Spanish Life in Town and Country
by L. Higgin and Eugene E. Street
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[Transcriber's note: Spelling mistakes have been left in the text to match the original, except for a few obvious typos.]


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G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS NEW YORK AND LONDON The Knickerbocker Press 1904


Published, May, 1902 Reprinted, February, 1903 May, 1904; September, 1904

The Knickerbocker Press, New York


It has been thought well to include Portugal in this volume, so as to embrace the entire Iberian Peninsula. Though geographically contiguous, and so closely associated in the popular mind, the Spanish and Portuguese nations offer in fact the most striking divergences alike in character and institutions, and separate treatment was essential in justice to each country. The preferential attention given to Spain is only in keeping with the more prominent part she has played, and may yet play, in the history of civilisation.

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I am indebted for the chapters on Portugal to Mr. Eugene E. Street, whose long and intimate acquaintance with the land and its people renders him peculiarly fitted to draw their picture.
















































Only in comparatively late years has the Iberian Continent been added to the happy hunting-grounds of the ordinary British and American tourist, and somewhat of a check arose after the outbreak of the war with America. To the other wonderful legends which gather round this romantic country, and are spread abroad, unabashed and uncontradicted, was added one more, to the effect that so strong a feeling existed on the part of the populace against Americans, that it was unsafe for English-speaking visitors to travel there. Nothing is farther from the truth; there is no hatred of American or English, and, if there had been, they little know the innate courtesy of the Spanish people, who fear insult that is not due to the overbearing manners of the tourist himself.

To-day, however, everyone is going to Spain, and as the number of travellers increases, so, perhaps, does the real ignorance of the country and of her people become more apparent, for, after a few days, or at most weeks, spent there, those who seem to imagine that they have discovered Spain, as Columbus discovered America, deliver their judgment upon her with all the audacity of ignorance, or, at best, with very imperfect information and capacity for forming an opinion.

For many years, the foreign element in Spain was so small that all who made their home in the country were known and easily counted, while those who travelled were, for the most part, cultivated people—artists, or lovers of art, or persons interested in some way in the commercial or industrial progress of the nation. Even in those days, however, too many tourists spent their time amongst the dead cities, remnants of Spain's great past, and came back to add their quota to the sentimental notions current about the romantic land sung by Byron. Wrapped in a glamour for which their own enthusiasm was mainly responsible, they beheld all things coloured with the rich glow of a resplendent sunset; their descriptions of people and places raised expectations too often cruelly dispelled by facts, as presented to those of less exuberant imaginations.

On the other hand, the mere British traveller, knowing nothing of art, almost nothing of history, and very little of anything beyond his own provincial parish, finds all that is not the commonplace of his own country, barbarous and utterly beneath contempt. His own manners, not generally of the best, set all that is proud and dignified in the lowest Spaniard in revolt; he imagines that he meets with discourtesy where, in fact, he has gone out to seek it, and his own ignorance is chiefly to blame for his failure to understand a people wholly unlike his own class associates at home. He, too, returns, shaking the dust off his feet, to draw a picture of the land he has left, as false and misleading as that of the dreamer who has overloaded his picture with colour that does not exist for the ordinary tourist. Thus it too often comes to pass that visitors to Spain experience keen disappointment during their short stay in the country. Whether they always acknowledge it or not, is another question. To hit the happy medium, and to draw from a tour in Spain, or from a more prolonged sojourn there, all the pleasure that may be derived from it, and to feel with those who, knowing the country and its people intimately, love it dearly, a remembrance of its past history and of its strange agglomeration of nationalities is absolutely necessary; nor can any true idea be formed of the country from a mere acquaintance with any one of its widely differing provinces. Galicia is, even to-day, more nearly allied to Portugal than to Spain, and it was only in 1668 that the independence of the former was acknowledged, and it became a separate kingdom.

With all rights now equalised, the inhabitants of the remaining provinces of Spain differ as widely from one another as they do from the sister kingdom, while the folklore of Asturias and of the Basque Provinces is very closely allied with that of Portugal. To judge the Biscayan by the same standard as the Andaluz, is as sensible as it would be to compare the Irish squatter with Cornish fisher-folk, or the peasants of Wilts and Surrey with the Celtic races of the West Highlands of Scotland, or even with the people of Lancashire or Yorkshire.

Nor is it possible to speak of Spain as a whole, and of what she is likely to make of the present impulse towards national growth and industrial prosperity, without remembering that her population counts, among its rapidly increasing numbers, the far-seeing and business-like, if somewhat selfish, Catalan, with a language of his own; the dreamy, pleasure-loving Andaluz; the vigorous Basque, whose distinctive language is not to be learned or understood by the people of any other part of Spain; the half-Moorish Valencian and the self-respecting Aragonese, who have always made their mark in the history of their country, and were looked upon as a foreign element in the days when their kingdom and that of Leon were united, under one crown, with Castile. It was only after Alfonso XII. had stamped out the last Carlist war that the ancient fueros, or special rights, of the Basque Provinces became a thing of the past, and their people liable to conscription, on a par with all the other parts of Spain.

Every student of history knows that the era of Spain's greatness was that of Los Reyes Catolicos, Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, when the wonderful discovery and opening up of a new world made her people dizzy with excitement, and seemed to promise steadily increasing power and influence. Everyone knows that these dreams were never realised; that, so far from remaining the greatest nation of the Western World, Spain has gradually sunk back into a condition that leaves her to-day outside of international politics; and that, with the loss of her last colonies overseas, she appears to the superficial observer to be a dead or dying nation, no longer of any account among the peoples of Europe.

But this is no fact; it is rather the baseless fancy of incompetent observers, to some extent acquiesced in, or at least not contradicted, by the proud Castilian, who cares not at all about the opinions of other nationalities, and who never takes the trouble to enlighten ignorance of the kind. True, there was an exhibition of something like popular indignation when the people fancied they discovered a reference to Spain in the utterances of two leading English statesmen, during the war with America, and the feeling of soreness against England still to some extent exists; in fact, strange as it may appear, there is far less anger against America, which deprived Spain of her colonies, than against England, which looked on complacently, and with obvious sympathy for the aggressor. But all this is past, or passing. The Spaniards are a generous people, and no one forgets or forgives more easily or more entirely. Those who knew Madrid in the days of Isabel II., would not have imagined it possible that the Queen, who had been banished with so much general rejoicing, could, under any circumstances, have received in the capital a warm greeting; in fact, it was for long thought inexpedient to allow her to risk a popular demonstration of quite another character. But when she came to visit her son, after the restoration of Alfonso XII., her sins, which were many, were forgiven her. It was, perhaps, remembered that in her youth she had been more sinned against than sinning; that she was muy Espanola, kind-hearted and gracious in manner, pitiful and courteous to all. Hence, so long as she did not remain, and did not in any way interfere in the government, the people were ready to receive her with acclamation, and were probably really glad to see her again without her camarilla, and with no power to injure the new order of things.

No nation in the world is more innately democratic than Spain—none, perhaps, so attached to monarchy; but one lesson has been learned, probably alike by King and people—that absolutism is dead and buried beyond recall. The ruler of Spain, to-day and in the future, must represent the wishes of the people; and if at any time the two should once more come into sharp collision, it is not the united people of this once-divided country that would give way. For the rest, so long as the monarch reigns constitutionally, and respects the rights and the desires of his people, there is absolutely nothing to fear from pretender or republican. At a recent political meeting in Madrid, for the first time, were seen democrats, republicans, and monarchists united; amidst a goodly quantity of somewhat "tall" talk, two notable remarks were received with acclamation by all parties: one was that Italy had found freedom, and had made herself into a united nationality, under a constitutional monarch; and the other, that between the Government of England and a republic there was no difference except in name—that in all Europe there was no country so democratic or so absolutely free as England under her King, nor one in which the people so entirely governed themselves.

Among the many mistaken ideas which obtain currency in England with regard to Spain, perhaps none is more common or more baseless than the fiction about Don Carlos and his chances of success. A certain small class of journalists from time to time write ridiculous articles in English papers and magazines about what they are pleased to call the "legitimatist" cause, and announce its coming triumph in the Peninsula. No Spaniard takes the trouble to notice these remarkable productions of the fertile journalistic brain of a foreigner. There are still, of course, people calling themselves Carlists—notably the Duke of Madrid and Don Jaime, but the cult, such as there is of it in Spain, is of the "Platonic" order only,—to use the Spanish description of it, "a little talk but no fight,"—and it may be classed with the vagaries of the amiable people in England who amuse themselves by wearing a white rose, and also call themselves "legitimatists," praying for the restoration of the Stuarts.

The truth about the Carlist pretension is so little known in England that it may be well to state it. Spain has never been a land of the Salic Law; the story of her reigning queens—chief of all, Isabel la Catolica, shows this. It was not until the time of Philip V., the first of the Bourbons, that this absolute monarch limited the succession to heirs male by "pragmatic sanction"; that is to say, by his own unsupported order. The Act in itself was irregular; it was never put before the Cortes, and the Council of Castile protested against it at the time.

This Act, such as it was, was revoked by Charles IV.; but the revocation was never published, the birth of sons making it immaterial. When, however, his son Ferdinand VII. was near his end, leaving only two daughters, he published his father's revocation of the Act of Philip V., and appointed his wife, Cristina, Regent during the minority of Isabel II., then only three years of age.

At no time, then, in its history, has the Salic Law been in use in Spain: the irregular act of a despotic King was repudiated both by his grandson and his great-grandson. Nothing, therefore, can be more ridiculous than the pretension of legitimacy on the part of a pretender whose party simply attempts to make an illegal innovation, in defiance of the legitimate kings and of the Council of Castile, a fundamental law of the monarchy. Carlism, the party of the Church against the nation, came into existence when, during the first years of Cristina's Regency, Mendizabal, the patriotic merchant of Cadiz and London, then First Minister of the Crown, carried out the dismemberment of the religious orders, and the diversion of their enormous wealth to the use of the nation. Don Carlos, the brother of Ferdinand VII., thereupon declared himself the Defender of the Faith and the champion of the extreme clerical party. Hinc illae lachrymae, and two Carlist wars!

The position of the Church, or rather what was called the "Apostolic party," is intelligible enough, and it is easy also to understand why Carlism has been preached as a crusade to English Roman Catholics, who have been induced in both Carlist wars to provide the main part of the funds which made them possible; but to call Don Carlos "the legitimate King" is an absurd misnomer.

For the rest, as regards Spain herself and the wishes of her people, it is perhaps enough to remark that if, after the expulsion of the Bourbons in 1868, at the time of the Revolution known as "La Gloriosa," when Prim had refused to think of a republic and declared himself once and always in favour of a monarchy, and the Crown of proud Spain went a-begging among the Courts of Europe,—if, at that time of her national need, Don Carlos was unable to come forward in his celebrated character of "legitimate Sovereign of the Spanish people," or to raise even two or three voices in his favour, what chance is he likely to have with a settled constitutional Government and the really legitimate Monarch on the throne? The strongest chance he ever had of success was when the Basque Provinces were at one time disposed, it is said almost to a man, to take his side; but, in fact, the men of the mountain were fighting much more for the retention of their own fueros—for their immunity from conscription, among others—than for any love of Don Carlos himself. They would have liked a king and a little kingdom all of their own, and, above all, to have held their beloved rights against all the rest of Spain.

All that, however, is over now. In all Spain no province has profited as have those of the North by the settled advance of the country. Bilbao, once a small trading town, twice devastated during the terrible civil wars, has forged ahead in a manner perhaps only equalled by Liverpool in the days of its first growth, and is now more important and more populous than Barcelona itself; with its charming outlet of Portugalete, it is the most flourishing of Spanish ports, and is able to compare with any in Europe for its commerce and its rapid growth. Viscaya and Asturias want no more civil war, and the Apostolic party may look in vain for any more Carlist risings. More to be feared now are labour troubles, or the contamination of foreign anarchist doctrines; but in this case, the Church and the nation would be on the same side—that of order and progress.

In attempting to understand the extremely complex character of the Spaniard as we know him,—that is to say, the Castilian, or rather the Madrileno,—one has to take into account not only the divers races which go to make up the nationality as it is to-day, but something of the past history of this strangely interesting people. To go back to the days when Spain was a Roman province in a high state of civilisation: some of the greatest Romans known to fame were Spaniards—Quintilian, Martial, Lucan, and the two Senecas. Trajan was the first Spaniard named Emperor, and the only one whose ashes were allowed to rest within the city walls; but the Spanish freedman of Augustus, Gaius Julius Hyginus, had been made the chief keeper of the Palatine Library, and Ballus, another Spaniard, had reached the consulship, and had been accorded the honour of a public triumph. Hadrian, again, was a Spaniard, and Marcus Aurelius a son of Cordoba. No wonder that Spain is proud to remember that, of the "eighty perfect golden years" which Gibbon declares to have been the happiest epoch in mankind's history, no less than sixty were passed beneath the sceptre of her Caesars.

The conquered had become conquerors; the intermarriage of Roman soldiers and settlers with Spanish women modified the original race; the Iberians invaded the politics and the literature of their conquerors. St. Augustine mourned the odiosa cantio of Spanish children learning Latin, but the language of Rome itself was altered by its Iberian emperors and literati; the races, in fact, amalgamated, and the Spaniard of to-day, to those who know him well, bears a strange resemblance to the Roman citizens with whom the letters of the Younger Pliny so charmingly make us familiar. The dismemberment of the Roman Empire left Spain exposed to the inroads of the Northern barbarians, and led indirectly to the subsequent Moorish inrush; for the Jews, harassed by a severe penal code, hailed the Arabs as a kindred race; and with their slaves made common cause with the conquering hordes.

The Goths seem to have been little more than armed settlers in the country. Marriage between them and the Iberians was forbidden by their laws, and the traces of their occupation are singularly few: not a single inscription or book of Gothic origin remains, and it seems doubtful if any trace of the language can be found in Castilian or any of its dialects. It is strange, if this be true, that there should be so strong a belief in the influence of Gothic blood in the race.

In all these wars and rumours of war the men of the hardy North remained practically unconquered. The last to submit to the Roman, the first to throw off the yoke of the Moor, the Basques and Asturians appear to be the representatives of the old inhabitants of Spain, who never settled down under the sway of the invader or acquiesced in foreign rule. Cicero mentions a Spanish tongue which was unintelligible to the Romans; was this Basque, which is equally so now to the rest of Spain, and which, if you believe the modern Castilian, the devil himself has never been able to master?

The history of Spain is one to make the heart ache. Some evil influence, some malign destiny, seems ever to have brought disaster where her people looked for progress or happiness. Her golden age was just in the short epoch when Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon reigned and ruled over the united kingdoms: both were patriotic, both clever, and absolutely at one in their policy. It is almost impossible to us who can look back on the long records, almost always sad and disastrous, not to doubt whether in giving a new world "to Castile and Aragon," Cristobal Colon did not impose a burden on the country of his adoption which she was unable to bear, and which became, in the hands of the successors of her muy Espanoles y muy Catolicos kings, a curse instead of a blessing. Certain it is that Spain was not sufficiently advanced in political economy to understand or cope with the enormous changes which this opening up of a new world brought about. The sudden increase of wealth without labour, of reward for mere adventure, slew in its infancy any impulse there might have been to carry on the splendid manufactures and enlightened agriculture of the Moors; trade became a disgrace, and the fallacious idea that bringing gold and silver into a country could make it rich and prosperous ate like a canker into the industrial heart of the people, and with absolute certainty threw them backward in the race of civilisation.

Charles V. was the first evil genius of Spain; thinking far more of his German and Italian possessions than of the country of his mother, poor mad Juana, he exhausted the resources of Spain in his endless wars outside the country, and inaugurated her actual decline at a moment when, to the unthinking, she was at the height of her glory. The influence of the powerful nobility of the country had been completely broken by Isabella and Ferdinand, and the device of adopting the Burgundian fashion of keeping at the Court an immense crowd of nobles in so-called "waiting" on the Monarch flattered the national vanity, while it ensured the absolute inefficacy of the class when it might have been useful in stemming the baneful absolutism of such lunatics as Felipe II. and the following Austrian monarchs, each becoming more and more effete and more and more mad. The very doubtful "glory" of the reign of the Catholic Kings in having driven out the Moors after eight centuries of conflict and effort, proved, in fact, no advantage to the country; but twenty thousand Christian captives were freed, and every reader of history must, for the moment, sympathise with the people who effected this freeing of their country from a foreign yoke.

Looking at the marvellous tracery of the church of San Juan de los Reyes at Toledo, picked out by the actual chains broken off the miserable Christian captives, and hanging there unrusted in the fine air and sunshine of the country for over four hundred years, one's heart beats in sympathy with the pride of the Spaniards in their Catholic Kings. But Toledo, alas! is dead; the centre of light and learning is mouldering in the very slough of ignorance, and Christianity compares badly enough with the rule of Arab and Jew.

Nevertheless, it must be said that, had matters been left as Isabella and Ferdinand left them, Spain might have benefited by the example of her conquerors, as other countries have done, and as she herself did during the Roman occupation. Philip II. was too wise to expel the richest and most industrious of his subjects so long as they paid his taxes and, at least, professed to be Christians. It was not until the reign of Philip III. and his disgraceful favourite Lerma, himself the most bigoted of Valencian "Christians," that, by the advice of Ribera, the Archbishop of Valencia, these industrious, thrifty, and harmless people were ruthlessly driven out. They had turned Valencia into a prolific garden,—even to-day it is called the huerta,—their silk manufactures were known and valued throughout the world; their industry and frugality were, in fact, their worst crimes; they were able to draw wealth from the sterile lands which "Christians" found wholly unproductive. "Since it is impossible to kill them all," said Ribera, the representative of Christ, he again and again urged on the King their expulsion.

The nobles and landowners protested in vain. September 22, 1609, is one of the blackest—perhaps, in fact, the blackest—of all days in the disastrous annals of Spain. The Marques de Caracena, Viceroy of Valencia, issued the terrible edict of expulsion. Six of the oldest and "most Christian" Moriscos in each community of a hundred souls were to remain to teach their modes of cultivation and their industries, and only three days were allowed for the carrying out of this most wicked and suicidal law. In the following six months one hundred and fifty thousand Moors were hounded out of the land which their ancestors had possessed and enriched for centuries. Murcia, Andalucia, Aragon, Cataluna, Castile, La Mancha, and Estremadura were next taken in hand. In these latter provinces the cruel blunder was all the worse, since the Moors had intermarried with the Iberian inhabitants, and had really embraced the Christian religion, so called.

Half a million souls, according to Father Bleda, in his Defensio Fidei, were thrust out, with every aggravation of cruelty and robbery. No nation can commit crimes like this without suffering more than its victims. Spain has never to this day recovered from the blow to her own prosperity, to her commerce, her manufactures, and her civilisation dealt by the narrow-minded and ignorant King, led by a despicable favourite, and the fanatical bigot, Ribera. With the Moors went almost all their arts and industries; immense tracts of country became arid wastes: Castile and La Mancha barely raise crops every second year where the Moriscos reaped their teeming harvest, and Estremadura from a smiling garden became a waste where wandering flocks of sheep and pigs now find a bare subsistence. Nor was this all. Science and learning were also driven out with the Arab and Jew; Cordoba, like Toledo, vanished, as the centre of intellectual life. In place of enlightened agriculture, irrigation of the dry land, and the planting of trees, the peasant was taught to take for his example San Isidro, the patron saint of the labourer, who spent his days in prayer, and left his fields to plough and sow themselves; the forests were cut down for fuel, until the shadeless wastes became less and less productive, and the whole land on the elevated plains, which the Moors had irrigated and planted, became little better than a desert.

It was not only in the mother country that frightful acts of bigotry and lust for wealth were enacted. In Peru the Spaniards found a splendid civilisation among the strange races of the Incas, a condition of order which many modern states might envy, a religion absolutely free from fetish worship, and a standard of morality which has never been surpassed. But they ruthlessly destroyed it all, desecrated the temples where the sun was worshipped only as a visible representative of a God "of whom nothing could be known save by His works," as their tenet ran, and substituted the religion which they represented as having been taught by Jesus of Nazareth; a religion which looked for its chief power to the horrible Inquisition and its orgies called Autos da fe!

As regards the mysterious race of the Incas, who in comparison with the native Indians were almost white, and who possessed a high cultivation, it is curious to note that during the late troubles in China records came to light in the Palace of Pekin showing that Chinese missionaries landed on the coast subsequently known as Peru, in ages long antecedent to the discovery of the country by the Spaniards, and established temples and schools there. No one who reads the minute accounts of the Incas from Garcilaso de la Vega—himself of the royal race on his mother's side, his father having been one of the Spanish adventurers—can avoid the conclusion that the religion of the Incas, thus utterly destroyed by the Spaniards, was much more nearly that of Christ than the debased worship introduced in its place. The whole story of these "Children of the Sun," told by one of themselves afterwards in Cordoba, where he is always careful to keep on the right side of the Inquisition by pretending to be a "Christian after the manner of his father," is fascinatingly interesting as well as instructive.

It is almost impossible to speak of the Spanish Inquisition and its baneful influence on the people without seeming to be carried away by prejudice or even bigotry, but it is equally impossible for the ordinary student of history to read, even in the pages of the "orthodox," the terrible repression of its iron hand on all that was advancing in the nation; its writers, its singers, its men of science, wherever they dared to raise their voices in ever so faint a cry, ground down to one dead level of unthinking acquiescence, or driven forth from their native land, without ceasing to wonder at all at Spain's decadence from the moment she had handed herself over, bound hand and foot, to the Church. Wondering, rather, at her enormous inherent vitality, which at last, after so many centuries of spasmodic effort, has shaken off the incubus and regained liberty, or for the first time established it in the realms of religion, science, and general instruction.

It matters little or nothing whether the Inquisition, with its secret spies, its closed doors, its mockery of justice, and its terrible background of smouldering Quemadero, was the instrument of the Church or of the King for the moment. Whether a religious or a political tyranny, it was at all times opposed to the very essence of freedom, and it was deliberately used, and would be again to-day if it were possible to restore it, to keep the people in a gross state of ignorance and superstition. That it was admirable as an organisation only shows it in a more baneful light, since it was used to crush out all progress. Its effect is well expressed in the old proverb: "Between the King and the Inquisition we must not open our lips."

"I would rather think I had ascended from an ape," said Huxley, in his celebrated answer to the Bishop of Oxford, "than that I had descended from a man who used great gifts to darken reason." It has been the object of the Inquisition to darken reason wherever it had the power, and it left the mass of the Spanish people, great and generous as they are by nature, for long a mere mob of inert animals, ready to amuse themselves when their country was at its hour of greatest agony, debased by the sight of wholesale and cruel murders carried out by the priests of their religion in the name of Christ.

Even to-day the Spaniard of the lower classes can scarcely understand that he can have any part or parcel in the government of his country. Long ages of misrule have made him hate all governments alike: he imagines that all the evils he finds in the world of his own experience are the work of whoever happens to be the ruler for the time being; that it is possible for him to have any say in the matter never enters his head, and he votes, if he votes at all, as he is ordered to vote. He has been taught for ages past to believe whatever he has been told. His reason has been "offered as a sacrifice to God," if indeed he is aware that he possesses any.

The danger of the thorough awakening may be that which broke out so wildly during Castelar's short and disastrous attempt at a republic: that when once he breaks away from the binding power of his old religion, he may have nothing better than atheism and anarchism to fall back upon. The days of the absolute reign of ignorance and superstition are over; but the people are deeply religious. Will the Church of Spain adapt itself to the new state of things, or will it see its people drift away from its pale altogether, as other nations have done? This is the true clerical question which looms darkly before the Spain of to-day.

To return, however. The Austrian kings of Spain had brought her only ruin. With the Bourbons it was hoped a better era had opened, but it was only exchanging one form of misrule for another. The kings existed for their own benefit and pleasure; the people existed to minister to them and find funds for their extravagance. Each succeeding monarch was ruled by some upstart favourite, until the climax was reached when Godoy, the disgraceful Minister of Charles IV., and the open lover of his Queen, sold the country to Napoleon. Then indeed awoke the great heart of the nation, and Spain has the everlasting glory of having risen as one man against the French despot, and, by the help of England, stopped his mad career. Even then, under the base and contemptible Ferdinand VII., she underwent the "Terror of 1824," the disastrous and unworthy regency of Cristina, and the still worse rule of her daughter, Isabel II., before she awoke politically as a nation, and, her innumerable parties forming as one, drove out the Queen, with her camarilla of priests and bleeding nuns, and at last achieved her freedom.

For, whatever may be said of the last hundred years of Spain's history, it has been an advance, a continuous struggle for life and liberty. There had been fluctuating periods of progress. Charles III., a truly wise and patriotic monarch, the first since Ferdinand and Isabella, made extraordinary changes during his too short life. The population of the country rose a million and a half in the twenty-seven years of his reign, and the public revenue in like proportions under his enlightened Minister, Florida Blanca. No phase of the public welfare was neglected: savings banks, hospitals, asylums, free schools, rose up on all sides; vagrancy and mendicancy were sternly repressed; while men of science and skilled craftsmen were brought from foreign countries, and it seemed as if Spain had fairly started on her upward course. But he died before his time in 1788, and was followed by a son and grandson, who, with their wives, ruled by base favourites, dragged the honour of Spain in the dust. Still, the impulse had been given; there had been a break in the long story of misrule and misery; Mendizabal and Espartero scarcely did more than lighten the black canopy of cloud overhanging the country for a time; but at last came freedom, halting somewhat, as must needs be, but no longer to be repressed or driven back by the baneful influence known as palacioe, intrigues arising in the immediate circle of the Court.



It is the fashion to-day to minimise the influence of the Goths on the national characteristics of the Spaniard. We are told by some modern writers that their very existence is little more than a myth, and that the name of their last King, Roderick, is all that is really known about them. The castle of Wamba, or at least the hill on which it stood, is still pointed out to the visitor in Toledo, perched high above the red torrent of the rushing Tagus; but little seems to be certainly known of this hardy Northern race which, for some three hundred years, occupied the country after the Romans had withdrawn their protecting legions. On the approach of the all-conquering Moor, many of the inhabitants of Spain took refuge in the inaccessible mountains of the north, and were the ancestors of that invincible people known in Spain as "los Montaneses," from whom almost all that is best in literature, as well as in business capacity, has sprung in later years.

How much of the Celt-Iberian, or original inhabitant of the Peninsula, and how much of Gothic or of Teuton blood runs in the veins of the people of the mountains, it is more than difficult now to determine. It had been impossible, despite laws and penalties, to prevent the intermingling of the races: all that we certainly know is that the inhabitants of Galicia, Asturias, Viscaya, Navarro, and Aragon have always exhibited the characteristics of a hardy, fighting, pushing race, as distinguished from the Andaluces, the Valencianos, the Murcianos, and people of Granada, in whom the languid blood of a Southern people and the more marked trace of Arabic heritage are apparent.

The Catalans would appear, again, to be descendants of the old Provencals, at one time settled on both sides of the Pyrenees, though forming, at that time, part of Spain. Their language is almost pure Provencal, and they differ, as history shows in a hundred ways, from the inhabitants of the rest of Spain. The Castilians, occupying the centre of the country, are what we know as "Spaniards," and may be taken to hold a middle place among these widely differing nationalities, modified by their contact with all. Their language is that of cultivated Spain. No one dreams of asking if you speak Spanish; it is always: Habla v Castellano? And it is certainly a remnant of the old Roman, which, as we know, its emperors spoke "with a difference," albeit there are many traces of Arabic about it.

Even at the present day, when Spain is rapidly becoming homogeneous, the people of the different provinces are almost as well known by their trades as by their special characteristics. A Gallego—really a native of Galicia—means, in the common parlance, a porter, a water-carrier, almost a beast of burden, and the Galicians are as well known for this purpose in Portugal as in Spain, great numbers finding ready employment in the former country, where manual labour is looked upon as impossible for a native. The men of the lowest class emigrate to more favoured provinces, since their own is too poor to support them; they work hard, and return with their savings to their native hills. Their fellow-countrymen consider them boorish in manners, uneducated, and of a low class; but they are good-natured and docile, hard-working, temperate, and honest. "In your life," wrote the Duke of Wellington, "you never saw anything so bad as the Galicians; and yet they are the finest body of men and the best movers I have ever seen." There is a greater similarity between Galicia and Portugal than between the former and any other province of Spain.

Although they lie so close together, Asturias differs widely from its sister province both in the character of its people and its scenery. The Romans took two hundred years to subdue it, and the Moors never obtained a footing there. The Asturians are a hardy, independent race, proud of giving the title to the heir-apparent of the Spanish throne. The people of this province, like their neighbours the Basques, are handsome and robust in appearance; they are always to be recognised in Madrid by their fresh appearance and excellent physique. For the most part they are to be found engaged in the fish trade, while their women, gorgeously dressed in their native costume by their employers, are the nurses of the upper classes.

The ladies of Madrid do not think it "good style" to bring up their own children, and the Asturian wet nurse is as much a part of the ordinary household as the coachman or mayordomo. They are singularly handsome, well-grown women, and become great favourites in the houses of their employers; but, like their menkind, they go back to spend their savings among their beloved hills. Many of these young women come to Madrid on the chance of finding situations, leaving their own babies behind to be fed by hand, or Heaven knows how; they bring with them a young puppy to act as substitute until the nurse-child is found, and may be seen in the registry offices waiting to be hired, with their little canine foster-children. It is said that the Asturian women never part from the puppies that they have fed from their own breasts.

The Basque Provinces are, perhaps, the best known to English travellers, since they generally enter Spain by that route, and those staying in the south of France are fond of running across to have at least a look at Spain, and to be able to say they have been there. The people pride themselves on being "the oldest race in Europe," and are, no doubt, the direct descendants of the original and unconquered inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula. In Guipuzcoa, the Basque may still be seen living in his flat-roofed stone house, of which he is sure to be proprietor, using a mattock in place of plough, and leading his oxen—for bueyes are never driven—attached to one of the heavy, solid-wheeled carts by an elaborately carved yoke, covered with a sheepskin. He clings tenaciously to his unintelligible language, and is quite certain that he is superior to the whole human race.

The fueros, or special rights, already spoken of, for which the Basques have fought so passionately for five hundred years, might possibly have been theirs for some time longer if they had not unwisely thrown in their lot with the Carlist Pretender. They practically formed a republic within the monarchy; but in 1876, when the young Alfonso XII. finally conquered the provinces, all differences between them and the other parts of the kingdom were abolished, and they had to submit to the abhorred conscription. With all the burning indignation which still makes some of them say, "I am not a Spaniard; I am a Basque," the extraordinary advance made in this part of Spain seems to show that the hereditary energy and talent of the people are on the side of national progress.

The distinctive dress of the Basques is now almost a thing of the past; the bright kerchiefs of the women and the dark-blue cap (boina) of the men alone remain. The Viscayan boina has been lately introduced into the French army as the headgear of the Chasseurs and some other regiments.

"Aragon is not ours; we ought to conquer it!" Isabel la Catolica is said to have remarked to her husband; and, indeed, the history of this little province is wonderfully interesting and amusing. It alone seems to have had the good sense always to secure its rights before it would vote supplies for the Austrian kings; whereas the other provinces usually gave their money without any security, except the word of the King, which was usually broken. Among the provisions of the fueros of the Aragonese was one that ran thus: "Que siempre que el rey quebrantose sus fueros, pudiessen eligir otro rey encora que sea pagano" (If ever the King should infringe our fueros, we can elect another King, even though he might be a pagan), and the preamble of the election ran thus: "We, who are as good as you, and are more powerful than you (podemos mas que vos) elect you King in order that you may protect our rights and liberties, and also we elect one between us and you (el justicia), who has more power than you: y si no, no!" which may be taken to mean, "otherwise you are not our King."

Somewhat of this spirit still abides in the Aragonese. The costume is one of the most picturesque in Spain. The men wear short black velvet breeches, open at the knees and slashed at the sides, adorned with rows of buttons, and showing white drawers underneath; alpargatas, or the plaited hempen sandals, which, with the stockings, are black; a black velvet jacket, with slashed and button-trimmed sleeves, and the gaily-coloured faja, or silk sash, worn over an elaborate shirt.

In the old days, when one entered Spain by diligence from Bayonne to Pampeluna over the Pyrenees, one learned something of the beauty of the scenery and the healthy, hardy characteristics of the people, as one whirled along through the chestnut groves, over the leaping streams, always at full gallop, up hill and down dale, with a precipice on one side of the road and the overhanging mountains on the other. Below lay a fertile country with comfortable little homesteads and villages clustering round their church, and the like dotted the hillsides and the valleys wherever there seemed a foothold. As the diligence, with its team of ten or twelve mules, dashed through these villages or past the isolated farms, the people stood at their doors and shouted; it was evidently the event of the day. The mules were changed every hour, or rather more, according to the road, and as the ascent became steeper more were added to their number; sometimes six or eight starting from Bayonne where twelve or fourteen were needed for the top of the Pass. At least half the journey was always made at night, and if there were a moon the scenery became magically beautiful; but, in any case, the stars, in that clear atmosphere, made it almost as bright as day, while a ruddy light streamed from the lamp over the driver's seat, far above the coupe, along the string of hurrying mules, as they dashed round precipitous corners, dangerous enough in broad daylight. If one of the animals chanced to fall, it was dragged by its companions to the bottom of the gorge, where it would get up, shake itself, and prepare to tear up the next ascent as if nothing had happened.

A good idea could be formed of these hardy mountaineers in passing through their village homes. They are tall and good-looking, and seem to be simply overflowing with animal spirits. If it chanced to be on a Sunday afternoon, the priest, with his sotana tucked up round his waist, would be found playing the national game of pelota with his flock, using the blank wall of the church as a court.

One is apt to forget that Old Castile is one of the provinces having a northern seaboard. The inhabitants of this borderland are, to judge by appearance, superior to the people of the plains, who certainly strike the casual observer as being dirty and somewhat dull. The Castilian and Aragonese, however, may be said to constitute the heart of the nation. Leon and Estremadura form a part of the same raised plateau, but their people are very different. In speaking of the national characteristics, one must be taken to mean, not by any means the Madrileno, but the countrymen, whose homes are not to be judged by the posadas, or inns, which exist mainly for the muleteer and his animals, and are neither clean nor savoury.

"All the forces of Europe would not be sufficient to subdue the Castiles—with the people against it," was Peterborough's remark, and our Iron Duke never despaired "while the country was with him." He bore with the generals and the Juntas of the upper classes, in spite of his indignation against them, and, "cheered by the people's support," as Napier says, carried out his campaign of victory.

The ancient qualities of which the Castilians are proud are gravedad, lealtad, y amor de Dios—"dignity, loyalty, and love of God." No wonder that when the nation arises, it carries a matter through.

Estremadura, after the expulsion of the Moors, in whose days it was a fruitful garden, seems to have been forgotten by the rest of Spain; it became the pasturage for the wandering flocks of merino sheep, the direct descendants of the Bedouin herds, and of the pigs, which almost overrun it. Yet the remains of the Romans in Estremadura are the most interesting in Spain, and bear witness to the flourishing condition of the province in their day; moreover, Pizarro and Cortes owe their birth to this forgotten land. The inhabitants of the southern provinces of Spain differ wholly from those of Castile and the north—they have much more of the Eastern type; in fact, the Valenciano or the Murciano of the huerta, the well-watered soil which the Moors left in such a high state of cultivation, in manners and appearance are often little different from the Arab as we know him to-day.

From the gay Andaluz we derive most of our ideas of the Spanish peasant; but he is a complete contrast to the dignified Castilian or the brusque Montanese. From this province, given over to song, dancing, and outdoor life, come—almost without exception—the bull-fighters, whose graceful carriage, full of power, and whose picturesque costume, make them remarkable wherever seen. Lively audacity is their special characteristic. Sal (salt) is their ideal; we have no word which carries the same meaning. Smart repartee, grace, charm, all are expressed in the word Salada; and Salero (literally, salt-cellar) is an expression met with in every second song one hears.

Ole Salero! Sin vanidad, Soy muy bonita, Soy muy Sala!

is the refrain of one of their most characteristic songs, La moza e rumbo, and may be taken as a sample:—

Listen, Salero! without vanity, I am lovely—I am Salada!

During the Feria at Seville, the upper classes camp out in tents or huts, and the girls pass their time in singing and dancing, like the peasantry.

The Valencians are very different, being slow, quiet, almost stupid to the eye of the stranger, extremely industrious, and wrapped up in their agricultural pursuits. They fully understand and appreciate the system of irrigation left by the Moors, which has made their province the most densely populated and the most prosperous in appearance of all Spain.

A curious survival exists in Valencia in the Tribunal de las Aguas, which is presided over by three of the oldest men in the city; it is a direct inheritance from the Moors, and from its verdict there is no appeal.

Every Thursday the old men take their seats on a bench outside one of the doors of the cathedral, and to them come all those who have disputes about irrigation, marshalled by two beadles in strange, Old-World uniforms. When both sides have been heard, the old men put their heads together under a cloak or manta, and agree upon their judgment. The covering is then withdrawn, and the decision is announced. On one occasion they decreed that a certain man whom they considered in fault was to pay a fine. The unwary litigant, thinking that his case had not been properly heard, began to try to address the judges in mitigation of the sentence.

"But, Senores—" he began.

"Pay another peseta for speaking!" solemnly said the spokesman of the elders.

"Pero, Senores—"

"Una peseta mas!" solemnly returned the judge; and at last, finding that each time he opened his lips cost him one more peseta, he soon gave up and retired.

The Valencian costume for men consists of wide white cotton drawers to the knees, looking almost like petticoats, sandals of hemp, with gaiters left open between the knee and the ankle, a red sash, or faja, a short velvet jacket, and a handkerchief twisted turban-fashion round the head. The hidalgos wear the long cloak and wide sombrero common to all the country districts of Spain.

In speaking of Spaniards and their characteristics, as I have already said, we have to take into account the presence of all these widely differing races under one crown, and to remember that to-day there is no hard-and-fast line among the cultivated classes: intermarriage has fused the conflicting elements, very much for the good of the country, and rapid intercommunication by rail and telegraph has brought all parts of the kingdom together, as they have never been before. Education is now placed within reach of all, and even long-forgotten Estremadura is brought to share in the impulse towards national life and commercial progress. Comte Paul Vasili, in his charming Lettres inedites to a young diplomatist, first published in the pages of La Nouvelle Revue, gives such an exact picture of the Spanish people, of whom he had so wide an experience and such intimate knowledge, that I am tempted to quote it in full.

"The famous phrase, A la disposition de V., has no meaning in the upper ranks, is a fiction with the bourgeoisie, but is simple truth in the mouth of the people. The pure-blooded Spaniard is the most hospitable, the most ready giver in the world. He offers with his whole heart, and is hurt when one does not accept what he offers. He does not pretend to know anything beyond his own country ... he exaggerates the dignity of humanity in his own person.... Even in asking alms of you he says: Hermanito, una limosna, por el amor de Dios. He does not beg; no, he asks, demands; and, miserable and in rags as he may be, he treats you as a brother—he does you the honour of accepting you as his equal. The Spaniard who has a novia, a guitar, a cigarillo, and the knowledge that he has enough to pay for a seat at the bull-fight, possesses all that he can possibly need. He will eat a plateful of gazpacho or puchero, a sardine, half a roll of bread, and drink clear water as often as wine. Food is always of secondary importance: he ranks it after his novia, after his cigarillo, after the bulls. Sleep? He can sleep anywhere, even on the ground. Dress? He has always his capa, and la capa todo lo tapa. The Spaniard is, above all things, rumboso; that is to say, he has a large, generous, and sound heart.... The masses in Spain are perfectly contented, believing themselves sincerely to be the most heroic of people. The Spaniard is naturally happy, because his wants are almost nil, and he has the fixed idea that kings—his own or those of other nations—are all, at least, his cousins."

This is not the place to speak at large of the religion of the people; but one remark one cannot fail to make, and that is, the place which the Virgin holds in the life and affections of the masses. The name of the Deity is rarely heard, except as an exclamation, and the Christ is spoken of rather as a familiar friend than as the Second Person in the Trinity; but the deep-seated love for the Virgin, and absolute belief in her power to help in all the joys and sorrows of life is one of the strongest characteristics of this naturally religious people. The names given at baptism are almost all hers. Dolores, Amparo, Pilar, Trinidad, Carmen, Concepcion,—abbreviated into Concha,—are, in full, Maria de Dolores, del Pilar, and so forth, and are found among men almost as much as among women. The idea of the ever-constant sympathy of the divine Mother appeals perhaps even more strongly to the man, carrying with it his worship of perfect womanhood, and awakening the natural chivalry of his nature. Be this as it may, the influence of the Virgin, and the sincerity of her worship in every stage of life, in all its dangers and in all its woes, is a religion in itself.



Certain strong characteristics of the Spanish people, with which the history of the world makes us well acquainted, are as marked in this hurrying age of railway and telegraph as ever they were in the past. One of the stupid remarks one constantly hears made by the unthinking tourist is: "Spain is a country where nothing ever changes." This is as true of some of the national traits of character as it is false in the sense in which the speaker means it. He has probably picked it out of some handbook.

Chief among these traits is dignity. The most casual visitor is impressed by it, sometimes very much to his annoyance, whether he finds it among the unlettered muleteers of Castile, the labourers of Valencia, or the present proprietor of some little Old-World pueblo off the ordinary route. The mayoral of the diligence in the old times, the domestic servant of to-day, the senora who happens to sell you fish, or the senor who mends your boots, all strike the same note—an absolute incapacity for imagining that there can be any inequality between themselves and any other class, however far removed from them by the possession of wealth or education. Wealth, in fact, counts for nothing in the way of social rank; a poor hidalgo is exactly as much respected as a rich one, and he treats his tenants, his servants, all with whom he comes in contact, as brothers of the same rank in the sight of God as himself.

Bajo el Rey ninguno is their proverb, and its signification, that "beneath the King all are equal," is one that is shown daily in a hundred ways. The formula with which you are expected to tell the beggars—with whom, unfortunately, Spain is once more overrun—that you have nothing for them, is a lesson in what someone has well called the "aristocratic democracy" of Spain: "Pardon me, for the love of God, my brother," or the simple Perdone me usted, using precisely the same address as you would to a duke. It is no uncommon thing to hear two little ragged urchins, whose heads would not reach to one's elbow, disputing vigorously in the street with a Pero no, Senor, Pero si, Senor, as they bandy their arguments.

English travellers are sometimes found grumbling because the senor who keeps a wayside posada, or even a more pretentious inn in one of the towns, does not stand, hat in hand, bowing obsequiously to the wayfarer who deigns to use the accommodation provided.

This is one of the things in which Spain, to her honour, is unchanged. The courtesy of her people, high or low, is ingrained, and if foreign—perhaps especially English and American—travellers do not always find it so, the fault may oftenest be laid to their own ignorance of what is expected of them, and to what is looked upon as the absolute boorishness of their own manners.

When a Spaniard goes into a shop where a woman is behind the counter, or even to a stall in the open market, he raises his hat in speaking to her as he would to the Duquesa de Tal y Fulano, and uses precisely the same form of address. The shopman lays himself at the feet of his lady customers—metaphorically only, fortunately, A los pies de V., Senora!—with a bow worthy of royalty. She hopes that "God may remain with his worship" as she bids him the ordinary Adios on going away, and he, with equal politeness, expresses a hope that she may "go in God's keeping," while he once more lays himself at the senora's feet. All these amenities do not prevent a little bargaining, the one asking more than he means to take, apparently for the purpose of appearing to give way perforce to the overmastering charms of his customer, who does not disdain to use either her fan or her eyes in the encounter. The old woman will bargain just as much, but always with the same politeness. When foreigners walk in and abruptly ask for what they want with an air of immense superiority, as is the custom in our country, they are not unnaturally looked upon as muy bruto, and at the best it is accounted for by their being rude heretics from abroad, and knowing no better.

In Madrid and some of the large towns it is possible that the people have become accustomed to our apparent discourtesy, just as in some places—Granada especially—spoiled by long intimacy with tourists, the beggars have become importunate, and to some extent impudent; but in places a little removed from such a condition of modern "civilisation," the effect produced by many a well-meaning but ordinary Saxon priding himself on his superiority, and without any intention of being ill-bred or ill-mannered, is that of disgust and contemptuous annoyance.

No Spaniard will put up with an overbearing or bullying manner, even though he may not understand the language in which it is expressed; it raises in him all the dormant pride and prejudice which sleep beneath his own innate courtesy, and he probably treats the offending traveller with the profound contempt he feels for him, if with nothing worse. A little smiling and good-natured chaff when things go wrong, as they so often do in travelling, or when the leisurely expenditure of time, which is as natural to the Spaniard as it is irritating to our notions of how things ought to move, will go infinitely farther to set things right than black looks and a scolding tongue, even in an unknown language.

When English people come back from Spain complaining of discourtesy, or what they choose to call insult, I know very well on whose head to fit the accusing cap, and it is always those people whose super-excellent opinion of themselves, and of their infinite importance at home, makes them certain of meeting with some such experience among a people to whom the mere expression "a snob" is by no means to be understood.

That railway travelling in Spain calls for a great exercise of patience from those accustomed to Flying Dutchmen and such-like expresses is quite true; though, by the way, many of the lines are in French hands, and served by French officials. It may safely be said, however, even at the present day, that those who are always in a hurry would do well to choose some other country for their holiday jaunt. A well-known English engineer, of French extraction, trying to get some business through in Madrid, once described himself as feeling "like a cat in hell, without claws." Perhaps the ignorance of the language, which constituted his clawless condition, was a fortunate circumstance for him. But that was a good while ago, and Madrid moves more quickly now.

Another characteristic of the Spaniard which awakens the respect and admiration of those who know enough of his past and present history to be aware of it is his courage: not in the least resembling the excitement and rush of mere conflict, nor the theatrical display of what goes by the name of "glory" among some of his neighbours; but the cool courage, the invincible determination which holds honour as the ideal to be followed all the same whether or not any person beyond the actor will know of it, and an unquestioning obedience to discipline, which call forth the ungrudging admiration of Englishmen, proud as we are of such national stories as that of our own Little Revenge, The Wreck of the "Birkenhead," or of "plucky little Mafeking," amongst hundreds of others. Spaniards are rich in such inspiring memories, reaching from the earliest days of authentic history to the terrible episodes of the late war with America. The story of Cervera's fleet at Santiago de Cuba is one to make the heart of any nation throb with pride in the midst of inevitable tears.

Again and again in reading Spanish history do we come upon evidences of this nobility of courage and disinterested patriotism. It was the Spaniard Pescara who brushed the French army of observation from the line of the Adda, and marched his own forces and the German troops to the relief of Pavia. All were unpaid, unclothed, unfed; yet when an appeal was made to the Spaniards, Hume tells us that they abandoned their own pay and offered their very shirts and cloaks to satisfy the Germans, and "the French were beaten before the great battle was fought." They did precisely the same in the days of Mendizabal.

Again, in the height of Barbarossa's power, when Charles V., hoisting the crucifix at his masthead, led his crusading Spaniards against Goletta, and it fell, after a month's desperate siege, without pause or rest the troops, half dead with heat and thirst, pressed on to Tunis to liberate twenty thousand Christian captives. It was a splendid achievement, for the campaign was fought in the fierce heat of an African summer. Every barrel of biscuit, every butt of water, had to be brought by sea from Sicily, and as there were no draught animals, the soldiers themselves dragged their guns and all their provisions. It is, as we well know, no light task to find six weeks' supply for thirty thousand men with all our modern advantages; but these Spaniards did it when already exhausted, half fed, burnt up by the fierce African sun, and in face of an enemy well supplied with artillery and ammunition.

In the miserable time of Philip II., a garrison of two hundred men held out for months against a Turkish army of twenty thousand men at Mers-el-Keber; and the same heroic story is repeated at Malta, when the enemy, after firing sixteen thousand cannon shots in one month against the Christian forts, abandoned the siege in despair. Meanwhile the unspeakable bigot, Philip, was wasting his time in processions, rogations, and fasts, for the relief of the town, while he stirred no finger to help it in any effective manner.

These are stories by no means few and far between; the whole history of the race is full of such. We read of one town and garrison of eight thousand souls, abandoned by their king, starved, and without clothes or ammunition. Reduced at last to two thousand naked men, they stood in the breach to be slain to a man by the conquering Turk. Conqueror only in name, after all; for he who conquers is he who lives in history for a great action, and whose undaunted courage fires other souls long after he is at rest.

"But all this is very ancient history, of the days of Spain's greatness; now she is a decadent nation," says the superficial observer. The column of the Dos de Mayo on the Prado of Madrid, with its yearly memorial mass, shows whether that spirit is dead, or in danger of dying. The second of May is well called the "Day of Independence"; it was, in fact, the inauguration of the War of Independence, in which Spain gained enough honour to satisfy the proudest of her sons. The French had entered Madrid under pretence of being Spain's allies against Portugal, and Murat, once settled there to his own perfect satisfaction, made no secret of his master's intention to annex the whole peninsula. The imbecile King, Charles IV., had abdicated; his son, Ferdinand VII., was practically a captive in France. The country had, in fact, been sold to Napoleon, neither more nor less, by the infamous Godoy, favourite of the late King.

A riot broke out among the people on discovering that the French were about to carry off the Spanish Infantes. The blood of some comparatively innocent Frenchmen was shed, and the base governor and magistrates of Madrid allowed Murat to make his own terms, which were nothing less, in fact, than the dispersion of the troops, who were ordered to clear out of their barracks, and hand them over to the French. The two artillery officers, Daoiz and Valarde, with one infantry officer named Ruiz, and a few of the populace, refused, and, all unaided, attempted to hold the barracks of Monteleon against the French army of invasion! The end was certain; but little recked these Spaniards of the old type. Daoiz and Valarde were killed, the former murdered by French bayonets after being wounded, on the cannon by which they had stood alone against the whole power of the French troops; Ruiz also was shot. On the following day, Murat led out some scores of the patriots who had dared to oppose him, and shot them on the spot of the Prado now sacred to their memory. Thus was the torch of the Peninsular War lighted. As one man the nation rose; the labourer armed himself with his agricultural implements, the workman with his tools; without leaders, nay, in defiance of those who should have led them, the people sprang to action, and, with England's help, the usurper was driven from the throne of France, and finally caged in St. Helena. But it is never forgotten that Spain—these two or three sons of hers preferring honour to life—has the glory of having been the first to oppose and check the man and the nation that aspired to tyrannise over Europe.

It is not too much to say that the conduct of every individual in Cervera's fleet at Santiago de Cuba showed that the Spaniard's magnificent courage, his absolute devotion to duty, and his disregard of death are no whit less to-day than when those two thousand naked men stood in the breach to be slain in the name of their country's honour. The Oquendo, already a wreck, coming quietly out of her safe moorings in obedience to the insane orders of the Government in Madrid, steering her way with absolute coolness so as to clear the sunken Diamante, to face certain and hideous death, is a picture which can never fade from memory. It was said at the time by their enemies that there was not a man in the Spanish fleet that did not deserve the Victoria Cross; and this was all the more true because there was not even a forlorn hope: it was obedience to orders in the absolute certainty of death, and, what was harder still, with full knowledge of the utter uselessness of the sacrifice.

It is difficult to imagine that anyone can read the record of this heroic passage in the history of the Spain of to-day without a throb of admiration and pity. No wonder that the generous enemy went out of their way to do honour to the melancholy remnant of heroes as they mounted the sides of the American ironclads, prisoners of war.

Cervantes gave to the world a new adjective when he wrote his romance of The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha—a world in which the filibusters are those of commerce, the pirates those of trade. When we English call an action "quixotic," we do not exactly mean disapproval, but neither, certainly, do we intend admiration; unless it be that of other-worldliness which it is well to affect, however far we may be from practising it ourselves. It is, at best, something quite unnecessary, if acknowledged to be admirable in the abstract. The quixotic are rarely successful, and success is the measure by which everything is judged to-day. Be that as it may, the more intimately one knows Spain, the more one becomes aware that what is with us an amiable quality of somewhat dubious value, is one of those which go to make up the Spaniard in every rank of life. His chivalry, his fine sense of honour, are nothing if not quixotic, as we understand the word; and just as in Scotland alone does one appreciate the characters in Sir Walter Scott's novels, so in Spain does one feel that, with due allowance for a spirit of kindly caricature, Don Quijote de la Mancha is not only possible, but it is a type of character as living to-day as it was when the genius of Cervantes distilled and preserved for all time that most quaint, lovable, inconsequent, and chivalrous combination of qualities which constitute a Spanish gentleman. Among her writers, her thinkers, her workers—nay, even now and then among her politicians—we come upon traits which remind us vividly of the ingenious gentleman and perfect knight of romance.

But this estimate of the Spanish character differs a good deal from the pictures drawn of it by the casual tourist; and it is scarcely surprising that it should be so. It has been well said that "the contrast between the ideal of honour and the practice of pecuniary corruption has always been a peculiar feature of Spain and her settlements." If we hear one thing oftener than another said of Spain, it is fault-finding with her public men; the evils of bribery, corruption, and self-seeking amongst what should be her statesmen, and, above all, her Government employees, are pointed out, and by none more than by Spaniards themselves. There is a good deal of truth at the bottom of these charges; they are the melancholy legacy of the years of misrule and of the darkness through which the country has struggled on her difficult way. No one looks for the highest type of character in any country among its party politicians. The creed that good becomes evil if it is carried out under one regime, and evil good under another, is not calculated to raise the moral perception; and it is only when a politician has convictions and principles which are superior to any office-holding, and will break with his party a hundred times sooner than stultify his own conscience, that he earns the respect of onlookers. There are, and have been, many such men among the politicians of Spain whose names remain as watchwords with her people; but they have too often stood alone, and were not strong enough to leaven the mass and raise the whole standard of political integrity. Some of the highest and best men, moreover, have thrown down their tools and withdrawn from contact with a life which seemed to them tainted. But because Spain has done much in overthrowing her evil rulers and is struggling upwards towards the light, we expect wonders, and will not give time for what must always be a slow and difficult progress.

In Spain, everyone is a politician. The schoolboy, who with us would be thinking of nothing more serious than football, aspires to sum up the situation and give his opinion of the public men as if he were an ex-prime minister at least. These orators of the cafes and the street corners are delighted to find a foreigner on whom they can air their unfledged opinions, and the traveller who can speak or understand a few words of Spanish comes back with wonderful accounts of what "a Spaniard whom I met in the train told me." In any case, no one ever says as hard things of his countrymen as a Spaniard will say of those who do not belong to the particular little political clique which has the extreme honour of counting himself as one of its number. These cliques—for one cannot call them parties—are innumerable, called, for the most part, after one man, of whom no one has heard except his particular friends, Un Senor muy conocido en su casa, sobre todo a la hora de comer, as their saying is: "A gentleman very well known in his own house, especially at dinner-time."

Ford is answerable for many of the fixed ideas about Spain which it seems quite impossible to remove. Much that may have been true in the long ago, when he wrote his incomparable Guide Book, has now passed away with the all-conquering years; but still all that he ever said is repeated in each new book with unfailing certainty. Much as he really loved Spain, it must be confessed that he now and then wrote of her with a venom and bitterness quite at variance with his usual manner of judging things. It is in great part due to him that so much misunderstanding exists as to the Spanish custom of "offering" what is not intended to be accepted. If that peculiarity ever existed—for my part, I have never met with it at any time—it does so no longer. When a Spaniard speaks of his house as that of "your Grace" (su casa de Usted), it is simply a figure of speech, which has no more special meaning than our own "I am delighted to see you," addressed to some one whose existence you had forgotten, and will forget again; but nothing can exceed the generous hospitality often shown to perfect strangers in country districts where the accommodation for travellers is bad, when any real difficulty arises.

It is customary, for instance, in travelling, when you open your luncheon-basket, to offer to share its contents with any strangers who may chance to be fellow-passengers. Naturally, it is merely a form of politeness, and, in an ordinary way, no one thinks of accepting it—everyone has his own provision, or is intending to lunch somewhere on the way; but it is by no means an empty form. If it should chance, by some accident, that you found yourself without—as has happened to me in a diligence journey which lasted twenty hours when it was intended only to occupy twelve—the Spanish fellow-travellers will certainly insist on your accepting their offer. Also, if they should be provided with fresh fruit—oranges, dates, or figs—and you are not, their offer to share is by no means made with the hope or expectation that you will say Muchas gracias, the equivalent of "No, thank you."

What is really difficult and embarrassing sometimes is to avoid having pressed on your acceptance some article which you may have admired, in your ignorance of the custom, which makes it the merest commonplace of the Spaniard to "place it at your disposition," or to say: "It is already the property of your Grace." Continued refusal sometimes gives offence. The custom of never doing to-day what you can quite easily put off till to-morrow is, unfortunately, still a common trait of Spanish character; but as the Spaniard is rapidly becoming an alert man of business, it is not likely that that will long remain one of the national characteristics. Time in old days seemed of very little value in a country where trade was looked upon as a disgrace, or at least as unfitting any one to enter the charmed circle of the first Grandeza; but that is of the past now in Spain, as in most countries. To be sure, it has not there become fashionable for ladies to keep bonnet-shops or dress-making establishments, nor to open afternoon tea-rooms or orchaterias, still less to set up as so-called financiers, as it has with us. However, even that may come to pass in the struggle for "el high life," of which some of the Spanish writers complain so bitterly. Imagination absolutely refuses, however, to see the Spanish woman of rank in such surroundings.

For the rest, the Spanish woman, wherever you meet her, and in whatever rank of society, is devout, naturally kind-hearted and sympathetic, polite, and entirely unaffected; a good mother, sister, daughter; hard-working and frugal, if she be of the lower class; fond above all things of gossip, and of what passes for conversation; light-hearted, full of fun and harmless mischief; born a coquette, but only with that kind of coquetry which is inseparable from unspoiled sex, with no taint of sordidness about it; and, before all things, absolutely free from affectation. Their own expression, muy simpatica, gives better than any other the charm of the Spanish woman, whether young or old, gentle or simple.

It was the possession of all these qualities in a high degree by Dona Isabel II. that covered the multitude of her sins, and made all who came within her influence speak gently of her, and think more of excuses than of blame. It is these qualities which give so much popularity to her daughter, the Infanta Isabel, who, like her mother, is above all things muy Espanola. That the Spanish woman is passionate, goes without saying; one only has to watch the quick flash of her eye—"throwing out sparks," as their own expression may be translated—to be aware of that. While the eyes of the men are for the most part languid, only occasionally flashing forth, those of the women are rarely quiet for a moment; they sparkle, they languish, they flame—a whole gamut of expression in one moment of time; and it must be confessed that they look upon man as their natural prey.



There is something specially charming about Spanish society, its freedom from formality, the genuine pleasure and hospitality with which each guest is received, and the extreme simplicity of the entertainment. In speaking, however, of society in Madrid and other modern towns, it must be remembered that the old manners and customs are to a great extent being modified and assimilated with those of the other Continental cities. A great number of the Spanish nobility spend the season in Paris or in London as regularly as any of the fashionable people in France or England. There is no country life in Spain, as we understand the word; those of the upper ten thousand who have castles or great houses in the provinces rarely visit them, and still more rarely entertain there. A hunting or a shooting party at one of these is quite an event; so when the great people leave Madrid, it is generally to enter into London or Paris society, and, naturally, when they are at home they to a great extent retain cosmopolitan customs. At the foreign legations or ministries also, society loses much of its specially Spanish character.

The word tertulia simply means a circle or group in society; but it has come to signify a species of "At Home" much more informal than anything we have in the way of evening entertainment. The tertulia of a particular lady means the group of friends who are in the habit of frequenting her drawing-room. The Salon del Prado is the general meeting-place of all who feel more inclined for al fresco entertainment than for close rooms, and the different groups of friends meeting there draw their chairs together in small circles, and thus hold their tertulia. The old Countess of Montijo was so much given to open-handed hospitality, and it was so easy for any English person to obtain an introduction to her tertulia, that her daughter, the Empress Eugenie, used to call it the Prado cubierto—"only the Prado with a roof on." It is not customary for anything but the very lightest of refreshments to be offered at the ordinary tertulia, and this is one of its great charms, for little or no expense is incurred, and those who are not rich can still welcome their friends as often as they like without any of the terrific preparations for the entertainment which make it a burden and a bore, and without a rueful glance at the weekly bill afterwards. Occasionally, chocolate is handed round, and any amount of tumblers of cold water. The chocolate is served in small coffee-cups, and is of the consistency of oatmeal porridge; but it is delicious all the same, very light and well frothed up. It is "eaten" by dipping little finger-rusks or sponge-chips into the mixture, and you are extremely glad of the glass of cold water after it. This is, however, rather an exception; lemonade, azucarillas and water, or tea served in a separate room about twelve o'clock, is more usual. The azucarilla is a confection not unlike "Edinburgh rock," but more porous and of the nature of a meringue. You stir the water with it, when it instantly dissolves, flavouring the water with vanilla, lemon, or orange, as well as sugar. Sometimes you are offered meringues, which you eat first, and then drink the water.

I have a very perfect recollection of my first tertulia in Madrid, when I was a very young girl. We had been asked to go quite early, as we were the strangers of the evening. Between seventy and eighty guests dropped in, the ladies chiefly in morning dress, as we understand the word. A Spanish lady never rises to receive a gentleman; but when any ladies entered the large drawing-room where we were all seated, every one rose and stood while the new arrivals made the circuit of the room, shaking hands with their friends or kissing them on both cheeks, and giving a somewhat undignified little nod to those whom they did not know. The first time every one rose I thought we were going to sing a hymn, or take part in some ceremony; but as it had to be repeated each time a lady entered the room, I began to wish they would all come at once. As soon as the dancing began, however, this ceremony was discontinued. When you are introduced to a partner, the first thing he does is to inquire your Christian name; from that time forth he addresses you by it, as if he had known you from infancy, and in speaking to him you are expected to use his surname alone. If there be more than one brother, you address the younger one as "Arturo," "Ramon," or whatever his Christian name may be. The diminutives are, however, almost always used—Pacquita, Juanito, etc., in place of Francisca or Juan. Even the middle-aged and old ladies are always spoken to by their Christian names, and it is quite common to hear a child of six addressing a lady who is probably a grandmother as "Luisa" or "Mariquita."

Between the dances the pauses were unusually long, but they were never spent by the ladies sitting in rows round the walls, while the men blocked up the doorways and looked bored. There were no "flirting corners," and sitting out on the stairs a deux would have been a compromiso. The whole company broke up into little knots and circles, the chairs, which had been pushed into corners or an ante-room, were fetched out, and the men, without any sort of shyness, generally seated themselves in front of the ladies, and kept up a perfectly wild hubbub of conversation until the music for the next dance struck up. Dowagers and duenas were few; they sat in the same spot all the evening, and asked each other what rent they paid, how many chimeneas (fireplaces) they had, whether they burned wood or coal, and lamented over the price of both. They reminded one irresistibly of the "two crumbly old women" in Kavanagh "who talked about moths, and cheap furniture, and the best cure for rheumatism."

The dances were the same as ours, with some small differences: the rigodon is a variation of the quadrille, and the lancers are slightly curtailed. There was a decided fancy for the polka and a species of mazurka, which I remembered having learned from a dancing-master in the dawn of life, under some strange and forgotten name. Spaniards dance divinely—nothing less. They waltz as few other men do, a very poetry of motion, an abandonment of enjoyment, as if their soul were in it, especially if the music be somewhat languid. This is especially the case with the artillery officers, who are great favourites in society, and belong exclusively to the upper ranks.

I have described this tertulia at length because it was a typical one of many. The cotillon was a great favourite, and generally closed the evening. I always had an idea that one cause of its popularity was the extended opportunities it gave for a couple who found each other's company pleasant to enjoy it without much interference. It rather made up for the loss of the staircase and the window-seats, or balconies, dear to English dancers. The rooms are generally kept in a stifling state of heat, a thick curtain always hanging over the door, and never an open window or any kind of ventilation; this, however, does not inconvenience the Spaniard in the least. It is usual to smoke during the intervals of the dances—cigarettes as a rule; but I have often known a man to lay his cigar on the edge of a table, and give it a whiff between the rounds of a valse to keep it going.

This, however, is the Spanish tertulia. You are "offered the house" once and for always, and told the evenings on which your hostess "receives," generally once, sometimes many more times in the week; then you drop in, without further invitation, whenever you feel inclined; after the opera, or on the days when there is no opera, or on your way from the theatre, or at any hour. This sort of visiting puts an end to what we, by courtesy, call "morning calls." There is always conversation to any amount, generally cards, music, and, when there are sufficient young people, a dance.

There is no exclusiveness and no caste about Spanish society; all the houses are open, and the guests are always welcome. There are, of course, the houses of the nobility, and there are many grades in this Grandeza, some being of very recent creation, others of the uncontaminated sangre azul; but there is no hard-and-fast line. The successful politician or the popular writer has the entree anywhere, and there is no difficulty about going into the very best of the Court society, if one has friends in that tertulia. One guest asks permission to present his or her friend, the permission is courteously granted, and the thing is done. Poets and dramatists are in great request in Madrid society. It is the custom to ask them to recite their own compositions, and as almost every Spaniard is a poet, whatever else he may be, there is no lack of entertainment. All the popular authors—Campoamor, Nunez de Arce, Pelayo, Valera, and many others—may thus be heard; but the paid performer (so common in London drawing-rooms) of music, light drama, or poetical recitation, is probably absolutely unknown in Madrid society.

During the season balls are given occasionally at the Palace, and at the houses of the great nobility, the Fernan-Nunez, the Romana, the Medinaceli, and others, whose names are as well known in Paris and London as in Madrid. Dinner-parties are also becoming much more common in private houses than they were before the Restoration, and as for public dinners, they are so frequent that they bid fair to become of the same importance as the like institution in England. Costume balls, dances, dinners, and evening entertainments among the corps diplomatique abound. Everyone in Madrid has a box or stall at the Teatro Real, or opera-house, and many ladies make a practice of "receiving" in their palcos; and in the entrance-hall, after the performance is over, an hour may be spent, while ostensibly waiting for carriages, in conversation, gossip, mild flirtation, and generally making one's self agreeable among the groups all engaged in the same amusement. Almost everyone, also, whatever his means may be, has an abono at one or other of the numerous theatres, sometimes at more than one; and if it be a box, the subscribers take friends with them, or receive visits there. It is a common thing, either in the opera-house or in the theatres, for a couple of friends to join in the abono; in this case it is arranged on which nights the whole box or the two or three stalls shall be the property of each in turn. Besides paying for the seats, there is always a separate charge each night made for the entrada—in the Teatro Real it is a peseta and a half, in the others one peseta. By this arrangement anyone can enter the theatre by paying the entrada, and take chance of finding friends there, frequently spending an hour or so going from one box to another. All this gives the theatre more the air of being an immense "At Home" than what we are accustomed to in England. The intervals between the acts are very long, and, as all the men smoke, somewhat trying.

Spanish women are great dressers, and the costumes seen at the race-meetings at the Hippodrome, and in the Parque, are elaborately French, and sometimes startling. The upper middle class go to Santander, Biarritz, or one of the other fashionable watering-places, and it is said of the ladies that they only stop as many days as they can sport new costumes. If they go for a fortnight they must have fifteen absolutely new dresses, as they would never think of putting one on a second time. They take with them immense trunks, such as we generally associate with American travellers; these are called mundos (worlds)—a name which one feels certain was given by the suffering man who is expected to look after them.

There are many little details in Spanish life, even of the upper classes, which strike one as odd. One, for instance, is the perfect sangfroid with which they pick their teeth in public; but so little is this considered, as with us, a breach of good manners, that the dinner-tables are supplied with dainty little ornaments filled with tooth-picks, and these are handed round to the guests by the waiters towards the close of the meal. Nor is it an unknown thing for a Spanish lady to spit. I have seen it done out of a carriage window in the fashionable drive without any hesitation. At the same time, as one of the great charms of a Spanish woman is the total absence in her of anything savouring of affectation, one would far sooner overlook customs that are unknown in polite society with us than have them lose their own characteristics in an attempt to imitate the social peculiarities of other nations that have incorporated the ominous word "snob" in their vocabularies. It has no equivalent in the language of Castile, and it is to be hoped will never be borrowed. Nevertheless, a recent Spanish writer laments the fact that in the race for "el high life" his fellow-countrywomen "are not ashamed to drink whisky!" We have yet to learn that whisky-drinking among women is an element of good style in any class of English society. The idea that Spanish ladies were in the habit of smoking in past times is a mistake. If they do so now it is an instance of the race for "el high life," of which the writer quoted above complains.

In imitation of foreign customs, many of the ladies in Madrid and the more modern cities have established their "day" for afternoon visitors. After all, this is but the Spanish tertulia at a different hour, but if it should ever supersede the real evening tertulia it will be a thousand pities; it would be far more sensible if we were to adopt the Spanish custom, rather than that they should follow ours. In the evening, the hour varying, of course, with the time of year, all Madrid goes to drive, ride, or walk in the Buen Retiro, now called the Parque de Madrid. It is beautifully laid out, with wide, well-kept roads and well-cared-for gardens; it has quite superseded the Paseo de la Fuente Castellano, which used to be the "Ladies' Mile" of Madrid.

Madrid is a city of which one hears the most contradictory accounts. The mere traveller not uncommonly pronounces it "disappointing, uninteresting, less foreign than most Continental capitals,"—"everything to be seen at best second-rate France," etc., etc. The Museo, of course, must be admired,—even the most ignorant know that to contemn that is to write themselves down as Philistines;—but for the rest, they confess themselves glad to escape, after two or three days spent in La Corte, to what they fancy will prove more interesting towns, or, at any rate, to something which they hope will be more characteristic. But those who settle in Madrid, or know it well, winter and summer, and have friends among its hospitable people, come to love it, one might almost say, strangely, because it is not the love that springs from habit or mere familiarity, but something much warmer and more personal. One charm it has, which is felt while there and pleasantly remembered in absence—its much-maligned climate. The position of Madrid at the apex of a high table-land, two thousand one hundred and sixty feet above the level of the sea, with its wide expanse of plain on every hand but that on which the Guadarramas break the horizon with their rugged, often snow-capped, peaks, naturally exposes it to rapid changes of temperature; that is to say, that if the snow is still lying on the Sierra, and the wind should chance to blow from that direction on Madrid, which is steeped in sunshine winter and summer for far the greater part of the year, there is nothing to break its course, and naturally, a Madrileno, crossing from the sheltered corner, where he has been "taking the sun," to the shady side of the street and the full force of the chilly blast, will be very likely to "catch an air," as the Spaniard expresses it. But that tan sutil aire de Madrid, which Ford seems to have discovered, and which every guide-book and slip-shod itinerary has ever since quoted, might very well now be allowed to find a place in the limbo of exploded myths; it has done far more than its duty in terrifying visitors quite needlessly. That pulmonia fulminante (acute pneumonia) is a very common disease among the men of Madrid, there is no doubt, and in the days when Ford wrote, they were no doubt immediately bled, and so hastened on their way out of this troublesome world by the doctors; but one has not very far to seek for the cause of this scourge when one notices the habits of the Madrileno. In the first place he hates nothing quite so much as fresh air, and the cafes, clubs, taverns, and places where he resorts are kept in such a state of heated stuffiness that it seems scarcely an exaggeration to say that the air could be cut out in junks, like pieces of cake. If he travel by train, all windows must be kept closely shut, while he smokes all the time. When, at last, it is necessary to brave the outer air in order to reach home, he, carefully and before leaving the vitiated atmosphere he has been breathing, envelops himself in his cloak, throwing the heavy cape, generally lined with velvet or plush, across his mouth and nose, barely leaving his eyes visible; he thus has three or four folds of cloth and velvet as a respirator. It often happens that at the corner of some street the long arm of the icy "Guadarrama" reaches him; a sudden gust of wind plucks off his respirator, and the mischief is done. But should he reach the safe closeness of his own house, he has certainly done his level best to charge his lungs with unwholesome and contaminated air.

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