« ForrigeFortsæt »
The descent was steep--the road bad and the coach crazy. Luckily we were all walking when it broke down. The mayoral invoked the Virgin Mary to help him, and three hundred devils to carry off the coach; he however soon found it more useful to go for human assistance, while we amused ourselves by walking backward and forward on a cold, bleak, deso late heath, with only one object in view, and that---a monumental cross. In about two hours we advanced a mile to the village of St. Miguel de las Duenas. Here there is no posada, and we are therefore at the house of the barber. Where we are to sleep I know not, for our host's daughter and her husband sleep in the kitchen, and in this, the only other room, the barber, his wife, and child !
"The only face for which I have conceived any affection in Spain, is a dried pig's, in the kitchen below, and alas! this a a hopeless passion!
Christmas day, six o'clock in the evening.) In the cold and comfortless room of a posada, having had no dinner but what we made in the coach, farigued, and out of spirits, a pleasant situation! I have been walking above three hours up this immense mountain ; very agreeable no doubt for the goats who browze in the vallies, and the lizards and wolves who inhabit the rest of it! We slept last night in the room with the barber, bis wife, and child. At midnight they all went to cock-mass. At day-break I had the pleasure of wishing my fellow-travellers a merry Christmas.
· Baneza, Saturday, Dec. 26.] '. We have passed over a bleak and desolate track of barrenness this morning, near the cavern of Gil Blas. Never was there a more convenient place to be murdered in, and eleven monumental crosses, which I counted within three leagues, justified my opinion of its physiognomy. We stopped two hours at Astorga, once the capital of the Asturias, but Oviedo holds that rank at present, and this is now a city of Leon.
* Here I expected to live well. Gil Blas had fared luxuriously at Astorga ; we heard' of a cook's shop; Manuel was appointed commissioner to examine the state of provisions, and his report was, that we might have halt a turkey and a
leg of mutton just dressed, for a dollar. If the queen's birthday may be put off six months, why might not we keep Christmas-day on the twenty-sixth of December, and dine orthodoxly on Turkey? When these dainties arrived---for the poor bird, Vitellius would have
“ Made the wicked master cook
In boiling oil to stand ;" and for the mutton, I vehemently suspect it to have been the deg of some little ugly bandy-legged tough-sinewed turnspit.
I saw families actually living in holes dug in the castle wall. Almost I regret the Moors: what has this country gained by their expulsion ? A tolerant and cleanly superstition has been exchanged for the filth and ferocity of monks, and the dogma of Mary's immaculate conception has taken place of the divine legation of Mohammed. To say that the courts of Cordova and Grenada exhibited more splendour than that of Madrid, were only to shew thein superior in what is of little worth ; but when were the arts so fostered? when were the people so industrious and so happy ?
• We arrived at Benevente too late to see the inside of the castle. In the corner of my room are placed two trestles : four planks are laid across these, and support a straw-stuffed mattress of immense thickness; over this is another as dispro-, portionately thin, and this is my bed. The seat of my chair is as high as the table I write upon. A lamp hangs upon the door. Above us are bare timbers; for as yet I have seen no eielings in Spain. The floor is tiled. Such are the comfortable accommodations we meet with after travelling from the rising to the setting sun. We have however a brazier here, the first I have seen since our departure from Corunna. I am used to the vermin: to be flead is become the Order of the Night, and I submit to it with all due resignation. Of the people---extreme filth and deplorable ignorance are the most prominent characteristics; yet there is a civility in the peasantry which Engliskimen do not possess, and I feel a pleasure when. the passenger accosts me with the usual benediction, “God be with you."
“There is a mud wall round the town. Here I first saw people dancing in the streets with castanets. Our landlady told us there was an English merchant in the house, his name Don Francisco, and this proved to be a German pedlar, with a ring on every finger. Some of the churches here are fine specimens of early Saxon architecture. In the church wall are too crosses, composed of human sculls with thigh bones for the pedestal, fixed on a black ground.
• We crossed the Duero at Tordesillas by a noble bridge. One of the Latin historians says, that the water of this river made the Roman soldiers, who drank of them, inelancholy; and if they drank nothing else, we may believe him. I lost my hat at this place; 'twas little matter: it had been injured on the voyage, and sent to be pulchrified at Corunna, who sent it home without binding, or lining, or dressing, having washed it, thickened it, altered its shape, and made it good for nothing, all which he did for one pasetta. We proceeded four leagues to Medina del Campo, passing through the half-way town of Ruada. In the streets there are several bridges over the mire for foot passengers, formed of large stones, about eighteen inches high and two feet asunder, which are left unconnected that carriages may pass. The dress of the men is almost universally brown; the female peasantry love gaudier colours, blue and green are common among them, but they dress more generally in red and yellow, I saw an infant at Astorga, whose cap was shaped like a grenadier's, and made of blue and red plush.
• At Aribaca I saw the laws to which all inn-keepers are subject. By one they are obliged to give a daily account to some magistrate of what persons have been in their posada, their names, their conduct, and their conversation. By another, if any man of suspicious appearance walks by the posada, they must inform a magistrate of it, on pain of being made answerable for any mischief he may do!
•We were now only five miles from the great city. The approach to Madrid is very beautiful. The number of towers, the bridge of Segovia, and the palace, give it an appearance of grandeur, which there are no suburbs to destroy, and a fine
poplar-planted walk by the river, adds an agreeable variety to the scene. A few scattered and miserable hovels, about a mile or mile and half from the walls, lie immediately in view of the palace, so wretched that some of them are only covered with old blankets and old mats. His majesty might have more pleasant objects in view, but I know of none that can convey to him such useful meditations.
• The most singular and novel appearance to me was that of innumerable women kneeling side by side to wash in the Manzanares, the banks of which for about two miles were covered with linen. It seemed as though all the inhabitants of Madrid had like us just concluded a long journey, and that there had been a general foul-clothes-bag delivery.
We are at the Cruz de Malta, a perfect paradise, after travelling seventeen days in Spain. To be sure, four planks laid across two iron trustles, are not quite so elegant as an English four-post beadstead, but they are easily kept clean, and to that consideration every other should be sacrificed. At tea they brought us the milk boiling in a tea-pot.
“My uncle has offered to take Manuel on to Lisbon as a servant; but Manuel is ambitious of being a barber, and wishes to try his fortune in the shaving line at Madrid. His professional pride was not a little gratified when one of the fraternity took us in at St. Miguel de las Duenas; and as he left the house he asked me with an air of triumph, if we had any such barbers as that senor in England !
• Concerning the city and its buildings, the manners of the people, their Tertullas and their Cortejo system, you will find enough in twenty different authors. What pleases me most is to see the city entirely without suburbs: it is surrounded by a wall and the moment you get within the gates, the prospect before presents nothing that can possibly remind you of the vicinity of a metropolis. The walking is very unpleasant, as the streets are not paved: the general fault of the streets is their narrowness. In one of them it was with difficulty I kept myself so near the wall as to escape being crushed by a carriage; a friend of M. had a button on his breast torn off by a
earriage in the same place : accidents must have been frequent here, for it is called, The narrow street of dangers.
* This very unpleasant defect is observable in all the towns we have passed through. It is easily accounted for. All these towns were originally fortified, and houses were crowded to gether for security within the walls. As the houses are generally high, this likewise keeps them cool, by excluding the sun; and a Spaniard will not think this convenience counterbalanced by the preventing a free circulation of air. The senses of a foreigner are immediately offended by dirt and darkness; but the Spaniard does not dislike the one, and he connects the idea of coolness with the other. From the charge of dirt, however, Madrid must now be acquitted, and the grand street, the Calle de Alcala, is one of the finest in Europe. The prado (the public walk) crosses it at the bottom, and it is terminated by an avenue of trees, with one of the city gates at the end.
• Of Spanish beauty I have heard much and say little. There is indeed a liquid lusture in the full black eye, that most powerfully expresses languid tenderness. But it is in this expression only that very dark eyes are beautiful: you do not distinguish the pupil from the surrounding part, and of course lose all the beauty of its dilation and contraction. The dress both of men and women is altogether inelegant. The old Spanish dress was more convenient and very graceful.
- We are now in private lodgings, for which we pay twentyfour reals a day. The rooms are painted in the theatrical taste of the country, and would be cheerful if we had but a fire-place. You will hardly believe that, though this place is very cold in winter, the Spanish landlords will not suffer a chimney to be built in their houses ! They have a proverb to express the calmness and keenness of the air..-" The wind will not blow out a candle, but it will kill a man." I have heard that persons who incautiously exposed themselves to the wind before they were completely dressed, have been deprived of the use of their limbs.