The Bible in Spain
by George Borrow
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"Is that all?" I demanded.

"No, Senor, it is not all; for I was right in supposing them evil brujos: the very next day an express arrived and a great search was made after them, and I was arrested for having harboured them. This occurred just after the present wars had commenced. It was said they were spies and emissaries of I don't know what nation, and that they had been in all parts of the Asturias, holding conferences with some of the disaffected. They escaped, however, and were never heard of more, though the animals which they rode were found without their riders, wandering amongst the hills; they were common ponies, and were of no value. As for the brujos, it is believed that they embarked in some small vessel which was lying concealed in one of the rias of the coast."

Myself.—What was the word which you continually heard proceeding from the lips of the big servant, and which you think you can remember?

Host.—Senor, it is now three years since I heard it, and at times I can remember it and at others not; sometimes I have started up in my sleep repeating it. Stay, Senor, I have it now at the point of my tongue: it was Patusca.

Myself.—Batuschca, you mean; the men were Russians.


Oviedo—The Ten Gentlemen—The Swiss again—Modest Request—The Robbers—Episcopal Benevolence—The Cathedral—Portrait of Feijoo.

I must now take a considerable stride in my journey, no less than from Muros to Oviedo, contenting myself with observing, that we proceeded from Muros to Velez, and from thence to Giyon, where our guide Martin bade us farewell, and returned with his mare to Rivadeo. The honest fellow did not part without many expressions of regret, indeed he even expressed a desire that I should take him and his mare into my service; "for," said he, "I have a great desire to run through all Spain, and even the world; and I am sure I shall never have a better opportunity than by attaching myself to your worship's skirts." On my reminding him, however, of his wife and family, for he had both, he said, "True, true, I had forgotten them: happy the guide whose only wife and family are a mare and foal."

Oviedo is about three leagues from Giyon. Antonio rode the horse, whilst I proceeded thither in a kind of diligence which runs daily between the two towns. The road is good, but mountainous. I arrived safely at the capital of the Asturias, although at a rather unpropitious season, for the din of war was at the gate, and there was the cry of the captains and the shouting. Castile, at the time of which I am writing, was in the hands of the Carlists, who had captured and plundered Valladolid in much the same manner as they had Segovia some time before. They were every day expected to march on Oviedo, in which case they might perhaps have experienced some resistance, a considerable body of troops being stationed there, who had erected some redoubts, and strongly fortified several of the convents, especially that of Santa Clara de la Vega. All minds were in a state of feverish anxiety and suspense, more especially as no intelligence arrived from Madrid, which by the last accounts was said to be occupied by the bands of Cabrera and Palillos.

So it came to pass that one night I found myself in the ancient town of Oviedo, in a very large, scantily-furnished, and remote room in an ancient posada, formerly a palace of the counts of Santa Cruz. It was past ten, and the rain was descending in torrents. I was writing, but suddenly ceased on hearing numerous footsteps ascending the creaking stairs which led to my apartment. The door was flung open, and in walked nine men of tall stature, marshalled by a little hunchbacked personage. They were all muffled in the long cloaks of Spain, but I instantly knew by their demeanour that they were caballeros, or gentlemen. They placed themselves in a rank before the table where I was sitting. Suddenly and simultaneously they all flung back their cloaks, and I perceived that every one bore a book in his hand; a book which I knew full well. After a pause, which I was unable to break, for I sat lost in astonishment, and almost conceived myself to be visited by apparitions, the hunchback, advancing somewhat before the rest, said in soft silvery tones, "Senor Cavalier, was it you who brought this book to the Asturias?" I now supposed that they were the civil authorities of the place come to take me into custody, and, rising from my seat, I exclaimed, "It certainly was I, and it is my glory to have done so; the book is the New Testament of God: I wish it was in my power to bring a million." "I heartily wish so too," said the little personage with a sigh. "Be under no apprehension, Sir Cavalier, these gentlemen are my friends; we have just purchased these books in the shop where you placed them for sale, and have taken the liberty of calling upon you, in order to return you our thanks for the treasure you have brought us. I hope you can furnish us with the Old Testament also." I replied that I was sorry to inform him that at present it was entirely out of my power to comply with his wish, as I had no Old Testaments in my possession, but did not despair of procuring some speedily from England. He then asked me a great many questions concerning my biblical travels in Spain, and my success, and the views entertained by the Society, with respect to Spain, adding that he hoped we should pay particular attention to the Asturias, which he assured me was the best ground in the Peninsula for our labour. After about half an hour's conversation, he suddenly said, in the English language, "Good night, Sir," wrapped his cloak around him, and walked out as he had come. His companions, who had hitherto not uttered a word, all repeated "Good night, Sir," and, adjusting their cloaks, followed him.

In order to explain this strange scene, I must state that in the morning I had visited the petty bookseller of the place, Longoria, and having arranged preliminaries with him, I sent him in the evening a package of forty Testaments, all I possessed, with some advertisements. At the time he assured me that, though he was willing to undertake the sale, there was, nevertheless, not a prospect of success, as a whole month had elapsed since he had sold a book of any description, on account of the uncertainty of the times, and the poverty which pervaded the land; I therefore felt much dispirited. This incident, however, admonished me not to be cast down when things look gloomiest, as the hand of the Lord is generally then most busy; that men may learn to perceive, that whatever good is accomplished is not their work but his.

Two or three days after this adventure, I was once more seated in my large scantily-furnished room; it was about ten, of a dark melancholy morning, and the autumnal rain was again falling. I had just breakfasted, and was about to sit down to my journal, when the door was flung open and in bounded Antonio.

"Mon maitre," said he, quite breathless, "who do you think has arrived?"

"The pretender, I suppose," said I, in some trepidation; "if so, we are prisoners."

"Bah, bah!" said Antonio, "it is not the pretender, but one worth twenty of him; it is the Swiss of Saint James."

"Benedict Mol, the Swiss!" said I, "What! has he found the treasure? But how did he come? How is he dressed?"

"Mon maitre," said Antonio, "he came on foot if we may judge by his shoes, through which his toes are sticking; and as for his dress, he is in most villainous apparel."

"There must be some mystery in this," said I; "where is he at present?"

"Below, mon maitre," replied Antonio; "he came in quest of us. But I no sooner saw him, than I hurried away to let you know."

In a few minutes Benedict Mol found his way up stairs; he was, as Antonio had remarked, in most villainous apparel, and nearly barefooted; his old Andalusian hat was dripping with rain.

"Och, lieber herr," said Benedict, "how rejoiced I am to see you again. Oh, the sight of your countenance almost repays me for all the miseries I have undergone since I parted with you at Saint James."

Myself.—I can scarcely believe that I really see you here at Oviedo. What motive can have induced you to come to such an out- of-the-way place from such an immense distance?

Benedict.—Lieber herr, I will sit down and tell you all that has befallen me. Some few days after I saw you last, the canonigo persuaded me to go to the captain-general to apply for permission to disinter the schatz, and also to crave assistance. So I saw the captain-general, who at first received me very kindly, asked me several questions, and told me to come again. So I continued visiting him till he would see me no longer, and do what I might I could not obtain a glance of him. The canon now became impatient, more especially as he had given me a few pesetas out of the charities of the church. He frequently called me a bribon and impostor. At last, one morning I went to him, and said that I had proposed to return to Madrid, in order to lay the matter before the government, and requested that he would give me a certificate to the effect that I had performed a pilgrimage to Saint James, which I imagined would be of assistance to me upon the way, as it would enable me to beg with some colour of authority. He no sooner heard this request, than, without saying a word or allowing me a moment to put myself on my defence, he sprang upon me like a tiger, grasping my throat so hard that I thought he would have strangled me. I am a Swiss, however, and a man of Lucerne, and when I had recovered myself a little, I had no difficulty in flinging him off; I then threatened him with my staff and went away. He followed me to the gate with the most horrid curses, saying that if I presumed to return again, he would have me thrown at once into prison as a thief and a heretic. So I went in quest of yourself, lieber herr, but they told me that you were departed for Coruna; I then set out for Coruna after you.

Myself.—And what befell you on the road?

Benedict.—I will tell you: about half-way between Saint James and Coruna, as I was walking along, thinking of the schatz, I heard a loud galloping, and looking around me I saw two men on horseback coming across the field with the swiftness of the wind, and making directly for me. Lieber Gott, said I, these are thieves, these are factious; and so they were. They came up to me in a moment and bade me stand, so I flung down my staff, took off my hat and saluted them. "Good day, caballeros," said I to them. "Good day, countryman," said they to me, and then we stood staring at each other for more than a minute. Lieber himmel, I never saw such robbers; so finely dressed, so well armed, and mounted so bravely on two fiery little hakkas, that looked as if they could have taken wing and flown up into the clouds! So we continued staring at each other, till at last one asked me who I was, whence I came, and where I was going. "Gentlemen," said I, "I am a Swiss, I have been to Saint James to perform a religious vow, and am now returning to my own country." I said not a word about the treasure, for I was afraid that they would have shot me at once, conceiving that I carried part of it about me. "Have you any money?" they demanded. "Gentlemen," I replied, "you see how I travel on foot, with my shoes torn to pieces; I should not do so if I had money. I will not deceive you, however, I have a peseta and a few cuartos," and thereupon I took out what I had and offered it to them. "Fellow," said they, "we are caballeros of Galicia, and do not take pesetas, much less cuartos. Of what opinion are you? Are you for the queen?" "No, gentlemen," said I, "I am not for the queen, but, at the same time, allow me to tell you that I am not for the king either; I know nothing about the matter; I am a Swiss, and fight neither for nor against anybody unless I am paid." This made them laugh, and then they questioned me about Saint James, and the troops there, and the captain-general; and not to disoblige them, I told them all I knew and much more. Then one of them, who looked the fiercest and most determined, took his trombone in his hand, and pointing it at me, said, "Had you been a Spaniard, we would have blown your head to shivers, for we should have thought you a spy, but we see you are a foreigner, and believe what you have said; take, therefore, this peseta and go your way, but beware that you tell nobody any thing about us, for if you do, carracho!" He then discharged his trombone just over my head, so that for a moment I thought myself shot, and then with an awful shout, they both galloped away, their horses leaping over the barrancos, as if possessed with many devils.

Myself.—And what happened to you on your arrival at Coruna?

Benedict.—When I arrived at Coruna, I inquired after yourself, lieber herr, and they informed me that, only the day before my arrival, you had departed for Oviedo: and when I heard that, my heart died within me, for I was now at the far end of Galicia, without a friend to help me. For a day or two I knew not what to do; at last I determined to make for the frontier of France, passing through Oviedo in the way, where I hoped to see you and ask counsel of you. So I begged and bettled among the Germans of Coruna. I, however, got very little from them, only a few cuarts, less than the thieves had given me on the road from Saint James, and with these I departed for the Asturias by the way of Mondonedo. Och, what a town is that, full of canons, priests, and pfaffen, all of them more Carlist than Carlos himself.

One day I went to the bishop's palace and spoke to him, telling him I was a pilgrim from Saint James, and requesting assistance. He told me, however, that he could not relieve me, and as for my being a pilgrim from Saint James, he was glad of it, and hoped that it would be of service to my soul. So I left Mondonedo, and got amongst the wild mountains, begging and betting at the door of every choza that I passed, telling all I saw that I was a pilgrim from Saint James, and showing my passport in proof that I had been there. Lieber herr, no person gave me a cuart, nor even a piece of broa, and both Gallegans and Asturians laughed at Saint James, and told me that his name was no longer a passport in Spain. I should have starved if I had not sometimes plucked an ear or two out of the maize fields; I likewise gathered grapes from the parras and berries from the brambles, and in this manner I subsisted till I arrived at the bellotas, where I slaughtered a stray kid which I met, and devoured part of the flesh raw, so great was my hunger. It made me, however, very ill, and for two days I lay in a barranco half dead and unable to help myself; it was a mercy that I was not devoured by the wolves. I then struck across the country for Oviedo: how I reached it I do not know; I was like one walking in a dream. Last night I slept in an empty hog-sty about two leagues from here, and ere I left it, I fell down on my knees and prayed to God that I might find you, lieber herr, for you were my last hope.

Myself.—And what do you propose to do at present?

Benedict.—What can I say, lieber herr? I know not what to do. I will be guided in everything by your counsel.

Myself.—I shall remain at Oviedo a few days longer, during which time you can lodge at this posada, and endeavour to recover from the fatigue of your disastrous journeys; perhaps before I depart, we may hit on some plan to extricate you from your present difficulties.

Oviedo contains about fifteen thousand inhabitants. It is picturesquely situated between two mountains, Morcin and Naranco; the former is very high and rugged, and during the greater part of the year is covered with snow; the sides of the latter are cultivated and planted with vines. The principal ornament of the town is the cathedral, the tower of which is exceedingly lofty, and is perhaps one of the purest specimens of Gothic architecture at present in existence. The interior of the cathedral is neat and appropriate, but simple and unadorned. I observed but one picture, the Conversion of Saint Paul. One of the chapels is a cemetery, in which rest the bones of eleven Gothic kings; to whose souls be peace.

I bore a letter of recommendation from Coruna to a merchant of Oviedo. This person received me very courteously, and generally devoted some portion of every day to showing me the remarkable things of Oviedo.

One morning he thus addressed me: "You have doubtless heard of Feijoo, the celebrated philosophic monk of the order of Saint Benedict, whose writings have so much tended to remove the popular fallacies and superstitions so long cherished in Spain; he is buried in one of our convents, where he passed a considerable portion of his life. Come with me and I will show you his portrait. Carlos Tercero, our great king, sent his own painter from Madrid to execute it. It is now in the possession of a friend of mine, Don Ramon Valdez, an advocate."

Thereupon he led me to the house of Don Ramon Valdez, who very politely exhibited the portrait of Feijoo. It was circular in shape, about a foot in diameter, and was surrounded by a little brass frame, something like the rim of a barber's basin. The countenance was large and massive but fine, the eyebrows knit, the eyes sharp and penetrating, nose aquiline. On the head was a silken skull-cap; the collar of the coat or vest was just perceptible. The painting was decidedly good, and struck me as being one of the very best specimens of modern Spanish art which I had hitherto seen.

A day or two after this I said to Benedict Mol, "to-morrow I start from hence for Santander. It is therefore high time that you decide upon some course, whether to return to Madrid or to make the best of your way to France, and from thence proceed to your own country."

"Lieber herr," said Benedict, "I will follow you to Santander by short journeys, for I am unable to make long ones amongst these hills; and when I am there, peradventure I may find some means of passing into France. It is a great comfort, in my horrible journeys, to think that I am travelling over the ground which yourself have trodden, and to hope that I am proceeding to rejoin you once more. This hope kept me alive in the bellotas, and without it I should never have reached Oviedo. I will quit Spain as soon as possible, and betake me to Lucerne, though it is a hard thing to leave the schatz behind me in the land of the Gallegans."

Thereupon I presented him with a few dollars.

"A strange man is this Benedict," said Antonio to me next morning, as, accompanied by a guide, we sallied forth from Oviedo; "a strange man, mon maitre, is this same Benedict. A strange life has he led, and a strange death he will die,—it is written on his countenance. That he will leave Spain I do not believe, or if he leave it, it will be only to return, for he is bewitched about this treasure. Last night he sent for a sorciere, whom he consulted in my presence; and she told him that he was doomed to possess it, but that first of all he must cross water. She cautioned him likewise against an enemy, which he supposes must be the canon of Saint James. I have often heard people speak of the avidity of the Swiss for money, and here is a proof of it. I would not undergo what Benedict has suffered in these last journeys of his, to possess all the treasures in Spain."


Departure from Oviedo—Villa Viciosa—The Young Man of the Inn— Antonio's Tale—The General and his Family—Woful Tidings—To- morrow we Die—San Vincente—Santander—An Harangue—Flinter the Irishman.

So we left Oviedo and directed our course towards Santander. The man who accompanied us as guide, and from whom I hired the pony on which I rode, had been recommended to me by my friend the merchant of Oviedo. He proved, however, a lazy indolent fellow; he was generally loitering two or three hundred yards in our rear, and instead of enlivening the way with song and tale, like our late guide, Martin of Rivadeo, he scarcely ever opened his lips, save to tell us not to go so fast, or that I should burst his pony if I spurred him so. He was thievish withal, and though he had engaged to make the journey seco, that is, to defray the charges of himself and beast, he contrived throughout to keep both at our expense. When journeying in Spain, it is invariably the cheapest plan to agree to maintain the guide and his horse or mule, for by so doing the hire is diminished at least one third, and the bills upon the road are seldom increased: whereas, in the other case, he pockets the difference, and yet goes shot free, and at the expense of the traveller, through the connivance of the innkeepers, who have a kind of fellow feeling with the guides.

Late in the afternoon we reached Villa Viciosa, a small dirty town, at the distance of eight leagues from Oviedo: it stands beside a creek which communicates with the Bay of Biscay. It is sometimes called La Capital de las Avellanas, or the capital of the Filberts, from the immense quantity of this fruit which is grown in the neighbourhood; and the greatest part of which is exported to England. As we drew nigh we overtook numerous cars laden with avellanas proceeding in the direction of the town. I was informed that several small English vessels were lying in the harbour. Singular as it may seem, however, notwithstanding we were in the capital of the Avellanas, it was with the utmost difficulty that I procured a scanty handful for my dessert, and of these more than one half were decayed. The people of the house informed me that the nuts were intended for exportation, and that they never dreamt either of partaking of them themselves or of offering them to their guests.

At an early hour on the following day we reached Colunga, a beautiful village on a rising ground, thickly planted with chestnut trees. It is celebrated, at least in the Asturias, as being the birth-place of Arguelles, the father of the Spanish constitution.

As we dismounted at the door of the posada, where we intended to refresh ourselves, a person who was leaning out of an upper window uttered an exclamation and disappeared. We were yet at the door, when the same individual came running forth and cast himself on the neck of Antonio. He was a good-looking young man, apparently about five and twenty, genteelly dressed, with a Montero cap on his head. Antonio looked at him for a moment, and then with a Ah, Monsieur, est ce bien vous? shook him affectionately by the hand. The stranger then motioned him to follow him, and they forthwith proceeded to the room above.

Wondering what this could mean, I sat down to my morning repast. Nearly an hour elapsed, and still Antonio did not make his appearance; through the boards, however, which composed the ceiling of the kitchen where I sat, I could hear the voices of himself and his acquaintance, and thought that I could occasionally distinguish the sound of broken sobs and groans; at last there was a long pause. I became impatient, and was about to summon Antonio, when he made his appearance, but unaccompanied by the stranger. "What, in the name of all that is singular," I demanded, "have you been about? Who is that man?" "Mon maitre," said Antonio, "c'est un monsieur de ma connoissance. With your permission I will now take a mouthful, and as we journey along I will tell you all that I know of him."

"Monsieur," said Antonio, as we rode out of Colunga, "you are anxious to know the history of the gentleman whom you saw embrace me at the inn. Know, mon maitre, that these Carlist and Christino wars have been the cause of much misery and misfortune in this country, but a being so thoroughly unfortunate as that poor young gentleman of the inn, I do not believe is to be found in Spain, and his misfortunes proceed entirely from the spirit of party and faction which for some time past has been so prevalent.

"Mon maitre, as I have often told you, I have lived in many houses and served many masters, and it chanced that about ten years ago I served the father of this gentleman, who was then a mere boy. It was a very high family, for monsieur the father was a general in the army, and a man of large possessions. The family consisted of the general, his lady, and two sons; the youngest of whom is the person you have just seen, the other was several years older. Pardieu! I felt myself very comfortable in that house, and every individual of the family had all kind of complaisance for me. It is singular enough, that though I have been turned out of so many families, I was never turned out of that; and though I left it thrice, it was of my own free will. I became dissatisfied with the other servants or with the dog or the cat. The last time I left was on account of the quail which was hung out of the window of madame, and which waked me in the morning with its call. Eh bien, mon maitre, things went on in this way during the three years that I continued in the family, out and in; at the end of which time it was determined that the young gentleman should travel, and it was proposed that I should attend him as valet; this I wished very much to do. However, par malheur, I was at this time very much dissatisfied with madame his mother about the quail, and I insisted that before I accompanied him the bird should be slaughtered for the kitchen. To this madame would by no means consent; and even the young gentleman, who had always taken my part on other occasions, said that I was unreasonable: so I left the house in a huff, and never entered it again.

"Eh bien, mon maitre, the young gentleman went upon his travels, and continued abroad several years; and from the time of his departure until we met him at Colunga, I have not set eyes upon, nor indeed heard of him. I have heard enough, however, of his family; of monsieur the father, of madame, and of the brother, who was an officer of cavalry. A short time before the troubles, I mean before the death of Ferdinand, monsieur the father was appointed captain-general of Coruna. Now monsieur, though a good master, was rather a proud man, and fond of discipline and all that kind of thing, and of obedience. He was, moreover, no friend to the populace, to the canaille, and he had a particular aversion to the nationals. So when Ferdinand died, it was whispered about at Coruna, that the general was no liberal, and that he was a better friend to Carlos than to Christina. Eh bien, it chanced that there was a grand fete, or festival at Coruna, on the water; and the nationals were there, and the soldiers. And I know not how it befell, but there was an emeute, and the nationals laid hands on monsieur the general, and tying a rope round his neck, flung him overboard from the barge in which he was, and then dragged him astern about the harbour until he was drowned. They then went to his house and pillaged it, and so ill-treated madame, who at that time happened to be enceinte, that in a few hours she expired.

"I tell you what, mon maitre, when I heard of the misfortune of madame and the general, you would scarcely believe it, but I actually shed tears, and was sorry that I had parted with them in unkindness on account of that pernicious quail.

"Eh bien, mon maitre, nous poursuivrons notre histoire. The eldest son, as I told you before, was a cavalry officer and a man of resolution, and when he heard of the death of his father and mother, he vowed revenge. Poor fellow! but what does he do but desert, with two or three discontented spirits of his troop, and going to the frontier of Galicia, he raised a small faction, and proclaimed Don Carlos. For some little time he did considerable damage to the liberals, burning and destroying their possessions, and putting to death several nationals that fell into his hands. However, this did not last long, his faction was soon dispersed, and he himself taken and hanged, and his head stuck on a pole.

"Nous sommes deja presque au bout. When we arrived at the inn, the young man took me above, as you saw, and there for some time he could do nothing but weep and sob. His story is soon told:- he returned from his travels, and the first intelligence which awaited him on his arrival in Spain was, that his father was drowned, his mother dead, and his brother hanged, and, moreover, all the possessions of his family confiscated. This was not all: wherever he went, he found himself considered in the light of a factious and discontented person, and was frequently assailed by the nationals with blows of sabres and cudgels. He applied to his relations, and some of these, who were of the Carlist persuasion, advised him to betake himself to the army of Don Carlos, and the Pretender himself, who was a friend of his father, and remembered the services of his brother, offered to give him a command in his army. But, mon maitre, as I told you before, he was a pacific young gentleman, and as mild as a lamb, and hated the idea of shedding blood. He was, moreover, not of the Carlist opinion, for during his studies he had read books written a long time ago by countrymen of mine, all about republics and liberties, and the rights of man, so that he was much more inclined to the liberal than the Carlist system; he therefore declined the offer of Don Carlos, whereupon all his relations deserted him, whilst the liberals hunted him from one place to another like a wild beast. At last, he sold some little property which still remained to him, and with the proceeds he came to this remote place of Colunga, where no one knew him, and where he has been residing for several months, in a most melancholy manner, with no other amusement than that which he derives from a book or two, or occasionally hunting a leveret with his spaniel.

"He asked me for counsel, but I had none to give him, and could only weep with him. At last he said, 'Dear Antonio, I see there is no remedy. You say your master is below, beg him, I pray, to stay till to-morrow, and we will send for the maidens of the neighbourhood, and for a violin and a bagpipe, and we will dance and cast away care for a moment.' And then he said something in old Greek, which I scarcely understood, but which I think was equivalent to, 'Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die!'

"Eh bien, mon maitre, I told him that you were a serious gentleman who never took any amusement, and that you were in a hurry. Whereupon he wept again, and embraced me and bade me farewell. And now, mon maitre, I have told you the history of the young man of the inn."

We slept at Ribida de Sela, and the next day, at noon, arrived at Llanes. Our route lay between the coast and an immense range of mountains, which rose up like huge ramparts at about a league's distance from the sea. The ground over which we passed was tolerably level, and seemingly well cultivated. There was no lack of vines and trees, whilst at short intervals rose the cortijos of the proprietors,—square stone buildings surrounded with an outer wall. Llanes is an old town, formerly of considerable strength. In its neighbourhood is the convent of San Cilorio, one of the largest monastic edifices in all Spain. It is now deserted, and stands lone and desolate upon one of the peninsulas of the Cantabrian shore. Leaving Llanes, we soon entered one of the most dreary and barren regions imaginable, a region of rock and stone, where neither grass nor trees were to be seen. Night overtook us in these places. We wandered on, however, until we reached a small village, termed Santo Colombo. Here we passed the night, in the house of a carabineer of the revenue, a tall athletic figure who met us at the gate armed with a gun. He was a Castilian, and with all that ceremonious formality and grave politeness for which his countrymen were at one time so celebrated. He chid his wife for conversing with her handmaid about the concerns of the house before us. "Barbara," said he, "this is not conversation calculated to interest the strange cavaliers; hold your peace, or go aside with the muchacha." In the morning he refused any remuneration for his hospitality. "I am a caballero," said he, "even as yourselves. It is not my custom to admit people into my house for the sake of lucre. I received you because you were benighted and the posada distant."

Rising early in the morning, we pursued our way through a country equally stony and dreary as that which we had entered upon the preceding day. In about four hours we reached San Vincente, a large dilapidated town, chiefly inhabited by miserable fishermen. It retains, however, many remarkable relics of former magnificence: the bridge, which bestrides the broad and deep firth, on which stands the town, has no less than thirty-two arches, and is built of grey granite. It is very ancient, and in some part in so ruinous a condition as to be dangerous.

Leaving San Vincente behind us, we travelled for some leagues on the sea-shore, crossing occasionally a narrow inlet or firth. The country at last began to improve, and in the neighbourhood of Santillana was both beautiful and fertile. About a league before we reached the country of Gil Blas, we passed through an extensive wood, in which were rocks and precipices; it was exactly such a place as that in which the cave of Rolando was situated, as described in the novel. This wood has an evil name, and our guide informed us that robberies were occasionally committed in it. No adventure, however, befell us, and we reached Santillana at about six in the evening.

We did not enter the town, but halted at a large venta or posada at the entrance, before which stood an immense ash tree. We had scarcely housed ourselves when a tremendous storm of rain and wind commenced, accompanied with thunder and lightning, which continued without much interruption for several hours, and the effects of which were visible in our journey of the following day, the streams over which we passed being much swollen, and several trees lying uptorn by the wayside. Santillana contains four thousand inhabitants, and is six short leagues' distance from Santander, where we arrived early the next day.

Nothing could exhibit a stronger contrast to the desolate tracts and the half ruined towns through which we had lately passed, than the bustle and activity of Santander, which, though it stands on the confines of the Basque provinces, the stronghold of the Pretender, is almost the only city in Spain which has not suffered by the Carlist wars. Till the close of the last century it was little better than an obscure fishing town, but it has of late years almost entirely engrossed the commerce of the Spanish transatlantic possessions, especially of the Havannah. The consequence of which has been, that whilst Santander has rapidly increased in wealth and magnificence, both Coruna and Cadiz have been as rapidly hastening to decay. At present it possesses a noble quay, on which stands a line of stately edifices, far exceeding in splendour the palaces of the aristocracy at Madrid. These are built in the French style, and are chiefly occupied by the merchants. The population of Santander is estimated at sixty thousand souls.

On the day of my arrival I dined at the table d'hote of the principal inn, kept by a Genoese. The company was very miscellaneous, French, Germans, and Spaniards, all speaking in their respective languages, whilst at the ends of the table, confronting each other, sat two Catalan merchants, one of whom weighed nearly twenty stone, grunting across the board in their harsh dialect. Long, however, before dinner was concluded, the conversation was entirely engrossed and the attention of all present directed to an individual who sat on one side of the bulky Catalan. He was a thin man of about the middle height, with a remarkably red face, and something in his eyes which, if not a squint, bore a striking resemblance to it. He was dressed in a blue military frock, and seemed to take much more pleasure in haranguing than in the fare which was set before him. He spoke perfectly good Spanish, yet his voice betrayed something of a foreign accent. For a long time he descanted with immense volubility on war and all its circumstances, freely criticising the conduct of the generals, both Carlists and Christinos, in the present struggle, till at last he exclaimed, "Had I but twenty thousand men allowed me by the government, I would bring the war to a conclusion in six months."

"Pardon me, Sir," said a Spaniard who sat at the table, "the curiosity which induces me to request the favour of your distinguished name."

"I am Flinter," replied the individual in the military frock, "a name which is in the mouth of every man, woman, and child in Spain. I am Flinter the Irishman, just escaped from the Basque provinces and the claws of Don Carlos. On the decease of Ferdinand I declared for Isabella, esteeming it the duty of every good cavalier and Irishman in the Spanish service to do so. You have all heard of my exploits, and permit me to tell you they would have been yet more glorious had not jealousy been at work and cramped my means. Two years ago I was despatched to Estremadura, to organize the militias. The bands of Gomez and Cabrera entered the province and spread devastation around. They found me, however, at my post; and had I been properly seconded by those under my command, the two rebels would never have returned to their master to boast of their success. I stood behind my intrenchments. A man advanced and summoned us to surrender. 'Who are you?' I demanded. 'I am Cabrera,' he replied; 'and I am Flinter,' I retorted, flourishing my sabre; 'retire to your battalions or you will forthwith die the death.' He was awed and did as I commanded. In an hour we surrendered. I was led a prisoner to the Basque provinces; and the Carlists rejoiced in the capture they had made, for the name of Flinter had long sounded amongst the Carlist ranks. I was flung into a loathsome dungeon, where I remained twenty months. I was cold; I was naked; but I did not on that account despond, my spirit was too indomitable for such weakness. My keeper at last pitied my misfortunes. He said that 'it grieved him to see so valiant a man perish in inglorious confinement.' We laid a plan to escape together; disguises were provided, and we made the attempt. We passed unobserved till we arrived at the Carlist lines above Bilbao; there we were stopped. My presence of mind, however, did not desert me. I was disguised as a carman, as a Catalan, and the coolness of my answers deceived my interrogators. We were permitted to pass, and soon were safe within the walls of Bilbao. There was an illumination that night in the town, for the lion had burst his toils, Flinter had escaped, and was once more returned to re-animate a drooping cause. I have just arrived at Santander on my way to Madrid, where I intend to ask of the government a command, with twenty thousand men."

Poor Flinter! a braver heart and a move gasconading mouth were surely never united in the same body. He proceeded to Madrid, and through the influence of the British ambassador, who was his friend, he obtained the command of a small division, with which he contrived to surprise and defeat, in the neighbourhood of Toledo, a body of the Carlists, commanded by Orejita, whose numbers more than trebled his own. In reward for this exploit he was persecuted by the government, which, at that time, was the moderado or juste milieu, with the most relentless animosity; the prime minister, Ofalia, supporting with all his influence numerous and ridiculous accusations of plunder and robbery brought against the too- successful general by the Carlist canons of Toledo. He was likewise charged with a dereliction of duty, in having permitted, after the battle of Valdepenas, which he likewise won in the most gallant manner, the Carlist force to take possession of the mines of Almaden, although the government, who were bent on his ruin, had done all in their power to prevent him from following up his successes by denying him the slightest supplies and reinforcements. The fruits of victory thus wrested from him, his hopes blighted, a morbid melancholy seized upon the Irishman; he resigned his command, and in less than ten months from the period when I saw him at Santander, afforded his dastardly and malignant enemies a triumph which satisfied even them, by cutting his own throat with a razor.

Ardent spirits of foreign climes, who hope to distinguish yourselves in the service of Spain, and to earn honours and rewards, remember the fate of Columbus, and of another as brave and as ardent—Flinter!


Departure from Santander—The Night Alarm—The Black Pass.

I had ordered two hundred Testaments to be sent to Santander from Madrid: I found, however, to my great sorrow, that they had not arrived, and I supposed that they had either been seized on the way by the Carlists, or that my letter had miscarried. I then thought of applying to England for a supply, but I abandoned the idea for two reasons. In the first place, I should have to remain idly loitering, at least a month, before I could receive them, at a place where every article was excessively dear; and, secondly, I was very unwell, and unable to procure medical advice at Santander. Ever since I left Coruna, I had been afflicted with a terrible dysentery, and latterly with an ophthalmia, the result of the other malady. I therefore determined on returning to Madrid. To effect this, however, seemed no very easy task. Parties of the army of Don Carlos, which, in a partial degree, had been routed in Castile, were hovering about the country through which I should have to pass, more especially in that part called "The Mountains," so that all communication had ceased between Santander and the southern districts. Nevertheless, I determined to trust as usual in the Almighty and to risk the danger. I purchased, therefore, a small horse, and sallied forth with Antonio.

Before departing, however, I entered into conference with the booksellers as to what they should do in the event of my finding an opportunity of sending them a stock of Testaments from Madrid; and, having arranged matters to my satisfaction, I committed myself to Providence. I will not dwell long on this journey of three hundred miles. We were in the midst of the fire, yet, strange to say, escaped without a hair of our heads being singed. Robberies, murders, and all kinds of atrocities were perpetrated before, behind, and on both sides of us, but not so much as a dog barked at us, though in one instance a plan had been laid to intercept us. About four leagues from Santander, whilst we were baiting our horses at a village hostelry, I saw a fellow run off after having held a whispering conversation with a boy who was dealing out barley to us. I instantly inquired of the latter what the man had said to him, but only obtained an evasive answer. It appeared afterwards that the conversation was about ourselves. Two or three leagues farther there was an inn and village where we had proposed staying, and indeed had expressed our intention of doing so; but on arriving there, finding that the sun was still far from its bourne, I determined to proceed farther, expecting to meet with a resting- place at the distance of a league; though I was mistaken, as we found none until we reached Montaneda, nine leagues and a half from Santander, where was stationed a small detachment of soldiers. At the dead of night we were aroused from our sleep by a cry that the factious were not far off. A messenger had arrived from the alcalde of the village where we had previously intended staying, who stated that a party of Carlists had just surprised that place, and were searching for an English spy, whom they supposed to be at the inn. The officer commanding the soldiers upon hearing this, not deeming his own situation a safe one, instantly drew off his men, falling back on a stronger party stationed in a fortified village near at hand. As for ourselves, we saddled our horses and continued our way in the dark. Had the Carlists succeeded in apprehending me, I should instantly have been shot, and my body cast on the rocks to feed the vultures and wolves. But "it was not so written," said Antonio, who, like many of his countrymen, was a fatalist. The next night we had another singular escape: we had arrived near the entrance of a horrible pass called "El puerto de la puente de las tablas," or the pass of the bridge of planks, which wound through a black and frightful mountain, on the farther side of which was the town of Onas, where we meant to tarry for the night. The sun had set about a quarter of an hour. Suddenly a man, with his face covered with blood, rushed out of the pass. "Turn back, sir," he said, "in the name of God; there are murderers in that pass; they have just robbed me of my mule and all I possess, and I have hardly escaped with life from their hands." I scarcely know why, but I made him no answer and proceeded; indeed I was so weary and unwell that I cared not what became of me. We entered; the rocks rose perpendicularly, right and left, entirely intercepting the scanty twilight, so that the darkness of the grave, or rather the blackness of the valley of the shadow of death reigned around us, and we knew not where we went, but trusted to the instinct of the horses, who moved on with their heads close to the ground. The only sound which we heard was the plash of a stream, which tumbled down the pass. I expected every moment to feel a knife at my throat, but "IT WAS NOT SO WRITTEN." We threaded the pass without meeting a human being, and within three quarters of an hour after the time we entered it, we found ourselves within the posada of the town of Onas, which was filled with troops and armed peasants expecting an attack from the grand Carlist army, which was near at hand.

Well, we reached Burgos in safety; we reached Valladolid in safety; we passed the Guadarama in safety; and were at length safely housed in Madrid. People said we had been very lucky; Antonio said, "It was so written"; but I say, Glory be to the Lord for his mercies vouchsafed to us.


State of Affairs at Madrid—The New Ministry—Pope of Rome—The Bookseller of Toledo—Sword Blades—Houses of Toledo—The Forlorn Gypsy—Proceedings at Madrid—Another Servant.

During my journey in the northern provinces of Spain, which occupied a considerable portion of the year 1837, I had accomplished but a slight portion of what I proposed to myself to effect in the outset. Insignificant are the results of man's labours compared with the swelling ideas of his presumption; something, however, had been effected by the journey, which I had just concluded. The New Testament of Christ was now enjoying a quiet sale in the principal towns of the north, and I had secured the friendly interest and co-operation of the booksellers of those parts, particularly of him the most considerable of them all, old Rey of Compostella. I had, moreover, disposed of a considerable number of Testaments with my own hands, to private individuals, entirely of the lower class, namely, muleteers, carmen, contrabandistas, etc., so that upon the whole I had abundant cause for gratitude and thanksgiving.

I did not find our affairs in a very prosperous state at Madrid, few copies having been sold in the booksellers' shops, yet what could be rationally expected during these latter times? Don Carlos, with a large army, had been at the gates; plunder and massacre had been expected; so that people were too much occupied in forming plans to secure their lives and property, to give much attention to reading of any description.

The enemy, however, had now retired to his strongholds in Alava and Guipuscoa. I hoped that brighter days were dawning, and that the work, under my own superintendence, would, with God's blessing, prosper in the capital of Spain. How far the result corresponded with my expectations will be seen in the sequel. During my absence in the north, a total change of ministers had occurred. The liberal party had been ousted from the cabinet, and in their place had entered individuals attached to the moderado or court party: unfortunately, however, for my prospects, they consisted of persons with whom I had no acquaintance whatever, and with whom my former friends, Galiano and Isturitz, had little or no influence. These gentlemen were now regularly laid on the shelf, and their political career appeared to be terminated for ever.

From the present ministry I could expect but little; they consisted of men, the greater part of whom had been either courtiers or employes of the deceased King Ferdinand, who were friends to absolutism, and by no means inclined to do or to favour anything calculated to give offence to the court of Rome, which they were anxious to conciliate, hoping that eventually it might be induced to recognize the young queen, not as the constitutional but as the absolute Queen Isabella the Second.

Such was the party which continued in power throughout the remainder of my sojourn in Spain, and which persecuted me less from rancour and malice than from policy. It was not until the conclusion of the war of the succession that it lost the ascendancy, when it sank to the ground with its patroness the queen-mother, before the dictatorship of Espartero.

The first step which I took after my return to Madrid, towards circulating the Scriptures, was a very bold one. It was neither more nor less than the establishment of a shop for the sale of Testaments. This shop was situated in the Calle del Principe, a respectable and well-frequented street in the neighbourhood of the Square of Cervantes. I furnished it handsomely with glass cases and chandeliers, and procured an acute Gallegan of the name of Pepe Calzado, to superintend the business, who gave me weekly a faithful account of the copies sold.

"How strangely times alter," said I, the second day subsequent to the opening of my establishment, as I stood on the opposite side of the street, leaning against the wall with folded arms, surveying my shop, on the windows of which were painted in large yellow characters, Despacho de la Sociedad Biblica y Estrangera; "how strangely times alter; here have I been during the last eight months running about old Popish Spain, distributing Testaments, as agent of what the Papists call an heretical society, and have neither been stoned nor burnt; and here am I now in the capital, doing that which one would think were enough to cause all the dead inquisitors and officials buried within the circuit of the walls to rise from their graves and cry abomination; and yet no one interferes with me. Pope of Rome! Pope of Rome! look to thyself. That shop may be closed; but oh! what a sign of the times, that it has been permitted to exist for one day. It appears to me, my Father, that the days of your sway are numbered in Spain; that you will not be permitted much longer to plunder her, to scoff at her, and to scourge her with scorpions, as in bygone periods. See I not the hand on the wall? See I not in yonder letters a 'Mene, mene, Tekel, Upharsin'? Look to thyself, Batuschca."

And I remained for two hours, leaning against the wall, staring at the shop.

A short time after the establishment of the despacho at Madrid, I once more mounted the saddle, and, attended by Antonio, rode over to Toledo, for the purpose of circulating the Scriptures, sending beforehand by a muleteer a cargo of one hundred Testaments. I instantly addressed myself to the principal bookseller of the place, whom from the circumstance of his living in a town so abounding with canons, priests, and ex-friars as Toledo, I expected to find a Carlist, or a servile at least. I was never more mistaken in my life; on entering the shop, which was very large and commodious, I beheld a stout athletic man, dressed in a kind of cavalry uniform, with a helmet on his head, and an immense sabre in his hand: this was the bookseller himself, who I soon found was an officer in the national cavalry. Upon learning who I was, he shook me heartily by the hand, and said that nothing would give him greater pleasure than taking charge of the books, which he would endeavour to circulate to the utmost of his ability.

"Will not your doing so bring you into odium with the clergy?"

"Ca!" said he; "who cares? I am rich, and so was my father before me. I do not depend on them, they cannot hate me more than they do already, for I make no secret of my opinions. I have just returned from an expedition," said he; "my brother nationals and myself have, for the last three days, been occupied in hunting down the factious and thieves of the neighbourhood; we have killed three and brought in several prisoners. Who cares for the cowardly priests? I am a liberal, Don Jorge, and a friend of your countryman, Flinter. Many is the Carlist guerilla-curate and robber-friar whom I have assisted him to catch. I am rejoiced to hear that he has just been appointed captain-general of Toledo; there will be fine doings here when he arrives, Don Jorge. We will make the clergy shake between us, I assure you."

Toledo was formerly the capital of Spain. Its population at present is barely fifteen thousand souls, though, in the time of the Romans, and also during the Middle Ages, it is said to have amounted to between two and three hundred thousand. It is situated about twelve leagues (forty miles) westward of Madrid, and is built upon a steep rocky hill, round which flows the Tagus, on all sides but the north. It still possesses a great many remarkable edifices, notwithstanding that it has long since fallen into decay. Its cathedral is the most magnificent of Spain, and is the see of the primate. In the tower of this cathedral is the famous bell of Toledo, the largest in the world with the exception of the monster bell of Moscow, which I have also seen. It weighs 1,543 arrobes, or 37,032 pounds. It has, however, a disagreeable sound, owing to a cleft in its side. Toledo could once boast the finest pictures in Spain, but many were stolen or destroyed by the French during the Peninsular war, and still more have lately been removed by order of the government. Perhaps the most remarkable one still remains; I allude to that which represents the burial of the Count of Orgaz, the masterpiece of Domenico, the Greek, a most extraordinary genius, some of whose productions possess merit of a very high order. The picture in question is in the little parish church of San Tome, at the bottom of the aisle, on the left side of the altar. Could it be purchased, I should say it would be cheap at five thousand pounds.

Amongst the many remarkable things which meet the eye of the curious observer at Toledo, is the manufactory of arms, where are wrought the swords, spears, and other weapons intended for the army, with the exception of fire-arms, which mostly come from abroad.

In old times, as is well known, the sword-blades of Toledo were held in great estimation, and were transmitted as merchandise throughout Christendom. The present manufactory, or fabrica, as it is called, is a handsome modern edifice, situated without the wall of the city, on a plain contiguous to the river, with which it communicates by a small canal. It is said that the water and the sand of the Tagus are essential for the proper tempering of the swords. I asked some of the principal workmen whether, at the present day, they could manufacture weapons of equal value to those of former days, and whether the secret had been lost.

"Ca!" said they, "the swords of Toledo were never so good as those which we are daily making. It is ridiculous enough to see strangers coming here to purchase old swords, the greater part of which are mere rubbish, and never made at Toledo, yet for such they will give a large price, whilst they would grudge two dollars for this jewel, which was made but yesterday"; thereupon putting into my hand a middle-sized rapier. "Your worship," said they, "seems to have a strong arm, prove its temper against the stone wall;— thrust boldly and fear not."

I HAVE a strong arm and dashed the point with my utmost force against the solid granite: my arm was numbed to the shoulder from the violence of the concussion, and continued so for nearly a week, but the sword appeared not to be at all blunted, or to have suffered in any respect.

"A better sword than that," said an ancient workman, a native of Old Castile, "never transfixed Moor out yonder on the sagra."

During my stay at Toledo, I lodged at the Posada de los Caballeros, which signifies the inn of the gentlemen, which name, in some respects, is certainly well deserved, for there are many palaces far less magnificent than this inn of Toledo. By magnificence it must not be supposed, however, that I allude to costliness of furniture, or any kind of luxury which pervaded the culinary department. The rooms were as empty as those of Spanish inns generally are, and the fare, though good in its kind, was plain and homely; but I have seldom seen a more imposing edifice. It was of immense size, consisting of several stories, and was built something in the Moorish taste, with a quadrangular court in the centre, beneath which was an immense algibe or tank, serving as a reservoir for rain-water. All the houses in Toledo are supplied with tanks of this description, into which the waters in the rainy season flow from the roofs through pipes. No other water is used for drinking; that of the Tagus, not being considered salubrious, is only used for purposes of cleanliness, being conveyed up the steep narrow streets on donkeys in large stone jars. The city, standing on a rocky mountain, has no wells. As for the rain-water, it deposits a sediment in the tank, and becomes very sweet and potable: these tanks are cleaned out: twice every year. During the summer, at which time the heat in this part of Spain is intense, the families spend the greater part of the day in the courts, which are overhung with a linen awning, the heat of the atmosphere being tempered by the coolness arising from the tank below, which answers the same purpose as the fountain in the southern provinces of Spain.

I spent about a week at Toledo, during which time several copies of the Testament were disposed of in the shop of my friend the bookseller. Several priests took it up from the mostrador on which it lay, examined it, but made no remarks; none of them purchased it. My friend showed me through his house, almost every apartment of which was lined from roof to floor with books, many of which were highly valuable. He told me that he possessed the best collection in Spain of the ancient literature of the country. He was, however, less proud of his library than his stud; finding that I had some acquaintance with horses, his liking for me and also his respect considerably increased. "All I have," said he, "is at your service; I see you are a man after my own heart. When you are disposed to ride out upon the sagra, you have only to apply to my groom, who will forthwith saddle you my famed Cordovese entero; I purchased him from the stables at Aranjuez, when the royal stud was broken up. There is but one other man to whom I would lend him, and that man is Flinter."

At Toledo I met with a forlorn Gypsy woman and her son, a lad of about fourteen years of age; she was not a native of the place, but had come from La Mancha, her husband having been cast into the prison of Toledo on a charge of mule-stealing: the crime had been proved against him, and in a few days he was to depart for Malaga, with the chain of galley slaves. He was quite destitute of money, and his wife was now in Toledo, earning a few cuartos by telling fortunes about the streets, to support him in prison. She told me that it was her intention to follow him to Malaga, where she hoped to be able to effect his escape. What an instance of conjugal affection; and yet the affection here was all on one side, as is too frequently the case. Her husband was a worthless scoundrel, who had previously abandoned her and betaken himself to Madrid, where he had long lived in concubinage with the notorious she-thug Aurora, at whose instigation he had committed the robbery for which he was now held in durance. "Should your husband escape from Malaga, in what direction will he fly?" I demanded.

"To the chim of the Corahai, my son; to the land of the Moors, to be a soldier of the Moorish king."

"And what will become of yourself?" I inquired; "think you that he will take you with him?"

"He will leave me on the shore, my son, and as soon as he has crossed the black pawnee, he will forget me and never think of me more."

"And knowing his ingratitude, why should you give yourself so much trouble about him?"

"Am I not his romi, my son, and am I not bound by the law of the Cales to assist him to the last? Should he return from the land of the Corahai at the end of a hundred years, and should find me alive, and should say, I am hungry, little wife, go forth and steal or tell bahi, I must do it, for he is the rom and I the romi."

On my return to Madrid, I found the despacho still open: various Testaments had been sold, though the number was by no means considerable: the work had to labour under great disadvantage, from the ignorance of the people at large with respect to its tenor and contents. It was no wonder, then, that little interest was felt respecting it. To call, however, public attention to the despacho, I printed three thousand advertisements on paper, yellow, blue, and crimson, with which I almost covered the sides of the streets, and besides this, inserted an account of it in all the journals and periodicals; the consequence was, that in a short time almost every person in Madrid was aware of its existence. Such exertions in London or Paris would probably have ensured the sale of the entire edition of the New Testament within a few days. In Madrid, however, the result was not quite so flattering; for after the establishment had been open an entire month, the copies disposed of barely amounted to one hundred.

These proceedings of mine did not fail to cause a great sensation: the priests and their partisans were teeming with malice and fury, which, for some time, however, they thought proper to exhibit only in words; it being their opinion that I was favoured by the ambassador and by the British government; but there was no attempt, however atrocious, that might not be expected from their malignity; and were it right and seemly for me, the most insignificant of worms, to make such a comparison, I might say, like Paul at Ephesus, I was fighting with wild beasts.

On the last day of the year 1837, my servant Antonio thus addressed me: "Mon maitre, it is necessary that I leave you for a time. Ever since we have returned from our journeys, I have become unsettled and dissatisfied with the house, the furniture, and with Donna Marequita. I have therefore engaged myself as cook in the house of the Count of -, where I am to receive four dollars per month less than what your worship gives me. I am fond of change, though it be for the worse. Adieu, mon maitre, may you be as well served as you deserve; should you chance, however, to have any pressing need de mes soins, send for me without hesitation, and I will at once give my new master warning, if I am still with him, and come to you."

Thus was I deprived for a time of the services of Antonio. I continued for a few days without a domestic, at the end of which time I hired a certain Cantabrian or Basque, a native of the village of Hernani, in Guipuscoa, who was strongly recommended to me.


Euscarra—Basque not Irish—Sanskrit and Tartar Dialects—A Vowel Language—Popular Poetry—The Basques—Their Persons—Basque Women.

I now entered upon the year 1838, perhaps the most eventful of all those which I passed in Spain. The despacho still continued open, with a somewhat increasing sale. Having at this time little of particular moment with which to occupy myself, I committed to the press two works, which for some time past had been in the course of preparation. These were the Gospel of St. Luke in the Spanish Gypsy and the Euscarra languages.

With respect to the Gypsy Gospel I have little to say, having already spoken of it in a former work (The Zincali): it was translated by myself, together with the greater part of the New Testament, during my long intercourse with the Spanish Gypsies. Concerning the Luke in Euscarra, however, it will be as well to be more particular, and to avail myself of the present opportunity to say a few words concerning the language in which it was written, and the people for whom it was intended.

The Euscarra, then, is the proper term for a certain speech or language, supposed to have been at one time prevalent throughout Spain, but which is at present confined to certain districts, both on the French and Spanish side of the Pyrenees, which are laved by the waters of the Cantabrian Gulf or Bay of Biscay. This language is commonly known as the Basque or Biscayan, which words are mere modifications of the word Euscarra, the consonant B having been prefixed for the sake of euphony. Much that is vague, erroneous, and hypothetical, has been said and written concerning this tongue. The Basques assert that it was not only the original language of Spain, but also of the world, and that from it all other languages are derived; but the Basques are a very ignorant people, and know nothing of the philosophy of language. Very little importance, therefore, need be attached to any opinion of theirs on such a subject. A few amongst them, however, who affect some degree of learning, contend, that it is neither more nor less than a dialect of the Phoenician, and, that the Basques are the descendants of a Phoenician colony, established at the foot of the Pyrenees at a very remote period. Of this theory, or rather conjecture, as it is unsubstantiated by the slightest proof, it is needless to take further notice than to observe that, provided the Phoenician language, as many of the TRULY LEARNED have supposed and almost proved, was a dialect of the Hebrew, or closely allied to it, it were as unreasonable to suppose that the Basque is derived from it, as that the Kamschatdale and Cherokee are dialects of the Greek or Latin.

There is, however, another opinion with respect to the Basque which deserves more especial notice, from the circumstance of its being extensively entertained amongst the literati of various countries of Europe, more especially England. I allude to the Celtic origin of this tongue, and its close connexion with the most cultivated of all the Celtic dialects, the Irish. People who pretend to be well conversant with the subject, have even gone so far as to assert, that so little difference exists between the Basque and Irish tongues, that individuals of the two nations, when they meet together, find no difficulty in understanding each other, with no other means of communication than their respective languages; in a word, that there is scarcely a greater difference between the two than between the French and the Spanish Basque. Such similarity, however, though so strongly insisted upon, by no means exists in fact, and perhaps in the whole of Europe it would be difficult to discover two languages which exhibit fewer points of mutual resemblance than the Basque and Irish.

The Irish, like most other European languages, is a dialect of the Sanskrit, a REMOTE one, as may well be supposed. The corner of the western world in which it is still preserved being, of all countries in Europe, the most distant from the proper home of the parent tongue. It is still, however, a dialect of that venerable and most original speech, not so closely resembling it, it is true, as the English, Danish, and those which belong to what is called the Gothic family, and far less than those of the Sclavonian; for, the nearer we approach to the East, in equal degree the assimilation of languages to this parent stock becomes more clear and distinct; but still a dialect, agreeing with the Sanskrit in structure, in the arrangement of words, and in many instances in the words themselves, which, however modified, may still be recognized as Sanskrit. But what is the Basque, and to what family does it properly pertain?

To two great Asiatic languages, all the dialects spoken at present in Europe may be traced. These two, if not now spoken, still exist in books, and are, moreover, the languages of two of the principal religions of the East. I allude to the Tibetian and Sanskrit—the sacred languages of the followers of Buddh and Bramah. These tongues, though they possess many words in common, which is easily to be accounted for by their close proximity, are properly distinct, being widely different in structure. In what this difference consists, I have neither time nor inclination to state; suffice it to say that the Celtic, Gothic, and Sclavonian dialects in Europe belong to the Sanskrit family, even as in the East the Persian, and to a less degree the Arabic, Hebrew, etc.; whilst to the Tibetian or Tartar family in Asia pertain the Mandchou and Mongolian, the Calmuc and the Turkish of the Caspian Sea; and in Europe, the Hungarian and the Basque PARTIALLY.

Indeed this latter language is a strange anomaly, so that upon the whole it is less difficult to say what it is not, than what it is. It abounds with Sanskrit words to such a degree that its surface seems strewn with them. Yet would it be wrong to term it a Sanskrit dialect, for in the collocation of these words the Tartar form is most decidedly observable. A considerable proportion of Tartar words is likewise to be found in this language, though perhaps not in equal number to the terms derived from the Sanskrit. Of these Tartar etymons I shall at present content myself with citing one, though, if necessary, it were easy to adduce hundreds. This word is Jauna, or as it is pronounced, Khauna, a word in constant use amongst the Basques, and which is the Khan of the Mongols and Mandchous, and of the same signification—Lord.

Having closely examined the subject in all its various bearings, and having weighed what is to be said on one side against what is to be advanced on the other, I am inclined to rank the Basque rather amongst the Tartar than the Sanskrit dialects. Whoever should have an opportunity of comparing the enunciation of the Basques and Tartars would, from that alone, even if he understood them not, come to the conclusion that their respective languages were formed on the same principles. In both occur periods seemingly interminable, during which the voice gradually ascends to a climax, and then gradually sinks down.

I have spoken of the surprising number of Sanskrit words contained in the Basque language, specimens of some of which will be found below. It is remarkable enough, that in the greater part of the derivatives from the Sanskrit the Basque has dropped the initial consonant, so that the word commences with a vowel. The Basque, indeed, may be said to be almost a vowel language; the number of consonants employed being comparatively few: perhaps eight words out of ten commence and terminate with a vowel, owing to which it is a language to the highest degree soft and melodious, far excelling in this respect any other language in Europe, not even excepting the Italian.

Here follow a few specimens of Basque words with the Sanskrit roots in juxtaposition:-

BASQUE. SANSKRIT. Ardoa Sandhana Wine. Arratsa Ratri Night. Beguia Akshi Eye. Choria Chiria Bird. Chacurra Cucura Dog. Erreguina Rani Queen. Icusi Iksha To see. Iru Treya Three. Jan (Khan) Khana To eat. Uria Puri City. Urruti Dura Far.

Such is the tongue in which I brought out Saint Luke's Gospel at Madrid. The translation I procured originally from a Basque physician of the name of Oteiza. Previous to being sent to the press, the version had lain nearly two years in my possession, during which time, and particularly during my travels, I lost no opportunity of submitting it to the inspection of those who were considered competent scholars in the Euscarra. It did not entirely please me; but it was in vain to seek for a better translation.

In my early youth I had obtained a slight acquaintance with the Euscarra, as it exists in books. This acquaintance I considerably increased during my stay in Spain; and by occasionally mingling with Basques, was enabled to understand the spoken language to a certain extent, and even to speak it, but always with considerable hesitation; for to speak Basque, even tolerably, it is necessary to have lived in the country from a very early period. So great are the difficulties attending it, and so strange are its peculiarities, that it is very rare to find a foreigner possessed of any considerable skill in the oral language, and the Spaniards consider the obstacles so formidable that they have a proverb to the effect that Satan once lived seven years in Biscay, and then departed, finding himself unable either to understand or to make himself understood.

There are few inducements to the study of this language. In the first place, the acquisition of it is by no means necessary even to those who reside in the countries where it is spoken; the Spanish being generally understood throughout the Basque provinces pertaining to Spain, and the French in those pertaining to France.

In the second place, neither dialect is in possession of any peculiar literature capable of repaying the toil of the student. There are various books extant both in French and Spanish Basque, but these consist entirely of Popish devotion, and are for the most part translations.

It will, perhaps, here be asked whether the Basques do not possess popular poetry, like most other nations, however small and inconsiderable. They have certainly no lack of songs, ballads, and stanzas, but of a character by no means entitled to the appellation of poetry. I have noted down from recitation a considerable portion of what they call their poetry, but the only tolerable specimen of verse which I ever discovered amongst them was the following stanza, which, after all, is not entitled to very high praise:-

"Ichasoa urac aundi, Estu ondoric agueri - Pasaco ninsaqueni andic Maitea icustea gatic."

i.e. "The waters of the sea are vast, and their bottom cannot be seen: but over them I will pass, that I may behold my love."

The Basques are a singing rather than a poetical people. Notwithstanding the facility with which their tongue lends itself to the composition of verse, they have never produced among them a poet with the slightest pretensions to reputation; but their voices are singularly sweet, and they are known to excel in musical composition. It is the opinion of a certain author, the Abbe D'Ilharce, who has written about them, that they derived the name Cantabri, by which they were known to the Romans, from Khantor-ber, signifying sweet singers. They possess much music of their own, some of which is said to be exceedingly ancient. Of this music specimens were published at Donostian (San Sebastian) in the year 1826, edited by a certain Juan Ignacio Iztueta. These consist of wild and thrilling marches, to the sound of which it is believed that the ancient Basques were in the habit of descending from their mountains to combat with the Romans, and subsequently with the Moors. Whilst listening to them it is easy to suppose oneself in the close vicinity of some desperate encounter. We seem to hear the charge of cavalry on the sounding plain, the clash of swords, and the rushing of men down the gorges of hills. This music is accompanied with words, but such words! Nothing can be imagined more stupid, commonplace, and uninteresting. So far from being martial, they relate to everyday incidents and appear to have no connexion whatever with the music. They are evidently of modern date.

In person the Basques are of the middle size, and are active and athletic. They are in general of fair complexions and handsome features, and in appearance bear no slight resemblance to certain Tartar tribes of the Caucasus. Their bravery is unquestionable, and they are considered as the best soldiery belonging to the Spanish crown: a fact highly corroborative of the supposition that they are of Tartar origin, the Tartars being of all races the most warlike, and amongst whom the most remarkable conquerors have been produced. They are faithful and honest, and capable of much disinterested attachment; kind and hospitable to strangers; all of which points are far from being at variance with the Tartan character. But they are somewhat dull, and their capacities are by no means of a high order, and in these respects they again resemble the Tartars.

No people on earth are prouder than the Basques, but theirs is a kind of republican pride. They have no nobility amongst them, and no one will acknowledge a superior. The poorest carman is as proud as the governor of Tolosa. "He is more powerful than I," he will say, "but I am of as good blood; perhaps hereafter I may become a governor myself." They abhor servitude, at least out of their own country; and though circumstances frequently oblige them to seek masters, it is very rare to find them filling the places of common domestics; they are stewards, secretaries, accountants, etc. True it is, that it was my own fortune to obtain a Basque domestic; but then he always treated me more as an equal than a master, would sit down in my presence, give me his advice unasked, and enter into conversation with me at all times and occasions. Did I check him! Certainly not! For in that case he would have left me, and a more faithful creature I never knew. His fate was a mournful one, as will appear in the sequel.

I have said that the Basques abhor servitude, and are rarely to be found serving as domestics amongst the Spaniards. I allude, however, merely to the males. The females, on the contrary, have no objection whatever to enter houses as servants. Women, indeed, amongst the Basques are not looked upon with all the esteem which they deserve, and are considered as fitted for little else than to perform menial offices, even as in the East, where they are viewed in the light of servants and slaves. The Basque females differ widely in character from the men; they are quick and vivacious, and have in general much more talent. They are famous for their skill as cooks, and in most respectable houses of Madrid a Biscayan female may be found in the kitchen, queen supreme of the culinary department.


The Prohibition—Gospel Persecuted—Charge of Sorcery—Ofalia.

About the middle of January a swoop was made upon me by my enemies, in the shape of a peremptory prohibition from the political governor of Madrid to sell any more New Testaments. This measure by no means took me by surprise, as I had for some time previously been expecting something of the kind, on account of the political sentiments of the ministers then in power. I forthwith paid a visit to Sir George Villiers, informing him of what had occurred. He promised to do all he could to cause the prohibition to be withdrawn. Unfortunately at this time he had not much influence, having opposed with all his might the entrance of the moderado ministry to power, and the nomination of Ofalia to the presidency of the cabinet. I, however, never lost confidence in the Almighty, in whose cause I was engaged.

Matters were going on very well before this check. The demand for Testaments was becoming considerable, so much so, that the clergy were alarmed, and this step was the consequence. But they had previously recourse to another, well worthy of them, they attempted to act upon my fears. One of the ruffians of Madrid, called Manolos, came up to me one night, in a dark street, and told me that unless I discontinued selling my "Jewish books," I should have a knife "nailed in my heart"; but I told him to go home, say his prayers, and tell his employers that I pitied them; whereupon he turned away with an oath. A few days after, I received an order to send two copies of the Testament to the office of the political governor, with which I complied, and in less than twenty-four hours an alguazil arrived at the shop with a notice prohibiting the further sale of the work.

One circumstance rejoiced me. Singular as it may appear, the authorities took no measures to cause my little despacho to be closed, and I received no prohibition respecting the sale of any work but the New Testament, and as the Gospel of Saint Luke, in Romany and Basque, would within a short time be ready for delivery, I hoped to carry on matters in a small way till better times should arrive.

I was advised to erase from the shop windows the words "Despacho of the British and Foreign Bible Society." This, however, I refused to do. Those words had tended very much to call attention, which was my grand object. Had I attempted to conduct things in an underhand manner, I should, at the time of which I am speaking, scarcely have sold thirty copies in Madrid, instead of nearly three hundred. People who know me not, may be disposed to call me rash; but I am far from being so, as I never adopt a venturous course when any other is open to me. I am not, however, a person to be terrified by any danger, when I see that braving it is the only way to achieve an object.

The booksellers were unwilling to sell my work; I was compelled to establish a shop of my own. Every shop in Madrid has a name. What name could I give it but the true one? I was not ashamed of my cause or my colours. I hoisted them, and fought beneath them not without success.

The priestly party in Madrid, in the meantime, spared no effort to vilify me. They started a publication called The Friend of the Christian Religion, in which a stupid but furious attack upon me appeared, which I, however, treated with the contempt it deserved. But not satisfied with this, they endeavoured to incite the populace against me, by telling them that I was a sorcerer, and a companion of Gypsies and witches, and their agents even called me so in the streets. That I was an associate of Gypsies and fortune- tellers I do not deny. Why should I be ashamed of their company when my Master mingled with publicans and thieves? Many of the Gypsy race came frequently to visit me; received instruction, and heard parts of the Gospel read to them in their own language, and when they were hungry and faint, I gave them to eat and drink. This might be deemed sorcery in Spain, but I am not without hope that it will be otherwise estimated in England, and had I perished at this period, I think there are some who would have been disposed to acknowledge that I had not lived altogether in vain (always as an instrument of the "Most Highest"), having been permitted to turn one of the most valuable books of God into the speech of the most degraded of his creatures.

In the meantime I endeavoured to enter into negotiations with the ministry, for the purpose of obtaining permission to sell the New Testament in Madrid, and the nullification of the prohibition. I experienced, however, great opposition, which I was unable to surmount. Several of the ultra-popish bishops, then resident in Madrid, had denounced the Bible, the Bible Society, and myself. Nevertheless, notwithstanding their powerful and united efforts, they were unable to effect their principal object, namely, my expulsion from Madrid and Spain. The Count Ofalia, notwithstanding he had permitted himself to be made the instrument, to a certain extent, of these people, would not consent to be pushed to such a length. Throughout this affair, I cannot find words sufficiently strong to do justice to the zeal and interest which Sir George Villiers displayed in the cause of the Testament. He had various interviews with Ofalia on the subject, and in these he expressed to him his sense of the injustice and tyranny which had been practised in this instance towards his countryman.

Ofalia had been moved by these remonstrances, and more than once promised to do all in his power to oblige Sir George; but then the bishops again beset him, and playing upon his political if not religious fears, prevented him from acting a just, honest, and honourable part. At the desire of Sir George Villiers, I drew up a brief account of the Bible Society, and an exposition of its views, especially in respect to Spain, which he presented with his own hands to the Count. I shall not trouble the reader by inserting this memorial, but content myself with observing, that I made no attempts to flatter and cajole, but expressed myself honestly and frankly, as a Christian ought. Ofalia, on reading it, said, "What a pity that this is a Protestant society, and that all its members are not Catholics."

A few days subsequently, to my great astonishment, he sent a message to me by a friend, requesting that I would send him a copy of my Gypsy Gospel. I may as well here state, that the fame of this work, though not yet published, had already spread like wildfire through Madrid, and every person was passionately eager to possess a copy; indeed, several grandees of Spain sent messages with similar requests, all of which I however denied. I instantly resolved to take advantage of this overture on the part of Count Ofalia, and to call on him myself. I therefore caused a copy of the Gospel to be handsomely bound, and proceeding to the palace, was instantly admitted to him. He was a dusky, diminutive person, between fifty and sixty years of age, with false hair and teeth, but exceedingly gentlemanly manners. He received me with great affability, and thanked me for my present; but on my proceeding to speak of the New Testament, he told me that the subject was surrounded with difficulties, and that the great body of the clergy had taken up the matter against me; he conjured me, however, to be patient and peaceable, in which case he said he would endeavour to devise some plan to satisfy me. Amongst other things, he observed that the bishops hated a sectarian more than an Atheist. Whereupon I replied, that, like the Pharisees of old, they cared more for the gold of the temple than the temple itself. Throughout the whole of our interview he evidently laboured under great fear, and was continually looking behind and around him, seemingly in dread of being overheard, which brought to my mind an expression of a friend of mine, that if there be any truth in metempsychosis, the soul of Count Ofalia must have originally belonged to a mouse. We parted in kindness, and I went away, wondering by what strange chance this poor man had become prime minister of a country like Spain.


The Two Gospels—The Alguazil—The Warrant—The Good Maria—The Arrest—Sent to Prison—Reflections—The Reception—The Prison Room—Redress Demanded.

At length the Gospel of Saint Luke in the Gypsy language was in a state of readiness. I therefore deposited a certain number of copies in the despacho, and announced them for sale. The Basque, which was by this time also printed, was likewise advertised. For this last work there was little demand. Not so, however, for the Gypsy Luke, of which I could have easily disposed of the whole edition in less than a fortnight. Long, however, before this period had expired, the clergy were up in arms. "Sorcery!" said one bishop. "There is more in this than we can dive into," exclaimed a second. "He will convert all Spain by means of the Gypsy language," cried a third. And then came the usual chorus on such occasions, of Que infamia! Que picardia! At last, having consulted together, away they hurried to their tool the corregidor, or, according to the modern term, the gefe politico of Madrid. I have forgotten the name of this worthy, of whom I had myself no personal knowledge whatever. Judging from his actions, however, and from common report, I should say that he was a stupid wrong- headed creature, savage withal—a melange of borrico, mule, and wolf. Having an inveterate antipathy to all foreigners, he lent a willing ear to the complaint of my accusers, and forthwith gave orders to make a seizure of all the copies of the Gypsy Gospel which could be found in the despacho. The consequence was, that a numerous body of alguazils directed their steps to the Calle del principe; some thirty copies of the book in question were pounced upon, and about the same number of Saint Luke in Basque. With this spoil these satellites returned in triumph to the gefatura politica, where they divided the copies of the Gypsy volume amongst themselves, selling subsequently the greater number at a large price, the book being in the greatest demand, and thus becoming unintentionally agents of an heretical society. But every one must live by his trade, say these people, and they lose no opportunity of making their words good, by disposing to the best advantage of any booty which falls into their hands. As no person cared about the Basque Gospel, it was safely stowed away, with other unmarketable captures, in the warehouses of the office.

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