The Bible in Spain
by George Borrow
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Drenched in perspiration, which fell from our brows like rain, we arrived at the door of Juan Lopez, the husband of Maria Diaz. Having heard of our intention to pay him a visit, he was expecting us, and cordially welcomed us to his habitation, which, like a genuine Moorish house, consisted only of one story. It was amply large, however, with a court and stable. All the apartments were deliciously cool. The floors were of brick or stone, and the narrow and trellised windows, which were without glass, scarcely permitted a ray of sun to penetrate into the interior.

A puchera had been prepared in expectation of our arrival; the heat had not taken away my appetite, and it was not long before I did full justice to this the standard dish of Spain. Whilst I ate, Lopez played upon the guitar, singing occasionally snatches of Andalusian songs. He was a short, merry-faced, active fellow, whom I had frequently seen at Madrid, and was a good specimen of the Spanish labrador or yeoman. Though far from possessing the ability and intellect of his wife, Maria Diaz, he was by no means deficient in shrewdness and understanding. He was, moreover, honest and disinterested, and performed good service in the Gospel cause, as will presently appear.

When the repast was concluded, Lopez thus addressed me:- "Senor Don Jorge, your arrival in our village has already caused a sensation, more especially as these are times of war and tumult, and every person is afraid of another, and we dwell here close on the confines of the factious country; for, as you well know, the greater part of La Mancha is in the hands of the Carlinos and thieves, parties of whom frequently show themselves on the other side of the river: on which account the alcalde of this city, with the other grave and notable people thereof, are desirous of seeing your worship, and conversing with you, and of examining your passport." "It is well," said I; "let us forthwith pay a visit to these worthy people." Whereupon he conducted me across the plaza, to the house of the alcalde, where I found the rustic dignitary seated in the passage, enjoying the refreshing coolness of a draught of air which rushed through. He was an elderly man, of about sixty, with nothing remarkable in his appearance or his features, which latter were placid and good-humoured. There were several people with him, amongst whom was the surgeon of the place, a tall and immensely bulky man, an Alavese by birth, from the town of Vitoria. There was also a red fiery-faced individual, with a nose very much turned on one side, who was the blacksmith of the village, and was called in general El Tuerto, from the circumstance of his having but one eye. Making the assembly a low bow, I pulled out my passport, and thus addressed them:-

"Grave men and cavaliers of this city of Villa Seca, as I am a stranger, of whom it is not possible that you should know anything, I have deemed it my duty to present myself before you, and to tell you who I am. Know, then, that I am an Englishman of good blood and fathers, travelling in these countries for my own profit and diversion, and for that of other people also. I have now found my way to Villa Seca, where I propose to stay some time, doing that which may be deemed convenient; sometimes riding across the plain, and sometimes bathing myself in the waters of the river, which are reported to be of advantage in times of heat, I therefore beg that, during my sojourn in this capital, I may enjoy such countenance and protection from its governors as they are in the habit of affording to those who are of quiet and well-ordered life, and are disposed to be buxom and obedient to the customs and laws of the republic."

"He speaks well," said the alcalde, glancing around.

"Yes, he speaks well," said the bulky Alavese; "there is no denying it."

"I never heard any one speak better," cried the blacksmith, starting up from a stool on which he was seated. "Vaya! he is a big man and a fair complexioned like myself. I like him, and have a horse that will just suit him; one that is the flower of Spain, and is eight inches above the mark."

I then, with another bow, presented my passport to the alcalde, who, with a gentle motion of his hand, appeared to decline taking it, at the same time saying, "It is not necessary." "Oh, not at all," exclaimed the surgeon. "The housekeepers of Villa Seca know how to comport themselves with formality," observed the blacksmith. "They would be very loth to harbour any suspicion against a cavalier so courteous and well spoken." Knowing, however, that this refusal amounted to nothing, and that it merely formed part of a polite ceremonial, I proffered the passport a second time, whereupon it was instantly taken, and in a moment the eyes of all present were bent upon it with intense curiosity. It was examined from top to bottom, and turned round repeatedly, and though it is not probable that an individual present understood a word of it, it being written in French, it gave nevertheless universal satisfaction; and when the alcalde, carefully folding it up, returned it to me, they all observed that they had never seen a better passport in their lives, or one which spake in higher terms of the bearer.

Who was it said that "Cervantes sneered Spain's chivalry away?" I know not; and the author of such a line scarcely deserves to be remembered. How the rage for scribbling tempts people at the present day to write about lands and nations of which they know nothing, or worse than nothing. Vaya! It is not from having seen a bull-fight at Seville or Madrid, or having spent a handful of ounces at a posada in either of those places, kept perhaps by a Genoese or a Frenchman, that you are competent to write about such a people as the Spaniards, and to tell the world how they think, how they speak, and how they act! Spain's chivalry sneered away! Why, there is every probability that the great body of the Spanish nation speak, think, and live precisely as their forefathers did six centuries ago.

In the evening the blacksmith, or, as he would be called in Spanish, El Herrador, made his appearance at the door of Lopez on horseback. "Vamos, Don Jorge," he shouted. "Come with me, if your worship is disposed for a ride. I am going to bathe my horse in the Tagus by the bridge of Azeca." I instantly saddled my jaca Cordovesa, and joining him, we rode out of the village, directing our course across the plain towards the river. "Did you ever see such a horse as this of mine, Don Jorge?" he demanded. "Is he not a jewel—an alaja?" And in truth the horse was a noble and gallant creature, in height at least sixteen hands, broad-chested, but of clean and elegant limbs. His neck was superbly arched, and his head towered on high like that of a swan. In colour he was a bright chestnut, save his flowing mane and tail, which were almost black. I expressed my admiration, whereupon the herrador, in high spirits, pressed his heels to the creature's sides, and flinging the bridle on its neck, speeded over the plain with prodigious swiftness, shouting the old Spanish cry, Cierra! I attempted to keep up with him, but had not a chance. "I call him the flower of Spain," said the herrador, rejoining me. "Purchase him, Don Jorge, his price is but three thousand reals. {19} I would not sell him for double that sum, but the Carlist thieves have their eyes upon him, and I am apprehensive that they will some day make a dash across the river and break into Villa Seca, all to get possession of my horse, 'The Flower of Spain.'"

It may be as well to observe here, that within a month from this period, my friend the herrador, not being able to find a regular purchaser for his steed, entered into negotiations with the aforesaid thieves respecting him, and finally disposed of the animal to their leader, receiving not the three thousand reals he demanded, but an entire herd of horned cattle, probably driven from the plains of La Mancha. For this transaction, which was neither more nor less than high treason, he was cast into the prison of Toledo, where, however, he did not continue long; for during a short visit to Villa Seca, which I made in the spring of the following year, I found him alcalde of that "republic."

We arrived at the bridge of Azeca, which is about half a league from Villa Seca; close beside it is a large water-mill, standing upon a dam which crosses the river. Dismounting from his steed, the herrador proceeded to divest it of the saddle, then causing it to enter the mill-pool, he led it by means of a cord to a particular spot, where the water reached half way up its neck, then fastening a cord to a post on the bank, he left the animal standing in the pool. I thought I could do no better than follow his example, and accordingly procuring a rope from the mill, I led my own horse into the water. "It will refresh their blood, Don Jorge," said the herrador; "let us leave them there for an hour, whilst we go and divert ourselves."

Near the bridge, on the side of the river on which we were, was a kind of guard-house, where were three carbineers of the revenue, who collected the tolls of the bridge; we entered into conversation with them: "Is not this a dangerous position of yours," said I to one of them, who was a Catalan; "close beside the factious country? Surely it would not be difficult for a body of the Carlinos or bandits to dash across the bridge and make prisoners of you all."

"It would be easy enough at any moment, Cavalier," replied the Catalan; "we are, however, all in the hands of God, and he has preserved us hitherto, and perhaps still will. True it is that one of our number, for there were four of us originally, fell the other day into the hands of the canaille: he had wandered across the bridge amongst the thickets with his gun in search of a hare or rabbit, when three or four of them fell upon him and put him to death in a manner too horrible to relate. But patience! every man who lives must die. I shall not sleep the worse to-night because I may chance to be hacked by the knives of these malvados to-morrow. Cavalier, I am from Barcelona, and have seen there mariners of your nation; this is not so good a country as Barcelona. Paciencia! Cavalier, if you will step into our house, I will give you a glass of water; we have some that is cool, for we dug a deep hole in the earth and buried there our pitcher; it is cool, as I told you, but the water of Castile is not like that of Catalonia."

The moon had arisen when we mounted our horses to return to the village, and the rays of the beauteous luminary danced merrily on the rushing waters of the Tagus, silvered the plain over which we were passing, and bathed in a flood of brightness the bold sides of the calcareous hill of Villaluenga and the antique ruins which crowned its brow. "Why is that place called the Castle of Villaluenga?" I demanded.

"From a village of that name, which stands on the other side of the hill, Don Jorge," replied the herrador. "Vaya! it is a strange place, that castle; some say it was built by the Moors in the old times, and some by the Christians when they first laid siege to Toledo. It is not inhabited now, save by rabbits, which breed there in abundance amongst the long grass and broken stones, and by eagles and vultures, which build on the tops of the towers; I occasionally go there with my gun to shoot a rabbit. On a fine day you may descry both Toledo and Madrid from its walls. I cannot say I like the place, it is so dreary and melancholy. The hill on which it stands is all of chalk, and is very difficult of ascent. I heard my grandame say that once, when she was a girl, a cloud of smoke burst from that hill, and that flames of fire were seen, just as if it contained a volcano, as perhaps it does, Don Jorge."

The grand work of Scripture circulation soon commenced in the Sagra. Notwithstanding the heat of the weather, I rode about in all directions. It was well that heat agrees with my constitution, otherwise it would have been impossible to effect anything in this season, when the very arrieros frequently fall dead from their mules, smitten by sun-stroke. I had an excellent assistant in Antonio, who, disregarding the heat like myself, and afraid of nothing, visited several villages with remarkable success. "Mon maitre," said he, "I wish to show you that nothing is beyond my capacity." But he who put the labours of us both to shame, was my host, Juan Lopez, whom it had pleased the Lord to render favourable to the cause. "Don Jorge," said he, "io quiero engancharme con usted (I wish to enlist with you); I am a liberal, and a foe to superstition; I will take the field, and, if necessary, will follow you to the end of the world; Viva Ingalaterra; viva el Evangelio." Thus saying, he put a large bundle of Testaments into a satchel, and springing upon the crupper of his grey donkey, he cried "Arrhe burra," and hastened away. I sat down to my journal.

Ere I had finished writing, I heard the voice of the burra in the courtyard, and going out, I found my host returned. He had disposed of his whole cargo of twenty Testaments at the village of Vargas, distant from Villa Seca about a league. Eight poor harvest men, who were refreshing themselves at the door of a wine-house, purchased each a copy, whilst the village schoolmaster secured the rest for the little ones beneath his care, lamenting, at the same time, the great difficulty he had long experienced in obtaining religious books, owing to their scarcity and extravagant price. Many other persons were also anxious to purchase Testaments, but Lopez was unable to supply them: at his departure, they requested him to return within a few days.

I was aware that I was playing rather a daring game, and that it was very possible that, when I least expected it, I might be seized, tied to the tail of a mule, and dragged either to the prison of Toledo or Madrid. Yet such a prospect did not discourage me in the least, but rather urged me to persevere; for at this time, without the slightest wish to gratify myself, I could say that I was eager to lay down my life for the cause, and whether a bandit's bullet, or the gaol fever brought my career to a close, was a matter of indifference to me; I was not then a stricken man: "Ride on because of the word of righteousness," was my cry.

The news of the arrival of the book of life soon spread like wildfire through the villages of the Sagra of Toledo, and wherever my people and myself directed our course we found the inhabitants disposed to receive our merchandize; it was even called for where not exhibited. One night as I was bathing myself and horse in the Tagus, a knot of people gathered on the bank, crying, "Come out of the water, Englishman, and give us books; we have got our money in our hands." The poor creatures then held out their hands, filled with cuartos, a copper coin of the value of the farthing, but unfortunately I had no Testaments to give them. Antonio, however, who was at a short distance, having exhibited one, it was instantly torn from his hands by the people, and a scuffle ensued to obtain possession of it. It very frequently occurred, that the poor labourers in the neighbourhood, being eager to obtain Testaments, and having no money to offer us in exchange, brought various articles to our habitation as equivalents; for example, rabbits, fruit and barley, and I made a point never to disappoint them, as such articles were of utility either for our own consumption or that of the horses.

In Villa Seca there was a school in which fifty-seven children were taught the first rudiments of education. One morning the schoolmaster, a tall slim figure of about sixty, bearing on his head one of the peaked hats of Andalusia, and wrapped, notwithstanding the excessive heat of the weather, in a long cloak, made his appearance; and having seated himself, requested to be shown one of our books. Having delivered it to him, he remained examining it for nearly half an hour, without uttering a word. At last he laid it down with a sigh, and said that he should be very happy to purchase some of these books for his school, but from their appearance, especially from the quality of the paper and binding, he was apprehensive that to pay for them would exceed the means of the parents of his pupils, as they were almost destitute of money, being poor labourers. He then commenced blaming the government, which he said established schools without affording the necessary books, adding that in his school there were but two books for the use of all his pupils, and these he confessed contained but little good. I asked him what he considered the Testaments were worth? He said, "Senor Cavalier, to speak frankly, I have in other times paid twelve reals for books inferior to yours in every respect, but I assure you that my poor pupils would be utterly unable to pay the half of that sum." I replied, "I will sell you as many as you please for three reals each, I am acquainted with the poverty of the land, and my friends and myself, in affording the people the means of spiritual instruction have no wish to curtail their scanty bread." He replied: "Bendito sea Dios," (blessed be God,) and could scarcely believe his ears. He instantly purchased a dozen, expending, as he said, all the money he possessed, with the exception of a few cuartos. The introduction of the word of God into the country schools of Spain is therefore begun, and I humbly hope that it will prove one of those events, which the Bible Society, after the lapse of years, will have most reason to remember with joy and gratitude to the Almighty.

An old peasant is reading in the portico. Eighty-four years have passed over his head, and he is almost entirely deaf; nevertheless he is reading aloud the second of Matthew: three days since he bespoke a Testament, but not being able to raise the money, he has not redeemed it until the present moment. He has just brought thirty farthings; as I survey the silvery hair which overshadows his sunburnt countenance, the words of the song occurred to me, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation."

I experienced much grave kindness and simple hospitality from the good people of Villa Seca during my sojourn amongst them. I had at this time so won their hearts by the "formality" of my behaviour and language, that I firmly believe they would have resisted to the knife any attempt which might have been made to arrest or otherwise maltreat me. He who wishes to become acquainted with the genuine Spaniard, must seek him not in seaports and large towns, but in lone and remote villages, like those of the Sagra. There he will find all that gravity of deportment and chivalry of disposition which Cervantes is said to have sneered away; and there he will hear, in everyday conversation, those grandiose expressions, which, when met with in the romances of chivalry, are scoffed at as ridiculous exaggerations.

I had one enemy in the village—it was the curate.

"The fellow is a heretic and a scoundrel," said he one day in the conclave. "He never enters the church, and is poisoning the minds of the people with his Lutheran books. Let him be bound and sent to Toledo, or turned out of the village at least."

"I will have nothing of the kind," said the alcalde, who was said to be a Carlist. "If he has his opinions, I have mine too. He has conducted himself with politeness. Why should I interfere with him? He has been courteous to my daughter, and has presented her with a volume. Que viva! and with respect to his being a Lutheran, I have heard say that amongst the Lutherans there are sons of as good fathers as here. He appears to me a caballero. He speaks well."

"There is no denying it," said the surgeon.

"Who speaks SO well?" shouted the herrador. "And, who has more formality? Vaya! did he not praise my horse, 'The Flower of Spain'? Did he not say that in the whole of Ingalaterra there was not a better? Did he not assure me, moreover, that if he were to remain in Spain he would purchase it, giving me my own price? Turn him out, indeed! Is he not of my own blood, is he not fair- complexioned? Who shall turn him out when I, 'the one-eyed,' say no?"

In connection with the circulation of the Scriptures I will now relate an anecdote not altogether divested of singularity. I have already spoken of the water-mill by the bridge of Azeca. I had formed acquaintance with the tenant of this mill, who was known in the neighbourhood by the name of Don Antero. One day, taking me into a retired place, he asked me, to my great astonishment, whether I would sell him a thousand Testaments at the price at which I was disposing of them to the peasantry; saying, if I would consent he would pay me immediately. In fact, he put his hand into his pocket, and pulled it out filled with gold ounces. I asked him what was his reason for wishing to make so considerable a purchase. Whereupon he informed me that he had a relation in Toledo whom he wished to establish, and that he was of opinion that his best plan would be to hire him a shop there and furnish it with Testaments. I told him that he must think of nothing of the kind, as probably the books would be seized on the first attempt to introduce them into Toledo, as the priests and canons were much averse to their distribution.

He was not disconcerted, however, and said his relation could travel, as I myself was doing, and dispose of them to the peasants with profit to himself. I confess I was inclined at first to accept his offer, but at length declined it, as I did not wish to expose a poor man to the risk of losing money, goods, and perhaps liberty and life. I was likewise averse to the books being offered to the peasantry at an advanced price, being aware that they could not afford it, and the books, by such an attempt, would lose a considerable part of that influence which they then enjoyed; for their cheapness struck the minds of the people, and they considered it almost as much in the light of a miracle as the Jews the manna which dropped from heaven at the time they were famishing, or the spring which suddenly gushed from the flinty rocks to assuage their thirst in the wilderness.

At this time a peasant was continually passing and repassing between Villa Seca and Madrid, bringing us cargoes of Testaments on a burrico. We continued our labours until the greater part of the villages of the Sagra were well supplied with books, more especially those of Vargas, Coveja, Mocejon, Villaluenga, Villa Seca, and Yungler. Hearing at last that our proceedings were known at Toledo, and were causing considerable alarm, we returned to Madrid.


Aranjuez—A Warning—A Night Adventure—A Fresh Expedition— Segovia—Abades—Factions Curas—Lopez in Prison—Rescue of Lopez.

The success which had attended our efforts in the Sagra of Toledo speedily urged me on to a new enterprise. I now determined to direct my course to La Mancha, and to distribute the word amongst the villages of that province. Lopez, who had already performed such important services in the Sagra, had accompanied us to Madrid, and was eager to take part in this new expedition. We determined in the first place to proceed to Aranjuez, where we hoped to obtain some information which might prove of utility in the further regulation of our movements; Aranjuez being but a slight distance from the frontier of La Mancha and the high road into that province passing directly through it. We accordingly sallied forth from Madrid, selling from twenty to forty Testaments in every village which lay in our way, until we arrived at Aranjuez, to which place we had forwarded a large supply of books.

A lovely spot is Aranjuez, though in desolation: here the Tagus flows through a delicious valley, perhaps the most fertile in Spain; and here upsprang, in Spain's better days, a little city, with a small but beautiful palace shaded by enormous trees, where royalty delighted to forget its cares. Here Ferdinand the Seventh spent his latter days, surrounded by lovely senoras and Andalusian bull-fighters: but as the German Schiller has it in one of his tragedies:

"The happy days in fair Aranjuez, Are past and gone."

When the sensual king went to his dread account, royalty deserted it, and it soon fell into decay. Intriguing counters no longer crowd its halls; its spacious circus, where Manchegan bulls once roared in rage and agony, is now closed, and the light tinkling of guitars is no longer heard amidst its groves and gardens.

At Aranjuez I made a sojourn of three days, during which time Antonio, Lopez, and myself visited every house in the town. We found a vast deal of poverty and ignorance amongst the inhabitants, and experienced some opposition: nevertheless it pleased the Almighty to permit us to dispose of about eighty Testaments, which were purchased entirely by the very poor people; those in easier circumstances paying no attention to the word of God, but rather turning it to scoff and ridicule.

One circumstance was very gratifying and cheering to me, namely, the ocular proof which I possessed that the books which I had disposed of were read, and with attention, by those to whom I sold them; and that many others participated in their benefit. In the streets of Aranjuez, and beneath the mighty cedars and gigantic elms and plantains which compose its noble woods, I have frequently seen groups assembled listening to individuals who, with the New Testament in their hands, were reading aloud the comfortable words of salvation.

It is probable that, had I remained a longer period at Aranjuez, I might have sold many more of these divine books, but I was eager to gain La Mancha and its sandy plains, and to conceal myself for a season amongst its solitary villages, for I was apprehensive that a storm was gathering around me; but when once through Ocana, the frontier town, I knew well that I should have nothing to fear from the Spanish authorities, as their power ceased there, the rest of La Mancha being almost entirely in the hands of the Carlists, and overrun by small parties of banditti, from whom, however, I trusted that the Lord would preserve me. I therefore departed for Ocana, distant three leagues from Aranjuez.

I started with Antonio at six in the evening, having early in the morning sent forward Lopez with between two and three hundred Testaments. We left the high road, and proceeded by a shorter way through wild hills and over very broken and precipitous ground: being well mounted we found ourselves just after sunset opposite Ocana, which stands on a steep hill. A deep valley lay between us and the town: we descended, and came to a small bridge, which traverses a rivulet at the bottom of the valley, at a very small distance from a kind of suburb. We crossed the bridge, and were passing by a deserted house on our left hand, when a man appeared from under the porch.

What I am about to state will seem incomprehensible, but a singular history and a singular people are connected with it: the man placed himself before my horse so as to bar the way, and said "Schophon," which, in the Hebrew tongue, signifies a rabbit. I knew this word to be one of the Jewish countersigns, and asked the man if he had any thing to communicate? He said, "You must not enter the town, for a net is prepared for you. The corregidor of Toledo, on whom may all evil light, in order to give pleasure to the priests of Maria, in whose face I spit, has ordered all the alcaldes of these parts, and the escribanos and the corchetes to lay hands on you wherever they may find you, and to send you, and your books, and all that pertains to you to Toledo. Your servant was seized this morning in the town above, as he was selling the writings in the streets, and they are now awaiting your arrival in the posada; but I knew you from the accounts of my brethren, and I have been waiting here four hours to give you warning in order that your horse may turn his tail to your enemies, and neigh in derision of them. Fear nothing for your servant, for he is known to the alcalde, and will be set at liberty, but do you flee, and may God attend you." Having said this, he hurried towards the town.

I hesitated not a moment to take his advice, knowing full well that, as my books had been taken possession of, I could do no more in that quarter. We turned back in the direction of Aranjuez, the horses, notwithstanding the nature of the ground, galloping at full speed; but our adventures were not over. Midway, and about half a league from the village of Antigola, we saw close to us on our left hand three men on a low bank. As far as the darkness would permit us to distinguish, they were naked, but each bore in his hand a long gun. These were rateros, or the common assassins and robbers of the roads. We halted and cried out, "Who goes there?" They replied, "What's that to you? pass by." Their drift was to fire at us from a position from which it would be impossible to miss. We shouted, "If you do not instantly pass to the right side of the road, we will tread you down between the horses' hoofs." They hesitated and then obeyed, for all assassins are dastards, and the least show of resolution daunts them. As we galloped past, one cried, with an obscene oath, "Shall we fire?" But another said, "No, no! there's danger." We reached Aranjuez, where early next morning Lopez rejoined us, and we returned to Madrid.

I am sorry to state that two hundred Testaments were seized at Ocana, from whence, after being sealed up, they were despatched to Toledo. Lopez informed me, that in two hours he could have sold them all, the demand was so great. As it was, twenty-seven were disposed of in less than ten minutes.

"Ride on because of the word of righteousness." Notwithstanding the check which we had experienced at Ocana, we were far from being discouraged, and forthwith prepared ourselves for another expedition. As we returned from Aranjeuz to Madrid, my eyes had frequently glanced towards the mighty wall of mountains dividing the two Castiles, and I said to myself, "Would it not be well to cross those hills, and commence operations on the other side, even in Old Castile? There I am unknown, and intelligence of my proceedings can scarcely have been transmitted thither. Peradventure the enemy is asleep, and before he has roused himself, I may have sown much of the precious seed amongst the villages of the Old Castilians. To Castile, therefore, to Castile la Vieja!" Accordingly, on the day after my arrival, I despatched several cargoes of books to various places which I proposed to visit, and sent forward Lopez and his donkey, well laden, with directions to meet me on a particular day beneath a particular arch of the aqueduct of Segovia. I likewise gave him orders to engage any persons willing to co-operate with us in the circulation of the Scriptures, and who might be likely to prove of utility in the enterprise. A more useful assistant than Lopez in an expedition of this kind it was impossible to have. He was not only well acquainted with the country, but had friends, and even connexions on the other side of the hills, in whose houses he assured me that we should at all times find a hearty welcome. He departed in high spirits, exclaiming, "Be of good cheer, Don Jorge; before we return we will have disposed of every copy of your evangelic library. Down with the friars! Down with superstition! Viva Ingalaterra, viva el Evangelio!"

In a few days I followed with Antonio. We ascended the mountains by the pass called Pena Cerrada, which lies about three leagues to the eastward of that of Guadarama. It is very unfrequented, the high road between the two Castiles passing through Guadarama. It has, moreover, an evil name, being, according to common report, infested with banditti. The sun was just setting when we reached the top of the hills, and entered a thick and gloomy pine forest, which entirely covers the mountains on the side of Old Castile. The descent soon became so rapid and precipitous, that we were fain to dismount from our horses and to drive them before us. Into the woods we plunged deeper and deeper still; night-birds soon began to hoot and cry, and millions of crickets commenced their shrill chirping above, below, and around us. Occasionally, amidst the trees at a distance, we could see blazes, as if from immense fires. "They are those of the charcoal-burners, mon maitre!" said Antonio; "we will not go near them, however, for they are savage people, and half bandits. Many is the traveller whom they have robbed and murdered in these horrid wildernesses."

It was blackest night when we arrived at the foot of the mountains; we were still, however, amidst woods and pine forests, which extended for leagues in every direction. "We shall scarcely reach Segovia to-night, mon maitre," said Antonio. And so indeed it proved, for we became bewildered, and at last arrived where two roads branched off in different directions, we took not the left hand road, which would have conducted us to Segovia, but turned to the right, in the direction of La Granja, where we arrived at midnight.

We found the desolation of La Granja far greater than that of Aranjuez; both had suffered from the absence of royalty, but the former to a degree which was truly appalling. Nine-tenths of the inhabitants had left this place, which, until the late military revolution, had been the favourite residence of Christina. So great is the solitude of La Granja, that wild boars from the neighbouring forests, and especially from the beautiful pine- covered mountain which rises like a cone directly behind the palace, frequently find their way into the streets and squares, and whet their tusks against the pillars of the porticos.

"Ride on because of the word of righteousness." After a stay of twenty-four hours at La Granja, we proceeded to Segovia. The day had arrived on which I had appointed to meet Lopez. I repaired to the aqueduct, and sat down beneath the hundred and seventh arch, where I waited the greater part of the day, but he came not, whereupon I rose and went into the city.

At Segovia I tarried two days in the house of a friend, still I could hear nothing of Lopez. At last, by the greatest chance in the world, I heard from a peasant that there were men in the neighbourhood of Abades selling books.

Abades is about three leagues distant from Segovia, and upon receiving this intelligence, I instantly departed for the former place, with three donkeys laden with Testaments. I reached Abades at nightfall, and found Lopez, with two peasants whom he had engaged, in the house of the surgeon of the place, where I also took up my residence. He had already disposed of a considerable number of Testaments in the neighbourhood, and had that day commenced selling at Abades itself; he had, however, been interrupted by two of the three curas of the village, who, with horrid curses denounced the work, threatening eternal condemnation to Lopez for selling it, and to any person who should purchase it; whereupon Lopez, terrified, forbore until I should arrive. The third cura, however, exerted himself to the utmost to persuade the people to provide themselves with Testaments, telling them that his brethren were hypocrites and false guides, who, by keeping them in ignorance of the word and will of Christ, were leading them to the abyss. Upon receiving this information, I instantly sallied forth to the market-place, and that same night succeeded in disposing of upwards of thirty Testaments. The next morning the house was entered by the two factious curas, but upon my rising to confront them, they retreated, and I heard no more of them, except that they publicly cursed me in the church more than once, an event which, as no ill resulted from it, gave me little concern.

I will not detail the events of the next week; suffice it to say that arranging my forces in the most advantageous way, I succeeded, by God's assistance, in disposing of from five to six hundred Testaments amongst the villages from one to seven leagues' distance from Abades. At the expiration of that period I received information that my proceedings were known in Segovia, in which province Abades is situated, and that an order was about to be sent to the alcalde to seize all books in my possession. Whereupon, notwithstanding that it was late in the evening, I decamped with all my people, and upwards of three hundred Testaments, having a few hours previously received a fresh supply from Madrid. That night we passed in the fields, and next morning proceeded to Labajos, a village on the high road from Madrid to Valladolid. In this place we offered no books for sale, but contented ourselves with supplying the neighbouring villages with the word of God: we likewise sold it in the highways.

We had not been at Labajos a week, during which time we were remarkably successful, when the Carlist chieftain, Balmaseda, at the head of his cavalry, made his desperate inroad into the southern part of Old Castile, dashing down like an avalanche from the pine-woods of Soria. I was present at all the horrors which ensued,—the sack of Arrevalo, and the forcible entry into Martin Munoz. Amidst these terrible scenes we continued our labours. Suddenly I lost Lopez for three days, and suffered dreadful anxiety on his account, imagining that he had been shot by the Carlists; at last I heard that he was in prison at Villallos, three leagues distant. The steps which I took to rescue him will be found detailed in a communication, which I deemed it my duty to transmit to Lord William Hervey, who, in the absence of Sir George Villiers, now became Earl of Clarendon, fulfilled the duties of minister at Madrid:-


My Lord,—I beg leave to call your attention to the following facts. On the 21st inst. I received information that a person in my employ, of the name of Juan Lopez, had been thrown into the prison of Villallos, in the province of Avila, by order of the cura of that place. The crime with which he was charged was selling the New Testament. I was at that time at Labajos, in the province of Segovia, and the division of the factious chieftain Balmaseda was in the immediate neighbourhood. On the 22nd, I mounted my horse and rode to Villallos, a distance of three leagues. On my arrival there, I found that Lopez had been removed from the prison to a private house. An order had arrived from the corregidor of Avila, commanding that the person of Lopez should be set at liberty, and that the books which had been found in his possession should be alone detained. Nevertheless, in direct opposition to this order, (a copy of which I herewith transmit,) the alcalde of Villallos, at the instigation of the cura, refused to permit the said Lopez to quit the place, either to proceed to Avila or in any other direction. It had been hinted to Lopez that as the factious were expected, it was intended on their arrival to denounce him to them as a liberal, and to cause him to be sacrificed. Taking these circumstances into consideration, I deemed it my duty as a Christian and a gentleman, to rescue my unfortunate servant from such lawless hands, and in consequence, defying opposition, I bore him off, though entirely unarmed, through a crowd of at least one hundred peasants. On leaving the place I shouted, "Viva Isabel Segunda."

As it is my belief that the cura of Villallos is a person capable of any infamy, I beg leave humbly to intreat your Lordship to cause a copy of the above narration to be forwarded to the Spanish government.—I have the honour to remain, My Lord, Your Lordship's most obedient,


To the Right Honourable LORD WILLIAM HERVEY.

After the rescue of Lopez we proceeded in the work of distribution. Suddenly, however, the symptoms of an approaching illness came over me, which compelled us to return in all haste to Madrid. Arrived there, I was attacked by a fever which confined me to my bed for several weeks; occasional fits of delirium came over me, during one of which, I imagined myself in the market-place of Martin Munos, engaged in deadly struggle with the chieftain Balmaseda.

The fever had scarcely departed, when a profound melancholy took possession of me, which entirely disqualified me for active exertion. Change of scene and air was recommended; I therefore returned to England.


Return to Spain—Seville—A Hoary Persecutor—Manchegan Prophetess- -Antonio's Dream.

On the 31st of December, 1838, I again visited Spain for the third time. After staying a day or two at Cadiz I repaired to Seville, from which place I proposed starting for Madrid with the mail post. Here I tarried about a fortnight, enjoying the delicious climate of this terrestrial Paradise, and the balmy breezes of the Andalusian winter, even as I had done two years previously. Before leaving Seville, I visited the bookseller, my correspondent, who informed me that seventy-six copies of the hundred Testaments entrusted to his care had been placed in embargo by the government last summer, and that they were at the present time in the possession of the ecclesiastical governor, whereupon I determined to visit this functionary also, with the view of making inquiries concerning the property.

He lived in a large house in the Pajaria, or straw-market. He was a very old man, between seventy and eighty, and, like the generality of those who wear the sacerdotal habit in this city, was a fierce persecuting Papist. I imagine that he scarcely believed his ears when his two grand-nephews, beautiful black-haired boys who were playing in the courtyard, ran to inform him that an Englishman was waiting to speak with him, as it is probable that I was the first heretic who ever ventured into his habitation. I found him in a vaulted room, seated on a lofty chair, with two sinister-looking secretaries, also in sacerdotal habits, employed in writing at a table before him. He brought powerfully to my mind the grim old inquisitor who persuaded Philip the Second to slay his own son as an enemy to the church.

He rose as I entered, and gazed upon me with a countenance dark with suspicion and dissatisfaction. He at last condescended to point me to a sofa, and I proceeded to state to him my business. He became much agitated when I mentioned the Testaments to him; but I no sooner spoke of the Bible Society and told him who I was, than he could contain himself no longer: with a stammering tongue, and with eyes flashing fire like hot coals, he proceeded to rail against the society and myself, saying that the aims of the first were atrocious, and that, as to myself, he was surprised that, being once lodged in the prison of Madrid, I had ever been permitted to quit it; adding, that it was disgraceful in the government to allow a person of my character to roam about an innocent and peaceful country, corrupting the minds of the ignorant and unsuspicious. Far from allowing myself to be disconcerted by his rude behaviour, I replied to him with all possible politeness, and assured him that in this instance he had no reason to alarm himself, as my sole motive in claiming the books in question, was to avail myself of an opportunity which at present presented itself, of sending them out of the country, which, indeed, I had been commanded to do by an official notice. But nothing would soothe him, and he informed me that he should not deliver up the books on any condition, save by a positive order of the government. As the matter was by no means an affair of consequence, I thought it wise not to persist, and also prudent to take my leave before he requested me. I was followed even down into the street by his niece and grand-nephews, who, during the whole of the conversation, had listened at the door of the apartment and heard every word.

In passing through La Mancha, we staid for four hours at Manzanares, a large village. I was standing in the market-place conversing with a curate, when a frightful ragged object presented itself; it was a girl about eighteen or nineteen, perfectly blind, a white film being spread over her huge staring eyes. Her countenance was as yellow as that of a Mulatto. I thought at first that she was a Gypsy, and addressing myself to her, inquired in Gitano if she were of that race; she understood me, but shaking her head, replied, that she was something better than a Gitana, and could speak something better than that jargon of witches; whereupon she commenced asking me several questions in exceedingly good Latin. I was of course very much surprised, but summoning all my Latinity, I called her Manchegan Prophetess, and expressing my admiration for her learning, begged to be informed by what means she became possessed of it. I must here observe that a crowd instantly gathered around us, who, though they understood not one word of our discourse, at every sentence of the girl shouted applause, proud in the possession of a prophetess who could answer the Englishman.

She informed me that she was born blind, and that a Jesuit priest had taken compassion on her when she was a child, and had taught her the holy language, in order that the attention and hearts of Christians might be more easily turned towards her. I soon discovered that he had taught her something more than Latin, for upon telling her that I was an Englishman, she said that she had always loved Britain, which was once the nursery of saints and sages, for example Bede and Alcuin, Columba and Thomas of Canterbury; but she added those times had gone by since the re- appearance of Semiramis (Elizabeth). Her Latin was truly excellent, and when I, like a genuine Goth, spoke of Anglia and Terra Vandalica (Andalusia), she corrected me by saying, that in her language those places were called Britannia and Terra Betica. When we had finished our discourse, a gathering was made for the prophetess, the very poorest contributing something.

After travelling four days and nights, we arrived at Madrid, without having experienced the slightest accident, though it is but just to observe, and always with gratitude to the Almighty, that the next mail was stopped. A singular incident befell me immediately after my arrival; on entering the arch of the posada called La Reyna, where I intended to put up, I found myself encircled in a person's arms, and on turning round in amazement, beheld my Greek servant, Antonio. He was haggard and ill-dressed, and his eyes seemed starting from their sockets.

As soon as we were alone he informed that since my departure he had undergone great misery and destitution, having, during the whole period, been unable to find a master in need of his services, so that he was brought nearly to the verge of desperation; but that on the night immediately preceding my arrival he had a dream, in which he saw me, mounted on a black horse, ride up to the gate of the posada, and that on that account he had been waiting there during the greater part of the day. I do not pretend to offer an opinion concerning this narrative, which is beyond the reach of my philosophy, and shall content myself with observing that only two individuals in Madrid were aware of my arrival in Spain. I was very glad to receive him again into my service, as, notwithstanding his faults, he had in many instances proved of no slight assistance to me in my wanderings and biblical labours.

I was soon settled in my former lodgings, when one my first cares was to pay a visit to Lord Clarendon. Amongst other things, he informed me that he had received an official notice from the government, stating the seizure of the New Testaments at Ocana, the circumstances relating to which I have described on a former occasion, and informing him that unless steps were instantly taken to remove them from the country, they would be destroyed at Toledo, to which place they had been conveyed. I replied that I should give myself no trouble about the matter; and that if the authorities of Toledo, civil or ecclesiastic, determined upon burning these books, my only hope was that they would commit them to the flames with all possible publicity, as by so doing they would but manifest their own hellish rancour and their hostility to the word of God.

Being eager to resume my labours, I had no sooner arrived at Madrid than I wrote to Lopez at Villa Seca, for the purpose of learning whether he was inclined to co-operate in the work, as on former occasions. In reply, he informed me that he was busily employed in his agricultural pursuits: to supply his place, however, he sent over an elderly villager, Victoriano Lopez by name, a distant relation of his own.

What is a missionary in the heart of Spain without a horse? Which consideration induced me now to purchase an Arabian of high caste, which had been brought from Algiers by an officer of the French legion. The name of this steed, the best I believe that ever issued from the desert, was Sidi Habismilk.


Work of Distribution resumed—Adventure at Cobenna—Power of the Clergy—Rural Authorities—Fuente la Higuera—Victoriano's Mishap— Village Prison—The Rope—Antonio's Errand—Antonio at Mass.

In my last chapter, I stated that, immediately after my arrival at Madrid, I proceeded to get everything in readiness for commencing operations in the neighbourhood; and I soon entered upon my labours in reality. Considerable success attended my feeble efforts in the good cause, for which at present, after the lapse of some years, I still look back with gratitude to the Almighty.

All the villages within the distance of four leagues to the east of Madrid, were visited in less than a fortnight, and Testaments to the number of nearly two hundred disposed of. These villages for the most part are very small, some of them consisting of not more than a dozen houses, or I should rather say miserable cabins. I left Antonio, my Greek, to superintend matters in Madrid, and proceeded with Victoriano, the peasant from Villa Seca, in the direction which I have already mentioned. We, however, soon parted company, and pursued different routes.

The first village at which I made an attempt was Cobenna, about three leagues from Madrid. I was dressed in the fashion of the peasants in the neighbourhood of Segovia, in Old Castile; namely, I had on my head a species of leather helmet or montera, with a jacket and trousers of the same material. I had the appearance of a person between sixty and seventy years of age, and drove before me a borrico with a sack of Testaments lying across its back. On nearing the village, I met a genteel-looking young woman leading a little boy by the hand: as I was about to pass her with the customary salutation of vaya usted con Dios, she stopped, and after looking at me for a moment, she said: "Uncle (Tio), what is that you have got on your borrico? Is it soap?"

"Yes," I replied: "it is soap to wash souls clean."

She demanded what I meant; whereupon I told her that I carried cheap and godly books for sale. On her requesting to see one, I produced a copy from my pocket and handed it to her. She instantly commenced reading with a loud voice, and continued so for at least ten minutes, occasionally exclaiming: "Que lectura tan bonita, que lectura tan linda!" What beautiful, what charming readings!" At last, on my informing her that I was in a hurry, and could not wait any longer, she said, "true, true," and asked me the price of the book: I told her "but three reals," whereupon she said, that though what I asked was very little, it was more than she could afford to give, as there was little or no money in those parts. I said I was sorry for it, but that I could not dispose of the books for less than I had demanded, and accordingly, resuming it, wished her farewell, and left her. I had not, however, proceeded thirty yards, when the boy came running behind me, shouting, out of breath: "Stop, uncle, the book, the book!" Upon overtaking me, he delivered the three reals in copper, and seizing the Testament, ran back to her, who I suppose was his sister, flourishing the book over his head with great glee.

On arriving at the village, I directed my steps to a house, around the door of which I saw several people gathered, chiefly women. On my displaying my books, their curiosity was instantly aroused, and every person had speedily one in his hand, many reading aloud; however, after waiting nearly an hour, I had disposed of but one copy, all complaining bitterly of the distress of the times, and the almost total want of money, though, at the same time, they acknowledged that the books were wonderfully cheap, and appeared to be very good and Christian-like. I was about to gather up my merchandise and depart, when on a sudden the curate of the place made his appearance. After having examined the book for some time with considerable attention, he asked me the price of a copy, and upon my informing him that it was three reals, he replied that the binding was worth more, and that he was much afraid that I had stolen the books, and that it was perhaps his duty to send me to prison as a suspicious character; but added, that the books were good books, however they might be obtained, and concluded by purchasing two copies. The poor people no sooner heard their curate recommend the volumes, than all were eager to secure one, and hurried here and there for the purpose of procuring money, so that between twenty and thirty copies were sold almost in an instant. This adventure not only affords an instance of the power still possessed by the Spanish clergy over the minds of the people, but proves that such influence is not always exerted in a manner favourable to the maintenance of ignorance and superstition.

In another village, on my showing a Testament to a woman, she said that she had a child at school for whom she would like to purchase one, but that she must first know whether the book was calculated to be of service to him. She then went away, and presently returned with the schoolmaster, followed by all the children under his care; she then, showing the schoolmaster a book, inquired if it would answer for her son. The schoolmaster called her a simpleton for asking such a question, and said that he knew the book well, and there was not its equal in the world (no hay otro en el mundo). He instantly purchased five copies for his pupils, regretting that he had no more money, "for if I had," said he, "I would buy the whole cargo." Upon hearing this, the woman purchased four copies, namely, one for her living son, another for her deceased husband, a third for herself, and a fourth for her brother, whom she said she was expecting home that night from Madrid.

In this manner we proceeded; not, however, with uniform success. In some villages the people were so poor and needy, that they had literally no money; even in these, however, we managed to dispose of a few copies in exchange for barley or refreshments. On entering one very small hamlet, Victoriano was stopped by the curate, who, on learning what he carried, told him that unless he instantly departed, he would cause him to be imprisoned, and would write to Madrid in order to give information of what was going on. The excursion lasted about eight days. Immediately after my return, I dispatched Victoriano to Caramanchal, a village at a short distance from Madrid, the only one towards the west which had not been visited last year. He staid there about an hour, and disposed of twelve copies, and then returned, as he was exceedingly timid, and was afraid of being met by the thieves who swarm on that road in the evening.

Shortly after these events, a circumstance occurred which will perhaps cause the English reader to smile, whilst, at the same time, it will not fail to prove interesting, as affording an example of the feeling prevalent in some of the lone villages of Spain with respect to innovation and all that savours thereof, and the strange acts which are sometimes committed by the real authorities and the priests, without the slightest fear of being called to account; for as they live quite apart {20} from the rest of the world, they know no people greater than themselves, and scarcely dream of a higher power than their own.

I was about to make an excursion to Guadalajara, and the villages of Alcarria, about seven leagues distant from Madrid; indeed I merely awaited the return of Victoriano to sally forth; I having dispatched him in that direction with a few Testaments, as a kind of explorer, in order that, from his report as to the disposition manifested by the people for purchasing, I might form a tolerably accurate opinion as to the number of copies which it might be necessary to carry with me. However, I heard nothing of him for a fortnight, at the end of which period a letter was brought to me by a peasant, dated from the prison of Fuente la Higuera, a village eight leagues from Madrid, in the Campina of Alcala: this letter, written, by Victoriano, gave me to understand that he had been already eight days imprisoned, and that unless I could find some means to extricate him, there was every probability of his remaining in durance until he should perish with hunger, which he had no doubt would occur as soon as his money was exhausted. From what I afterwards learned, it appeared that, after passing the town of Alcala, he had commenced distributing, and with considerable success. His entire stock consisted of sixty-one Testaments, twenty-five of which he sold without the slightest difficulty or interruption in the single village of Arganza; the poor labourers showering blessings on his head for providing them with such good books at an easy price.

Not more than eighteen of his books remained, when he turned off the high road towards Fuente la Higuera. This place was already tolerably well known to him, he having visited it of old, when he travelled the country in the capacity of a vendor of cacharras or earthen pans. He subsequently stated that he felt some misgiving whilst on the way, as the village had invariably borne a bad reputation. On his arrival, after having put up his cavallejo or little pony at a posada, he proceeded to the alcalde for the purpose of asking permission to sell the books, which that dignitary immediately granted. He now entered a house and sold a copy, and likewise a second. Emboldened by success, he entered a third, which, it appeared, belonged to the barber-surgeon of the village. This personage having just completed his dinner, was seated in an arm chair within his doorway, when Victoriano made his appearance. He was a man about thirty-five, of a savage truculent countenance. On Victoriano's offering him a Testament, he took it in his hand to examine it, but no sooner did his eyes glance over the title-page than he burst out into a loud laugh, exclaiming:- "Ha, ha, Don Jorge Borrow, the English heretic, we have encountered you at last. Glory to the Virgin and the Saints! We have long been expecting you here, and at length you are arrived." He then inquired the price of the book, and on being told three reals, he flung down two, and rushed out of the house with the Testament in his hand.

Victoriano now became alarmed, and determined upon leaving the place as soon as possible. He therefore hurried back to the posada, and having paid for the barley which his pony had consumed, went into the stable, and placing the packsaddle on the animal's back, was about to lead it forth, when the alcalde of the village, the surgeon, and twelve other men, some of whom were armed with muskets, suddenly presented themselves. They instantly made Victoriano prisoner, and after seizing the books and laying an embargo on the pony, proceeded amidst much abuse to drag the captive to what they denominated their prison, a low damp apartment with a little grated window, where they locked him up and left him. At the expiration of three quarters of an hour, they again appeared, and conducted him to the house of the curate, where they sat down in conclave; the curate, who was a man stone blind, presiding, whilst the sacristan officiated as secretary. The surgeon having stated his accusation against the prisoner, namely, that he had detected him in the fact of selling a version of the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue, the curate proceeded to examine Victoriano, asking him his name and place of residence, to which he replied that his name was Victoriano Lopez, and that he was a native of Villa Seca, in the Sagra of Toledo. The curate then demanded what religion he professed? and whether he was a Mohometan, or freemason? and received for answer that he was a Roman Catholic. I must here state, that Victoriano, though sufficiently shrewd in his way, was a poor old labourer of sixty- four; and until that moment had never heard either of Mahometans or freemasons. The curate becoming now incensed, called him a tunante or scoundrel, and added, you have sold your soul to a heretic; we have long been aware of your proceedings, and those of your master. You are the same Lopez, whom he last year rescued from the prison of Villallos, in the province of Avila; I sincerely hope that he will attempt to do the same thing here. "Yes, yes," shouted the rest of the conclave, "let him but venture here, and we will shed his heart's blood on our stones." In this manner they went on for nearly half an hour. At last they broke up the meeting, and conducted Victoriano once more to his prison.

During his confinement he lived tolerably well, being in possession of money. His meals were sent him twice a day from the posada, where his pony remained in embargo. Once or twice he asked permission of the alcalde, who visited him every night and morning with his armed guard, to purchase pen and paper, in order that he might write to Madrid; but this favour was peremptorily refused him, and all the inhabitants of the village were forbidden under terrible penalties to afford him the means of writing, or to convey any message from him beyond the precincts of the place, and two boys were stationed before the window of his cell for the purpose of watching everything which might be conveyed to him.

It happened one day that Victoriano, being in need of a pillow, sent word to the people of the posada to send him his alforjas or saddlebags, which they did. In these bags there chanced to be a kind of rope, or, as it is called in Spanish, soga, with which he was in the habit of fastening his satchel to the pony's back. The urchins seeing an end of this rope, hanging from the alforjas, instantly ran to the alcalde to give him information. Late at evening, the alcalde again visited the prisoner at the head of his twelve men as usual. "Buenas noches," said the alcalde. "Buenas noches tenga usted," replied Victoriano. "For what purpose did you send for the soga this afternoon?" demanded the functionary. "I sent for no soga," said the prisoner, "I sent for my alforjas to serve as a pillow, and it was sent in them by chance." "You are a false malicious knave," retorted the alcalde; "you intend to hang yourself, and by so doing ruin us all, as your death would be laid at our door. Give me the soga." No greater insult can be offered to a Spaniard than to tax him with an intention of committing suicide. Poor Victoriano flew into a violent rage, and after calling the alcalde several very uncivil names, he pulled the soga from his bags, flung it at his head, and told him to take it home and use it for his own neck.

At length the people of the posada took pity on the prisoner, perceiving that he was very harshly treated for no crime at all; they therefore determined to afford him an opportunity of informing his friends of his situation, and accordingly sent him a pen and inkhorn, concealed in a loaf of bread, and a piece of writing paper, pretending that the latter was intended for cigars. So Victoriano wrote the letter; but now ensued the difficulty of sending it to its destination, as no person in the village dare have carried it for any reward. The good people, however, persuaded a disbanded soldier from another village, who chanced to be at Fuente la Higuera in quest of work, to charge himself with it, assuring him that I would pay him well for his trouble. The man, watching his opportunity, received the letter from Victoriano at the window: and it was he who, after travelling on foot all night, delivered it to me in safety at Madrid.

I was now relieved from my anxiety, and had no fears for the result. I instantly went to a friend who is in possession of large estates about Guadalajara, in which province Fuente la Higuera is situated, who furnished me with letters to the civil governor of Guadalajara and all the principal authorities; these I delivered to Antonio, whom, at his own request, I despatched on the errand of the prisoner's liberation. He first directed his course to Fuente la Higuera, where, entering the alcalde's house, he boldly told him what he had come about. The alcalde expecting that I was at hand, with an army of Englishmen, for the purpose of rescuing the prisoner, became greatly alarmed, and instantly despatched his wife to summon his twelve men; however, on Antonio's assuring him that there was no intention of having recourse to violence, he became more tranquil. In a short time Antonio was summoned before the conclave and its blind sacerdotal president. They at first attempted to frighten him by assuming a loud bullying tone, and talking of the necessity of killing all strangers, and especially the detested Don Jorge and his dependents. Antonio, however, who was not a person apt to allow himself to be easily terrified, scoffed at their threats, and showing them his letters to the authorities of Guadalajara, said that he should proceed there on the morrow and denounce their lawless conduct, adding that he was a Turkish subject, and that should they dare to offer him the slightest incivility, he would write to the sublime Porte, in comparison with whom the best kings in the world were but worms, and who would not fail to avenge the wrongs of any of his children, however distant, in a manner too terrible to be mentioned. He then returned to his posada. The conclave now proceeded to deliberate amongst themselves, and at last determined to send their prisoner on the morrow to Guadalajara, and deliver him into the hands of the civil governor.

Nevertheless, in order to keep up a semblance of authority, they that night placed two men armed at the door of the posada where Antonio was lodged, as if he himself were a prisoner. These men, as often as the clock struck the hour, shouted "Ave Maria! Death to the heretics." Early in the morning the alcalde presented himself at the posada, but before entering he made an oration at the door to the people in the street, saying, amongst other things, "Brethren, these are the fellows who have come to rob us of our religion." He then went into Antonio's apartment, and after saluting him with great politeness, said, that as a royal or high mass was about to be celebrated that morning, he had come to invite him to go to church with him. Whereupon Antonio, though by no means a mass-goer, rose and accompanied him, and remained two hours, as he told me, on his knees on the cold stones, to his great discomfort; the eyes of the whole congregation being fixed upon him during the time.

After mass and breakfast, he departed for Guadalajara, Victoriano having been already despatched under a guard. On his arrival, he presented his letters to the individuals for whom they were intended. The civil governor was convulsed with merriment on hearing Antonio's account of the adventure. Victoriano was set at liberty, and the books were placed in embargo at Guadalajara; the governor stating, however, that though it was his duty to detain them at present, they should be sent to me whenever I chose to claim them; he moreover said that he would do his best to cause the authorities of Fuente la Higuera to be severely punished, as in the whole affair they had acted in the most cruel tyrannical manner, for which they had no authority. Thus terminated this affair, one of those little accidents which chequer missionary life in Spain.


Termination of our Rural Labours—Alarm of the Clergy—A New Experiment—Success at Madrid—Goblin-Alguazil—Staff of Office— The Corregidor—An Explanation—The Pope in England—New Testament expounded—Works of Luther.

We proceeded in our task of distributing the Scriptures with various success, until the middle of March, when I determined upon starting for Talavera, for the purpose of seeing what it was possible to accomplish in that town and the neighbourhood. I accordingly bent my course in that direction, accompanied by Antonio and Victoriano. On our way thither we stopped at Naval Carnero, a large village five leagues to the west of Madrid, where I remained three days, sending forth Victoriano to the circumjacent hamlets with small cargoes of Testaments. Providence, however, which had hitherto so remarkably favoured us in these rural excursions, now withdrew from us its support, and brought them to a sudden termination; for in whatever place the sacred writings were offered for sale, they were forthwith seized by persons who appeared to be upon the watch; which events compelled me to alter my intention of proceeding to Talavera and to return forthwith to Madrid.

I subsequently learned that our proceedings on the other side of Madrid having caused alarm amongst the heads of the clergy, they had made a formal complaint to the government, who immediately sent orders to all the alcaldes of the villages, great and small, in New Castile, to seize the New Testament wherever it might be exposed for sale; but at the same time enjoining them to be particularly careful not to detain or maltreat the person or persons who might be attempting to vend it. An exact description of myself accompanied these orders, and the authorities both civil and military were exhorted to be on their guard against me and my arts and machinations; for, I as the document stated, was to-day in one place, and to-morrow at twenty leagues' distance.

I was not much discouraged by this blow, which indeed did not come entirely unexpected. I, however, determined to change the sphere of action, and not expose the sacred volume to seizure at every step which I should take to circulate it. In my late attempts, I had directed my attention exclusively to the villages and small towns, in which it was quite easy for the government to frustrate my efforts by means of circulars to the local authorities, who would of course be on the alert, and whose vigilance it would be impossible to baffle as every novelty which occurs in a small place is forthwith bruited about. But the case would be widely different amongst the crowds of the capital, where I could pursue my labours with comparative secrecy. My present plan was to abandon the rural districts, and to offer the sacred volume at Madrid, from house to house, at the same low price as in the country. This plan I forthwith put into execution.

Having an extensive acquaintance amongst the lower orders, I selected eight intelligent individuals to co-operate with me, amongst whom were five women. All these I supplied with Testaments, and then sent them forth to all the parishes in Madrid. The result of their efforts more than answered my expectations. In less than fifteen days after my return from Naval Carnero, nearly six hundred copies of the life and words of Him of Nazareth had been sold in the streets and alleys of Madrid; a fact which I hope I may be permitted to mention with gladness and with decent triumph in the Lord.

One of the richest streets is the Calle Montera, where reside the principal merchants and shopkeepers of Madrid. It is, in fact, the street of commerce, in which respect, and in being a favourite promenade, it corresponds with the far-famed "Nefsky" of Saint Petersburg. Every house in this street was supplied with its Testament, and the same might be said with respect to the Puerto del Sol. Nay, in some instances, every individual in the house, man and child, man-servant and maid-servant, was furnished with a copy. My Greek, Antonio, made wonderful exertions in this quarter; and it is but justice to say that, but for his instrumentality, on many occasions, I might have been by no means able to give so favourable an account of the spread of "the Bible in Spain." There was a time when I was in the habit of saying "dark Madrid," an expression which, I thank God, I could now drop. It were scarcely just to call a city, "dark," in which thirteen hundred Testaments at least were in circulation, and in daily use.

It was now that I turned to account a supply of Bibles which I had received from Barcelona, in sheets, at the commencement of the preceding year. The demand for the entire Scriptures was great; indeed far greater than I could answer, as the books were disposed of faster than they could be bound by the man whom I employed for that purpose. Eight-and-twenty copies were bespoken and paid for before delivery. Many of these Bibles found their way into the best houses in Madrid. The Marquis of—had a large family, but every individual of it, old and young, was in possession of a Bible, and likewise a Testament, which, strange to say, were recommended by the chaplain of the house. One of my most zealous agents in the propagation of the Bible was an ecclesiastic. He never walked out without carrying one beneath his gown, which he offered to the first person he met whom he thought likely to purchase. Another excellent assistant was an elderly gentleman of Navarre, enormously rich, who was continually purchasing copies on his own account, which he, as I was told, sent into his native province, for distribution amongst his friends and the poor.

On a certain night I had retired to rest rather more early than usual, being slightly indisposed. I soon fell asleep, and had continued so for some hours, when I was suddenly aroused by the opening of the door of the small apartment in which I lay. I started up, and beheld Maria Diaz, with a lamp in her hand, enter the room. I observed that her features, which were in general peculiarly calm and placid, wore a somewhat startled expression. "What is the hour, and what brings you here?" I demanded.

"Senor," said she, closing the door, and coming up to the bedside. "It is close upon midnight; but a messenger belonging to the police has just entered the house and demanded to see you. I told him that it was impossible, for that your worship was in bed. Whereupon he sneezed in my face, and said that he would see you if you were in your coffin. He has all the look of a goblin, and has thrown me into a tremor. I am far from being a timid person, as you are aware, Don Jorge; but I confess that I never cast my eyes on these wretches of the police, but my heart dies away within me! I know them but too well, and what they are capable of."

"Pooh," said I, "be under no apprehension, let him come in, I fear him not, whether he be alguazil or hobgoblin. Stand, however, at the doorway, that you may be a witness of what takes place, as it is more than probable that he comes at this unreasonable hour to create a disturbance, that he may have an opportunity of making an unfavourable report to his principals, like the fellow on the former occasion."

The hostess left the apartment, and I heard her say a word or two to some one in the passage, whereupon there was a loud sneeze, and in a moment after a singular figure appeared at the doorway. It was that of a very old man, with long white hair, which escaped from beneath the eaves of an exceedingly high-peaked hat. He stooped considerably, and moved along with a shambling gait. I could not see much of his face, which, as the landlady stood behind him with the lamp, was consequently in deep shadow. I could observe, however, that his eyes sparkled like those of a ferret. He advanced to the foot of the bed, in which I was still lying, wondering what this strange visit could mean; and there he stood gazing at me for a minute, at least, without uttering a syllable. Suddenly, however, he protruded a spare skinny hand from the cloak in which it had hitherto been enveloped, and pointed with a short staff, tipped with metal, in the direction of my face, as it he were commencing an exorcism. He appeared to be about to speak, but his words, if he intended any, were stifled in their birth by a sudden sternutation which escaped him, and which was so violent that the hostess started back, exclaiming, "Ave Maria purissima!" and nearly dropped the lamp in her alarm.

"My good person," said I, "what do you mean by this foolish hobgoblinry? If you have anything to communicate do so at once, and go about your business. I am unwell, and you are depriving me of my repose."

"By the virtue of this staff," said the old man, "and the authority which it gives me to do and say that which is convenient, I do command, order, and summon you to appear to-morrow, at the eleventh hour at the office of my lord the corregidor of this village of Madrid, in order that, standing before him humbly, and with befitting reverence, you may listen to whatever he may have to say, or if necessary, may yield yourself up to receive the castigation of any crimes which you may have committed, whether trivial or enormous. Tenez, compere," he added, in most villainous French, "voila mon affaire; voila ce que je viens vous dire."

Thereupon he glared at me for a moment, nodded his head twice, and replacing his staff beneath is cloak, shambled out of the room, and with a valedictory sneeze in the passage left the house.

Precisely at eleven on the following day, I attended at the office of the corregidor. He was not the individual whose anger I had incurred on a former occasion, and who had thought proper to imprison me, but another person, I believe a Catalan, whose name I have also forgotten. Indeed, these civil employments were at this period given to-day and taken away to-morrow, so that the person who held one of them for a month might consider himself a functionary of long standing. I was not kept waiting a moment, but as soon as I had announced myself, was forthwith ushered into the presence of the corregidor, a good-looking, portly, and well- dressed personage, seemingly about fifty. He was writing at a desk when I entered, but almost immediately arose and came towards me. He looked me full in the face, and I, nothing abashed, kept my eyes fixed upon his. He had, perhaps, expected a less independent bearing, and that I should have quaked and crouched before him; but now, conceiving himself bearded in his own den, his old Spanish leaven was forthwith stirred up. He plucked his whiskers fiercely. "Escuchad," said he, casting upon me a ferocious glance, "I wish to ask you a question."

"Before I answer any question of your excellency," said I, "I shall take the liberty of putting one myself. What law or reason is there that I, a peaceable individual and a foreigner, should have my rest disturbed by duendes and hobgoblins sent at midnight to summon me to appear at public offices like a criminal?"

"You do not speak the truth," shouted the corregidor; "the person sent to summon you was neither duende nor hobgoblin, but one of the most ancient and respectable officers of this casa, and so far from being dispatched at midnight, it wanted twenty-five minutes to that hour by my own watch when he left this office, and as your lodging is not distant, he must have arrived there at least ten minutes before midnight, so that you are by no means accurate, and are found wanting in regard to truth."

"A distinction without a difference," I replied. "For my own part, if I am to be disturbed in my sleep, it is of little consequence whether at midnight or ten minutes before that time; and with respect to your messenger, although he might not be a hobgoblin, he had all the appearance of one, and assuredly answered the purpose, by frightening the woman of the house almost into fits by his hideous grimaces and sneezing convulsions."

Corregidor.—You are a—I know not what. Do you know that I have the power to imprison you?

Myself.—You have twenty alguazils at your beck and call, and have of course the power, and so had your predecessor, who nearly lost his situation by imprisoning me; but you know full well that you have not the right, as I am not under your jurisdiction, but that of the captain-general. If I have obeyed your summons, it was simply because I had a curiosity to know what you wanted with me, and from no other motive whatever. As for imprisoning me, I beg leave to assure you, that you have my full consent to do so; the most polite society in Madrid is to be found in the prison, and as I am at present compiling a vocabulary of the language of the Madrilenian thieves, I should have, in being imprisoned, an excellent opportunity of completing it. There is much to be learnt even in the prison, for, as the Gypsies say, "The dog that trots about finds a bone."

Corregidor.—Your words are not those of a Caballero. Do you forget where you are, and in whose presence? Is this a fitting place to talk of thieves and Gypsies in?

Myself.—Really I know of no place more fitting, unless it be the prison. But we are wasting time, and I am anxious to know for what I have been summoned; whether for crimes trivial or enormous, as the messenger said.

It was a long time before I could obtain the required information from the incensed corregidor; at last, however, it came. It appeared that a box of Testaments, which I had despatched to Naval Carnero, had been seized by the local authorities, and having been detained there for some time, was at last sent back to Madrid, intended as it now appeared, for the hands of the corregidor. One day as it was lying at the waggon-office, Antonio chanced to enter on some business of his own and recognised the box, which he instantly claimed as my property, and having paid the carriage, removed it to my warehouse. He had considered the matter as of so little importance, that he had not as yet mentioned it to me. The poor corregidor, however, had no doubt that it was a deep-laid scheme to plunder and insult him. And now, working himself up into almost a frenzy of excitement, he stamped on the ground, exclaiming, "Que picardia! Que infamia!"

The old system, thought I, of prejudging people and imputing to them motives and actions of which they never dreamed. I then told him frankly that I was entirely ignorant of the circumstance by which he had felt himself aggrieved; but that if upon inquiry I found that the chest had actually been removed by my servant from the office to which it had been forwarded, I would cause it forthwith to be restored, although it was my own property. "I have plenty more Testaments," said I, "and can afford to lose fifty or a hundred. I am a man of peace, and wish not to have any dispute with the authorities for the sake of an old chest and a cargo of books, whose united value would scarcely amount to forty dollars."

He looked at me for a moment, as if in doubt of my sincerity, then, again plucking his whiskers, he forthwith proceeded to attack me in another quarter: "Pero que infamia, que picardia! to come into Spain for the purpose of overturning the religion of the country. What would you say if the Spaniards were to go to England and attempt to overturn the Lutheranism established there?"

"They would be most heartily welcome," I replied; "more especially if they would attempt to do so by circulating the Bible, the book of Christians, even as the English are doing in Spain. But your excellency is not perhaps aware that the Pope has a fair field and fair play in England, and is permitted to make as many converts from Lutheranism every day in the week as are disposed to go over to him. He cannot boast, however, of much success; the people are too fond of light to embrace darkness, and would smile at the idea of exchanging their gospel privileges for the superstitious ceremonies and observances of the church of Rome."

On my repeating my promise that the books and chest should be forthwith restored, the corregidor declared himself satisfied, and all of a sudden became excessively polite and condescending: he even went so far as to say that he left it entirely with myself, whether to return the books or not; "and," continued he, "before you go, I wish to tell you that my private opinion is, that it is highly advisable in all countries to allow full and perfect tolerance in religious matters, and to permit every religious system to stand or fall according to its own merits."

Such were the concluding words of the corregidor of Madrid, which, whether they expressed his private opinion or not, were certainly grounded on sense and reason. I saluted him respectfully and retired, and forthwith performed my promise with regard to the books; and thus terminated this affair.

It almost appeared to me at this time, that a religious reform was commencing in Spain; indeed, matters had of late come to my knowledge, which, had they been prophesied only a year before, I should have experienced much difficulty in believing.

The reader will be surprised when I state that in two churches of Madrid the New Testament was regularly expounded every Sunday evening by the respective curates, to about twenty children who attended, and who were all provided with copies of the Society's edition of Madrid, 1837. The churches which I allude to, were those of San Gines and Santo Cruz. Now I humbly conceive that this fact alone is more than equivalent to all the expense which the Society had incurred in the efforts which it had been making to introduce the Gospel into Spain; but be this as it may, I am certain that it amply recompensed me for all the anxiety and unhappiness which I had undergone. I now felt that whenever I should be compelled to discontinue my labours in the Peninsula, I should retire without the slightest murmur, my heart being filled with gratitude to the Lord for having permitted me, useless vessel as I was, to see at least some of the seed springing up, which during two years I had been casting on the stony ground of the interior of Spain.

When I recollected the difficulties which had encompassed our path, I could sometimes hardly credit all that the Almighty had permitted us to accomplish within the last year. A large edition of the New Testament had been almost entirely disposed of in the very centre of Spain, in spite of the opposition and the furious cry of the sanguinary priesthood and the edicts of a deceitful government, and a spirit of religious inquiry excited, which I had fervent hope would sooner or later lead to blessed and most important results. Till of late the name most abhorred and dreaded in these parts of Spain, was that of Martin Luther, who was in general considered as a species of demon, a cousin-german to Belial and Beelzebub, who, under the guise of a man, wrote and preached blasphemy against the Highest; yet, now strange to say, this once abominated personage was spoken of with no slight degree of respect. People with Bibles in their hands not unfrequently visited me, inquiring with much earnestness, and with no slight degree of simplicity, for the writings of the great Doctor Martin, whom, indeed, some supposed to be still alive.

It will be as well here to observe, that of all the names connected with the Reformation, that of Luther is the only one known in Spain; and let me add, that no controversial writings but his are likely to be esteemed as possessing the slightest weight or authority, however great their intrinsic merit may be. The common description of tracts, written with the view of exposing the errors of popery, are therefore not calculated to prove of much benefit in Spain, though it is probable that much good might be accomplished by well-executed translations of judicious selections from the works of Luther.


Projected Journey—A Scene of Blood—The Friar—Seville—Beauties of Seville—Orange Trees and Flowers—Murillo—The Guardian Angel— Dionysius—My Coadjutors—Demand for the Bible.

By the middle of April I had sold as many Testaments as I thought Madrid would bear; I therefore called in my people, for I was afraid to overstock the market, and to bring the book into contempt by making it too common. I had, indeed, by this time, barely a thousand copies remaining of the edition which I had printed two years previously; and with respect to Bibles, every copy was by this time disposed of, though there was still a great demand for them, which, of course, I was unable to satisfy.

With the remaining copies of the Testament, I now determined to betake myself to Seville, where little had hitherto been effected in the way of circulation: my preparations were soon made. The roads were at this time in a highly dangerous state, on which account I thought to go along with a convoy, which was about to start for Andalusia. Two days, however, before its departure, understanding that the number of people who likewise proposed to avail themselves of it was likely to be very great, and reflecting on the slowness of this way of travelling, and moreover the insults to which civilians were frequently subjected from the soldiers and petty officers, I determined to risk the journey with the mail. This resolutions I carried into effect. Antonio, whom I had resolved to take with me, and my two horses, departed with the convoy, whilst in a few days I followed with the mail courier. We travelled all the way without the slightest accident, my usual wonderful good fortune accompanying us. I might well call it wonderful, for I was running into the den of the lion; the whole of La Mancha, with the exception of a few fortified places, being once more in the hands of Palillos and his banditti, who, whenever it pleased them, stopped the courier, burnt the vehicle and letters, murdered the paltry escort, and carried away any chance passenger to the mountains, where an enormous ransom was demanded, the alternative being four shots through the head, as the Spaniards say.

The upper part of Andalusia was becoming rapidly nearly as bad as La Mancha. The last time the mail had passed, it was attacked at the defile of La Rumblar by six mounted robbers; it was guarded by an escort of as many soldiers, but the former suddenly galloped from behind a solitary venda, and dashed the soldiers to the ground, who were taken quite by surprise, the hoofs of the robbers' horses making no noise on account of the sandy nature of the ground. The soldiers were instantly disarmed and bound to olive trees, with the exception of two, who escaped amongst the rocks; they were then mocked and tormented by the robbers, or rather fiends, for nearly half an hour, when they were shot; the head of the corporal who commanded being blown to fragments with a blunderbuss. The robbers then burned the coach, which they accomplished by igniting the letters by means of the tow with which they light their cigars. The life of the courier was saved by one of them, who had formerly been his postillion; he was, however, robbed and stripped. As we passed by the scene of the butchery, the poor fellow wept, and, though a Spaniard, cursed Spain and the Spaniards, saying that he intended shortly to pass over to the Moreria, to confess Mahomet, and to learn the law of the Moors, for that any country and religion were better than his own. He pointed to the tree where the corporal had been tied; though much rain had fallen since, the ground around was still saturated with blood, and a dog was gnawing a piece of the unfortunate wretch's skull. A friar travelled with us the whole way from Madrid to Seville; he was of the missionaries, and was going to the Philippine islands, to conquer (para conquistar), for such was his word, by which I suppose he meant preaching to the Indians. During the whole journey he exhibited every symptom of the most abject fear, which operated upon him so that he became deadly sick, and we were obliged to stop twice in the road and lay him amongst the green corn. He said that if he fell into the hands of the factious, he was a lost priest, for that they would first make him say mass, and then blow him up with gunpowder. He had been professor of philosophy, as he told me, in one of the convents (I think it was San Thomas) of Madrid before their suppression, but appeared to be grossly ignorant of the Scriptures, which he confounded with the works of Virgil.

We stopped at Manzanares as usual; it was Sunday morning, and the market-place was crowded with people. I was recognised in a moment, and twenty pair of legs instantly hurried away in quest of the prophetess, who presently made her appearance in the house to which we had retired to breakfast. After many greetings on both sides, she proceeded, in her Latin, to give me an account of all that had occurred in the village since I had last been there, and of the atrocities of the factious in the neighbourhood. I asked her to breakfast, and introduced her to the friar, whom she addressed in this manner: "Anne Domine Reverendissime facis adhuc sacrificium?" But the friar did not understand her, and waxing angry, anathematized her for a witch, and bade her begone. She was, however, not to be disconcerted, and commenced singing, in extemporary Castilian verse, the praises of friars and religious houses in general. On departing I gave her a peseta, upon which she burst into tears, and intreated that I would write to her if I reached Seville in safety.

We did arrive at Seville in safety, and I took leave of the friar, telling him that I hoped to meet him again at Philippi. As it was my intention to remain at Seville for some months, I determined to hire a house, in which I conceived I could live with more privacy, and at the same time more economically than in a posada. It was not long before I found one in every respect suited to me. It was situated in the Plazuela de la Pila Seca, a retired part of the city, in the neighbourhood of the cathedral, and at a short distance from the gate of Xeres; and in this house, on the arrival of Antonio and the horses, which occurred within a few days, I took up my abode.

I was now once more in beautiful Seville and had soon ample time and leisure to enjoy its delights and those of the surrounding country; unfortunately, at the time of my arrival, and indeed for the next ensuing fortnight, the heaven of Andalusia, in general so glorious, was overcast with black clouds, which discharged tremendous showers of rain, such as few of the Sevillians, according to their own account, had ever seen before. This extraordinary weather had wrought no little damage in the neighbourhood, causing the Guadalquivir, which, during the rainy season, is a rapid and furious stream, to overflow its banks and to threaten an inundation. It is true that intervals were occurring when the sun made his appearance from his cloudy tabernacle, and with his golden rays caused everything around to smile, enticing the butterfly forth from the bush, and the lizard from the hollow tree, and I invariably availed myself of these intervals to take a hasty promenade.

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