By-Ways of Europe: The Republic of the Pyrenees

THERE are remote, forgotten corners of history, as there are of geography. When Halévy brought out his opera, Le Val d'Andorre, the name meant no more to the most of those who heard it than the Valley of Rasselas to our ears, — a sound, locating a fiction. But the critic, who must seem to know everything, opened one of his lexicons, and discovered that Andorra was an actual valley, buried in the heart of the Pyrenees. Furthermore, he learned, for the first time, that its territory was an independent republic, preserved intact since the days of Charlemagne ; that both France and Spain, incredible as the fact may appear, have always scrupulously respected the rights granted to its inhabitants more than a thousand years ago. While the existence of every other state has in turn been menaced, while hundreds of treaties have been made only to be broken, here is a place where, like the castle of the Sleeping Beauty, time has stood still, and History shut up her annals.

Napoleon, when a deputation from the little republic visited him in Paris, said : "I have heard of this Andorra, and have purposely abstained from touching it, because I think it ought to be preserved as a political curiosity.” Louis Philippe, thirty years later, exclaimed: " What! Is it possible that I have a neighbor whose name I never heard before?” I suspect that the name of Andorra on the excellent German maps, which overlook nothing, was the first indication of the existence of the state to the most of those who are now acquainted with it. It was so in my case. From noting its position, and seeing its contracted boundaries, so carefully marked out, I went further, and picked up what fragments of information could be found in French and German geographical works. These were sufficiently curious to inspire me with the design of visiting the valley.

On reaching Urgel, in the Spanish Pyrenees, I was within a league of the Andorran frontier. My way thither lay through the deep gorge out of which the river Valira issues, on its way to the Segre. The bald, snowstreaked summits in the north belonged to the territory of the republic, but whatever of life and labor it contained was buried out of sight in their breast. Nevertheless, the vague and sometimes threatening reports of the people which had reached me at a distance here vanished. Everybody knew Andorra, and spoke well of it. I had some difficulty in finding a horse, which the landlord declared was on account of the unpractical shape and weight of my valise ; but, when I proposed going on foot, an animal was instantly produced. The arrieros could not let a good bargain slip out of their hands.

It was a wonderful morning in midJune. The shadow of the Pyrenees still lay cool upon the broad basin of Urgel ; but the brown ramparts of Castel Ciudad on the rocks, and all the western heights, sparkled in sunshine. I found a nimble mountain pony waiting for me at the door of the inn, and Julian, my guide, a handsome fellow of twenty, in rusty velvet jacket and breeches, and scarlet Phrygian cap. A skin as brown as an Arab’s ; an eye full of inexpressible melancholy ; a grave, silent, but not gloomy nature, —all these had Julian; yet he was the very companion for such a journey. He strode from the gate of Urgel with a firm, elastic step, and I followed through the gray olive orchards across the plain. The lower terraces of the mountain were silvery with the olive ; but when the path turned into the gorge of the Valira, the landscape instantly changed. On one side rose a rocky wall; on the other, meadows of blossoming grass, divided by thickets of alder and willow, slanted down to the rapid stream, the noise of which could scarcely be heard for the songs of the nightingales. Features like these, simple as they may seem, sometimes have a singular power to warm one’s anticipations of what lies beyond. There is a promise in certain scenery ; wherein it exists I cannot tell, but I have felt it frequently, and have never yet been disappointed.

After I had threaded the gorge for two miles, it expanded into a narrow valley, where the little Spanish village of Arcaccl lay huddled among the meadows. Beyond it, the mountains closed together again, forming an almost impassable canon, along the sides of which the path was laboriously notched. There were a great many people abroad, and Julian was obliged to go in advance, and select spots where my horse could pass their mules without one or the other being pushed into the abyss below. Some of those I met were probably Andorrans, but I found as yet no peculiarities of face or costume. This is the only road from Spain into the republic, and is very rarely, if ever, traversed by a foreign tourist. The few persons who have visited Andorra, made their way into the valley from the side of France.

As I rode forward, looking out, from time to time, for some mark which would indicate the frontier, I recalled what little I had learned of the origin of the republic. There is not much which the most patient historian could establish as positive fact; but the traditions of the people and the few records which they have allowed to be published run nearly parallel, and are probably as exact as most of the history of the ninth century. On one point all the accounts agree,—that the independence of the valley sprang indirectly from the struggle between the Franks and Saracens. When the latter possessed themselves of the Peninsula, in the beginning of the eighth century, a remnant of the Visigoths took refuge in this valley, whence, later, they sent to Charlemagne, imploring assistance. After Catalonia had been reconquered, the Emperor— so runs the popular tradition— gave them the valley as a reward for their bravery in battle. The more probable account is, that Charlemagne sent his son, Louis le Débonnaire, who followed the last remnants of the Saracen army up the gorge of the Valira, and defeated them on the spot where the town of Andorra now stands. After the victory, he gave the valley to certain of his soldiers, releasing them from all allegiance except to himself. This was in the year 805. What is called the “ Charter of Charlemagne,” by some of the French writers, is evidently this grant of his son.

Within the following century, however, certain difficulties arose, which disturbed the inhabitants of the little state less than their powerful neighbors. Charlemagne had previously given, it appears, the tithes of all the region to Possidonius, Bishop of Urgel, and the latter insisted on retaining his right. Moreover, Charles the Bald, in 843, presented to Siegfrid, Count of Urgel, the right of sovereignty over Andorra, which Louis le Débonnaire had reserved for himself and his successors. Thus the spiritual and temporal lords of Urgel came in direct conflict, and the question remained undecided for two centuries ; the Andorrans, meanwhile, quietly attending to their own affairs, and consolidating the simple framework of their government. Finally, at the consecration of the Cathedral of Urgel, in the year 1040, the widowed Countess Constance publicly placed the sovereignty claimed by her house in the hands of Bishop Heribald. (How curious it seems, to find the name of Garibaldi occurring in this obscure history !) But this gift of Constance was not respected by her successors, and the trouble broke out anew in the following century. We have but a meagre chain of detached incidents, yet what passion, what intrigue, what priestly thirst of power and jealous resistance on the part of the nobles are suggested, as we follow the scanty record ! The Bishop of Urgel triumphs to this day, as he reads the inscription over his palace-door : “ Princeps soberan del Valle de Andorra.”

At the end of the twelfth century, Arnold, Count of Castelbo, purchased certain privileges in the valley from Ermengol, Count of Urgel. The sale was resisted by the bishop, and a war ensued, in which the latter was defeated. Raymond-Roger, Count of Foix, was then called to aid the Episcopal cause ; his promised reward being a share in the sovereignty of Andorra, the territory of which bordered his own. Notwithstanding he was victorious, having taken and sacked the city of Urgel, he seems to have considered his claim to the reward still insecure. In the year 1202 he married his son and successor, Roger-Bernard 11., to the daughter and only child of the Count of Castelbo. Thus the Bishop of Urgel saw the assumption of sovereignty which he had resisted transferred to the powerful house of Foix. It is stated, however, that, in all the wars which followed, both parties refrained from touching the disputed territory, in order that the value of the revenue expected from it might not be diminished. The Andorrans themselves, though certainly not unconcerned, remained perfectly passive. The fastnesses of the Pyrenees on all sides of them resounded with the noise of war, while they, one generation after another, tended their flocks and cultivated their fields.

The quarrel (and it is almost the end of all history relating to Andorra) came to a close in the year 1278. RogerBernard III. of Foix, before the gates of Urgel, which must soon have yielded to him, accepted the proposal for an arbitration ; Don Pedro of Aragon having offered his name as security for the fulfilment of the terms which might be agreed upon. Two priests and four knights were the arbitrators; and the Pariatges (Partitions) which they declared on the 7th of September of the year already mentioned settled the question of the sovereignty of Andorra from that day to this. Its principal features were, that a slight tribute should be paid by the people, on alternate years, to the Counts of Foix and the Bishops of Urgel; and that certain officials of the Valley should, in like manner, be named alternately by the two parties. In all other, respects, the people were left free. The neutrality of their territory, which had been so marvellously preserved for four centuries and a half, was reaffirmed; and it has never since been violated. During the wars of Napoleon, a French army appeared on the frontiers of the republic with the intention of marching through it into Spain ; but on the judges and consuls representing to the commanding general the sacred neutrality of their valley, he turned about and chose another route.

The house of Foix became merged in that of Béarn, and the inheritance of the latter, in turn, passed into the hands of the Bourbons. Thus the crown of France succeeded to the right reserved by Louis le Débonnaire, and presented by Charles the Bald to Siegfrid, Count of Urgel. The Andorrans, who look upon their original charter as did the Hebrews on their Ark of the Covenant, consider that the Pariatges are equally sanctioned by time and the favor of God; and, so far from feeling that the tribute is a sign of subjection, they consider that it really secures their independence. They therefore do not allow the revolutions, the change of dynasties which France has undergone, to change their relation to the governing power. They were filled with dismay, when, in 1793, the representative of the French Republic in Foix refused to accept the tribute, on the ground that it was a relic of the feudal system. For six or seven years thereafter they feared that the end of things was at hand ; but the establishment of the Empire, paradoxical as it may appear, secured to them their republic. They seem never to have considered that the refusal of the French authorities gave them a valid pretext to cease the further payment of the tribute.

This is the sum and substance of the history of Andorra. No one can help feeling that a wholly exceptional fortune has followed this handful of people. All other rights given by Charlemagne and his successors became waste paper long since : the Counts of Urgel, the houses of Foix and Béarn, have disappeared, and the Bourbons have ceased to reign in France, — yet the government of the little Republic preserves the same forms which were established in the ninth century, and the only relations which at present connect it with the outer world date from the year 1278. I endeavored to impress these facts upon my mind, as the gorge opened into a narrow green valley, blocked up in front by the Andorran mountains. I recalled that picturesque legend of the knight of the Middle Ages, who, penetrating into some remote nook of the Apennines, found a forgotten Roman city, where the people still kept their temples and laid their offerings on the altars of the gods. The day was exquisitely clear and sunny; the breezes of the Pyrenees blew away every speck of vapor from the mountains, but I saw everything softly through that veil which the imagination weaves for us.

Presently we came upon two or three low houses. At the door of the farthest two Spanish soldiers were standing, one of whom stepped forward when he saw me. A picture of delay, examination, bribery, rose in my mind. I assumed a condescending politeness, saluted the man gravely, and rode forward. To my great surprise no summons followed. I kept on my way without looking back, and in two minutes was out of Spain. Few travellers have ever left the kingdom so easily.

The features of the scenery remained the same, — narrow, slanting shelves of grass and grain, the Valira foaming below, and the great mountains of gray rock towering into the sky. In another half-hour I saw the little town of San Julian de Loria, one of the six municipalities of Andorra. As old and brown as Urgel or the villages along the Rio Segre, it was in no wise to be distinguished from them. The massive stone walls of the houses were nearly black ; the roofs of huge leaves of slate were covered with a red rust; and there were no signs that anything had been added or taken away from the place for centuries. As my horse clattered over the dirty paving-stones, mounting the one narrow, twisted street, the people came to the doors, and looked upon me with a grave curiosity. I imagined at once that they were different from the Catalans, notwithstanding they spoke the same dialect, and wore very nearly the same costume. The expression of their faces was more open and fearless ; a cheerful gravity marked their demeanor. I saw that they were both self-reliant and contented.

While Julian stopped to greet some of his friends, I rode into a very diminutive plaza, where some thirty or forty of the inhabitants were gossiping together. An old man, dressed in pale blue jacket and knee-breeches, with a red scarf around his waist, advanced to meet me, lifting his scarlet cap in salutation. “ This is no longer Spain ? ” I asked.

“ It is neither France nor Spain,” said he ; “ it is Andorra.”

“The Republic of Andorra?”

“ They call it so.”

“ I also am a citizen of a Republic,” I then said ; but, although his interest was evidently excited, he asked me no questions. The Andorran reserve is proverbial throughout Catalonia; and as I had already heard of it, I voluntarily gave as much information respecting myself as was necessary. A number of men, young and old, had by this time collected, and listened attentively. Those who spoke Spanish mingled in the conversation, which, on my part, was purposely guarded. Some degree of confidence, however, seemed to be already established. They told me that they were entirely satisfied with their form of government and their secluded life ; that they were poor, but much wealth would be of no service to them, and, moreover (which was true), that they were free because they were poor. When Julian appeared, he looked with surprise upon the friendly circle around me, but said nothing. It was still two hours to Andorra la Vella (Old Andorra), the capital, which I had decided to make my first resting-place ; so I said, “ Adios !”—all the men responding, “ Dios guarda! ”

Beyond the village I entered upon green meadow-land, shaded by grand walnut-trees, mounds of the richest foliage. The torrent of Aviña came down through a wild glen on the left, to join the Valira, and all the air vibrated with the sound of waters and the incessant songs of the nightingales. People from the high, unseen mountain farms and pasture-grounds met me on their way to San Julian; and their greeting was always “ God guard you ! ” —hinting of the days when travel was more insecure than now. When the mountains again contracted, and the path clung to the sides of upright mountain walls, Julian went in advance, and warned the coming muleteers. Vegetation ceased, except the stubborn clumps of box, which had fastened themselves in every crevice of the precipices ; and the nightingales, if any had ventured into the gloomy gorge, were silent. For an hour I followed its windings, steadily mounting all the while ; then the rocks began to lean away, the smell of flowering grass came back to the air, and I saw, by the breadth of blue sky opening ahead, that we were approaching the Valley of Andorra.

The first thing that met my eyes was a pretty pastoral picture. Some rills from the melting snows had been caught and turned into an irrigating canal, the banks of which were so overgrown with brambles and wild-flowers that it had become a natural stream. Under a gnarled, wide-armed ilex sat a father, with his two youngest children ; two older ones gathered flowers in the sun ; and the mother, with a basket in her hand, paused to look at me in the meadow below. The little ones laughed and shouted ; the father watched them with bright, happy eyes, and over and around them the birds sang without fear. And this is the land of smugglers and robbers! I thought. Turning in the saddle, I watched the group as long as it was visible.

When I set my face forward again, it was with a sudden catch of the breath and a cry of delight. The promise of the morning was fulfilled ; beautiful beyond anticipation was the landscape expanded before me. It was a valley six miles in length, completely walled in by immense mountains, the bases of which, withdrawn in the centre, left a level bed of meadows, nearly a mile broad, watered by the winding Valira. Terraces of grain, golden below, but still green above, climbed far up the slopes ; then forest and rock succeeded ; and finally the gray pinnacles, with snow in their crevices, stood mantled in their own shadows. Near the centre of the valley, on a singular rocky knoll, the old houses and square tower of Andorra were perched, as if watching over the scene. In front, where the river issued from a tremendous split between two interlocking mountains, I could barely distinguish the houses of Escaldas from the cliffs to which they clung. Nothing could be simpler and grander than the large outlines of the scene, nothing lovelier than its minuter features,—so wonderfully suggesting both the garden and the wilderness, the fresh green of the North and the hoary hues and antique forms of the South. Brimming with sunshine and steeped in delicious odors, the valley — after the long, darkgorge I had threaded — seemed to flash and sparkle with a light unknown to other lands.

Shall I ever forget the last three miles of my journey ? Crystal waters rushed and murmured beside my path ; great twisted ilex-trees sprang from the masses of rock ; mounds of snowy eglantine or purple clematis crowned the cliffs or hung from them like folded curtains ; and the dark shadows of walnut and poplar lay upon the lush fields of grass and flowers. The nightingale and thrush sang on the earth, and the lark in the air; and even the melancholy chant of the young farmer in his field seemed to be only that soft undercurrent of sadness which was needed to make the brightness and joy of the landscape complete.

Climbing the rocks to the capital, I was pleasantly surprised to see the sign “ Hostal ” before I had made more than two turns of the winding street. The English guides, both for France and Spain, advise the adventurous tourist who wishes to visit Andorra to take his provender with him, since nothing can be had in the valley. A friendly host came to the door, and welcomed me. Dinner, he said, would be ready in an hour and a half; but the appearance of the cheerful kitchen into which I was ushered so provoked my already ravenous hunger that an omelette was made instantly, and Julian and I shared it between us. An upper room, containing a coarse but clean bed, which barely found room for itself in a wilderness of saddles and harness, was given to me, and I straightway found myself at home in Andorra. So much for guide-books !

I went forth to look at the little capital before dinner. Its population is less than one thousand ; the houses are built of rudely broken stones of schist or granite, and roofed with large sheets of slate. The streets seem to have been originally located where the surface of the rock rendered them possible ; but there are few of them, and what the place has to show may be speedily found. I felt at once the simple, friendly, hospitable character of the people : they saluted me as naturally and genially as if I had been an old acquaintance. Before I had rambled many minutes, I found myself before the Casa del Vails, the House of Government. It is an ancient, cracked building, but when erected I could not ascertain. The front is simple and massive, with three irregular windows, and a large arched entrance, A tower at one corner threatens to fall from want of repair. Over the door is the inscription: "Domus consilii, sedes justitiæ.” There is also a marble shield, containing the arms of the Republic, and apparently inserted at a more recent date. The shield is quartered with the mitre and crosier of the Bishop of Urgel, the four crimson bars of Catalonia, the three bars on an azure field of Foix, and the cows of Béarn. Under the shield is sculptured the Latin verse :

“ Suspice : sunt vallis neutrius stemmata : sunt que
Regna, quibus gaudent nobiliora tegi :
Singula si populos alios, Andorra, beabunt,
Quidni juncta ferent aurea secla tibi ! ”

I suspect, although I have no authority for saying so, that this verse comes from Fiter, the only scholar Andorra ever produced, who flourished in the beginning of the last century. The ground-floor of the building consists of stables, where the members of the council lodge their horses when they meet officially. A tumbling staircase leads to the second story, which is the council-hall, containing a table and three chairs on a raised platform, a picture of Christ between the windows, and oaken benches around the walls. The great object of interest, however, is a massive chest, built into the wall, and closed with six strong iron locks, connected by a chain. This contains the archives of Andorra, including, as the people devoutly believe, the original charters of Charlemagne and Louis le Débonnaire. Each consul of the six parishes is intrusted with the keeping of one key, and the chest can only be opened when all six are present. It would be quite impossible for a stranger to get a sight of the contents. The archives are said to be written on sheets of lead, on palm-leaves, on parchment, or on paper, according to the age from which they date. The chest also contains the “ Politar,” or Annals of Andorra, with a digest of the laws, compiled by the scholar Fiter. The government did not allow the work to be published, but there is another manuscript copy in the possession of the Bishop of Urgel.

I climbed the huge mass of rock behind the building, and sat down upon its crest to enjoy the grand, sunny picture of the valley. The mingled beauty and majesty of the landscape charmed me into a day-dream, in which the old, ever-recurring question was lazily pondered, whether or not this plain, secluded, ignorant life was the happiest lot of man. But the influences of the place were too sweet and soothing for earnest thought, and a clock striking noon recalled me to the fact that a meal was ready in the hostal. The host sat down to the table with Julian and myself, and the spout of the big-bellied Catalonian bottle overhung our mouths in succession. We had a rough but satisfactory dinner, during which I told the host who I was and why I came, thereby winning his confidence to such an extent that he presently brought me an old, dirty Spanish pamphlet, saying, “ You may read this.”

Seeing that it was a brief and curious account of Andorra, I asked, “ Cannot I buy this or another copy ? ”

“ No,” he answered ; “it is not to be bought. You can read it; but you must give it to me again,”

I selected a dark corner of the kitchen, lit my cigar, and read, making rapid notes when I was not observed. The author was a nephew of one of the bishops of Urgel, and professed to have seen with his own eyes the charter of Louis le Débonnaire. That king, he stated, defeated the Saracens on the plain towards Escaldas, where the western branch of the Valira comes down from the valley of Ordino. Before the battle, a passage from the Book of Kings came into his mind: “ Endor, over against Mount Tabor, where the children of Israel, preparing for war against the heathen, pitched their camp ” ; and after the victory he gave the valley the name of Endor, whence Andorra. The resemblance, the author innocently remarks, is indeed wonderful. In both places there are high mountains ; the same kinds of trees grow (!); a river flows through each ; there are lions and leopards in Endor, and bears and wolves in Andorra! He then gives the following quotation from the charter, which was written in Latin: “The men who actually live in this country are Licindo, Laurentio, Obaronio, Antimirio, Guirinio, Suessonio, Barrulio, rustic laborers, and many others.” Louis le Débonnaire returned to France by the present Porte de Fontargente, where, on the summit of the Pyrenees, he caused a chain to be stretched from rock to rock. The holes drilled for the staples of the rings are still to be seen, the people say.

When I had finished the book, I went out again, and in the shade of a willow in the meadow below made a rough sketch of the town and the lofty Mont Anclar (mons clavus) behind it. As I returned, the lower part of the valley offered such lovely breadths of light and shade that I sought a place among the tangle of houses and rocks to make a second drawing. The women, with their children around them, sat at their doors, knitting and chatting. One cried out to another, as I took my seat on the ground, “Why don’t you bring a chair for the cavalier ? ” The chair was brought immediately, and the children gathered around, watching my movements. The mothers kept them in good order, every now and then crying out, “ Don’t go too near, and don't stand in front! ” Among themselves they talked freely about me ; but, as they asked no questions, I finally said, “ I understand you ; if you will ask, I will answer,” —whereupon they laughed and were silent.

I have already said that reserve is a marked characteristic of the Andorrans. No doubt it sprang originally from their consciousness of their weakness, and their fear to lose their inherited privileges by betraying too much about themselves. When one of them is questioned upon a point concerning which he thinks it best to be silent, he assumes a stupid expression of face, and appears not to understand. That afternoon a man came to me in the inn, produced a rich specimen of galena, and said, “ Da you know what that is ? ” “ Certainly,” I answered; “ it is the ore of lead. Where did you get it ? ” He put it in his pocket, looked up at the sky, and said, “ What fine weather we have ! ” It is known that there is much

lead in the mountains, yet the mines have never been worked. The people say, “ We must keep poor, as our fathers have been. If we become rich, the French will want our lead and the Spaniards our silver, and then one or the other will rob us of our independence.”

So well is this peculiarity of the inhabitants understood, that in Catalonia to assume ignorance is called “ to play the Andorran.” A student from the frontier, on entering a Spanish theological seminary, was called upon to translate the New Testament. When he came to the words, “Jesus autem tacebat,” he rendered them, in perfect good faith, “Jesus played the Andorran.” For the same reason, the hospitality of the people is of a passive rather than of an active character. The stranger may enter any house in the valley, take his seat at the family board, and sleep under the shelter ot the roof; he is free to come and go ; no questions are asked, although voluntary information is always gladly received. They would be scarcely human if it wera not so.

The principal features of the system of government which these people have adopted may be easily described. They have no written code of laws, the Politar being only a collection of precedents in certain cases, accessible to the consuls and judges, and to them alone. When we come to examine the modes in which they are governed,—procedures which, based on long custom, have all the force of law, — we find a singular mixture of the elements of democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy. The sovereignty of France and the Bishop of Urgel is acknowledged in the appointment of the two viguiers (vicarii), who, it is true, are natives of the valley, and devoted to its interests. In all other respects the forms are democratic ; but the circumstance that the officials are unpaid, that they must be married, and that they must be members of families in good repute, has gradually concentrated the government in the hands of a small number of families, by whom it is virtually inherited. Moreover, the law of primogeniture prevails to the fullest extent, still further lessening the number of qualified persons.

The Republic consists of six communes, or parishes, each of which elects two consuls and two councillors, whose term of service is four years ; one official of each class being elected every two years. There is no restriction of the right of suffrage. The twenty-four officials form the deliberative body, or Grand Council, who alone have the power of electing the Syndic, the executive head of the government. He is chosen for life ; he presides over the Council, and carries its decisions into effect, yet is responsible to it for his actions. Only half the Council being chosen at one time, the disadvantage of having an entirely new set of men suddenly placed in office is obviated. The arrangement, in fact, is the same which we have adopted in regard to the election of United States Senators.

The consuls, in addition, have their municipal duties. Each one names ten petty magistrates, called decurions, whose functions are not much more important than those of our constables. They simply preserve order, and assist in bringing offences to light. All the persons of property, or who exercise some useful mechanical art, form what is called the Parish Council, whose business it is to raise the proportionate share of the tribute, to apportion the pastures, fix the amount of wood to be sold (part of the revenue of Andorra being derived from the forests), and to regulate all ordinary local matters. These councils, of course, are self-existing ; every person who is not poor and insignificant taking his place naturally in them. No one can be chosen as consul who is under thirty years of age, who has not been married, who is blind, deaf, deformed, or epileptic, who is addicted to drink, or who has committed any offence against the laws.

The functions of the parish councils and the Grand Council of the Republic are carefully separated. The former have charge of inns, forges, bakeries, weaving, and the building of dwelling-houses; the latter has control of the forests, the ways of communication, the chase, the fisheries, the finances, and the building of all edifices of a public character. It has five sessions a year. Its members are not paid, but they are lodged and fed, during these sessions, at the public expense. Each parish owns two double-beds in the upper story of the Casa del Valls at Andorra ; in each bed sleep two consuls or two councillors. There is a kitchen, with an enormous pot, in which their frugal meals are cooked, and a dining-room in which they are served. Formerly their sessions were held in the churchyard, among the tombs, as if to render them more solemnly impressive ; but this practice has long been discontinued.

The expenses of the state, one will readily guess, must be very slight. The tribute paid to France is nineteen hundred and twenty francs ; that to the Bishop of Urgel, eight hundred and forty-two francs, — an average of two hundred and seventy-five dollars per annum. The direct tax is five cents annually for each person ; but a moderate revenue is derived from the sale of wood and charcoal, and the rent of pastures on the northern slope of the Pyrenees. Import, export, and excise duties, licenses, and stamps are unknown, although, in civil cases, certain moderate fees are established. The right of tithes, given by Charlemagne to Possidonius, remains in force ; but they are generally paid in kind ; and in return the Bishop of Urgel, who appoints the priests, contributes to their support. The vicars, of whom there is one to each parish, are paid by the government. The inhabitants are without exception devout Catholics, yet it is probably ancient custom, rather than the influence of the priests, which makes them indifferent to education. The schools are so few that they hardly deserve to be mentioned. Only one man in a hundred, and one woman in five hundred, can read and write.

The two viguiers, one of whom is named by France and the other by the Bishop of Urgel, exercise the functions of judges. They are the representatives of the two sovereign powers, and their office is therefore surrounded with every mark of respect. Although nominally of equal authority, their activity is in reality very unequally divided. Usually some prominent official of the Départment de l’Ariége is named on the part of France, and contents himself with an annual visit to the valley. The Bishop, on the other hand, always names a native Andorran, who resides among the people, and performs the duties of both viguiers. When a new viguier is appointed, he must be solemnly installed at the capital. The members of the Grand Council then appear in their official costume,—a long surtout of black cloth, with crimson facings, a red shawl around the waist, gray knee-breeches, sky blue stockings, and shoes with silver buckles. The Syndic of the Republic wears a crimson mantle ; but the viguier is dressed in black, with a sword, cocked hat, and gold-headed staff. As the tribute paid to France is much larger than that paid to the Bishop, the people have voluntarily added to the latter a Christmas offering of the twelve best hams, the twelve richest cheeses, and the twelve fattest capons to be found in the six parishes.

The sovereign powers have two other representatives in addition to the viguiers. These are the batlles, (bailes, bailiffs ?) who are chosen from a list of six persons selected by the Grand Council. Their principal duty is to hear and decide, in the first instance, all civil and criminal cases, except those which the government specially reserves for its own judgment. The batlles, however, are called upon to prevent, rather than solve litigation. When a case occurs, they first endeavor to reconcile the parties, or substitute a private arbitration. If that fails, the case is considered ; and, after the help of God is solemnly invoked, judgment is pronounced. Where the dispute involves a delicate or doubtful point, the batlle consults separately the three men of best character and most familiar with the laws who are to be found in the parish, and decides as the judgment of two of them may coincide. It rarely happens that any serious lawsuit occurs, or that any capital crime is committed. The morals of the people are guarded with equal care ; any slip from chastity is quietly looked after by the priests and officials, and the parties, if possible, legally united.

The more important cases, or appeals from the decision of the batlles, come before the Supreme Tribunal of justice, which is composed of the two viguiers, a judge of appeal (chosen to give the casting vote when there is a difference of opinion between the viguiers), a government prosecutor, and two rahonadors (pleaders) chosen for the defence by the Grand Council. This tribunal has the power to pronounce a capital sentence, which is then carried out by an executioner brought either from France or Spain.

The army, if it may be called such, consists of six hundred men, or one from each family. They are divided into six companies, according to the parishes, with a captain for each ; the decurions acting as subaltern officers. The only special duty imposed upon them, beyond the occasional escort and guard of prisoners, is an annual review by the viguiers and the Grand Council, which takes place on the meadow below Andorra. The officials are seated in state around a large table, upon which a muster-roll of the army is laid. When the first name is read, the soldier to whom it belongs steps forward, discharges his musket in the air, then advances to the table and exhibits his ammunition, which must consist of a pound of powder, twenty-four balls, and as many caps. Each man is called in turn, until the whole six hundred have been thus reviewed.

Such is an outline of the mode of government and the forms of judicial procedure in this little Republic. I have not thought it necessary to add the more minute details which grow naturally out of the peculiarities already described. Two things will strike the reader : first, the sufficiency of the system, quaint and singular as it may be in. some respects, to the needs of the people ; secondly, the skill with which they have reconciled the conditions imposed upon them by the Pariatges, in 1278, with the structure of government they had already erected. For a people so ignorant, so remote from the movement of the world, and so precariously situated, their course has been directed by a rare wisdom. No people value independence more ; they have held it, with fear and trembling, as a precious gift ; and for a thousand years they have taken no single step which did not tend to secure them in its possession.

According to the host’s volume, the population of the towns is as follows : Andorra, 850 inhabitants ; San Julian de Loria, 620 ; Encamp, 520; Canillo, 630; Ordino, 750, and Massana, 700. The population of the smaller hamlets, and the scattered houses of the farmers and herdsmen, will probably amount to about as many more, which would give eight thousand persons as the entire population of the state. I believe this estimate to be very nearly correct. It is a singular circumstance, that the number has not materially changed for centuries. Emigration from the valley has been rare until recent times ; the climate is healthy ; the people an active, vigorous race; and there must be some unusual cause for this lack of increase. A young man, a native of the parish of Ordino, with whom I had a long conversation in the evening, gave me some information upon this point. The life of families in Andorra is still regulated on the old patriarchal plan. The landed property descends to the oldest son or daughter, or, in default of direct issue, to the nearest relative. This, indeed, is not the law, which gives only a third to the chief inheritor, and divides the remainder equally among the other members of the family. But it has become a custom stronger than law — a custom which is now never violated — to preserve the old possessions intact. The caps, or heads of families, are held in such high estimation, that all other family and even personal rights are subordinate to theirs. They are rich and respected, while the younger brothers and sisters, who, by this arrangement, may be left too poor to marry, cheerfully accept a life of celibacy. “ I am a younger son,” said my informant; “but I have been able to marry because I went down into Catalonia, entered into business, and made some money.” When a daughter inherits, she is required to marry the nearest relative permitted by canonical law, who takes her family name and perpetuates it.

In the course of centuries, however, the principal families have become so inter-related that their interests frequently require marriages within the prohibited degrees. In this case the Andorran undertakes a journey to Rome, to procure a special dispensation from the Pope. He is generally the representative of other parties, similarly situated, who assist in defraying the expenses of the journey. After a collective dispensation has been issued, all the marriages must be celebrated by proxy, — the Andorran and a Roman woman who is paid for the service representing, in turn, each bridal pair at home. The latter must afterwards perform public penance in church, kneeling apart from the other worshippers, with lighted tapers in their hands and ashes upon their heads.

Owing to the strictness of these domestic laws, the remarkable habit of self-control among the people, and the careful guard over their morals exercised by the officials, they have become naturally virtuous, and hence great freedom of social intercourse is permitted among the sexes. Their sports and pleasures are characterized by a pastoral simplicity and temperance. Excesses are very rare because all ages and classes of both sexes meet together, and the presence of the priests and caps grossos (chief men) acts as a check upon the young men. At the festival of some patron saint of the valley, mass in the chapel is followed by a festive meal in the open air, after which the priest himself gives the signal for the dances to commence. The lads and lasses then assemble on a smooth piece of turf, where the sounds of bagpipe and tambourine set their feet in motion. The old people are not always gossiping spectators, speculating on the couples that move before them in the rude, wild dances of the mountains ; they often enter the lists, and hold their ground with the youngest.

Thus, in spite of acquired reserve and predetermined poverty, the life of the Andorrans has its poetical side. The Republic has produced one historian (perhaps I should say compiler), but no author ; and only Love, the source and soul of Art, keeps alive a habit of improvisation in the young, which they appear to lose as they grow older. During Carnival, a number of young men in the villages assemble under the balcony of some chosen girl, and praise, in turn, in words improvised to a familiar melody, her charms of person and of character. When this trial of the Minnesingers begins to lag for want of words or ideas, the girl makes her appearance on the balcony, and with a cord lets down to her admirers a basket containing cakes of her own baking, bottles of wine, and sausages. Before Easter, the unmarried people make bets, which are won by whoever, on Easter morning, can first catch the other and cry out, “It is Easter, the eggs are mine ! ” Tricks, falsehoods, and deceptions of all kinds are permitted : the young man may even surprise the maiden in bed, if he can succeed in doing so. Afterwards they all assemble in public, relate their tricks, eat their Easter eggs, and finish the day with songs and dances.

Two ruling ideas have governed the Andorrans for centuries past, and seem to have existed independent of any special tradition. One is, that they must not become rich; the other, that no feature of their government must be changed. The former condition is certainly the more difficult of fulfilment, since they have had frequent opportunities of increasing their wealth. There is one family which, on account of the land that has fallen to it by inheritance, would be considered rich in any country ; half a dozen others possessing from twenty to thirty thousand dollars ; and a large number who are in comfortable circumstances simply because their needs are so few. I had heard that a party opposed to the old traditional ideas was growing up among the young men, but it was not so easy to obtain information on the subject. When I asked the gentleman from Ordino about it, he “ acted the Andorran,” — put on an expression of face almost idiotic, and talked of something else. He and two others with whom I conversed during the evening admitted, however, that a recent concession of the government (of which I shall presently speak) was the entering wedge by which change would probably come upon the hitherto changeless Republic.

With the exception of this incommunicativeness,— in itself rather an interesting feature,—no people could have been more kind and friendly. When I went to bed among the saddles and harness in the little room, I no longer felt that I was a stranger in the place. All that I had heard of the hospitality of the people seemed to be verified by their demeanor. I remembered how faithfully they had asserted the neutrality of their territory in behalf of political exiles from France and Spain. General Cabrera, Armand Carrel, and Ferdinand Flocon have at different times found a refuge among them. Although the government reserves the right to prohibit residence to any person whose presence may threaten the peace of the valley, I have not heard that the right was ever exercised. Andorra has been an ark of safety to strangers, as well as an inviolate home of freedom to its own inhabitants.

Julian called me at four o’clock, to resume our journey up the valley ; and the host made a cup of chocolate while my horse was being saddled. Then I rode forth into the clear, cold air, which the sun of the Pyrenees had not yet warmed. The town is between three and four thousand feet above the sea, and the limit of the olive-tree is found in one of its sheltered gardens. As I issued from the houses, and took a rugged path along the base of Mont Anclar, the village of Escaldas and the great gorge in front lay in a cold, broad mantle of shadow, while the valley was filled to its topmost brims with splendid sunshine. I looked between the stems of giant ilexes upon the battle-field of Louis le Débonnaire. Then came a yawning chasm, down which foamed the western branch of the Valira, coming from an upper valley in which lie the parishes of Ordino and Massana. The two valleys thus form a Y, giving the territory of Andorra a rough triangular shape, about forty miles in length,—its base, some thirty miles in breadth, overlapping the Pyrenees, and its point nearly touching the Rio Segre, at Urgel.

A bridge of a single arch spanned the chasm, the bottom of which was filled with tumbling foam ; while every ledge of rock, above and below, was draped with eglantine, wild fig, clematis, and ivy. Thence, onward towards Escaldas, my path lay between huge masses which had fallen from the steeps, and bowers completely snowed over with white roses, wherein the nightingales were just beginning to awaken. Then, one by one, the brown houses above me clung like nests to the rocks, with little gardens hanging on seemingly inaccessible shelves. I entered the enfolding shadows, and, following the roar of waters, soon found myself at Escaldas, — a place as wonderfully picturesque as Ronda or Tivoli, directly under the tremendous perpendicular walls of the gorge ; the arrowy Valira sweeping the foundations of the houses on one side, while the dark masses of rock crowded against and separated them on the other. From the edge of the river, and between the thick foliage of ilex and box behind the houses, rose thin columns of steam, marking the hot springs whence the place (aguas caldas) was named.

Crossing the river, I halted at the first of these springs, and took a drink. Some old people who collected informed me that there were ten in all, besides a number of cold mineral fountains, furnishing nine different kinds of water, — all of which, they said, possessed wonderful healing properties. There were both iron and sulphur in that which I tasted. A little farther, a rude fulling-mill was at work in the open air; and in a forge on the other side of the road three blacksmiths were working the native iron of the mountains. A second and third hot spring followed ; then a fourth, in which a number of women were washing clothes.

All this in the midst of a chaos of rock, water, and foliage.

These springs of Escaldas have led to the concession which the Andorrans described to me as opening a new, and, I fear, not very fortunate, phase of their history. The exploiters of the gambling interest of France, on the point of being driven from Wiesbaden, Hamburg, and Baden-Baden, ransacked Europe for a point where they might at the same time ply their business and attract the fashionable world. They detected Andorra ; and by the most consummate diplomacy they have succeeded in allaying the suspicions of the government, in neutralizing the power of its ancient policy, and in acquiring privileges which, harmless as they seem, may in time wholly subvert the old order of things. It is impossible that this result could have been accomplished unless a party of progress, the existence of which has been hinted, has really grown up among the people. The French speculators, I am told, undertake to build a carriage-road across the Pyrenees ; to erect bathingestablishments and hotels on a magnificent scale at Escaldas, and to conduct the latter, under the direction of the authorities of Andorra, for a period of forty years, at the end of which time the latter shall be placed in possession of the roads, buildings, and all other improvements. The expense of the undertaking is estimated at ten millions of francs. A theatre and a bank (faro ?) are among the features of the speculation. Meanwhile, until the carriage-road shall be built, temporary hotels and gaming-houses are to be erected in the valley of the Ariége, on the French side of the Pyrenees, but within the territory belonging to Andorra.

I do not consider it as by any means certain that the plan will be carried out; but if it should be, the first step towards the annexation of Andorra to France will have been taken. In any case, I am glad to have visited the Republic while it is yet shut from the world.

Behind Escaldas an affluent of the Valira dashed down the mountain on the right, breaking the rich masses of foliage with silver gleams. I halted on the summit of the first rocky rampart, and turned to take a last view of the valley. What a picture! I stood in the deep shadow of the mountains, in the heart of a wilderness of rocks which towered out of evergreen verdure, and seemed to vibrate amidst the rush, the foam, and the thunder of streams. The houses of the village, clinging to and climbing the sides of the opening pass, made a dark frame, through which the green and gold of the splendid valley, drowned in sunshine, became, by the force of contrast, limpid and luminous as a picture of the air. The rocks and houses of Old Andorra and the tower of the house of government made the central point of the view ; dazzling meadows below and mountain terraces above basked in the faint prismatic lustre of the morning air. High up, in the rear of the crowning cliffs, I caught glimpses of Alpine pastures ; and on the right, far away, streaks of snow. It was a vision never to be forgotten : it was one of the few perfect landscapes of the world.

As the path rose in rapid zigzags beside the split through which the river pours, I came upon another busy village. In an open space among the rocks there were at least a hundred beehives, formed of segments of the hollowed trunks of trees. They stood in rows, eight or ten feet apart; and the swarms that continually came and went seemed to have their separate paths marked out in the air. They moved softly and swiftly through each other without entanglement. After passing the gateway of the Valira, the path still mounted, and finally crept along the side of a deep trough, curving eastward. There were fields on both slopes, wherever it was possible to create them. Here I encountered a body of road-makers, whom the French speculators had set to work. They were engaged in widening the bridlepath, so that carts might pass to Escaldas from the upper valleys of Encamp and Canillo. The rock was blasted on the upper side ; while, on the lower, workmen were basing the walls on projecting points of the precipice. In some places they hung over deep gulfs, adjusting the great masses of stone with equal skill and coolness.

In an hour the gorge opened upon the valley of Encamp, which is smaller, but quite as wild and grand in its features as that of Andorra. Here the fields of rye and barley were only beginning to grow yellow, the flowers were those of an earlier season, and the ilex and box alone remained of the southern trees and shrubs. Great thickets of the latter fringed the crags. A high rock on the left served as a pedestal for a church, with a tall, square belfry, which leaned so much from the perpendicular that it was not pleasant to ride under it. The village of Encamp occupied a position similar to that of Escaldas, at the farther end of the valley, and in the opening of another gorge, the sides of which are so closely interfolded that the river appears to issue out of the very heart of the mountain. It is a queer, dirty, mouldy old place. Even the immemorial rocks of the Pyrenees look new and fresh beside the dark rust of its walls. The people had mostly gone away to their fields and pastures ; only a few old men and women, and the youngest children, sunned themselves at the doors. The main street had been paved once, but the stones were now displaced, leaving pits of mud and filth. In one place the houses were built over it, forming dark, badly smelling arches, under which I was forced to ride.

The path beyond was terribly rough and difficult, climbing the precipices with many windings, until it reached a narrow ledge far above the bed of the gorge. There were frequent shrines along the way, at the most dangerous points ; and Julian, who walked ahead, always lifted his cap and muttered a prayer as he passed them. After three or four miles of such travel, I reached the church of Merichel, on an artificial platform, cut out of the almost perpendicular side of the mountain. This is the shrine of most repute in Andorra, and the goal of many a summer pilgrimage. Here the mass, the rustic banquet, and the dance draw old and young together from all parts of the Republic.

I climbed another height, following the eastern curve of the gorge, and finally saw the village of Canillo, the capital of one of the six parishes, lying below me, in the lap of a third valley. It had a brighter and fresher air than Encamp; the houses were larger and cleaner, and there were garden-plots about them. In this valley the grain was quite green ; the ilex had disappeared, making way for the poplar and willow, but the stubborn box still held its ground. In every bush on the banks of the Valira sat a nightingale; the little brown bird sings most lustily where the noise of water accompanies his song. I never saw him so fearless ; I could have touched many of the minstrels with my hand as I passed.

At Canillo I crossed the Valira, and thenceforward the path followed its western bank. This valley was closed, like all the others, by a pass cloven through the mountains. Upon one of the natural bastions guarding it there is an ancient tower, which the people say was built by the Saracens before the Frank conquest. The passage of the gorge which followed was less rugged than the preceding ones, — an indication of my approach to the summit of the Pyrenees. In following the Rio Segre and the Valira, I had traversed eight of those tremendous defiles, varying from one to six miles in length ; and the heart of the mountain region, where the signs of force and convulsion always diminish, was now attained. One picture on the way was so lovely that I stopped and drew it. In the centre of the valley, on a solitary rock, stood an ancient church and tower, golden-brown in the sun. On the right were mountains clothed with forests of pine and fir ; in the distance, fields of snow. All the cleared slopes were crimson with the Alpine-rose, a dwarf variety of rhododendron. Perfect sunshine covered the scene, and the purest of breezes blew over it. Here and there a grain-field clung to the crags, or found a place among their tumbled fragments, but no living being was to be seen.

The landscapes were now wholly northern, except the sun and sky. Aspens appeared on the heights, shivering among the steady pines. After a time I came to a point where there were two valleys, two streams, and two paths. Julian took the left, piloting me over grassy meadows, where the perfume from beds of daffodil was almost too powerful to breathe. On one side, all the mountain was golden with broom-flowers; on the other, a mass of fiery crimson, from the Alpine-rose. The valley was dotted with scattered cottages of the herdsmen, as in Switzerland. In front there were two snowy peaks, with a “ saddle ” between, — evidently one of the portes of the Pyrenees ; yet I saw no indications of the hamlet of Soldeu, which we must pass. Julian shouted to a herdsman, who told us we had taken, the wrong valley. The porte before us was that of Fontargente, across which Louis le Débonnaire stretched his chain on leaving Andorra.

We retraced our steps, and in half an hour reached Soldeu, in a high, bleak pasture-valley, where cultivation ceases. It is at least six thousand feet above the sea, and the vegetation is that of the high Alps. We were nearly famished, and, as there was no sign of a “ hostal,” entered the first house. The occupant, a woman, offered to give us what she had, but said that there was another family who made a business of entertaining travellers, and we would there be better served. We found the house, and truly, after waiting an hour, were refreshed by a surprising dinner of five courses. There was another guest, in the person of a French butcher from the little town of Hospitalet, in the valley of the Ariége. It was so cold that we all crowded about the kitchen fire. Two Andorrans came in, and sat down to the table with us. I have dined at stately entertainments where there was less grace and refinement among the company than the butcher and the two peasants exhibited. There was a dessert of roasted almonds and coffee (with a chasse); and after the meal we found the temperature of the air very mild and balmy.

Hospitalet being also my destination, I accepted the butcher’s company, and at one o’clock we set forth for the passage of the Pyrenees. On leaving Soldeu I saw the last willow, in which sat and sang the last nightingale. The path rose rapidly along the steep slopes of grass, with an amphitheatre of the highest summits around us. The forests sank out of sight in the glens; snow-fields multiplied far and near, sparkling in the thin air, and the scenery assumed a bleak, monotonous grandeur. I traced the Vaiira, now a mere thread, to its source in seven icy lakes, fed by the snow: in those lakes, said the butcher, are the finest trout of the Pyrenees. The Porte de Valira was immediately above us, on the left; a last hard pull up the steep, between beds of snow, and we stood on the summit.

The elevation of the pass is nearly eight thousand feet above the sea. On either hand you descry nothing but the irregular lines of the French and Spanish Pyrenees, rising and falling in receding planes of distance. Rocks, grass, and snow make up the scenery, which, nevertheless, impresses by its very simplicity and severity.

The descent into France is toilsome, but not dangerous. A mile or two below the crest we saw the fountain of the Ariége, at the base of a grand escarpment of rock. Thence for two hours we followed the descending trough of the river through bleak, grassy solitudes, uncheered by a single tree, or any sign of human life except the well-worn path. Finally the cottage of a grazing-farm came into view, but it was tenantless, — all the inhabitants having been overwhelmed by an avalanche three years ago. Then I discovered signs of a road high up on the opposite mountain, saw workmen scattered along it, and heard a volley of explosions. This was the new highway to Porte St. Louis and Puigcerdá. On a green meadow beside the river walked two gentlemen and two ladies in round hats and scarlet petticoats.

“ They are picking out a spot to build their gaming-houses upon,” said the butcher ; “ this is still Andorra.”

A mile farther there was a little bridge,— the Pont de Cerda. A hut, serving as a guard-house, leaned against the rocks, but the gens d'armes were asleep or absent, and I rode unquestioned into France. It was already sunset in the valley, and the houses of Hospitalet, glimmering through the shadows, were a welcome sight. Here was the beginning of highways and mail-coaches, the movement of the living world again. I supped and slept (not very comfortably, I must confess) in the house of my friend the butcher, said good by to Julian in the morning, and by noon was resting from my many fatigues in the best inn of Foix.

But henceforth the Valley of Andorra will be one of my enthusiasms.