The Bible in Spain
George Borrow

Part 5 out of 12

piazzas of the Plaza. But when did the fear of consequences cause
an Irishman to shrink from the exercise of the duties of
hospitality? However attached to his religion--and who is so
attached to the Romish creed as the Irishman?--I am convinced that
not all the authority of the Pope or the Cardinals would induce him
to close his doors on Luther himself, were that respectable
personage at present alive and in need of food and refuge.

Honour to Ireland and her "hundred thousand welcomes!" Her fields
have long been the greenest in the world; her daughters the
fairest; her sons the bravest and most eloquent. May they never
cease to be so.

The posada where I had put up was a good specimen of the old
Spanish inn, being much the same as those described in the time of
Philip the Third or Fourth. The rooms were many and large, floored
with either brick or stone, generally with an alcove at the end, in
which stood a wretched flock bed. Behind the house was a court,
and in the rear of this a stable, full of horses, ponies, mules,
machos, and donkeys, for there was no lack of guests, who, however,
for the most part slept in the stable with their caballerias, being
either arrieros or small peddling merchants who travelled the
country with coarse cloth or linen. Opposite to my room in the
corridor lodged a wounded officer, who had just arrived from San
Sebastian on a galled broken-kneed pony; he was an Estrimenian, and
was returning to his own village to be cured. He was attended by
three broken soldiers, lame or maimed, and unfit for service: they
told me that they were of the same village as his worship, and on
that account he permitted them to travel with him. They slept
amongst the litter, and throughout the day lounged about the house
smoking paper cigars. I never saw them eating, though they
frequently went to a dark cool corner, where stood a bota or kind
of water pitcher, which they held about six inches from their black
filmy lips, permitting the liquid to trickle down their throats.
They said they had no pay, and were quite destitute of money, that
su merced the officer occasionally gave them a piece of bread, but
that he himself was poor and had only a few dollars. Brave guests
for an inn, thought I; yet, to the honour of Spain be it spoken, it
is one of the few countries in Europe where poverty is never
insulted nor looked upon with contempt. Even at an inn, the poor
man is never spurned from the door, and if not harboured, is at
least dismissed with fair words, and consigned to the mercies of
God and his mother. This is as it should be. I laugh at the
bigotry and prejudices of Spain; I abhor the cruelty and ferocity
which have cast a stain of eternal infamy on her history; but I
will say for the Spaniards, that in their social intercourse no
people in the world exhibit a juster feeling of what is due to the
dignity of human nature, or better understand the behaviour which
it behoves a man to adopt towards his fellow beings. I have said
that it is one of the few countries in Europe where poverty is not
treated with contempt, and I may add, where the wealthy are not
blindly idolized. In Spain the very beggar does not feel himself a
degraded being, for he kisses no one's feet, and knows not what it
is to be cuffed or spitten upon; and in Spain the duke or the
marquis can scarcely entertain a very overweening opinion of his
own consequence, as he finds no one, with perhaps the exception of
his French valet, to fawn upon or flatter him.

During my stay at Salamanca, I took measures that the word of God
might become generally known in this celebrated city. The
principal bookseller of the town, Blanco, a man of great wealth and
respectability, consented to become my agent here, and I in
consequence deposited in his shop a certain number of New
Testaments. He was the proprietor of a small printing press, where
the official bulletin of the place was published. For this
bulletin I prepared an advertisement of the work, in which, amongst
other things, I said that the New Testament was the only guide to
salvation; I also spoke of the Bible Society, and the great
pecuniary sacrifices which it was making with the view of
proclaiming Christ crucified, and of making his doctrine known.
This step will perhaps be considered by some as too bold, but I was
not aware that I could take any more calculated to arouse the
attention of the people--a considerable point. I also ordered
numbers of the same advertisement to be struck off in the shape of
bills, which I caused to be stuck up in various parts of the town.
I had great hope that by means of these a considerable number of
New Testaments would be sold. I intended to repeat this experiment
in Valladolid, Leon, St. Jago, and all the principal towns which I
visited, and to distribute them likewise as I rode along: the
children of Spain would thus be brought to know that such a work as
the New Testament is in existence, a fact of which not five in one
hundred were then aware, notwithstanding their so frequently-
repeated boasts of their Catholicity and Christianity.


Departure from Salamanca--Reception at Pitiegua--The Dilemma--
Sudden Inspiration--The Good Presbyter--Combat of Quadrupeds--Irish
Christians--Plains of Spain--The Catalans--The Fatal Pool--
Valladolid--Circulation of the Scriptures--Philippine Missions--
English College--A Conversation--The Gaoleress.

On Saturday, the tenth of June, I left Salamanca for Valladolid.
As the village where we intended to rest was only five leagues
distant, we did not sally forth till midday was past. There was a
haze in the heavens which overcast the sun, nearly hiding his
countenance from our view. My friend, Mr. Patrick Cantwell, of the
Irish College, was kind enough to ride with me part of the way. He
was mounted on a most sorry-looking hired mule, which, I expected
would be unable to keep pace with the spirited horses of myself and
man, for he seemed to be twin brother of the mule of Gil Perez, on
which his nephew made his celebrated journey from Oviedo to
Penaflor. I was, however, very much mistaken. The creature on
being mounted instantly set off at that rapid walk which I have so
often admired in Spanish mules, and which no horse can emulate.
Our more stately animals were speedily left in the rear, and we
were continually obliged to break into a trot to follow the
singular quadruped, who, ever and anon, would lift his head high in
the air, curl up his lip, and show his yellow teeth, as if he were
laughing at us, as perhaps he was. It chanced that none of us was
well acquainted with the road; indeed, I could see nothing which
was fairly entitled to that appellation. The way from Salamanca to
Valladolid is amongst a medley of bridle-paths and drift-ways,
where discrimination is very difficult. It was not long before we
were bewildered, and travelled over more ground than was strictly
necessary. However, as men and women frequently passed on donkeys
and little ponies, we were not too proud to be set right by them,
and by dint of diligent inquiry we at length arrived at Pitiegua,
four leagues from Salamanca, a small village, containing about
fifty families, consisting of mud huts, and situated in the midst
of dusty plains, where corn was growing in abundance. We asked for
the house of the cura, an old man whom I had seen the day before at
the Irish College, and who, on being informed that I was about to
depart for Valladolid, had exacted from me a promise that I would
not pass through his village without paying him a visit and
partaking of his hospitality.

A woman directed us to a cottage somewhat superior in appearance to
those contiguous. It had a small portico, which, if I remember
well, was overgrown with a vine. We knocked loud and long at the
door, but received no answer; the voice of man was silent, and not
even a dog barked. The truth was, that the old curate was taking
his siesta, and so were his whole family, which consisted of one
ancient female and a cat. The good man was at last disturbed by
our noise and vociferation, for we were hungry, and consequently
impatient. Leaping from his couch, he came running to the door in
great hurry and confusion, and perceiving us, he made many
apologies for being asleep at a period when, he said, he ought to
have been on the lookout for his invited guest. He embraced me
very affectionately and conducted me into his parlour, an apartment
of tolerable size, hung round with shelves, which were crowded with
books. At one end there was a kind of table or desk covered with
black leather, with a large easy chair, into which he pushed me, as
I, with the true eagerness of a bibliomaniac, was about to inspect
his shelves; saying, with considerable vehemence, that there was
nothing there worthy of the attention of an Englishman, for that
his whole stock consisted of breviaries and dry Catholic treatises
on divinity.

His care now was to furnish us with refreshments. In a twinkling,
with the assistance of his old attendant, he placed on the table
several plates of cakes and confectionery, and a number of large
uncouth glass bottles, which I thought bore a strong resemblance to
those of Schiedam, and indeed they were the very same. "There,"
said he, rubbing his hands; "I thank God that it is in my power to
treat you in a way which will be agreeable to you. In those
bottles there is Hollands thirty years old"; and producing two
large tumblers, he continued, "fill, my friends, and drink, drink
it every drop if you please, for it is of little use to myself, who
seldom drink aught but water. I know that you islanders love it,
and cannot live without it; therefore, since it does you good, I am
only sorry that there is no more."

Observing that we contented ourselves with merely tasting it, he
looked at us with astonishment, and inquired the reason of our not
drinking. We told him that we seldom drank ardent spirits; and I
added, that as for myself, I seldom tasted even wine, but like
himself, was content with the use of water. He appeared somewhat
incredulous, but told us to do exactly what we pleased, and to ask
for what was agreeable to us. We told him that we had not dined,
and should be glad of some substantial refreshment. "I am afraid,"
said he, "that I have nothing in the house which will suit you;
however, we will go and see."

Thereupon he led us through a small yard at the back part of his
house, which might have been called a garden, or orchard, if it had
displayed either trees or flowers; but it produced nothing but
grass, which was growing in luxuriance. At one end was a large
pigeon-house, which we all entered: "for," said the curate, "if we
could find some nice delicate pigeons they would afford you an
excellent dinner." We were, however, disappointed; for after
rummaging the nests, we only found very young ones, unfitted for
our purpose. The good man became very melancholy, and said he had
some misgivings that we should have to depart dinnerless. Leaving
the pigeon-house, he conducted us to a place where there were
several skeps of bees, round which multitudes of the busy insects
were hovering, filling the air with their music. "Next to my
fellow creatures," said he, "there is nothing which I love so
dearly as these bees; it is one of my delights to sit watching
them, and listening to their murmur." We next went to several
unfurnished rooms, fronting the yard, in one of which were hanging
several flitches of bacon, beneath which he stopped, and looking
up, gazed intently upon them. We told him that if he had nothing
better to offer, we should be very glad to eat some slices of this
bacon, especially if some eggs were added. "To tell the truth,"
said he, "I have nothing better, and if you can content yourselves
with such fare I shall be very happy; as for eggs you can have as
many as you wish, and perfectly fresh, for my hens lay every day."

So, after every thing was prepared and arranged to our
satisfaction, we sat down to dine on the bacon and eggs, in a small
room, not the one to which he had ushered us at first, but on the
other side of the doorway. The good curate, though he ate nothing,
having taken his meal long before, sat at the head of the table,
and the repast was enlivened by his chat. "There, my friends,"
said he, "where you are now seated, once sat Wellington and
Crawford, after they had beat the French at Arapiles, and rescued
us from the thraldom of those wicked people. I never respected my
house so much as I have done since they honoured it with their
presence. They were heroes, and one was a demigod." He then burst
into a most eloquent panegyric of El Gran Lord, as he termed him,
which I should be very happy to translate, were my pen capable of
rendering into English the robust thundering sentences of his
powerful Castilian. I had till then considered him a plain
uninformed old man, almost simple, and as incapable of much emotion
as a tortoise within its shell; but he had become at once inspired:
his eyes were replete with a bright fire, and every muscle of his
face was quivering. The little silk skull-cap which he wore,
according to the custom of the Catholic clergy, moved up and down
with his agitation, and I soon saw that I was in the presence of
one of those remarkable men who so frequently spring up in the
bosom of the Romish church, and who to a child-like simplicity
unite immense energy and power of mind,--equally adapted to guide a
scanty flock of ignorant rustics in some obscure village in Italy
or Spain, as to convert millions of heathens on the shores of
Japan, China, and Paraguay.

He was a thin spare man, of about sixty-five, and was dressed in a
black cloak of very coarse materials, nor were his other garments
of superior quality. This plainness, however, in the appearance of
his outward man was by no means the result of poverty; quite the
contrary. The benefice was a very plentiful one, and placed at his
disposal annually a sum of at least eight hundred dollars, of which
the eighth part was more than sufficient to defray the expenses of
his house and himself; the rest was devoted entirely to the purest
acts of charity. He fed the hungry wanderer, and dispatched him
singing on his way, with meat in his wallet and a peseta in his
purse, and his parishioners, when in need of money, had only to
repair to his study and were sure of an immediate supply. He was,
indeed, the banker of the village, and what he lent he neither
expected nor wished to be returned. Though under the necessity of
making frequent journeys to Salamanca, he kept no mule, but
contented himself with an ass, borrowed from the neighbouring
miller. "I once kept a mule," said he, "but some years since it
was removed without my permission by a traveller whom I had housed
for the night: for in that alcove I keep two clean beds for the
use of the wayfaring, and I shall be very much pleased if yourself
and friend will occupy them, and tarry with me till the morning."

But I was eager to continue my journey, and my friend was no less
anxious to return to Salamanca. Upon taking leave of the
hospitable curate, I presented him with a copy of the New
Testament. He received it without uttering a single word, and
placed it on one of the shelves of his study; but I observed him
nodding significantly to the Irish student, perhaps as much as to
say, "Your friend loses no opportunity of propagating his book";
for he was well aware who I was. I shall not speedily forget the
truly good presbyter, Anthonio Garcia de Aguilar, Cura of Pitiegua.

We reached Pedroso shortly before nightfall. It was a small
village containing about thirty houses, and intersected by a
rivulet, or as it is called a regata. On its banks women and
maidens were washing their linen and singing couplets; the church
stood lone and solitary on the farther side. We inquired for the
posada, and were shown a cottage differing nothing from the rest in
general appearance. We called at the door in vain, as it is not
the custom of Castile for the people of these halting places to go
out to welcome their visitors: at last we dismounted and entered
the house, demanding of a sullen-looking woman where we were to
place the horses. She said there was a stable within the house,
but we could not put the animals there as it contained malos machos
(savage mules) belonging to two travellers who would certainly
fight with our horses, and then there would be a funcion, which
would tear the house down. She then pointed to an outhouse across
the way, saying that we could stable them there. We entered this
place, which we found full of filth and swine, with a door without
a lock. I thought of the fate of the cura's mule, and was
unwilling to trust the horses in such a place, abandoning them to
the mercy of any robber in the neighbourhood. I therefore entered
the house, and said resolutely, that I was determined to place them
in the stable. Two men were squatted on the ground, with an
immense bowl of stewed hare before them, on which they were
supping; these were the travelling merchants, the masters of the
mutes. I passed on to the stable, one of the men saying softly,
"Yes, yes, go in and see what will befall." I had no sooner
entered the stable than I heard a horrid discordant cry, something
between a bray and a yell, and the largest of the machos, tearing
his head from the manger to which he was fastened, his eyes
shooting flames, and breathing a whirlwind from his nostrils, flung
himself on my stallion. The horse, as savage as himself, reared on
his hind legs, and after the fashion of an English pugilist, repaid
the other with a pat on the forehead, which nearly felled him. A
combat instantly ensued, and I thought that the words of the sullen
woman would be verified by the house being torn to pieces. It
ended by my seizing the mute by the halter, at the risk of my
limbs, and hanging upon him with all my weight, whilst Antonio,
with much difficulty, removed the horse. The man who had been
standing at the entrance now came forward, saying, "This would not
have happened if you had taken good advice." Upon my stating to
him the unreasonableness of expecting that I would risk horses in a
place where they would probably be stolen before the morning, he
replied, "True, true, you have perhaps done right." He then
refastened his macho, adding for additional security a piece of
whipcord, which he said rendered escape impossible.

After supper I roamed about the village. I addressed two or three
labourers whom I found standing at their doors; they appeared,
however, exceedingly reserved, and with a gruff "buenas noches"
turned into their houses without inviting me to enter. I at last
found my way to the church porch, where I continued some time in
meditation. At last I bethought myself of retiring to rest; before
departing, however, I took out and affixed to the porch of the
church an advertisement to the effect that the New Testament was to
be purchased at Salamanca. On returning to the house, I found the
two travelling merchants enjoying profound slumber on various
mantas or mule-cloths stretched on the floor. "You are a French
merchant, I suppose, Caballero," said a man, who it seemed was the
master of the house, and whom I had not before seen. "You are a
French merchant, I suppose, and are on the way to the fair of
Medina." "I am neither Frenchman nor merchant," I replied, "and
though I purpose passing through Medina, it is not with the view of
attending the fair." "Then you are one of the Irish Christians
from Salamanca, Caballero," said the man; "I hear you come from
that town." "Why do you call them Irish Christians?" I replied.
"Are there pagans in their country?" "We call them Christians,"
said the man, "to distinguish them from the Irish English, who are
worse than pagans, who are Jews and heretics." I made no answer,
but passed on to the room which had been prepared for me, and from
which, the door being ajar, I heard the following conversation
passing between the innkeeper and his wife:-

Innkeeper.--Muger, it appears to me that we have evil guests in the

Wife.--You mean the last comers, the Caballero and his servant.
Yes, I never saw worse countenances in my life.

Innkeeper.--I do not like the servant, and still less the master.
He has neither formality nor politeness: he tells me that he is
not French, and when I spoke to him of the Irish Christians, he did
not seem to belong to them. I more than suspect that he is a
heretic or a Jew at least.

Wife.--Perhaps they are both. Maria Santissima! what shall we do
to purify the house when they are gone?

Innkeeper.--O, as for that matter, we must of course charge it in
the cuenta.

I slept soundly, and rather late in the morning arose and
breakfasted, and paid the bill, in which, by its extravagance, I
found the purification had not been forgotten. The travelling
merchants had departed at daybreak. We now led forth the horses,
and mounted; there were several people at the door staring at us.
"What is the meaning of this?" said I to Antonio.

"It is whispered that we are no Christians," said Antonio; "they
have come to cross themselves at our departure."

In effect, the moment that we rode forward a dozen hands at least
were busied in this evil-averting ceremony. Antonio instantly
turned and crossed himself in the Greek fashion,--much more complex
and difficult than the Catholic.

"Mirad que Santiguo! que Santiguo de los demonios!" {15} exclaimed
many voices, whilst for fear of consequences we hastened away.

The day was exceedingly hot, and we wended our way slowly along the
plains of Old Castile. With all that pertains to Spain, vastness
and sublimity are associated: grand are its mountains, and no less
grand are its plains, which seem of boundless extent, but which are
not tame unbroken flats, like the steppes of Russia. Rough and
uneven ground is continually occurring: here a deep ravine and
gully worn by the wintry torrent; yonder an eminence not
unfrequently craggy and savage, at whose top appears the lone
solitary village. There is little that is blithesome and cheerful,
but much that is melancholy. A few solitary rustics are
occasionally seen toiling in the fields--fields without limit or
boundary, where the green oak, the elm or the ash are unknown;
where only the sad and desolate pine displays its pyramid-like
form, and where no grass is to be found. And who are the
travellers of these districts? For the most part arrieros, with
their long trains of mules hung with monotonous tinkling bells.
Behold them with their brown faces, brown dresses, and broad
slouched hats;--the arrieros, the true lords of the roads of Spain,
and to whom more respect is paid in these dusty ways than to dukes
and condes;--the arrieros, sullen, proud, and rarely courteous,
whose deep voices may be sometimes heard at the distance of a mile,
either cheering the sluggish animals, or shortening the dreary way
with savage and dissonant songs.

Late in the afternoon, we reached Medina del Campo, formerly one of
the principal cities of Spain, though at present an inconsiderable
place. Immense ruins surround it in every direction, attesting the
former grandeur of this "city of the plain." The great square or
market-place is a remarkable spot, surrounded by a heavy massive
piazza, over which rise black buildings of great antiquity. We
found the town crowded with people awaiting the fair, which was to
be held in a day or two. We experienced some difficulty in
obtaining admission into the posada, which was chiefly occupied by
Catalans from Valladolid. These people not only brought with them
their merchandise but their wives and children. Some of them
appeared to be people of the worst description: there was one in
particular, a burly savage-looking fellow, of about forty, whose
conduct was atrocious; he sat with his wife, or perhaps concubine,
at the door of a room which opened upon the court: he was
continually venting horrible and obscene oaths, both in Spanish and
Catalan. The woman was remarkably handsome, but robust and
seemingly as savage as himself; her conversation likewise was as
frightful as his own. Both seemed to be under the influence of an
incomprehensible fury. At last, upon some observation from the
woman, he started up, and drawing a long knife from his girdle,
stabbed at her naked bosom; she, however, interposed the palm of
her hand, which was much cut. He stood for a moment viewing the
blood trickling upon the ground, whilst she held up her wounded
hand, then with an astounding oath he hurried up the court to the
Plaza. I went up to the woman and said, "What is the cause of
this? I hope the ruffian has not seriously injured you." She
turned her countenance upon me with the glance of a demon, and at
last with a sneer of contempt exclaimed, "Carals, que es eso?
Cannot a Catalan gentleman be conversing with his lady upon their
own private affairs without being interrupted by you?" She then
bound up her hand with a handkerchief, and going into the room
brought a small table to the door, on which she placed several
things as if for the evening's repast, and then sat down on a
stool: presently returned the Catalan, and without a word took his
seat on the threshold; then, as if nothing had occurred, the
extraordinary couple commenced eating and drinking, interlarding
their meal with oaths and jests.

We spent the night at Medina, and departing early next morning,
passed through much the same country as the day before, until about
noon we reached a small venta, distant half a league from the
Duero; here we reposed ourselves during the heat of the day, and
then remounting, crossed the river by a handsome stone bridge, and
directed our course to Valladolid. The banks of the Duero in this
place have much beauty: they abound with trees and brushwood,
amongst which, as we passed along, various birds were singing
melodiously. A delicious coolness proceeded from the water, which
in some parts brawled over stones or rippled fleetly over white
sand, and in others glided softly over blue pools of considerable
depth. By the side of one of these last, sat a woman of about
thirty, neatly dressed as a peasant; she was gazing upon the water
into which she occasionally flung flowers and twigs of trees. I
stopped for a moment to ask a question; she, however, neither
looked up nor answered, but continued gazing at the water as if
lost to consciousness of all beside. "Who is that woman?" said I
to a shepherd, whom I met the moment after. "She is mad, la
pobrecita," said he; "she lost her child about a month ago in that
pool, and she has been mad ever since; they are going to send her
to Valladolid, to the Casa de los Locos. There are many who perish
every year in the eddies of the Duero; it is a bad river; vaya
usted con la Virgen, Caballero." So I rode on through the pinares,
or thin scanty pine forests, which skirt the way to Valladolid in
this direction.

Valladolid is seated in the midst of an immense valley, or rather
hollow which seems to have been scooped by some mighty convulsion
out of the plain ground of Castile. The eminences which appear in
the neighbourhood are not properly high grounds, but are rather the
sides of this hollow. They are jagged and precipitous, and exhibit
a strange and uncouth appearance. Volcanic force seems at some
distant period to have been busy in these districts. Valladolid
abounds with convents, at present deserted, which afford some of
the finest specimens of architecture in Spain. The principal
church, though rather ancient, is unfinished: it was intended to
be a building of vast size, but the means of the founders were
insufficient to carry out their plan: it is built of rough
granite. Valladolid is a manufacturing town, but the commerce is
chiefly in the hands of the Catalans, of whom there is a colony of
nearly three hundred established here. It possesses a beautiful
alameda, or public walk, through which flows the river Escurva.
The population is said to amount to sixty thousand souls.

We put up at the Posada de las Diligencias, a very magnificent
edifice: this posada, however, we were glad to quit on the second
day after our arrival, the accommodation being of the most wretched
description, and the incivility of the people great; the master of
the house, an immense tall fellow, with huge moustaches and an
assumed military air, being far too high a cavalier to attend to
the wants of his guests, with whom, it is true, he did not appear
to be overburdened, as I saw no one but Antonio and myself. He was
a leading man amongst the national guards of Valladolid, and
delighted in parading about the city on a clumsy steed, which he
kept in a subterranean stable.

Our next quarters were at the Trojan Horse, an ancient posada, kept
by a native of the Basque provinces, who at least was not above his
business. We found everything in confusion at Valladolid, a visit
from the factious being speedily expected. All the gates were
blockaded, and various forts had been built to cover the approaches
to the city. Shortly after our departure the Carlists actually did
arrive, under the command of the Biscayan chief, Zariategui. They
experienced no opposition; the staunchest nationals retiring to the
principal fort, which they, however, speedily surrendered, not a
gun being fired throughout the affair. As for my friend the hero
of the inn, on the first rumour of the approach of the enemy, he
mounted his horse and rode off, and was never subsequently heard
of. On our return to Valladolid, we found the inn in other and
better hands, those of a Frenchman from Bayonne, from whom we
received as much civility as we had experienced rudeness from his

In a few days I formed the acquaintance of the bookseller of the
place, a kind-hearted simple man, who willingly undertook the
charge of vending the Testaments which I brought.

I found literature of every description at the lowest ebb at
Valladolid. My newly-acquired friend merely carried on bookselling
in connexion with other business; it being, as he assured me, in
itself quite insufficient to afford him a livelihood. During the
week, however, that I continued in this city, a considerable number
of copies were disposed of, and a fair prospect opened that many
more would be demanded. To call attention to my books, I had
recourse to the same plan which I had adopted at Salamanca, the
affixing of advertisements to the walls. Before leaving the city,
I gave orders that these should be renewed every week; from
pursuing which course I expected that much manifold good would
accrue, as the people would have continual opportunities of
learning that a book which contains the living word was in
existence, and within their reach, which might induce them to
secure it and consult it even unto salvation.

In Valladolid I found both an English and Scotch College. From my
obliging friends, the Irish at Salamanca, I bore a letter of
introduction to the rector of the latter. I found this college an
old gloomy edifice, situated in a retired street. The rector was
dressed in the habiliments of a Spanish ecclesiastic, a character
which he was evidently ambitious of assuming. There was something
dry and cold in his manner, and nothing of that generous warmth and
eager hospitality which had so captivated me in the fine Irish
rector of Salamanca; he was, however, civil and polite, and offered
to show me the curiosities of the place. He evidently knew who I
was, and on that account was, perhaps, more reserved than he
otherwise would have been: not a word passed between us on
religious matters, which we seemed to avoid by common consent.
Under the auspices of this gentleman, I visited the college of the
Philippine Missions, which stands beyond the gate of the city,
where I was introduced to the superior, a fine old man of seventy,
very stout, in the habiliments of a friar. There was an air of
placid benignity on his countenance which highly interested me:
his words were few and simple, and he seemed to have bid adieu to
all worldly passions. One little weakness was, however, still
clinging to him.

Myself.--This is a noble edifice in which you dwell, Father; I
should think it would contain at least two hundred students.

Rector.--More, my son; it is intended for more hundreds than it now
contains single individuals.

Myself.--I observe that some rude attempts have been made to
fortify it; the walls are pierced with loopholes in every

Rector.--The nationals of Valladolid visited us a few days ago, and
committed much useless damage; they were rather rude, and
threatened me with their clubs: poor men, poor men.

Myself.--I suppose that even these missions, which are certainly
intended for a noble end, experience the sad effects of the present
convulsed state of Spain?

Rector.--But too true: we at present receive no assistance from
the government, and are left to the Lord and ourselves.

Myself.--How many aspirants for the mission are you at present

Rector.--Not one, my son; not one. They are all fled. The flock
is scattered and the shepherd left alone.

Myself.--Your reverence has doubtless taken an active part in the
mission abroad?

Rector.--I was forty years in the Philippines, my son, forty years
amongst the Indians. Ah me! how I love those Indians of the

Myself.--Can your reverence discourse in the language of the

Rector.--No, my son. We teach the Indians Castilian. There is no
better language, I believe. We teach them Castilian, and the
adoration of the Virgin. What more need they know?

Myself.--And what did your reverence think of the Philippines as a

Rector.--I was forty years in the Philippines, but I know little of
the country. I do not like the country. I love the Indians. The
country is not very bad; it is, however, not worth Castile.

Myself.--Is your reverence a Castilian?

Rector.--I am an OLD Castilian, my son.

From the house of the Philippine Missions my friend conducted me to
the English college; this establishment seemed in every respect to
be on a more magnificent scale than its Scottish sister. In the
latter there were few pupils, scarcely six or seven, I believe,
whilst in the English seminary I was informed that between thirty
and forty were receiving their education. It is a beautiful
building, with a small but splendid church, and a handsome library.
The situation is light and airy: it stands by itself in an
unfrequented part of the city, and, with genuine English
exclusiveness, is surrounded by a high wall, which encloses a
delicious garden. This is by far the most remarkable establishment
of the kind in the Peninsula, and I believe the most prosperous.
From the cursory view which I enjoyed of its interior, I of course
cannot be expected to know much of its economy. I could not,
however, fall to be struck with the order, neatness, and system
which pervaded it. There was, however, an air of severe monastic
discipline, though I am far from asserting that such actually
existed. We were attended throughout by the sub-rector, the
principal being absent. Of all the curiosities of this college,
the most remarkable is the picture gallery, which contains neither
more nor less than the portraits of a variety of scholars of this
house who eventually suffered martyrdom in England, in the exercise
of their vocation in the angry times of the Sixth Edward and fierce
Elizabeth. Yes, in this very house were many of those pale smiling
half-foreign priests educated, who, like stealthy grimalkins,
traversed green England in all directions; crept into old halls
beneath umbrageous rookeries, fanning the dying embers of Popery,
with no other hope nor perhaps wish than to perish disembowelled by
the bloody hands of the executioner, amongst the yells of a rabble
as bigoted as themselves: priests like Bedingfield and Garnet, and
many others who have left a name in English story. Doubtless many
a history, only the more wonderful for being true, could be wrought
out of the archives of the English Popish seminary at Valladolid.

There was no lack of guests at the Trojan Horse, where we had taken
up our abode at Valladolid. Amongst others who arrived during my
sojourn was a robust buxom dame, exceedingly well dressed in black
silk, with a costly mantilla. She was accompanied by a very
handsome, but sullen and malicious-looking urchin of about fifteen,
who appeared to be her son. She came from Toro, a place about a
day's journey from Valladolid, and celebrated for its wine. One
night, as we were seated in the court of the inn enjoying the
fresco, the following conversation ensued between us.

Lady.--Vaya, vaya, what a tiresome place is Valladolid! How
different from Toro.

Myself.--I should have thought that it is at least as agreeable as
Toro, which is not a third part so large.

Lady.--As agreeable as Toro! Vaya, vaya! Were you ever in the
prison of Toro, Sir Cavalier?

Myself.--I have never had that honour; the prison is generally the
last place which I think of visiting.

Lady.--See the difference of tastes: I have been to see the prison
of Valladolid, and it seems as tiresome as the town.

Myself.--Of course, if grief and tediousness exist anywhere, you
will find them in the prison.

Lady.--Not in that of Toro.

Myself.--What does that of Toro possess to distinguish it from all

Lady.--What does it possess? Vaya! Am I not the carcelera? Is
not my husband the alcayde? Is not that son of mine a child of the

Myself.--I beg your pardon, I was not aware of that circumstance;
it of course makes much difference.

Lady.--I believe you. I am a daughter of that prison, my father
was alcayde, and my son might hope to be so, were he not a fool.

Myself.--His countenance then belies him strangely: I should be
loth to purchase that youngster for a fool.

Gaoleress.--You would have a fine bargain if you did; he has more
picardias than any Calabozero in Toro. What I mean is, that he
does not take to the prison as he ought to do, considering what his
fathers were before him. He has too much pride--too many fancies;
and he has at length persuaded me to bring him to Valladolid, where
I have arranged with a merchant who lives in the Plaza to take him
on trial. I wish he may not find his way to the prison: if he do,
he will find that being a prisoner is a very different thing from
being a son of the prison.

Myself.--As there is so much merriment at Toro, you of course
attend to the comfort of your prisoners.

Gaoleress.--Yes, we are very kind to them; I mean to those who are
caballeros; but as for those with vermin and miseria, what can we
do? It is a merry prison that of Toro; we allow as much wine to
enter as the prisoners can purchase and pay duty for. This of
Valladolid is not half so gay: there is no prison like Toro. I
learned there to play on the guitar. An Andalusian cavalier taught
me to touch the guitar and to sing a la Gitana. Poor fellow, he
was my first novio. Juanito, bring me the guitar, that I may play
this gentleman a tune of Andalusia.

The carcelera had a fine voice, and touched the favourite
instrument of the Spaniards in a truly masterly manner. I remained
listening to her performance for nearly an hour, when I retired to
my apartment and my repose. I believe that she continued playing
and singing during the greater part of the night, for as I
occasionally awoke I could still hear her; and, even in my
slumbers, the strings were ringing in my ears.


Duenas--Children of Egypt--Jockeyism--The Baggage Pony--The Fall--
Palencia--Carlist Priests--The Lookout--Priestly Sincerity--Leon--
Antonio alarmed--Heat and Dust.

After a sojourn of about ten days at Valladolid, we directed our
course towards Leon. We arrived about noon at Duenas, a town at
the distance of six short leagues from Valladolid. It is in every
respect a singular place: it stands on a rising ground, and
directly above it towers a steep conical mountain of calcareous
earth, crowned by a ruined castle. Around Duenas are seen a
multitude of caves scooped in the high banks and secured with
strong doors. These are cellars, in which is deposited the wine,
of which abundance is grown in the neighbourhood, and which is
chiefly sold to the Navarrese and the mountaineers of Santander,
who arrive in cars drawn by oxen, and convey it away in large
quantities. We put up at a mean posada in the suburb for the
purpose of refreshing our horses. Several cavalry soldiers were
quartered there, who instantly came forth, and began, with the eyes
of connoisseurs, to inspect my Andalusian entero. "A capital horse
that would be for our troop," said the corporal; "what a chest he
has. By what right do you travel with that horse, Senor, when so
many are wanted for the Queen's service? He belongs to the
requiso." "I travel with him by right of purchase, and being an
Englishman," I replied. "Oh, your worship is an Englishman,"
answered the corporal; "that, indeed, alters the matter; the
English in Spain are allowed to do what they please with their own,
which is more than the Spaniards are. Cavalier, I have seen your
countrymen in the Basque provinces; Vaya, what riders! what horses!
They do not fight badly either. But their chief skill is in
riding: I have seen them dash over barrancos to get at the
factious, who thought themselves quite secure, and then they would
fall upon them on a sudden and kill them to a man. In truth, your
worship, this is a fine horse, I must look at his teeth."

I looked at the corporal--his nose and eyes were in the horse's
mouth: the rest of the party, who might amount to six or seven,
were not less busily engaged. One was examining his forefeet,
another his hind; one fellow was pulling at his tail with all his
might, while another pinched the windpipe, for the purpose of
discovering whether the animal was at all touched there. At last
perceiving that the corporal was about to remove the saddle that he
might examine the back of the animal, I exclaimed:-

"Stay, ye chabes of Egypt, ye forget that ye are hundunares, and
are no longer paruguing grastes in the chardy."

The corporal at these words turned his face full upon me, and so
did all the rest. Yes, sure enough, there were the countenances of
Egypt, and the fixed filmy stare of eye. We continued looking at
each other for a minute at least, when the corporal, a villainous-
looking fellow, at last said, in the richest gypsy whine
imaginable, "the erray know us, the poor Calore! And he an
Englishman! Bullati! I should not have thought that there was
e'er a Busno would know us in these parts, where Gitanos are never
seen. Yes, your worship is right; we are all here of the blood of
the Calore; we are from Melegrana (Granada), your worship; they
took us from thence and sent us to the wars. Your worship is
right, the sight of that horse made us believe we were at home
again in the mercado of Granada; he is a countryman of ours, a real
Andalou. Por dios, your worship, sell us that horse; we are poor
Calore, but we can buy him."

"You forget that you are soldiers," said I. "How should you buy my

"We are soldiers, your worship," said the corporal, "but we are
still Calore; we buy and sell bestis; the captain of our troop is
in league with us. We have been to the wars, but not to fight; we
left that to the Busne. We have kept together, and like true
Calore, have stood back to back. We have made money in the wars,
your worship. No tenga usted cuidao (be under no apprehension).
We can buy your horse."

Here he pulled out a purse, which contained at least ten ounces of

"If I were willing to sell," I replied, "what would you give me for
that horse?"

"Then your worship wishes to sell your horse--that alters the
matter. We will give ten dollars for your worship's horse. He is
good for nothing."

"How is this?" said I. "You this moment told me he was a fine
horse--an Andalusian, and a countryman of yours."

"No, Senor! we did not say that he was an Andalou. We said he was
an Estremou, and the worst of his kind. He is eighteen years old,
your worship, short-winded and galled."

"I do not wish to sell my horse," said I; "quite the contrary; I
had rather buy than sell."

"Your worship does not wish to sell your horse," said the Gypsy.
"Stay, your worship, we will give sixty dollars for your worship's

"I would not sell him for two hundred and sixty. Meclis! Meclis!
say no more. I know your Gypsy tricks. I will have no dealings
with you."

"Did I not hear your worship say that you wished to buy a horse?"
said the Gypsy.

"I do not want to buy a horse," said I; "if I need any thing, it is
a pony to carry our baggage; but it is getting late. Antonio, pay
the reckoning."

"Stay, your worship, do not be in a hurry," said the Gypsy: "I
have got the very pony which will suit you."

Without waiting for my answer, he hurried into the stable, from
whence he presently returned, leading an animal by a halter. It
was a pony of about thirteen hands high, of a dark red colour; it
was very much galled all over, the marks of ropes and thongs being
visible on its hide. The figure, however, was good, and there was
an extraordinary brightness in its eye.

"There, your worship," said the Gypsy; "there is the best pony in
all Spain."

"What do you mean by showing me this wretched creature?" said I.

"This wretched creature," said the Gypsy, "is a better horse than
your Andalou!"

"Perhaps you would not exchange," said I, smiling.

"Senor, what I say is, that he shall run with your Andalou, and
beat him!"

"He looks feeble," said I; "his work is well nigh done."

"Feeble as he is, Senor, you could not manage him; no, nor any
Englishman in Spain."

I looked at the creature again, and was still more struck with its
figure. I was in need of a pony to relieve occasionally the horse
of Antonio in carrying the baggage which we had brought from
Madrid, and though the condition of this was wretched, I thought
that by kind treatment I might possibly soon bring him round.

"May I mount this animal?" I demanded.

"He is a baggage pony, Senor, and is ill to mount. He will suffer
none but myself to mount him, who am his master. When he once
commences running, nothing will stop him but the sea. He springs
over hills and mountains, and leaves them behind in a moment. If
you will mount him, Senor, suffer me to fetch a bridle, for you can
never hold him in with the halter."

"This is nonsense," said I. "You pretend that he is spirited in
order to enhance the price. I tell you his work is done."

I took the halter in my hand and mounted. I was no sooner on his
back than the creature, who had before stood stone still, without
displaying the slightest inclination to move, and who in fact gave
no farther indication of existence than occasionally rolling his
eyes and pricking up an ear, sprang forward like a racehorse, at a
most desperate gallop. I had expected that he might kick or fling
himself down on the ground, in order to get rid of his burden, but
for this escapade I was quite unprepared. I had no difficulty,
however, in keeping on his back, having been accustomed from my
childhood to ride without a saddle. To stop him, however, baffled
all my endeavours, and I almost began to pay credit to the words of
the Gypsy, who had said that he would run on until he reached the
sea. I had, however, a strong arm, and I tugged at the halter
until I compelled him to turn slightly his neck, which from its
stiffness might almost have been of wood; he, however, did not
abate his speed for a moment. On the left side of the road down
which he was dashing was a deep trench, just where the road took a
turn towards the right, and over this he sprang in a sideward
direction; the halter broke with the effort, the pony shot forward
like an arrow, whilst I fell back into the dust.

"Senor!" said the Gypsy, coming up with the most serious
countenance in the world, "I told you not to mount that animal
unless well bridled and bitted. He is a baggage pony, and will
suffer none to mount his back, with the exception of myself who
feed him." (Here he whistled, and the animal, who was scurring
over the field, and occasionally kicking up his heels, instantly
returned with a gentle neigh.) "Now, your worship, see how gentle
he is. He is a capital baggage pony, and will carry all you have
over the hills of Galicia."

"What do you ask for him?" said I.

"Senor, as your worship is an Englishman, and a good ginete, and,
moreover, understands the ways of the Calore, and their tricks and
their language also, I will sell him to you a bargain. I will take
two hundred and sixty dollars for him and no less."

"That is a large sum," said I.

"No, Senor, not at all, considering that he is a baggage pony, and
belongs to the troop, and is not mine to sell."

Two hours' ride brought us to Palencia, a fine old town,
beautifully situated on the Carrion, and famous for its trade in
wool. We put up at the best posada which the place afforded, and I
forthwith proceeded to visit one of the principal merchants of the
town, to whom I was recommended by my banker in Madrid. I was
told, however, that he was taking his siesta. "Then I had better
take my own," said I, and returned to the posada. In the evening I
went again, when I saw him. He was a short bulky man about thirty,
and received me at first with some degree of bluntness; his manner,
however, presently became more kind, and at last he scarcely
appeared to know how to show me sufficient civility. His brother
had just arrived from Santander, and to him he introduced me. This
last was a highly-intelligent person, and had passed many years of
his life in England. They both insisted upon showing me the town,
and, indeed, led me all over it, and about the neighbourhood. I
particularly admired the cathedral, a light, elegant, but ancient
Gothic edifice. Whilst we walked about the aisles, the evening
sun, pouring its mellow rays through the arched windows, illumined
some beautiful paintings of Murillo, with which the sacred edifice
is adorned. From the church my friends conducted me to a fulling
mill in the neighbourhood, by a picturesque walk. There was no
lack either of trees or water, and I remarked, that the environs of
Palencia were amongst the most pleasant places that I had ever

Tired at last with rambling, we repaired to a coffee-house, where
they regaled me with chocolate and sweet-meats. Such was their
hospitality; and of hospitality of this simple and agreeable kind
there is much in Spain.

On the next day we pursued our journey, a dreary one, for the most
part, over bleak and barren plains, interspersed with silent and
cheerless towns and villages, which stood at the distance of two or
three leagues from each other. About midday we obtained a dim and
distant view of an immense range of mountains, which are in fact
those which bound Castile on the north. The day, however, became
dim and obscure, and we speedily lost sight of them. A hollow wind
now arose and blew over these desolate plains with violence,
wafting clouds of dust into our faces; the rays of the sun were
few, and those red and angry. I was tired of my journey, and when
about four we reached -, a large village, half way between Palencia
and Leon, I declared my intention of stopping for the night. I
scarcely ever saw a more desolate place than this same town or
village of -. The houses were for the most part large, but the
walls were of mud, like those of barns. We saw no person in the
long winding street to direct us to the venta, or posada, till at
last, at the farther end of the place, we descried two black
figures standing at a door, of whom, on making inquiry, we learned
that the door at which they stood was that of the house we were in
quest of. There was something strange in the appearance of these
two beings, who seemed the genii of the place. One was a small
slim man, about fifty, with sharp, ill-natured features. He was
dressed in coarse black worsted stockings, black breeches, and an
ample black coat with long trailing skirts. I should at once have
taken him for an ecclesiastic, but for his hat, which had nothing
clerical about it, being a pinched diminutive beaver. His
companion was of low stature, and a much younger man. He was
dressed in similar fashion, save that he wore a dark blue cloak.
Both carried walking sticks in their hands, and kept hovering about
the door, now within and now without, occasionally looking up the
road, as if they expected some one.

"Trust me, mon maitre," said Antonio to me, in French, "those two
fellows are Carlist priests, and are awaiting the arrival of the
Pretender. Les imbeciles!"

We conducted our horses to the stable, to which we were shown by
the woman of the house. "Who are those men?" said I to her.

"The eldest is head curate to our pueblo," said she; "the other is
brother to my husband. Pobrecito! he was a friar in our convent
before it was shut up and the brethren driven forth."

We returned to the door. "I suppose, gentlemen," said the curate,
"that you are Catalans. Do you bring any news from that kingdom?"

"Why do you suppose we are Catalans?" I demanded.

"Because I heard you this moment conversing in that language."

"I bring no news from Catalonia," said I. "I believe, however,
that the greater part of that principality is in the hands of the

"Ahem, brother Pedro! This gentleman says that the greater part of
Catalonia is in the hands of the royalists. Pray, sir, where may
Don Carlos be at present with his army?"

"He may be coming down the road this moment," said I, "for what I
know;" and, stepping out, I looked up the way.

The two figures were at my side in a moment; Antonio followed, and
we all four looked intently up the road.

"Do you see anything?" said I at last to Antonio.

"Non, mon maitre."

"Do you see anything, sir?" said I to the curate.

"I see nothing," said the curate, stretching out his neck.

"I see nothing," said Pedro, the ex-friar; "I see nothing but the
dust, which is becoming every moment more blinding."

"I shall go in, then," said I. "Indeed, it is scarcely prudent to
be standing here looking out for the Pretender: should the
nationals of the town hear of it, they might perhaps shoot us."

"Ahem," said the curate, following me; "there are no nationals in
this place: I would fain see what inhabitant would dare become a
national. When the inhabitants of this place were ordered to take
up arms as nationals, they refused to a man, and on that account we
had to pay a mulet; therefore, friend, you may speak out if you
have anything to communicate; we are all of your opinion here."

"I am of no opinion at all," said I, "save that I want my supper.
I am neither for Rey nor Roque. You say that I am a Catalan, and
you know that Catalans think only of their own affairs."

In the evening I strolled by myself about the village, which I
found still more forlorn and melancholy than it at first appeared;
perhaps, however, it had been a place of consequence in its time.
In one corner of it I found the ruins of a large clumsy castle,
chiefly built of flint stones: into these ruins I attempted to
penetrate, but the entrance was secured by a gate. From the castle
I found my way to the convent, a sad desolate place, formerly the
residence of mendicant brothers of the order of St. Francis. I was
about to return to the inn, when I heard a loud buzz of voices,
and, following the sound, presently reached a kind of meadow,
where, upon a small knoll, sat a priest in full canonicals, reading
in a loud voice a newspaper, while around him, either erect or
seated on the grass, were assembled about fifty vecinos, for the
most part dressed in long cloaks, amongst whom I discovered my two
friends the curate and friar. A fine knot of Carlist quid-nuncs,
said I to myself, and turned away to another part of the meadow,
where the cattle of the village were grazing. The curate, on
observing me, detached himself instantly from the group, and
followed. "I am told you want a pony," said he; "there now is mine
feeding amongst those horses, the best in all the kingdom of Leon."
He then began with all the volubility of a chalan to descant on the
points of the animal. Presently the friar joined us, who,
observing his opportunity, pulled me by the sleeve and whispered,
"Have nothing to do with the curate, master, he is the greatest
thief in the neighbourhood; if you want a pony, my brother has a
much better, which he will dispose of cheaper." "I shall wait till
I arrive at Leon," I exclaimed, and walked away, musing on priestly
friendship and sincerity.

From--to Leon, a distance of eight leagues, the country rapidly
improved: we passed over several small streams, and occasionally
found ourselves amongst meadows in which grass was growing in the
richest luxuriance. The sun shone out brightly, and I hailed his
re-appearance with joy, though the heat of his beams was
oppressive. On arriving within two leagues of Leon, we passed
numerous cars and waggons, and bands of people with horses and
mules, all hastening to the celebrated fair which is held in the
city on St. John's or Mid-summer day, and which took place within
three days after our arrival. This fair, though principally
intended for the sale of horses, is frequented by merchants from
many parts of Spain, who attend with goods of various kinds, and
amongst them I remarked many of the Catalans whom I had previously
seen at Medina and Valladolid.

There is nothing remarkable in Leon, which is an old gloomy town,
with the exception of its cathedral, in many respects a counterpart
of the church of Palencia, exhibiting the same light and elegant
architecture, but, unlike its beautiful sister, unadorned with
splendid paintings. The situation of Leon is highly pleasant, in
the midst of a blooming country, abounding with trees, and watered
by many streams, which have their source in the mighty mountains in
the neighbourhood. It is, however, by no means a healthy place,
especially in summer, when the heats raise noxious exhalations from
the waters, generating many kinds of disorders, especially fevers.

I had scarcely been at Leon three days when I was seized with a
fever, against which I thought the strength even of my constitution
would have yielded, for it wore me almost to a skeleton, and when
it departed, at the end of about a week, left me in such a
deplorable state of weakness that I was scarcely able to make the
slightest exertion. I had, however, previously persuaded a
bookseller to undertake the charge of vending the Testaments, and
had published my advertisements as usual, though without very
sanguine hope of success, as Leon is a place where the inhabitants,
with very few exceptions, are furious Carlists, and ignorant and
blinded followers of the old papal church. It is, moreover, a
bishop's see, which was once enjoyed by the prime counsellor of Don
Carlos, whose fierce and bigoted spirit still seems to pervade the
place. Scarcely had the advertisements appeared, when the clergy
were in motion. They went from house to house, banning and
cursing, and denouncing misery to whomsoever should either purchase
or read "the accursed books," which had been sent into the country
by heretics for the purpose of perverting the innocent minds of the
population. They did more; they commenced a process against the
bookseller in the ecclesiastical court. Fortunately this court is
not at present in the possession of much authority; and the
bookseller, a bold and determined man, set them at defiance, and
went so far as to affix an advertisement to the gate of the very
cathedral. Notwithstanding the cry raised against the book,
several copies were sold at Leon: two were purchased by ex-friars,
and the same number by parochial priests from neighbouring
villages. I believe the whole number disposed of during my stay
amounted to fifteen; so that my visit to this dark corner was not
altogether in vain, as the seed of the gospel has been sown, though
sparingly. But the palpable darkness which envelops Leon is truly
lamentable, and the ignorance of the people is so great, that
printed charms and incantations against Satan and his host, and
against every kind of misfortune, are publicly sold in the shops,
and are in great demand. Such are the results of Popery, a
delusion which, more than any other, has tended to debase and
brutalize the human mind.

I had scarcely risen from my bed where the fever had cast me, when
I found that Antonio had become alarmed. He informed me that he
had seen several soldiers in the uniform of Don Carlos lurking at
the door of the posada, and that they had been making inquiries
concerning me.

It was indeed a singular fact connected with Leon, that upwards of
fifty of these fellows, who had on various accounts left the ranks
of the Pretender, were walking about the streets dressed in his
livery, and with all the confidence which the certainty of
protection from the local authorities could afford them should any
one be disposed to interrupt them.

I learned moreover from Antonio, that the person in whose house we
were living was a notorious "alcahuete," or spy to the robbers in
the neighbourhood, and that unless we took our departure speedily
and unexpectedly, we should to a certainty be plundered on the
road. I did not pay much attention to these hints, but my desire
to quit Leon was great, as I was convinced that as long as I
continued there I should be unable to regain my health and vigour.

Accordingly, at three in the morning, we departed for Galicia. We
had scarcely proceeded half a league when we were overtaken by a
thunder-storm of tremendous violence. We were at that time in the
midst of a wood which extends to some distance in the direction in
which we were going. The trees were bowed almost to the ground by
the wind or torn up by the roots, whilst the earth was ploughed up
by the lightning, which burst all around and nearly blinded us.
The spirited Andalusian on which I rode became furious, and bounded
into the air as if possessed. Owing to my state of weakness, I had
the greatest difficulty in maintaining my seat, and avoiding a fall
which might have been fatal. A tremendous discharge of rain
followed the storm, which swelled the brooks and streams and
flooded the surrounding country, causing much damage amongst the
corn. After riding about five leagues, we began to enter the
mountainous district which surrounds Astorga: the heat now became
almost suffocating; swarms of flies began to make their appearance,
and settling down upon the horses, stung them almost to madness,
whilst the road was very flinty and trying. It was with great
difficulty that we reached Astorga, covered with mud and dust, our
tongues cleaving to our palates with thirst.


Astorga--The Inn--The Maragatos--The Habits of the Maragatos--The

We went to a posada in the suburbs, the only one, indeed, which the
place afforded. The courtyard was full of arrieros and carriers,
brawling loudly; the master of the house was fighting with two of
his customers, and universal confusion reigned around. As I
dismounted I received the contents of a wineglass in my face, of
which greeting, as it was probably intended for another, I took no
notice. Antonio, however, was not so patient, for on being struck
with a cudgel, he instantly returned the salute with his whip,
scarifying the countenance of a carman. In my endeavours to
separate these two antagonists, my horse broke loose, and rushing
amongst the promiscuous crowd, overturned several individuals and
committed no little damage. It was a long time before peace was
restored: at last we were shown to a tolerably decent chamber. We
had, however, no sooner taken possession of it, than the waggon
from Madrid arrived on its way to Coruna, filled with dusty
travellers, consisting of women, children, invalid officers and the
like. We were now forthwith dislodged, and our baggage flung into
the yard. On our complaining of this treatment, we were told that
we were two vagabonds whom nobody knew; who had come without an
arriero, and had already set the whole house in confusion. As a
great favour, however, we were at length permitted to take up our
abode in a ruinous building down the yard, adjoining the stable,
and filled with rats and vermin. Here there was an old bed with a
tester, and with this wretched accommodation we were glad to
content ourselves, for I could proceed no farther, and was burnt
with fever. The heat of the place was intolerable, and I sat on
the staircase with my head between my hands, gasping for breath:
soon appeared Antonio with vinegar and water, which I drank and
felt relieved.

We continued in this suburb three days, during the greatest part of
which time I was stretched on the tester bed. I once or twice
contrived to make my way into the town, but found no bookseller,
nor any person willing to undertake the charge of disposing of my
Testaments. The people were brutal, stupid, and uncivil, and I
returned to my tester bed fatigued and dispirited. Here I lay
listening from time to time to the sweet chimes which rang from the
clock of the old cathedral. The master of the house never came
near me, nor indeed, once inquired about me. Beneath the care of
Antonio, however, I speedily waxed stronger. "Mon maitre," said he
to me one evening, "I see you are better; let us quit this bad town
and worse posada to-morrow morning. Allons, mon maitre! Il est
temps de nous mettre en chemin pour Lugo et Galice."

Before proceeding, however, to narrate what befell us in this
journey to Lugo and Galicia, it will perhaps not be amiss to say a
few words concerning Astorga and its vicinity. It is a walled
town, containing about five or six thousand inhabitants, with a
cathedral and college, which last is, however, at present deserted.
It is situated on the confines, and may be called the capital of a
tract of land called the country of the Maragatos, which occupies
about three square leagues, and has for its north-western boundary
a mountain called Telleno, the loftiest of a chain of hills which
have their origin near the mouth of the river Minho, and are
connected with the immense range which constitutes the frontier of
the Asturias and Guipuscoa.

The land is ungrateful and barren, and niggardly repays the toil of
the cultivator, being for the most part rocky, with a slight
sprinkling of red brick earth.

The Maragatos are perhaps the most singular caste to be found
amongst the chequered population of Spain. They have their own
peculiar customs and dress, and never intermarry with the
Spaniards. Their name is a clue to their origin, as it signifies,
"Moorish Goths," and at the present day their garb differs but
little from that of the Moors of Barbary, as it consists of a long
tight jacket, secured at the waist by a broad girdle, loose short
trousers which terminate at the knee, and boots and gaiters. Their
heads are shaven, a slight fringe of hair being only left at the
lower part. If they wore the turban or barret, they could scarcely
be distinguished from the Moors in dress, but in lieu thereof they
wear the sombrero, or broad slouching hat of Spain. There can be
little doubt that they are a remnant of those Goths who sided with
the Moors on their invasion of Spain, and who adopted their
religion, customs, and manner of dress, which, with the exception
of the first, are still to a considerable degree retained by them.
It is, however, evident that their blood has at no time mingled
with that of the wild children of the desert, for scarcely amongst
the hills of Norway would you find figures and faces more
essentially Gothic than those of the Maragatos. They are strong
athletic men, but loutish and heavy, and their features, though for
the most part well formed, are vacant and devoid of expression.
They are slow and plain of speech, and those eloquent and
imaginative sallies so common in the conversation of other
Spaniards, seldom or never escape them; they have, moreover, a
coarse thick pronunciation, and when you hear them speak, you
almost imagine that it is some German or English peasant attempting
to express himself in the language of the Peninsula. They are
constitutionally phlegmatic, and it is very difficult to arouse
their anger; but they are dangerous and desperate when once
incensed; and a person who knew them well, told me that he would
rather face ten Valencians, people infamous for their ferocity and
blood-thirstiness, than confront one angry Maragato, sluggish and
stupid though he be on other occasions.

The men scarcely ever occupy themselves in husbandry, which they
abandon to the women, who plough the flinty fields and gather in
the scanty harvests. Their husbands and sons are far differently
employed: for they are a nation of arrieros or carriers, and
almost esteem it a disgrace to follow any other profession. On
every road of Spain, particularly those north of the mountains
which divide the two Castiles, may be seen gangs of fives and sixes
of these people lolling or sleeping beneath the broiling sun, on
gigantic and heavily laden mutes and mules. In a word, almost the
entire commerce of nearly one half of Spain passes through the
hands of the Maragatos, whose fidelity to their trust is such, that
no one accustomed to employ them would hesitate to confide to them
the transport of a ton of treasure from the sea of Biscay to
Madrid; knowing well that it would not be their fault were it not
delivered safe and undiminished, even of a grain, and that bold
must be the thieves who would seek to wrest it from the far feared
Maragatos, who would cling to it whilst they could stand, and would
cover it with their bodies when they fell in the act of loading or
discharging their long carbines.

But they are far from being disinterested, and if they are the most
trustworthy of all the arrieros of Spain, they in general demand
for the transport of articles a sum at least double to what others
of the trade would esteem a reasonable recompense: by this means
they accumulate large sums of money, notwithstanding that they
indulge themselves in far superior fare to that which contents in
general the parsimonious Spaniard;--another argument in favour of
their pure Gothic descent; for the Maragatos, like true men of the
north, delight in swilling liquors and battening upon gross and
luscious meats, which help to swell out their tall and goodly
figures. Many of them have died possessed of considerable riches,
part of which they have not unfrequently bequeathed to the erection
or embellishment of religious houses.

On the east end of the cathedral of Astorga, which towers over the
lofty and precipitous wall, a colossal figure of lead may be seen
on the roof. It is the statue of a Maragato carrier who endowed
the cathedral with a large sum. He is in his national dress, but
his head is averted from the lands of his fathers, and whilst he
waves in his hand a species of flag, he seems to be summoning his
race from their unfruitful region to other climes, where a richer
field is open to their industry and enterprise.

I spoke to several of these men respecting the all-important
subject of religion; but I found "their hearts gross, and their
ears dull of hearing, and their eyes closed." There was one in
particular to whom I showed the New Testament, and whom I addressed
for a considerable time. He listened or seemed to listen
patiently, taking occasionally copious draughts from an immense jug
of whitish wine which stood between his knees. After I had
concluded he said, "To-morrow I set out for Lugo, whither, I am
told, yourself are going. If you wish to send your chest, I have
no objection to take it at so much (naming an extravagant price).
As for what you have told me, I understand little of it, and
believe not a word of it; but in respect to the books which you
have shown me, I will take three or four. I shall not read them,
it is true, but I have no doubt that I can sell them at a higher
price than you demand."

So much for the Maragatos.


Departure from Astorga--The Venta--The By-path--Narrow Escape--The
Cup of Water--Sun and Shade--Bembibre--Convent of the Rocks--
Sunset--Cacabelos--Midnight Adventure--Villafrancs.

It was four o'clock of a beautiful morning when we sallied from
Astorga, or rather from its suburbs, in which we had been lodged:
we directed our course to the north, in the direction of Galicia.
Leaving the mountain Telleno on our left, we passed along the
eastern skirts of the land of the Maragatos, over broken uneven
ground, enlivened here and there by small green valleys and runnels
of water. Several of the Maragatan women, mounted on donkeys,
passed us on their way to Astorga, whither they were carrying
vegetables. We saw others in the fields handling their rude
ploughs, drawn by lean oxen. We likewise passed through a small
village, in which we, however, saw no living soul. Near this
village we entered the high road which leads direct from Madrid to
Coruna, and at last, having travelled near four leagues, we came to
a species of pass, formed on our left by a huge lumpish hill (one
of those which descend from the great mountain Telleno), and on our
right by one of much less altitude. In the middle of this pass,
which was of considerable breadth, a noble view opened itself to
us. Before us, at the distance of about a league and a half, rose
the mighty frontier chain, of which I have spoken before; its blue
sides and broken and picturesque peaks still wearing a thin veil of
the morning mist, which the fierce rays of the sun were fast
dispelling. It seemed an enormous barrier, threatening to oppose
our farther progress, and it reminded me of the fables respecting
the children of Magog, who are said to reside in remotest Tartary,
behind a gigantic wall of rocks, which can only be passed by a gate
of steel a thousand cubits in height.

We shortly after arrived at Manzanal, a village consisting of
wretched huts, and exhibiting every sign of poverty and misery. It
was now time to refresh ourselves and horses, and we accordingly
put up at a venta, the last habitation in the village, where,
though we found barley for the animals, we had much difficulty in
procuring anything for ourselves. I was at length fortunate enough
to obtain a large jug of milk, for there were plenty of cows in the
neighbourhood, feeding in a picturesque valley which we had passed
by, where was abundance of grass, and trees, and a rivulet broken
by tiny cascades. The jug might contain about half a gallon, but I
emptied it in a few minutes, for the thirst of fever was still
burning within me, though I was destitute of appetite. The venta
had something the appearance of a German baiting-house. It
consisted of an immense stable, from which was partitioned a kind
of kitchen and a place where the family slept. The master, a
robust young man, lolled on a large solid stone bench, which stood
within the door. He was very inquisitive respecting news, but I
could afford him none; whereupon he became communicative, and gave
me the history of his life, the sum of which was, that he had been
a courier in the Basque provinces, but about a year since had been
dispatched to this village, where he kept the post-house. He was
an enthusiastic liberal, and spoke in bitter terms of the
surrounding population, who, he said, were all Carlists and friends
of the friars. I paid little attention to his discourse, for I was
looking at a Maragato lad of about fourteen, who served in the
house as a kind of ostler. I asked the master if we were still in
the land of the Maragatos; but he told me that we had left it
behind nearly a league, and that the lad was an orphan and was
serving until he could rake up a sufficient capital to become an
arriero. I addressed several questions to the boy, but the urchin
looked sullenly in my face, and either answered by monosyllables or
was doggedly silent. I asked him if he could read. "Yes," said
he, "as much as that brute of yours who is tearing down the

Quitting Manzanal, we continued our course. We soon arrived at the
verge of a deep valley amongst mountains, not those of the chain
which we had seen before us, and which we now left to the right,
but those of the Telleno range, just before they unite with that
chain. Round the sides of this valley, which exhibited something
of the appearance of a horse-shoe, wound the road in a circuitous
manner; just before us, however, and diverging from the road, lay a
footpath which seemed, by a gradual descent, to lead across the
valley, and to rejoin the road on the other side, at the distance
of about a furlong; and into this we struck in order to avoid the

We had not gone far before we met two Galicians, on their way to
cut the harvests of Castile. One of them shouted, "Cavalier, turn
back: in a moment you will be amongst precipices, where your
horses will break their necks, for we ourselves could scarcely
climb them on foot." The other cried, "Cavalier, proceed, but be
careful, and your horses, if sure-footed, will run no great danger:
my comrade is a fool." A violent dispute instantly ensued between
the two mountaineers, each supporting his opinion with loud oaths
and curses; but without stopping to see the result, I passed on,
but the path was now filled with stones and huge slaty rocks, on
which my horse was continually slipping. I likewise heard the
sound of water in a deep gorge, which I had hitherto not perceived,
and I soon saw that it would be worse than madness to proceed. I
turned my horse, and was hastening to regain the path which I had
left, when Antonio, my faithful Greek, pointed out to me a meadow
by which, he said, we might regain the high road much lower down
than if we returned on our steps. The meadow was brilliant with
short green grass, and in the middle there was a small rivulet of
water. I spurred my horse on, expecting to be in the high road in
a moment; the horse, however, snorted and stared wildly, and was
evidently unwilling to cross the seemingly inviting spot. I
thought that the scent of a wolf, or some other wild animal might
have disturbed him, but was soon undeceived by his sinking up to
the knees in a bog. The animal uttered a shrill sharp neigh, and
exhibited every sign of the greatest terror, making at the same
time great efforts to extricate himself, and plunging forward, but
every moment sinking deeper. At last he arrived where a small vein
of rock showed itself: on this he placed his fore feet, and with
one tremendous exertion freed himself, from the deceitful soil,
springing over the rivulet and alighting on comparatively firm
ground, where he stood panting, his heaving sides covered with a
foamy sweat. Antonio, who had observed the whole scene, afraid to
venture forward, returned by the path by which we came, and shortly
afterwards rejoined me. This adventure brought to my recollection
the meadow with its footpath which tempted Christian from the
straight road to heaven, and finally conducted him to the dominions
of the giant Despair.

We now began to descend the valley by a broad and excellent
carretera or carriage road, which was cut out of the steep side of
the mountain on our right. On our left was the gorge, down which
tumbled the runnel of water which I have before mentioned. The
road was tortuous, and at every turn the scene became more
picturesque. The gorge gradually widened, and the brook at its
bottom, fed by a multitude of springs, increased in volume and in
sound, but it was soon far beneath us, pursuing its headlong course
till it reached level ground, where it flowed in the midst of a
beautiful but confined prairie. There was something sylvan and
savage in the mountains on the farther side, clad from foot to
pinnacle with trees, so closely growing that the eye was unable to
obtain a glimpse of the hill sides, which were uneven with ravines
and gulleys, the haunts of the wolf, the wild boar, and the corso,
or mountain-stag; the latter of which, as I was informed by a
peasant who was driving a car of oxen, frequently descended to feed
in the prairie, and were there shot for the sake of their skins,
for their flesh, being strong and disagreeable, is held in no

But notwithstanding the wildness of these regions, the handiworks
of man were visible. The sides of the gorge, though precipitous,
were yellow with little fields of barley, and we saw a hamlet and
church down in the prairie below, whilst merry songs ascended to
our ears from where the mowers were toiling with their scythes,
cutting the luxuriant and abundant grass. I could scarcely believe
that I was in Spain, in general so brown, so arid and cheerless,
and I almost fancied myself in Greece, in that land of ancient
glory, whose mountain and forest scenery Theocritus has so well

At the bottom of the valley we entered a small village, washed by
the brook, which had now swelled almost to a stream. A more
romantic situation I had never witnessed. It was surrounded, and
almost overhung by mountains, and embowered in trees of various
kinds; waters sounded, nightingales sang, and the cuckoo's full
note boomed from the distant branches, but the village was
miserable. The huts were built of slate stones, of which the
neighbouring hills seemed to be principally composed, and roofed
with the same, but not in the neat tidy manner of English houses,
for the slates were of all sizes, and seemed to be flung on in
confusion. We were spent with heat and thirst, and sitting down on
a stone bench, I entreated a woman to give me a little water. The
woman said she would, but added that she expected to be paid for
it. Antonio, on hearing this, became highly incensed, and speaking
Greek, Turkish, and Spanish, invoked the vengeance of the Panhagia
on the heartless woman, saying, "If I were to offer a Mahometan
gold for a draught of water he would dash it in my face; and you
are a Catholic, with the stream running at your door." I told him
to be silent, and giving the woman two cuartos, repeated my
request, whereupon she took a pitcher, and going to the stream
filled it with water. It tasted muddy and disagreeable, but it
drowned the fever which was devouring me.

We again remounted and proceeded on our way, which, for a
considerable distance, lay along the margin of the stream, which
now fell in small cataracts, now brawled over stones, and at other
times ran dark and silent through deep pools overhung with tall
willows,--pools which seemed to abound with the finny tribe, for
large trout frequently sprang from the water, catching the
brilliant fly which skimmed along its deceitful surface. The scene
was delightful. The sun was rolling high in the firmament, casting
from its orb of fire the most glorious rays, so that the atmosphere
was flickering with their splendour, but their fierceness was
either warded off by the shadow of the trees or rendered innocuous
by the refreshing coolness which rose from the waters, or by the
gentle breezes which murmured at intervals over the meadows,
"fanning the cheek or raising the hair" of the wanderer. The hills
gradually receded, till at last we entered a plain where tall grass
was waving, and mighty chestnut trees, in full blossom, spread out
their giant and umbrageous boughs. Beneath many stood cars, the
tired oxen prostrate on the ground, the crossbar of the poll which
they support pressing heavily on their heads, whilst their drivers
were either employed in cooking, or were enjoying a delicious
siesta in the grass and shade. I went up to one of the largest of
these groups and demanded of the individuals whether they were in
need of the Testament of Jesus Christ. They stared at one another,
and then at me, till at last a young man, who was dangling a long
gun in his hands as he reclined, demanded of me what it was, at the
same time inquiring whether I was a Catalan, "for you speak
hoarse," said he, "and are tall and fair like that family." I sat
down amongst them and said that I was no Catalan, but that I came
from a spot in the Western Sea, many leagues distant, to sell that
book at half the price it cost; and that their souls' welfare
depended on their being acquainted with it. I then explained to
them the nature of the New Testament, and read to them the parable
of the Sower. They stared at each other again, but said that they
were poor, and could not buy books. I rose, mounted, and was going
away, saying to them: "Peace bide with you." Whereupon the young
man with the gun rose, and saying, "Caspita! this is odd," snatched
the book from my hand and gave me the price I had demanded.

Perhaps the whole world might be searched in vain for a spot whose
natural charms could rival those of this plain or valley of
Bembibre, as it is called, with its wall of mighty mountains, its
spreading chestnut trees, and its groves of oaks and willows, which
clothe the banks of its stream, a tributary to the Minho. True it
is, that when I passed through it, the candle of heaven was blazing
in full splendour, and everything lighted by its rays looked gay,
glad, and blessed. Whether it would have filled me with the same
feelings of admiration if viewed beneath another sky, I will not
pretend to determine; but it certainly possesses advantages which
at no time could fail to delight, for it exhibits all the peaceful
beauties of an English landscape blended with something wild and
grand, and I thought within myself that he must be a restless
dissatisfied man, who, born amongst those scenes, would wish to
quit them. At the time I would have desired no better fate than
that of a shepherd on the prairies, or a hunter in the hills of

Three hours passed away and we were in another situation. We had
halted and refreshed ourselves and horses at Bembibre, a village of
mud and slate, and which possessed little to attract attention: we
were now ascending, for the road was over one of the extreme ledges
of those frontier hills which I have before so often mentioned; but
the aspect of heaven had blackened, clouds were rolling rapidly
from the west over the mountains, and a cold wind was moaning
dismally. "There is a storm travelling through the air," said a
peasant, whom we overtook, mounted on a wretched mule; "and the
Asturians had better be on the lookout, for it is speeding in their
direction." He had scarce spoken, when a light, so vivid and
dazzling that it seemed as if the whole lustre of the fiery element
were concentrated in it, broke around us, filling the whole
atmosphere, and covering rock, tree and mountain with a glare not
to be described. The mule of the peasant tumbled prostrate, while
the horse I rode reared himself perpendicularly, and turning round,
dashed down the hill at headlong speed, which for some time it was
impossible to cheek. The lightning was followed by a peal almost
as terrible, but distant, for it sounded hollow and deep; the
hills, however, caught up its voice, seemingly repeating it from
summit to summit, till it was lost in interminable space. Other
flashes and peals succeeded, but slight in comparison, and a few
drops of rain descended. The body of the tempest seemed to be over
another region. "A hundred families are weeping where that bolt
fell," said the peasant when I rejoined him, "for its blaze has
blinded my mule at six leagues' distance." He was leading the
animal by the bridle, as its sight was evidently affected. "Were
the friars still in their nest above there," he continued, "I
should say that this was their doing, for they are the cause of all
the miseries of the land."

I raised my eyes in the direction in which he pointed. Half way up
the mountain, over whose foot we were wending, jutted forth a black
frightful crag, which at an immense altitude overhung the road, and
seemed to threaten destruction. It resembled one of those ledges
of the rocky mountains in the picture of the Deluge, up to which
the terrified fugitives have scrambled from the eager pursuit of
the savage and tremendous billows, and from whence they gaze down
in horror, whilst above them rise still higher and giddier heights,
to which they seem unable to climb. Built on the very edge of this
crag, stood an edifice, seemingly devoted to the purposes of
religion, as I could discern the spire of a church rearing itself
high over wall and roof. "That is the house of the Virgin of the
Rocks," said the peasant, "and it was lately full of friars, but
they have been thrust out, and the only inmates now are owls and
ravens." I replied, that their life in such a bleak exposed abode
could not have been very enviable, as in winter they must have
incurred great risk of perishing with cold. "By no means," said
he; "they had the best of wood for their braseros and chimneys, and
the best of wine to warm them at their meals, which were not the
most sparing. Moreover, they had another convent down in the vale
yonder, to which they could retire at their pleasure." On my
asking him the reason of his antipathy to the friars, he replied,
that he had been their vassal, and that they had deprived him every
year of the flower of what he possessed. Discoursing in this
manner, we reached a village just below the convent, where he left
me, having first pointed out to me a house of stone, with an image
over the door, which, he said, once also belonged to the canalla
(rabble) above.

The sun was setting fast, and eager to reach Villafranca, where I
had determined on resting, and which was still distant three
leagues and a half, I made no halt at this place. The road was now
down a rapid and crooked descent, which terminated in a valley, at
the bottom of which was a long and narrow bridge; beneath it rolled
a river, descending from a wide pass between two mountains, for the
chain was here cleft, probably by some convulsion of nature. I
looked up the pass, and on the hills on both sides. Far above, on
my right, but standing forth bold and clear, and catching the last
rays of the sun, was the Convent of the Precipices, whilst directly
over against it, on the farther side of the valley, rose the
perpendicular side of the rival hill, which, to a considerable
extent intercepting the light, flung its black shadow over the
upper end of the pass, involving it in mysterious darkness.
Emerging from the centre of this gloom, with thundering sound,
dashed a river, white with foam, and bearing along with it huge
stones and branches of trees, for it was the wild Sil hurrying to
the ocean from its cradle in the heart of the Asturian hills, and
probably swollen by the recent rains.

Hours again passed away. It was now night, and we were in the
midst of woodlands, feeling our way, for the darkness was so great
that I could scarcely see the length of a yard before my horse's
head. The animal seemed uneasy, and would frequently stop short,
prick up his ears, and utter a low mournful whine. Flashes of
sheet lightning frequently illumined the black sky, and flung a
momentary glare over our path. No sound interrupted the stillness
of the night, except the slow tramp of the horses' hoofs, and
occasionally the croaking of frogs from some pool or morass. I now
bethought me that I was in Spain, the chosen land of the two
fiends, assassination and plunder, and how easily two tired and
unarmed wanderers might become their victims.

We at last cleared the woodlands, and after proceeding a short
distance, the horse gave a joyous neigh, and broke into a smart
trot. A barking of dogs speedily reached my ears, and we seemed to
be approaching some town or village. In effect we were close to
Cacabelos, a town about five miles distant from Villafranca.

It was near eleven at night, and I reflected that it would be far
more expedient to tarry in this place till the morning than to
attempt at present to reach Villafranca, exposing ourselves to all
the horrors of darkness in a lonely and unknown road. My mind was
soon made up on this point; but I reckoned without my host, for at
the first posada which I attempted to enter, I was told that we
could not be accommodated, and still less our horses, as the stable
was full of water. At the second, and there were but two, I was
answered from the window by a gruff voice, nearly in the words of
the Scripture: "Trouble me not; the door is now shut, and my
children are with me in bed; I cannot arise to let you in."
Indeed, we had no particular desire to enter, as it appeared a
wretched hovel, though the poor horses pawed piteously against the
door, and seemed to crave admittance.

We had now no choice but to resume our doleful way to Villafranca,
which, we were told, was a short league distant, though it proved a
league and a half. We found it no easy matter to quit the town,
for we were bewildered amongst its labyrinths, and could not find
the outlet. A lad about eighteen was, however, persuaded, by the
promise of a peseta, to guide us: whereupon he led us by many
turnings to a bridge, which he told us to cross, and to follow the
road, which was that of Villafranca; he then, having received his
fee, hastened from us.

We followed his directions, not, however, without a suspicion that
he might be deceiving us. The night had settled darker down upon
us, so that it was impossible to distinguish any object, however
nigh. The lightning had become more faint and rare. We heard the
rustling of trees, and occasionally the barking of dogs, which last
sound, however, soon ceased, and we were in the midst of night and
silence. My horse, either from weariness, or the badness of the
road, frequently stumbled; whereupon I dismounted, and leading him
by the bridle, soon left Antonio far in the rear.

I had proceeded in this manner a considerable way, when a
circumstance occurred of a character well suited to the time and

I was again amidst trees and bushes, when the horse stopping short,
nearly pulled me back. I know not how it was, but fear suddenly
came over me, which, though in darkness and in solitude, I had not
felt before. I was about to urge the animal forward, when I heard
a noise at my right hand, and listened attentively. It seemed to
be that of a person or persons forcing their way through branches
and brushwood. It soon ceased, and I heard feet on the road. It
was the short staggering kind of tread of people carrying a very
heavy substance, nearly too much for their strength, and I thought
I heard the hurried breathing of men over-fatigued. There was a
short pause, during which I conceived they were resting in the
middle of the road; then the stamping recommenced, until it reached
the other side, when I again heard a similar rustling amidst
branches; it continued for some time and died gradually away.

I continued my road, musing on what had just occurred, and forming
conjectures as to the cause. The lightning resumed its flashing,
and I saw that I was approaching tall black mountains.

This nocturnal journey endured so long that I almost lost all hope
of reaching the town, and had closed my eyes in a doze, though I
still trudged on mechanically, leading the horse. Suddenly a voice
at a slight distance before me roared out, "Quien vive?" for I had
at last found my way to Villafranca. It proceeded from the sentry
in the suburb, one of those singular half soldiers half guerillas,
called Miguelets, who are in general employed by the Spanish
government to clear the roads of robbers. I gave the usual answer,
"Espana," and went up to the place where he stood. After a little
conversation, I sat down on a stone, awaiting the arrival of
Antonio, who was long in making his appearance. On his arrival, I
asked if any one had passed him on the road, but he replied that he
had seen nothing. The night, or rather the morning, was still very
dark, though a small corner of the moon was occasionally visible.
On our inquiring the way to the gate, the Miguelet directed us down
a street to the left, which we followed. The street was steep, we
could see no gate, and our progress was soon stopped by houses and
wall. We knocked at the gates of two or three of these houses (in
the upper stories of which lights were burning), for the purpose of
being set right, but we were either disregarded or not heard. A
horrid squalling of cats, from the tops of the houses and dark
corners, saluted our ears, and I thought of the night arrival of
Don Quixote and his squire at Toboso, and their vain search amongst
the deserted streets for the palace of Dulcinea. At length we saw
light and heard voices in a cottage at the other side of a kind of
ditch. Leading the horses over, we called at the door, which was
opened by an aged man, who appeared by his dress to be a baker, as
indeed he proved, which accounted for his being up at so late an
hour. On begging him to show us the way into the town, he led us
up a very narrow alley at the end of his cottage, saying that he
would likewise conduct us to the posada.

The alley led directly to what appeared to be the market-place, at
a corner house of which our guide stopped and knocked. After a
long pause an upper window was opened, and a female voice demanded
who we were. The old man replied, that two travellers had arrived
who were in need of lodging. "I cannot be disturbed at this time
of night," said the woman; "they will be wanting supper, and there
is nothing in the house; they must go elsewhere." She was going to
shut the window, but I cried that we wanted no supper, but merely
resting place for ourselves and horses--that we had come that day
from Astorga, and were dying with fatigue. "Who is that speaking?"
cried the woman. "Surely that is the voice of Gil, the German
clock-maker from Pontevedra. Welcome, old companion; you are come
at the right time, for my own is out of order. I am sorry I have
kept you waiting, but I will admit you in a moment."

The window was slammed to, presently a light shone through the
crevices of the door, a key turned in the lock, and we were


Villafranca--The Pass--Gallegan Simplicity--The Frontier Guard--The
Horse-shoe--Gallegan Peculiarities--A Word on Language--The
Courier--Wretched Cabins--Host and Guests--Andalusians.

"Ave Maria," said the woman; "whom have we here? This is not Gil
the clock-maker." "Whether it be Gil or Juan," said I, "we are in
need of your hospitality, and can pay for it." Our first care was
to stable the horses, who were much exhausted. We then went in
search of some accommodation for ourselves. The house was large
and commodious, and having tasted a little water, I stretched
myself on the floor of one of the rooms on some mattresses which
the woman produced, and in less than a minute was sound asleep.

The sun was shining bright when I awoke. I walked forth into the
market-place, which was crowded with people, I looked up, and could
see the peaks of tall black mountains peeping over the tops of the
houses. The town lay in a deep hollow, and appeared to be
surrounded by hills on almost every side. "Quel pays barbare!"
said Antonio, who now joined me; "the farther we go, my master, the
wilder everything looks. I am half afraid to venture into Galicia;
they tell me that to get to it we must clamber up those hills: the
horses will founder." Leaving the market-place I ascended the wall
of the town, and endeavoured to discover the gate by which we
should have entered the preceding night; but I was not more
successful in the bright sunshine than in the darkness. The town
in the direction of Astorga appeared to be hermetically sealed.

I was eager to enter Galicia, and finding that the horses were to a
certain extent recovered from the fatigue of the journey of the
preceding day, we again mounted and proceeded on our way. Crossing
a bridge, we presently found ourselves in a deep gorge amongst the
mountains, down which rushed an impetuous rivulet, overhung by the
high road which leads into Galicia. We were in the far-famed pass
of Fuencebadon.

It is impossible to describe this pass or the circumjacent region,
which contains some of the most extraordinary scenery in all Spain;
a feeble and imperfect outline is all that I can hope to effect.
The traveller who ascends it follows for nearly a league the course
of the torrent, whose banks are in some places precipitous, and in
others slope down to the waters, and are covered with lofty trees,
oaks, poplars, and chestnuts. Small villages are at first
continually seen, with low walls, and roofs formed of immense
slates, the eaves nearly touching the ground; these hamlets,
however, gradually become less frequent as the path grows more
steep and narrow, until they finally cease at a short distance
before the spot is attained where the rivulet is abandoned, and is
no more seen, though its tributaries may yet be heard in many a
gully, or descried in tiny rills dashing down the steeps.
Everything here is wild, strange, and beautiful: the hill up which
winds the path towers above on the right, whilst on the farther
side of a profound ravine rises an immense mountain, to whose
extreme altitudes the eye is scarcely able to attain; but the most
singular feature of this pass are the hanging fields or meadows
which cover its sides. In these, as I passed, the grass was
growing luxuriantly, and in many the mowers were plying their
scythes, though it seemed scarcely possible that their feet could
find support on ground so precipitous: above and below were drift-
ways, so small as to seem threads along the mountain side. A car,
drawn by oxen, is creeping round yon airy eminence; the nearer
wheel is actually hanging over the horrid descent; giddiness seizes
the brain, and the eye is rapidly withdrawn. A cloud intervenes,
and when again you turn to watch their progress, the objects of
your anxiety have disappeared. Still more narrow becomes the path
along which you yourself are toiling, and its turns more frequent.
You have already come a distance of two leagues, and still one-
third of the ascent remains unsurmounted. You are not yet in
Galicia; and you still hear Castilian, coarse and unpolished, it is
true, spoken in the miserable cabins placed in the sequestered
nooks which you pass by in your route.

Shortly before we reached the summit of the pass thick mists began
to envelop the tops of the hills, and a drizzling rain descended.
"These mists," said Antonio, "are what the Gallegans call bretima;
and it is said there is never any lack of them in their country."
"Have you ever visited the country before?" I demanded. "Non, mon
maitre; but I have frequently lived in houses where the domestics
were in part Gallegans, on which account I know not a little of
their ways, and even something of their language." "Is the opinion
which you have formed of them at all in their favour?" I inquired.
"By no means, mon maitre; the men in general seem clownish and
simple, yet they are capable of deceiving the most clever filou of
Paris; and as for the women, it is impossible to live in the same
house with them, more especially if they are Camareras, and wait
upon the Senora; they are continually breeding dissensions and
disputes in the house, and telling tales of the other domestics. I
have already lost two or three excellent situations in Madrid,
solely owing to these Gallegan chambermaids. We have now come to
the frontier, mon maitre, for such I conceive this village to be."

We entered the village, which stood on the summit of the mountain,
and as our horses and ourselves were by this time much fatigued, we
looked round for a place in which to obtain refreshment. Close by
the gate stood a building which, from the circumstance of a mule or
two and a wretched pony standing before it, we concluded was the
posada, as in effect it proved to be. We entered: several
soldiers were lolling on heaps of coarse hay, with which the place,
which much resembled a stable, was half filled. All were
exceedingly ill-looking fellows, and very dirty. They were
conversing with each other in a strange-sounding dialect, which I
supposed to be Gallegan. Scarcely did they perceive us when two or
three of them, starting from their couch, ran up to Antonio, whom
they welcomed with much affection, calling him companheiro. "How
came you to know these men?" I demanded in French. "Ces messieurs
sont presque tous de ma connoissance," he replied, "et, entre nous,
ce sont des veritables vauriens; they are almost all robbers and
assassins. That fellow, with one eye, who is the corporal, escaped
a little time ago from Madrid, more than suspected of being
concerned in an affair of poisoning; but he is safe enough here in
his own country, and is placed to guard the frontier, as you see;
but we must treat them civilly, mon maitre; we must give them wine,
or they will be offended. I know them, mon maitre--I know them.
Here, hostess, bring an azumbre of wine."

Whilst Antonio was engaged in treating his friends, I led the
horses to the stable; this was through the house, inn, or whatever
it might be called. The stable was a wretched shed, in which the
horses sank to their fetlocks in mud and puddle. On inquiring for
barley, I was told that I was now in Galicia, where barley was not
used for provender, and was very rare. I was offered in lieu of it
Indian corn, which, however, the horses ate without hesitation.
There was no straw to be had; coarse hay, half green, being the
substitute. By trampling about in the mud of the stable my horse
soon lost a shoe, for which I searched in vain. "Is there a
blacksmith in the village?" I demanded of a shock-headed fellow who
officiated as ostler.

Ostler.--Si, Senhor; but I suppose you have brought horse-shoes
with you, or that large beast of yours cannot be shod in this

Myself.--What do you mean? Is the blacksmith unequal to his trade?
Cannot he put on a horse-shoe?

Ostler.--Si, Senhor; he can put on a horse-shoe if you give it him;
but there are no horse-shoes in Galicia, at least in these parts.

Myself.--Is it not customary then to shoe the horses in Galicia?

Ostler.--Senhor, there are no horses in Galicia, there are only
ponies; and those who bring horses to Galicia, and none but madmen
ever do, must bring shoes to fit them; only shoes of ponies are to
be found here.

Myself.--What do you mean by saying that only madmen bring horses
to Galicia?

Ostler.--Senhor, no horse can stand the food of Galicia and the
mountains of Galicia long, without falling sick; and then if he
does not die at once, he will cost you in farriers more than he is
worth; besides, a horse is of no use here, and cannot perform
amongst the broken ground the tenth part of the service which a
little pony mare can. By the by, Senhor, I perceive that yours is
an entire horse; now out of twenty ponies that you see on the roads
of Galicia, nineteen are mares; the males are sent down into
Castile to be sold. Senhor, your horse will become heated on our
roads, and will catch the bad glanders, for which there is no
remedy. Senhor, a man must be mad to bring any horse to Galicia,
but twice mad to bring an entero, as you have done.

"A strange country this of Galicia," said I, and went to consult
with Antonio.

It appeared that the information of the ostler was literally true
with regard to the horse-shoe; at least the blacksmith of the
village, to whom we conducted the animal, confessed his inability
to shoe him, having none that would fit his hoof: he said it was
very probable that we should be obliged to lead the animal to Lugo,
which, being a cavalry station, we might perhaps find there what we
wanted. He added, however, that the greatest part of the cavalry
soldiers were mounted on the ponies of the country, the mortality
amongst the horses brought from the level ground into Galicia being
frightful. Lugo was ten leagues distant: there seemed, however,
to be no remedy at hand but patience, and, having refreshed
ourselves, we proceeded, leading our horses by the bridle.

We were now on level ground, being upon the very top of one of the
highest mountains in Galicia. This level continued for about a
league, when we began to descend. Before we had crossed the plain,
which was overgrown with furze and brushwood, we came suddenly upon
half a dozen fellows armed with muskets and wearing a tattered
uniform. We at first supposed them to be banditti: they were,
however, only a party of soldiers who had been detached from the
station we had just quitted to escort one of the provincial posts
or couriers. They were clamorous for cigars, but offered us no
farther incivility. Having no cigars to bestow, I gave them in
lieu thereof a small piece of silver. Two of the worst looking
were very eager to be permitted to escort us to Nogales, the
village where we proposed to spend the night. "By no means permit
them, mon maitre," said Antonio, "they are two famous assassins of
my acquaintance; I have known them at Madrid: in the first ravine
they will shoot and plunder us." I therefore civilly declined
their offer and departed. "You seem to be acquainted with all the
cut-throats in Galicia," said I to Antonio, as we descended the

"With respect to those two fellows," he replied, "I knew them when
I lived as cook in the family of General Q-, who is a Gallegan:
they were sworn friends of the repostero. All the Gallegans in
Madrid know each other, whether high or low makes no difference;
there, at least, they are all good friends, and assist each other
on all imaginable occasions; and if there be a Gallegan domestic in
a house, the kitchen is sure to be filled with his countrymen, as
the cook frequently knows to his cost, for they generally contrive
to eat up any little perquisites which he may have reserved for
himself and family."

Somewhat less than half way down the mountain we reached a small
village. On observing a blacksmith's shop, we stopped, in the
faint hope of finding a shoe for the horse, who, for want of one,
was rapidly becoming lame. To our great joy we found that the
smith was in possession of one single horse-shoe, which some time
previously he had found upon the way. This, after undergoing much
hammering and alteration, was pronounced by the Gallegan vulcan to
be capable of serving in lieu of a better; whereupon we again
mounted, and slowly continued our descent.

Shortly ere sunset we arrived at Nogales, a hamlet situate in a
narrow valley at the foot of the mountain, in traversing which we


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