for artists are there sought after and fêted. The
passion for music is the only one which is able to hold its own against
the passion for bull-fights. Comedy is in great vogue also.
L’Hatzembuch, Breton de los Herreros, Tamayo, Ventura, D’Ayala,
Gutiérrez, and a great many other dramatic writers, some living and some
dead, who are known even beyond Spain, have enriched the modern stage by
a large number of comedies, which, although they do not bear that strong
national stamp which has immortalized the dramatic works of the great
century of Spanish literature, are nevertheless full of life, wit, and
cleverness, without the unwholesome tendency of the French comedy. But,
although they perform modern comedies, they are not unmindful of the
old. On the anniversaries of Lope de Vega, Calderón, Morito, Tirso de
Molina, Alarcon, Francesco de Rojas, and the other great lights of the
Spanish theatre their masterpieces are performed with solemn pomp. The
actors, however, do not seem able to satisfy the authors, and show the
defects of our own actors--too much action, ranting, and excessive
sobbing. Many even prefer our actors, because they find in them a
greater variety of cadence and inflection. Besides tragedy and comedy,
they perform a dramatic composition that is thoroughly Spanish--the
_zainete_, of which Ramon de la Cruz was the master. It is a sort of
farce which in great part consists of tableaux of Andalusian costumes,
with national and popular characters, and actors who imitate the dress,
speech, and customs of the period in an admirable manner. The comedies
are all published, and are eagerly read even by the lowest classes, and
the names of the authors are very popular. Dramatic literature, in a
word, remains to-day, as it was in former times, the richest and most

There is also a great passion for the _zarzuela_, which is usually
represented in the theatre to which it has given the name, and is a
composition midway between comedy and melodrama, between opera and
vaudeville, with an easy interchange of prose and verse, of recitation
and singing, of the serious and burlesque--a composition exclusively
Spanish and very delightful. In some theatres they perform political
comedies, a mixture of song and prose after the style of Scalvini’s
“reviews;” satirical farces to take off the questions of the day; a sort
of sacred tableaux, with scenes from the Passion of Our Lord, during
Holy Week; and balls and dances and pantomimes of every sort.

In the small theatres they give three or four performances a night, one
after the other, and new spectators come in for each performance. At
the famous _Capellanes_ Theatre every night in the year they dance a
_can-can_, scandalous beyond the wildest imagination, and there crowd
the dissolute young men, the fast women, and the old libertines with
wrinkled noses, armed with monocles, spectacles, opera-glasses, and
every sort of optical instrument which helps to bring nearer the forms
advertised on the stage, as Aleardi says.

After the theatres are closed one finds all the cafés crowded, the city
illuminated, the streets filled with countless carriages, just as in the
early evening. One feels a little sad on coming out of a theatre in a
foreign country, there are so many beautiful creatures, and not one of
them deigns to bestow so much as a glance upon one. But an Italian finds
one comfort in Madrid. The actors almost always sing Italian operas, and
they sing in Italian, and so, as you return to your lodging, you hear
them humming in the words of your own language the airs which you have
known from infancy. You hear a _palpito_ here, a _fiero genitor_ there,
a _tremenda vendetta_ yonder; and these words are like the greetings of
a friendly people. But to reach your house what a thick hedge of
petticoats you must climb over! The palm is given to Paris, and
doubtless she deserves it, but Madrid is not to be laughed at. What
boldness! what words of fire! what imperious provocations! Finally, you
arrive before your house to find that you have no door-key.

“Do not be disturbed,” says the first citizen you meet. “Do you see that
lantern at the foot of the street? The man who carries it is a _sereno_,
and the _serenos_ have keys for all the houses.” Then you cry “Sereno!”
at the top of your voice, and the lantern approaches, and a man with an
enormous bunch of keys in his hands gives you a searching glance, opens
the door, lights you to the second story, and bids you good-night. So it
is every night; for a franc a month you escape the annoyance of carrying
the door-key in your pocket. The sereno is a public officer, and there
is one in every street, and each of them has a whistle. If the house
takes fire or thieves force your lock, you have only to throw up a
window and cry, “Sereno! help!” The sereno who is in the street sounds
his whistle, the serenos of the neighboring streets whistle, and in a
few moments all the serenos in the district run to your assistance. At
whatever hour of the night you awake you hear the voice of the sereno
announcing the time, or if it is fine weather, or if it is raining or
going to rain. How many things he knows! and how many he never tells!
this nocturnal sentinel. How many whispered farewells he hears from the
lips of lovers! How many little letters flutter from the windows before
his eyes! how many little keys fall on the pavement! and how many hands
wave mysteriously in the air! Muffled lovers glide through narrow
doorways, and lighted windows are suddenly darkened, and black shadows
vanish along the walls at the first streaks of dawn.

I have spoken only of the theatres; at Madrid there is a concert, one
may safely say, every day. There are concerts in the theatres, concerts
in the academy halls, concerts in the streets, and then a company of
strolling musicians who deafen you at all hours of the day. After all
this one has a right to ask why it is that a people so infatuated with
music that it seems as necessary, so to speak, as the air they breathe,
have never produced any great master of the art. The Spanish will not be

One could cover many pages if he were to describe the fine suburbs of
Madrid, the gates, the parks beyond the city, the squares, the historic
streets; and, if nothing were willingly to be omitted, the splendid
cafés, the “Imperial” in the square of the Puerto del Sol and the
_Fornos_ in Alcalá Street, two vast saloons, in which, if the tables
were removed, a company of dragoons could be drilled, and the
innumerable other cafés which one finds at every step, where two hundred
dancers could be easily accommodated; the magnificent shops which occupy
the entire ground-floor of vast buildings, and among them the great
Havana tobacco warehouse (a meeting-place for gentlemen), filled with
cigars, little and big, round, flat, pointed, and twisted, winding like
snakes, bent like bows, hook-shaped, of every shape, for every taste,
and at every price, enough to content the maddest fancy of a smoker and
to stupefy the entire population of a city; spacious markets; the grand
royal palace, in which the Quirinal and the Pitti Palace might hide
without fear of discovery; the great street Atocha, which crosses the
city; the immense garden of _Buen Retiro_, with its great lake, with its
hills crowned with Moorish domes, and its thousands of rare birds....
But, worthy of attention above everything else, the museums of armor and
painting, and the Naval Museum, to each of which one might easily
dedicate a volume.

The armory of Madrid is one of the most beautiful in the world. As you
enter the vast hall your heart gives a leap, your blood tingles, and you
stand still on the threshold like one demented. A complete army of
cavalry in full armor, with drawn swords and lances in rest, gleaming
and terrible, rushes toward you like a legion of spectres. It is an army
of emperors, kings, and dukes, clad in the most splendid armor that has
ever left the hands of man, upon which pours a flood of light from
eighteen enormous windows, producing a marvellous play and flashing of
light, dancing sunbeams, and dazzling colors. The walls are covered with
cuirasses, swords, halberds, jousting-spears, huge blunderbusses, and
enormous lances which reach from the floor to the ceiling. Banners of
all the armies of the world hang from the ceiling--trophies of Lepanto,
of San Quintino, of the War of Independence, of the wars of Africa,
Cuba, and Mexico. On every side there is a profusion of glorious
standards, of illustrious arms, of marvellous works of art, of effigies,
emblems, and immortal names.

One does not know what first to admire. One runs first here, then there,
looking at everything and seeing nothing, and becomes tired before one
has really begun. In the middle of the hall is the equestrian armor, the
cavaliers and their horses, drawn up in line by threes and by twos, and
all wheeling just like a squadron on the march. Among the arms one at
first sight discovers those of Philip II., of Charles V., Philibert
Emmanuel, and Christopher Columbus. Here and there, on pedestals, one
sees helmets, casques, morions, gorgets, and shields which belonged to
kings of Arragon, Castile, and Navarre, adorned with very fine reliefs
in silver representing battles, mythological subjects, symbolic figures,
trophies, grotesques, and garlands: some of these are works of the
greatest power, the workmanship of the most famous artists of Europe;
others are uncouth in form, with excessive ornament, with crests,
visors, and colossal top-pieces. Then there are the little helmets and
cuirasses of princes, swords and shields the gifts of popes and
monarchs. In the midst of the knightly armor one sees statues dressed in
the fantastic costumes of the American Indians, of Africans, and of
Chinese, with feathers and bells, bows and quivers; then, too, horrible
warmasks and the dresses of mandarins of gold woven with silk. Along
the walls is other armor--the arms of the marquis de Pescara, of the
poet Garcilasso de la Vega, of the marquis de Santa Cruz, the gigantic
armor of John Frederick, the magnanimous duke of Saxony, and scattered
here and there are Arabian, Persian, and Moorish banners falling to

In the glass cases there is a collection of swords which make your blood
run cold when you hear the names of those who wielded them--the sword of
the prince de Conde, the sword of Isabella the Catholic, the sword of
Philip II., the sword of Hernando Cortez, of the count-duke d’Olivares,
of John of Austria, of Gonzalez of Cordova, of Pizarro; the sword of the
Cid, and, a little farther along, the helmet of King Boabdil of Granada,
the shield of Francis I., and the camp-chair of Charles V. In a corner
of the hall are arranged the trophies of the Ottoman armies--helmets
studded with gems, spurs, gilded stirrups, the collars of slaves,
daggers, scimitars in velvet sheaths, with rings of gold, embroidered
and inlaid with pearl; the spoils of Ali Pacha, who was slain on the
flag-ship at the battle of Lepanto, his caftan brocaded with gold and
silver, his girdle, sandals, and shields, the spoils of his sons, and
the banners stripped from the galleys. On another side are votive
crowns, crosses, and the necklaces of Gothic princes. In another room
are articles taken from the Indians of Mariveles, the Moors of Cagyan
and Mindanao, and the savages of the most remote islands of Oceanica;
collars of snail-shells, stone pipes, wooden idols, reed flutes;
ornaments made of the claws of insects; slaves’ garments made of
palm-leaves with characters scribbled on them to serve as fetiches;
poisoned arrows and axes of the executioners. And then, wherever one
turns, there are royal saddles, coats of mail, culverins, historic
drums, shoulder-belts, inscriptions, memorials and images of every time
and every land, from the fall of the Goths to the battle of Tetuan, from
Mexico to China--a storehouse of treasures and of masterpieces from
which one goes out amazed and exhausted, to return to consciousness as
if it were a dream, with one’s memory weary and confused.

If a great Italian poet shall one day wish to sing the discovery of the
New World, nowhere will he be able to find so powerful an inspiration as
in the Naval Museum of Madrid, because in no other place will he feel so
profoundly the original air of the American wilderness and the subtle
presence of Columbus. There is a room called the “Cabinet of
Discoveries:” the poet on entering this room, if he really has the soul
of a poet, will reverently uncover his head. Wherever one’s glance falls
in the room one sees an image which stirs his blood. One is no longer in
Europe nor in the century; one is in the America of the fifteenth
century; one breathes that air, one sees those places, and lives that
life. In the middle is a high trophy of the arms taken from the Indians
of the newly-discovered land--shields covered with the skins of wild
beasts, arrows of cane with feathered notches, wooden swords with
sheaths woven of twigs, with hilts ornamented with horsehair, and
scalp-locks falling in long streamers; clubs, spears, enormous axes,
great swords with teeth like those of a saw, shapeless sceptres,
gigantic quivers, garments of monkey-skin, dirks of kings and
executioners, arms of the savages from Cuba, Mexico, New Caledonia, the
Carolinas, and the most distant islands of the Pacific--black, uncouth,
and horrible, suggesting to the imagination confused visions of terrible
struggles in the mysterious shadows of the virgin forest, in an endless
labyrinth of unknown trees. Among the spoils of the savage world are
pictures and memorials of the Conquerors: here the portrait of Columbus,
there that of Pizarro, farther on that of Hernando Cortez; on one of the
walls the map of America by Juan de la Cosa, drawn during the second
voyage of the Genoese upon an ample canvas dotted with figures, colors,
and signs which were intended to direct expeditions into the interior of
the country. Near the map is a bit of the tree under which the conqueror
of Mexico lay on that famous “night of sorrow” after he had opened a
passage through the immense army that awaited his coming in the valley
of Otumba; also a vase turned from the trunk of the tree near which the
celebrated Captain Cook died; models of the canoes, boats, and rafts
used by the natives; a circle of portraits of illustrious navigators, in
the middle of which is a large painting of the three ships of
Christopher Columbus, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, at the
moment when America was discovered, with all the sailors standing on the
decks waving their arms and cheering lustily, greeting the new land and
giving thanks to God. There is no word which expresses the emotion which
one feels at the sight of that spectacle, no tear worth that which then
trembles on the eyelash, no soul that does not at that moment feel
itself ennobled.

The other rooms, of which there are ten, are also full of precious
objects. In the room next to the Cabinet of Discoveries there are
collected the relics of the battle of Trafalgar--the painting of the
Holy Trinity which was in the cabin of the “Royal Trinidad,” and which
was rescued by the English a few minutes before the ship went to the
bottom; the hat and sword of Frederick de Gravina, the admiral of the
Spanish fleet, who was killed that day; a large model of the Santa Anna,
one of the few ships that escaped from the battle; banners and portraits
of admirals, and paintings which depict episodes of that tremendous
struggle. And besides the relics of Trafalgar there are many other
things which affect the mind no less powerfully, as a chalice of wood
from the tree called _ceiba_, in whose shade was celebrated the first
mass at Havana, on the 19th of March, 1519; Captain Cook’s cane; idols
of the savages; flint chisels with which the Indians of Porto Rico
fashioned their idols before the discovery of the island. And beyond
this there is another great room where, on entering, one finds one’s
self in the midst of a fleet of galleys, caravels, feluccas,
brigantines, sloops, and frigates--ships of all seas and of all ages,
armed, gayly decked, and provisioned, so that they need only a wind to
put to sea and scatter to all parts of the world. In the other rooms
there is an exhibition of machinery, ordnance, and naval armor;
paintings which represent all the maritime exploits of the Spanish
people; more portraits of admirals, navigators, and mariners; trophies
from Asia, America, Africa, and Oceanica, crowded and piled one above
another, so that one must pass them on the run to see everything before
nightfall. On coming out of the Naval Museum it seems as if you are just
returning from a voyage around the world, so much have you lived in
those few hours.

There is also at Madrid a large museum of artillery, an immense museum
of the industrial arts, a fine archeological museum, a remarkable museum
of natural history, as well as a thousand other things that are worth
seeing; but it is necessary, however, to sacrifice the description of
them for the marvellous Museum of the Fine Arts.

The day on which one enters for the first time a museum like that of
Madrid forms a landmark in a man’s life. It is an important event, like
marriage, the birth of a child, or the entrance upon an inheritance; for
one feels the effect of it to the end of one’s life. And this is true
because a museum like that of Madrid or that of Florence or that of Rome
is a world: a day passed within its walls is a year of life: a year of
life stirred by all the passions which are able to animate one in real
life: love, religion, patriotism, glory; a year of life in the enjoyment
it gives, in the instruction it imparts, in the thoughts it suggests, in
the pleasure to be derived from its memory in the future; a year of life
in which one reads a thousand volumes, feels a thousand sensations, and
meets with a thousand adventures. These thoughts were in my mind as I
approached with rapid steps the Museum of the Fine Arts, situated to the
left of the Prado as one comes from the street Alcalá; and so great was
my pleasure that on reaching the doorway I stopped and said to myself,
“Let us see: what have you ever done in your life to deserve an entrance
here? Nothing! Well, then, on that day when some misfortune comes upon
you bow your head and consider that your account is balanced.”

As I entered I unconsciously raised my hat: my heart beat fast and a
slight shiver ran through me from head to foot. In the first room there
are only some large paintings of Luca Giordano. I passed them by. In the
second I was no longer myself, and, instead of staying to look at
paintings one by one, I postponed that examination and made the circuit
of the gallery almost on the run. In the second room there are some
paintings of Goya, the last great Spanish painter; in the third, which
is as large as a square, are masterpieces of the great masters. On
entering you see on one side the Madonnas of Murillo, on the other the
saints of Ribera; a little farther on, the portraits of Velasquez; in
the middle of the hall, paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, Andrea del
Sarto, and at the end those of Titian, Tintoretto, Paul Veronese,
Correggio, Domenichino, and Guido Reni. You turn back and enter a great
room to the right. There you see at the end other paintings of Raphael;
on the right and left, more of Velasquez, Titian, and Ribera; opposite
the entrance, Rubens, Van Dyck, Fra Angelico, and Murillo. Another is
devoted to the French school--Poussin, Daguet, Lorraine. In two other
rooms of vast size the walls are covered with paintings of Breughel,
Teniers, Jordaens, Rubens, Durer, Schoen, Mongs, Rembrandt, and Bosch.
In the other rooms, of equal size, there is a medley of the works of
Joanes, Carbajal, Herrera, Luca Giordano, Carducci, Salvator Rosa,
Menendez, Cano, and Ribera.

You walk for an hour and have seen nothing. For the first hour a war is
waging: the masterpieces struggle for the possession of your soul. The
_Conception_ of Murillo blots out Ribera’s _Martyrdom of Saint
Bartholomew_ with a flood of light; Ribera’s _Saint James_ obliterates
Joanes’ _Saint Stephen_; Titian’s _Charles V._ dooms the _Count-Duke de
Olivares_ of Velasquez; Raphael’s _Pasmo de Sicilia_ casts all the
paintings around it in the shade; the _Drunkards_ of Velasquez, with
their reflection of bacchanalian joy, somewhat disconcert the faces of
the neighboring saints and princes; Rubens overthrows Van Dyck; Paolo
Veronese triumphs over Tiepolo, and Goya kills Madrazo.

The conquered turn against those still weaker than themselves, or in
their turn win lesser victories over their conquerors. It is a struggle
of the miracles of art, in the midst of which one’s restless soul
trembles like a flame fanned by a thousand gusts of wind, and one’s
heart expands with a sense of pride in the power of the genius of man.

When the first enthusiasm has subsided one begins to admire. In the
midst of an army of such artists, each of whom would require a volume
for himself, I restrict myself to the Spaniards, and among these to the
painters who aroused within me the most profound admiration and whose
canvases I remember most distinctly. The most recent of these is Goya,
who was born toward the end of the last century. As a painter he is the
most Spanish of the Spaniards, the painter of _toreros_, of the people,
of contrabandists, hags, and robbers, of the War of Independence, and of
that old Spanish life which melted away before his very eyes. He was a
fiery son of Arragon, of iron temper, passionately devoted to
bull-fights, so that even in the closing years of his life, when he was
living at Bordeaux, he was accustomed to come once a week to Madrid with
no other reason than to witness those spectacles; and he would go back
like an arrow, not even so much as saluting his friends. A genius
rigorous, cynical, imperious, awe-inspiring--who in the heat of his
violent inspirations would in a few moments cover a wall or a canvas
with figures, giving the finishing touches with whatever came to
hand--sponges, brooms, or sticks; who in sketching the face of a person
whom he hated would insult it; who painted a picture as he would have
fought a battle; very bold in composition, an original strong colorist,
the creator of an inimitable style, with frightful shadows, hidden
lights, and resemblances distorted and yet true to life. He was a great
master in the expression of all terrible effects of anger, hate,
desperation, and the thirst for blood; an athletic, turbulent,
indefatigable painter; a naturalist like Velasquez, fantastical like
Hogarth, vigorous like Rembrandt, the last ruddy spark of Spanish
genius. There are several of his paintings in the museum of Madrid,

[Illustration: _The Immaculate Conception, by Murillo_]

and among them is a very large canvas representing the entire family of
Charles IV. But the two paintings into which he put his whole soul are
the French soldiers shooting the Spaniards on the second of May, and the
fight of the people of Madrid with the Mamelukes of Napoleon, in which
the figures are life-size. These are paintings which make one shudder.
One cannot imagine anything more terrible, nor is it possible to give
overbearing power a form more execrable, to desperation a more fearful
appearance, or to the fury of a battle an expression of greater
ferocity. In the first of these paintings there is a murky sky, the
light of a lantern, a pool of blood, a confused mass of corpses, a crowd
of men condemned to death, a row of French soldiers in the act of
firing: in the other, bleeding horses, cavaliers dragged from their
saddles, stabbed, trampled down, and mangled. What faces! what
attitudes! One seems to hear the cries and see the blood run; the actual
scene could not have been more horrible. Goya must have painted these
pictures with flashing eyes and foaming mouth, with all the fury of a
demoniac. It is the final point which painting can reach before it is
transferred into action; beyond this point the brush is flung aside and
the battle begins. Anything more terrible than these paintings must be
slaughter; after these colors comes blood.

Of Ribera--whom we know also by the name of _Spagnoletto_--there are
enough paintings to form a museum. They consist in great part of
life-size figures of saints; a martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew, full of
figures; a colossal Prometheus chained to a rock. Other paintings of his
are found in other museums, at the Escurial, and in the churches, for he
was very productive and industrious, like almost all the Spanish
artists. After seeing a painting of his, one recognizes all the others
at a glance, nor is it necessary to look at them with the eye of a
critic to do this. There are old emaciated saints with shaved heads and
naked, so that one can count their veins; with hollow eyes, fleshless
cheeks, furrowed brows, and sunken chests, through which one can see
their ribs; arms and hands which are only skin and bones; bodies worn
out and exhausted, clothed in rags--yellow with the deathly pallor of
corpses, full of sores, and covered with flood; carcases which seem to
have been just dragged from the tomb, bearing on their faces the impress
of all the spasms of pain, torture, famine, and sleeplessness; figures
from the anatomist’s table, from which you might study all the secrets
of the human organism. Admirable? Yes, for boldness of design, for
strength of color, and for the thousand other merits which won for
Ribera the fame of a most powerful painter. But true and great art--ah,
it is not that! In those faces there is none of that celestial light,
that immortal ray of the soul, which reveals with sublime pathos, noble
aspirations, those “subtle flashes” and “limitless desires”--that light
which draws the eye from the sores and calls down the thought of heaven.
There is only the crude suffering which causes repulsion and fear; there
are only weariness of life and the presentiment of death; only that
fleeting mortal life without a suggestion of the immortality drawing
near. There is not one of those saints whose image one recalls with
affection: one looks and is chilled at heart, but the heart beats none
the quicker. Ribera never loved. Yet as I hurried through the halls of
the museum, in spite of that strong repugnance which many of these
paintings inspired in me, I was obliged to look at them and could not
withdraw my eyes, so great is the attractive force of truth, even if it
be despicable. And how true are the paintings of Ribera! I recognized
those faces: I had seen them in the hospitals, in the morgues, behind
the doors of churches--the faces of beggars, of the dying, of those
condemned to death, which haunt me at night even now when I hurry along
a deserted street, pass by a graveyard, or climb a mysterious staircase.
There are some of them which I could not look at--a naked hermit,
stretched on the ground, who seemed like a skeleton covered with skin;
an old saint whose shrunken skin gave the appearance of a flayed body;
the Prometheus with his entrails bursting from his breast. Ribera
delighted in blood, mangled limbs, and butchery; it was his delight to
represent suffering; he must have believed in an Inferno more horrible
than that of Dante and in a God more terrible than that of Philip II. In
the museum of Madrid he represents religious dread, old age, torture,
and death.

More cheerful, more various, and more splendid is the great Velasquez.
Almost all his masterpieces are there. They form a world: everything is
pictured in them--war, the court, the street, the tavern, Paradise. It
is a gallery of dwarfs, idiots, beggars, buffoons, revellers, comedians,
kings, warriors, martyrs, and gods, all alive and speaking, in bold and
novel attitudes, with serene brow and smiling lip, full of animation and
vigor; the great painting of Count-Duke de Olivares on horseback, the
celebrated paintings of the Beggars, of the Weavers, of the Revellers,
the Forge of Vulcan, and of the surrender of Breda--large canvases full
of figures which seem to be stepping out of the frame, which on once
seeing you remember distinctly by some trifling characteristic, a
gesture or a shadow on the face, as though they were real persons whom
you have just met; people with whom you seem to have talked, and of whom
you think long afterward as of acquaintances of a forgotten time; people
who might inspire cheerfulness and provoke a smile of admiration,
causing you to regret that it is possible only to enjoy them with the
eyes and not to mingle with them and share a little of their exuberant
life. This is not the effect of a preconceived opinion which the name of
the great artist has given, nor need one be a connoisseur of art to
experience it. The poor ignorant woman and the boy stop before those
pictures, clap their hands, and laugh. It is Nature painted with a
fidelity higher than any imagination. One forgets the painter, does not
think of the art, nor try to discover its meaning, but says, “This is
true! This is the very thing! It is the picture I had in my mind!” One
would say that Velasquez has not put anything of himself in it, but that
his hand has only drawn the lines and put the colors on the canvas from
a likeness which reproduced the very persons whom he was painting. There
are more than sixty of his paintings in the museum of Madrid, and if one
saw them only once, and hurriedly at that, not one of them would be
forgotten. It is with the paintings of Velasquez as with the romances of
Alessandro Manzoni--when one has read them for the tenth time they
become so interwoven and confused with one’s personal memories that one
seems to have lived them. So the persons in Velasquez’s paintings melt
into the crowd of friends and acquaintances; the neighbors and strangers
of our whole life present themselves and entertain us without our even
remembering that we have seen them on the canvas.

Now let us speak of Murillo in our gentlest tones. Velasquez is in art
an eagle; Murillo is an angel. One admires Velasquez and adores Murillo.
By his canvases we know him as if he had lived among us. He was
handsome, good, and virtuous. Envy knew not where to attack him; around
his crown of glory he bore a halo of love. He was born to paint the sky.
Fortune gave him a mild and serene genius, which bore him to God on the
wings of a tranquil inspiration, and yet his most admirable paintings
breathe an air of gentle sweetness which inspires sympathy and affection
even before admiration. A simple nobility and elegance of outline, an
expression full of sprightliness and grace, an inexpressible harmony of
colors,--these are the qualities that impress one at first sight; but
the more one looks at the paintings, the more one discovers, and
surprise is transformed little by little into a delicious sense of
pleasure. His saints have a benign aspect, cheering and consoling; his
angels, whom he groups with marvellous ability, make one’s lips tremble
with a desire to kiss them; his Virgins, clothed in white, with long
flowing draperies of azure, with their great black eyes, their clasped
hands, delicate, graceful, and ethereal, make one’s heart tremble with
their beauty and one’s eyes fill with tears. He combines the truth of
Velasquez, the vigor of Ribera, the harmonious transparency of Titian,
and the brilliant vivacity of Rubens. Spain has given

[Illustration: _Virgin of the Napkin, Murillo_]

him the name of the “Painter of Conceptions” because he is unsurpassed
in the art of representing that divine idea. There are four grand
Conceptions in the museum of Madrid. I have stood for hours in front of
those four paintings, motionless and entranced. I was enraptured, above
all, by that incomplete one, with the arms folded over the Virgin’s
breast and a half moon across her waist. Many prefer the others; I
trembled on hearing this, for I was filled with an inexpressible love
for that face. More than once as I looked at it I felt the tears
coursing down my cheeks. As I stood before that painting my heart was
softened and my mind was lifted to a plane of thought higher than any I
had ever before reached. It was not the enthusiasm of faith; it was a
longing, a boundless aspiration toward faith, a hope which gave me
visions of a life nobler, richer, and more beautiful than that which I
had yet known--a new feeling of prayer, a desire to love, to do good, to
suffer for others, to make atonement, to elevate my mind and heart. I
have never been so full of faith as in those moments. I have never felt
so good and affectionate, and I believe that my soul has never shone
more clearly in my face. _The Lady of Sorrows_, _Saint Anna Teaching the
Virgin to Read_, _Christ Crucified_, _The Annunciation_, _The Adoration
of the Shepherds_, _The Holy Family_, _The Virgin of the Rosary_, and
_The Child Jesus_ are all admirable and beautiful paintings of a soft
and serene light which appeal to the soul. One should see on a Sunday
the children, the girls, and the poor women before those pictures--see
how their faces light up and hear the sweet words upon their lips.
Murillo is a saint to them, and they speak his name with a smile, as if
to say, “He is ours!” and in so saying they look as though they were
performing an act of reverence. The artists do not all regard him in the
same manner, but they love him above all others, and they are not able
to divorce their admiration from their love.

Murillo is not merely a great painter; he is a great soul. He has won
more than glory: he has won the love of Spain. He is more than a
sovereign master of the beautiful; he is a benefactor, an inspiration to
noble deeds, for a lovely image, when once seen on his canvas, is
carried in the heart throughout life with a feeling of gratitude and
religious devotion. He is one of those men whom some secret prompting
tells us we must see again, and that the meeting will be a reward: such
men cannot have disappeared for ever; in some place they still live
where their life is as a lamp of constant flame, which must one day
appear to the eyes of mortals in all its splendor. “The empty dreams of
fancy,” one may say, but, ah, what pleasant dreams!

After the works of these four great masters there are the paintings of
Joanes to admire--an artist imbued with the Italian feeling, whose
correct drawing and nobility of character have won for him the title,
although it must be spoken in an undertone, of the Spanish Raphael. He
resembles Fra Angelico in his life, not in his art, for his studio was
an oratory where he fasted and did penance. Before beginning his work he
used to take the communion.

Then there are the paintings of Alonzo Cano; the paintings of Pacheco,
the master of Murillo; the paintings of Pareja, Velasquez’s slave; of
Navarrete the mute; of Menendez, a great painter of flowers; of Herrera,
Coello, Carbajal, Collantes, and Rizi, and there are a few works of
Zurbarán, one of the greatest Spanish artists, worthy to stand beside
the three first. The corridors, the antechambers, and the halls are full
of the works of other artists, of less importance than those mentioned,
but nevertheless admirable for particular points.

But this is not the only art gallery in Madrid; there are hundreds of
pictures in the Academy of San Fernando. In the chambers of Fomento and
in other private galleries one would have to spend month after month to
see everything well, and to describe it would take an equal time, even
if one had sufficient ability to do so. One of the ablest French
writers, a great lover of art and a master of description, when it came
to the point was frightened and knew nothing better to do than to avoid
the dilemma by saying that it would take too long to describe it all;
and if he thought well to keep silent, it must appear that I have said
too much already. It is one of the saddest consequences of a pleasant
journey to discover that one has in one’s mind a crowd of lovely images
and in one’s heart a tumult of grand emotions, and to be able to express
only so small a part of them.

With what profound contempt could I destroy these pages when I think of
those paintings! O Murillo! O Velasquez! O my poor pen!

A few days after my arrival at Madrid, as I was coming from the street
Alcalá into the square of the Puerta del Sol, I saw King Amadeus for the
first time. I felt it to be as great a pleasure as if I had met my most
intimate friend. It is strange to find one’s self in a country where the
only person one knows is the king. One could wish to run after him
saying, “Your Majesty, it is I; I have arrived.”

Amadeus pursued his father’s course at Madrid. He rose at dawn and
walked in the gardens of Moro, which lie between the royal palace and
the Manzanares, or else he visited the museums, walking through the city
on foot with only one attendant. The maids, running home in breathless
haste with their well-filled baskets, told their sleepy mistresses how
they had met the king, how they had passed him so near that he could
have touched them; and the Republican matrons would say, “And so he
ought to!” And the Carlists would make a grimace and mutter, “What sort
of a king is that?” Or as I heard one say, “He seems determined to get
shot at any cost.” On returning to the palace he received the
captain-general and the governor of Madrid, who, in accordance with the
ancient custom, are obliged to present themselves every day to the king
to ask if he has any orders to give to the army or the police. Next came
the ministers. Besides seeing them altogether in council once a week,
Amadeus received one of them every day. On the departure of the minister
the audience began.

Amadeus gave an audience every day of at least one hour’s duration, and
many times prolonged it to two hours. The demands were innumerable, and
the ends sought may be easily imagined--subsidies, pensions, positions,
favors, and decorations. The king heard them all. The queen also
received--not every day, however, on account of her variable health. To
her lot fell all the deeds of charity. She received all sorts of people
in the presence of the major-domo and a lady of honor at the hour of the
king’s audience--ladies, laboring-men, peasant-women, hearing with pity
their long recitals of poverty and suffering; moreover, she distributed
in works of charity a hundred thousand francs a month, without counting
her liberal donations to hospitals, asylums, and other benevolent
institutions, some of which she herself founded.

On the bank of the Manzanares, in sight of the royal palace, in an open
smiling place, one sees a brightly-colored cottage surrounded by a
garden, when as one passes one hears the laughter, the crowing, and the
crying of babies. The queen had this house built to shelter the little
children of washerwomen, who, while their mothers were at work, used to
remain in the streets exposed to a thousand dangers. There are teachers,
nurses, and servants who provide for all the needs of the babies: it is
at the same time a refuge and a school. The funds for the construction
and maintenance of the house were appropriated from the twenty-five
thousand francs a month which the state had granted to the duke of
Puglia. The queen also instituted a foundling hospital, a home or sort
of college for the children of the tobacco-workers, and kitchens where
soup, meat, and bread are distributed to all the poor of the city. She
herself went unexpectedly sometimes to assist at the distribution, to
assure herself that no abuse was made of it, and, discovering that some
trickery was practised, she provided against its repetition. Besides
these acts, the Sisters of Charity received every month thirty thousand
francs with which to succor those families that by reason of their
social position were not able to come to the distribution of soup. These
private deeds of benevolence which the queen performed were very
difficult to discover, because she was accustomed to do them without
speaking to any one. Little is known of her habits, because she did
everything unostentatiously and with a reserve which would be
considered excessive even for a private lady.

None of the court ladies knew that she went to hear the sermon at San
Luis de Francis; a lady saw her there for the first time, by chance,
among the other worshippers. In her dress there was nothing distinctive
of royalty, not even on the days of the court dinners. Queen Isabella
wore a great red mantle with the arms of Castile, a diadem, ornaments,
and insignia; not so Donna Victoria. She usually dressed in the colors
of the Spanish flag, with a simplicity which proclaimed her royalty much
better than splendor and magnificence would have done. It was not
Spanish gold which had to do with this simplicity: all the expenses
which were incurred for herself, her children, and her servants were
paid from her privy purse.

When the Bourbons were on the throne the whole of the royal palace was
occupied. The king resided in the left wing toward the plaza of the
armory; Montpensier lived in the part opposite to that of the queen; the
princes had each an apartment looking toward the garden of Moro. When
King Amadeus resided there a great part of the immense edifice remained
empty: he occupied only three small rooms--a study, a bed-chamber, and a
dressing-room. His chamber opened into a long corridor which led to the
two little rooms of the princes, opposite to which was the queen’s
apartments, for she would never be separated from her children.

Then there was a reception-room. All that part of the palace which
served for the entire royal family was formerly occupied by Queen
Isabella alone. When she learned that Amadeus and Victoria were content
with such small quarters, she is said to have exclaimed with
astonishment, “Poor young things! they won’t have room to turn around.”

The king and queen used to dine with a major-domo and one of the court
ladies. After dinner the king smoked a Virginia cigar (if the detractors
of this prince of cigars care to know it) and entered his cabinet to
attend to the affairs of state. He was accustomed to take a great many
notes and frequently consulted with the queen, especially when he was
trying to reconcile the ministers or to conciliate the heads of
departments. He read a great many magazines of every bias; anonymous
letters which threatened him with death and those which gave him advice;
satirical poems, schemes of social revolution,--everything, indeed, that
was sent to him. About three o’clock he left the palace on horseback;
the guards blew their trumpets and a squire in red livery followed him
at a distance of fifty paces. To see him one would have said that he did
not know he was the king: he looked at the children as they passed him,
at the signs of the shops, the soldiers, the coaches, and the fountains
with an expression of almost childish curiosity. He rode the whole
length of the street Alcalá slowly, like an ordinary citizen thinking of
his own affairs, and would turn into the Prado to enjoy his part of the
air and the sunshine.

The ministers clamored against it; the Bourbons, accustomed to the
imposing equipage of Isabella, said that he was trailing the majesty of
the throne of San Fernando through the streets; even the squire who
followed him looked around with a shamefaced air, as if to say, “See
what folly!” But whatever they might say, the king gave no sign of fear.
And the Spaniards, it must be said, did him justice, and, whatever may
have been their opinion of his administration and government, they never
failed to add, “So far as courage goes, there is nothing to say.”

Every Sunday there was a court dinner. Invitations were extended to
deputies, professors, academicians, and illustrious men of letters and
scientists. The queen talked with them all on every subject with a
confidence and grace which, for all they had previously heard of her
genius and culture, quite exceeded their expectations. The people
naturally exaggerated in speaking of her attainments, and talked of
Greek, Arabic, Sanskrit, astronomy, and mathematics. But true it is that
she talked intelligently on subjects far removed from the ordinary
course of feminine studies, and not in the evasive and superficial
manner of those who know only the names and titles. She had made a
careful study of the Spanish language, and finally spoke it as though it
were her own; the history, literature, and customs of her adopted
country were alike familiar to her, and she lacked only the desire to
remain in Spain to have made her a thorough Spaniard. The Liberals
murmured, the Bourbons said, “She is not our queen,” but they all
regarded her with profound respect. The bitterest journals went no
farther than to call her the wife of Amadeus instead of the queen. The
most violent of the Republican deputies in alluding to her in a speech
at the Cortes could do no less than pronounce her illustrious and
virtuous. She was the only person of the royal household against whom no
one would permit a slur either by tongue or pen. She was like a white
figure left in the centre of a group of spiteful caricatures.

As for the king, it seemed as though the Spanish press enjoyed an
unrestrained liberty, and under the safeguard of the titles the
_Savoyard_, the _foreigner_, and the _young courtier_ the journals which
were opposed to his rule could say in substance whatever they chose; and
didn’t they say charming things? One took it to heart that the king was
homely in face and figure, another was displeased because he walked so
stiffly, a third tried to ridicule his manner of returning a salute, and
other trifling matters which are almost incredible. Nevertheless, the
people of Madrid had for him, if not the enthusiasm of the Azenzia
Stefani, at least a very real sympathy.

The simplicity of his habits and his kindheartedness were proverbial
even among the children. It was known that he bore no malice toward any,
not even toward those who had treated him badly; that he had never given
an affront to any one; that no bitter word against his enemies had ever
escaped him. If one spoke of the personal dangers which he incurred,
every good citizen answered indignantly that the Spanish people respect
those who trust them; his bitterest enemies spoke of him with anger, but
not with odium; the very men who would not raise their hats on meeting
him in the street felt their blood boil when others followed their
example, and could not conceal a feeling of sadness at the occurrence.
There are images of fallen kings over which one casts a dark covering;
others are concealed by a white veil which makes them appear more
beautiful and venerable: over this one Spain has cast the white veil.
And who knows but that one day the sight of this image will call from
the breast of every honest Spaniard a secret sigh, like the memory of a
beloved one who has been offended, or like a gentle and benign voice
which says in sad tones of reproach, “Nevertheless, thou hast wronged

One Sunday the king held a review of the Volunteers of Liberty, a sort
of national guard like that of Italy, with this difference--that the
Italians do good service voluntarily, while the Spaniards will do
nothing even by force.

The _Voluntarios_ were drawn up along the avenue of the Prado, where an
immense crowd had collected. When I arrived there were already three or
four battalions of them. The first was the battalion of veterans, all
men above fifty, and not a few very old, dressed in black and wearing
the cap _à la Ros_, with gold and silver lace and crosses upon crosses,
as spruce and tidy as the students of a military academy, and from the
proud and dignified rolling of their eyes they might have been
confounded with the grenadiers of the Old Guard. After them came another
battalion in a different uniform--gray breeches, a coat open and turned
back over the breast, with large lapels of scarlet cloth; instead of the
caps _à la Ros_, hats with blue plumes--and carrying guns with fixed
bayonets. Another battalion and another uniform--the Ros caps again
instead of the hats, and green cloth instead of the red, breeches of
another color, and daggers instead of bayonets. A fourth battalion and
arms all different. Other battalions come up, in various array. Some
wear Prussian helmets, others helmets without points; some carry
bayonets, some straight daggers, some curved and others spiral daggers;
here there are soldiers with corded coats, there those without cords,
and again those with cords; belts, epaulets, cravats, plumes; everything
changes every moment.

All the divisions are gay and pompous, with a hundred colors and a
hundred banners which wave, flash, and float in the air. Every battalion
has a different banner covered with embroidery, ribbons, and fringe.
Among the others one sees soldiers dressed like peasants with any sort
of a stripe sewed loosely down a pair of ragged trousers; some without
cravats, some with black cravats, open jackets, and embroidered tunics;
boys from twelve to fifteen, armed at all points, walking in the ranks;
vivandières, with short skirts and red breeches, carrying baskets full
of cigars and oranges. At the head of the battalions there is a
continual hurrying of mounted officials. Every major wears on his head
or on his breast or on his saddle some ornament of his own device; at
every moment a courier of some unknown corps passes; one sees lace of
liver, gold, and wool on the arms, on the shoulders, and around the
neck; medallions and crosses so thick that they conceal half the breast,
fastened one above the other, both above and below the belt; gloves of
all the colors of the rainbow; sabres, swords little and big, pistols
and revolvers--a mixture, in short, of all the uniforms and arms of
every army; a variety that would appall ten ministerial commissioners
for the modification of dress; a confusion that turns one’s head. I do
not remember whether there were twelve or fourteen battalions; as each
one of them selected its own uniform, there was necessarily the greatest
possible diversity among them. They were commanded by the mayor, who
also wore a fantastic uniform. There were about eight thousand men.

At the hour assigned a sudden scurrying of staff-officers and a loud
blast of trumpets announced the arrival of the king. Amadeus had, in
fact, arrived on horseback by the street Alcalá in the uniform of
commander-in-chief, with cavalry boots, white breeches, and swallow-tail
coat, and behind him a closely-formed group of generals, aides-de-camp,
servants in scarlet livery, lancers, cuirassiers, and guards. After he
had reviewed the entire front of the army from the Prado as far as the
church of Atocha, surrounded by a dense, silent crowd, he returned
toward the street Alcalá. Here there was a vast multitude which surged
and murmured like the sea. The king and his staff took their stand in
front of the church of San José, with their backs toward the façade, and
the cavalry with great trouble succeeded in opening a narrow space
through which the battalions might march.

They marched in platoons. As they passed, at a signal from the
commander, they cried, “_Viva el Rey! Viva Don Amadeo primero!_” It was
an unfortunate idea for the first officer to give the cry. The
spontaneous cheer of the first became a duty to all the others, and this
resulted in the public taking the greater and the less vigor and harmony
of the voices as a sign of political demonstration. Some of the platoons
gave such a weak, short cheer that it seemed like the cry of a group of
sick men calling for aid; then the crowd burst out laughing. Other
platoons gave a deafening shout, and that was interpreted as a
demonstration hostile to the government. There were several reports
passing among the people crowded about me. One said, “There comes such a
battalion: they are republicans; you will see they will not cheer.” The
battalion passed without cheering. The people coughed. Another said, “It
is an outrage, a fault of education; I don’t like Amadeus much myself,
but I keep quiet and respect him.” There was some disturbance. A young
fellow shouted _Viva_ in a falsetto voice, and a _caballero_ told him he
was impertinent; he resented this, and they both raised their hands,
whereupon a third separated them.

Between the different battalions marched citizens on horseback; some did
not raise their hats or even look toward the king, and then one might
hear different expressions through the crowd, as “Well done!” and “What
bad manners!” Others, whose will was good enough to salute him, were
afraid to do so, and passed with bowed head and blushing face. Others,
on the contrary, disgusted by the spectacle, made a courageous
demonstration for Amadeus in the face of them all, marching past, hat in
hand, and looking first respectfully toward the king and then fiercely
toward the crowd for the distance of ten paces. The king sat until the
end of the procession motionless, with an unchanged expression of serene
haughtiness. So ended the review.

This national militia, although it is not so disorganized and exhausted
as ours, is nothing more than the ghost of an army: the ridiculous has
gnawed at its very roots; but as an amusement on a holiday, although the
number of volunteers is much reduced (they numbered thirty thousand at
one time), it is always a spectacle which far surpasses all the
flag-poles and red rags of Signor Ottino.


The thirty-first of March inaugurates the spectacle of the bull-fights.
Let us discuss them at leisure, for they form a worthy subject.

He who has read Baretti’s description may consider that he has read
nothing. Baretti saw only the bull-fights of Lisbon, which are mere
child’s play beside those of Madrid. Madrid is the home of the art: here
are the great artists, here the stupendous spectacles, here the skilled
spectators, here the judges who distribute the honors. The circus of
Madrid is the Theatre della Scala of the art of bull-fighting.

The inauguration of the bull-fights at Madrid is even more important
than a change of the ministry. A month beforehand the news spreads
throughout all Spain: from Cadiz to Barcelona, from Bilbao to Almeria,
in the palaces of the grandees and the cabins of the poor, they talk
only of the artists and the breed of bulls; they arrange fights for
pleasure between the provinces and the capital; he who is short of money
begins to save so as to get a good place in the circus on that great
day; fathers and mothers promise their children to take them if they
will study well; lovers make similar promises to their sweethearts; the
papers assure you that it will be a good season; the famous _toreros_,
who already begin to appear in Madrid, are pointed out with the finger;
rumors are afloat that the bulls have arrived, and some have seen them
or have arranged to do so.

There are bulls from the pastures of the duke of Veragua, the marquis de
Merced, and of Her Excellency the dowager of Villaseca, prodigious and
terrible. The office is opened to receive subscriptions; the dilettanti
crowd around, together with the servants of the noble families, the
brokers, and friends commissioned by the absent. The first day the
manager has received fifty thousand francs, on the second thirty
thousand, and a hundred thousand in a week. Frascuelo, the famous
_matador_, has arrived; Cuco has arrived; Calderón has arrived, and all
the others three days before the time. Thousands of people can talk of
nothing else; ladies dream of the circus; ministers have no thought for
other affairs; old dilettanti can hardly contain themselves; soon
laboring-men stop buying their cigarettes to have a few pennies on the
day of the spectacle. Finally, on Saturday morning, before dawn, they
commence to sell tickets in a room on the street Alcalá. A crowd
collects before the doors are opened, yelling, pushing, and knocking
each other about; twenty policemen with revolvers in their belts are
scarcely able to keep decent order; there is a continuous stream of
people until night.

The long-expected day has arrived. The spectacle commences at three
o’clock; at noon the people start from all directions toward the circus,
which stands at the edge of the suburb of Salamanca, beyond the Prado,
outside of the gate of Alcalá; all the streets which lead there are
crowded with a procession of people. The circus looks like a great
anthill; troops of soldiers and Volunteers of Liberty arrive, headed by
bands of music; a crowd of water-carriers and orange-sellers fill the
air with their cries; ticket-sellers run here and there, hailed by a
thousand voices. Woe for him who has not yet bought his ticket! He will
pay double, treble, quadruple! But what cares he if a ticket costs even
fifty or eighty francs? They are looking for the king; they say the
queen is coming too. The chariots of the great guns begin to arrive;
the duke Ferdinando Nunes, the duke d’Abrantes, the marquis de la Vega
de Armijo, a crowd of the grandees of Spain, the goddesses of the
aristocracy, the ministers, generals, and ambassadors--all that is
beautiful, splendid, and powerful in the great city. One may enter the
circus by many doors, but before entering one is deafened by the noise.

I entered. The circus is immense. The outside is in no way remarkable;
it is a low circular yellow building without windows, but on entering
one feels the liveliest surprise. It is a circus for a people, where ten
thousand spectators can be seated and in which a regiment of cavalry
might drill. The arena is circular, and so vast that it could hold ten
of our equestrian circuses. It is encircled by a wooden barrier about
even with a man’s shoulders, provided on the inside with a narrow ledge
a little way from the ground, on which the toreros place their feet to
jump over when the bull chases them. Beyond this barrier there is
another higher one, for the bull often leaps over the first; between the
two a narrow course, a little more than a metre in width, runs all the
way round the arena; here the toreros stroll before the combat, and here
stand the attendants of the circus--the carpenters ready to repair the
gaps which the bull has made, the guards, the orange-venders, the
dilettanti who enjoy the friendship of the manager, and the great guns
who are allowed to transgress the rules. Beyond the second barrier
rises a tier of stone seats, and beyond this are the boxes; below the
boxes runs a gallery containing three rows of seats. The boxes are each
large enough to hold three or four families; the king’s box is a great
drawing-room; next to it is that of the city officials, in which sits
the mayor or whoever presides at the spectacle. Then there is the box
for the ministers, for the governors, and for the ambassadors; every
noble family has one; the young _bon tons_, as Giusti would say, have a
box to themselves; then there are boxes to let which cost a fortune.

Every seat in the tiers is numbered, every person has a ticket; so the
entrance is made without the least disorder. The circus is divided into
two parts--one in the shade, the other in the sunshine; in the first one
pays more; in the second sit the common people. The arena has four doors
at equal distances from each other--the door through which the toreros
enter, the door for the bulls, another for the horses, and a fourth,
under the king’s box, for the heralds of the spectacle. Over the door
through which the bulls enter rises a sort of sloping platform which is
called the _toril_, and well for him who can find a place there! Upon
this platform, in a little box, stand the men who at a sign from the
mayor’s box sound the trumpet and drum to announce the entrance of the
bull. Facing the _toril_ on the opposite side of the arena along the
stone balcony is the band of music. The whole balcony is divided into
compartments, each of which has its own door.

Before the show begins the people are allowed to enter the arena and to
walk through all the passages of the building. They go to see the horses
enclosed in a courtyard, and most of them destined to be killed, more’s
the pity! They go to see the dark chambers where are confined the bulls,
which are driven from one enclosure to another until they reach a
corridor and dash into the arena; they go to see the infirmary where the
wounded toreros are borne: once there was a chapel to visit in which
mass was celebrated during the combat, and there the toreros went to
pray before confronting the angry brutes; then they go to the principal
entrance, where are exhibited the _banderillas_ that are to be inserted
in the bulls’ necks, and where one sees a group of old toreros--one
lame, another without an arm, a third on crutches--and the young toreros
who have not yet been admitted to the honors of the circus of Madrid.
One buys a copy of the Bulletin of the Bulls, which promises miracles
for the doings of the day. Then one gets from the guard the programme of
the spectacle and a printed leaflet divided into columns for noting the
strokes of the spear, the thrusts, the falls, and the wounds. One climbs
along endless corridors and interminable stairways in the midst of a
crowd which comes and goes, ascends and descends, crying and shouting,
so that the whole building trembles, and finally one returns to one’s

The circus is crowded full, and presents a spectacle of which it is
impossible to form an idea unless one has seen it: it is a sea of heads,
hats, fans, and hands waving in the air; on the side where sit the
better classes in the shade all is dark; on the other side, in the sun,
where the common people sit, a thousand brilliant colors of vesture,
parasols, and paper fans--an immense masquerade.

There is not room enough for another child; the crowd is as compact as a
phalanx; no one can go out, and it is difficult even to move one’s arms.
It is not a buzzing like the noise of other theatres; it is different:
it is an agitation, a life altogether peculiar to the circus; everybody
is shouting, gesticulating, and saluting each other with frantic joy;
the women and children scream; the gravest men frolic like boys; the
young men, in groups of twenty and thirty, shout in chorus and beat with
their canes against the stone balustrade as a sign to the mayor that the
hour has arrived. In the boxes there is an overflow of spirits, like
that in the galleries of the regular theatres; the discordant cries of
the crowd are augmented by the howls of a hundred hawkers, who are
throwing oranges in every direction; the band plays, the bulls bellow,
the crowd outside roars; it is a spectacle which makes one dizzy, and
before the struggle commences one is exhausted, intoxicated, and

Suddenly there is a cry, “The king!” The king has arrived; he is come in
a chariot drawn by white horses, with mounted grooms in picturesque
Andalusian costumes; the glass doors of the royal box swing back, and
the king enters with a stately crowd of ministers, generals, and
major-domos. The queen is not there: one foresaw that; every one knows
that she has a horror of this spectacle. Oh! but the king would not miss
it; he has always come. They say he is mad over it. The hour has come,
the spectacle begins. I shall remember to my dying day the chill which
passed over me at that moment.

A blare of trumpets; four guards of the circus on horseback, with cap
and plume _à la Henri IV._, with black mantles, tight-fitting jackets,
jack-boots, and swords, enter by the gate under the king’s box and
slowly make the circuit of the arena. The people separate; every one
goes to his seat; the arena is deserted. The four cavaliers take their
places, two by two, in front of the door opposite the royal box, which
is still closed.

Ten thousand spectators fix their eyes on that spot; there is a
universal silence. For through it will come the _cuadrilla_, with all
the _toreros_ in gala dress to present themselves to the king and the
people. The band plays, the door springs open, there is a burst of
applause; the _toreros_ advance. First come the three _espadas_,
Frascuelo, Lagartijo, and Cayetano, the three famous ones, dressed in
the costume of Figaro in the _Barber of Seville_, in satin, silk, and
velvet, orange, scarlet, and blue, covered with embroidery, fringe,
lace, filigree, tinsel, spangles of gold and silver, which almost
conceal their dress; enveloped in full capes of yellow and red, with
white stockings, silken girdles, a bunch of tassels on the neck, and a
fur cap. Next come the _banderilleros_ and the _capeadores_, a troop
covered like the others with gold and silver; then the _picadores_, on
horseback, two by two, each with a great battle-lance, a low-crowned
gray hat, an embroidered jacket, breeches of yellow buffalo skin, padded
and lined inside with strips of iron; then the _chulos_, or servants,
dressed in their holiday best; and altogether they walk majestically
across the arena toward the box of the king. One cannot imagine anything
more picturesque than this spectacle: there are all the colors of a
garden, all the splendors of a royal court, all the gayety of a rout of
maskers, all the grandeur of a band of warriors; on closing one’s eyes
one sees only a gleaming of gold and silver. They are very handsome
men--the _picadores_ tall, stout of limb like athletes; the others
slight and nimble, with chiselled forms, swarthy faces, and great fierce
eyes--figures like the ancient gladiators, clothed with the magnificence
of Asiatic princes.

The entire _cuadrilla_ stops in front of the royal

[Illustration: _Implanting the Bandillera_]

[Illustration: _The Charge_]

box and salutes; the mayor makes a sign that they may begin; the key of
the _toril_, where the bulls are confined, is tossed from the box into
the arena; a guard of the circus picks it up and gives it to the
custodian, who places himself before the door ready to open it. The band
of _toreros_ separates, the _espadas_ leap over the barrier, the
_capeadores_ scatter through the arena, waving their red and yellow
_capas_; the _picadores_ retire to await their turn; the rest spur their
horses and take their positions to the left of the _toril_ at a distance
of twenty paces apart, with their backs to the barrier and their lances
in rest.

It is a moment of keen excitement, of unexpressible anxiety: all eyes
are fixed on the door by which the bull will enter; all hearts are
beating high; a profound silence broods over the whole circus; one hears
only the bellowing of the bull as he advances from cell to cell in the
darkness of his vast prison; one can almost hear him crying, “Blood!
blood!” The horses tremble, the _picadores_ grow pale: another instant a
blare of trumpets, the door is thrown wide open, and the terrible bull
dashes into the arena saluted by a terrific shout, which bursts at that
moment from ten thousand throats. The butchery has begun.

Ah! it is a good thing to have strong nerves: at that moment one turns
as white as a corpse.

I can only remember confusedly what followed in the first instance: I
do not know where I could have been. The bull rushed against the first
_picador_, retreated, continued his course, and rushed upon the second;
if there was a struggle, I do not remember it; then a moment later he
rushed against the third, ran to the centre of the arena, stood and
looked about him: I too looked about and covered my face with my hands.
All that part of the arena where the bull had passed was streaked with
blood; the first horse lay dead on the ground with his belly ripped open
and his entrails scattered about; the second, with his breast torn by a
deep gash from which blood was streaming, staggered about here and
there; the third was thrown to the ground and tried in vain to rise; the
_chulos_ hurried in, raised the _picadores_ from the ground, took the
saddle and bridle from the dead horse, and tried to help the wounded one
to his feet: an infernal yell resounded from every part of the circus;
thus the spectacle usually begins. The first to receive the onslaught of
the bull are the _picadores_; they sit firmly awaiting him and plant the
lance between the head and shoulders of the bull as he is in the act of
fastening his horns in the horse. The lance, be it noted, has only a
small point, which cannot make a deep wound, and the _picadores_ are
obliged by sheer force of arm to ward off the bull and save their
steeds. To do this one must have a sure eye, an arm of bronze, and a
dauntless heart; they do not always succeed; indeed, they usually fail,
and the bull plants his horns in the horse’s belly and the picador is
thrown to the ground. Then the capeadores run forward, and while the
bull is shaking his horns free from the entrails of his victim they wave
their _capas_ before his eyes, turn his attention, make him follow them
and leave the fallen horseman in safety; whereupon the _chulos_ come to
his aid, and help him again into the saddle if the horse can still
stand, or carry him off to the infirmary if he has broken his head.

The bull stood panting in the middle of the arena with bloody horns,
looking around as if to say, “Have you had enough?” A band of
_capeadores_ ran toward him, surrounded him, and commenced to tease and
badger him, making him rush here and there, waving their _capas_ before
his eyes, passing them over his head, leading him on, and escaping with
the nimblest turns, to return to tease him again, and again flee from
him. And the bull turns on them one after another, and chases them as
far as the barrier, where he butts his horns against the boards, stamps,
cuts capers, bellows, buries his horns in the bodies of the dead horses
as he passes, tries to jump into the course, and rushes around the arena
in every direction. Meanwhile the other _picadores_ come in to take the
places of the two whose horses had been killed, and take their positions
at some distance from each other, over beside the _toril_ with lances
in rest, ready for the attack of the bull. The _capeadores_ dextrously
draw him in that direction, and, seeing the first horse, he made a
plunge toward him with lowered head. But this time his blow was parried:
the lance of the _picador_ was fixed in his shoulder and checked him.

The bull was stubborn; he strained and lunged forward with all his
weight; but in vain: the _picador_ held firm, the bull retreated, the
horse was saved, and a thunderous burst of applause greeted the man. The
other _picador_ was less fortunate: the bull attacked; he did not
succeed in planting his lance firmly; the terrible horns penetrated the
horse’s belly as quickly as a sword might have done, were violently
twisted in the wound, and withdrawn; the intestines of the poor animal
fell through and remained dangling, like a great bag, almost down to the
ground; the _picador_ remained in the saddle. There a horrible sight was
witnessed. Instead of dismounting, the _picador_, perceiving that the
wound was not mortal, put the spurs to the horse and rode to another
place to await a second attack: the horse crossed the arena with his
entrails hanging from his belly, striking against his legs, and impeding
his steps. The bull followed for a moment and stopped. At that point
there was blast on the trumpets: it was the signal for the _picadores_
to withdraw. A gate was opened, and they galloped out one after another;
the two dead horses were left, and here and there were pools and
streaks of blood which two _chulos_ covered with earth.

After the _picadores_ come the _banderilleros_. And to the uninitiated
this part of the performance is the most entertaining, for the reason
that it is the least cruel. The _banderillas_ are little arrows about
two spans in length, ornamented with colored paper and provided with a
metal tip so formed that when it once penetrates the skin it cannot be
withdrawn, and the bull with his running and shaking only drives it
farther in. The _banderillero_ takes two of these arrows, one in each
hand, and assumes a position about fifteen paces distant from the bull,
and then, by waving his hands and shouting, provokes an attack. The bull
rushes toward him: the _banderillero_ in his turn runs toward the bull,
and just as the bull’s head is lowered to plunge his horns into the
man’s body the banderillero plants the arrows in his neck, one on this
side, the other on that, and saves himself by a quick turn. If he stops,
if his foot slips, if he hesitates an instant, he will be spitted like a
frog. The bull bellows, snorts, tosses himself, and turns with dreadful
fury to follow the _capeadores_. In a minute they have all jumped into
the course; the arena is cleared, and the brute, with foaming mouth,
bloodshot eyes, and neck streaked with blood, stamps the ground, shakes
himself, runs at the barrier, demands vengeance, thirsts for blood and
slaughter: no one appears to confront him; the spectators fill the air
with the cry, “Forward! courage!” “The next _banderillero_!” The next
_banderillero_ advances and plants his arrows, then a third, and then
the first again. On that day there were eight arrows inserted. The poor
beast, when he felt the last two, gave a long bellow, distressing and
horrible, and, dashing after one of his enemies, followed him to the
barrier, took the leap, and fell with him into the course. The ten
thousand spectators were all on their feet in an instant, crying, “He
has killed him!” But the _banderillero_ had escaped. The bull ran
backward and forwarded between the two barriers under a rain of blows
and thrusts, until he was driven to an open gate and returned to the
arena as the gate closed after him. Then all the _banderilleros_ and all
the _capeadores_ rushed toward him again: one passed behind and gave his
tail a jerk, and disappeared like a flash of lightning; another as he
flew past wound a _capa_ around his horns; a third actually had the
audacity to snatch off with one hand a little silk bow which was tied to
his tail; a fourth, the most rash of them all, planted a pole in the
ground as the bull was running, took a flying leap, and passed entirely
over him and landed on the other side, throwing the stick between the
legs of the astonished animal; and they did all this with the quickness
of jugglers and the grace of dancers, as though they were playing with a
lamb. Meanwhile, the immense crowd made the circus resound with their
laughter and applause and cries of delight, admiration, and terror.

Another blast of the trumpet; the _banderilleros_ are done. Now for the
_espada_. It is a solemn moment, the crisis of the drama. The crowd is
still, the ladies lean forward in their boxes, the king rises to his
feet. The famous Frascuelo, holding in one hand the sword and in the
other the _muleta_, a piece of red stuff fastened to a stick, enters the
arena, presents himself before the royal box, raises his cap, and in a
poetic phrase consecrates to the king the bull that he is about to kill;
then, tossing his cap in the air, as if to say, “Victory or death!”
followed by a splendid train of _capeadores_, he advances resolutely
toward the bull. Here follows a veritable hand-to-hand struggle worthy
of Homer’s song. On one side is the brute with his terrible horns, with
his enormous strength, his thirst for blood, maddened by pain, blinded
by rage, fierce, bloody, terrible; on the other, a young man of twenty,
dressed like a dancer, on foot, alone and defenceless but for the short,
slender sword in his hand. But the gaze of twenty thousand eyes is bent
upon him. The king has a gift at hand; his sweetheart is above there in
a box, with her eyes fixed upon him; a thousand ladies are trembling for
his life. The bull pauses and looks at him; he looks at the bull and
waves the red cloth before him. The bull dashes under it; the _espada_
springs aside; that terrible horn grazes his hip, strikes the red cloth,
and cleaves the empty air. A shout of applause bursts from the entire
balcony, from all the boxes and galleries. The ladies raise their
opera-glasses and cry, “He has not paled!”

All is silence again; there is not a sound; not a whisper. The bold
torero flutters the muleta before the eyes of the infuriated animal,
passes it overhead between his horns and around his neck, makes him
recede, advance, turn, jump; invites an attack ten times, and ten times
by the slightest motion escapes death; lets his muleta fall, and picks
it up under the eyes of the bull; laughs in his face, taunts him,
insults him, and makes sport of him: all at once he stops, puts himself
on guard, raises his sword, and takes aim; the bull looks at him;
another instant and they will rush toward each other. One of them must
die; ten thousand glances run with lightning rapidity from the point of
the sword to the tips of the horns; ten thousand hearts beat fast with
anxiety and terror; the faces are all tense with excitement; one does
not hear a breath; the vast crowd seems petrified. Another instant--the
time has come! The bull dashes forward; the man brandishes his sword; a
single loud cry, and then a tempestuous burst of applause breaks forth
on every side; the sword has been buried to its hilt in the bull’s neck;
the bull reels and with a stream of blood flowing from his mouth falls
as though he had been struck by lightning.

The man has conquered! Then follows an indescribable tumult; the
multitude seems to grow mad; all leap to their feet, wave their arms,
and cry at the top of their voices; the ladies wave their handkerchiefs,
clap their hands, and shake their fans; the band strikes up; the
victorious _espada_ approaches the barrier and makes the circuit of the
arena. As he passes, from the galleries, the boxes, and the balconies
the spectators, carried away by their enthusiasm, shower upon him
packages of cigars, purses, canes, hats, anything which they can lay
their hands on; in a few moments the fortunate torero has his arms full
of trophies, calls the _capeadores_ to his assistance, throws back the
hats to his admirers, thanks them, and responds as well as he can to the
salutes, the praises, and the glorious titles with which he is hailed
upon every side, and finally comes to the royal box.

Then all eyes are riveted on the king. The king puts his hand in his
pocket, takes out a cigar-case full of bank-notes, and tosses it down;
the _torero_ catches it in the air, and the multitude bursts into
applause. Meanwhile the band is playing a dirge for the bull; a gate
opens, four enormous mules gallop in, ornamented with plumes, tassels,
and ribbons of yellow and red, driven by a band of _chulos_, who shout
and crack their whips; the dead horses are drawn out one after another,
and finally the bull is removed, whereupon he is at once carried to a
little square near the circus, where a crowd of gamins is waiting to dip
their fingers in his blood, after which he is flayed, butchered, and

The arena is again free; the trumpet sounds, the drum beats: another
bull dashes from his prison, attacks the _picadores_, rips up the
bellies of horses, offers his neck to the _banderilleros_, and is killed
by an _espada_; and so, without any intermission, six bulls are
presented in the arena one after the other.

How many shocks, how many tremors, how many chills at the heart and
rushes of blood to the head does one feel during that spectacle! how
many sudden pallors! But you, stranger, you alone are pale; the boy
beside you is laughing, the girl in front of you is wild with delight,
the lady whom you see in the next box says she has never enjoyed herself
so much. What shouting! what exclamations! That is the place to learn
the language! As the bull appears he is judged by a thousand voices:
“What a fine head! what eyes! he will draw blood! he is worth a
fortune!” They break out into words of love. He has killed a horse.
“_Bueno!_ see how much has fallen from the belly!” A _picador_ misses
his stroke and wounds the bull badly or is afraid to confront him; then
there is a deluge of insulting names: “Poltroon! imposter! assassin! go
hide yourself! go and be hanged!” They all rise, point with their
fingers, shake their fists, throw orange-peel and cigar-stumps in his
face, and threaten him with their canes. When the _espada_ kills the
bull with one stroke, then follow the delirious words of lovers and
extravagant gestures: “Come here, angel! God bless thee, Frascuelo!”
They throw him kisses, call to him, and stretch out their hands as if to
embrace him. What a profusion of epithets, witticisms, and proverbs!
What fire! what life!

But I have spoken only of the doings of one bull; in the entire
_corrida_ a thousand accidents occur. In that same day a bull thrust his
head under a horse’s belly, raised the horse and horseman, and, carrying
them in triumph across the arena, threw them both to the ground like a
bundle of rags. Another bull killed four horses in a few minutes; a
third attacked a _picador_ so violently that he fell, struck his head
against the barrier, fainted, and was carried out. But not for this nor
for a graver wound, nor even for the death of a _torero_, is the
spectacle interrupted--it is so stated in the programme; if one is
killed, another is ready. The bull does not always attack; there are
some cowardly ones which run toward the _picador_, stop, and after a
moment of hesitation run away; others, naturally gentle and placid, do
not in the least respond to provocations; they allow the _picador_ to
approach them to plant his lance in their neck, back off, shake their
heads as if to say, “No, thank you!” run away, and then turn suddenly to
look with astonishment at the band of _capeadores_ who follow them, as
though they would ask, “What do you want of us? What have we done? Why
do you wish to kill us?” Then the crowd bursts forth in imprecations
against the cowardly bulls, against the managers, and against the
_toreros_; and first one of the dilettanti over the _toril_, then the
spectators on the sunny side, then the gentlemen on the shady side, then
the ladies, then all the spectators in the circus, cry with one voice,
“_Banderillas de fuego!_” The cry is directed toward the mayor. The
_banderillas_ of fire serve to infuriate the bull; they are
_banderillas_ provided with a fire-cracker, which goes off at the moment
the point penetrates the flesh and burns the wound, causing extreme
pain; the animal is tortured and enraged to the point of changing from a
coward to a daredevil, from quietness to fury. The permission of the
mayor is required to use the _banderillas de fuego_: if he hesitates to
give it, all the spectators leap to their feet, and there follows a
wonderful sight: one sees ten thousand handkerchiefs waving like the
ensigns of ten regiments of lancers, from the boxes to the arena, all
the way around, forming a fluttering band of white which almost conceals
the crowd, and ten thousand voices cry, “Fuego! fuego! fuego!” Then the
mayor may yield, but if he is obstinate in his refusal, the
handkerchiefs disappear, fists and canes take their places, and curses
burst forth: “Don’t make a fool of yourself! don’t spoil the fun! The
_banderillas_ for the mayor! fire for the mayor!”

The agony of the bull is terrible. Sometimes the _torero_ does not
strike where he should, and the sword is buried to the hilt, but not in
the direction of the heart. Then the bull commences to run about the
arena with the sword sticking in his body, sprinkling the ground with
blood, bellowing deeply, writhing and twisting in a thousand ways to
free himself from that torture; and in his impetuous course sometimes
the sword flies out, sometimes it is driven deeper in and causes death.

The _espada_ is frequently obliged to give the bull a second thrust, and
not rarely a third or a fourth; the blood flows in torrents; all the
_capas_ of the _capeadores_ are sprinkled; the _espada_ is besmeared and
the barrier bespattered; everything is covered with blood; the indignant
spectators load the _torero_ with abuse. Sometimes the bull falls to the
ground badly wounded, but does not die, and lies there motionless with
his head high and threatening, as if he would say, “Come on, assassins,
if you have the courage!” Then the struggle is ended, the agony must be
shortened: a mysterious man climbs the barrier, approaches with stealthy
steps, places himself behind the bull, and, watching his chance, gives
him a blow on the head with a dagger which penetrates to the brain and
kills him. Often this blow does not succeed, either; the mysterious man
must strike twice, thrice, or even four times; then the indignation of
the people bursts forth like a tempest. They call him an executioner, a
coward, an infamous wretch, wish he were dead, and if they had him in
their hands would strangle him like a dog. Sometimes the bull, mortally
wounded, staggers a little way before he falls, and, reeling with slow
step from the place where he was stricken, goes to die in peace in a
quiet corner; all the _toreros_ follow him slowly at a short distance,
like a funeral train; the crowd watches all his movements, counts his
steps, measures the progress of his agony; profound silence attends his
last moments; his death has in it something majestic and solemn. There
are some indomitable bulls that will not bow the head even in drawing
the last breath--bulls that, while the blood runs in streams from their
mouths, still threaten; bulls pierced by ten sword-thrusts, stabbed, and
bleeding to death, that still raise their heads with a superb motion
which makes the crowd of their persecutors recede halfway across the
arena; bulls whose death-agony is more terrible than their first fury;
bulls that tear dead horses, break through the barrier, furiously
trample the _capas_ scattered through the arena, jump into the course,
and run around with a high head, looking at the spectators with an air
of defiance, fall, rise again, and die bellowing.

The agony of the horses, though not so prolonged, is more dreadful. Some
have a leg broken by the bull, others the neck pierced through and
through; others are killed at one blow with a thrust of the horn in the
breast, without shedding a drop of blood; others, overcome with fear,
take to flight, and, running straight ahead, come in violent collision
with the barrier and fall down dead; others welter a long time in a pool
of blood before they die; others, wounded, bleeding, disembowelled, and
mutilated, still gallop about with desperate fury, run against the bull,
are felled to the ground, rise and fight again until they are carried
away, ruined but alive, and then the intestines are replaced, the belly
sewed up, and they serve again; others, terrified at the approach of the
beast, tremble violently, paw the ground, recoil, neigh, and do not wish
to die; and these most excite one’s pity. Sometimes a single bull kills
five horses; sometimes in a _corrida_ twenty are killed; all the
_picadores_ are drenched with blood; smoking entrails are scattered
through the arena, and the bulls grow tired of slaughter.

The _toreros_ also have their ugly moments. The _picadores_ now and
then, instead of falling under the horse, fall between the horse and the
bull; then the bull plunges forward to kill them; the crowd gives a cry,
but a brave _capeador_ throws his _capa_ over the bull’s eyes and at the
risk of his own life saves that of his comrade. Often, instead of
rushing at the _muleta_, the bull turns and rushes toward the _espada_,
grazes him, attacks and follows him, and obliges him to throw away his
weapon and save himself, pale and trembling, on the other side of the
barrier. Sometimes he strikes him with his head and throws him down; the
_espada_ disappears in a cloud of dust; the crowd cries, “He is dead!”
but the bull passes, the _espada_ is saved. Sometimes the bull rushes
unexpectedly, raises him with his head, and tosses him to one side. Not
infrequently the bull does not allow him to take aim with the sword; the
_matador_ does not succeed in striking in the breast, and, as he is
compelled by the laws to strike in a given place, and in that place
only, he makes futile attempts for a long time, grows confused, and runs
a thousand chances of losing his life; meanwhile, the crowd howls,
hisses, and insults him, until finally the poor man in desperation
resolves to kill or to be killed, and strikes at random; and he either
succeeds and is lauded to the skies, or fails and is despised, derided,
and pelted with orange-peels, even though he may be the most intrepid,
bravest, and renowned _torero_ in Spain.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the crowd, too, a thousand incidents occur during the spectacle.
Suddenly two spectators fall to fighting. The people are so closely
packed that some one of the neighbors receives a blow from a cane; then
they seize their canes and join the fray. The circle of the combatants
grows wider; the row extends through entire compartments in the gallery;
in a few moments there are hats flying through the air, torn cravats,
bloody faces, a din which rises to heaven; all the spectators are on
their feet; the guards run about; the _toreros_ cease to be actors and
become spectators. At other times a group of lively young fellows turn
in one direction and shout all together, “There he is!” “Who?” No one,
but meanwhile the persons next to them get up, and those at a distance
stand on the seats; the ladies lean from the boxes, and in a moment the
whole circus is topsy-turvy. Then the group of young men give a loud
laugh; their neighbors, so as not to appear ridiculous, do the same; the
laugh spreads to the boxes and through the galleries till ten thousand
people are laughing. At other times it is a foreigner, seeing his first
bull-fight, who faints; the news spreads in a trice; they all get up,
stare, shout, and make a pandemonium that baffles description. Again, it
is a good-humored man who hails his friend away on the other side of the
theatre in a voice which sounds like a clap of thunder. That great crowd
is stirred in a few moments with a thousand contrary emotions, passes
with incessant change from terror to enthusiasm, from enthusiasm to
pity, from pity to anger, from anger to delight, admiration, and
unbridled enjoyment.

The final impression which this spectacle makes upon the mind is
indescribable: it is a mingling of sensations, among which it is
impossible to recollect anything clearly or to know one’s thoughts. At
one moment you turn in horror to flee from the circus, and swear you
will never come back; a moment later, astonished, enraptured, and almost
intoxicated, you hope the spectacle will never end; now you are almost
sickened; now you, too, like your neighbors, shout, laugh, and applaud;
the blood makes you shudder, but the marvellous courage of the men
exalts you; the danger clutches at your heart, but you are reassured by
the victory; little by little the fever which works in the crowd steals
into your veins; you do not know yourself, you are another person; you
too are stirred by anger, ferocity, and enthusiasm; you feel bold and
valiant; the struggle fires your blood; the gleaming of the sword
enrages you; and then the thousands of faces, the clamor, the music, the
bellowing, the blood, the profound silences and tumultuous bursts of
applause, the vastness, the light, the colors, the indescribable
grandeur, courage, cruelty, and magnificence, dazzle, amaze, and
bewilder you.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a fine sight to see the people go out; there are ten torrents
which pour from ten gates and flood in a few moments the suburb of
Salamanca, the Prado, the avenues of the Recoletos, and the street
Alcalá; a thousand carriages wait at the exits of the circus; for an
hour, wherever one turns, one sees only a swarm of human ants as far as
the eye can reach; and all is silent: their passions have exhausted them
all; one hears only the roar of passing feet; it seems as if the crowd
wishes to steal away secretly; a sort of sadness succeeds their
clamorous joy. I, for my part, as I came from the circus for the first
time, had scarcely strength to stand on my feet; my head was spinning
like a top; my ears buzzed, and everywhere I saw the horns of bulls,
eyes swimming in blood, dead horses, and flashing swords. I took the
shortest way home, and as soon as I arrived there tumbled into bed and
fell into a heavy sleep.

On the following morning the landlady came in great haste to ask me,
“Well, how did it strike you? Did it amuse you? Are you going again?
What do you say?”

“I do not know,” I replied; “it seems like a dream. I will tell you
later; I must think it over.”

Saturday came, the day before the second bull-fight. “Are you going?”
asked the landlady. “No,” I replied, thinking of something else. I went
out, turned into the street Alcalá, and found myself accidentally in
front of the shop where tickets are sold; there was a crowd of people.
“Shall I go?” I asked myself. “Yes or no?”

“Do you want a ticket?” a boy demanded: “a shady seat, No. 6, near the
barrier--fifteen reales?” “Done!” I replied.

       *       *       *       *       *

But to clearly comprehend the nature of this spectacle it is necessary
to know its history. No one knows certainly when the first bull-fight
took place: the tradition tells that the Cid Campeador was the first
cavalier to descend with his spear into the arena and on horseback kill
the terrible animal. Later, the young nobles devoted themselves with
great ardor to this sport; bull-fights were held at all the solemn
feasts, and only to the nobility was granted the honor of taking part in
them; even the kings entered the arena. All through the Middle Ages this
was the favorite spectacle of the court--the chosen exercise of
warriors, not only among the Spaniards, but among the Moors as well; and
they both waged war in the circus as well as on the battlefield.
Isabella the Catholic wished to prohibit the bull-fights, because she
had been horrified on once seeing them, but the numerous and powerful
patrons of the spectacle dissuaded her from putting her purpose into
effect. After Isabella the circus received great encouragement. Charles
V. with his own hand killed a bull in the great square of Valladolid;
Ferdinand Pizarro, the celebrated conqueror of Peru, was a valiant
_torero_; King Sebastian of Portugal won many laurels in the arena;
Philip III. adorned the circus of Madrid; Philip IV. fought in it;
Charles II. fostered the art; in the reign of Philip V. a number of
circuses were built by order of the government, but the honor of
fighting belonged exclusively to the nobility; they fought only on
horseback, splendidly mounted, and yet the only blood shed was that of
the bull.

It was not until the middle of the last century that the art became
popular, and _toreros_, properly called artists of the profession, who
fought on foot and on horseback, came into existence. The famous
Francisco Romero Deronda perfected the art of fighting on foot,
introduced the custom of killing the bull face to face with the sword
and _muleta_, and established the practice. Thereupon the spectacle
became national and the people welcomed it with enthusiasm. Charles III.
forbade it, but his prohibition only served to increase the popular
enthusiasm into a complete epidemic, as a Spanish chronicler puts it.
King Ferdinand VII., who was passionately fond of bulls, instituted a
school of bull-fighting at Seville. Isabella II. was more enthusiastic
than Ferdinand VII.; Amadeus I., it is said, was not a whit behind
Isabella II. And now bull-fighting flourishes more than ever before in
Spain; there are more than a hundred great proprietors who raise bulls
for the spectacles; Madrid, Seville, Barcelona, Cadiz, Valencia, Jerez,
and Puerto de Santa Maria have circuses of the first order; there are no
less than fifty small circuses, with a capacity of from three to nine
thousand spectators; in all the villages where there is no circus they
hold the _corridas_ in the square. At Madrid they are held every Sunday,
and in the other cities whenever it is possible, and they are always
attended by a vast concourse of people from the neighboring cities,
villages, countryside, mountains, islands, and even from foreign

If is true that all the Spaniards are not mad over this spectacle; many
never attend; not a few disapprove, condemn, and would be glad to see it
driven out of Spain; some journalists now and then raise a cry of
protest; a deputy the day after a _torero_ is killed talks of
petitioning the government; but its enemies are all timid and feeble.

On the other hand, apologies are written in defence of the bull-fights,
new circuses are built, old ones are renewed, and the foreigners who cry
out against Spanish barbarity are laughed to scorn.

The _corridas_ held in the summer are not the only ones, nor is the
spectacle always equally good. In the circus there is an exhibition
every Sunday through the winter, but there are not those noble and fiery
bulls of the summer season, neither are there the great artists whom
Spain admires; there are bulls of smaller size and less courage, and
_toreros_ not yet proficient in the art; but there is a spectacle, at
all events, and, although the king does not attend or the flower of the
citizens as in the summer-time, the circus is always well filled.
Little blood is shed, only two bulls are killed, and the spectacle
concludes with fireworks; it is an amusement fit for servants and
children, as the passionate lovers of the art say in deprecation.

But there is one episode in the winter spectacles which is especially
amusing. When the _toreros_ have killed the _toros de muerte_, the arena
is placed at the disposal of the dilettanti; from every part the people
jump down, and in a moment there are a hundred workmen, scholars, and
street arabs, some with cloaks in their hands, others with shawls,
others with any sort of a rag, who crowd to right and left of the
_toril_ ready to receive the bull. The door opens; a bull with swathed
horns rushes into the arena, and there follows an indescribable tumult;
the crowd surrounds, follows, and drags the bull here and there, hitting
him with their mantles and shawls, plaguing and tormenting him in a
thousand ways, until the poor animal, entirely exhausted, is driven from
the arena and another takes his place. It is incredible with what
audacity those boys dart under him, twist his tail, and jump on his
back; incredible too is the agility with which they dodge the blows.
Sometimes the bull with a sudden turn strikes some one, knocks him down,
tosses him in the air, or lifts him high on his horns; again he upsets
at one blow a half dozen, and bull and men disappear in a cloud of dust,
while the spectator fears for an instant that some one has been killed.
Nothing of the kind! The intrepid _capeadores_ jump up with bruised
limbs and dusty faces, shrug their shoulders, and face him again. But
this is by no means the best episode of the winter spectacles. Sometimes
the bulls are confronted by _toreras_ instead of _toreros_: these are
women dressed like tightrope-walkers, with faces before which not the
angels, but even Lucifer, would

    “Make with his wings a cover for his eyes.”

The _picadoras_ ride on mules; the _espada_--the one I saw was an old
woman of sixty, Martina by name, an Asturian, known in all the circuses
in Spain,--the _espada_ fights on foot with the rapier, and the _muleta_
like the most intrepid matador of the stronger sex. The entire
_cuadrilla_ is accompanied by a train of _chulos_ with great wings and
humps on their backs. These unfortunate women risk their lives for forty
francs! A bull on the day when I witnessed the spectacle broke the arm
of one _banderillera_ and tore the petticoat of another, so that she was
left in the middle of the circus with scarcely enough clothes on her
back to cover her nakedness.

After the women, the wild beasts. At various times they made the bull
fight with lions and with tigers; it is only a few years since one of
these combats was held in the circus of Madrid. It was that celebrated
event which the count-duke de Olivares commanded in honor of the
birthday, if my memory does not fail me, of Don Baltasar Carlos of
Asturia, prince of the Asturias. The bull fought with a lion, a tiger,
and a leopard, and succeeded in conquering them all. Also in a combat a
few years ago the tiger and the lion got the worst of it; they both
jumped impetuously upon the back of the bull, but before they were able
to fasten their teeth in his neck they fell to the ground in a pool of
blood, pierced by the terrible horns. Only the elephant--a huge elephant
which still lives in the gardens of Buen Retiro--carried the day; the
bull attacked him, and he simply placed his head on the bull’s back and
pressed, and the pressure was so delicate that his reckless assailant
was crushed as flat as a pancake.

But it is not easy to imagine what skill, what courage, and what
imperturbable tranquillity of mind must be possessed by a man who with
his sword faces an animal that kills lions, attacks elephants, and tears
in pieces, crushes, and covers with blood everything that he touches.
And there are men who face them every day.

The _toreros_ are by no means artists, as one would suppose, to be
placed in the same category with mountebanks and those for whom the
people feel no other sentiment than that of admiration. The _torero_ is
respected even outside of the circus; he enjoys the protection of the
young aristocrats, has his box in the theatre, frequents the best cafés
in Madrid, and is saluted in the street with a low bow by persons of
refinement. Famous _espadas_ like Frascuelo, Lagartijo, and Cayetano
receive the nice little sum of about ten thousand francs a year; they
own houses and villas, live in sumptuous apartments, dress with
elegance, spend heaps of money on their costumes embroidered with gold
and silver, travel like nabobs, and smoke Havana cigars. Their dress out
of the circus is very curious: an Orsini hat of black velvet; a jacket
fitting closely around the waist, unbuttoned and reaching barely to the
trousers; a waistcoat opened almost to the waist, which allows a white
shirt of very fine texture to be seen; no cravat; a sash of red or blue
silk about the loins; a pair of breeches fitting the limb like the
tights of a ballet-dancer; a pair of low shoes, of morocco leather,
ornamented with embroidery; a little periwig falling down the back; and
then gold studs, chains, diamonds, rings, and trinkets; in short, an
entire jewelry-shop on their persons. Many keep their saddle-horse and
some their carriages, and when they are not killing bulls they are
always walking in the Prado, at the Puerto del Sol, or in the gardens of
Recoletos with their wives and their sweethearts, splendidly dressed and
proudly affectionate. Their names, their faces, and their deeds are even
better known to the people than the deeds, faces, and names of their
commanders and statesman. _Toreros_ in comedies, _toreros_ in song,
_toreros_ in pictures, _toreros_ in the windows of the

[Illustration: _Matadors, Madrid_]

print-shops, statues of _toreros_, fans painted with _toreros_,
handkerchiefs with figures of _toreros_,--these one sees again and
again, on every occasion and in every place.

The business of the _torero_ is the most lucrative and the most
honorable to which a courageous son of the people may aspire: very many,
in fact, devote themselves to it, but very few become proficient; most
of them remain mediocre _capeadores_, a few become _banderilleros_ of
note, still fewer famous _picadores_; only the few chosen ones of nature
and fortune become brave _espadas_: it is necessary to come into the
world with that bump developed; one is born an _espada_ as one is born a
poet. Those killed by the bulls are very few, and one may count them on
one’s fingers for a long period of time; but the crippled, the maimed,
those who are rendered unfit for the combat, are innumerable. One sees
them in the city with canes and crutches, some without an arm, others
without a leg. The famous Tato, the first of the _toreros_ of modern
time, lost a leg; in the few months which I spent in Spain a
_banderillero_ was half killed at Seville, a _picador_ was seriously
wounded at Madrid, Lagartijo was injured, and three amateur _capeadores_
were killed at a village. There is scarcely a _torero_ who has not bled
in the arena.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before leaving Madrid I wished to talk to the celebrated Frascuelo, the
prince of _espadas_, the idol of the people of Madrid, the glory of the
art. A Genoese captain who knew him took it upon himself to present me:
we fixed the day and met at the Imperial Café at the Puerta del Sol. It
makes me laugh when I think of my emotions on seeing him in the distance
and watching him come toward us. He was very richly dressed, loaded with
jewelry, and resplendent as a general in full uniform; as he crossed the
café a thousand heads were turned and a thousand eyes fixed upon him, my
companion, and myself: I felt myself growing pale. “This is Signor
Salvador Sanchez,” said the captain (Frascuelo is a surname). And then,
presenting me to Frascuelo, “This is Signor So-and-So, his admirer.” The
illustrious _matador_ bowed, I bowed more profoundly; we sat down and
commenced to talk. What a strange man! To hear him talk one would say
that he had not the heart to stick a fly with a pin. He was a young man,
about twenty-five years old, of medium stature, quick, dark, and
handsome, with a firm glance and the smile of an absent-minded man. I
asked him a thousand questions about his art and his life; he answered
in monosyllables; I was obliged to draw the words from his mouth, one by
one, by a storm of questions. He replied to my compliments by looking
modestly at the tips of his shoes. I asked him if he had ever been
wounded; he touched his knee, thigh, shoulder, and breast, and said,
“Here, and here, and here, and here too,” with the simplicity of a
child. He obligingly wrote out the address of his house for me, asked me
to come and see him, gave me a cigar, and went away. Three days later,
at the bull-fight, I had a seat near the barrier, and as he paused near
me to gather up the cigars which the spectators threw him, I tossed him
one of those Milan cigars which are covered with straw; he picked it up,
examined it, smiled, and tried to discover who had thrown it: I made a
sign, he saw me and exclaimed, “Ah! the Italian!” I seem to see him yet;
he was dressed in gray embroidered with gold, and one hand was stained
with blood.

But, in conclusion, a final judgment on the bull-fights! Are they or are
they not a barbarous sport, unworthy of a civilized people? Are they or
are they not a spectacle which corrupts the heart? Now for a frank
opinion! A frank opinion? I do not wish to answer in one way and to draw
upon myself a flood of invective, nor to answer otherwise and put my
foot in a trap, so I must confess that I went to the circus every
Sunday. I have told about it and described it: the reader knows as much
as I do; let him judge for himself and allow me to keep my own counsel.

       *       *       *       *       *

I saw at Madrid the famous funereal ceremony which is celebrated every
year on the second of May in honor of the Spaniards who died in battle
or were killed by the French soldiery eighty-seven years ago, on that
terrible day which filled Europe with horror and led to the outbreak of
the War of Independence.

At dawn there was a booming of cannon, and in all the parish churches of
Madrid and before an altar erected near the monument they began to
celebrate mass, and continued to do so until nightfall. The ceremony
consists of a solemn procession, which usually forms in the vicinity of
the royal palace, proceeds to the church of Saint Isadore, where until
1840 were interred the bones of the dead, to listen to a sermon, and
then to march on to the monument to hear mass.

In all the streets where the procession is to pass there are drawn up
the volunteer battalions, the regiments of infantry, squadrons of
cuirassiers, the civil foot-guard, the artillery, and cadets; everywhere
bugles and drums are sounding and bands are playing; one sees in the
distance, over the heads of the crowd, a continual passing of the hats
of generals, the tossing plumes of adjutants, banners, and swords; all
the streets are full of the carriages of members of the Senate and the
Cortes, as large as triumphal chariots, gilded even to the wheels,
upholstered in velvet and silk, adorned with fringes and tassels, and
drawn by superbly plumed horses. The windows of all the houses are
ornamented with tapestry and flowers; the whole populace of Madrid is

I saw the procession pass through the street Alcalá. First came the
huntsmen of the city militia; then the boys from all the schools,
refuges, and hospitals of Madrid--thousands of them, two by two; then
the wounded veterans of the army, some on crutches, some with bandaged
heads, some supported by their companions, some so feeble that they had
to be almost carried--soldiers and generals in their old uniforms, with
their breasts covered with medals and lace, with long swords and plumed
hats; then a crowd of the officers of the various corps, shining with
gold and silver and dressed in a thousand colors; then the high officers
of state, the provincial deputies, the members of Congress, the
senators; then the heralds of the municipality and the chambers, with
flowing robes of velvet and maces of silver; then all the municipal
clerks and all the judges of Madrid, dressed in black with medallions at
their throats; finally, the king in a general’s uniform, on foot,
accompanied by the mayor, the captain-general of the province, the
generals, ministers, deputies, officers of ordnance, and aides-de-camp,
all with bared heads. The procession was ended by a hundred mounted
guards, resplendent as the warriors of the Middle Ages; the royal guard
on foot with great shakos, after the fashion of the Napoleonic guard;
red swallow-tail coats, white breeches, wide shoulder-belts crossed
over the breast, black gaiters to the knee, swords, epaulets, cordons,
buckles, and ornaments; then the volunteers, soldiers, infantry,
artillery; and the people. They all marched with slow step; all the
bands played, the bells tolled; the people were silent, and altogether,
the children of the poor, the priests, magistrates, wounded veterans,
and the grandees of Spain, presented an appearance of dignity and
magnificence which inspired at the time a feeling of sympathy and

The procession turned into the Prado and proceeded toward the monument.
The avenues, the lawns, and the gardens were full of people. Ladies were
standing in their carriages, on chairs, and on the stone seats, holding
their children in their arms; there were people in the trees and on the
roofs; at every step there were banners, funeral inscriptions, lists of
the victims of the second of May; poems pinned to the trunks of trees,
newspapers with borders of black, prints representing episodes of the
massacre, wreaths, crucifixes, little tables with urns for alms, lighted
candles, pictures, statuettes, and toys for children, with a model of
the monument--everywhere memorials of 1808, emblems and signs of sorrow,
festivity, and war. The men were almost all dressed in black; the women
in gay holiday attire, with long funeral trains and veils; there were
groups of peasants from all the surrounding villages dressed in lively
colors, and through all the crowd one heard the discordant cries of
water-carriers, guards, and officers.

The monument of the second of May, which stands at that point where the
greater number of Spaniards were shot, though it does not possess an
artistic value equal to its fame, is--to use a much-abused though
significant word--imposing. It is simple and bold, and to many appears
heavy and ungraceful; but it arrests one’s glance and one’s thought,
even if one does not know what it is; for on first seeing it one
perceives that some event of importance must have transpired in that
place. Above an octagonal base of four steps rises a great square
sarcophagus adorned with inscriptions and arms and a bas-relief
representing the two Spanish officers who were killed on the second of
May in the defence of the Artillery Park. On the sarcophagus rises a
pedestal in the Doric style, on which stand four statues, symbolic of
Patriotism, Bravery, Constancy, and Virtue. In the midst of the statues
rises a high obelisk which bears in characters of gold the words, _Dos
de Mayo_. Around the monument there extends a circular garden
intersected by eight avenues which converge toward a common centre; all
of the avenues are shaded by rows of cypresses, and the garden is
enclosed by an iron railing, which in its turn is encircled by marble
steps. This grove of cypresses, this solitary enclosed garden in the
midst of the gayest promenade of Madrid, is like a vision of death
mingling with the joys of life; one cannot pass without turning to look
at it, and one cannot look at it without thinking: at night, as it lies
in the moonlight, it seems like a fantastic apparition and breathes an
air of solemn mystery.

The king arrived, mass was celebrated, all the regiments marched past,
and the ceremony was ended. So to the present time they celebrate the
anniversary of the second of May, 1808, with a dignity, an affection,
and a veneration which do honor not alone to the Spanish people, but to
the human heart. It is the true national festival of Spain, the only day
in the year when party strife sleeps and all hearts are united in a
common sentiment. And in this sentiment, as one can readily believe,
there is no bitterness against France. Spain has thrown all the blame of
the war and the massacres which it occasioned upon Napoleon and Murat;
the French are welcomed amicably, like all other foreigners; the
ill-fated days of May are mentioned only to celebrate the honor of the
dead and of their country; everything in this ceremony is noble and
grand, and before that sacred monument Spain has only words of pardon
and peace.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another thing to be seen at Madrid is the cock-fighting.

I read one day in the _Correspondencia_ the following notice: “En la
funcion que se celebrarà mañana en el circo de Gallos de Recoletos,
hubrà, entre otras dos peleas, en las que figurarán gallos de los
conocidos aficionados Francisco Calderón y Don Josè Diez, por lo que se
espera serà muy animada la diversion.”

The spectacle commenced at noon: I was there. I was impressed by the
originality and grace of the theatre. It looks like a mosque standing on
a little hill in a garden, but yet is large enough to hold at least a
thousand persons. In form it is a perfect cylinder. In the middle rises
a sort of a circular stage about three hands high, covered with green
carpet and surrounded by a railing about as high as the platform; this
is the battle-ground of the cocks. Between the iron uprights of the
railing is stretched a very fine wire netting which keeps the combatants
from making their escape. Around this cage, which is about as large as a
dining-table, runs a circle of arm-chairs, and behind them a second
higher circle, and both of them are upholstered in red cloth. Several of
the chairs on the first row bear inscriptions written in big letters,
_Presidente, Secretario_, and other titles of the persons who compose
the tribunal of the spectacle. Beyond the arm-chairs rise tiers of
benches running back to the walls, and above them extends a gallery
supported by ten slender columns. The light comes from above. The lively
red of the arm-chairs, the flowers painted on the walls, the columns,
the light, and, in a word, the atmosphere of the theatre, have about
them something novel and picturesque which pleases and exhilarates. At
first sight it seems like a place where one ought to listen to joyous
and refined music rather than witness a fight between animals.

When I entered there were already a hundred persons present. “What sort
of people are these?” I asked myself, and truly the frequenters of the
cock-fights do not resemble those of any other theatre: it is a mixture
_sui generis_, such as one sees only in Madrid. There are no women, no
boys, no soldiers, and no working-men, for it is a work-day and at an
inconvenient hour. But, nevertheless, one sees here a greater variety of
feature, dress, and attitude than at any other popular gathering. The
spectators are all persons who have nothing to do the livelong
day--comedians with long hair and others with bald heads;
_toreros_--Calderón, the famous _picador_, was there--with red sashes
around their waists; students bearing on their faces the trace of nights
spent at the gaming-table; dealers in cocks; young dandies; old amateur
fanciers dressed in black with black gloves and cravats. These sit
around the cage. Behind them are the _rari nantes_, some Englishmen,
some blockheads, of the class one sees everywhere; the servants of the
circus, a courtesan, and a policeman. With the exception of the
foreigners and the guard, the others--gentlemen, _toreros_, dealers,
and actors--all know each other, and talk among themselves, in one
voice, of the quality of the cocks announced in the programme, of the
exhibition, the bets made the previous day, the chances of the struggle,
the talons, feathers, spurs, wings, beaks, and wounds, displaying the
very rich terminology of the sport and citing rules, examples, the cocks
of former days, fights, and famous winnings and losses.

The spectacle began at the appointed hour. A man presented himself in
the middle of the circus with a paper in his hand and commenced to read;
they all became silent. He read a series of figures which indicated the
weight of the different pairs of cocks that were to fight, because, pair
by pair, the one cock must not weigh more than the other, in accordance
with the rules laid down for cock-fighting. The conversation began
again, and then was suddenly hushed. Another man came in with two small
cages under his arm, opened a gate in the railing, stepped up on the
platform, and fastened the cages to the arms of a pair of balances
suspended from the ceiling. Two witnesses assured themselves that the
weights on the two ends were almost equal; everybody sat down; the
president took his position; the secretary cried _Silencio!_ the weigher
and another attendant each took one of the cages, and, going to opposite
doors in the railing, opened them simultaneously. The cocks stepped out,
the gates were closed, and for some moments the spectators observed a
profound silence.

They were two _Andalusian cocks of English breed_, to repeat a curious
definition given me by one of the spectators. They were tall, thin, and
straight as arrows, with long necks, very flexible and totally bare of
feathers along the back and from the breast up; they were without
crests, and had small heads and eyes which betokened their warlike
nature. The spectators looked at them closely without saying a word. The
fanciers in a few moments judge by the color, the form, and the
movements of the two animals which will probably be the victor; then
they offer their bets. It is a very uncertain judgment, as any one may
understand, but it is the uncertainty which gives zest to the sport.
Suddenly the silence is broken by an outburst of cries: “A crown on the
right one!”--“A crown on the left!”--“Done!”--“Three crowns on the
black!”--“Four crowns on the gray!”--“Eighty francs on the small
one!”--“Done!”--“I take the bet on the gray!”

They all shout and wave their hands, and signal to each other with their
canes; the bets cross in every direction, and in a few moments there are
a thousand francs at stake.

The two cocks do not look at each other at first. One turns in one
direction, the other looks the opposite way; they crow, and crane their
necks toward the spectators, as if they are asking, “What do you want?”
Little by little, without making any sign of having seen each other,
they approach; it seems as though one is trying to take the other by
surprise; suddenly, as quick as a flash, they spring at each other with
open wings, strike in the air, and separate in a cloud of feathers.
After the first encounter they stop and plant themselves one before the
other, with their heads and beaks almost touching, motionless, and
looking fixedly, as though they wish to poison each other with their
eyes. Then they dash together again with great violence, and after that
the attacks follow without interruption.

They strike with their talons, spurs, and beaks; clasp each other with
their wings, so that they look like one cock with two heads; they dodge
under each other, strike against the wires of the cage, chase each
other, fall, slip, and fly. Soon the blows fall faster; feathers fly
from their heads; their necks turn as red as fire and they begin to
bleed. Then they fall to pecking each other on the head, around and in
the eyes; they tear the flesh with the fury of two maniacs afraid of
being separated; they seem to know that one of them must die; they utter
not a sound or a groan; one hears only the beating of their wings, the
sound of breaking feathers and of beaks striking the bones; there is not
a moment’s respite; it is a fury which leads only to death.

The spectators watch all their motions intently, count the fallen
feathers, and number the wounds, and the shouting becomes all the time
more excited and the wagers heavier: “Five crowns on the little
one!”--“Eight crowns on the gray!”--“Twenty crowns on the

At a certain point one of the cocks makes a motion that betrays his
inferior strength and begins to show signs of weakening. While he still
resists his pecks become slower, the strokes of his spurs feebler, and
his springs lower. He seems to know that he must die. He fights no
longer to kill, but to keep from being killed, retreats, flees, falls,
raises himself, returns to fall again, reels as though seized with
vertigo. Then the spectacle begins to grow horrible. Before the failing
enemy the victor grows fiercer; his pecks fall fast and furious,
striking the eyes of his victim with the regularity of the needle of a
sewing-machine; his neck flies back and forth with the strength of a
spring; his beak seizes the flesh, twists and tears it, then darts into
the wound as if seeking for the most secret fibre; then he pecks the
head again and again as though he wishes to crack the skull and tear out
the brain. There are no words to express the horror of that pecking,
continuous, insatiable, inexorable. The victim defends himself, flees,
and runs around the cage, and after him, beside him, hovering over him
like a shadow, with his head stretched over that of the fugitive,
follows the victor like a confessor, always pecking, piercing, and
tearing. He has about him the air of a jailer and executioner; he seems
to be whispering in the ear of his victim and to accompany every blow
with an insult: “There! take that! suffer! die! No! live; take this blow
and this, and still another!” A little of the cock’s sanguinary fury is
instilled into your veins; that cowardly cruelty inspires a longing for
revenge; one would strangle the creature with one’s hands and crush its
head with one’s feet. The conquered cock, all bedraggled with blood,
featherless, and tottering, still tries now and then to return the
attack, gives a few pecks, turns to flee, and dashes against the irons
of the railing to find a way of escape.

The bettors become more excited and shout even louder than before. They
can no longer bet on the struggle, and so begin to bet on the agony:
“Five crowns that it does not make three attacks!”--“Ten crowns that it
does not make five!”--“Four crowns that it does not make

At this point I heard a remark which made me shudder: “_Es ciego!_” (“It
is blind.”)

I approached the netting, looked at the conquered cock, and averted my
face in horror. It had no skin, it had no eyes; its neck was only a
bloody bone, its head a skull; its wings, reduced to three or four
feathers, hung down like two rags; it seemed impossible that wounded as
it was it could still live and walk; it no longer had any form.

Nevertheless, that remnant, that monster, that skeleton dripping with
blood, still defended itself and fought on in the dark, raising its
broken wings like two stumps, stretching out its fleshless neck, shaking
its skull at random, here and there, like a new-born puppy.

It was so disgusting and horrible that I closed my eyes to blur the
sight. And the executioner continued to peck at the wounds, to pierce
its eyeballs and beat its naked skull; it was no longer a fight; it was
torture; it seemed as though the cock wished to torment without killing;
sometimes, when its victim remained still for a moment, it bent over and
examined it with the scrutiny of an anatomist; sometimes it stepped off
and looked down at it with the indifference of a grave-digger; then,
again, it would leap upon it with the greed of a vampire, peck, suck,
and tear it as vigorously as at first. Finally, the dying fowl stopped
suddenly, bent its head to the ground as though overcome by sleep, and
its executioner looked at it attentively and desisted.

Then the shouting was redoubled; it was no longer possible to bet on the
convulsions of its agony, so they bet on the symptoms of death: “Five
crowns that it will never raise its head!”--“Three crowns that it raises
it twice!”--“Done!”--“Done!”

The dying cock slowly raised its head; the ready executioner leaped upon
it with a storm of blows; the shouting burst out again; the victim made
another slight movement, received another pecking, shook itself;
received another blow; blood rushed from its mouth; it tottered and
fell. The victor, coward that he was, began to crow. An attendant came
and carried them both away.

All the spectators jumped to their feet and a clamorous conversation
followed; the winners laughed loud and long, the losers swore, and one
and all discussed the merits of the cocks and the chances of the
struggle: “A good fight!”--“Good cocks!”--“Poor cocks!”--“They were no
good!”--“You don’t understand it, sir!”--“Good!”--“Bad!”

“Be seated, _caballeros_!” cried the president; they all sat down, and
another fight started.

I glanced toward the battlefield and went out. Some may not believe it,
but that spectacle seemed to me more horrible than my first bull-fight.
I had no idea of such ferocious cruelty; I did not believe until I saw
it that one animal, after rendering another powerless, would be able to
abuse, torment, and torture it in that manner with the fury of hate and
the luxury of revenge; I had not believed that the rage of a beast could
reach the point of presenting the character of the most extravagant
human vice. Even now--and it is a long time since--whenever I remember
that spectacle I involuntarily turn my head to one side as if to avoid
the horrible sight of that dying cock, and I never chance to place my
hand on a railing without casting down my eyes with the expectation of
seeing the ground sprinkled with feathers and blood. If you go to Spain,
take my advice, gentlefolk, and be content with the bulls.


Before leaving for Andalusia, I went to see the famous convent of the
Escurial, the Leviathan of architecture, the eighth wonder of the world,
the grandest pile of granite on the earth; and if you wish other
high-sounding names, you have only to create them, but you will find
none that has not previously been applied to the edifice. I left Madrid
early in the morning.

The village of the Escurial, which gives the convent its name, lies
about eight leagues from the city, a short distance from the Guadarrama;
the road crosses a desolate, arid plain bounded by a horizon of
snow-clad mountains. When I arrived at the station of the Escurial a
cold, drizzling rain was falling, which chilled me through.

From the station to the village there is a climb of half a mile. I
entered a diligence, and after a few minutes’ ride was set down in a
solitary street bordered on the left by the convent, and on the right by
the houses of the village, and closed in the distance by the mountains.
At the first sight one can make out nothing clearly: one expected to
see a building, and sees a city; one does not know whether one is
already in the convent or still outside of it; on every side there are
walls; one goes forward, and finds one’s self in a square, looks around,
and sees streets, but has scarcely entered these before the convent
again closes around, and one has lost one’s bearings and does not know
which way to turn. The first feeling is one of sadness. The entire
building is of dirt-colored stone pointed with white lines; the roofs
are covered with plates of lead. It seems like a building of earth. The
walls are very high and bare, and there are a great number of windows,
which look like loopholes. One would call it a prison rather than a
convent. Everywhere one sees that sombre, dead color; there is not a
living soul stirring, and the silence of an abandoned fortress broods
over it; beyond the black roofs rises the black mountain, which seems to
hang over the edifice and give it an air of mysterious solitude. The
place, the lines, the colors, everything, seems to have been chosen by
the founder for the purpose of offering to the eyes of man a sad and
solemn spectacle.

Before entering you have lost your gaiety; you no longer smile; you
think. You are arrested at the doors of the Escurial by a sort of
trepidation, as at the gates of a desolate city; it seems that if the
terrors of the Inquisition still linger in any corner of the earth,
they must be found within these walls; you would say that here one might
see its last traces and listen to its last echo.

Every one knows that the basilica and convent of the Escurial were
founded by Philip II. after the battle of San Quintino, in fulfilment of
a vow to Saint Lawrence made during the siege where the besieging force
was obliged to storm a church consecrated to that saint. Don Juan
Batista of Toledo began the work, and Herrera finished it; twenty years
were spent in its construction. Philip II. wished the edifice to present
the form of a gridiron, in commemoration of the martyrdom of Saint
Lawrence, and such indeed is its form. The foundation is a rectangular

At the four corners rise four great square towers with pointed roofs,
which represent the four feet of the gridiron; the church and the royal
palace, which rise on one side, are symbolic of the handle, the interior
buildings, which connect the two sides lengthwise, answer for the
cross-bars. Other smaller buildings rise beyond the parallelogram at a
short distance from the convent, and extend along one of the longer
sides and one of the courts, forming two great squares; on the other two
sides are gardens. The façades, the doorways, the vestibules--everything
is in harmony with the grandeur and dignity of the edifice, and it is
useless to add description to description. The royal palace is most
splendid, and it is well to see it before entering the convent and the
church, so as not to confuse the different impressions. This palace
occupies the north-east corner of the structure. Some of the rooms are
full of paintings; others hung from floor to ceiling with tapestries
designed by Goya, representing bull-fights, popular balls, sports,
festivals, and Spanish costumes; others royally furnished and adorned;
the pavement, the doors, the windows covered with marvellous workmanship
in mosaic and superb gilding.

But the chamber of Philip II. is the important one among all these
rooms--a cell rather than a room, bare and squalid, with an alcove which
opens into the royal oratory of the church, so that from the bed, when
the doors are closed, one may see the priests saying mass. Philip II.
slept in that cell, there he had his last sickness, and there he died.
One may still see some chairs which he used, his writing-desk, and two
small benches on which he rested his gouty leg. The walls are white, the
ceiling is flat and without ornament, and the floor is of brick.

After seeing the royal palace one leaves the building, crosses the
square, and re-enters by the principal doorway. A guide attaches himself
to your person; you are led through a large vestibule and find yourself
in the Courtyard of the Kings.

Then, for the first time, you are able to form an idea of the vast
skeleton of the edifice. The courtyard is entirely surrounded by walls;
on the side opposite the doorway rises the façade of the church. From
the spacious platform rise six enormous Doric columns, each of which
supports a great pedestal and every pedestal a statue. There are six
colossal statues by Battista Monegro, representing Jehosaphat, Ezekiel,
David, Solomon, Joshua, and Manasseh. The courtyard is paved with stone
sprinkled with bits of mouldy turf; the walls look like rocks cut in
vertical lines; everything is rigid, massive, and heavy, and offers the
fantastic appearance of a building carved by Titans out of the solid
mountain, ready to defy the shocks of time and the thunderbolts of
heaven. There one begins to understand what the Escurial is.

One mounts the platform and enters the church.

The interior of the church is bare and gloomy; four enormous pilasters
of gray granite bear up the vaulted roof painted in fresco by Luca
Giordano; beside the great altar, carved and gilded in the Spanish
style, and between the columns of the two royal oratories, one sees two
groups of bronze statues, kneeling figures with clasped hands stretched
toward the altar--on the right, Charles V., the empress Isabella, and
several princesses; on the left, Philip II. with his wives. Over the
doorway of the church, thirty feet from the ground, at the end of the
great nave, rises the choir, with two rows of seats, in the Corinthian
style and simple in design. In a corner near a secret door is the seat
where Philip II. used to sit. Through that door he received letters and
important despatches without being seen by the priests chanting in the
choir. This church, which, compared with the whole edifice, seems very
small, is nevertheless one of the largest churches in Spain, and,
although it appears so devoid of ornament, contains a vast wealth of
marbles, gold, relics, and paintings, which a dim light in part
conceals, and from which the attention is diverted by the gloominess of
the building. Besides the thousand works of art which one sees in the
chapels, in the rooms which open out of the church, and on the
staircases which lead to the galleries, there is in a corridor behind
the choir a superb white marble crucifix, the work of Benvenuto Cellini,
which bears the inscription, _Benvenutus Zalinus, civis Florentinus,
facebat 1562_. In other parts one sees paintings by Navarrete and
Herrera. But all surprise is overwhelmed by a feeling of sadness. The
color of the stone, the dim light, the profound silence which encircles
you incessantly draw your thoughts to the vastness, the hidden recesses,
and the solitude of the edifice, and leave no place for the indulgence
of your admiration. The appearance of that church inspires an
inexpressible sense of restlessness. You would know by intuition, if you
had not learned it otherwise, that around those walls for a long
distance extend only granite, shadows, and silence; you feel that
measureless structure without seeing it; you feel that you are standing
in the midst of a forsaken city; you would hasten your steps to see it
at once, to free yourself from the incubus of that mystery, and to seek,
if anywhere they might be found, light, noise, and life.

From the church, through several bare, cold rooms, one passes into the
sacristy, a large, vaulted chamber, along one of whose walls runs an
unbroken row of wardrobes made of various fine woods. It contains also a
series of paintings by Ribera, Giordano, Zurbarán, Tintoretto, and other
Spanish and Italian painters; and at the end stands the famous altar of
the _Santa forma_, with the very celebrated painting of poor Claude
Coello, who died of a broken heart when Luca Giordano was summoned to
the Escurial. The effect of this painting is truly above all
expectation. It represents with life-size figures the procession which
once marched to place the _Santa forma_ in that very spot; it depicts
the sacristy and the altar, the prior kneeling on the steps, with the
casket and the sacred Host in his hands; around him are grouped the
deacons on one side, Charles II. on his knees, and beyond the monks,
priests, collegians, and the other worshippers. The figures are so
life-like and natural, the perspective so true, the coloring, shading,
and light so effective, that on first entering the sacristy one
mistakes the painting for a mirror which reflects a religious ceremony
being celebrated at that moment in the next room. Then the illusion
vanishes, but one is still deceived as to the background of the picture,
and it is actually necessary to approach close enough to touch it before
one believes that it is only a painted canvas and not another sacristy.
On the festival days the canvas is rolled up, and there appears in the
centre of a little chapel a small temple of gilded bronze, within which
one sees a magnificent casket, which contains the sacred Host, adorned
with ten thousand rubies, diamonds, amethysts, and garnets arranged in
the form of dazzling rays.

From the sacristy we went to the Pantheon. A guide led the way with a
lighted torch: we descended a long granite staircase and came to a
subterranean door, where not a single ray of light penetrated. Over this
door one reads the following inscription in gilded letters of bronze:

    “God great and omnipotent!

“A place consecrated by the piety of the Austrian dynasty to the mortal
remains of the Catholic kings, who are looking for that day of their
desire, under the great altar sacred to the Redeemer of the human race.
Charles V., the most illustrious of the Cæsars, desired this for the
last resting-place of himself and his lineage; Philip II., the most
prudent of kings, planned it; Philip III., a monarch of sincere piety,
made a beginning of the work; Philip IV., great in his clemency,
constancy, and devotion, enlarged, adorned, and brought it to completion
in the year of our Lord 1654.”

The guide entered: I followed him and found myself surrounded by
sepulchres, or rather in a sepulchre, as dark and cold as a grotto in a
mountain-side. It is a little octagonal chamber built entirely of
marble, with a small altar on the side opposite the door, and in the
remaining space from floor to ceiling, one above the other, tombs
adorned with bronze ornaments and bas-reliefs; the ceiling is under the
great altar in the church. To the right of the altar are the tombs of
Charles V., Philip II., Philip III., Philip IV., Louis I., the three Don
Carlos, and Ferdinand VII.; on the left, the empresses and queens. The
guide placed his torch near the tomb of Maria Louisa of Savoy, the
spouse of Charles III., and said to me with an air of mystery, “Read.”
The marble is ruled in different directions; with a little study I was
able to distinguish five letters; they form the name _Luisa_, written by
the queen herself with the point of her scissors.

Suddenly the guide extinguished his torch and we were left in the dark;
the blood froze in my veins. “Light it!” I cried. The guide laughed a
long, ghostly laugh, which seemed to me like a death-rattle, and
replied, “Look!” I looked: a faint ray of light, entering through a
chink near the ceiling, stole along the wall almost to the pavement,
shedding light

[Illustration: _Tomb of Charles V, Escurial_]

enough merely to make visible some tombs of the queens: it seemed like a
beam of moonlight, and the bas-reliefs and the bronzes on the tombs
gleamed in that uncanny glimmer as though they were dripping with water.
At that moment I perceived, for the first time, the odor of that
sepulchral air, and a tremor of fear seized me: in imagination I entered
those tombs and saw all those stiffened corpses; I sought an escape
through the vaulted roof, and found myself alone in the church. I fled
from the church and lost myself in the labyrinth of the convent;
presently I came to myself in the midst of the tombs, and felt that I
was truly in the heart of that monstrous edifice, in its deepest part. I
seemed to be a prisoner entombed in that mountain of granite, which was
everywhere closing in upon me and pressing me on all sides, and would
finally crush me, and I thought, with indescribable sadness, of the sky,
the country, and the free air as of another world, “Sir,” said the guide
solemnly before going out, extending his hand toward the tomb of Charles
V., “the emperor is there, just as he was when they placed him there,
with his eyes still open, so that he seems alive and speaking: it is a
miracle of God performed for purposes of his own. He who lives will
see.” And speaking these last words, he made the sign of the cross, as
though he was afraid the emperor might hear, and led the way to the

After the church and the sacristy one goes to visit the
picture-gallery, which contains a great number of paintings by artists
of every nation, although not the best examples, for they were taken to
the Madrid gallery, but, at any rate, paintings of sufficient merit to
warrant a visit of a few hours.

From the picture-gallery one proceeds to the library by the great
staircase, over which rises a high vaulted ceiling wholly covered with
frescoes by Luca Giordano. The library consists of a hall of great size
adorned with large allegorical pictures: it contains more than fifty
thousand precious volumes, four thousand of which were presented by
Philip II. There is also another room, containing a very rich collection
of manuscripts.

From the library one goes to the convent. Here the imagination of man is
lost. If any of my readers has read the _Estudiante de Salamanca_ of
Espronceda, he will remember how that indefatigable youth, in pursuing a
mysterious lady whom he met at night at the foot of the chapel stairs,
followed her from street to street, from square to square, from alley to
alley, turning and twisting and going in circles, until he reached a
point where he saw no longer the houses of Salamanca, but found himself
in an unknown city, and how, as he continued to turn corners, cross
squares, and hurry through the streets, the city seemed to enlarge as he
advanced, and the streets to stretch away, and the alleys to make a
thicker network, and how he went on and ever on without rest, not
knowing whether he was asleep or awake, drunken or mad; and fear began
to penetrate his iron heart and the strangest fancies crowded upon his
bewildered mind. So is it with the stranger in the convent of the

You pass through a long subterranean corridor, so narrow that you can
touch the walls with your elbows, so low that your head almost strikes
the ceiling, and damp as a submarine grotto, until you reach the end,
turn around, and find yourself in another corridor. You go forward, come
to doors and look through them: other corridors stretch away as far as
the eye can reach. At the end of one you may see a ray of light, at the
end of another an open door which allows you to peep into a suite of
rooms. Now and then you hear the echo of a passing footstep; you stop
and the sound dies away; then it comes again, but you cannot tell
whether it is over your head, to the right or left, behind or in front.
You step up to a door and turn back terrified. At the end of the
interminable corridor along which your glance has run you have seen a
man standing motionless as a spectre, looking at you. You hurry on and
come out into a narrow courtyard surrounded by very high walls,
grass-grown, hollow-sounding, and lighted by a wan light which seems to
descend from an unknown sun--places like the courts of the witches of
which they told us in our childhood.

You leave the courtyard, mount a flight of stairs, enter an upper
gallery, and look around: it is another court, silent and deserted. You
turn down another corridor, climb another staircase, and find yourself
in a third court; then, again, corridors and stairs and suites of empty
rooms and narrow courtyards; and everywhere granite, grass, a sickly
light, and a sepulchral silence. For a little while you think you can
retrace your steps; then the mind becomes confused, and you remember
nothing; it seems as though you had walked ten miles--that you have been
a month in this labyrinth and can never escape.

You approach a courtyard and say, “I have seen this already.” No, you
are mistaken; it is another. You believe that you are in a certain part
of the edifice when you are in the opposite part. You ask the guide
where the cloister is, and he replies, “This is it,” and you walk on for
half an hour. You seem to be dreaming: you see a succession of long
walls flitting past, frescoed, hung with paintings, crosses, and
inscriptions; you see and forget and ask yourself, “Where am I?”

You see the light of another world; you have never seen just such a
light: is it the reflection from the stone, or does it come from the
moon? No, it is daylight, but sadder than darkness--unreal, gloomy, and
fantastic. And as you go on from corridor to corridor, from court to
court, you look ahead with misgivings, expecting to see suddenly, as
you turn a corner, a row of skeleton monks with hoods over their eyes
and crosses in their hands; you think of Philip II., and seem to hear
his heavy footsteps slowly retreating through the dark passages; you
remember all that you have read about him, of his terrors and the
Inquisition, and everything becomes clear to your mind’s eye with a
sudden light; for the first time you understand it all: the Escurial is
Philip II. You see it at every step, you feel it at every breath; he is
still there, alive and terrible, with the image of his dreadful God.
Then you would rebel and raise your thoughts to the God of your heart
and your aspirations, and conquer the mysterious terror which the place
inspires, but you cannot: the Escurial surrounds, holds, and crushes
you; the chill of its walls penetrates to your marrow; the gloom of its
sepulchral labyrinthine passages invades your soul; if you were with a
friend, you would say, “Let us go out;” if perchance you were with a
loved one, you would clasp her to your heart in trepidation; if you were
alone, you would flee. Finally, you climb a staircase, enter a room,
approach a window, and with a cry of gratitude hail the mountains, the
sun, liberty, and the great and beneficent God who loves and pardons.

What a long breath you draw at that window!

From it you see the gardens, which fill but a small space and are very
simple; but who can tell how elegant and beautiful they are, and in
what perfect harmony with the building? You see twelve graceful
fountains, each surrounded by four plots of myrtle, which represent
royal shields, designed with exquisite taste and trimmed with such
nicety that as one looks down at them from the windows they look like
fabrics of plush and velvet, and form a very grateful contrast to the
white sand of the paths. There are no trees, flowers, nor arbors: in all
the garden one sees only the fountains, the plots of myrtle, and the two
colors, green and white; and so charming is that dignified simplicity
that one cannot bear to leave it, and when one has looked away the
memory returns there and rests with a sweet subdued sense of pensive

In a room near that from which I looked at the garden the guide made me
look at a collection of relics, which I examined in silence, without
allowing him to suspect my secret feeling of doubt. There is a piece of
the Holy Cross, presented by the Pope to Isabella II.; a bit of wood
stained with the blood of Saint Lawrence, which is still visible; Saint
Theresa’s inkhorn, and other objects, among them a little portable altar
which belonged to Charles V., a crown of thorns, a pair of tweezers used
for torture, found I know not where. Thence I was led to the dome of the
church, from which one enjoys a splendid view. On one side the view
extends over all the mountainous country which lies between the
Escurial and Madrid; on the other one sees the snowy mountains of
Guadarrama; below one comprehends at a glance the whole of the
measureless edifice, the long lead-colored roofs, the towers, the
courtyards, the cloisters, the porticoes, and the galleries; one may
pass in thought through the thousand windings of the corridors and
stairways, and say, “An hour ago I was below there--here--up there--down
there--over yonder,” marvelling that one has made so great a journey,
and delighted to have escaped from that labyrinth, those tombs and
shadows, and to be able to return to the city and see one’s friends

An illustrious traveller has said that after passing a day in the
Escurial one ought to be happy throughout the rest of one’s life, with
the single thought that one might still be within those walls; and it is
almost true: even now, after so long a time, on rainy days, when I am
feeling sad, I think of the Escurial, and then look at the walls of my
room and congratulate myself; in sleepless nights I see again the
courtyards of the Escurial; when I am sick and my sleep is broken and
uneasy, I dream of wandering through those corridors alone in the dark,
followed by the ghost of an old friar, crying and pounding at all the
doors without finding a way of escape, until I rush headlong into the
Pantheon, and the door clashes on my heels, and I remain entombed among
the sepulchres. With what pleasure did I see again the thousand lights
of the _Puerta del Sol_, the crowded cafés, and the great noisy street
of Alcalá! On re-entering the house I made such a racket that the
servant, a good simple Galician girl, ran breathless to her mistress and
said, “I think the Italian has gone mad!”

       *       *       *       *       *

I was more amused by the deputies of the Cortes than by either the cocks
or the bulls. I was successful in obtaining a little corner in the
reporters’ gallery, and went there every day, staying until the very end
with infinite pleasure. The Spanish Parliament has a more youthful
appearance than ours--not because the deputies are younger, but because
they are nattier and better dressed. One does not see those dishevelled
heads of hair, those unkempt beards, and colorless surtouts which are to
be seen on the benches of our Chamber: one sees smooth and shiny beards
and hair, embroidered shirts, long black coats, light trousers, tan
gloves, silver-headed canes, and button-hole bouquets. The Spanish
Parliament follows the fashion-plate. And as is the dress, so is the
speech, lively, gay, flowery, and brilliant. We are continually
lamenting that our deputies are more careful of form than is becoming to
political orators, but the Spanish deputies observe this even more
studiously, and, it must be admitted, with even greater grace. Not only
do they speak with marvellous facility, so that one very rarely hears
one of them pause in the middle of a period to find a word, but,
moreover, every one tries to speak correctly and to add to his speech a
certain poetical lustre, a little classical polish, and a slight impress
of the grand oratorical style. The gravest ministers, the most timid
deputies, the sternest financiers, even when they use arguments utterly
foreign to rhetorical treatment, embellish their speeches with verses
from the anthology, with happy anecdotes, and famous quotations, and
apostrophes to culture, liberty, and patriotism; and they talk as
rapidly as though they were reciting something committed to memory, with
an intonation always measured and euphonious, and a variety of pose and
gesture of which one never tires for an instant. And the journals, in
criticising the speeches, praise the elevation of their style, praise
the purity of their language, _los rasgos sublimes_ (the sublime
flashes), which appear admirable if they are writing of their friends,
be it understood, or, on the other hand, they say in disparagement that
the style is slipshod, the language corrupt, the form--that precious
form!--in a word unpolished, base, and unworthy of the splendid
traditions of Spanish oratory.

This cultivation of form, this great facility of speech, degenerates
into vanity and bombast, and it is true that one must not search in the
Parliament of Madrid for examples of genuine political eloquence; but
it is none the less true, as is universally conceded, that this
Parliament, among all those of Europe, is richest in oratory in the
general acceptation of that word. One should hear a discussion on some
important political measure which stirs the passions of the deputies. It
is a veritable battle! There are no longer speeches, but torrents of
words which drive the stenographers mad and confuse the heads of those
in the galleries. There are tones, gestures, violent expressions, bursts
of inspired eloquence, which remind one of the French Assembly in the
turbulent days of the Revolution. There one hears Rios Rosas, a most
violent orator, who rules the tumult with a roar; a Martos, an orator of
distinguished figure, who destroys by ridicule; a Pi y Margall, a
venerable old man, who terrifies by his gloomy predictions; a Colantes,
an indefatigable speaker, who crushes the Chamber under an avalanche of
words; a Rodriguez, who with marvellous flexibility of argument and
illustration pursues, entangles, and strangles his enemies; and, in the
centre of a hundred others, a Castelar, who conquers and enslaves both
friends and enemies by a flood of poetry and harmony. And this Castelar,
famous throughout Europe, is really the most perfect expression of
Spanish eloquence. He carries the cultivation of form almost to
idolatry; his eloquence is music; his argument a slave to his ear; he
says a thing or leaves it unsaid, or says it in one sense rather than
in another, according as it turns or fails to turn a period; there is a
harmony in his mind which he follows and obeys, and to which he
sacrifices everything that can possibly offend; with him a period is a
strophe, and one must hear him to believe that human speech without the
cadence of poetry and the aid of song is able to approach so closely to
the harmony of song and poetry. He is more of an artist than a
politician, and he has not only the genius, but the heart, of an
artist--the heart of a child incapable of anger or resentment. In all
his speeches no one can find a ground of offence; in the Cortes he has
never provoked a serious dispute of a personal nature; he never has
recourse to satire and never uses irony; in his most violent philippics
there is no touch of bitterness; and this is a proof of these
assertions: although he is a Republican, an opponent of all the
ministers, an aggressive journalist, a continual adversary to every one
who exercises any power, and of every one who is not a fanatic on the
subject of liberty, he has never had an enemy. Consequently, his
speeches are enjoyed and are not feared; his words are too beautiful to
terrify; his character too ingenuous for him to exercise a political
influence; he does not know how to fight, to conspire, and to accomplish
his ends through bribery; it is his function only to please and to
shine: his eloquence even at his grandest is tender, his most beautiful
speeches make one weep. To him the Chamber is a theatre. Like an
improvisatore, to have a full and serene inspiration he is obliged to
speak at a given hour, at a predetermined moment, and with a certain
period of time at his disposal. Accordingly, on the day when he wishes
to speak he makes his arrangement with the president of the chamber; the
president so disposes the business that his speech may begin when the
galleries are crowded and all the deputies are in their seats; his
papers announce his speech on the previous evening in order that the
ladies may procure tickets, for he must have popular attention. Before
speaking he is restless and cannot be still for an instant; he enters
the Chamber, goes out, comes back, turns to go out again, hurries along
the corridors, goes to the library to consult a book, rushes into a café
for a glass of water, seems to be stricken with fever: he imagines that
he will not be able to pronounce two words--that he will appear
ridiculous and be hissed: not a single idea of his speech remains clear
in his mind; he has confused and forgotten everything. “How is your
pulse?” his friends ask him with a smile. The solemn moment arrives; he
rises from his seat with bowed head, trembling and pale, like a man
condemned to death, resigned to lose in a single day the glory won in so
many years and with so great labor. At that moment his very enemies pity
his condition. He raises his head, casts a glance around, and says,
“_Señores!_” He is saved; his courage is renewed; his mind clears, and
his speech takes form again like a forgotten air; the president, the
Cortes, the galleries vanish; he feels only the irresistible flame which
burns within him--the mysterious force which sustains him. It is fine to
hear him say these words. “I no longer see the walls of the Chamber,” he
says; “I see distant lands and people never seen before.” He speaks hour
after hour, and not a deputy leaves the hall, not a person moves in the
galleries, not a voice interrupts, not a motion disturbs him; not even
when he transgresses the rules has the president courage to stop him; he
pictures at his pleasure the image of his republic clothed in white and
crowned with roses, and the monarchists do not rise in protest, for when
so clothed they too find her beautiful. Castelar is the ruler of the
Assembly; he thunders, lightens, sings, roars, and flashes like
fireworks, provokes laughter, calls forth shouts of enthusiasm, ends in
a tremendous tumult of applause, and disappears with head erect. Such is
the famous Castelar, professor of history in the university--a most
fertile writer on politics, art, and religion; a publicist who annually
receives fifty thousand francs from the journals of America; an
academician unanimously elected a member of the _Academia
española_--pointed out in the streets, hailed with joy by the people,
loved by his enemies, noble, vain, generous, and happy.

While we are on the subject of political eloquence let us glance at

Imagine a hall in the Academy full of noise and confusion. A crowd of
poets, novelists, and writers of every sort, nearly all of them having a
French air in their expression and manner, although very studious to
conceal it. They are reading and declaiming from their own works, each
one trying to drown the voice of the others, to the end that he may make
himself heard by the people who crowd the galleries, while they, on
their part, put through the time by reading the papers and discussing
politics. Now and then a clear, sonorous voice rises above the tumult,
and then a hundred voices burst forth together from one corner of the
room, crying, “He is a Carlist!” and a flood of hisses drowns
the cry; or, on the other hand, “He is a Republican!” and another
flood of hisses from the other side drowns the clear, sonorous
voice. The academicians crush their papers into balls, throw
them at each other, and shout in each other’s ears,

By listening attentively to those who are reading one may catch
harmonious stanzas, well-turned periods, powerful phrases: the first
effect is agreeable; the prose and poetry are indeed full of fire, life,
flashes of light, and happy comparisons, drawn from everything that one
hears and sees in the sky, the earth, and the sea; and it is all dimly
lighted with the colors of the Orient and richly clothed in Italian
harmonies. But, alas! it is literature only for the eyes and the ears;
it is only music and painting; on rare occasions the Muse drops a gem of
thought in the midst of a shower of flowers, and of this bright shower
there remains only a lingering perfume in the air and the echo of a
dying murmur on the ear.

Meanwhile one hears in the street the shouts of the people, the firing
of guns, and the beating of drums; at every moment some artist deserts
the ranks and goes to wave a banner among the crowd; they separate in
twos and threes and in larger groups and go to swell the crowd of
journalists; the turmoil and the continuous turning of Fortune’s wheel
dissuade the most industrious from lengthy works; it is in vain that
some solitary figure in the crowd cries, “In the name of Cervantes,
stop!” A few strong voices are raised above this clamor, but they are
the voices of men who hold themselves apart, many of whom will soon make
that voyage from which there is no return. There is the voice of
Hartzenbusch, the prince of the drama; the voice of Breton de las
Herreros, the prince of comedy; the voice of Zorilla, the prince of
poetry; there is the Orientalist, Gayangos; the archeologist, Guerra; a
writer of comedies, called Tamayo; a novelist, Fernand Caballero by
name; Amador de los Rios, a critic; Fernandez y Gonzalez, a novelist;
and a host of other able and productive writers. In the midst of these
there still lives the memory of Quintana, the great poet of the
Revolution; of Espronceda, the Byron of Spain; of a Nicasio Gallego, a
Martinez della Rosa, and a duke di Rivas. But the tumult, the disorder,
and the discord burst through like a torrent and engulf everything.

To leave allegory, Spanish literature finds itself in a condition
similar to ours--a group of illustrious writers whose powers are
failing, but who have had two grand sources of inspiration, religion and
love of country, or both in one--men who have left a distinct and
enduring mark in the field of art; and, on the other hand, a body of
young men who are groping their way forward, asking what it is they have
to do, rather than actually doing it, wavering between faith and doubt;
either possessing faith without courage or taught by custom to simulate
it when they have it not; not even certain of their own language, and
vacillating between the academies, which cry, “Purity!” and the people,
who cry, “Truth!”--hesitating between the weight of traditions and the
need of the moment; thrust aside by the thousands who give fame or
spurned by the few who seal it; obliged to think in one way and to write
in another--to conceal their inmost self, to let the present escape so
as not to break with the past, to steer as best they can between
opposing obstacles. Good fortune may be able for a few years to keep
their names afloat amid the torrent of French books which is pouring in
upon the country. Hence arises the discouragement, first to their own
individual effort, and then to the national genius; and from this follow
imitation which sinks into mediocrity, and the abandonment of the
literature of broad scholarship and large hopes for the ease and
profitable scribbling for the newspapers.

Alone among so many ruins stands the theatre. The new dramatic
literature lacks the marvellous invention, the splendid form, and the
pristine impress of the nobility and grandeur of the old, which was the
expression of a people who ruled Europe and the New World. Still less
does it possess the incredible productiveness and the endless variety;
but, in compensation, it possesses a more wholesome influence, a deeper
observation, a finer delicacy, and a greater degree of conformity to the
true scope of the theatre, which is to purify manners and to ennoble the
heart and mind.

In all the forms of literature, moreover, as in the drama, in the
novels, the popular songs, the poems, and histories, there always lives
and rules the sentiment which informs the literature of Spain more
powerfully indeed than any other European literature, from the first
rude lyrics of Berseo to the noble martial hymns of Quintana--the
sentiment of national pride.

And here it is appropriate to speak of the Spanish character. The
national pride of the Spaniards is still so great to-day, after so many
misfortunes and so grave a fall, that the stranger who lives among them
is doubtful whether they are the Spaniards of three centuries ago or the
Spaniards of the nineteenth century. But it is an inoffensive pride, a
pride which runs to harmless rhetoric. They do not depreciate the other
nations which seem to rise higher than themselves. No; they respect,
praise, and admire them, but show a feeling of superiority which draws a
clear inference contradictory to their praise. They are benevolent
toward other nations, with that benevolence which Leopardi justly
remarks is peculiar to men full of self-conceit, who believe that they
are admired by all, and love their avowed admirers because they think
that a duty attendant upon the superiority with which they imagine fate
has blessed them. Surely there has never existed in the world a people
with greater enthusiasm for their history than the Spanish. It is
incredible. The boy who shines your boots, the porter who carries your
valise, the mendicant who begs for alms, raises his head with flashing
eyes at the names of Charles V., Philip II., Hernando Cortez, and Don
John of Austria, as if they are heroes of his own time, and as if he had
witnessed their triumphal entry into the city only the day before. The
people pronounce the word _España_ with an accent like that with which
the Romans of the most glorious times of the Republic would have
pronounced _Roma_. When they speak of Spain modesty is thrown aside,
even by men of extremely modest nature, without the least indication in
their faces of that exaltation because of which one may sometimes pardon
intemperate speech. They boast in cold blood, from habit, without being
conscious of so doing. In the speeches of Parliament, in the newspaper
articles, in the writings of the Academy, they speak of the Spanish
people without circumlocution as a nation of heroes, the great nation,
the wonder of the world, the glory of the ages. It is a rare thing to
hear any one speak or read a hundred words before an audience without
sooner or later recognizing the burden of the song in Lepanto, the
Discovery of America, or the War of Independence, the mention of which
always elicits a burst of applause.

And it is precisely this tradition of the War of Independence that
constitutes to the Spanish people a powerful inherent force. One who has
never lived in Spain for a long or short period cannot believe that a
war, however fortunate and glorious, could leave to the people so
steadfast a faith in their national valor. Baylen, Victoria, San
Marcial, are throughout Spain even more potent traditions than are
Marengo, Jena, and Austerlitz in France. Even the martial glory of the
armies of Napoleon, seen through the War of Independence, which shrouds
it like a veil, appears to the eyes of the Spanish less splendid than
to any other people in Europe. The idea of a foreign invasion provokes
among the Spaniards a smile of proud disdain; they do not believe it
possible to be conquered in their own country; one should hear the tones
in which they speak of Germany when it is rumored that the emperor
William has determined to uphold the throne of the duke d’Aosta with his
arms. And doubtless if they were obliged to fight a new war of
independence, they would fight, possibly with less fortunate success,
but with a bravery and constancy equal to those which they once so
marvellously displayed. 1808 is the ’93 of Spain; it is a date which
stands out before the eyes of every Spaniard in letters of fire; they
glory in it, from the women and the boys to the babies who are just
learning to lisp; it is the war-cry of the nation.

And they have a similar pride in their writers and artists. The beggar,
instead of saying _España_, says sometimes the _country of Cervantes_.
No writer in the world has ever gained such popularity among his own
people as the author of _Don Quixote_ in Spain. I believe that there is
not a peasant or a shepherd from the Pyrenees to the Sierra Nevada, from
the coast of Valencia to the hills of Estremadura, who if asked about
Cervantes will not reply with a smile of complacence, “He is the
immortal author of _Don Quixote_!” Spain is perhaps the country where
the anniversaries of the great writers are most generally celebrated;
from Juan de Mena to Espronceda, each one has his solemn day, when they
offer at his tomb a tribute of song and flowers. In the squares, the
cafés, the railway-carriages, wherever you are, you hear lines of the
famous poets repeated by all sorts of people; he who has not read them
has heard another read; he who has not heard them read repeats the
quotation as a proverb learned from others; and when any one repeats a
verse, they all prick up their ears. Any one who knows a little Spanish
literature may make a journey in that country with the assurance of
always having something to talk about and something with which to
inspire sympathy wherever and in whatever company he may happen to be.
The national literature is truly national.

The defect of the Spanish which from the first strikes the stranger is
this--that in their estimate of the affairs, the men, and the
achievements of their time and their country they over-estimate their
measure, if one may so speak. They exaggerate everything, they see
everything, as it were, through a lens that magnifies to vast
proportions. For a long time they have had no immediate part in the
common life of Europe, and hence they have lacked opportunity for
comparing themselves with other states and of judging themselves by such
comparison. On this account their civil wars, the wars in America,
Africa, and Cuba, are to them not what the little war of 1860 and ’61
against the Papal army, or even the revolution of 1860, are to us, but
what we regard the great Crimean War and the wars of 1859 and of 1866.
They speak of the combats--which exalt the Spanish armies in those wars,
sanguinary doubtless, but not great--as the French speak of Solferino,
the Prussians of Sadowa, and the Austrians of Custozza. Prim, Serrano,
and O’Donnell are generals who in comparison dwarf the most illustrious
commanders of other countries. I remember the to-do made at Madrid over
the report of the victory gained by General Merriones over four or five
thousand Carlists. The deputies in the lobby of the Cortes exclaimed
emphatically, “Ah! Spanish blood!” Some even said that if an army of
three hundred Spaniards had found itself in the position of the French
in 1870, it would have marched straight to Berlin. Certain it is, that
one cannot doubt the valor of the Spanish, which has been proved on so
many occasions, but one may safely assert that there is a great
difference between disorganized Carlists and Prussians in battle
array--between the soldiers of Europe, to speak more comprehensively,
and the soldiers of Africa--between great pitched battles, where
canister sweeps away its thousands, and the combats of ten thousand
soldiers on either side with great disparity in equipment and
discipline. And as they speak of war, so they speak of everything else;
and this is true not only of the common people, but of the upper
classes as well. They lavish high-sounding praises upon their writers;
they give the title of _grande poeta_ to many whose names are never
heard outside of Spain; adjectives of exalted sublimity and wonder are
current coin given and taken without the least doubt of its value as
legal tender. One may say that Spain regards and judges everything like
an American, rather than a European, people, and that it is separated
from Europe by an ocean instead of the Pyrenees, and joined to America
by an isthmus.

In other points how similar they are to us! To hear the people talk of
politics, one would think one was in Italy: they do not argue, they
express opinions; they do not censure, they condemn; a single argument
is enough for any judgment, and to form an argument an inference alone
is sufficient. As for this minister, he is a rascal; that one, a
traitor; and this one a hypocrite: they are all a pack of thieves. One
has sold the trees in the gardens of Aranguez; another has robbed the
Escurial of its treasures; a third has drained the coffers of the state;
a fourth has sold his soul for a bag of money. They have lost all faith
in the very men who have had a hand in all the political movements of
the last thirty years; even among the lowest people there is creeping in
a spirit of discouragement which gives rise to the expressions that one
hears very often and on every side: “Poor Spain! Unhappy country!
Wretched Spaniards!”

But the violence of the political passions and the fury of the civil
struggles have not changed the foundation of the ancient Spanish
character. Only that part of society known as the political world, only
this is corrupt; the people, though always inclined toward those blind
and at times savage impulses of passion which betray the mingling of the
Arabian and Latin blood, are good and loyal and capable of magnanimous
action and sublime bursts of enthusiasm. “The honor of Spain” is still a
motto which quickens every pulse. And, moreover, their manners are frank
and refined; perhaps less polished, but certainly more amiable and
ingenuous, than those for which the French are praised. Instead of
smiling at you, they offer you a cigar; instead of paying you a
compliment, they press your hand, and are more hospitable in actions
than in protestations. Nevertheless, the forms of address still preserve
their ancient courtliness; the gentleman says to the lady, “I am at your
feet;” the lady to the gentleman, “I kiss your hand.” Among themselves
the gentlemen sign their letters Q. B. S. M.--_que besa sus manos_ (I
kiss your hands), like a servant to his master; only friends say
_Adios_; and the people preserve their affectionate salutation, _Vaya
Usted con Dios!_ (God be with you!), which is worth more than all the
kissing of the hands.

With the warm, generous nature of this people it is impossible to spend
a month in Madrid without making a hundred friends, even though one does
not seek them. Think how many one might make if one did seek them! This
was my case. I cannot say that they were real friends, but I was
acquainted with so many persons that it did not seem at all like being
in a foreign city. Even the illustrious men are very easy to approach,
and hence there is no need, as elsewhere, of a pile of letters and
messages from friends in order to meet them. I had the honor of knowing
Tamayo, Hartzenbusch, Guerra, Saavedra, Valera, Rodriguez, Castelar, and
many others, some famous in letters and some in the sciences, and I
found them all alike--open, cordial, fiery; men with silvered hair, but
with the eyes and voices of young men of twenty; passionately devoted to
poetry, music, and art; cheerful and animated, with a fresh, ringing
laugh. How many of them did I see, as they read the lines of Quintana or
Espronceda, grow pale, weep, and spring to their feet as though touched
by an electric spark, revealing their whole soul in a radiant glance!
What youthful spirits! What ardent hearts! How delighted I was to see
and hear them--to belong to that same poor Latin race of which we now
say such hard things! and how happy I was in the thought that to a
greater or less degree we are all formed in the same mould, and that,
although we may accustom ourselves, little by little, to envy the
qualities of others, yet we are never wholly successful in obliterating
our own!

After three months and more of sojourning in Madrid I was obliged to
take my departure, in order that I might not be caught by the summer in
Southern Spain. I shall always remember that beautiful May morning when
I left, perhaps for ever, my dear Madrid. I was going to see Andalusia,
“the promised land” of travellers, the ideal Andalusia, whose wonders I
had so often heard sung by poets and romancers in Italy and Spain--that
Andalusia for whose sake, I may say, I had undertaken the journey; and
yet I was sad. I had passed so many happy days in Madrid! I was leaving
so many dear friends! On my way to the station to take the noon train I
passed along the Alcalá, saluted from a distance the gardens of the
Recoletos, passed the Museum of Painting, stopped to take a last look at
the statue of Murillo, and reached the station with an aching heart.
“Three months?” I asked myself a few moments before the train started.
“Have three months passed already? Has it not been a dream? Yes, it
seems as if I have been dreaming. Perhaps I shall never again see my
good landlady, nor Señor Saavedra’s little daughter, nor the sweet,
serene face of Guerra, nor my friends of the Café Fornos, nor any one
else. But what is this? Shall I not return? Return! Oh, no! I know well
that I shall not return. And so ... farewell, my friends! farewell,
Madrid! farewell, my little room in the street of Alduana!” At this
moment my heartstrings seem to be breaking and I must hide my face.


       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

All instances of Alcalá and Alcala changed to=>Alcalá

All instances of Espana changed to=>España

All instances of Calderon changed to=>Calderón

All instances of Zurbaran changed to=> Zurbarán

Gothic facade of the Chapel=> Gothic façade of the Chapel {pg 26}

there is in Barcleona=> there is in Barcelona {pg 20}

gypsy or a Basque mountainer=> gypsy or a Basque mountaineer {pg 23}

paintings by Villadomat=> paintings by Viladomat {pg 26}

officials or secret emmisaries=> officials or secret emisaries {pg 52}

Let Don Amadens make it plain=> Let Don Amadeus make it plain {pg 80}

there lines of varid green break=> there lines of varied green break {pg

Alas for the supurb=> Alas for the superb {pg 133}

Architectually, it is dignified=> Architecturally, it is dignified {pg

traicion=> traición {pg 148}

casa de huespedes=> casa de huéspedes {pg 157}

I ate it like an out-and-out glutten=> I ate it like an out-and-out
glutton {pg 161}

Gutierrez=> Gutiérrez {pg 169}

pay double, treble, quardruple=> pay double, treble, quadruple {pg 208}

Poltroon! imposter! assasin!=> Poltroon! imposter! assassin! {pg 224}

Café at the Puerto del Sol=> Café at the Puerta del Sol {pg 242}

los pasgos sublimes=> los rasgos sublimes {pg 275}

the achivements of their time=> the achievements of their time {pg 287}

Hatzenbusch=> Hartzenbusch {pg 291}

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