MADRID is not a place to stimulate the imagination. There are great pictures besides those in the Royal Gallery, and show-palaces, and several sights which I have not enumerated; but the Naval Museum, with its relics and recollections of Spain’s glorious days of discovery and conquest, which link her history so closely with ours, and the Royal Armory are almost the only spots where one is tempted to linger and muse. The armory is a magnificent collection, and the first sight of it roots the traveler to the ground as he enters the lofty hall, nearly three hundred feet long, filled with a mute and motionless assemblage of mailed figures on foot and on horseback, amongst panoplies and trophies of armor, weapons, and banners. Those wooden counterfeits of knights and chargers bear the helmets and cuirasses of the Cid, of Ferdinand the Saint and Ferdinand the Catholic, of Columbus and Cortes and Pizarro, of Charles V., of Gonsalvo de Cordova, El gran Capitan, of the Duke of Alva. There is the history and the ballad poetry of Spain written in silver and gold and iron and steel, from the Visigothic crown, a rude golden circlet stuck full of uncut jewels, through centuries of elastic Toledo blades damascened like a satin robe, of Moorish scimitars frosted with filigree, of inlaid and embossed shields and breastplates of Italian quattro and cinque, cento workmanship (some of them no doubt designed by Benvenuto Cellini), of saddles and weapons for hunting and tilting, down to the sword of Ferdinand VII., which never knew blood. Much of the armor, even of the bravest, was not made for battle, but for parade. There is Charles V.’s splendid array, which he wears in his equestrian portrait by Titian; there is a rich and beautiful suit, chased and inlaid with gold and silver, worn by Columbus, probably when he came to lay the new-found world and its sample treasures at the feet of Leon and Castile; and there is a costly barbarous casque, with a fabulous beast by way of crest, which belonged to Don John of Austria. It is a boundless field for memory and fancy, as broad as the past and as indefinite as the future. It is not the great names of Europe only which are invoked in the review; the thought of our own poets and historians, of Irving, Prescott, Motley, Ticknor, of Longfellow and Lowell, recurs to the mind of their countryman with fond pride and almost importunate regret. But one remains of that illustrious band; will new names arise to lengthen the list hereafter ?
It is not without a pang that even a Cook’s Tourist turns his back on Madrid, for his time of grace would be short enough to devote to the picturegallery alone ; but Seville and Cordova are on his coupon-ticket, and the longest month has but thirty-one days. This consideration partly reconciles him to the inevitable night-journey, whereby he loses no daylight hours. On the 17th April, 1883, the first sleeping-car ran from Madrid to Seville. It was comfortable and clean with a brand-new cleanliness; every place was taken a week in advance, and through the livelong night every station platform was crowded with people come to see the curiosity. The 17th was the eve of a great annual fair at Seville, which gathers together all sorts of people—peasants from the villages, stock-breeders from Xeres and Cadiz, gypsies from the mountains, and fast fine folk from Madrid — to see the cattle-shows, the bullfights, and the horse-races. The train was full of representatives of the noblest names in the country, and the station at Seville thronged with their friends who had come to meet them : old ladies and gentlemen, pretty women in mantillas, with fans and fresh bouquets, children hopping and skipping with the excitement of an arrival. Coming to welcome or bid farewell is almost a canon of courtesy, and one of the pleasant, friendly native customs. This informal reception was the opening of a long gala. Our week in Seville was an unbroken holiday, which knew no stay or interruption, even during the moonlight nights. The acacias which border the principal streets hung full of milk-white clusters of bloom; the orange-trees in the courts and squares were full of blossoms ; the flat roofs were bordered with carnations, geraniums, heliotrope, and roses of every shade, forming a delicate manycolored cornice between the white walls and the blue sky ; in the narrow streets every doorway gave a glimpse of a pillared courtyard, with long-leaved tropical foliage, and oleanders, pomegranates, and gardenias flowering around a marble statue or fountain ; the air was balmy with their mingled fragrance. Every man had a flower in his hat, every woman had one in her hair, every horse and donkey had one at his ear. Our hotel, the Fonda de Madrid, is a very fine building, evidently an old palace, but we were unable to learn anything about its origin. The patio, or central courtyard, is almost a grove of palms and bananas wreathed with jessamine and climbing roses; it is surrounded by a marble colonnade of slender pillars with remarkably graceful capitals ; the second story, which is reached by a wide terra-cotta staircase inlaid with dark blue tiles, has a similar gallery, now inclosed to form corridors. Many of the rooms are fifty or sixty feet long and proportionately high, with huge, elaborately paneled folding-doors; the vestibule by which one enters the diningroom is wainscoted six feet high with beautiful old Moorish tiles. In the morning peasants station themselves under the colonnade with great open baskets curving outwards at each end, and bordered with a twisted rope of wicker which also forms the handle, full of crimson, white, pink and yellow roses ; in the evening the guests leave the hot table d’hôte to sit under the arcade and drink their coffee, smoke their cigars, eat oranges, and look at the fountain twinkling in the moonlight among the broad banana leaves, until the humor takes them to stroll out into the moonlit streets and squares. But if the traveler feels the indisposition to stir, the disposition to do nothing, which is the ruling passion of the Spaniard, and so potent an influence of the country that even strangers soon yield to it, he cannot do better than take his post on his little balcony, — every window has one, and large enough for an arm-chair,— and watch the ever-varying spectacle which passes under his eyes all day. The Fonda de Madrid stands on the Plaza de la Magdalena at the corner of two important streets, among the few in Seville through which two carriages can pass abreast, so that all the active life of the town circulates through these arteries for business or pleasure. From sunrise to sunset there is an unending procession, in which no two figures are alike, from the Andalusian peasant and his donkey to the Duchesse de Moutpensier with her four-in-hand. The noise begins at dawn, when peasants begin to pass with long lines of beasts of burden, bringing their wares to town. Everything which is carried in carts or wagons and sold in shops in America is hawked about on donkeys here. It would be impossible to enumerate even the classes of produce and merchandise which are carried in this manner, the narrowness of the streets practically prohibiting traffic on wheels. One of the most common is charcoal. A long train of donkeys laden with a huge panier of yellow matting on each side, filled with the dull black fuel and lightly covered with palm-branches or long sprays of boxwood, is a pretty sight; so is the shaggy brown or gray mule bedizened with an embroidered headband, with a load of golden oranges in hampers, and a well-built driver in short black velveteen jacket and breeches, with a red sash, leather gaiters, a broad - brimmed hat, and a cigarita in his mouth ; so is the handsome Andalusian peasant astride a big gray horse, half-hidden in violet and scarlet saddle-bags, fringed and tasseled, a blackhaired girl in a gay flowered shawl, with a head full of carnations, perched behind him clasping his waist. These are among the earliest arrivals ; then follow venders of milk, fresh eggs, cheese, fish, bread, each a separate industry, and a great many more. All day long women go by dressed as if to sit for their pictures, It is generally some cheap and simple combination which produces the effect: one of the most striking was a pink calico gown with one deep flounce, a long black shawl, and a bright pink rose stuck into a coil of blue-black plaits, on a head with heavy dark brows over eyes rimmed in thick black lashes; another was a salmon-colored Canton crape shawl, covering the wearer like a long cloak, leaving a glimpse of a black stuff dress, and this lady had a bunch of scarlet geraniums in her hair. A group of gypsies passed one day: a man with a blue fez-shaped cap, a loose gray jacket, and full blue Turkish trousers reaching only to the calf of the leg, followed by a woman so tall and muscular, so dark and fierce, so majestic and sibylline, that she might have posed for Meg Merrilies had it been possible to imagine her in English-speaking parts; but in a dark-red woolen petticoat and striped blanket for a cloak she was the true Zingara. A lithe lad of twelve or fourteen brought up the rear, in bright rags dulled by dirt: he was bronze-color, with wild black eyes and elf locks, and looked like a half-tamed animal. They did not speak to each other, nor look at each other, but marched along in single file, bound together oidy by their isolation from everybody else. Once a bleating made me look down, and I saw a Seville woman with a basket on her arm, evidently out on household errands, accompanied by a lamb, trotting at her side like a pet dog. Again, an enormous sheep went by, — a merino, I suppose, — with a long, thick, flaky fleece, bestridden by a baby boy two or three years old, his fat, brown legs sunk deep in the white wool; the peasant father and mother walked unconcernedly on either side, and the passers paid no heed to the pretty picture. The middle-class Sevillanas, like their whole order in Spain, are incorrigible slatterns, but by two o’clock in the afternoon every woman has dressed her hair carefully (sometimes in the old Andalusian fashion, parted at the side and braided, like the princesses who sat to Velasquez ; more often nowadays banged and frizzed and puffed), and stuck in a rose, carnation, or white or yellow flower, or a whole bunch of them. In addition to this she generally wears a mantilla of white or black lace or gauze, and unless she is very poor, a Canton crape shawl, that object of every common Spanish woman’s ambition. One sees every variety of them, —
Théophile Gautier says that he has three tests of the degree of a nation’s civilization, — its pottery, straw and wicker-work, and mode of harnessing; for civilized people cannot make jars, matting, or harness. Spain meets the three tests bravely, and better at each stage southward. The beautiful pottery of Andalusia is to be found only in a remote suburb of Seville, but the trappings of the beasts of burden will strike any stranger by their variety and taste, the first time he looks out of the window. There is no end to the caprices. In France and America there is an affectation of simplicity in these matters, the English standard being the only one recognized, and it is sensible enough for us who have no national or traditional fashions ; but it would be a pity if the Anglomania now prevalent in high Spanish society should banish the pretty harness and trappings of the provinces ; the most elegant equipages in Seville are those which preserve them, modified for utility’s sake. There were knowing tandem and unicorn teams, very well driven by the polios through the slits of streets or crowded parade of Las Delicias, and four-in-hand breaks and drags, worthy of Rotten Row on the annual muster of the Coaching Club. But there was far more real style about the harness which had not been stripped of all its finery, and the prettiest turnout of all was a sort of wagonette called break española (in contradistinction to the break inglesia), holding three on a side and two on the driver’s seat, with cushions, curtains, and a square standing-top of striped linen ; a coachman in Andalusian costume driving four mules, or a pair, or three abreast, with a collar of little silver bells, their head and shoulders covered with a network of worsted tassels of two colors, — green and gold, crimson and black, or blue and white, being the favorite combinations. They drive at a tearing pace, with a perpetual cracking of whips, but no lashing the beasts. The saddles and bridles are profusely stitched and embroidered; many horsemen use housings and saddlebags of buff leather thickly worked and fringed with scarlet and purple, and ornamented steel stirrups, which give the cavalier a most gay and gallant aspect even when, as usual, he is bent on business, and not on adventure. The Spaniard has a conscious attitude on horseback, as he also has when on his two legs, but his seat is as firm as an Englishman’s, and his hand, in general, much lighter. It is beautiful to see one of those heavy-looking horses checked at full gallop without being thrown on his haunches, or turned without a perceptible motion of the rider’s little finger, — no curb or snaffle to champ and froth at, the bit being replaced by a small strap round the nose. Every man in Spain rides, and nobody walks, and the saddlehorse is in requisition for business, pleasure, or traveling. Women seldom mount, except upon a pillion; a few ladies ride, some even hunt, but they are rare enough to be conspicuous. The universal brand on the horses in Spain is a great blemish for us, but not in their own country. Each of the great estates has its stock farm and famous breed, for which the brand is a voucher. The noble owners of these estates take great interest in the operations of cattle-raising, and at the time of the branding make a sport of holding the animal down during the process, and springing to its back as it starts to its feet and rushes away in agony.
The delights of the balcony and of doing nothing are so great that it required resolution to come down into the lively, motley crowd, which is always picturesque, never theatrical. If Burgos is the Spain of the sixteenth and seventeenth century painters, in Seville one finds the field of the contemporary school, Fortuny, Escosura, Pasini, and the rest. The brown of Velasquez vanishes before the light, gay tints of the houses, the gaudy harness, and the dress of the people ; black and the sober colors are mere points of contrast. Most of the streets are narrow, short, and crooked ; in driving across the town one seems to be executing a figure in cat’s-cradle; yet they are as light and cheerful as boulevards. The houses are of one pattern, two or three stories high, with flat roofs railed with iron, light balconies at every upper window, often painted green, the lower windows heavily barred, and deep arched doorways giving entrance to vestibules closed by an inner grating of graceful arabesque pattern, through which the flowers and foliage of the patio are visible. They are almost uniformly whitewashed; a pale yellow or blue front appears now and then at long intervals. There are no high walls to shut out the strong light which pervades places untouched by the sunshine, pouring down from the cerulean sky, and reflected by the universal whitewash so powerfully as almost to obliterate shadow ; there is a transparent blue or lilac penumbra on the sunless side of things, and that is all. Houses of the most modest pretensions have their little patio, where a large vase replaces the fountain, and some rows of flower-pots the garden. In the poorer quarters the vestibule and court are used as workshops, where the shoemaker or carpenter plies his craft, in view of the street. This is one of the many reminiscences of the East with which one meets in southern Spain : the principal dry-goods’ shop of Seville is reached by a passage too narrow for wheels, and is shut off from the street only by curtains and pillars, although within it is a prosaic place of buying and selling, with shelves and counters and civil shopmen. There is nothing remarkable in the architecture of the town : the beautiful windows and galleries of the remaining Moorish towers have been ruthlessly walled up; there are a few buildings and fragments in plateresque style, a sort of rococo in imitation of goldsmiths’ work, without a good architectural line ; here and there an open terra-cotta belfry or doorway inlaid with tiles and marble rises above the roofs ; the dark spires of cypress trees and plumes of palms lift themselves above the dusty squares ; the pale pink fretted shaft of the peerless Giralda, crowned by the triple tiara of its bell-tower, overlooks the looming mass of the cathedral. But there are none of those quaint and beautiful ancient bits which are seen in every old town of other European countries. It is the sky, the sunshine, the delicious climate, the light colors, the infinite variety of the street life, which make the attraction of Seville as a city.
The cathedral is a vast mountain of stone, incomplete and inchoate. As the stranger passes under the beautiful horseshoe arch of the Moorish gateway, a remnant of the ancient mosque, into the Court of Orange-Trees, and lifts his eyes to the unfinished south front, where huge stone joists jut out between two flamboyant jambs of immense height, its first effect is stupendous. On two other sides there are noble pointed Gothic doorways lined with scriptural figures of the most earnest and devout expression, in simple, graceful niches ; but the exterior of the building bears no examination, the earliest and latest styles, the purest and worst taste, are so jumbled and jostled together. On one side the view is obstructed by low projecting walls, equally useless and ugly, surmounted by rows of urns filled with flames in stone. The interior of the cathedral is overwhelming. In its vast, solemn spaces details disappear and are lost. There are famous legendary pictures; there are marvels of marble and wood-carving and wrought metal; the light sifts through a hundred painted windows, but it melts into the dimness of the immense sanctuary as our perceptions are absorbed by a sense of awe. The religious emotions and aspirations of centuries, the faith, the fervor, the submission, the sacred ecstasy, of twenty generations, fill the place like an atmosphere. It is dedicated not only to public worship and great church ceremonies, but to profound prayer and solitary meditation, to momentous vows and sublime self-sacrifice. The oftener one goes thither, the longer one tarries there, the deeper and more solemn is the impression, and the less can be said.
Emerging into the sunshine, warmth, and fragrance, and the view of the perfect, rosy-pale Giralda, slender, stately, and elegant in outline, and simple notwithstanding a profusion of exquisite ornament, one passes a stone pulpit in the cloister close to the sacristy door. Here St. Vincent Ferrer preached the autos da fé. It causes a terrible shock and revulsion to come upon such a monument in such a spot, and I hurried away to the chapter library to look for the mementos of Columbus which are sacredly guarded there. They were locked in a glass case, but it was easy to have it opened. The assistant librarian yielded to the plea, “ Soy Amerigano.” There lie the discolored chart and the ancient treatise on geography which he had with him in his cabin; there, written in a fair, current hand, is the Latin letter, filled with quotations from Scripture, which he addressed to Ferdinand and Isabella to justify the orthodoxy of his scientific theories against the Inquisition. I could not refrain from laying a reverent hand on the page where his hand had rested, and there was comfort in the thought that the same faith which inspired St. Vincent Ferrer to kindle the piles for heretics had strengthened and guided the noble heart of Columbus. The smiling librarian said that he never refused this privilege to Americans, and that they often kissed the manuscripts ; but the sight of the open case brought together the Spaniards who were lounging about the fine hall, and it was closed in haste. From the cathedral it is but a step to a long, arched carriage-way, beneath which is an old image of the Virgin, now enshrined in an ornate tabernacle, before which it is said that Columbus offered his last prayer on the eve of that fateful voyage, and his first thanksgiving on his triumphant return. The passage leads to a dusty quadrangle, on which stands the other great sight of Seville, the Alcazar, or palace of the Moorish kings, which has been a royal residence for every succeeding dynasty down to the ex-Queen Isabella, who was staying there at the time of my visit.
Alcazar, as the guide-books will tell you, means Al Kasr, the house of Cæsar, — that title which has passed through so many languages, ancient and modern, without losing its imperial significance. On three sides the external square is surrounded by common buildings of comparatively recent date, to judge by their appearance ; the fourth, although much altered and defaced, preserves its beautiful Moorish second story and main gateway. Within, in spite of the additions and alterations of successive ages and sovereigns, the memory of the Arab still reigns supreme; the traveler, to whom this is the first revelation of the East, stands bewildered and enchanted, doubting his eyes, and asking himself if it is a dream, or a waking vision of the Arabian Nights, or Solomon’s palace at Lebanon. It is more like an immaterial creation of fancy made visible in form and color by a magic spell than a structure of solid or tangible properties. I passed through many colonnades, courts, halls, and porches, and whatever their size they all had the same architectural characteristics, simplicity and symmetry of outline, with a prodigality of ornament on the flat surfaces. There is a constant tendency al fresco: one is always going out of doors into open galleries, or arcades, or inner courts, or inmost gardens, which are as much part of the abode as the roofed portions; they bring the sky and sunshine and air of heaven into the heart of the dwelling. The numerous courts have walls of the color and delicate richness of old point-lace. The finest of them is called the Hall of the Hundred Maidens, where, according to tradition, fifty rich girls and fifty poor ones, the most beautiful in the kingdom, were presented to the Moorish king, that he might choose his wives from among them. It is a beautiful parallelogram, about a hundred feet by seventy-five, with a fountain in the centre, open to the sky, paved with white marble, surrounded by a cloister and colonnade of twin pillars at equal distances, with a cluster at each corner, supporting scalloped horseshoe arches. The ivory tint of the outer walls contrasts felicitously with the lovely green, blue, and amber of the old tiled wainscot, and the pearl and turquoise of the modern restorations above the doorways and windows ; a soft, fawn color prevails in the ceilings and doors of the cloisters, relieved with turquoise-blue and touches of gold. The arms of the Spanish kings are inserted among this moresco-work. The proportion everywhere preserved in the decoration has much to do with the general charm of the building. The inner walls are divided into lateral compartments : the lower one, or wainscot, is from four to eight, feet wide, according to the height and size of the hall, and is covered with old Moorish enameled tiles, deep blue and green, like the dominant tones of nature, or violet-purple, or a combination resembling tortoise-shell, all of the richest, coolest, shades ; the next space is twice as wide, and is filled with arabesque designs in many-colored stucco, or a smooth layer of creamy whitewash of a tint and surface unknown to us in America; above this is a frieze of tiles as wide as the wainscot. The result of this distribution is most happy and harmonious. Some of the lower tiling looks like Indian matting, but catches and reflects the light in gleams of pearl and bronze, like the inside of sea-shells. The ceilings are extraordinarily rich : they are of dark cross-beams, carved as elaborately as Chinese fan handles, the spaces between wrought into rosettes or lozenges, brightened by gilding and gay colors. Some rooms are vaulted into a peculiar dome called the media naraja, or half orange, and the decoration of these is still more lavish. One ceiling is really of ebony and ivory, inlaid with gold and dark yet gem-like colors, a miracle of handiwork equal to an Indian casket. The doors and lattices, which are frequently open-work, are carved with the same delicacy ; and some of them being exactly the color of sandalwood, their resemblance to the precious carvings of Hindostan is complete. The methodical vagaries of the kaleidoscope alone can give a notion of the character of Moorish ornamentation. There is no ground of flat color to be detected. The design is a repetition of regular lines, as fantastic and delusive as frost-work ; the basis of them is a geometrical figure, but so involved in intricate and complex combinations as almost to defy analysis. An artist friend, who is familiar with the style, pointed out to me how often the whole pattern is changed by merely lengthening or shortening the central figure, and how a different distribution of colors on the same pattern produces an entirely new effect. Inscriptions in Arabic, the letters being beautifully modified for decoration, are introduced among the mural ornaments; the panels are bordered by bands of a different design ; the intervals between the arches are filled with arabesques ; the main surfaces are set in plain and ornamental mouldings of various depth and width, like an artistic picture frame ; the walls are divided from the ceiling by a frieze and cornice, and just where the redundance might become wearisome or oppressive it is relieved by a line of the simplest invention, like a twisted rope or a row of balls. The controlling principle is order, and despite the richness there is none of the excess and extravagance, there are none of the freaks and whims, of the Gothic and Renaissance styles. Every portion of the apartment is finished with the same care and completeness. There reign throughout an illimitable coolness, freshness, subdued lightness and brightness, which never becomes too brilliant or vivid. There has been a deal of alteration and restoration about the Alcazar, but the only changes which have actually disfigured it were made by Charles V., who added a modern gallery above one of the loveliest colonnades. The redecoration of the present century is too heavy and gaudy in color, but it is not all bad : there is one room in tender green and pale coral color, not to be surpassed in delicacy and refinement of taste.
There are other Moorish houses in Seville, but the only one which compares with the Alcazar in pretension and preservation is the so-called House of Pilate, now the property of the Duke of Medina-Celi, but built early in the sixteenth century by the Marquis of Tarifa, one of the Ribera family, on his return from a pilgrimage to Palestine. The house, being a copy of a sham, has no intrinsic interest beyond its beauty; it was no doubt built by Moorish architects, and, more fortunate than the Alcazar, escaped alteration. The garden is like a page from Lalla Rookh. I sat there by a marble fountain in a grove of old lemon-trees woven into a bower by a luxuriant climbing white rose, until the hour and the century were forgotten. The reflections and retrospections of the Gothic cathedral have no place amid such scenes ; the spirit of Moorish art, even at this distant day, breathes of earthly enjoyment, of the poetry and pleasure of existence, and for the moment life becomes a dream of delight. After the vision of such a terrestrial paradise even the palace of San Telmo, the Duke of Montpensier’s residence, seems prosaic and a mere abode of care. I was greatly disinclined to reënter the every-day world, so I made half the circuit of the city to reach the Triana, or gypsy quarter, on the other side of the Guadalquivir. The road lay along Las Delicias, the favorite drive of the Sevillians, tropical gardens and clusters of palms and cypresses on one hand, on the other a belt of oaks and elms edging the river and a long line of schooners and sloops moored to the shore. One after another the salient features of Seville came into view : the queenly Giralda, an immense castellated structure, which looks like a mediæval fortress, but is only the tobacco factory made famous by Mérimée’s story and Bizet’s opera of Carmen ; the Torre d’Oro, an octagonal tower, with three crenelated stories of diminishing size, said to take its name from the golden hoards of the New World which were unladed and deposited there ; the vast amphitheatre of the bull-ring; and at length the bridge. In crossing it I had a lovely view, bathed in limpid light, of the river, curving away above and below, fringed with masts and sails and flags ; the city and its towers, on one side ; on the other, a narrow white suburb scattering into the verdant sunny plain, walled in by a range of purple hills. I found the gypsy quarter very different from the huddle of picturesque squalor which I had expected. It is more like a neat village, the houses being white, and low like cottages. The few shop doors and windows are given up to the gay appurtenances of the An dalusian horsemen, and to coarse pottery of the most beautiful antique Eastern forms. Before one of the saddlers’ shops stood a drove of patient-faced donkeys. Their driver, in black velveteen, with a crimson sash round his waist, a crimson handkerchief knotted about his head and falling upon his shoulder, his peaked hat in the hand that rested on the back of a pet mare, was bargaining for a pair of purple and orange saddlebags. My errand was for earthenware, and I entered a small shop where great bulging oil-jars of dark shining green, with a deep projecting rim and three curved handles, stood in rows ; the walls were lined with shelves bearing dark red terra-cotta water-cruses, with taper necks and trefoil lips, others of a delicious cream-color, covered with a graceful incised design, and others delicately beaded over with a raised pattern ; some had one arm akimbo, or a long, eccentric spout. There were flat flasks and oval dishes boldly decorated in majolica colors with bull-fights or scenes from peasant life, and kitchen platters big enough to hold a sirloin, with the designs and colors of old Moorish tiles ; there were tiles, too, of such novel and bewitching hues and patterns that everything of the sort to be seen in France or England is vulgar by comparison. I lost my head over this display, and recklessly ordered bigpieces by the pair and smaller ones by the dozen. My imagination showed me the steps of a familiar country-house, thousands of miles away, flanked with the great green jars holding oleanders and pomegranate shrubs, and an old mahogany sideboard adorned with the ivory-tinted water-coolers, and the hearts of æsthetic friends made glad by small reproductions of the more exquisite shapes. The gypsy merchant, only a degree more brown, stately, and silent than the ordinary Andalusian, betrayed no emotion at my prodigality, although I am persuaded that he had never made such a sale before, for the bill amounted to several hundred reals, which reduced to pesetas was just twelve dollars. The purchases were to be safely packed in a strong box, sent down the river to Cadiz, and shipped for America. The next day, doubting his promptness, I made a second expedition to the Triana to see if he had been as good as his word. Sure enough, there in a little grass-grown yard were three cases, about as large and as strong as common tea-chests. A horrible vision of rough stevedores, and custom-house officers not a whit less sly and sharp than gypsies, rose to my mind, and I said that there must be but one box, and that a strong one, as these would hardly hold together to reach the river. The master of the shop lighted a cigarita and began to discuss the matter, his part of the argument consisting in almost total silence. Presently his wife joined us; then an old man who was smoking in the shop ; then an old woman ; then they called the carpenter. At last there were seven persons, sitting on doorsteps or slowly pacing about the packing-cases, as if measuring them for a carpet. It was pronounced impossible to make larger or thicker boxes, and that if made they could not be lifted by mortal men. My kind artist friend, who played interpreter with a patience that exasperated me, represented that grandpianos and colossal statues are packed in single boxes and sent round the world ; but the Spaniards paid no attention to anything that we said. Monosyllabic objections, insuperable obstacles expressed in a single word, were their only answers. For three quarters of an hour the debate was carried on, until I finally broke off negotiations, declaring the Portland vase itself was not worth so many words. The Spaniard imperturbably professed himself ready to refund the money and forfeit the value of the cases, which were on the bill, but not to make another box. I had not brought the bill with me, and asked him to refer to his books for the amount. There were no books, no slate, no memoranda of any sort. He promised to call at the Fonda de Madrid that evening, see the bill, and repay the amount. I departed, skeptical, but preferring to lose the money rather than more time ; but that evening the grave shopkeeper presented himself, the transaction was annulled, and he replied to my renewed regrets at losing the pottery by saying that he must lose his cases. An English friend, who was standing by, said that he would take the big green jars, which could be shipped direct to London. The shopkeeper answered that to transport those jars and nothing more the boxes must be made smaller, which would not be worth his while ; and wishing us goodevening with the utmost courtesy, he returned contented to his unsold wares. Some friends who have lived long in Spain witnessed this scene, and found nothing extraordinary in it; they said that most Spaniards would rather starve than work, and that even the industrious would rather lose much money than take a little trouble. It is hard to reconcile their laziness in these matters with their activity in others, and I was constantly struck by similar inconsistencies and contradictions in their conduct. In the hotels they pretend to have a fixed price for rooms and fare, which includes everything except the first morning meal (coffee, milk, or chocolate, and a roll), which is the same everywhere, service and lights. The sum is always high, and often extortionate ; my only attempt at beating it. down effected a reduction of fifteen pesetas, or three dollars a day, a third of the amount first mentioned. I But at the end of a week, instead of the foolscap sheets of the usual English or Continental hotel-bill, doubling or trebling the expected expense, the traveler receives a single page, in which it is easy to decipher the few details, and on which no unstipulated extras or omitted items are added at the last instant. There is the same inconsistency between their ferocity at the bullfights and cock-fights and the kindly relations which exist between them and their domestic animals. Another is between the inordinate pride of birth of their nobility and the inconceivable democracy of manners to be observed in public places, where gentle and simple mix together. Another is in the arrogant, unprovoked assumption of equality of the lower classes towards purchasers, employers, and all persons occupying what is generally called a superior position, and their stately urbanity and politeness; the cab-drivers bow to each other from their boxes with profound and graceful salutations worthy of Louis XIV.’s courtiers. Another incongruity is in the slovenliness of their dress and carelessness in some household matters, and the cleanliness which in many respects is unequaled out of Holland. In the more frequented streets and squares of Burgos, Madrid, and Seville there is a certain quantity of dust and litter; but even in the side-streets of those cities, and throughout Cordova and Toledo, there is a spotless nicety inexplicable where horses and mules, or even human feet, are constantly passing. A lady might walk through them in white satin shoes. Dirt is driven out of every nook and corner ; neither sight nor smell is offended out-of-doors. Both in this respect and in the decency and decorum of the native habits there is a strong contrast between Spain and all other parts of the Continent. I was struck with the difference in going up to the top of the Giralda, my last ascension having been to the roof of the cathedral of Milan, the cleanest city in Italy.
As a general rule, climbing towers is a futile feat; the city below becomes a mere plan and the surrounding country as flat and featureless as a map. There are memorable exceptions : the campanile of St. Mark’s at Venice, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the beautiful Giralda. The last, like the other two, is a wide, easy slope, without steps, lighted at intervals by arched and pillared openings with marble balconies and balustrades, the view growing at every stage; at the belfry the balcony becomes an arched porch, entirely surrounding the tower. On three sides I had it to myself ; on the fourth a crowd of men, women, and children, with opera-glasses and small telescopes, were literally climbing on each other’s backs to watch a bull-fight which was going on nearly half a mile away. The white town lay at my feet, its dark roofs gilded by a small wildflower which overspread them, its level broken by church-towers and crenelated walls, green garden areas, and dusky spears of palm and cypresses ; here and there a fountain sparkled like a diamond. The Guadalquivir, dazzling in the sunshine, winds idly through the grassy plain; the sierras, every shade of violet, from the palest lilac to the deepest plum-color, show their sharp white teeth against the effulgent sky. The doves and hawks, which make their nests peaceably in nooks of the tower, flew to and fro on their errands ; the sound of the city rose sleepily, like the hum of a great hive, as if its only occupants were bees feeding on the blossoms which filled the air with perfume. It was my last look at Seville: that night I turned my face northward, leaving her asleep under the still, warm moonlight, like a bride in her white robe and wreath of orangeflowers.
And the fair, and the museum, and the other sights and shows of the town, — is there nothing to say about them ? A great deal might be said, but it would be superfluous, as the greater contains the less, and there is nothing so beautiful and wonderful in Seville as Seville. The fair was more correctly a cattleshow, and its chief local peculiarity was a smell of frying, which quenched the fragrance of the groves and gardens for half a mile around, and which proceeded from the production of millions of fritters like little doughnuts, called bunuelos. The pictures are delightfully and fitly lodged in an ancient convent. The entrance is through a cloister, with a fine carved red cedar roof, and two courts,— one containing an old well such as aquarellists love, the other a maze of orange and pomegranate trees. The collection has only about two hundred paintings, but among them are some of the noblest Murillos in the world and the best Zurbarans. There are things which the stranger pays to see and stare at in Seville as elsewhere, but they are swallowed up by the great composite spectacle of the city itself, and leave no separate recollections.
It was three o’clock in the morning when I reached Cordova, and I had never supposed that even at that hour a town could be so silent. It seemed to he uninhabited. The moon had not set, and as we drove: through a network of narrow streets there was not a light to be seen. The only living things we met were a man shrouded in a cloak and the donkey he bestrode ; he had to squeeze himself into a doorway to let the carriage go by, and then went on, casting a Doresque shadow on the white walls, in which man and beast were indistinguishable. The sun was high before I was up and on my way to the cathedral. The city was almost as deserted by day as by night: the streets were empty; nobody went in or out of the houses, which were for the most part only a story high; there were no open doorways, as at Seville ; the few patios of which I had a glimpse were simple courtyards, with a few flower-pots. Following the guidebook map, I found my way to a sort of narrow plaza bounded by a blank wall of great height, fortified with square towers embattled in the Moorish style with tongues of flame. The sun beat down from a cloudless sky on the cobble-stones of the pavement, and glanced back from the shadowless walls with midsummer fierceness, although it was but the end of April. The walk seemed very long before I reached a lofty tower, heavily crowned with a belfry and cupola, and a great triple gateway, through which I descended by several steps into a spacious inclosure planted with immense orange-trees. A round-arched colonnade follows the walls on the inner side. Men were lounging, women drawing water, and children playing beside a large fountain, and eating the fruit which fell from the great glossy-leaved orange-trees, said to be as old as the caliphs. Of the exterior of the sacred building I have no recollection. I walked across the grove, which is acres in extent, absorbed in the contemplation of mutability. Here, in ancient times, stood a temple of Janus; early Christians built a basilica on its site ; the Moors took the city, and bought the ground of the conquered Christians for good gold to build a mosque, permitting the priests to depart with the honors of war, carrying away their sacred objects undesecrated. For five hundred years the mild Moslem reigned and worshiped here, with large tolerance of Jews and Christians. Then the followers of the Lamb came back and cast forth all unbelievers. The crucifix stands again on the high altar, and the missal has replaced the Koran ; but as I crossed the threshold I exclaimed to myself, “ This is Islam ! ” It was like entering a new land, a new world. On every side, far as the eye could reach, arcades opened before me intersected by other arcades, innumerable smooth, slender columns supporting double Moorish arches, one above the other, with an open space between,— a labyrinth of parallel pillared avenues constantly crossing other avenues. As I walked on, looking right and left, seeing no end, no exit, nothing but successive colonnades of many-colored marble shafts, porphyry and jasper, with waving palm-branches and feathery tree-ferns for capitals, and horseshoe arches of broad alternate bands of red and white interminably repeated, a dark vaulted roof overhead in a summer twilight obscurity, a sensation half-strange, half familiar, made me wonder in what dream I had paced these aisles before. Then I found myself thinking of the rows of a great field of Indian corn in which I had lost myself when I was a child. The effect of sameness and endlessness is almost identical; the impression on the imagination is of a vast plantation of palms turned to stone. There are in fact a thousand pillars, — once there were many more, — and the ground plan is four acres ; the roof is forty feet high, but is lowered to the eye by the absence of soaring lines and long curves, the Moorish arches, tier on tier, being united above by upper rows of pillars and pilasters springing from the capitals of the lower columns. As one advances into this mysterious marble forest the apparent uniformity disappears : there is great variety of detail in the pillars, although they are nearly of the same size; they are Greek, Roman, Lombard, as well as Moorish. Penetrating further, one espies grotto-like chapels, where the Moorish architect has given his fancy freer play than in the adjacent aisles. Here the lavish decoration abounds in new caprices and combinations. The arches bend into curves, such as are sometimes formed for a moment in a thick silken sash, or a long, narrow pennon waving in the wind ; but as the resemblance strikes one the interlacing folds stiffen, and present only a series of scallops or semi-rosettes diversified with arabesques. These were the hallowed places of the Mohammedan ; and here are enameled tiles, gilding, variegated colors, inscriptions from the Koran in letters like heavy lace, glittering Byzantine mosaics sent from Constantinople by one of the Cæsars of the Lower Empire, and cupolas of cedar and ebony carved and inlaid. At length the heart of the fane is reached, and enormous columns, which might uphold a mountain, open the way into a great Renaissance cathedral : the roof is gold and white ; the choir can seat a hundred priests ; the pulpits are piles of dark wood carving and wrought brass ; the marble floor is covered with gorgeous Turkish carpets. It is a fine monument of mundane devotion. Authorities differ as to whether this interloping church was built upon a central open court or on a space torn from the mosque itself. Most people follow the emperor Charles V. in bewailing the disfigurement of an ancient and unique edifice for the sake of a comparatively modern one, by no means the best of its kind. The cathedral, however, is very handsome in its way, spacious, imposing, and rich enough in ornament to hold its own beside the Moslem temple at its elbow. The very disparity is a great element of interest, and enhances the effect of the Moorish architecture, adding a spell to the strange, mythical influence of the whole. Mutilated it may be in its present condition, but it is more than ever a wonder of the world. I was told that the Moors of Africa still cherish the recollection of their splendid rule in Spain, and that their poetry commemorates the glories of Cordova and the delights of Grenada after five hundred years’ return to the soil whence they originally came. The exiled Jews, of whom many were transported to Morocco, cling to the memory of Andalusia as of old they remembered Zion by the waters of Babylon. A curious story was told to the present Duke de Frias, by his father, of a Jewish family in Africa, in which the tradition had been handed down from generation to generation that at a certain time, known only to the head of the house, the family should return to their home in Toledo. The probation expired during the lifetime of the late duke. The Hebrew father confided the family secret to his eldest son, giving him a key which had been treasured for centuries, and bade him go to Toledo and destroy a wall in a situation which he minutely described ; a door would thus be disclosed, which the key would open, and the Jew would have access to the home of his ancestors, which had been lost to sight and to the memory of all men save one since they were driven out, in the days of Ferdinand and Isabella. The Jew went, and found the wall, the door, the keyhole, and the concealed house, but what more he found the deponent saith not.
Two or three hours slipped away as I wandered among the pillars, trying to guess the date and nationality of some of them, or to disentangle the devices of the arabesque tracery, and I would gladly have idled as many days there ; but in my pocket there was a couponticket, as fatal in its nature as Balzac’s peau de chagrin; each pleasure curtailed its surface, and warned me to make the most of its limited capability. So I took the afternoon train for Madrid, glad of a chance to see the country over which I had previously passed at night. The day was cloudless, and earth and sky wore the vernal smile of a newcreated universe, although the temperature was that of June. At first we glided through gardens, orange-groves, and olive-orchards, inclosed in straggling hedges of huge cactus or aloes. Here and there a small white house gleamed amidst cypresses, myrtles, and a tangle of roses ; so small that it could hardly be more than a laborer’s cottage, so pretty and elegant that it had the air of a miniature villa. By degrees the gardens and groves gave place to grain fields of vivid green, and meadows where the grass was hidden under sheets of flowers,— plots of yellow, pink, light blue, dark blue, or all mingled ; there was a warm purple species which I saw several times set in a border of white, with the most splendid effect. As the afternoon wore on, a few clouds drifted slowly across the sky, and their shadows, followed by sweeps of sunshine, made the flowery fields sparkle like beds of jewels laid bare to the light. The railway banks blazed with poppies ; in the distance there were low, fawn-colored towns, with embattled walls; at long intervals a ruined castle on a hilltop. The river wound through the landscape red as blood. The sun was sinking when we passed Javalquinto, the site of a great battle with the Moors. The emerald meadows in the foreground rolled gently upward as they receded, hiding the Guadalquivir; beyond lay a zone of land, striped like a tiger-skin, at the foot of steep heights covered with dull green cork forests; above them towered the peaked and serrate mountain ridge, first the color of amethyst, then changing to a delicate pink, finally glowing with a deep peach-color, while the ravines were veiled by shadows too soft for a name. The aloe hedges were no more to be seen, but here and there a single gigantic plant brandished its spiked, swordlike leaves and uplifted its tall flower stem, which in form and color recalls the golden candlestick of the temple at Jerusalem. The lovely hues and velvet down of springtime softened the severity of the outlines, which, as in all the Spanish landscapes that I saw, were stern and grand rather than beautiful ; it was a scene never to be forgotten. In a few moments the sun had set ; before an hour was over the last vestige of tropical vegetation had vanished, and we had drawn nearer to the mountains, so that their rugged sides and broken pinnacles were visible through the gathering gloom. For a short time there was darkness ; then a glorious full moon rose above the rocky gorge of the Despeñaperros just as we plunged into the first of eight long tunnels, which robbed us of half the savage grandeur of the pass. Emerging for a brief time, we saw far above us tremendous natural embrasures and battlements of dark crag against the clear, pale night sky, black masses of foliage clinging to the walls of the cliffs, and below us flashed the swift rush of a mountain torrent. It was the Gateway of the Lost Dogs, so called from a retreat of the vanquished Arabs, and it. is the passage between Andalusia and La Mancha. As we issued from it we found ourselves in a different region; wide, uninhabited, treeless plains, strewn with rocks, opened before us for long hours, lying as clear as day under the tranquil moon. The temperature grew colder constantly, until I was obliged to walk to and fro in the railway-carriage to avoid becoming thoroughly chilled. From midnight until daybreak the country offered only a spectacle of the most despairing sterility and desolation, increased by the pallid light of the setting moon in her struggle with dawn. Suddenly, across the dreary waste, a dark expanse of woodland came in sight, and presently we begun to pass fine groups of oaks, elms, and beeches, reminding one of an English park, intersected by wide, straight avenues and formal canals and ponds, emptying into two pretty streams winding about this sylvan realm. The noble forms of the trees were undisguised by verdure, but their branches and twigs were fringed by bursting buds and tiny leaves, making a dark lace pattern against the sky, which was now beginning to redden ; through the boughs we caught glimpses of stately buildings and monumental gateways. The place had a royal and storied aspect befitting its name, for it proved to be Aranjuez. The trees were brought from England by Philip II., and have been witnesses to three centuries of historical romance, from the days of Schiller’s Don Carlos and that oneeyed Venus the Princess of Eboli to the more recent adventures of the ex-Queen Isabella. It has been deserted of late years, and is not open even to the people of Madrid, for whom it would make a delightful holiday resort. The Tagus kept us company for a little while after we left the groves and brooks of Aranjuez ; then bent its course away, and left us to traverse the stony wilderness which surrounds Madrid. In an hour more the city rose above the horizon, and my Spanish trip was at an end. The remaining days of the month were but as the last sands of an hour-glass, and my Cook’s ticket gave me leave to go back to Paris, with no further privilege than to stop at the frontier.
I have a word or two of advice for readers who have followed me through these pages, and who may some day follow in my footsteps. As luggage is charged very high in Spain, the amount allowed to a first-class passenger scarcely reaching the weight of the lightest trunk, it is well to travel with as little as possible. Books are burdensome companions, as I found to my cost, having taken a traveling library for reference, — Augustus Hare, Gautier, and Amicis, besides Murray’s guide-book. Gautier’s letters, although written forty years ago, are so true to-day that there can be no better proof how little the country has changed ; but in this volume he is only the most brilliant and original of newspaper correspondents, and his information about ways and means is valueless, as he traveled before the days of railways and hotels. His Voyage en Espagne is a book to read before going to Spain, or after coming back, or by all means if you do not go at all, but not to take with you. Amicis, although he went to Spain very lately, traveled in Gautier’s track, and his Spagna is scarcely more than a free translation of Gautier’s book, with the addition of a few whimsies and personal adventures and much verbiage of his own. Hare, who begins his Wanderings in Spain with a lengthy introduction and itinerary of what he meant to see, made the most cockney tour; keeping to the beaten track, and scarcely visiting a place of capital interest not mentioned by Gautier. He, too, cribs unconscionably from, the Frenchman, and pads his poor book with ill-translated quotations from French letter-writers of the seventeenth century and trite legends or historical anecdotes. It is stale, flat, and unprofitable, and bad English into the bargain. Murray’s guide-book is a full, entertaining, and accurate manual, as far as my experience goes, and that, or O’Shea’s, is the only one needed on a journey where every ounce must be taken into account.