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The Bible in Spain by George Borrow

Part 3 out of 12

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

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

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

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

"We must pass through it," said Antonio, "for more reasons than
one: first, forasmuch is the road lies through Jaraicejo; and
second, forasmuch as it will be necessary to purchase provisions
there, both for ourselves and horses. On the other side of
Jaraicejo there is a wild desert, a despoblado, where we shall find

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

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

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

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

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

"Do I look a person," said I, "likely to keep company with

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

"Have you a passport?" at length demanded the national.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National.--It appears to me that this Caballero Balmerson must be a
very honest man.

Myself.--There can be no doubt of it.

National.--I have heard that he is a great general.

Myself.--There can be no doubt of it. In some things neither
Napoleon nor the sawyer {5} would stand a chance with him for a
moment. Es mucho hombre.

National.--I am glad to hear it. Does he intend to head the legion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Antonio.--Brother, I cannot imagine what business brought you to
this country.

Myself.--Perhaps the same which brings you to this moor--business
of Egypt.

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

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

Antonio.--And who sent you on this errand?

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

Antonio.--Are they Calore or Busne?

Myself.--What matters it? Both Calore and Busne are sons of the
same God.

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

Myself.--And do you believe in this wild doctrine, O Antonio?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The burra," I replied, "appears both savage and vicious."

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"A dangerous person is the wolf," said the other shepherd, "and
cunning as dangerous; who knows more than he? He knows the
vulnerable point of every animal; see, for example, how he flies at
the neck of a bullock, tearing open the veins with his grim teeth
and claws. But does he attack a horse in this manner? I trow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It is the way to Talavera, and the night is cold."

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

"I am going thither, so are you, Bueno."

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

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

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

"How is it that you know me to be an Englishman?" demanded I, much

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

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

"That it will not do," replied my companion; "you know nothing
about me--you can know nothing about me."

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

"Por exemplo," said the figure.

"For example," said I; "you speak two languages."

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

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

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

"Are you then one of us?"

* * * *

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

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

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

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

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

Myself.--Have you any children? Are you married?

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

Myself.--You say you are wealthy. In what does your wealth

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

Myself.--Are there more of you than yourself and your two wives?

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

Myself.--And whither are you bound at present?

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

Myself.--Are you known for what you are? Do the authorities molest

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

Myself.--Do the priests interfere with you?

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

Myself.--Have you a head in Spain, in whom is rested the chief

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

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

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

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

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

Myself.--Are you numerous in the large towns?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myself.--Is the duty of a national particularly hard?

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

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

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

Myself.--Are there many in Madrid of the Carlist opinion?

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

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

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

"Una romi sin pachi
Le peno a su chindomar," &c., &c.

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

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

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

And the higher orders--the ladies and gentlemen, the cavaliers and
senoras; shall I pass them by in silence? The truth is I have
little to say about them; I mingled but little in their society,
and what I saw of them by no means tended to exalt them in my
imagination. I am not one of those who, wherever they go, make it
a constant practice to disparage the higher orders, and to exalt
the populace at their expense. There are many capitals in which
the high aristocracy, the lords and ladies, the sons and daughters
of nobility, constitute the most remarkable and the most
interesting part of the population. This is the case at Vienna,
and more especially at London. Who can rival the English
aristocrat in lofty stature, in dignified bearing, in strength of
hand, and valour of heart? Who rides a nobler horse? Who has a
firmer seat? And who more lovely than his wife, or sister, or
daughter? But with respect to the Spanish aristocracy, the ladies
and gentlemen, the cavaliers and senoras, I believe the less that
is said of them on the points to which I have just alluded the
better. I confess, however, that I know little about them; they
have, perhaps, their admirers, and to the pens of such I leave
their panegyric. Le Sage has described them as they were nearly
two centuries ago. His description is anything but captivating,
and I do not think that they have improved since the period of the
sketches of the immortal Frenchman. I would sooner talk of the
lower class, not only of Madrid but of all Spain. The Spaniard of
the lower class has much more interest for me, whether manolo,
labourer, or muleteer. He is not a common being; he is an
extraordinary man. He has not, it is true, the amiability and
generosity of the Russian mujik, who will give his only rouble
rather than the stranger shall want; nor his placid courage, which
renders him insensible to fear, and at the command of his Tsar,
sends him singing to certain death. {6} There is more hardness and
less self-devotion in the disposition of the Spaniard; he
possesses, however, a spirit of proud independence, which it is
impossible but to admire. He is ignorant, of course; but it is
singular that I have invariably found amongst the low and slightly
educated classes far more liberality of sentiment than amongst the
upper. It has long been the fashion to talk of the bigotry of the
Spaniards, and their mean jealousy of foreigners. This is true to
a certain extent: but it chiefly holds good with respect to the
upper classes. If foreign valour or talent has never received its
proper meed in Spain, the great body of the Spaniards are certainly
not in fault. I have heard Wellington calumniated in this proud
scene of his triumphs, but never by the old soldiers of Aragon and
the Asturias, who assisted to vanquish the French at Salamanca and
the Pyrenees. I have heard the manner of riding of an English
jockey criticized, but it was by the idiotic heir of Medina Celi,
and not by a picador of the Madrilenian bull ring.

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

"Otra copita! vamos Inglesito: Otra copita!"

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

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

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

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

"We do not believe it," replied several grave voices. "It is not

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

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

He spoke a few words in the broken Gypsy slang of the prison,
inquiring of me whether I had ever been in the condemned cell, and
whether I knew what a Gitana {7} was?

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

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

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

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

And he clapped his hand repeatedly on his breast, reiterating "I,
Sevilla! I--"


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh dear!" said I.

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

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

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

"Now for it," thought I.

"But"--and then he began to talk once more of the wearisome Council
of Trent, and I found that his writing in the paper, the offer of
the cigar, and the long and prosy harangue were--what shall I call
it?--mere [Greek text].

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Not a cuart, not a cuart; these two wash-balls are all that I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"My good German Herr," said Benedict, "it is no church schatz, and
no person living, save myself, knows of its existence: nearly
thirty years ago, amongst the sick soldiers who were brought to
Madrid, was one of my comrades of the Walloon Guard, who had
accompanied the French to Portugal; he was very sick and shortly
died. Before, however, he breathed his last, he sent for me, and
upon his deathbed told me that himself and two other soldiers, both
of whom had since been killed, had buried in a certain church at
Compostella a great booty which they had made in Portugal: it
consisted of gold moidores and of a packet of huge diamonds from
the Brazils; the whole was contained in a large copper kettle. I
listened with greedy ears, and from that moment, I may say, I have
known no rest, neither by day nor night, thinking of the schatz.
It is very easy to find, for the dying man was so exact in his
description of the place where it lies, that were I once at
Compostella, I should have no difficulty in putting my hand upon
it; several times I have been on the point of setting out on the
journey, but something has always happened to stop me. When my
wife died, I left Minorca with a determination to go to Saint
James, but on reaching Madrid, I fell into the hands of a Basque
woman, who persuaded me to live with her, which I have done for
several years; she is a great hax, {8} and says that if I desert
her she will breathe a spell which shall cling to me for ever. Dem
Got sey dank,--she is now in the hospital, and daily expected to
die. This is my history, Lieber Herr."

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


State of Spain--Isturitz--Revolution of the Granja--The
Disturbance--Signs of Mischief--Newspaper Reporters--Quesada's
Onslaught--The Closing Scene--Flight of the Moderados--The Coffee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was closely followed by two mounted officers, and at a short
distance by as many dragoons. In almost less time than is
sufficient to relate it, several individuals in the crowd were
knocked down and lay sprawling upon the ground, beneath the horses
of Quesada and his two friends, for as to the dragoons, they halted
as soon as they had entered the Puerta del Sol. It was a fine
sight to see three men, by dint of valour and good horsemanship,
strike terror into at least as many thousands: I saw Quesada spur
his horse repeatedly into the dense masses of the crowd, and then
extricate himself in the most masterly manner. The rabble were
completely awed and gave way, retiring by the Calle del Comercio
and the street of Alcala. All at once, Quesada singled out two
nationals, who were attempting to escape, and setting spurs to his
horse, turned them in a moment, and drove them in another
direction, striking them in a contemptuous manner with the flat of
his sabre. He was crying out, "Long live the absolute queen!"

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