To bring the Lord Galway to a Battle, in a Place most commodious for his purpose, the Duke made use of this Stratagem: He ordered two Irishmen, both Officers, to make their way over to the Enemy as Deserters; putting this Story in their Mouths, that the Duke of Orleans was in a full March to join the Duke of Berwick with twelve thousand Men; that this would be done in two Days, and that then they would find out the Lord Galway, and force him to Fight, where-ever they found him.
Lord Galway, who at this Time lay before Villena, receiving this Intelligence from those well instructed Deserters, immediately rais'd the Siege; with a Resolution, by a hasty March, to force the Enemy to Battle, before the Duke of Orleans should be able to join the Duke of Berwick. To effect this, after a hard March of three long Spanish Leagues in the heat of the Day; he appears a little after Noon in the face of the Enemy with his fatigu'd Forces. Glad and rejoyc'd at the Sight, for he found his Plot had taken; Berwick, the better to receive him, draws up his Army in a half Moon, placing at a pretty good Advance three Regiments to make up the Centre, with express Order, nevertheless, to retreat at the very first Charge. All which was punctually observ'd, and had its desired Effect; For the three Regiments, at the first Attack gave way, and seemingly fled towards their Camp; the English, after their customary Manner, pursuing them with Shouts and Hollowings. As soon as the Duke of Berwick perceiv'd his Trap had taken, he order'd his right and left Wings to close; by which Means, he at once cut off from the rest of their Army all those who had so eagerly pursu'd the imaginary Runaways. In short, the Rout was total, and the most fatal Blow that ever the English receiv'd during the whole War with Spain. Nor, as it is thought, with a great probability of Reason, had those Troops that made their Retreat to the Top of the Hills, under Major General Shrimpton, met with any better Fate than those on the Plain, had the Spaniards had any other General in the Command than the Duke of Berwick; whose native Sympathy gave a check to the Ardour of a victorious Enemy. And this was the sense of the Spaniards themselves after the Battle. Verifying herein that noble Maxim, That Victory to generous Minds is only an Inducement to Moderation.
The Day after this fatal Battle (which gave occasion to a Spanish piece of Wit, that the English General had routed the French) the Duke of Orleans did arrive indeed in the Camp, but with an Army of only fourteen Attendants.
The fatal Effects of this Battle were soon made visible, and to none more than those in Alicant. The Enemy grew every Day more and more troublesome; visiting us in Parties more boldly than before: and often hovering about us so very near, that with our Cannon we could hardly teach 'em to keep a proper Distance. Gorge the Governor of Alicant being recall'd into England, Major General Richards was by King Charles appointed Governor in his Place. He was a Roman Catholick, and very much belov'd by the Natives on that Account; tho' to give him his due, he behaved himself extremely well in all other Respects. It was in his Time, that a Design was laid of surprising Guardamere, a small Sea-port Town, in Murcia: But the military Bishop (for he was in a literal Sense excellent tam Marte, quam Mercurio, among his many others Exploits), by a timely Expedition, prevented that.
Governor Richards, my Post being always in the Castle, had sent to desire me to give notice whenever I saw any Parties of the Enemy moving. Pursuant to this Order, discovering one Morning a considerable body of Horse towards Elsha, I went down into the Town, and told the Governor what I had seen; and without any delay he gave his Orders, that a Captain with threescore Men should attend me to an old House about a Mile distance. As soon as we had got into it, I set about barricading all the open Places, and Avenues, and put my Men in a Posture ready to receive an Enemy, as soon as he should appear; upon which the Captain, as a feint, ordered a few of his men to shew themselves on a rising Ground just before the House. But we had like to have caught a Tartar: For tho' the Enemy took the Train I had laid, and on sight of our small Body on the Hill, sent a Party from their greater Body to intercept them, before they could reach the Town; yet the Sequel prov'd, we had mistaken their Number and it soon appeared to be much greater than we at first imagin'd. However our Out-scouts, as I may call 'em, got safe into the House; and on the Appearance of the Party, we let fly a full Volly, which laid dead on the Spot three Men and one Horse. Hereupon the whole Body made up to the House, but stood a-loof upon the Hill without reach of our Shot. We soon saw our Danger from the number of the Enemy: And well for us it was, that the watchful Governor had taken notice of it, as well as we in the House. For observing us surrounded with the Enemy, and by a Power so much superior, he marched himself with a good part of the Garrison to our Relief. The Enemy stood a little time as if they would receive 'em; but upon second thoughts they retir'd; and to our no little Joy left us at Liberty to come out of the House and join the Garrison.
Scarce a Day pass'd but we had some visits of the like kind attended sometimes with Rencounters of this Nature; in so much that there was hardly any stirring out in Safety for small Parties, tho' never so little away. There was within a little Mile of the Town, an old Vineyard, environed with a loose stone Wall: An Officer and I made an Agreement to ride thither for an Airing. We did so, and after a little riding, it came into my Head to put a Fright upon the Officer. And very lucky for us both was that unlucky Thought of mine; pretending to see a Party of the Enemy make up to us, I gave him the Alarm, set Spurs to my Horse, and rid as fast as Legs could carry me. The Officer no way bated of his Speed; and we had scarce got out of the Vineyard but my Jest prov'd Earnest, twelve of the Enemy's Horse pursuing us to the very Gates of the Town. Nor could I ever after prevail upon my Fellow-Traveller to believe that he ow'd his Escape to Merriment more than Speed.
Soon after my Charge, as to the Fortifications, was pretty well over, I obtain'd Leave of the Governor to be absent for a Fortnight, upon some Affairs of my own at Valencia. On my Return from whence, at a Town call'd Venissa, I met two Officers of an English Regiment, going to the Place from whence I last came. They told me, after common Congratulations, that they had left Major Boyd, at a little Place call'd Capel, hiring another Mule, that he rode on thither having tir'd and fail'd him; desiring withal, that if I met him, I would let him know that they would stay for him at that Place. I had another Gentleman in my Company, and we had travell'd on not above a League further, whence, at a little Distance, we were both surpriz'd with a Sight that seem'd to have set all Art at defiance, and was too odd for any thing in Nature. It appear'd all in red, and to move; but so very slowly, that if we had not made more way to that than it did to us, we should have made it a Day's Journey before we met it. My Companion could as little tell what to make of it as I; and, indeed, the nearer it came the more monstrous it seem'd, having nothing of the Tokens of Man, either Walking, Riding, or in any Posture whatever. At last, coming up with this strange Figure of a Creature (for now we found it was certainly such) what, or rather who, should it prove to be, but Major Boyd? He was a Person of himself far from one of the least Proportion, and mounted on a poor little Ass, with all his warlike Accoutrements upon it, you will allow must make a Figure almost as odd as one of the old Centaurs. The Morocco Saddle that cover'd the Ass was of Burden enough for the Beast without its Master; and the additional Holsters and Pistols made it much more weighty. Nevertheless, a Curb Bridle of the largest Size cover'd his little Head, and a long red Cloak, hanging down to the Ground, cover'd Jackboots, Ass, Master and all. In short, my Companion and I, after we could specifically declare it to be a Man, agreed we never saw a Figure so comical in all our Lives. When we had merrily greeted our Major (for a Cynick could not have forborn Laughter) He excus'd all as well as he could, by saying he could get no other Beast. After which, delivering our Message, and condoling with him for his present Mounting, and wishing him better at his next Quarters, he settled into his old Pace, and we into ours, and parted.
We lay that Night at Altea, famous for its Bay for Ships to water at. It stands on a high Hill; and is adorn'd, not defended, with an old Fort.
Thence we came to Alicant, where having now been a whole Year, and having effected what was held necessary, I once more prevail'd upon the Governor to permit me to take another Journey. The Lord Galway lay at Tarraga, while Lerida lay under the Siege of the Duke of Orleans; and having some Grounds of Expectation given me, while he was at Alicant, I resolv'd at least to demonstrate I was still living. The Governor favour'd me with Letters, not at all to my Disadvantage; so taking Ship for Barcelona, just at our putting into the Harbour, we met with the English Fleet, on its Return from the Expedition to Toulon under Sir Cloudsly Shovel.
I stay'd but very few Days at Barcelona, and then proceeded on my intended Journey to Tarraga; arriving at which Place I deliver'd my Packet to the Lord Galway, who receiv'd me with very great Civility; and to double it, acquainted me at the same time, that the Governor of Alicant had wrote very much in my Favour: But though it was a known Part of that noble Lord's Character, that the first Impression was generally strongest, I had Reason soon after to close with another Saying, equally true, That general Rules always admit of some Exception. While I was here we had News of the taking of the Town of Lerida; the Prince of Hesse (Brother to that brave Prince who lost his Life before Monjouick) retiring into the Castle with the Garrison, which he bravely defended a long time after.
When I was thus attending my Lord Galway at Tarraga, he receiv'd Intelligence that the Enemy had a Design to lay Siege to Denia; whereupon he gave me Orders to repair there as Engineer. After I had receiv'd my Orders, and taken Leave of his Lordship, I set out, resolving, since it was left to my Choice, to go by way of Barcelona, and there take Shipping for the Place of my Station; by which I propos'd to save more time than would allow me a full Opportunity of visiting Montserat, a Place I had heard much Talk of, which had fill'd me with a longing Desire to see it. To say Truth, I had been told such extravagant Things of the Place, that I could hardly impute more than one half of it to any thing but Spanish Rhodomontado's, the Vice of extravagant Exaggeration being too natural to that Nation.
MONTSERAT is a rising lofty Hill, in the very Middle of a spacious Plain, in the Principality of Catalonia, about seven Leagues distant from Barcelona to the Westward, somewhat inclining to the North. At the very first Sight, its Oddness of Figure promises something extraordinary; and given at that Distance the Prospect makes somewhat of a grand Appearance: Hundreds of aspiring Pyramids presenting themselves all at once to the Eye, look, if I may be allowed so to speak, like a little petrify'd Forrest; or, rather, like the awful Ruins of some capacious Structure, the Labour of venerable Antiquity. The nearer you approach the more it affects; but till you are very near you can hardly form in your Mind any thing like what you find it when you come close to it. Till just upon it you would imagine it a perfect Hill of Steeples; but so intermingled with Trees of Magnitude, as well as Beauty, that your Admiration can never be tir'd, or your Curiosity surfeited. Such I found it on my Approach; yet much less than what I found it, was so soon as I enter'd upon the very Premisses.
Now that stupendious Cluster of Pyramids affected me in a Manner different to all before; and I found it so finely group'd with verdant Groves, and here and there interspers'd with aspiring, but solitary Trees, that it no way lessened my Admiration, while it increased my Delight. Those Trees, which I call solitary, as standing single, in opposition to the numerous Groves, which are close and thick (as I observ'd when I ascended to take a View of the several Cells) rise generally out of the very Clefts of the main Rock, with nothing, to Appearance, but a Soil or bed of Stone for their Nurture. But though some few Naturalists may assert, that the Nitre in the Stone may afford a due Proportion of Nourishment to Trees and Vegetables; these, in my Opinion, were all too beautiful, their Bark, Leaf, and Flowers, carry'd too fair a Face of Health, to allow them even to be the Foster-children of Rock and Stone only.
Upon this Hill, or if you please, Grove of Rocks, are thirteen Hermits Cells, the last of which lies near the very Summit. You gradually advance to every one, from Bottom to Top, by a winding Ascent; which to do would otherwise be Impossible, by reason of the Steepness; but though there is a winding Ascent to every Cell, as I have said, I would yet set at defiance the most observant, if a Stranger, to find it feasible to visit them in order, if not precaution'd to follow the poor Borigo, or old Ass, that with Paniers hanging on each Side of him, mounts regularly, and daily, up to every particular Cell. The Manner is as follows:
In the Paniers there are thirteen Partitions; one for every Cell. At the Hour appointed, the Servant having plac'd the Paniers on his Back, the Ass, of himself, goes to the Door of the Convent at the very Foot of the Hill, where every Partition is supply'd with their several Allowances of Victuals and Wine. Which, as soon as he has receiv'd, without any further Attendance, or any Guide, he mounts and takes the Cells gradually, in their due Course, till he reaches the very uppermost. Where having discharg'd his Duty, he descends the same Way, lighter by the Load he carry'd up. This the poor stupid Drudge fails not to do, Day and Night, at the stated Hours.
Two Gentlemen, who had join'd me on the Road, alike led by Curiosity, seem'd alike delighted, that the End of it was so well answer'd. I could easily discover in their Countenances a Satisfaction, which, if it did not give a Sanction to my own, much confirm'd it, while they seem'd to allow with me that these reverend Solitaries were truly happy Men; I then thought them such; and a thousand times since, reflecting within my self, have wish'd, bating their Errors, and lesser Superstitions, my self as happily station'd: For what can there be wanting to a happy Life, where all things necessary are provided without Care? Where the Days, without Anxiety or Troubles, may be gratefully passed away, with an innocent Variety of diverting and pleasing Objects, and where their Sleep sand Slumbers are never interrupted with any thing more offensive, than murmuring Springs, natural Cascades, or the various Songs of the pretty feather'd Quiristers.
But their Courtesy to Strangers is no less engaging than their Solitude. A recluse Life, for the Fruits of it, generally speaking, produces Moroseness; Pharisaical Pride too often sours the Temper; and a mistaken Opinion of their own Merit too naturally leads such Men into a Contempt of others; But on the contrary, these good Men (for I must call them as I thought them) seem'd to me the very Emblems of Innocence; so ready to oblige others, that at the same Instant they seem'd laying Obligations upon themselves. This is self-evident, in that Affability and Complaisance they use in shewing the Rarities of their several Cells; where, for fear you should slip any thing worthy Observation, they endeavour to instil in you as quick a Propensity of asking, as you find in them a prompt Alacrity in answering such Questions of Curiosity as their own have inspir'd.
In particular, I remember one of those reverend old Men, when we were taking Leave at the Door of his Cell, to which out of his great Civility he accompany'd us, finding by the Air of our Faces, as well as our Expressions, that we thought ourselves pleasingly entertain'd; to divert us afresh, advanc'd a few Paces from the Door, when giving a Whistle with his Mouth, a surprising Flock of pretty little Birds, variegated, and of different Colours, immediately flock'd around him. Here you should see some alighting upon his Shoulders, some on his awful Beard; others took Refuge on his snow-like Head, and many feeding, and more endeavouring to feed out of his Mouth; each appearing emulous and under an innocent Contention, how best to express their Love and Respect to their no less pleased Master.
Nor did the other Cells labour under any Deficiency of Variety: Every one boasting in some particular, that might distinguish it in something equally agreeable and entertaining. Nevertheless, crystal Springs spouting from the solid Rocks were, from the highest to the lowest, common to them all; and, in most of them, they had little brass Cocks, out of which, when turn'd, issu'd the most cool and crystalline Flows of excellent pure Water. And yet what more affected me, and which I found near more Cells than one, was the natural Cascades of the same transparent Element; these falling from one Rock to another, in that warm, or rather hot Climate, gave not more delightful Astonishment to the Eye, than they afforded grateful Refreshment to the whole Man. The Streams falling from these, soften, from a rougher tumultuous Noise, into such affecting Murmurs, by Distance, the Intervention of Groves, or neighbouring Rocks, that it were impossible to see or hear them and not be chann'd.
Neither are those Groves grateful only in a beautiful Verdure; Nature renders them otherwise delightful, in loading them with Clusters of Berries of a perfect scarlet Colour, which, by a beautiful Intermixture, strike the Eye with additional Delight. In short, it might nonplus a Person of the nicest Taste, to distinguish or determine, whether the Neatness of their Cells within, or the beauteous Varieties without, most exhaust his Admiration. Nor is the Whole, in my Opinion, a little advantag'd by the frequent View of some of those pyramidical Pillars, which seem, as weary of their own Weight, to recline and seek Support from others in the Neighbourhood.
When I mention'd the outside Beauties of their Cells, I must be thought to have forgot to particularize the glorious Prospects presented to your Eye from every one of them; but especially from that nearest the Summit. A Prospect, by reason of the Purity of the Air, so extensive, and so very entertaining that to dilate upon it properly to one that never saw it, would baffle Credit; and naturally to depaint it, would confound Invention. I therefore shall only say, that on the Mediterranean Side, after an agreeable Interval of some fair Leagues, it will set at defiance the strongest Opticks; and although Barcelona bounds it on the Land, the Eyes are feasted with the Delights of such an intervening Champion (where beauteous Nature does not only smile, but riot) that the Sense must be very temperate, or very weak, that can be soon or easily satisfy'd.
Having thus taken a View of all their refreshing Springs, their grateful Groves, and solitary Shades under single Trees, whose Clusters prov'd that even Rocks were grown fruitful; and having ran over all the Variety of Pleasures in their several pretty Cells, decently set off with Gardens round the, equally fragrant and beautiful, we were brought down again to the Convent, which, though on a small Ascent, lies very near the Foot of this terrestrial Paradise, there to take a Survey of their sumptuous Hall, much more sumptuous Chapel, and its adjoining Repository; and feast our Eyes with Wonders of a different Nature; and yet as entertaining as any, or all, we had seen before.
Immediately on our Descent, a Priest presented himself at the Door of the Convent, ready to shew us the hidden Rarities. And though, as I understood, hardly a Day passes without the Resort of some Strangers to gratify their Curiosity with the Wonders of the Place; yet is there, on every such Occasion, a superior Concourse of Natives ready to see over again, out of meer Bigotry and Superstition, what they have seen, perhaps, a hundred times before. I could not avoid taking notice, however, that the Priest treated those constant Visitants with much less Ceremony, or more Freedom, if you please, than any of the Strangers of what Nation soever; or, indeed, he seem'd to take as much Pains to disoblige those, as he did Pleasure in obliging us.
The Hall was neat, large and stately; but being plain and unadorn'd with more than decent Decorations, suitable to such a Society, I hasten to the other.
When we enter'd the Chapel, our Eyes were immediately attracted by the Image of our Lady of Montserat (as they call it) which stands over the Altar-Piece. It is about the natural Stature; but as black and shining as Ebony it self. Most would imagine it made of that Material; though her Retinue and Adorers will allow nothing of the Matter. On the contrary, Tradition, which with them is, on some Occasions, more than tantamount to Religion, has assur'd them, and they relate it as undoubted Matter of Fact, that her present Colour, if I may so call it, proceeded from her Concealment, in the Time of the Moors, between those two Rocks on which the Chapel is founded; and that her long lying in that dismal Place chang'd her once lovely White into its present opposite. Would not a Heretick here be apt to say, That it was greaty pity that an Image which still boasts the Power of acting so many Miracles, could no better conserve her own Complexion? At least it must be allow'd, even by a good Catholick, to carry along with it Matter of Reproach to the fair Ladies, Natives of the Country, for their unnatural and excessive Affection of adulterating, if not defacing, their beautiful Faces, with the ruinating Dauberies of Carmine?
As the Custom of the Place is (which is likewise allow'd to be a distinguishing Piece of Civility to Strangers) when we approach the black Lady (who, I should have told you, bears a Child in her Arms; but whether maternally Black, or of the Mulatto Kind, I protest I did not mind) the Priest, in great Civility, offers you her Arm to salute; at which Juncture, I, like a true blue Protestant, mistaking my Word of Command, fell foul on the fair Lady's Face. The Displeasure in his Countenance (for he took more Notice of the Rudeness than the good Lady her self) soon convinc'd me of my Error; However, as a greater Token of his Civility, having admitted no Spaniards along with my Companions and me, is pass'd off the better; and his after Civilities manifested, that he was willing to reform my Ignorance by his Complaisance.
To demonstrate which, upon my telling him that I had a Set of Beads, which I must entreat him to consecrate for me, he readily, nay eagerly comply'd; and having hung them on her Arm for the Space of about half, or somewhat short of a whole Minute, he return'd me the holy Baubles with a great deal of Address and most evident Satisfaction. The Reader will be apt to admire at this curious Piece of Superstition of mine, till I have told him, that even rigid Protestants have, in this Country, thought it but prudent to do the like; and likewise having so done, to carry them about their Persons, or in their Pockets: For Experience has convinc'd us of the Necessity of this most Catholick Precaution; since those who have here, travelling or otherwise, come to their Ends, whether by Accident, Sickness, or the Course of Nature, not having these sanctifying Seals found upon them, have ever been refus'd Christian Burial, under a superstitious Imagination, that the Corps of a Heretick will infect every thing near it.
Two instances of this kind fell within my Knowledge; one before I came to Montserat, the other after. The first was of one Slunt, who had been Bombardier at Monjouick; but being kill'd while we lay at Campilio, a Priest, whom I advis'd with upon the Matter, told me, that if he should be buried where any Corn grew, his Body would not only be taken up again, but ill treated, in revenge of the Destruction of so much Corn, which the People would on no account be persuaded to touch; for which Reason we took care to have him lay'd in a very deep Grave, on a very barren Spot of Ground. The other was of one Captain Bush, who was a Prisoner with me on the Surrender of Denia; who being sent, as I was afterwards, to Saint Clemente la Mancha, there dy'd; and, as I was inform'd, tho' he was privately, and by Night, bury'd in a Corn-Field, he was taken out of his Grave by those superstitious People, as soon as ever they could discover the Place where his Body was deposited. But I return to the Convent at Montserat.
Out of the Chapel, behind the High-Altar, we descended into a spacious Room, the Repository of the great Offerings made to the Lady. Here, though I thought in the Chapel it self I had seen the Riches of the Universe, I found a prodigious Quantity of more costly Presents, the superstitious Tribute of most of the Roman-Catholick Princes in Europe. Among a Multitude of others, they show'd me a Sword set with Diamonds, the Offering of Charles the Third, then King of Spain, but now Emperor of Germany. Though I must confess, being a Heretick, I could much easier find a Reason for a fair Lady's presenting such a Sword to a King of Spain, than for a King of Spain's presenting such a Sword to a fair Lady: And by the Motto upon it, Pulchra tamen nigra, it was plain such was his Opinion. That Prince was so delighted with the Pleasure's of this sweet Place, that he, as well as I, stay'd as long as ever he could; though neither of us so long as either could have wish'd.
But there was another Offering from a King of Portugal, equally glorious and costly; but much better adapted; and therefore in its Propriety easier to be accounted for. That was a Glory for the Head of her Ladiship, every Ray of which was set with Diamonds, large at the Bottom, and gradually lessening to the very Extremity of every Ray. Each Ray might be about half a Yard Long; and I imagin'd in the Whole there might be about one Hundred of them. In short, if ever her Ladiship did the Offerer the Honour to put it on, I will though a Heretick, venture to aver, she did not at that present time look like a humane Creature.
To enumerate the rest, if my Memory would suffice, would exceed Belief. As the upper Part was a plain Miracle of Nature, the lower was a compleat Treasury of miraculous Art.
If you ascend from the lowest Cell to the very Summit, the last of all the thirteen, you will perceive a continual Contention between Pleasure and Devotion; and at last, perhaps, find your self at a Loss to decide which deserves the Preheminence: For you are not here to take Cells in the vulgar Acceptation, as the little Dormitories of solitary Monks: No! Neatness, Use, and Contrivance appear in every one of them; and though in an almost perfect Equality, yet in such Perfection, that you will find it difficult to discover in any one of them any thing wanting to the Pleasure of Life.
If you descend to the Convent near the Foot of that venerable Hill; you may see more, much more of the Riches of the World; but less, far less Appearance of a celestial Treasure. Perhaps, it might be only the Sentiment of a Heretick; but that Awe and Devotion, which I found in my Attendant from Cell to Cell grew languid, and lost in meer empty Bigotry and foggy Superstition, when I came below. In short, there was not a great Difference in their Heights, than in the Sentiments they inspir'd me with.
Before I leave this Emblem of the beatific Vision, I must correct some thing like a Mistake, as to the poor Borigo. I said at the Beginning that his Labour was daily; but the Sunday is to him a Day of rest, as it is to the Hermits, his Masters, a Day of Refection. For to save the poor faithful Brute the hard Drudgery of that Day, the thirteen Hermits, if Health permit, descend to their Canobium, as they call it; that is, to the Hall of the Convent; where they dine in common with the Monks of the Order, who are Benedictines.
After seven Days Variety of such innocent Delight (the Space allow'd for the Entertainment of Strangers), I took my Leave of this pacifick Hermitage, to pursue the more boisterous Duties of my Calling. The Life of a Soldier is in every Respect the full Antithesis to that of a Hermit; and I know not, whether it might not be a Sense of that, which inspir'd me with very great Reluctancy at parting. I confess, while on the Spot, I over and over bandy'd in my Mind the Reasons which might prevail upon Charles the Fifth to relinquish his Crown; and the Arguments on his Side never fail'd of Energy, I could persuade my self that this, or some like happy Retreat, was the Reward of abdicated Empire.
Full of these Contemplations (for they lasted there) I arriv'd at Barcelona; where I found a Vessel ready to sail, on which I embarked for Denia, in pursuance of my Orders. Sailing to the Mouth of the Mediterranean, no Place along the Christian Shore affords a Prospect equally delightful with the Castle of Denia. It was never designed for a Place of great Strength, being built, and first design'd, as a Seat of Pleasure to the Great Duke of Lerma. In that Family it many Years remain'd; tho', within less than a Century, that with two other Dukedoms, have devolv'd upon the Family of the Duke de Medina Celi, the richest Subject at this time in all Spain.
DENIA was the first Town, that in our Way to Barcelona, declar'd for King Charles; and was then by his Order made a Garrison. The Town is but small, and surrounded with a thin Wall; so thin, that I have known a Cannon-Ball pierce through it at once.
When I arriv'd at Denia, I found a Spaniard Governor of the Town, whose Name has slipt my Memory; tho' his Behaviour merited everlasting Annals. Major Percival, an Englishman, commanded in the Castle, and on my coming there, I understood, it had been agreed between 'em, that in case of a Siege, which they apprehended, the Town should be defended wholly by Spaniards, and the Castle by the English.
I had scarce been there three Weeks before those Expectations were answered. The Place was invested by Count D'Alfelt, and Major General Mahoni; two Days after which, they open'd Trenches on the East Side of the Town. I was necessitated upon their so doing, to order the Demolishment of some Houses on that Side, that I might erect a Battery to point upon their Trenches, the better to annoy them. I did so; and it did the intended Service; for with that, and two others, which I rais'd upon the Castle (from all which we fir'd incessantly, and with great Success) the Besiegers were sufficiently incommoded.
The Governor of the Town (a Spaniard as I said before, and with a Spanish Garrison) behav'd very gallantly; insomuch, that what was said of the Prince of Hesse, when he so bravely defended Gibraltar against the joint Forces of France and Spain, might be said of him, that he was Governor, Engineer, Gunner, and Bombardier all in one; For no Man could exceed him, either in Conduct or Courage; nor were the Spaniards under him less valiant or vigilant; for in case the Place was taken, expecting but indifferent Quarter, they fought with Bravery, and defended the Place to Admiration.
The Enemy had answer'd our Fire with all the Ardour imaginable; and having made a Breach, that, as we thought was practicable, a Storm was expected every Hour. Preparing against which to the great Joy of all the Inhabitants, and the Surprize of the whole Garrison, and without our being able to assign the least Cause, the Enemy suddenly raised the Siege, and withdrew from a Place, which those within imagined in great Danger.
The Siege thus abdicated (if I may use a modern Phrase) I was resolved to improve my Time, and make the best Provision I could against any future Attack. To that purpose I made several new Fortifications, together with proper Casemets for our Powder, all which render'd the Place much stronger, tho' Time too soon show'd me that Strength it self must yield to Fortune.
Surveying those works, and my Workmen, I was one Day standing on the great Battery, when casting my Eye toward the Barbary Coast, I observ'd an odd sort of greenish Cloud making to the Spanish Shoar. Not like other Clouds with Rapidity or Swiftness, but with a Motion so slow, that Sight itself was a long time before it would allow it such. At last, it came just over my Head, and interposing between the Sun and me, so thickened the Air, that I had lost the very Sight of Day. At this moment it had reach'd the Land; and tho' very near me in my Imagination, it began to dissolve, and lose of its first Tenebrity, when all on a sudden there fell such a vast multitude of Locusts, as exceeded the thickest storm of Hail or Snow that I ever saw. All around me was immediately cover'd with those crauling Creatures; and they yet continu'd to fall so thick, that with the swing of my Cane I knock'd down thousands. It is scarce imaginable the Havock I made in a very little space of time; much less conceivable is the horrid Desolation which attended the Visitation of those Animalcula. There was not in a Day or two's time, the least Leaf to be seen upon a Tree, nor any green Thing in a Garden. Nature seem'd buried in her own Ruins; and the vegetable World to be Supporters only to her Monument. I never saw the hardest Winter, in those Parts, attended with any equal Desolation. When, glutton like, they had devoured all that should have sustained them, and the more valuable Part of God's Creation (whether weary with gorging, or over thirsty with devouring, I leave to Philosophers) they made to Ponds, Brooks, and standing Pools, there revenging their own Rape upon Nature, upon their own vile Carkasses. In every of these you might see them lie in Heaps like little Hills; drown'd indeed, but attended with Stenches so noisome, that it gave the distracted Neighbourhood too great Reason to apprehend yet more fatal Consequences. A Pestilential Infection is the Dread of every Place, but especially of all Parts upon the Mediterranean. The Priests therefore repair'd to a little Chapel, built in the open Fields, to be made use of on such like Occasions, there to deprecate the miserable Cause of this dreadful Visitation. In a Week's time, or there abouts, the Stench was over, and every Thing but verdant Nature in its pristin Order.
Some few Months after this, and about eight Months from the former Siege, Count D'Alfelt caus'd Denia to be again invested; and being then sensible of all the Mistakes he had before committed, he now went about his Business with more Regularity and Discretion. The first Thing he set upon, and it was the wisest Thing he could do, was to cut off our Communication with the Sea. This he did, and thereby obtained what he much desired. Next, he caus'd his Batteries to be erected on the West side of the Town, from which he ply'd it so furiously, that in five Days' time a practicable Breach was made; upon which they stormed and took it. The Governor, who had so bravely defended it in the former Seige, fortunately for him had been remov'd; and Francis Valero, now in his Place, was made Prisoner of War with all his Garrison.
After the taking the Town, they erected Batteries against the Castle, which they kept ply'd with incessant Fire, both from Cannon and Mortars. But what most of all plagu'd us, and did us most Mischief, was the vast showers of Stones sent among the Garrison from their Mortars. These, terrible in Bulk and Size, did more Execution than all the rest put together. The Garrison could not avoid being somewhat disheartened at this uncommon way of Rencounter; yet, to a Man, dedar'd against hearkening to any Proposals of Surrender, the Governor excepted; who having selected more Treasure than he could properly, or justly call his own, was the only Person that seem'd forward for such a Motion. He had more than once thrown out Expressions of such a Nature, but without any effect. Nevertheless, having at last secretly obtained a peculiar Capitulation for himself, Bag, and Baggage; the Garrison was sacrific'd to his private Interest, and basely given up Prisoners of War. By these Means indeed he saved his Money, but lost his Reputation; and soon after, Life it self. And sure every Body will allow the latter loss to be least, who will take Pains to consider, that it screened him from the consequential Scrutinies of a Council of War, which must have issued as the just Reward of his Demerits.
The Garrison being thus unaccountably delivered up and made Prisoners, were dispersed different ways: Some into Castile, others as far as Oviedo, in the Kingdom of Leon. For my own part, having received a Contusion in my Breast; I was under a necessity of being left behind with the Enemy, till I should be in a Condition to be remov'd, and when that time came, I found my self agreeably ordered to Valencia.
As Prisoner of War I must now bid adieu to the active Part of the military Life; and hereafter concern my self with Descriptions of Countries, Towns, Palaces, and Men, instead of Battles. However, if I take in my way Actions of War, founded on the best Authorities, I hope my Interspersing such will be no disadvantage to my now more pacifick MEMOIRS.
So soon as I arriv'd at Valencia, I wrote to our Pay-master Mr. Mead, at Barcelona, letting him know, that I was become a Prisoner, wounded, and in want of Money. Nor could even all those Circumstances prevail on me to think it long before he returned a favourable Answer, in an Order to Monsieur Zoulicafre, a Banker, to pay me on Sight fifty Pistoles. But in the same Letter he gave me to understand, that those fifty Pistoles were a Present to me from General (afterward Earl) Stanhope; and so indeed I found it, when I return'd into England, my Account not being charged with any part of it: But this was not the only Test I received of that generous Earl's Generosity. And where's the Wonder, as the World is compell'd to own, that Heroick Actions and Largeness of Soul ever did discover and amply distinguish the genuine Branches of that illustrious Family.
This Recruit to me however was the more generous for being seasonable. Benefits are always doubled in their being easily conferr'd and well tim'd; and with such an Allowance as I constantly had by the order of King Philip, as Prisoner of War, viz. eighteen Ounces of Mutton per diem for my self, and nine for my Man, with Bread and Wine in proportion, and especially in such a Situation; all this I say was sufficient to invite a Man to be easy, and almost forget his want of Liberty, and much more so to me if it be consider'd, that, that want of Liberty consisted only in being debarr'd from leaving the pleasantest City in all Spain.
Here I met with the French Engineer, who made the Mine under the Rock of the Castle at Alicant. That fatal Mine, which blew up General Richards, Colonel Syburg, Colonel Thornicroft, and at least twenty more Officers. And yet by the Account, that Engineer gave me, their Fate was their own choosing: The General, who commanded at that Siege being more industrious to save them, than they were to be say'd: He endeavour'd it many ways: He sent them word of the Mine, and their readiness to spring it; he over and over sent them Offers of Leave to come, and take a view of it, and inspect it: Notwithstanding all which, tho' Colonel Thornicroft, and Captain Page, a French Engineer, in the Service of King Charles, pursued the Invitation, and were permitted to view it, yet would they not believe; but reported on their Return, that it was a sham Mine, a feint only to intimidate 'em to a Surrender, all the Bags being fill'd with Sand instead of Gun-powder.
The very Day on which the Besiegers design'd to spring the Mine, they gave Notice of it; and the People of the Neighbourhood ran up in Crowds to an opposite Hill in order to see it: Nevertheless, altho' those in the Castle saw all this, they still remain'd so infatuated, as to imagine it all done only to affright 'em. At length the fatal Mine was sprung, and all who were upon that Battery lost their Lives; and among them those I first mentioned. The very Recital hereof made me think within my self, who can resist his Fate?
That Engineer added further, that it was with an incredible Difficulty, that he prepar'd that Mine; that there were in the Concavity thirteen hundred Barrels of Powder; notwithstanding which, it made no great Noise without, whatever it might do inwardly; that only taking away what might be not improperly term'd an Excrescence in the Rock, the Heave on the Blast had render'd the Castle rather stronger on that Side than it was before, a Crevice or Crack which had often occasioned Apprehensions being thereby wholly clos'd and firm.
Some further Particulars I soon after had from Colonel Syburg's Gentleman; who seeing me at the Play-house, challenged me, tho' at that Time unkown to me. He told me, that the Night preceeding the unfortunate Catastrophe of his Master, he was waiting on him in the Casemet, where he observed, sometime before the rest of the Company took notice of it, that General Richards appeared very pensive and thoughtful, that the whole Night long he was pester'd with, and could not get rid of a great Flie, which was perpetually buzzing about his Ears and Head, to the vexation and disturbance of the rest of the Company, as well as the General himself; that in the Morning, when they went upon the Battery, under which the Mine was, the General made many offers of going off; but Colonel Syburg, who was got a little merry, and the rest out of a Bravado, would stay, and would not let the General stir; that at last it was propos'd by Colonel Syburg to have the other two Bottles to the Queen's Health, after which he promised they would all go off together.
Upon this my Relator, Syburg's Gentleman, said, he was sent to fetch the stipulated two Bottles; returning with which, Captain Daniel Weaver, within thirty or forty Yards of the Battery, ran by him, vowing, he was resolv'd to drink the Queen's Health with them; but his Feet were scarce on the Battery, when the Mine was sprung, which took him away with the rest of the Company; while Major Harding now a Justice in Westminster coming that very Moment off Duty, exchang'd Fates.
If Predestination, in the Eyes of many, is an unaccountable Doctrine, what better Account can the wisest give of this Fatality? Or to what else shall we impute the Issue of this whole Transaction? That Men shall be solicited to their Safety; suffered to survey the Danger they were threatened with; among many other Tokens of its approaching Certainty, see such a Concourse of People crowding to be Spectators of their impending Catastrophe; and after all this, so infatuated to stay on the fatal Spot the fetching up of the other two Bottles; whatever it may to such as never think, to such as plead an use of Reason, it must administer Matter worthy of the sedatest Consideration.
Being now pretty well recover'd of my Wounds, I was by Order of the Governor of Valencia, removed to Sainte Clemente de la Mancha, a Town somewhat more Inland, and consequently esteem'd more secure than a Semi-Seaport. Here I remain'd under a sort of Pilgrimage upwards of three Years. To me as a Stranger divested of Acquaintance or Friend (for at that instant I was sole Prisoner there) at first it appear'd such, tho' in a very small compass of Time, I luckily found it made quite otherwise by an agreeable Conversation.
SAINTE Clemente de la Mancha, is rendered famous by the renown'd Don Michael Cerviantes, who in his facetious but satyrical Romance, has fix'd it the Seat and Birth Place of his Hero Don Quixot.
The Gentlemen of this Place are the least Priest-ridden or Sons of Bigotry, of any that I met with in all Spain; of which in my Conversation with them I had daily Instances. Among many others, an Expression that fell from Don Felix Pacheco, a Gentleman of the best Figure thereabout, and of a very plentiful Fortune, shall now suffice. I was become very intimate with him; and we us'd often to converse together with a Freedom too dangerous to be common in a Country so enslav'd by the Inquisition. Asking me one Day in a sort of a jocose manner, who, in my Opinion, had done the greatest Miracles that ever were heard of? I answer'd, Jesus Christ.
"It is very true," says he, "Jesus Christ did great Miracles, and a great one it was to feed five Thousand People with two or three small Fishes, and a like number of Loaves: But Saint Francis, the Founder of the Franciscan Order, has found out a way to feed daily one hundred Thousand Lubbards with nothing at all"; meaning the Franciscans, the Followers of Saint Francis, who have no visible Revenues; yet in their way of Living come up to, if they do not exceed any other Order.
Another Day talking of the Place, it naturally led us into a Discourse of the Knight of la Mancha, Don Quixot. At which time he told me, that in his Opinion, that Work was a perfect Paradox, being the best and the worst Romance, that ever was wrote.
"For," says he, "tho' it must infallibly please every Man, that has any taste of Wit; yet has it had such a fatal Effect upon the Spirits of my Countrymen, that every Man of Wit must ever resent; for," continu'd he, "before the Appearance in the World of that Labour of Cerviantes, it was next to an Impossibility for a Man to walk the Streets with any Delight, or without Danger. There were seen so many Cavaliero's prancing and curvetting before the Windows of their Mistresses, that a Stranger would have imagin'd the whole Nation to have been nothing less than a Race of Knight Errants. But after the World became a little acquainted with that notable History; the Man that was seen in that once celebrated Drapery, was pointed at as a Don Quixot, and found himself the Jest of High and Low. And I verily believe," added he, "that to this, and this only we owe that dampness and poverty of Spirit, which has run thro' all our Councils for a Century past, so little agreeable to those nobler Actions of our famous Ancestors."
After many of these lesser sorts of Confidences, Don Felix recommended me to a Lodging next Door to his own. It was at a Widow's, who had one only Daughter, her House just opposite to a Francisan Nunnery. Here I remain'd somewhat upwards of two Years; all which time, lying in my Bed, I could hear the Nuns early in the Morning at their Matins, and late in the Evening at their Vespers, with Delight enough to my self, and without the least Indecency in the World in my Thoughts of them. Their own Divine Employ too much employ'd every Faculty of mine to entertain any Thing inconsentaneous or offensive.
This my Neighbourhood to the Nunnery gave me an opportunity of seeing two Nuns invested; and in this I must do a Justice to the whole Country, to acknowledge, that a Stranger who is curious (I would impute it rather to their hopes of Conversion, than to their Vanity) shall be admitted to much greater Freedoms in their religious Pageantries, than any Native.
One of these Nuns was of the first Quality, which render'd the Ceremony more remarkably fine. The manner of investing them was thus: In the Morning her Relations and Friends all met at her Father's House; whence, she being attir'd in her most sumptuous Apparel, and a Coronet plac'd on her Head, they attended her, in Cavalcade, to the Nunnery, the Streets and Windows being crowded, and fill'd with Spectators of all sorts.
So soon as she enter'd the Chapel belonging to the Nunnery, she kneel'd down, and with an appearance of much Devotion, saluted the Ground; then rising up, she advanced a Step or two farther, when on her Knees she repeated the Salutes: This done she approached to the Altar, where she remained till Mass was over: After which, a Sermon was preach'd by one of the Priests in Praise, or rather in an exalted Preference of a single Life. The Sermon being over, the Nun elect fell down on her Knees before the Altar; and after some short mental Oraisons, rising again, she withdrew into an inner Room, where stripping off all her rich Attire, she put on her Nun's Weeds: In which making her Appearance, she, again kneeling, offer'd up some private Devotions; which being over, she was led to the Door of the Nunnery, where the Lady and the rest of the Nuns stood ready to receive her with open Arms. Thus enter'd, the Nuns conducted her into the Quire, where after they had entertained her with Singing, and playing upon the Organ, the Ceremony concluded, and every one departed to their proper Habitations.
The very same Day of the Year ensuing the Relations and Friends of the fair Novitiate meet again in the Chapel of the Nunnery, where the Lady Abbess brings her out, and delivers her to them. Then again is there a Sermon preach'd on the same Subject as at first; which being over, she is brought up to the Altar, in a decent, but plain Dress, the fine Apparel, which she put off on her Initiation, being deposited on one side of the Altar, and her Nun's Weeds on the other. Here the Priest in Latin cries, Utrum horum mavis, accipe: to which she answers, as her Inclination, or as her Instruction directs her. If she, after this her Year of Probation, show any Dislike, she is at Liberty to come again into the World: But if aw'd by Fear (as too often is the Case) or won by Expectation, or present real Inclination, she makes choice of the Nun's Weeds, she is immediately invested, and must never expect to appear again in the World out of the Walls of the Nunnery. The young Lady I thus saw invested was very beautiful, and sang the best of any in the Nunnery.
There are in the Town three Nunneries, and a Convent to every one of them; viz. one of Jesuits, one of Carmelites, and the other of Franciscans. Let me not be so far mistaken to have this taken by way of Reflection. No! Whatever some of our Rakes of the Town may assert, I freely declare, that I never saw in any of the Nunneries (of which I have seen many both in Spain and other Parts of the World) any thing like indecent Behaviour, that might give occasion for Satyr or Disesteem. It is true, there may be Accidents, that may lead to a Misinterpretation, of which I remember a very untoward Instance in Alicant.
When the English Forces first laid Siege to that Town, the Priests, who were apprehensive of it, having been long since made sensible of the profound Regard to Chastity and Modesty of us Hereticks, by the ignominious Behaviour of certain Officers at Rota and Porta St. Maria, the Priests, I say, had taken care to send away privately all the Nuns to Majorca. But that the Heretick Invaders might have no Jealousy of it, the fair Curtezans of the Town were admitted to supply their Room. The Officers, both of Land and Sea, as was by the Friars pre-imagin'd, on taking the Town and Castle, immediately repair'd to the Grates of the Nunnery, toss'd over their Handkercheifs, Nosegays, and other pretty Things; all which were, doubtless, very graciously received by those imaginary Recluses. Thence came it to pass, that in the space of a Month or less, you could hardly fall into Comany of any one of our younger Officers, of either sort, but the Discourse, if it might deserve the Name, was concerning these beautiful Nuns; and you wou'd have imagin'd the Price of these Ladies as well known as that of Flesh in their common Markets. Others, as well as my self, have often endeavour'd to disabuse those Glorioso's, but all to little purpose, till more sensible Tokens convinced them, that the Nuns, of whose Favours they so much boasted, could hardly be perfect Virgins, tho' in a Cloyster. And I am apt to think, those who would palm upon the World like vicious Relations of Nuns and Nunneries, do it on much like Grounds. Not that there are wanting Instances of Nunneries disfranchis'd, and even demolish'd, upon very flagrant Accounts; but I confine myself to Spain.
In this Town of la Mancha the Corrigidore always has his Presidence, having sixteen others under his Jurisdiction, of which Almanza is one. They are changed every three Years, and their Offices are the Purchase of an excessive Price; which occasions the poor People's being extravagantly fleeced, nothing being to be sold but at the Rates they impose; and every Thing that is sold paying the Corrigidore an Acknowledgment in specie, or an Equivalent to his liking.
While I was here, News came of the Battle of Almanar and Saragosa; and giving the Victory to that Side, which they espous'd (that of King Philip) they made very great Rejoycings. But soon, alas, for them, was all that Joy converted into Sorrow: The next Courier evincing, that the Forces of King Charles had been victorious in both Engagements. This did not turn to my present Disadvantage: For Convents and Nunneries, as well as some of those Dons, whom afore I had not stood so well with, strove now how most to oblige me; not doubting, but if the victorious Army should march that way, it might be in my Power to double the most signal of their Services in my Friendship.
Soon after an Accident fell out, which had like to have been of an unhappy Consequence to me. I was standing in Company, upon the Parade, when a most surprizing flock of Eagles flew over our Heads, where they hover'd for a considerable time. The Novelty struck them all with Admiration, as well as my self. But I, less accustomed to like Spectacles, innocent saying, that in my Opinion, it could not bode any good to King Philip, because the Eagle compos'd the Arms of Austria; some busie Body, in hearing, went and inform'd the Corrigidore of it. Those most magisterial Wretches embrace all Occasions of squeezing Money; and more especially from Strangers. However finding his Expectations disappointed in me, and that I too well knew the length of his Foot, to let my Money run freely; he sent me next Day to Alercon; but the Governor of that Place having had before Intelligence, that the English Army was advancing that way, refus'd to receive me, so I return'd as I went; only the Gentlemen of the Place, as they had condol'd the first, congratulated the last; for that Corrigidore stood but very indifferently in their Affections. However, it was a warning to me ever after, how I made use of English Freedom in a Spanish Territory.
As I had attain'd the Acquaintance of most of the Clergy, and Religious of the Place; so particularly I had my aim in obtaining that of the Provincial of the Carmelites. His Convent, tho' small, was exceeding neat; but what to me was much more agreeable, There were very large Gardens belonging to it, which often furnished me with Sallading and Fruit, and much oftner with Walks of Refreshment, the most satisfactory Amusement in this warm Climate. This Acquaintance with the Provincial was by a little Incident soon advanced into a Friendship; which was thus: I was one Day walking, as I us'd to do, in the long Gallery of the Convent, when observing the Images of the Virgin Mary, of which there was one at each end; I took notice that one had an Inscription under it, which was this, Ecce, Virgo peperit filium: but the other had no Inscription at all; upon which, I took out my Pencil, and wrote underneath, this Line:
Sponsa Dei, patrisque parens, & filia filii.
The Friars, who at a little distance had observed me, as soon as I was gone, came up and read what I had writ; reporting which to the Provincial, he order'd them to be writ over in Letters of Gold, and plac'd just as I had put 'em; saying, doubtless, such a fine Line you'd proceed from nothing less than Inspiration. This secur'd me ever after his and their Esteem; the least advantage of which, was a full Liberty of their Garden for all manner of Fruit, Sallading, or whatever I pleased: And as I said before, the Gardens were too fine not to render such a Freedom acceptable.
They often want Rain in this Country: To supply the Defect of which, I observed in this Garden, as well as others, an Invention not unuseful. There is a Well in the Middle of the Garden, and over that a Wheel with many Pitchers, or Buckets, one under another, which Wheel being turned round by an Ass, the Pitchers scoop up the Water on one Side, and throw it out on the other into a Trough, that by little Channels conveys it, as the Gardiner directs, into every part of the Garden. By this Means their Flowers and their Sallading are continually refresh'd, and preserved from the otherwise over-parching Beams of the Sun.
The Inquisition, in almost every Town in Spain (and more especially, if of any great Account) has its Spies, or Informers, for treacherous Intelligence. These make it their Business to ensnare the simple and unguarded; and are more to be avoided by the Stranger, than the Rattle Snake. Nature have appointed no such happy Tokens in the former to foreshew the Danger. I had Reason to believe, that one of those Vermin once made his Attack upon me in this place: And as they are very rarely, if ever known to the Natives themselves, I being a Stranger, may be allowed to make a guess by Circumstances.
I was walking by my self, when a Person, wholly unknown to me, giving me the civil Salute of the Day, endeavour'd to draw me into Conversation. After Questions had passed on general Heads, the fellow ensnaringly asked me, how it came to pass, that I show'd so little Respect to the Image of the crucify'd Jesus, as I pass'd by it in such a Street, naming it? I made Answer, that I had, or ought to have him always in my Heart crucified. To that he made no Reply: But proceeding in his Interrogatories, question'd me next, whether I believ'd a Purgatory? I evaded the Question, as I took it to be ensnaring; and only told him, that I should be willing to hear him offer any Thing that might convince me of the Truth, or Probability of it. Truth? He reply'd in a Heat: There never yet was Man so Holy as to enter Heaven without first passing through Purgatory. In my Opinion, said I, there will be no Difficulty in convincing a reasonable Man to the contrary. What mean you by that, cry'd the Spy? I mean, said I, that I can name one, and a great Sinner too, who went into Bliss without any Visit to Purgatory. Name him, if you can, reply'd my Querist. What think you of the Thief upon the Cross, said I? to whom our dying Saviour said, Hodie eris mecum in Paradiso. At which being silenced tho' not convicted, he turned from me in a violent Rage, and left me to my self.
What increas'd my first Suspicion of him was, that a very short time after, my Friend the Provincial sent to speak with me; and repeating all Passages between the holy Spy and me, assur'd me that he had been forc'd to argue in my Favour, and tell him that I had said nothing but well: For says he, all ought to have the Holy Jesus crucified in their Hearts.
"Nevertheless," continu'd he, "it is a commendable and good Thing to have him represented in the high Ways: For, suppose," said he, "a Man was going upon some base or profligate Design, the very Sight of a cruficied Saviour may happen to subvert his Resolution, and deter him from committing Theft, Murder, or any other of the deadly Sins." And thus ended that Conference.
I remember upon some other occasional Conversation after, the Provincial told me, that in the Carmelite Nunnery next to his Convent, and under his Care, there was a Nun, that was Daughter to Don Juan of Austria; if so, her Age must render her venerable, as her Quality.
Taking notice one Day, that all the People of the Place fetch'd their Water from a Well without the Town, altho' they had many seemingly as good within; I spoke to Don Felix of it, who gave me, under the Seal of Secrecy, this Reason for it:
"When the Seat of the War," said he, "lay in these Parts, the French Train of Artillery was commonly quarter'd in this Place; the Officers and Soldiers of which were so very rampant and rude, in attempting to debauch our Women, that there is not a Well within the Town, which has not some French Mens Bones at the bottom of it; therefore the Natives, who are sensible of it, choose rather to go farther a field."
By this Well there runs a little Rivulet, which gives head to that famous River call'd the Guadiana; which running for some Leagues under Ground, affords a pretence for the Natives to boast of a Bridge on which they feed many Thousands of Sheep. When it rises again, it is a fine large River, and after a Currency of many Leagues, empties it self into the Atlantick Ocean.
As to military Affairs, Almanar and Saragosa were Victories so compleat, that no Body made the least doubt of their settling the Crown of Spain upon the Head of Charles the Third, without a Rival. This was not barely the Opinion of his Friends, but his very Enemies resign'd all Hope or Expectation in favour of King Philip. The Castilians, his most faithful Friends, entertain'd no other Imagination; for after they had advis'd, and prevail'd that the Queen with the Prince of Asturias should be sent to Victoria; under the same Despondency, and a full Dispiritedness, they gave him so little Encouragement to stay in Madrid, that he immediately quitted the Place, with a Resolution to retire into his Grandfather's Dominions, the Place of his Nativity.
In his way to which, even on the last Day's Journey, it was his great good Fortune to meet the Duke of Vendome, with some few Troops, which his Grandfather Lewis XIV. of France had order'd to his Succour, under that Duke's Command. The Duke was grievously affected at such an unexpected Catastrophe; nevertheless, he left nothing unsaid or undone, that might induce that Prince to turn back; and at length prevailing, after a little Rest, and a great deal of Patience, by the Coming in of his scatter'd Troops, and some few he could raise, together with those the Duke brought with him, he once more saw himself at the Head of twenty thousand Men.
While Things were in this Manner, under Motion in King Philip's Favour, Charles the third, with his victorious Army, advances forward, and enters into Madrid, of which he made General Stanhope Governor. And even here the Castilians gave full Proof of their Fidelity to their Prince; even at the Time when, in their Opinion, his Affairs were past all Hopes of Retrieve, they themselves having, by their Advice, contributed to his Retreat. Instead of prudential Acclamations therefore, such as might have answered the Expectations of a victorious Prince, now entering into their Capital, their Streets were all in a profound Silence, their Balconies unadorn'd with costly Carpets, as was customary on like Occasions; and scarce an Inhabitant to be seen in either Shop or Window.
This doubtless was no little Mortification to a conquering Prince; however his Generals were wife enough to keep him from shewing any other Tokens of Resentment, than marching through the City with Unconcern, and taking up his Quarters at Villa-verda, about a League from it.
Nevertheless King Charles visited, in his March, the Chapel of the Lady de Atocha, where finding several English Colours and Standards, taken in the Battle of Almanza, there hung up; he ordered 'em to be taken down, and restor'd 'em to the English General.
It was the current Opinion then, and almost universal Consent has since confirm'd it, that the falsest Step in that whole War was this Advancement of King Charles to Madrid. After those two remarkable Victories at Almanar and Saragosa, had he directed his March to Pampeluna, and obtain'd Possession of that Place, or some other near it, he had not only stopt all Succours from coming out of France, but he would, in a great Measure, have prevented the gathering together of any of the routed and dispers'd Forces of King Philip: And it was the general Notion of the Spaniards, I convers'd with while at Madrid, that had King Philip once again set his Foot upon French Land, Spain would never have been brought to have re-acknowledged him.
King Charles with his Army having stay'd some Time about Madrid, and seeing his Expectations of the Castilians joining him not at all answered, at last resolved to decamp, and return to Saragosa: Accordingly with a very few Troops that Prince advanced thither; while the main Body, under the Command of the Generals Stanhope and Staremberg, passing under the very Walls of Madrid, held on their March towards Aragon.
After about three Days' March, General Stanhope took up his Quarters at Breuhiga, a small Town half wall'd; General Staremberg marching three Leagues farther, to Cisuentes. This choice of Situation of the two several Armies not a little puzzled the Politicians of those Times, who could very indifferently account for the English General's lying expos'd in an open Town, with his few English Forces, of which General Harvey's Regiment of fine Horse might be deem'd the Main; and General Staremberg encamping three Leagues farther off the Enemy. But to see the Vicissitudes of Fortune, to which the Actions of the bravest, by an untoward Sort of Fatality, are often forced to contribute! None, who had been Eye-witnesses of the Bravery of either of those Generals at the Battles of Almanar and Saragosa, could find Room to call in question either their Conduct or their Courage; and yet in this March, and this Encampment will appear a visible ill Consequence to the Affairs of the Interest they fought for.
The Duke of Vendome having increas'd the Forces which he brought from France, to upwards of twenty thousand Men, marches by Madrid directly for Breuhiga, where his Intelligence inform'd him General Stanhope lay, and that so secretly as well as swiftly, that that General knew nothing of it, nor could be persuaded to believe it, till the very Moment their Bullets from the Enemy's Cannon convinc'd him of the Truth. Breuhiga, I have said, was wall'd only on one Side, and yet on that very side the Enemy made their Attack. But what could a Handful do against a Force so much superior, though they had not been in want of both Powder and Ball; and in want of these were forc'd to make use of Stones against all Sorts of Ammunition, which the Enemy ply'd them with? The Consequence answered the Deficiency; they were all made Prisoners of War, and Harvey's Regiment of Horse among the rest; which, to augment their Calamity, was immediately remounted by the Enemy, and march'd along with their Army to attack General Staremberg.
That General had heard somewhat of the March of Vendome; and waited with some Impatience to have the Confirmation of it from General Stanhope, who lay between, and whom he lay under an Expectation of being joined with: However he thought it not improper to make some little Advance towards him; and accordingly breaking up from his Camp at Cisuentes, he came back to Villa viciosa, a little Town between Cisuentes and Breuhiga; there he found Vendome ready to attack him, before he could well be prepared for him, but no English to join him, as he had expected; nevertheless, the Battle was hot, and obstinately fought; although Staremberg had visibly the Advantage, having beat the Enemy at least a League from their Cannon; at which Time hearing of the Misfortune of Breuhiga, and finding himself thereby frustrated of those expected Succours to support him, he made a handsome Retreat to Barcelona, which in common Calculation is about one hundred Leagues, without any Disturbance of an Enemy that seem'd glad to be rid of him. Nevertheless his Baggage having fallen into the Hands of the Enemy, at the Beginning of the Fight, King Philip and the Duke of Vendome generously returned it unopen'd, and untouched, in acknowledgement of his brave Behaviour.
I had like to have omitted one material Passage, which I was very credibly informed of; That General Carpenter offered to have gone, and have join'd General Staremberg with the Horse, which was refus'd him. This was certainly an Oversight of the highest Nature; since his going would have strengthen'd Staremberg almost to the Assurance of an intire Victory; whereas his Stay was of no manner of Service, but quite the contrary: For, as I said before, the Enemy, by re-mounting the English Horse (which perhaps were the compleatest of any Regiment in the World) turn'd, if I may be allowed the Expression, the Strength of our Artillery upon our Allies.
Upon this Retreat of Staremberg, and the Surprize at Breuhiga, there were great Rejoicings at Madrid, and everywhere else, where King Philip's Interest prevailed. And indeed it might be said, from that Day the Interest of King Charles look'd with a very lowering Aspect. I was still a Prisoner at la Mancha, when this News arriv'd; and very sensibly affected at that strange Turn of Fortune. I was in bed, when the Express pass'd through the Town, in order to convey it farther; and in the Middle of the Night I heard a certain Spanish Don, with whom, a little before, I had had some little Variance, thundering at my Door, endeavouring to burst it open, with, as I had Reason to suppose, no very favourable Design upon me. But my Landlady, who hitherto had always been kind and careful, calling Don Felix, and some others of my Friends together, sav'd me from the Fury of his Designs, whatever they were.
Among other Expressions of the general Joy upon this Occasion, there was a Bull-Feast at la Mancha; which being much beyond what I saw at Valencia, I shall here give a Description of. These Bull-Feasts are not so common now in Spain as formerly, King Philip not taking much Delight in them. Nevertheless, as soon as it was publish'd here, that there was to be one, no other Discourse was heard; and in the Talk of the Bulls, and the great Preparations for the Feast, Men seem'd to have lost, or to have lay'd aside, all Thoughts of the very Occasion. A Week's time was allow'd for the Building of Stalls for the Beasts, and Scaffolds for the Spectators; and other necessary Preparations for the setting off their Joy with the most suitable Splendour.
On the Day appointed for the bringing the Bulls into Town, the Cavalieroes mounted their Horses, and, with Spears in their Hands, rode out of Town about a League, or somewhat more to meet them: If any of the Bulls break from the Drove, and make an Excursion (as they frequently do) the Cavaliero that can make him return again to his Station among his Companions, is held in Honour, suitable to the Dexterity and Address he performs it with. On their Entrance into the Town, all the Windows are fill'd with Spectators; a Pope passing in grand Procession could not have more; for what can be more than all? And he or she who should neglect so rare a Show, would give Occasion to have his or her Legitimacy call'd in Question.
When they come to the Plaza, where the Stalls and Scaffolds are built, and upon which the Feats of Chivalry are to be performed, it is often with a great deal of Difficulty that the Brutes are got in; for there are twelve Stalls, one for every Bull, and as their Number grows less by the enstalling of some, the Remainder often prove more untractable and unruly: In these Stalls they are kept very dark, to render them fiercer for the Day of Battle.
On the first of the Days appointed (for a Bull-Feast commonly lasts three) all the Gentry of the Place, or near adjacent, resort to the Plaza in their most gaudy Apparel, every one vieing in making the most glorious Appearance. Those in the lower Ranks provide themselves with Spears, or a great many small Darts in their Hands, which they fail not to cast or dart, whenever the Bull by his Nearness gives them an Opportunity. So that the poor Creature may be said to fight, not only with the Tauriro (or Bullhunter, a Person always hired for that Purpose) but with the whole Multitude in the lower Class at least.
All being seated, the uppermost Door is open'd first; and as soon as ever the Bull perceives the Light, out he comes, snuffing up the Air, and stareing about him, as if in admiration of his attendants; and with his Tail cock'd up, he spurns the Ground with his Forefeet, as if he intended a Challenge to his yet unappearing Antagonist. Then at a Door appointed for that purpose, enters the Tauriro all in white, holding a Cloak in one Hand, and a sharp two edged Sword in the other. The Bull no sooner sets Eyes upon him, but wildly staring, he moves gently towards him; then gradually mends his pace, till he is come within about the space of twenty Yards of the Tauriro; when, with a sort of Spring, he makes at him with all his might. The Tauriro knowing by frequent Experience, that it behoves him to be watchful, slips aside just when the Bull is at him; when casting his Cloak over his Horns, at the same Moment he gives him a slash or two, always aiming at the Neck, where there is one particular Place, which if he hit, he knows he shall easily bring him to the Ground. I my Self observ'd the truth of this Experiment made upon one of the Bulls, who receiv'd no more than one Cut, which happening upon the fatal Spot, so stun'd him, that he remain'd perfectly stupid, the Blood flowing out from the Wound, till after a violent Trembling he dropt down stone dead.
But this rarely happens, and the poor Creature oftner receives many Wounds, and numberless Darts, before he dies. Yet whenever he feels a fresh Wound either from Dart, Spear, or Sword, his Rage receives addition from the Wound, and he pursues his Tauriro with an Increase of Fury and Violence. And as often as he makes at his Adversary, the Tauriro takes care with the utmost of his Agility to avoid him, and reward his kind Intention with a new Wound.
Some of their Bulls will play their Parts much better than others: But the best must die. For when they have behav'd themselves with all the commendable Fury possible; if the Tauriro is spent, and fail of doing Execution upon him, they set Dogs upon him: Hough him and stick him all over with Darts, till with very loss of Blood he puts an end to their present Cruelty.
When dead, a Man brings in two Mules dress'd out with Bells and Feathers, and fastening a Rope about his Horns, draws off the Bull with the Shouts and Acclamations of the Spectators; as if the Infidels had been drove from before Ceuta.
I had almost forgot another very common piece of barbarous Pleasure at these Diversions. The Tauriro will sometimes stick one of their Bull Spears fast in the Ground, aslant, but levell'd as near as he can at his Chest; then presenting himself to the Bull, just before the point of the Spear, on his taking his run at the Tauriro, which, as they assur'd me, he always does with his Eyes closed, the Tauriro slips on one side, and the poor Creature runs with a violence often to stick himself, and sometimes to break the Spear in his Chest, running away with part of it till he drop.
This Tauriro was accounted one of the best in Spain; and indeed I saw him mount the back of one of the Bulls, and ride on him, slashing and cutting, till he had quite wearied him; at which time dismounting, he kill'd him with much Ease, and to the acclamatory Satisfaction of the whole Concourse: For variety of Cruelty, as well as Dexterity, administers to their Delight.
The Tauriroes are very well paid; and in Truth so they ought to be; for they often lose their Lives in the Diversion, as this did the Year after in the way of his Calling. Yet is it a Service of very great Profit when they perform dextrously: For when ever they do any Thing remarkable, deserving the Notice of the Spectators, they never fail of a generous Gratification, Money being thrown down to 'em in plenty.
This Feast (as they generally do) lasted three Days; the last of which was, in my Opinion, much before either of the other. On this, a young Gentleman, whose Name was Don Pedro Ortega, a Person of great Quality, perform'd the Exercise on Horseback. The Seats, if not more crowded, were filled with People of better Fashion, who came from Places at a distance to grace the noble Tauriro.
He was finely mounted, and made a very graceful Figure; but as when the Foot Tauriro engages, the Bull first enters, so in the Contest the Cavaliero always makes his Appearance on the Plaza before the Bull. His Steed was a manag'd Horse; mounted on which he made his Entry, attended by four Footmen in rich Liveries; who, as soon as their Master had rid round, and paid his Devoirs to all the Spectators, withdrew from the Dangers they left him expos'd to. The Cavaliero having thus made his Bows, and received the repeated Vivas of that vast Concourse, march'd with a very stately Air to the very middle of the Plaza, there standing ready to receive his Enemy at coming out.
The Door being open'd, the Bull appeared; and as I thought with a fiercer and more threatning Aspect that any of the former. He star'd around him for a considerable time, snuffing up the Air, and spurning the Ground, without in the least taking notice of his Antagonist. But at last fixing his Eyes upon him, he made a full run at the Cavaliero, which he most dexterously avoided, and at the same moment of time, passing by, he cast a Dart that stuck in his Shoulders. At this the Shouts and Vivas were repeated; and I observed a Handkerchief wav'd twice or thrice, which, as I afterwards understood, was a Signal from the Lady of his Affections, that she had beheld him with Satisfaction. I took notice that the Cavaliero endeavour'd all he could to keep aside the Bull, for the Advantage of the Stroke, when putting his Horse on a full Career, he threw another Dart, which fix'd in his Side, and so enrag'd the Beast, that he seem'd to renew his Attacks with greater Fury. The Cavaliero had behav'd himself to Admiration, and escap'd many Dangers; with the often repeated Acclamations of Viva, Viva; when at last the enraged Creature getting his Horns between the Horse's hinder Legs, Man and Horse came both together to the Ground.
I expected at that Moment nothing less than Death could be the Issue; when to the general Surprize, as well as mine, the very civil Brute, Author of all the Mischief, only withdrew to the other Side of the Plaza, where he stood still, staring about him as if he knew nothing of the Matter.
The Cavaliero was carry'd off not much hurt, but his delicate Beast suffer'd much more. However I could not but think afterward, that the good natur'd Bull came short of fair Play. If I may be pardon'd the Expression, he had us'd his Adversary with more Humanity than he met with; at least, since, after he had the Cavaliero under, he generously forsook him; I think he might have pleaded, or others for him, for better Treatment than he after met with.
For as the Cavaliero was disabled and carry'd off, the Foot Tauriro enter'd in white Accoutrements, as before; but he flatter'd himself with an easier Conquest than he found: there is always on these Occasions, when he apprehends any imminent Danger, a Place of Retreat ready for the Foot Tauriro; and well for him there was so; this Bull oblig'd him over and over to make Use of it. Nor was he able at last to dispatch him, without a general Assistance; for I believe I speak within Compass, when I say, he had more than an hundred Darts stuck in him. And so barbarously was he mangled, and flash'd besides, that, in my Mind, I could not but think King Philip in the Right, when he said, That it was a Custom deserv'd little Encouragement.
Soon after this Tauridore, or Bull-Feast was over, I had a Mind to take a pleasant Walk to a little Town, call'd Minai, about three Leagues off; but I was scarce got out of la Mancha, when an Acquaintance meeting me, ask'd where I was going? I told him to Minai; when taking me by the Hand, Friend Gorgio, says he in Spanish, Come back with me; you shall not go a Stride further; there are Picarons that Way; you shall not go. Inquiring, as we went back, into his Meaning, he told me, that the Day before, a Man, who had received a Sum of Money in Pistoles at la Mancha, was, on the road, set upon by some, who had got notice of it, and murdered him; that not finding the Money expected about him (for he had cautiously enough left it in a Friend's Hands at la Mancha) they concluded he had swallowed it; and therefore they ript up his Belly, and open'd every Gut; but all to as little Purpose. This diverted my Walk for that time.
But some little Time after, the same Person inviting me over to the same Place, to see his Melon-Grounds, which in that Country are wonderful fine and pleasant; I accepted his Invitation, and under the Advantage of his Company, went thither. On the Road I took notice of a Cross newly erected, and a Multitude of small stones around the Foot of it: Asking the Meaning whereof, my Friend told me, that it was rais'd for a Person there murder'd (as is the Custom throughout Spain) and that every good Catholick passing by, held it his Duty to cast a Stone upon the Place, in Detestation of the Murder. I had often before taken Notice of many such Crosses: but never till then knew the Meaning of their Erection, or the Reason of the Heaps of Stones around them.
There is no Place in all Spain more famous for good Wine than Sainte Clemente de la Mancha; nor is it any where sold cheaper: For as it is only an inland Town, near no navigable River, and the People temperate to a Proverb, great Plenty, and a small Vend must consequently make it cheap. The Wine here is so famous, that, when I came to Madrid, I saw wrote over the Doors of host Houses that sold Wine, Vino Sainte Clemente. As to the Temperance of the People, I must say, that notwithstanding those two excellent Qualities of good and cheap, I never saw, all the three Years I was Prisoner there, any one Person overcome with Drinking.
It is true, there may be a Reason, and a political one, assign'd for that Abstemiousness of theirs, which is this, That if any Man, upon any Occasion, should be brought in as an Evidence against you, if you can prove that he was ever drunk, it will invalidate his whole Evidence. I could not but think this a grand Improvement upon the Spartans. They made their Slaves purposely drunk, to shew their Youth the Folly of the Vice by the sottish Behaviour of their Servants under it: But they never reach'd to that noble height of laying a Penalty upon the Aggressor, or of discouraging a voluntary Impotence of Reason by a disreputable Impotence of Interest. The Spaniard therefore, in my Opinion, in this exceeds the Spartan, as much as a natural Beauty exceeds one procured by Art; for tho' Shame may somewhat influence some few, Terrour is of force to deter all. A Man, we have seen it, may shake Hands with Shame; but Interest, says another Proverb, will never lye. A wise Institution therefore doubtless is this of the Spaniard; but such as I fear will never take Place in Germany, Holland, France, or Great Britain.
But though I commend their Temperance, I would not be thought by any Means to approve of their Bigotry. If there may be such a Thing as Intemperance in Religion, I much fear their Ebriety in that will be found to be over-measure. Under the notion of Devotion, I have seen Men among 'em, and of Sense too, guilty of the grossest Intemperancies. It is too common to be a rarity to see their Dons of the prime Quality as well as those of the lower Ranks, upon meeting a Priest in the open Streets, condescend to take up the lower part of his Vestment, and salute it with Eyes erected as if they look'd upon it as the Seal of Salvation.
When the Ave-Bell is heard, the Hearer must down on his Knees upon the very Spot; nor is he allowed the small Indulgence of deferring a little, till he can recover a clean Place; Dirtiness excuses not, nor will dirty Actions by any means exempt. This is so notorious, that even at the Play-house, in the middle of a Scene, on the first sound of the Bell, the Actors drop their Discourse, the Auditors supersede the indulging of their unsanctified Ears, and all on their Hearts, quite a different way, to what they just before had been employ'd in. In short, tho' they pretend in all this to an extraordinary Measure of Zeal and real Devotion; no Man, that lives among them any time, can be a Proselyte to them without immolating his Senses and his Reason: Yet I must confess, while I have seen them thus deludeing themselves with Ave Marias, I you'd not refrain throwing up my Eyes to the only proper Object of Adoration, in commiseration of such Delusions.