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The Bible in Spain by George Borrow

Part 9 out of 12

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natives); what is to hinder me? Madrid is large, and Balseiro has
plenty of friends, especially among the lumias (women)," he added
with a smile. I spoke to him of his ill-fated accomplice Candelas;
whereupon his face assumed a horrible expression. "I hope he is in
torment," exclaimed the robber. The friendship of the unrighteous
is never of long duration; the two worthies had it seems quarrelled
in prison; Candelas having accused the other of bad faith and an
undue appropriation to his own use of the corpus delicti in various
robberies which they had committed in company.

I cannot refrain from relating the subsequent history of this
Balseiro. Shortly after my own liberation, too impatient to wait
until the presidio should afford him a chance of regaining his
liberty, he in company with some other convicts broke through the
roof of the prison and escaped. He instantly resumed his former
habits, committing several daring robberies, both within and
without the walls of Madrid. I now come to his last, I may call it
his master crime, a singular piece of atrocious villainy.
Dissatisfied with the proceeds of street robbery and house-
breaking, he determined upon a bold stroke, by which he hoped to
acquire money sufficient to support him in some foreign land in
luxury and splendour.

There was a certain comptroller of the queen's household, by name
Gabiria, a Basque by birth, and a man of immense possessions: this
individual had two sons, handsome boys, between twelve and fourteen
years of age, whom I had frequently seen, and indeed conversed
with, in my walks on the bank of the Manzanares, which was their
favourite promenade. These children, at the time of which I am
speaking, were receiving their education at a certain seminary in
Madrid. Balseiro, being well acquainted with the father's
affection for his children, determined to make it subservient to
his own rapacity. He formed a plan which was neither more nor less
than to steal the children, and not to restore them to their parent
until he had received an enormous ransom. This plan was partly
carried into execution: two associates of Balseiro well dressed
drove up to the door of the seminary, where the children were, and,
by means of a forged letter, purporting to be written by the
father, induced the schoolmaster to permit the boys to accompany
them for a country jaunt, as they pretended. About five leagues
from Madrid, Balseiro had a cave in a wild unfrequented spot
between the Escurial and a village called Torre Lodones: to this
cave the children were conducted, where they remained in durance
under the custody of the two accomplices; Balseiro in the meantime
remaining in Madrid for the purpose of conducting negotiations with
the father. The father, however, was a man of considerable energy,
and instead of acceding to the terms of the ruffian, communicated
in a letter, instantly took the most vigorous measures for the
recovery of his children. Horse and foot were sent out to scour
the country, and in less than a week the children were found near
the cave, having been abandoned by their keepers, who had taken
fright on hearing of the decided measures which had been resorted
to; they were, however, speedily arrested and identified by the
boys as their ravishers. Balseiro perceiving that Madrid was
becoming too hot to hold him, attempted to escape, but whether to
the camp of Gibraltar or to the land of the Moor, I know not; he
was recognized, however, at a village in the neighbourhood of
Madrid, and being apprehended, was forthwith conducted to the
capital, where he shortly after terminated his existence on the
scaffold, with his two associates; Gabiria and his children being
present at the ghastly scene, which they surveyed from a chariot at
their ease.

Such was the end of Balseiro, of whom I should certainly not have
said so much, but for the affair of the crabbed Gitano. Poor
wretch! he acquired that species of immortality which is the object
of the aspirations of many a Spanish thief, whilst vapouring about
in the patio, dressed in the snowy linen; the rape of the children
of Gabiria made him at once the pet of the fraternity. A
celebrated robber, with whom I was subsequently imprisoned at
Seville, spoke his eulogy in the following manner. -

"Balseiro was a very good subject, and an honest man. He was the
head of our family, Don Jorge; we shall never see his like again;
pity that he did not sack the parne (money), and escape to the camp
of the Moor, Don Jorge."


Maria Diaz--Priestly Vituperation--Antonio's Visit--Antonio at
Service--A Scene--Benedict Mol--Wandering in Spain--The Four

"Well," said I to Maria Diaz on the third morning after my
imprisonment, "what do the people of Madrid say to this affair of

"I do not know what the people of Madrid in general say about it,
probably they do not take much interest in it; indeed,
imprisonments at the present time are such common matters that
people seem to be quite indifferent to them; the priests, however,
are in no slight commotion, and confess that they have committed an
imprudent thing in causing you to be arrested by their friend the
corregidor of Madrid."

"How is that?" I inquired. "Are they afraid that their friend will
be punished?"

"Not so, Senor," replied Maria; "slight grief indeed would it cause
them, however great the trouble in which he had involved himself on
their account; for this description of people have no affection,
and would not care if all their friends were hanged, provided they
themselves escaped. But they say that they have acted imprudently
in sending you to prison, inasmuch as by so doing they have given
you an opportunity of carrying a plan of yours into execution.
'This fellow is a bribon,' say they, 'and has commenced tampering
with the prisoners; they have taught him their language, which he
already speaks as well as if he were a son of the prison. As soon
as he comes out he will publish a thieves' gospel, which will still
be a more dangerous affair than the Gypsy one, for the Gypsies are
few, but the thieves! woe is us; we shall all be Lutheranized.
What infamy, what rascality! It was a trick of his own. He was
always eager to get into prison, and now in evil hour we have sent
him there, el bribonazo; there will be no safety for Spain until he
is hanged; he ought to be sent to the four hells, where at his
leisure he might translate his fatal gospels into the language of
the demons.' "

"I but said three words to the alcayde of the prison," said I,
"relative to the jargon used by the children of the prison."

"Three words! Don Jorge; and what may not be made out of three
words? You have lived amongst us to little purpose if you think we
require more than three words to build a system with: those three
words about the thieves and their tongue were quite sufficient to
cause it to be reported throughout Madrid that you had tampered
with the thieves, had learnt their language, and had written a book
which was to overturn Spain, open to the English the gates of
Cadiz, give Mendizabal all the church plate and jewels, and to Don
Martin Luther the archiepiscopal palace of Toledo."

Late in the afternoon of a rather gloomy day, as I was sitting in
the apartment which the alcayde had allotted me, I heard a rap at
the door. "Who is that?" I exclaimed. "C'est moi, mon maitre,"
cried a well-known voice, and presently in walked Antonio Buchini,
dressed in the same style as when I first introduced him to the
reader, namely, in a handsome but rather faded French surtout, vest
and pantaloons, with a diminutive hat in one hand, and holding in
the other a long and slender cane.

"Bon jour, mon maitre," said the Greek; then glancing around the
apartment, he continued, "I am glad to find you so well lodged. If
I remember right, mon maitre, we have slept in worse places during
our wanderings in Galicia and Castile."

"You are quite right, Antonio," I replied; "I am very comfortable.
Well, this is kind of you to visit your ancient master, more
especially now he is in the toils; I hope, however, that by so
doing you will not offend your present employer. His dinner hour
must be at hand; why are not you in the kitchen?"

"Of what employer are you speaking, mon maitre?" demanded Antonio.

"Of whom should I speak but Count -, to serve whom you abandoned
me, being tempted by an offer of a monthly salary less by four
dollars than that which I was giving you."

"Your worship brings an affair to my remembrance which I had long
since forgotten. I have at present no other master than yourself,
Monsieur Georges, for I shall always consider you as my master,
though I may not enjoy the felicity of waiting upon you."

"You have left the Count, then," said I, "after remaining three
days in the house, according to your usual practice."

"Not three hours, mon maitre," replied Antonio; "but I will tell
you the circumstances. Soon after I left you I repaired to the
house of Monsieur le Comte; I entered the kitchen, and looked about
me. I cannot say that I had much reason to be dissatisfied with
what I saw; the kitchen was large and commodious, and every thing
appeared neat and in its proper place, and the domestics civil and
courteous; yet I know not how it was, the idea at once rushed into
my mind that the house was by no means suited to me, and that I was
not destined to stay there long; so hanging my haversac upon a
nail, and sitting down on the dresser, I commenced singing a Greek
song, as I am in the habit of doing when dissatisfied. The
domestics came about me asking questions; I made them no answer,
however, and continued singing till the hour for preparing the
dinner drew nigh, when I suddenly sprang on the floor and was not
long in thrusting them all out of the kitchen, telling them that
they had no business there at such a season; I then at once entered
upon my functions. I exerted myself, mon maitre, I exerted myself,
and was preparing a repast which would have done me honour; there
was, indeed, some company expected that day, and I therefore
determined to show my employer that nothing was beyond the capacity
of his Greek cook. Eh bien, mon maitre, all was going on
remarkably well, and I felt almost reconciled to my new situation,
when who should rush into the kitchen but le fils de la maison, my
young master, an ugly urchin of thirteen years or thereabouts; he
bore in his hand a manchet of bread, which, after prying about for
a moment, he proceeded to dip in the pan where some delicate
woodcocks were in the course of preparation. You know, mon maitre,
how sensitive I am on certain points, for I am no Spaniard but a
Greek, and have principles of honour. Without a moment's
hesitation I took my young master by the shoulders, and hurrying
him to the door, dismissed him in the manner which he deserved;
squalling loudly, he hurried away to the upper part of the house.
I continued my labours, but ere three minutes had elapsed, I heard
a dreadful confusion above stairs, on faisoit une horrible
tintamarre, and I could occasionally distinguish oaths and
execrations: presently doors were flung open, and there was an
awful rushing downstairs, a gallopade. It was my lord the count,
his lady, and my young master, followed by a regular bevy of women
and filles de chambre. Far in advance of all, however, was my lord
with a drawn sword in his hand, shouting, 'Where is the wretch who
has dishonoured my son, where is he? He shall die forthwith.' I
know not how it was, mon maitre, but I just then chanced to spill a
large bowl of garbanzos, which were intended for the puchera of the
following day. They were uncooked, and were as hard as marbles;
these I dashed upon the floor, and the greater part of them fell
just about the doorway. Eh bien, mon maitre, in another moment in
bounded the count, his eyes sparkling like coals, and, as I have
already said, with a rapier in his hand. 'Tenez, gueux enrage,' he
screamed, making a desperate lunge at me, but ere the words were
out of his mouth, his foot slipping on the pease, he fell forward
with great violence at his full length, and his weapon flew out of
his hand, comme une fleche. You should have heard the outcry which
ensued--there was a terrible confusion: the count lay upon the
floor to all appearance stunned; I took no notice, however,
continuing busily employed. They at last raised him up, and
assisted him till he came to himself, though very pale and much
shaken. He asked for his sword: all eyes were now turned upon me,
and I saw that a general attack was meditated. Suddenly I took a
large caserolle from the fire in which various eggs were frying;
this I held out at arm's length peering at it along my arm as if I
were curiously inspecting it; my right foot advanced and the other
thrown back as far as possible. All stood still, imagining,
doubtless, that I was about to perform some grand operation, and so
I was; for suddenly the sinister leg advancing, with one rapid coup
de pied, I sent the caserolle and its contents flying over my head,
so that they struck the wall far behind me. This was to let them
know that I had broken my staff and had shaken the dust off my
feet; so casting upon the count the peculiar glance of the Sceirote
cooks when they feel themselves insulted, and extending my mouth on
either side nearly as far as the ears, I took down my haversac and
departed, singing as I went the song of the ancient Demos, who,
when dying, asked for his supper, and water wherewith to lave his

[Greek verse]

And in this manner, mon maitre, I left the house of the Count of--

Myself.--And a fine account you have given of yourself; by your own
confession, your behaviour was most atrocious. Were it not for the
many marks of courage and fidelity which you have exhibited in my
service, I would from this moment hold no farther communication
with you.

Antonio.--Mais qu' est ce que vous voudriez, mon maitre? Am I not
a Greek, full of honour and sensibility? Would you have the cooks
of Sceira and Stambul submit to be insulted here in Spain by the
sons of counts rushing into the temple with manchets of bread.
Non, non, mon maitre, you are too noble to require that, and what
is more, TOO JUST. But we will talk of other things. Mon maitre,
I came not alone; there is one now waiting in the corridor anxious
to speak to you.

Myself.--Who is it?

Antonio.--One whom you have met, mon maitre, in various and strange

Myself.--But who is it?

Antonio.--One who will come to a strange end, FOR SO IT IS WRITTEN.
The most extraordinary of all the Swiss, he of Saint James,--Der
schatz graber.

Myself.--Not Benedict Mol?

"Yaw, mein lieber herr," said Benedict, pushing open the door which
stood ajar; "it is myself. I met Herr Anton in the street, and
hearing that you were in this place, I came with him to visit you."

Myself.--And in the name of all that is singular, how is it that I
see you in Madrid again? I thought that by this time you were
returned to your own country.

Benedict.--Fear not, lieber herr, I shall return thither in good
time; but not on foot, but with mules and coach. The schatz is
still yonder, waiting to be dug up, and now I have better hope than
ever: plenty of friends, plenty of money. See you not how I am
dressed, lieber herr?

And verily his habiliments were of a much more respectable
appearance than any which he had sported on former occasions. His
coat and pantaloons, which were of light green, were nearly new.
On his head he still wore an Andalusian hat, but the present one
was neither old nor shabby, but fresh and glossy, and of immense
altitude of cone: whilst in his hand, instead of the ragged staff
which I had observed at Saint James and Oviedo, he now carried a
huge bamboo rattan, surmounted by the grim head of either a bear or
lion, curiously cut out of pewter.

"You have all the appearance of a treasure seeker returned from a
successful expedition," I exclaimed.

"Or rather," interrupted Antonio, "of one who has ceased to trade
on his own bottom, and now goes seeking treasures at the cost and
expense of others."

I questioned the Swiss minutely concerning his adventures since I
last saw him, when I left him at Oviedo to pursue my route to
Santander. From his answers I gathered that he had followed me to
the latter place; he was, however, a long time in performing the
journey, being weak from hunger and privation. At Santander he
could hear no tidings of me, and by this time the trifle which he
had received from me was completely exhausted. He now thought of
making his way into France, but was afraid to venture through the
disturbed provinces, lest he should fall into the hands of the
Carlists, who he conceived might shoot him as a spy. No one
relieving him at Santander, he departed and begged his way till he
found himself in some part of Aragon, but where he scarcely knew.
"My misery was so great," said Bennet, "that I nearly lost my
senses. Oh, the horror of wandering about the savage hills and
wide plains of Spain, without money and without hope! Sometimes I
became desperate, when I found myself amongst rocks and barrancos,
perhaps after having tasted no food from sunrise to sunset, and
then I would raise my staff towards the sky and shake it, crying,
lieber herr Gott, ach lieber herr Gott, you must help me now or
never; if you tarry, I am lost; you must help me now, now! And
once when I was raving in this manner, methought I heard a voice,
nay I am sure I heard it, sounding from the hollow of a rock, clear
and strong; and it cried, 'Der schatz, der schatz, it is not yet
dug up; to Madrid, to Madrid. The way to the schatz is through
Madrid.' And then the thought of the schatz once more rushed into
my mind, and I reflected how happy I might be, could I but dig up
the schatz. No more begging, then, no more wandering amidst horrid
mountains and deserts; so I brandished my staff, and my body and my
limbs became full of new and surprising strength, and I strode
forward, and was not long before I reached the high road; and then
I begged and bettled as I best could, until I reached Madrid."

"And what has befallen you since you reached Madrid?" I inquired.
"Did you find the treasure in the streets?"

On a sudden Bennet became reserved and taciturn, which the more
surprised me, as, up to the present moment, he had at all times
been remarkably communicative with respect to his affairs and
prospects. From what I could learn from his broken hints and
innuendoes, it appeared that, since his arrival at Madrid, he had
fallen into the hands of certain people who had treated him with
kindness, and provided him with both money and clothes; not from
disinterested motives, however, but having an eye to the treasure.
"They expect great things from me," said the Swiss; "and perhaps,
after all, it would have been more profitable to have dug up the
treasure without their assistance, always provided that were
possible." Who his new friends were, he either knew not or would
not tell me, save that they were people in power. He said
something about Queen Christina and an oath which he had taken in
the presence of a bishop on the crucifix and "the four Evangiles."
I thought that his head was turned, and forbore questioning. Just
before taking his departure, he observed "Lieber herr, pardon me
for not being quite frank towards you, to whom I owe so much, but I
dare not; I am not now my own man. It is, moreover, an evil thing
at all times to say a word about treasure before you have secured
it. There was once a man in my own country, who dug deep into the
earth until he arrived at a copper vessel which contained a schatz.
Seizing it by the handle, he merely exclaimed in his transport, 'I
have it'; that was enough, however: down sank the kettle, though
the handle remained in his grasp. That was all he ever got for his
trouble and digging. Farewell, lieber herr, I shall speedily be
sent back to Saint James to dig up the schatz; but I will visit you
ere I go--farewell."


Liberation from Prison--The Apology--Human Nature--The Greek's
Return--Church of Rome--Light of Scripture--Archbishop of Toledo--
An Interview--Stones of Price--A Resolution--The Foreign Language--
Benedict's Farewell--Treasure Hunt at Compostella--Truth and

I remained about three weeks in the prison of Madrid, and then left
it. If I had possessed any pride, or harboured any rancour against
the party who had consigned me to durance, the manner in which I
was restored to liberty would no doubt have been highly gratifying
to those evil passions; the government having acknowledged, by a
document transmitted to Sir George, that I had been incarcerated on
insufficient grounds, and that no stigma attached itself to me from
the imprisonment I had undergone; at the same time agreeing to
defray all the expenses to which I had been subjected throughout
the progress of this affair.

It moreover expressed its willingness to dismiss the individual
owing to whose information I had been first arrested, namely, the
corchete or police officer who had visited me in my apartments in
the Calle de Santiago, and behaved himself in the manner which I
have described in a former chapter. I declined, however, to avail
myself of this condescension of the government, more especially as
I was informed that the individual in question had a wife and
family, who, if he were disgraced, would be at once reduced to
want. I moreover considered that, in what he had done and said, he
had probably only obeyed some private orders which he had received;
I therefore freely forgave him, and if he does not retain his
situation at the present moment, it is certainly no fault of mine.

I likewise refused to accept any compensation for my expenses,
which were considerable. It is probable that many persons in my
situation would have acted very differently in this respect, and I
am far from saying that herein I acted discreetly or laudably; but
I was averse to receive money from people such as those of which
the Spanish government was composed, people whom I confess I
heartily despised, and I was unwilling to afford them an
opportunity of saying that after they had imprisoned an Englishman
unjustly, and without a cause, he condescended to receive money at
their hands. In a word, I confess my own weakness; I was willing
that they should continue my debtors, and have little doubt that
they had not the slightest objection to remain so; they kept their
money, and probably laughed in their sleeves at my want of common

The heaviest loss which resulted from my confinement, and for which
no indemnification could be either offered or received, was in the
death of my affectionate and faithful Basque Francisco, who having
attended me during the whole time of my imprisonment, caught the
pestilential typhus or gaol fever, which was then raging in the
Carcel de la Corte, of which he expired within a few days
subsequent to my liberation. His death occurred late one evening;
the next morning as I was lying in bed ruminating on my loss, and
wondering of what nation my next servant would be, I heard a noise
which seemed to be that of a person employed vigorously in cleaning
boots or shoes, and at intervals a strange discordant voice singing
snatches of a song in some unknown language: wondering who it
could be, I rang the bell.

"Did you ring, mon maitre," said Antonio, appearing at the door
with one of his arms deeply buried in a boot.

"I certainly did ring," said I, "but I scarcely expected that you
would have answered the summons."

"Mais pourquoi non, mon maitre?" cried Antonio. "Who should serve
you now but myself? N'est pas que le sieur Francois est mort? And
did I not say, as soon as I heard of his departure, I shall return
to my functions chez mon maitre, Monsieur Georges?"

"I suppose you had no other employment, and on that account you

"Au contraire, mon maitre," replied the Greek, "I had just engaged
myself at the house of the Duke of Frias, from whom I was to
receive ten dollars per month more than I shall accept from your
worship; but on hearing that you were without a domestic, I
forthwith told the Duke, though it was late at night, that he would
not suit me, and here I am."

"I shall not receive you in this manner," said I; "return to the
Duke, apologize for your behaviour, request your dismission in a
regular way; and then if his grace is willing to part with you, as
will most probably be the case, I shall be happy to avail myself of
your services."

It is reasonable to expect that after having been subjected to an
imprisonment which my enemies themselves admitted to be unjust, I
should in future experience more liberal treatment at their hands
than that which they had hitherto adopted towards me. The sole
object of my ambition at this time was to procure toleration for
the sale of the Gospel in this unhappy and distracted kingdom, and
to have attained this end I would not only have consented to twenty
such imprisonments in succession, as that which I had undergone,
but would gladly have sacrificed life itself. I soon perceived,
however, that I was likely to gain nothing by my incarceration; on
the contrary, I had become an object of personal dislike to the
government since the termination of this affair, which it was
probable I had never been before; their pride and vanity were
humbled by the concessions which they had been obliged to make in
order to avoid a rupture with England. This dislike they were now
determined to gratify, by thwarting my views as much as possible.
I had an interview with Ofalia on the subject uppermost in my mind:
I found him morose and snappish. "It will be for your interest to
be still," said he; "beware! you have already thrown the whole
corte into confusion; beware, I repeat; another time you may not
escape so easily." "Perhaps not," I replied, "and perhaps I do not
wish it; it is a pleasant thing to be persecuted for the Gospel's
sake. I now take the liberty of inquiring whether, if I attempt to
circulate the word of God, I am to be interrupted." "Of course,"
exclaimed Ofalia; "the church forbids such circulation." "I shall
make the attempt, however," I exclaimed. "Do you mean what you
say?" demanded Ofalia, arching his eyebrows and elongating his
mouth. "Yes," I continued, "I shall make the attempt in every
village in Spain to which I can penetrate."

Throughout my residence in Spain the clergy were the party from
which I experienced the strongest opposition; and it was at their
instigation that the government originally adopted those measures
which prevented any extensive circulation of the sacred volume
through the land. I shall not detain the course of my narrative
with reflections as to the state of a church, which, though it
pretends to be founded on Scripture, would yet keep the light of
Scripture from all mankind, if possible. But Rome is fully aware
that she is not a Christian church, and having no desire to become
so, she acts prudently in keeping from the eyes of her followers
the page which would reveal to them the truths of Christianity.
Her agents and minions throughout Spain exerted themselves to the
utmost to render my humble labours abortive, and to vilify the work
which I was attempting to disseminate. All the ignorant and
fanatical clergy (the great majority) were opposed to it, and all
those who were anxious to keep on good terms with the court of Rome
were loud in their cry against it. There was, however, one section
of the clergy, a small one, it is true, rather favourably disposed
towards the circulation of the Gospel though by no means inclined
to make any particular sacrifice for the accomplishment of such an
end: these were such as professed liberalism, which is supposed to
mean a disposition to adopt any reform both in civil and church
matters, which may be deemed conducive to the weal of the country.
Not a few amongst the Spanish clergy were supporters of this
principle, or at least declared themselves so, some doubtless for
their own advancement, hoping to turn the spirit of the times to
their own personal profit; others, it is to be hoped, from
conviction, and a pure love of the principle itself. Amongst these
were to be found, at the time of which I am speaking, several
bishops. It is worthy of remark, however, that of all these not
one but owed his office, not to the Pope, who disowned them one and
all, but to the Queen Regent, the professed head of liberalism
throughout all Spain. It is not, therefore, surprising that men
thus circumstanced should feel rather disposed than not to
countenance any measure or scheme at all calculated to favour the
advancement of liberalism; and surely such an one was a circulation
of the Scriptures. I derived but little assistance from their good
will, however, supposing that they entertained some, as they never
took any decided stand nor lifted up their voices in a bold and
positive manner, denouncing the conduct of those who would withhold
the light of Scripture from the world. At one time I hoped by
their instrumentality to accomplish much in Spain in the Gospel
cause; but I was soon undeceived, and became convinced that
reliance on what they would effect, was like placing the hand on a
staff of reed which will only lacerate the flesh. More than once
some of them sent messages to me, expressive of their esteem, and
assuring me how much the cause of the Gospel was dear to their
hearts. I even received an intimation that a visit from me would
be agreeable to the Archbishop of Toledo, the Primate of Spain.

Of this personage I can say but little, his early history being
entirely unknown to me. At the death of Ferdinand, I believe, he
was Bishop of Mallorca, a small insignificant see, of very scanty
revenues, which perhaps he had no objection to exchange for one
more wealthy; it is probable, however, that had he proved a devoted
servant of the Pope, and consequently a supporter of legitimacy, he
would have continued to the day of his death to fill the episcopal
chair of Mallorca; but he was said to be a liberal, and the Queen
Regent thought fit to bestow upon him the dignity of Archbishop of
Toledo, by which he became the head of the Spanish church. The
Pope, it is true, had refused to ratify the nomination, on which
account all good Catholics were still bound to consider him as
Bishop of Mallorca, and not as Primate of Spain. He however
received the revenues belonging to the see, which, though only a
shadow of what they originally were, were still considerable, and
lived in the primate's palace at Madrid, so that if he were not
archbishop de jure, he was what many people would have considered
much better, archbishop de facto.

Hearing that this personage was a personal friend of Ofalia, who
was said to entertain a very high regard for him, I determined upon
paying him a visit, and accordingly one morning betook myself to
the palace in which he resided. I experienced no difficulty in
obtaining an interview, being forthwith conducted to his presence
by a common kind of footman, an Asturian, I believe, whom I found
seated on a stone bench in the entrance hall. When I was
introduced the Archbishop was alone, seated behind a table in a
large apartment, a kind of drawing-room; he was plainly dressed, in
a black cassock and silken cap; on his finger, however, glittered a
superb amethyst, the lustre of which was truly dazzling. He rose
for a moment as I advanced, and motioned me to a chair with his
hand. He might be about sixty years of age; his figure was very
tall, but he stooped considerably, evidently from feebleness, and
the pallid hue of ill health overspread his emaciated features.
When he had reseated himself, he dropped his head, and appeared to
be looking on the table before him.

"I suppose your lordship knows who I am?" said I, at last breaking

The Archbishop bent his head towards the right shoulder, in a
somewhat equivocal manner, but said nothing.

"I am he whom the Manolos of Madrid call Don Jorgito el Ingles; I
am just come out of prison, whither I was sent for circulating my
Lord's Gospel in this kingdom of Spain?"

The Archbishop made the same equivocal motion with his head, but
still said nothing.

"I was informed that your lordship was desirous of seeing me, and
on that account I have paid you this visit."

"I did not send for you," said the Archbishop, suddenly raising his
head with a startled look.

"Perhaps not: I was, however, given to understand that my presence
would be agreeable; but as that does not seem to be the case, I
will leave."

"Since you are come, I am very glad to see you."

"I am very glad to hear it," said I, reseating myself; "and since I
am here, we may as well talk of an all-important matter, the
circulation of the Scripture. Does your lordship see any way by
which an end so desirable might be brought about?"

"No," said the Archbishop faintly.

"Does not your lordship think that a knowledge of the Scripture
would work inestimable benefit in these realms?"

"I don't know."

"Is it probable that the government may be induced to consent to
the circulation?"

"How should I know?" and the Archbishop looked me in the face.

I looked in the face of the Archbishop; there was an expression of
helplessness in it, which almost amounted to dotage. "Dear me,"
thought I, "whom have I come to on an errand like mine? Poor man,
you are not fitted to play the part of Martin Luther, and least of
all in Spain. I wonder why your friends selected you to be
Archbishop of Toledo; they thought perhaps that you would do
neither good nor harm, and made choice of you, as they sometimes do
primates in my own country, for your incapacity. You do not seem
very happy in your present situation; no very easy stall this of
yours. You were more comfortable, I trow, when you were the poor
Bishop of Mallorca; could enjoy your puchera then without fear that
the salt would turn out sublimate. No fear then of being smothered
in your bed. A siesta is a pleasant thing when one is not subject
to be disturbed by 'the sudden fear.' I wonder whether they have
poisoned you already," I continued, half aloud, as I kept my eyes
fixed on his countenance, which methought was becoming ghastly.

"Did you speak, Don Jorge?" demanded the Archbishop.

"That is a fine brilliant on your lordship's hand," said I.

"You are fond of brilliants, Don Jorge," said the Archbishop, his
features brightening up; "vaya! so am I; they are pretty things.
Do you understand them?"

"I do," said I, "and I never saw a finer brilliant than your own,
one excepted; it belonged to an acquaintance of mine, a Tartar
Khan. He did not bear it on his finger, however; it stood in the
frontlet of his horse, where it shone like a star. He called it
Daoud Scharr, which, being interpreted, meaneth light of war."

"Vaya!" said the Archbishop, "how very extraordinary; I am glad you
are fond of brilliants, Don Jorge. Speaking of horses, reminds me
that I have frequently seen you on horseback. Vaya! how you ride;
it is dangerous to be in your way."

"Is your lordship fond of equestrian exercise?"

"By no means, Don Jorge; I do not like horses; it is not the
practice of the church to ride on horseback. We prefer mules:
they are the quieter animals; I fear horses, they kick so

"The kick of a horse is death," said I, "if it touches a vital
part. I am not, however, of your lordship's opinion with respect
to mules: a good ginete may retain his seat on a horse however
vicious, but a mule--vaya! when a false mule tira por detras, I do
not believe that the Father of the Church himself could keep the
saddle a moment, however sharp his bit."

As I was going away, I said, "And with respect to the Gospel, your
lordship; what am I to understand?"

"No se," said the Archbishop, again bending his head towards the
right shoulder, whilst his features resumed their former vacant
expression. And thus terminated my interview with the Archbishop
of Toledo.

"It appears to me," said I to Maria Diaz, on returning home; "it
appears to me, Marequita mia, that if the Gospel in Spain is to
wait for toleration until these liberal bishops and archbishops
come forward boldly in its behalf, it will have to tarry a
considerable time."

"I am much of your worship's opinion," answered Maria; "a fine
thing, truly, it would be to wait till they exerted themselves in
its behalf. Ca! the idea makes me smile: was your worship ever
innocent enough to suppose that they cared one tittle about the
Gospel or its cause? Vaya! they are true priests, and had only
self-interest in view in their advances to you. The Holy Father
disowns them, and they would now fain, by awaking his fears and
jealousy, bring him to some terms; but let him once acknowledge
them and see whether they would admit you to their palaces or hold
any intercourse with you: 'Forth with the fellow,' they would say;
'vaya! is he not a Lutheran? Is he not an enemy to the Church? A
la horca, a la horca!' I know this family better than you do, Don

"It is useless tarrying," said I; "nothing, however, can be done in
Madrid. I cannot sell the work at the despacho, and I have just
received intelligence that all the copies exposed for sale in the
libraries in the different parts of Spain which I visited, have
been sequestrated by order of the government. My resolution is
taken: I shall mount my horses, which are neighing in the stable,
and betake myself to the villages and plains of dusty Spain. Al
campo, al campo: 'Ride forth because of the word of righteousness,
and thy right hand shall show thee terrible things.' I will ride
forth, Maria."

"Your worship can do no better; and allow me here to tell you, that
for every single book you might sell in a despacho in the city, you
may dispose of one hundred amongst the villages, always provided
you offer them cheap: for in the country money is rather scant.
Vaya! should I not know? am I not a villager myself, a villana from
the Sagra? Ride forth, therefore; your horses are neighing in the
stall, as your worship says, and you might almost have added that
the Senor Antonio is neighing in the house. He says he has nothing
to do, on which account he is once more dissatisfied and unsettled.
He finds fault with everything, but more particularly with myself.
This morning I saluted him, and he made me no reply, but twisted
his mouth in a manner very uncommon in this land of Spain."

"A thought strikes me," said I; "you have mentioned the Sagra; why
should not I commence my labours amongst the villages of that

"Your worship can do no better," replied Maria; "the harvest is
just over there, and you will find the people comparatively
unemployed, with leisure to attend and listen to you; and if you
follow my advice, you will establish yourself at Villa Seca, in the
house of my fathers, where at present lives my lord and husband.
Go, therefore, to Villa Seca in the first place, and from thence
you can sally forth with the Senor Antonio upon your excursions.
Peradventure, my husband will accompany you; and if so, you will
find him highly useful. The people of Villa Seca are civil and
courteous, your worship; when they address a foreigner they speak
to him at the top of their voice and in Gallegan."

"In Gallegan!" I exclaimed.

"They all understand a few words of Gallegan, which they have
acquired from the mountaineers, who occasionally assist them in
cutting the harvest, and as Gallegan is the only foreign language
they know, they deem it but polite to address a foreigner in that
tongue. Vaya! it is not a bad village, that of Villa Seca, nor are
the people; the only ill-conditioned person living there is his
reverence the curate."

I was not long in making preparations for my enterprise. A
considerable stock of Testaments were sent forward by an arriero, I
myself followed the next day. Before my departure, however, I
received a Benedict Mol.

"I am come to bid you farewell, lieber herr; I return to

"On what errand?"

"To dig up the schatz, lieber herr. For what else should I go?
For what have I lived until now, but that I may dig up the schatz
in the end?"

"You might have lived for something better," I exclaimed. "I wish
you success, however. But on what grounds do you hope? Have you
obtained permission to dig? Surely you remember your former trials
in Galicia?"

"I have not forgotten them, lieber herr, nor the journey to Oviedo,
nor 'the seven acorns,' nor the fight with death in the barranco.
But I must accomplish my destiny. I go now to Galicia, as is
becoming a Swiss, at the expense of the government, with coach and
mule, I mean in the galera. I am to have all the help I require,
so that I can dig down to the earth's centre if I think fit. I--
but I must not tell your worship, for I am sworn on 'the four
Evangiles' not to tell."

"Well, Benedict, I have nothing to say, save that I hope you will
succeed in your digging."

"Thank you, lieber herr, thank you; and now farewell. Succeed! I
shall succeed!" Here he stopped short, started, and looking upon
me with an expression of countenance almost wild, he exclaimed:
"Heiliger Gott! I forgot one thing. Suppose I should not find the
treasure after all."

"Very rationally said; pity, though, that you did not think of that
contingency till now. I tell you, my friend, that you have engaged
in a most desperate undertaking. It is true that you may find a
treasure. The chances are, however, a hundred to one that you do
not, and in that event, what will be your situation? You will be
looked upon as an impostor, and the consequences may be horrible to
you. Remember where you are, and amongst whom you are. The
Spaniards are a credulous people, but let them once suspect that
they have been imposed upon, and above all laughed at, and their
thirst for vengeance knows no limit. Think not that your innocence
will avail you. That you are no impostor I feel convinced; but
they would never believe it. It is not too late. Return your fine
clothes and magic rattan to those from whom you had them. Put on
your old garments, grasp your ragged staff, and come with me to the
Sagra, to assist in circulating the illustrious Gospel amongst the
rustics on the Tagus' bank."

Benedict mused for a moment, then shaking his head, he cried, "No,
no, I must accomplish my destiny. The schatz is not yet dug up.
So said the voice in the barranco. To-morrow to Compostella. I
shall find it--the schatz--it is still there--it MUST be there."

He went, and I never saw him more. What I heard, however, was
extraordinary enough. It appeared that the government had listened
to his tale, and had been so struck with Bennet's exaggerated
description of the buried treasure, that they imagined that, by a
little trouble and outlay, gold and diamonds might be dug up at
Saint James sufficient to enrich themselves and to pay off the
national debt of Spain. The Swiss returned to Compostella "like a
duke," to use his own words. The affair, which had at first been
kept a profound secret, was speedily divulged. It was, indeed,
resolved that the investigation, which involved consequences of so
much importance, should take place in a manner the most public and
imposing. A solemn festival was drawing nigh, and it was deemed
expedient that the search should take place on that day. The day
arrived. All the bells in Compostella pealed. The whole populace
thronged from their houses, a thousand troops were drawn up in the
square, the expectation of all was wound up to the highest pitch.
A procession directed its course to the church of San Roque; at its
head was the captain-general and the Swiss, brandishing in his hand
the magic rattan, close behind walked the meiga, the Gallegan
witch-wife, by whom the treasure-seeker had been originally guided
in the search; numerous masons brought up the rear, bearing
implements to break up the ground. The procession enters the
church, they pass through it in solemn march, they find themselves
in a vaulted passage. The Swiss looks around. "Dig here," said he
suddenly. "Yes, dig here," said the meiga. The masons labour, the
floor is broken up,--a horrible and fetid odour arises. . . .

Enough; no treasure was found, and my warning to the unfortunate
Swiss turned out but too prophetic. He was forthwith seized and
flung into the horrid prison of Saint James, amidst the execrations
of thousands, who would have gladly torn him limb from limb.

The affair did not terminate here. The political opponents of the
government did not allow so favourable an opportunity to escape for
launching the shafts of ridicule. The Moderados were taunted in
the cortes for their avarice and credulity, whilst the liberal
press wafted on its wings through Spain the story of the treasure-
hunt at Saint James.

"After all, it was a trampa of Don Jorge's," said one of my
enemies. "That fellow is at the bottom of half the picardias which
happen in Spain."

Eager to learn the fate of the Swiss, I wrote to my old friend Rey
Romero, at Compostella. In his answer he states: "I saw the Swiss
in prison, to which place he sent for me, craving my assistance,
for the sake of the friendship which I bore to you. But how could
I help him? He was speedily after removed from Saint James, I know
not whither. It is said that he disappeared on the road."

Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Where in the whole cycle
of romance shall we find anything more wild, grotesque, and sad,
than the easily-authenticated history of Benedict Mol, the
treasure-digger of Saint James?


Villa Seca--Moorish House--The Puchera--The Rustic Council--Polite
Ceremonial--The Flower of Spain--The Bridge of Azeca--The Ruined
Castle--Taking the Field--Demand for the Word--The Old Peasant--The
Curate and Blacksmith--Cheapness of the Scriptures.

It was one of the most fiercely hot days in which I ever braved the
sun, when I arrived at Villa Seca. The heat in the shade must have
amounted at least to one hundred degrees, and the entire atmosphere
seemed to consist of flickering flame. At a place called Leganez,
six leagues from Madrid, and about half way to Toledo, we diverged
from the highway, bending our course seemingly towards the south-
east. We rode over what are called plains in Spain, but which, in
any other part of the world, would be called undulating and broken
ground. The crops of corn and barley had already disappeared. The
last vestiges discoverable being here and there a few sheaves,
which the labourers were occupied in removing to their garners in
the villages. The country could scarcely be called beautiful,
being perfectly naked, exhibiting neither trees nor verdure. It
was not, however, without its pretensions to grandeur and
magnificence, like every part of Spain. The most prominent objects
were two huge calcareous hills or rather one cleft in twain, which
towered up on high; the summit of the nearest being surmounted by
the ruins of an ancient castle, that of Villaluenga. About an hour
past noon we reached Villa Seca.

We found it a large village, containing about seven hundred
inhabitants, and surrounded by a mud wall. A plaza, or market-
place, stood in the midst, one side of which is occupied by what is
called a palace, a clumsy quadrangular building of two stories,
belonging to some noble family, the lords of the neighbouring soil.
It was deserted, however, being only occupied by a kind of steward,
who stored up in its chambers the grain which he received as rent
from the tenants and villanos who farmed the surrounding district.

The village stands at the distance of about a quarter of a league
from the bank of the Tagus, which even here, in the heart of Spain,
is a beautiful stream, not navigable, however, on account of the
sandbanks, which in many places assume the appearance of small
islands, and are covered with trees and brushwood. The village
derives its supply of water entirely from the river, having none of
its own; such at least as is potable, the water of its wells being
all brackish, on which account it is probably termed Villa Seca,
which signifies "the dry hamlet." The inhabitants are said to have
been originally Moors; certain it is, that various customs are
observable here highly favourable to such a supposition. Amongst
others, a very curious one; it is deemed infamous for a woman of
Villa Seca to go across the market-place, or to be seen there,
though they have no hesitation in showing themselves in the streets
and lanes. A deep-rooted hostility exists between the inhabitants
of this place and those of a neighbouring village, called Vargas;
they rarely speak when they meet, and never intermarry. There is a
vague tradition that the people of the latter place are old
Christians, and it is highly probable that these neighbours were
originally of widely different blood; those of Villa Seca being of
particularly dark complexions, whilst the indwellers of Vargas are
light and fair. Thus the old feud between Moor and Christian is
still kept up in the nineteenth century in Spain.

Drenched in perspiration, which fell from our brows like rain, we
arrived at the door of Juan Lopez, the husband of Maria Diaz.
Having heard of our intention to pay him a visit, he was expecting
us, and cordially welcomed us to his habitation, which, like a
genuine Moorish house, consisted only of one story. It was amply
large, however, with a court and stable. All the apartments were
deliciously cool. The floors were of brick or stone, and the
narrow and trellised windows, which were without glass, scarcely
permitted a ray of sun to penetrate into the interior.

A puchera had been prepared in expectation of our arrival; the heat
had not taken away my appetite, and it was not long before I did
full justice to this the standard dish of Spain. Whilst I ate,
Lopez played upon the guitar, singing occasionally snatches of
Andalusian songs. He was a short, merry-faced, active fellow, whom
I had frequently seen at Madrid, and was a good specimen of the
Spanish labrador or yeoman. Though far from possessing the ability
and intellect of his wife, Maria Diaz, he was by no means deficient
in shrewdness and understanding. He was, moreover, honest and
disinterested, and performed good service in the Gospel cause, as
will presently appear.

When the repast was concluded, Lopez thus addressed me:- "Senor Don
Jorge, your arrival in our village has already caused a sensation,
more especially as these are times of war and tumult, and every
person is afraid of another, and we dwell here close on the
confines of the factious country; for, as you well know, the
greater part of La Mancha is in the hands of the Carlinos and
thieves, parties of whom frequently show themselves on the other
side of the river: on which account the alcalde of this city, with
the other grave and notable people thereof, are desirous of seeing
your worship, and conversing with you, and of examining your
passport." "It is well," said I; "let us forthwith pay a visit to
these worthy people." Whereupon he conducted me across the plaza,
to the house of the alcalde, where I found the rustic dignitary
seated in the passage, enjoying the refreshing coolness of a
draught of air which rushed through. He was an elderly man, of
about sixty, with nothing remarkable in his appearance or his
features, which latter were placid and good-humoured. There were
several people with him, amongst whom was the surgeon of the place,
a tall and immensely bulky man, an Alavese by birth, from the town
of Vitoria. There was also a red fiery-faced individual, with a
nose very much turned on one side, who was the blacksmith of the
village, and was called in general El Tuerto, from the circumstance
of his having but one eye. Making the assembly a low bow, I pulled
out my passport, and thus addressed them:-

"Grave men and cavaliers of this city of Villa Seca, as I am a
stranger, of whom it is not possible that you should know anything,
I have deemed it my duty to present myself before you, and to tell
you who I am. Know, then, that I am an Englishman of good blood
and fathers, travelling in these countries for my own profit and
diversion, and for that of other people also. I have now found my
way to Villa Seca, where I propose to stay some time, doing that
which may be deemed convenient; sometimes riding across the plain,
and sometimes bathing myself in the waters of the river, which are
reported to be of advantage in times of heat, I therefore beg that,
during my sojourn in this capital, I may enjoy such countenance and
protection from its governors as they are in the habit of affording
to those who are of quiet and well-ordered life, and are disposed
to be buxom and obedient to the customs and laws of the republic."

"He speaks well," said the alcalde, glancing around.

"Yes, he speaks well," said the bulky Alavese; "there is no denying

"I never heard any one speak better," cried the blacksmith,
starting up from a stool on which he was seated. "Vaya! he is a
big man and a fair complexioned like myself. I like him, and have
a horse that will just suit him; one that is the flower of Spain,
and is eight inches above the mark."

I then, with another bow, presented my passport to the alcalde,
who, with a gentle motion of his hand, appeared to decline taking
it, at the same time saying, "It is not necessary." "Oh, not at
all," exclaimed the surgeon. "The housekeepers of Villa Seca know
how to comport themselves with formality," observed the blacksmith.
"They would be very loth to harbour any suspicion against a
cavalier so courteous and well spoken." Knowing, however, that
this refusal amounted to nothing, and that it merely formed part of
a polite ceremonial, I proffered the passport a second time,
whereupon it was instantly taken, and in a moment the eyes of all
present were bent upon it with intense curiosity. It was examined
from top to bottom, and turned round repeatedly, and though it is
not probable that an individual present understood a word of it, it
being written in French, it gave nevertheless universal
satisfaction; and when the alcalde, carefully folding it up,
returned it to me, they all observed that they had never seen a
better passport in their lives, or one which spake in higher terms
of the bearer.

Who was it said that "Cervantes sneered Spain's chivalry away?" I
know not; and the author of such a line scarcely deserves to be
remembered. How the rage for scribbling tempts people at the
present day to write about lands and nations of which they know
nothing, or worse than nothing. Vaya! It is not from having seen
a bull-fight at Seville or Madrid, or having spent a handful of
ounces at a posada in either of those places, kept perhaps by a
Genoese or a Frenchman, that you are competent to write about such
a people as the Spaniards, and to tell the world how they think,
how they speak, and how they act! Spain's chivalry sneered away!
Why, there is every probability that the great body of the Spanish
nation speak, think, and live precisely as their forefathers did
six centuries ago.

In the evening the blacksmith, or, as he would be called in
Spanish, El Herrador, made his appearance at the door of Lopez on
horseback. "Vamos, Don Jorge," he shouted. "Come with me, if your
worship is disposed for a ride. I am going to bathe my horse in
the Tagus by the bridge of Azeca." I instantly saddled my jaca
Cordovesa, and joining him, we rode out of the village, directing
our course across the plain towards the river. "Did you ever see
such a horse as this of mine, Don Jorge?" he demanded. "Is he not
a jewel--an alaja?" And in truth the horse was a noble and gallant
creature, in height at least sixteen hands, broad-chested, but of
clean and elegant limbs. His neck was superbly arched, and his
head towered on high like that of a swan. In colour he was a
bright chestnut, save his flowing mane and tail, which were almost
black. I expressed my admiration, whereupon the herrador, in high
spirits, pressed his heels to the creature's sides, and flinging
the bridle on its neck, speeded over the plain with prodigious
swiftness, shouting the old Spanish cry, Cierra! I attempted to
keep up with him, but had not a chance. "I call him the flower of
Spain," said the herrador, rejoining me. "Purchase him, Don Jorge,
his price is but three thousand reals. {19} I would not sell him
for double that sum, but the Carlist thieves have their eyes upon
him, and I am apprehensive that they will some day make a dash
across the river and break into Villa Seca, all to get possession
of my horse, 'The Flower of Spain.'"

It may be as well to observe here, that within a month from this
period, my friend the herrador, not being able to find a regular
purchaser for his steed, entered into negotiations with the
aforesaid thieves respecting him, and finally disposed of the
animal to their leader, receiving not the three thousand reals he
demanded, but an entire herd of horned cattle, probably driven from
the plains of La Mancha. For this transaction, which was neither
more nor less than high treason, he was cast into the prison of
Toledo, where, however, he did not continue long; for during a
short visit to Villa Seca, which I made in the spring of the
following year, I found him alcalde of that "republic."

We arrived at the bridge of Azeca, which is about half a league
from Villa Seca; close beside it is a large water-mill, standing
upon a dam which crosses the river. Dismounting from his steed,
the herrador proceeded to divest it of the saddle, then causing it
to enter the mill-pool, he led it by means of a cord to a
particular spot, where the water reached half way up its neck, then
fastening a cord to a post on the bank, he left the animal standing
in the pool. I thought I could do no better than follow his
example, and accordingly procuring a rope from the mill, I led my
own horse into the water. "It will refresh their blood, Don
Jorge," said the herrador; "let us leave them there for an hour,
whilst we go and divert ourselves."

Near the bridge, on the side of the river on which we were, was a
kind of guard-house, where were three carbineers of the revenue,
who collected the tolls of the bridge; we entered into conversation
with them: "Is not this a dangerous position of yours," said I to
one of them, who was a Catalan; "close beside the factious country?
Surely it would not be difficult for a body of the Carlinos or
bandits to dash across the bridge and make prisoners of you all."

"It would be easy enough at any moment, Cavalier," replied the
Catalan; "we are, however, all in the hands of God, and he has
preserved us hitherto, and perhaps still will. True it is that one
of our number, for there were four of us originally, fell the other
day into the hands of the canaille: he had wandered across the
bridge amongst the thickets with his gun in search of a hare or
rabbit, when three or four of them fell upon him and put him to
death in a manner too horrible to relate. But patience! every man
who lives must die. I shall not sleep the worse to-night because I
may chance to be hacked by the knives of these malvados to-morrow.
Cavalier, I am from Barcelona, and have seen there mariners of your
nation; this is not so good a country as Barcelona. Paciencia!
Cavalier, if you will step into our house, I will give you a glass
of water; we have some that is cool, for we dug a deep hole in the
earth and buried there our pitcher; it is cool, as I told you, but
the water of Castile is not like that of Catalonia."

The moon had arisen when we mounted our horses to return to the
village, and the rays of the beauteous luminary danced merrily on
the rushing waters of the Tagus, silvered the plain over which we
were passing, and bathed in a flood of brightness the bold sides of
the calcareous hill of Villaluenga and the antique ruins which
crowned its brow. "Why is that place called the Castle of
Villaluenga?" I demanded.

"From a village of that name, which stands on the other side of the
hill, Don Jorge," replied the herrador. "Vaya! it is a strange
place, that castle; some say it was built by the Moors in the old
times, and some by the Christians when they first laid siege to
Toledo. It is not inhabited now, save by rabbits, which breed
there in abundance amongst the long grass and broken stones, and by
eagles and vultures, which build on the tops of the towers; I
occasionally go there with my gun to shoot a rabbit. On a fine day
you may descry both Toledo and Madrid from its walls. I cannot say
I like the place, it is so dreary and melancholy. The hill on
which it stands is all of chalk, and is very difficult of ascent.
I heard my grandame say that once, when she was a girl, a cloud of
smoke burst from that hill, and that flames of fire were seen, just
as if it contained a volcano, as perhaps it does, Don Jorge."

The grand work of Scripture circulation soon commenced in the
Sagra. Notwithstanding the heat of the weather, I rode about in
all directions. It was well that heat agrees with my constitution,
otherwise it would have been impossible to effect anything in this
season, when the very arrieros frequently fall dead from their
mules, smitten by sun-stroke. I had an excellent assistant in
Antonio, who, disregarding the heat like myself, and afraid of
nothing, visited several villages with remarkable success. "Mon
maitre," said he, "I wish to show you that nothing is beyond my
capacity." But he who put the labours of us both to shame, was my
host, Juan Lopez, whom it had pleased the Lord to render favourable
to the cause. "Don Jorge," said he, "io quiero engancharme con
usted (I wish to enlist with you); I am a liberal, and a foe to
superstition; I will take the field, and, if necessary, will follow
you to the end of the world; Viva Ingalaterra; viva el Evangelio."
Thus saying, he put a large bundle of Testaments into a satchel,
and springing upon the crupper of his grey donkey, he cried "Arrhe
burra," and hastened away. I sat down to my journal.

Ere I had finished writing, I heard the voice of the burra in the
courtyard, and going out, I found my host returned. He had
disposed of his whole cargo of twenty Testaments at the village of
Vargas, distant from Villa Seca about a league. Eight poor harvest
men, who were refreshing themselves at the door of a wine-house,
purchased each a copy, whilst the village schoolmaster secured the
rest for the little ones beneath his care, lamenting, at the same
time, the great difficulty he had long experienced in obtaining
religious books, owing to their scarcity and extravagant price.
Many other persons were also anxious to purchase Testaments, but
Lopez was unable to supply them: at his departure, they requested
him to return within a few days.

I was aware that I was playing rather a daring game, and that it
was very possible that, when I least expected it, I might be
seized, tied to the tail of a mule, and dragged either to the
prison of Toledo or Madrid. Yet such a prospect did not discourage
me in the least, but rather urged me to persevere; for at this
time, without the slightest wish to gratify myself, I could say
that I was eager to lay down my life for the cause, and whether a
bandit's bullet, or the gaol fever brought my career to a close,
was a matter of indifference to me; I was not then a stricken man:
"Ride on because of the word of righteousness," was my cry.

The news of the arrival of the book of life soon spread like
wildfire through the villages of the Sagra of Toledo, and wherever
my people and myself directed our course we found the inhabitants
disposed to receive our merchandize; it was even called for where
not exhibited. One night as I was bathing myself and horse in the
Tagus, a knot of people gathered on the bank, crying, "Come out of
the water, Englishman, and give us books; we have got our money in
our hands." The poor creatures then held out their hands, filled
with cuartos, a copper coin of the value of the farthing, but
unfortunately I had no Testaments to give them. Antonio, however,
who was at a short distance, having exhibited one, it was instantly
torn from his hands by the people, and a scuffle ensued to obtain
possession of it. It very frequently occurred, that the poor
labourers in the neighbourhood, being eager to obtain Testaments,
and having no money to offer us in exchange, brought various
articles to our habitation as equivalents; for example, rabbits,
fruit and barley, and I made a point never to disappoint them, as
such articles were of utility either for our own consumption or
that of the horses.

In Villa Seca there was a school in which fifty-seven children were
taught the first rudiments of education. One morning the
schoolmaster, a tall slim figure of about sixty, bearing on his
head one of the peaked hats of Andalusia, and wrapped,
notwithstanding the excessive heat of the weather, in a long cloak,
made his appearance; and having seated himself, requested to be
shown one of our books. Having delivered it to him, he remained
examining it for nearly half an hour, without uttering a word. At
last he laid it down with a sigh, and said that he should be very
happy to purchase some of these books for his school, but from
their appearance, especially from the quality of the paper and
binding, he was apprehensive that to pay for them would exceed the
means of the parents of his pupils, as they were almost destitute
of money, being poor labourers. He then commenced blaming the
government, which he said established schools without affording the
necessary books, adding that in his school there were but two books
for the use of all his pupils, and these he confessed contained but
little good. I asked him what he considered the Testaments were
worth? He said, "Senor Cavalier, to speak frankly, I have in other
times paid twelve reals for books inferior to yours in every
respect, but I assure you that my poor pupils would be utterly
unable to pay the half of that sum." I replied, "I will sell you
as many as you please for three reals each, I am acquainted with
the poverty of the land, and my friends and myself, in affording
the people the means of spiritual instruction have no wish to
curtail their scanty bread." He replied: "Bendito sea Dios,"
(blessed be God,) and could scarcely believe his ears. He
instantly purchased a dozen, expending, as he said, all the money
he possessed, with the exception of a few cuartos. The
introduction of the word of God into the country schools of Spain
is therefore begun, and I humbly hope that it will prove one of
those events, which the Bible Society, after the lapse of years,
will have most reason to remember with joy and gratitude to the

An old peasant is reading in the portico. Eighty-four years have
passed over his head, and he is almost entirely deaf; nevertheless
he is reading aloud the second of Matthew: three days since he
bespoke a Testament, but not being able to raise the money, he has
not redeemed it until the present moment. He has just brought
thirty farthings; as I survey the silvery hair which overshadows
his sunburnt countenance, the words of the song occurred to me,
"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to
thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation."

I experienced much grave kindness and simple hospitality from the
good people of Villa Seca during my sojourn amongst them. I had at
this time so won their hearts by the "formality" of my behaviour
and language, that I firmly believe they would have resisted to the
knife any attempt which might have been made to arrest or otherwise
maltreat me. He who wishes to become acquainted with the genuine
Spaniard, must seek him not in seaports and large towns, but in
lone and remote villages, like those of the Sagra. There he will
find all that gravity of deportment and chivalry of disposition
which Cervantes is said to have sneered away; and there he will
hear, in everyday conversation, those grandiose expressions, which,
when met with in the romances of chivalry, are scoffed at as
ridiculous exaggerations.

I had one enemy in the village--it was the curate.

"The fellow is a heretic and a scoundrel," said he one day in the
conclave. "He never enters the church, and is poisoning the minds
of the people with his Lutheran books. Let him be bound and sent
to Toledo, or turned out of the village at least."

"I will have nothing of the kind," said the alcalde, who was said
to be a Carlist. "If he has his opinions, I have mine too. He has
conducted himself with politeness. Why should I interfere with
him? He has been courteous to my daughter, and has presented her
with a volume. Que viva! and with respect to his being a Lutheran,
I have heard say that amongst the Lutherans there are sons of as
good fathers as here. He appears to me a caballero. He speaks

"There is no denying it," said the surgeon.

"Who speaks SO well?" shouted the herrador. "And, who has more
formality? Vaya! did he not praise my horse, 'The Flower of
Spain'? Did he not say that in the whole of Ingalaterra there was
not a better? Did he not assure me, moreover, that if he were to
remain in Spain he would purchase it, giving me my own price? Turn
him out, indeed! Is he not of my own blood, is he not fair-
complexioned? Who shall turn him out when I, 'the one-eyed,' say

In connection with the circulation of the Scriptures I will now
relate an anecdote not altogether divested of singularity. I have
already spoken of the water-mill by the bridge of Azeca. I had
formed acquaintance with the tenant of this mill, who was known in
the neighbourhood by the name of Don Antero. One day, taking me
into a retired place, he asked me, to my great astonishment,
whether I would sell him a thousand Testaments at the price at
which I was disposing of them to the peasantry; saying, if I would
consent he would pay me immediately. In fact, he put his hand into
his pocket, and pulled it out filled with gold ounces. I asked him
what was his reason for wishing to make so considerable a purchase.
Whereupon he informed me that he had a relation in Toledo whom he
wished to establish, and that he was of opinion that his best plan
would be to hire him a shop there and furnish it with Testaments.
I told him that he must think of nothing of the kind, as probably
the books would be seized on the first attempt to introduce them
into Toledo, as the priests and canons were much averse to their

He was not disconcerted, however, and said his relation could
travel, as I myself was doing, and dispose of them to the peasants
with profit to himself. I confess I was inclined at first to
accept his offer, but at length declined it, as I did not wish to
expose a poor man to the risk of losing money, goods, and perhaps
liberty and life. I was likewise averse to the books being offered
to the peasantry at an advanced price, being aware that they could
not afford it, and the books, by such an attempt, would lose a
considerable part of that influence which they then enjoyed; for
their cheapness struck the minds of the people, and they considered
it almost as much in the light of a miracle as the Jews the manna
which dropped from heaven at the time they were famishing, or the
spring which suddenly gushed from the flinty rocks to assuage their
thirst in the wilderness.

At this time a peasant was continually passing and repassing
between Villa Seca and Madrid, bringing us cargoes of Testaments on
a burrico. We continued our labours until the greater part of the
villages of the Sagra were well supplied with books, more
especially those of Vargas, Coveja, Mocejon, Villaluenga, Villa
Seca, and Yungler. Hearing at last that our proceedings were known
at Toledo, and were causing considerable alarm, we returned to


Aranjuez--A Warning--A Night Adventure--A Fresh Expedition--
Segovia--Abades--Factions Curas--Lopez in Prison--Rescue of Lopez.

The success which had attended our efforts in the Sagra of Toledo
speedily urged me on to a new enterprise. I now determined to
direct my course to La Mancha, and to distribute the word amongst
the villages of that province. Lopez, who had already performed
such important services in the Sagra, had accompanied us to Madrid,
and was eager to take part in this new expedition. We determined
in the first place to proceed to Aranjuez, where we hoped to obtain
some information which might prove of utility in the further
regulation of our movements; Aranjuez being but a slight distance
from the frontier of La Mancha and the high road into that province
passing directly through it. We accordingly sallied forth from
Madrid, selling from twenty to forty Testaments in every village
which lay in our way, until we arrived at Aranjuez, to which place
we had forwarded a large supply of books.

A lovely spot is Aranjuez, though in desolation: here the Tagus
flows through a delicious valley, perhaps the most fertile in
Spain; and here upsprang, in Spain's better days, a little city,
with a small but beautiful palace shaded by enormous trees, where
royalty delighted to forget its cares. Here Ferdinand the Seventh
spent his latter days, surrounded by lovely senoras and Andalusian
bull-fighters: but as the German Schiller has it in one of his

"The happy days in fair Aranjuez,
Are past and gone."

When the sensual king went to his dread account, royalty deserted
it, and it soon fell into decay. Intriguing counters no longer
crowd its halls; its spacious circus, where Manchegan bulls once
roared in rage and agony, is now closed, and the light tinkling of
guitars is no longer heard amidst its groves and gardens.

At Aranjuez I made a sojourn of three days, during which time
Antonio, Lopez, and myself visited every house in the town. We
found a vast deal of poverty and ignorance amongst the inhabitants,
and experienced some opposition: nevertheless it pleased the
Almighty to permit us to dispose of about eighty Testaments, which
were purchased entirely by the very poor people; those in easier
circumstances paying no attention to the word of God, but rather
turning it to scoff and ridicule.

One circumstance was very gratifying and cheering to me, namely,
the ocular proof which I possessed that the books which I had
disposed of were read, and with attention, by those to whom I sold
them; and that many others participated in their benefit. In the
streets of Aranjuez, and beneath the mighty cedars and gigantic
elms and plantains which compose its noble woods, I have frequently
seen groups assembled listening to individuals who, with the New
Testament in their hands, were reading aloud the comfortable words
of salvation.

It is probable that, had I remained a longer period at Aranjuez, I
might have sold many more of these divine books, but I was eager to
gain La Mancha and its sandy plains, and to conceal myself for a
season amongst its solitary villages, for I was apprehensive that a
storm was gathering around me; but when once through Ocana, the
frontier town, I knew well that I should have nothing to fear from
the Spanish authorities, as their power ceased there, the rest of
La Mancha being almost entirely in the hands of the Carlists, and
overrun by small parties of banditti, from whom, however, I trusted
that the Lord would preserve me. I therefore departed for Ocana,
distant three leagues from Aranjuez.

I started with Antonio at six in the evening, having early in the
morning sent forward Lopez with between two and three hundred
Testaments. We left the high road, and proceeded by a shorter way
through wild hills and over very broken and precipitous ground:
being well mounted we found ourselves just after sunset opposite
Ocana, which stands on a steep hill. A deep valley lay between us
and the town: we descended, and came to a small bridge, which
traverses a rivulet at the bottom of the valley, at a very small
distance from a kind of suburb. We crossed the bridge, and were
passing by a deserted house on our left hand, when a man appeared
from under the porch.

What I am about to state will seem incomprehensible, but a singular
history and a singular people are connected with it: the man
placed himself before my horse so as to bar the way, and said
"Schophon," which, in the Hebrew tongue, signifies a rabbit. I
knew this word to be one of the Jewish countersigns, and asked the
man if he had any thing to communicate? He said, "You must not
enter the town, for a net is prepared for you. The corregidor of
Toledo, on whom may all evil light, in order to give pleasure to
the priests of Maria, in whose face I spit, has ordered all the
alcaldes of these parts, and the escribanos and the corchetes to
lay hands on you wherever they may find you, and to send you, and
your books, and all that pertains to you to Toledo. Your servant
was seized this morning in the town above, as he was selling the
writings in the streets, and they are now awaiting your arrival in
the posada; but I knew you from the accounts of my brethren, and I
have been waiting here four hours to give you warning in order that
your horse may turn his tail to your enemies, and neigh in derision
of them. Fear nothing for your servant, for he is known to the
alcalde, and will be set at liberty, but do you flee, and may God
attend you." Having said this, he hurried towards the town.

I hesitated not a moment to take his advice, knowing full well
that, as my books had been taken possession of, I could do no more
in that quarter. We turned back in the direction of Aranjuez, the
horses, notwithstanding the nature of the ground, galloping at full
speed; but our adventures were not over. Midway, and about half a
league from the village of Antigola, we saw close to us on our left
hand three men on a low bank. As far as the darkness would permit
us to distinguish, they were naked, but each bore in his hand a
long gun. These were rateros, or the common assassins and robbers
of the roads. We halted and cried out, "Who goes there?" They
replied, "What's that to you? pass by." Their drift was to fire at
us from a position from which it would be impossible to miss. We
shouted, "If you do not instantly pass to the right side of the
road, we will tread you down between the horses' hoofs." They
hesitated and then obeyed, for all assassins are dastards, and the
least show of resolution daunts them. As we galloped past, one
cried, with an obscene oath, "Shall we fire?" But another said,
"No, no! there's danger." We reached Aranjuez, where early next
morning Lopez rejoined us, and we returned to Madrid.

I am sorry to state that two hundred Testaments were seized at
Ocana, from whence, after being sealed up, they were despatched to
Toledo. Lopez informed me, that in two hours he could have sold
them all, the demand was so great. As it was, twenty-seven were
disposed of in less than ten minutes.

"Ride on because of the word of righteousness." Notwithstanding
the check which we had experienced at Ocana, we were far from being
discouraged, and forthwith prepared ourselves for another
expedition. As we returned from Aranjeuz to Madrid, my eyes had
frequently glanced towards the mighty wall of mountains dividing
the two Castiles, and I said to myself, "Would it not be well to
cross those hills, and commence operations on the other side, even
in Old Castile? There I am unknown, and intelligence of my
proceedings can scarcely have been transmitted thither.
Peradventure the enemy is asleep, and before he has roused himself,
I may have sown much of the precious seed amongst the villages of
the Old Castilians. To Castile, therefore, to Castile la Vieja!"
Accordingly, on the day after my arrival, I despatched several
cargoes of books to various places which I proposed to visit, and
sent forward Lopez and his donkey, well laden, with directions to
meet me on a particular day beneath a particular arch of the
aqueduct of Segovia. I likewise gave him orders to engage any
persons willing to co-operate with us in the circulation of the
Scriptures, and who might be likely to prove of utility in the
enterprise. A more useful assistant than Lopez in an expedition of
this kind it was impossible to have. He was not only well
acquainted with the country, but had friends, and even connexions
on the other side of the hills, in whose houses he assured me that
we should at all times find a hearty welcome. He departed in high
spirits, exclaiming, "Be of good cheer, Don Jorge; before we return
we will have disposed of every copy of your evangelic library.
Down with the friars! Down with superstition! Viva Ingalaterra,
viva el Evangelio!"

In a few days I followed with Antonio. We ascended the mountains
by the pass called Pena Cerrada, which lies about three leagues to
the eastward of that of Guadarama. It is very unfrequented, the
high road between the two Castiles passing through Guadarama. It
has, moreover, an evil name, being, according to common report,
infested with banditti. The sun was just setting when we reached
the top of the hills, and entered a thick and gloomy pine forest,
which entirely covers the mountains on the side of Old Castile.
The descent soon became so rapid and precipitous, that we were fain
to dismount from our horses and to drive them before us. Into the
woods we plunged deeper and deeper still; night-birds soon began to
hoot and cry, and millions of crickets commenced their shrill
chirping above, below, and around us. Occasionally, amidst the
trees at a distance, we could see blazes, as if from immense fires.
"They are those of the charcoal-burners, mon maitre!" said Antonio;
"we will not go near them, however, for they are savage people, and
half bandits. Many is the traveller whom they have robbed and
murdered in these horrid wildernesses."

It was blackest night when we arrived at the foot of the mountains;
we were still, however, amidst woods and pine forests, which
extended for leagues in every direction. "We shall scarcely reach
Segovia to-night, mon maitre," said Antonio. And so indeed it
proved, for we became bewildered, and at last arrived where two
roads branched off in different directions, we took not the left
hand road, which would have conducted us to Segovia, but turned to
the right, in the direction of La Granja, where we arrived at

We found the desolation of La Granja far greater than that of
Aranjuez; both had suffered from the absence of royalty, but the
former to a degree which was truly appalling. Nine-tenths of the
inhabitants had left this place, which, until the late military
revolution, had been the favourite residence of Christina. So
great is the solitude of La Granja, that wild boars from the
neighbouring forests, and especially from the beautiful pine-
covered mountain which rises like a cone directly behind the
palace, frequently find their way into the streets and squares, and
whet their tusks against the pillars of the porticos.

"Ride on because of the word of righteousness." After a stay of
twenty-four hours at La Granja, we proceeded to Segovia. The day
had arrived on which I had appointed to meet Lopez. I repaired to
the aqueduct, and sat down beneath the hundred and seventh arch,
where I waited the greater part of the day, but he came not,
whereupon I rose and went into the city.

At Segovia I tarried two days in the house of a friend, still I
could hear nothing of Lopez. At last, by the greatest chance in
the world, I heard from a peasant that there were men in the
neighbourhood of Abades selling books.

Abades is about three leagues distant from Segovia, and upon
receiving this intelligence, I instantly departed for the former
place, with three donkeys laden with Testaments. I reached Abades
at nightfall, and found Lopez, with two peasants whom he had
engaged, in the house of the surgeon of the place, where I also
took up my residence. He had already disposed of a considerable
number of Testaments in the neighbourhood, and had that day
commenced selling at Abades itself; he had, however, been
interrupted by two of the three curas of the village, who, with
horrid curses denounced the work, threatening eternal condemnation
to Lopez for selling it, and to any person who should purchase it;
whereupon Lopez, terrified, forbore until I should arrive. The
third cura, however, exerted himself to the utmost to persuade the
people to provide themselves with Testaments, telling them that his
brethren were hypocrites and false guides, who, by keeping them in
ignorance of the word and will of Christ, were leading them to the
abyss. Upon receiving this information, I instantly sallied forth
to the market-place, and that same night succeeded in disposing of
upwards of thirty Testaments. The next morning the house was
entered by the two factious curas, but upon my rising to confront
them, they retreated, and I heard no more of them, except that they
publicly cursed me in the church more than once, an event which, as
no ill resulted from it, gave me little concern.

I will not detail the events of the next week; suffice it to say
that arranging my forces in the most advantageous way, I succeeded,
by God's assistance, in disposing of from five to six hundred
Testaments amongst the villages from one to seven leagues' distance
from Abades. At the expiration of that period I received
information that my proceedings were known in Segovia, in which
province Abades is situated, and that an order was about to be sent
to the alcalde to seize all books in my possession. Whereupon,
notwithstanding that it was late in the evening, I decamped with
all my people, and upwards of three hundred Testaments, having a
few hours previously received a fresh supply from Madrid. That
night we passed in the fields, and next morning proceeded to
Labajos, a village on the high road from Madrid to Valladolid. In
this place we offered no books for sale, but contented ourselves
with supplying the neighbouring villages with the word of God: we
likewise sold it in the highways.

We had not been at Labajos a week, during which time we were
remarkably successful, when the Carlist chieftain, Balmaseda, at
the head of his cavalry, made his desperate inroad into the
southern part of Old Castile, dashing down like an avalanche from
the pine-woods of Soria. I was present at all the horrors which
ensued,--the sack of Arrevalo, and the forcible entry into Martin
Munoz. Amidst these terrible scenes we continued our labours.
Suddenly I lost Lopez for three days, and suffered dreadful anxiety
on his account, imagining that he had been shot by the Carlists; at
last I heard that he was in prison at Villallos, three leagues
distant. The steps which I took to rescue him will be found
detailed in a communication, which I deemed it my duty to transmit
to Lord William Hervey, who, in the absence of Sir George Villiers,
now became Earl of Clarendon, fulfilled the duties of minister at

August 23, 1838.

My Lord,--I beg leave to call your attention to the following
facts. On the 21st inst. I received information that a person in
my employ, of the name of Juan Lopez, had been thrown into the
prison of Villallos, in the province of Avila, by order of the cura
of that place. The crime with which he was charged was selling the
New Testament. I was at that time at Labajos, in the province of
Segovia, and the division of the factious chieftain Balmaseda was
in the immediate neighbourhood. On the 22nd, I mounted my horse
and rode to Villallos, a distance of three leagues. On my arrival
there, I found that Lopez had been removed from the prison to a
private house. An order had arrived from the corregidor of Avila,
commanding that the person of Lopez should be set at liberty, and
that the books which had been found in his possession should be
alone detained. Nevertheless, in direct opposition to this order,
(a copy of which I herewith transmit,) the alcalde of Villallos, at
the instigation of the cura, refused to permit the said Lopez to
quit the place, either to proceed to Avila or in any other
direction. It had been hinted to Lopez that as the factious were
expected, it was intended on their arrival to denounce him to them
as a liberal, and to cause him to be sacrificed. Taking these
circumstances into consideration, I deemed it my duty as a
Christian and a gentleman, to rescue my unfortunate servant from
such lawless hands, and in consequence, defying opposition, I bore
him off, though entirely unarmed, through a crowd of at least one
hundred peasants. On leaving the place I shouted, "Viva Isabel

As it is my belief that the cura of Villallos is a person capable
of any infamy, I beg leave humbly to intreat your Lordship to cause
a copy of the above narration to be forwarded to the Spanish
government.--I have the honour to remain, My Lord, Your Lordship's
most obedient,


To the Right Honourable

After the rescue of Lopez we proceeded in the work of distribution.
Suddenly, however, the symptoms of an approaching illness came over
me, which compelled us to return in all haste to Madrid. Arrived
there, I was attacked by a fever which confined me to my bed for
several weeks; occasional fits of delirium came over me, during one
of which, I imagined myself in the market-place of Martin Munos,
engaged in deadly struggle with the chieftain Balmaseda.

The fever had scarcely departed, when a profound melancholy took
possession of me, which entirely disqualified me for active
exertion. Change of scene and air was recommended; I therefore
returned to England.


Return to Spain--Seville--A Hoary Persecutor--Manchegan Prophetess-
-Antonio's Dream.

On the 31st of December, 1838, I again visited Spain for the third
time. After staying a day or two at Cadiz I repaired to Seville,
from which place I proposed starting for Madrid with the mail post.
Here I tarried about a fortnight, enjoying the delicious climate of
this terrestrial Paradise, and the balmy breezes of the Andalusian
winter, even as I had done two years previously. Before leaving
Seville, I visited the bookseller, my correspondent, who informed
me that seventy-six copies of the hundred Testaments entrusted to
his care had been placed in embargo by the government last summer,
and that they were at the present time in the possession of the
ecclesiastical governor, whereupon I determined to visit this
functionary also, with the view of making inquiries concerning the

He lived in a large house in the Pajaria, or straw-market. He was
a very old man, between seventy and eighty, and, like the
generality of those who wear the sacerdotal habit in this city, was
a fierce persecuting Papist. I imagine that he scarcely believed
his ears when his two grand-nephews, beautiful black-haired boys
who were playing in the courtyard, ran to inform him that an
Englishman was waiting to speak with him, as it is probable that I
was the first heretic who ever ventured into his habitation. I
found him in a vaulted room, seated on a lofty chair, with two
sinister-looking secretaries, also in sacerdotal habits, employed
in writing at a table before him. He brought powerfully to my mind
the grim old inquisitor who persuaded Philip the Second to slay his
own son as an enemy to the church.

He rose as I entered, and gazed upon me with a countenance dark
with suspicion and dissatisfaction. He at last condescended to
point me to a sofa, and I proceeded to state to him my business.
He became much agitated when I mentioned the Testaments to him; but
I no sooner spoke of the Bible Society and told him who I was, than
he could contain himself no longer: with a stammering tongue, and
with eyes flashing fire like hot coals, he proceeded to rail
against the society and myself, saying that the aims of the first
were atrocious, and that, as to myself, he was surprised that,
being once lodged in the prison of Madrid, I had ever been
permitted to quit it; adding, that it was disgraceful in the
government to allow a person of my character to roam about an
innocent and peaceful country, corrupting the minds of the ignorant
and unsuspicious. Far from allowing myself to be disconcerted by
his rude behaviour, I replied to him with all possible politeness,
and assured him that in this instance he had no reason to alarm
himself, as my sole motive in claiming the books in question, was
to avail myself of an opportunity which at present presented
itself, of sending them out of the country, which, indeed, I had
been commanded to do by an official notice. But nothing would
soothe him, and he informed me that he should not deliver up the
books on any condition, save by a positive order of the government.
As the matter was by no means an affair of consequence, I thought
it wise not to persist, and also prudent to take my leave before he
requested me. I was followed even down into the street by his
niece and grand-nephews, who, during the whole of the conversation,
had listened at the door of the apartment and heard every word.

In passing through La Mancha, we staid for four hours at
Manzanares, a large village. I was standing in the market-place
conversing with a curate, when a frightful ragged object presented
itself; it was a girl about eighteen or nineteen, perfectly blind,
a white film being spread over her huge staring eyes. Her
countenance was as yellow as that of a Mulatto. I thought at first
that she was a Gypsy, and addressing myself to her, inquired in
Gitano if she were of that race; she understood me, but shaking her
head, replied, that she was something better than a Gitana, and
could speak something better than that jargon of witches; whereupon
she commenced asking me several questions in exceedingly good
Latin. I was of course very much surprised, but summoning all my
Latinity, I called her Manchegan Prophetess, and expressing my
admiration for her learning, begged to be informed by what means
she became possessed of it. I must here observe that a crowd
instantly gathered around us, who, though they understood not one
word of our discourse, at every sentence of the girl shouted
applause, proud in the possession of a prophetess who could answer
the Englishman.

She informed me that she was born blind, and that a Jesuit priest
had taken compassion on her when she was a child, and had taught
her the holy language, in order that the attention and hearts of
Christians might be more easily turned towards her. I soon
discovered that he had taught her something more than Latin, for
upon telling her that I was an Englishman, she said that she had
always loved Britain, which was once the nursery of saints and
sages, for example Bede and Alcuin, Columba and Thomas of
Canterbury; but she added those times had gone by since the re-
appearance of Semiramis (Elizabeth). Her Latin was truly
excellent, and when I, like a genuine Goth, spoke of Anglia and
Terra Vandalica (Andalusia), she corrected me by saying, that in
her language those places were called Britannia and Terra Betica.
When we had finished our discourse, a gathering was made for the
prophetess, the very poorest contributing something.

After travelling four days and nights, we arrived at Madrid,
without having experienced the slightest accident, though it is but
just to observe, and always with gratitude to the Almighty, that
the next mail was stopped. A singular incident befell me
immediately after my arrival; on entering the arch of the posada
called La Reyna, where I intended to put up, I found myself
encircled in a person's arms, and on turning round in amazement,
beheld my Greek servant, Antonio. He was haggard and ill-dressed,
and his eyes seemed starting from their sockets.

As soon as we were alone he informed that since my departure he had
undergone great misery and destitution, having, during the whole
period, been unable to find a master in need of his services, so
that he was brought nearly to the verge of desperation; but that on
the night immediately preceding my arrival he had a dream, in which
he saw me, mounted on a black horse, ride up to the gate of the
posada, and that on that account he had been waiting there during
the greater part of the day. I do not pretend to offer an opinion
concerning this narrative, which is beyond the reach of my
philosophy, and shall content myself with observing that only two
individuals in Madrid were aware of my arrival in Spain. I was
very glad to receive him again into my service, as, notwithstanding
his faults, he had in many instances proved of no slight assistance
to me in my wanderings and biblical labours.

I was soon settled in my former lodgings, when one my first cares
was to pay a visit to Lord Clarendon. Amongst other things, he
informed me that he had received an official notice from the
government, stating the seizure of the New Testaments at Ocana, the
circumstances relating to which I have described on a former
occasion, and informing him that unless steps were instantly taken
to remove them from the country, they would be destroyed at Toledo,
to which place they had been conveyed. I replied that I should
give myself no trouble about the matter; and that if the
authorities of Toledo, civil or ecclesiastic, determined upon
burning these books, my only hope was that they would commit them
to the flames with all possible publicity, as by so doing they
would but manifest their own hellish rancour and their hostility to
the word of God.

Being eager to resume my labours, I had no sooner arrived at Madrid
than I wrote to Lopez at Villa Seca, for the purpose of learning
whether he was inclined to co-operate in the work, as on former
occasions. In reply, he informed me that he was busily employed in
his agricultural pursuits: to supply his place, however, he sent
over an elderly villager, Victoriano Lopez by name, a distant
relation of his own.

What is a missionary in the heart of Spain without a horse? Which
consideration induced me now to purchase an Arabian of high caste,
which had been brought from Algiers by an officer of the French
legion. The name of this steed, the best I believe that ever
issued from the desert, was Sidi Habismilk.


Work of Distribution resumed--Adventure at Cobenna--Power of the
Clergy--Rural Authorities--Fuente la Higuera--Victoriano's Mishap--
Village Prison--The Rope--Antonio's Errand--Antonio at Mass.

In my last chapter, I stated that, immediately after my arrival at
Madrid, I proceeded to get everything in readiness for commencing
operations in the neighbourhood; and I soon entered upon my labours
in reality. Considerable success attended my feeble efforts in the
good cause, for which at present, after the lapse of some years, I
still look back with gratitude to the Almighty.

All the villages within the distance of four leagues to the east of
Madrid, were visited in less than a fortnight, and Testaments to
the number of nearly two hundred disposed of. These villages for
the most part are very small, some of them consisting of not more
than a dozen houses, or I should rather say miserable cabins. I
left Antonio, my Greek, to superintend matters in Madrid, and
proceeded with Victoriano, the peasant from Villa Seca, in the
direction which I have already mentioned. We, however, soon parted
company, and pursued different routes.

The first village at which I made an attempt was Cobenna, about
three leagues from Madrid. I was dressed in the fashion of the
peasants in the neighbourhood of Segovia, in Old Castile; namely, I
had on my head a species of leather helmet or montera, with a
jacket and trousers of the same material. I had the appearance of
a person between sixty and seventy years of age, and drove before
me a borrico with a sack of Testaments lying across its back. On
nearing the village, I met a genteel-looking young woman leading a
little boy by the hand: as I was about to pass her with the
customary salutation of vaya usted con Dios, she stopped, and after
looking at me for a moment, she said: "Uncle (Tio), what is that
you have got on your borrico? Is it soap?"

"Yes," I replied: "it is soap to wash souls clean."

She demanded what I meant; whereupon I told her that I carried
cheap and godly books for sale. On her requesting to see one, I
produced a copy from my pocket and handed it to her. She instantly
commenced reading with a loud voice, and continued so for at least
ten minutes, occasionally exclaiming: "Que lectura tan bonita, que
lectura tan linda!" What beautiful, what charming readings!" At
last, on my informing her that I was in a hurry, and could not wait
any longer, she said, "true, true," and asked me the price of the
book: I told her "but three reals," whereupon she said, that
though what I asked was very little, it was more than she could
afford to give, as there was little or no money in those parts. I
said I was sorry for it, but that I could not dispose of the books
for less than I had demanded, and accordingly, resuming it, wished
her farewell, and left her. I had not, however, proceeded thirty
yards, when the boy came running behind me, shouting, out of
breath: "Stop, uncle, the book, the book!" Upon overtaking me, he
delivered the three reals in copper, and seizing the Testament, ran
back to her, who I suppose was his sister, flourishing the book
over his head with great glee.

On arriving at the village, I directed my steps to a house, around
the door of which I saw several people gathered, chiefly women. On
my displaying my books, their curiosity was instantly aroused, and
every person had speedily one in his hand, many reading aloud;
however, after waiting nearly an hour, I had disposed of but one
copy, all complaining bitterly of the distress of the times, and
the almost total want of money, though, at the same time, they
acknowledged that the books were wonderfully cheap, and appeared to
be very good and Christian-like. I was about to gather up my
merchandise and depart, when on a sudden the curate of the place
made his appearance. After having examined the book for some time
with considerable attention, he asked me the price of a copy, and
upon my informing him that it was three reals, he replied that the
binding was worth more, and that he was much afraid that I had
stolen the books, and that it was perhaps his duty to send me to
prison as a suspicious character; but added, that the books were
good books, however they might be obtained, and concluded by
purchasing two copies. The poor people no sooner heard their
curate recommend the volumes, than all were eager to secure one,
and hurried here and there for the purpose of procuring money, so
that between twenty and thirty copies were sold almost in an
instant. This adventure not only affords an instance of the power
still possessed by the Spanish clergy over the minds of the people,
but proves that such influence is not always exerted in a manner
favourable to the maintenance of ignorance and superstition.

In another village, on my showing a Testament to a woman, she said
that she had a child at school for whom she would like to purchase
one, but that she must first know whether the book was calculated
to be of service to him. She then went away, and presently
returned with the schoolmaster, followed by all the children under
his care; she then, showing the schoolmaster a book, inquired if it
would answer for her son. The schoolmaster called her a simpleton
for asking such a question, and said that he knew the book well,
and there was not its equal in the world (no hay otro en el mundo).
He instantly purchased five copies for his pupils, regretting that
he had no more money, "for if I had," said he, "I would buy the
whole cargo." Upon hearing this, the woman purchased four copies,
namely, one for her living son, another for her deceased husband, a
third for herself, and a fourth for her brother, whom she said she
was expecting home that night from Madrid.

In this manner we proceeded; not, however, with uniform success.
In some villages the people were so poor and needy, that they had
literally no money; even in these, however, we managed to dispose
of a few copies in exchange for barley or refreshments. On
entering one very small hamlet, Victoriano was stopped by the
curate, who, on learning what he carried, told him that unless he
instantly departed, he would cause him to be imprisoned, and would
write to Madrid in order to give information of what was going on.
The excursion lasted about eight days. Immediately after my
return, I dispatched Victoriano to Caramanchal, a village at a
short distance from Madrid, the only one towards the west which had
not been visited last year. He staid there about an hour, and
disposed of twelve copies, and then returned, as he was exceedingly
timid, and was afraid of being met by the thieves who swarm on that
road in the evening.

Shortly after these events, a circumstance occurred which will
perhaps cause the English reader to smile, whilst, at the same
time, it will not fail to prove interesting, as affording an
example of the feeling prevalent in some of the lone villages of
Spain with respect to innovation and all that savours thereof, and
the strange acts which are sometimes committed by the real
authorities and the priests, without the slightest fear of being
called to account; for as they live quite apart {20} from the rest
of the world, they know no people greater than themselves, and
scarcely dream of a higher power than their own.

I was about to make an excursion to Guadalajara, and the villages
of Alcarria, about seven leagues distant from Madrid; indeed I
merely awaited the return of Victoriano to sally forth; I having
dispatched him in that direction with a few Testaments, as a kind
of explorer, in order that, from his report as to the disposition
manifested by the people for purchasing, I might form a tolerably
accurate opinion as to the number of copies which it might be
necessary to carry with me. However, I heard nothing of him for a
fortnight, at the end of which period a letter was brought to me by
a peasant, dated from the prison of Fuente la Higuera, a village
eight leagues from Madrid, in the Campina of Alcala: this letter,
written, by Victoriano, gave me to understand that he had been
already eight days imprisoned, and that unless I could find some
means to extricate him, there was every probability of his
remaining in durance until he should perish with hunger, which he
had no doubt would occur as soon as his money was exhausted. From
what I afterwards learned, it appeared that, after passing the town
of Alcala, he had commenced distributing, and with considerable
success. His entire stock consisted of sixty-one Testaments,
twenty-five of which he sold without the slightest difficulty or
interruption in the single village of Arganza; the poor labourers
showering blessings on his head for providing them with such good
books at an easy price.

Not more than eighteen of his books remained, when he turned off
the high road towards Fuente la Higuera. This place was already
tolerably well known to him, he having visited it of old, when he
travelled the country in the capacity of a vendor of cacharras or
earthen pans. He subsequently stated that he felt some misgiving
whilst on the way, as the village had invariably borne a bad
reputation. On his arrival, after having put up his cavallejo or
little pony at a posada, he proceeded to the alcalde for the
purpose of asking permission to sell the books, which that
dignitary immediately granted. He now entered a house and sold a
copy, and likewise a second. Emboldened by success, he entered a
third, which, it appeared, belonged to the barber-surgeon of the
village. This personage having just completed his dinner, was
seated in an arm chair within his doorway, when Victoriano made his
appearance. He was a man about thirty-five, of a savage truculent
countenance. On Victoriano's offering him a Testament, he took it
in his hand to examine it, but no sooner did his eyes glance over
the title-page than he burst out into a loud laugh, exclaiming:-
"Ha, ha, Don Jorge Borrow, the English heretic, we have encountered
you at last. Glory to the Virgin and the Saints! We have long
been expecting you here, and at length you are arrived." He then
inquired the price of the book, and on being told three reals, he
flung down two, and rushed out of the house with the Testament in
his hand.

Victoriano now became alarmed, and determined upon leaving the
place as soon as possible. He therefore hurried back to the
posada, and having paid for the barley which his pony had consumed,
went into the stable, and placing the packsaddle on the animal's
back, was about to lead it forth, when the alcalde of the village,
the surgeon, and twelve other men, some of whom were armed with
muskets, suddenly presented themselves. They instantly made
Victoriano prisoner, and after seizing the books and laying an
embargo on the pony, proceeded amidst much abuse to drag the
captive to what they denominated their prison, a low damp apartment
with a little grated window, where they locked him up and left him.

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