'TIS just as well that you were chained on Olympus and could not see me off, for had you gotten a glimpse of the antiquated "Ramblacita" you would surely have taken it into your classic old head to question my judgment and then proceeded to bother.
When this one goes to France she always takes a French steamer, just as she takes an Italian boat for Italy. Thus you must understand that I was principle-bound to sometime experience a passage on a trampy steamer, especially when I found one with a disposition properly developed for introducing wanderers from the Peninsula. Now that we are proudly eight days out skimming along at fifteen knots on the smooth sea of reasonable adventure, I can risk telling you that our little craft is a veritable gamine of the deep – a sort of de classe – knowing nothing of the courses and manners of the de luxe millionaire freighters plying the tourist route from New York to Cherbourg and Southampton. This old hull is a boat – she has a hobo soul and having long rendered service to mankind belongs to the world at large. Smudged is she with the oily backwaters of every available port in the north, east, south and west corners of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. I even suspect her of a dark past gathered on the Pacific. True to the traditions of mixed civilizations discovering and exploiting new lands, she is uncontaminated by either European or American modernism. The last time she docked at Manhattan a mutiny actually broke out. If one is to believe printed news, a number of her rogues and rapscallions were placed in chains and for several days sprawled helplessly on the unsheltered upper deck while an old-time sea captain rid himself of spleen and other manifestations of leadership. If I had been the original "Peter Pickem" I could not have chosen a more entertaining craft. Yet the passage is not cheap if measured in our standards – But to go back to the hour when I embarked.
You should have seen my smile grow crooked and almost carry my courage overboard as I realized that this, my very own choice of unknown steamers, was giving evidences of being loaded with human strata of color and type with which I had never had occasion to commune – America as I had never known it. To be ten days enisled in these crowded quarters was too much of a bargain. I wondered if I should not – or should, in Tennessee vernacular, have my luggage "toted back to de banks." Then utterly disgusted with myself for indulging "insular prejudice," I decided to make the best of it. So the fun began right there.
Up in my cabin I had another shock remaining to be survived. When I climbed over an assortment of early Victorian baggage before my door, I bumped into a pretty, white-haired, troubled-faced woman, who stood taking an inventory of my goods. She, too, seemed surprised. On further inquiry we were both convinced that we were not to occupy that space singly and perforce put away our disappointment in a few pressing and mutual housekeeping interests. In other words, these old-fashioned bunks were thoroughly examined and pronounced clean.
So you may picture me installed – books, boxes, flowers and trunks – in the same compartment with the sister of two Irish-American priests. They, by the way, are comfortably settled on the other side of a partition so thin that as I write in bed one can hear a cheerful rumble of wits which have flare enough even when not unloosed by the virtues of good Scotch. This aroma is a distinct sign that the dinner gong is about to pierce the air. Then for the conversational feast and choosing dishes simple enough to offer to one's digestive members. Yesterday, fasting-Friday, I was amazed to see a thick beefsteak being passed around. It inspired some lively interpretations of certain precepts of the church as understood and practiced on a Latin-American liner. Despite my arguments as humanitarian, as vegetarian, despite all the warning rimes for meat-eaters, and the whys and wherefore of his (Father John's) rheumatism, Father John became incorrigibly human, partaking of the red flesh. Father Leonard remained himself – a true Roman Catholic – and ate of the fishes.
It seems incredible that one could put to sea from New York and, with the exception of these three persons and an American consul with his wife, be the only English-speaking individual aboard. On the first day, by gravitation natural to races, we formed a group for luncheon, and ere the clanging brasses sounded announcing dinner, Malaga wines and all the queer little surprises in the soup, we had acquired an enchanting addition to our party. It was the Condesa Mont X, a glowing Spaniard from Barcelona, who took a presiding place between the two beneficents of the cloth to shine like the Pope's diamond between two brilliants of Pharaoh's onyx.
The Condesa sparkles with the most intriguing broken English, speaking it with an accent and energy peculiar to Catalonia. Her eyes are enough to make even a bookworm (like our friend Ralph Roeder) turn to more resolute pursuits. Her repertoire of Spanish dialect songs is endless – and her Latin heart ample enough to mother the world. Yesterday I looked down on the third-class deck to see her embracing in a most affecting manner, a woman draped in a black shawl and mantilla. That was rather surprising to me, having heard so much about the insupportable Spanish sense of class differences.
At dinner she related to me the joys of finding a personal maid who had served her when she had been happily established in Mexico City. Later, under the unfolding influences of stars and sky, came the Condesa's dramatic story of a parent-planned marriage with a Spanish nobleman at the age of fourteen. "Ah, Señora," she tragically gasped, "until my husband died, I had never known another man. I did not love him then, but if I had him back to-day, I should worship him like God." And she meant it.
'Twould be futile to begin to define the accuracy of this sailing list. Its variations include citizens of Cuba and Indian-Spanish mixtures of Mexico who by consanguinity are tinctured with the Aztecs and probably Coronado's band that went searching into New Mexico for the Seven Cities of Cibola. Many are plain-spoken representatives of Central America, several of whom are German, with perhaps ten pure Castillanos.
As you know, Latin races hold close to the most natural custom of propagating large families. The jungle in its palmiest spots never produced more active youthful dozens than congregate at certain hours on the promenade where I am now seated. These revelrous arenas are fast becoming a menace to health and sanity. One little fellow has succeeded in breaking an arm during a wrestling match. Another, savagely intent upon imitating the fearlessness of a charging bull, dashed into the steward carrying pots of boiling water for the tea, and is so severely scalded that a hush has fallen upon the little imps, their sires and vituperous mothers.
Having gained a little understanding – enough to find me in sympathy with nearly everything my sensibilities find within reach, I have been unashamedly watching the antics of a pair of newly-weds. Never outside of Sicily could any female be guarded with more jealous and volcanic attentions. Thank goodness we are spared the scenes de la vie privée!
The Condesa and I are the only women aboard not traveling under the supervision of husband or priest. All the others are attended by brothers and fathers, or the master of the house and so many of his offspring that individuality has been completely submerged in their troubles and demands. Needless to say, years have vanished from my mental age and I find myself stretching my wings in sheer luxuriousness of freedom, putting away the pangs of frustrated motherhood and counting my cherished born and unborn blessings, even approving the fact that I have not summoned to this flippant planet any replicas with my own capacity for chasing horizons.
Last evening I looked down upon the busy uninviting steerage deck, where many bedraggled women with their men were preparing the sopa (thick soup of meat and vegetables) for themselves and their litters of hopeless young hybrids. Some of them are without doubt taking home goodly savings hard gained in the New West, but most of them could not possibly have found a single nugget in the "caves of silver" or "mines of gold" – tales of which had lured them from old Spain. In any case they carry themselves happily. "Mañana" for them is about to arrive. Then, do they not possess Africa's greatest gift to humanity – the art of natural song? Far into the night their splendid voices break forth into the wailing of wild minors (Malagueñas) of some ancient Andalusian half-Moorish melody, songs of nomadic loves and partings, of ruthless banditti of the Mountains, of faithless señoritas, songs taken into their Arabic natures through generations of sea and desert wanderings.
During the day, despite a collection of peace-blasting parrots, they sleep. One asks what their babies have done to be growing into their respective destinies. On the other hand, from such decks have come the moving force of the two mighty Americas, and we see the shape of a race that is being bred of foreign genius like Michael Pupin, who made the long distance telephone possible – Pupin alongside the great artisan, all constructing the age of steel, shafts of light – of spirit and clay, – an intelligible force unfalteringly reaching toward the heavens. But still the old Gods are not dead, as you may see from your Olympian heights.
To come back from a nap – and to earth again.
I've made myself comfortable (for a nature worshiper) amongst these sisters who pace back and forth counting their pearls in prayer. Priests too are numerous. Some are leading groups from their home parish and all are diligently plucking the outcropping little misdemeanors, piously preparing themselves, as pilgrims must, before entering the holy land. Their ultimate destination is Rome – "Roma per il anno Santo." How I envy them the thrills of gazing out for the first time over the world's greatest and most dramatic stage – Rome, Eternal Rome, the home of the artist's soul. I even find myself wondering what takes me to Spain, when I could return to the city crowned with the glory of the Seven Hills. As the Condesa would add, "Kindlee explain me zat." No, don't, – I know what you would say and that would force a defense which I haven't the courage to begin.
Among my gift books I found "All the Way Round" from A. L. D. by Mrs. Carter H. Harrison. She began it in May, 1921, on the R— when I too happened to be crossing. But pardon me if I have not first thanked you for the sweets and the volumes of letters with the ship's log kept by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage to the West Indies. You who live by exactitudes – "Justice in the abstract" – as well as psalms and story, are you cognizant of the fact that Rodrigo de Triana was the first to see and announce "la tierra" – for which it is recorded that he received a brand new embroidered silver-buttoned waistcoat?
I found this book a fascinating and informing record, and in consequence was prepared to appreciate the location of the Azores when we passed them off the Isle of Flores. Near this island in the time of Elizabeth the Revenge was anchored with six other British war ships. The Revenge was commanded by Sir Richard Grenville. Upon the appearance of fifty-three Spanish galleons (about all that was left of one hundred and fifty of the original Invincible Armada) Lord Thomas Howard sped away with the six ships, leaving Grenville with his hundred men to charge the enemy. Two or three of the Spanish ships were sunk, and several shattered before Grenville was mortally wounded and the Revenge captured. The Spaniards, amazed at his bravery, gave him all the honors of a military funeral before casting his body into the sea. The Revenge was remanned by the Spaniards and set Spainward only to sail into a storm that sent her down with every man aboard. Sir Walter Raleigh in contemporary documents recounts the courage of this incident – Lord Bacon eulogized – Froude wrote essays – Canon Kingsley brought it into his "Westward Ho!" – and Tennyson in his famous ballad honored the glorious Commander of that never-to-be-forgotten age.
Fortunately we crept by as the sun rose and I arrived on deck just in time to see the outline of villages before the islands disappeared like fading opals on a lapis sea. Little wonder they were subject to dispute between Spain and Portugal when Columbus saw them, pointing like fingers of hope, as he sailed on to disprove the mariners' songs of that "region of eternal darkness" beyond where lay the world's jagged edge.1
I brought with me an old history by David Pryde, M.D., published before Garibaldi had united the parts of Italy into a free kingdom. In a few paragraphs he gives us all the information the more modern writer requires volumes in which to add a compendium to former fragments of this-and-that. In this book we are told that Columbus was born in a house many of us have seen in Genoa.2 He was the son of a wool comber, possibly a Spaniard, and became a sailor and pirate-wise at the early age of fourteen. At thirty-five he was drawing maps in Lisbon, having married Felope Moniz de Perestrello, the daughter of a deceased Portuguese navigator. With the maps of his father-in-law he learned about the attempts made to reach India by doubling the continent of Africa. Then it flashed upon his brain to make a short cut from the western coast of Europe. Two strangely colored men had been washed onto the shores of the Azores, evidently Indian sea rovers from those unknown climes. Thus, accompanied by his little boy, he was inspired to begin his begging from court to court until he accomplished the great ambition in becoming head of an exploring armament for Isabella and Ferdinand of Castile and Aragón.
It is in the letters of his friend Las Casas that we view the pathetic side of our persevering hero's biography. He died without knowing that he had opened up vistas to other continents having civilizations highly developed by the Aztecs in Mexico and the Incas in Peru. His records prove that he thought that he had reached some lost stretches of land inhabited by savages beyond the known parts of China and India. Having given up all the hoped-for honors and revenues promised to him, shortly before he expired he wrote this sad complaint: "Little have I profited by twenty years of toils and perils since I do not own a roof in Spain. I have no resort but an inn; and for the most times have not wherewithal to pay my bill."
The year Columbus discovered America, Lorenzo de Medici in Florence died after helping Michael Angelo toward an unparalleled fame. In Milan Ludovico Sforza had recognized the genius of Leonardo da Vinci. Already established as a great painter, but occupied with the principles for a flying machine (principles that are now applied in the flying machines), da Vinci found days for going over the 1499 maps and reports of Columbus, in which Colon stated that the world was shaped like a pear, with a mountain so high that its summit leaned against the lunar sphere "where lies an earthly paradise." But my idea was not to make a treatise on Columbus – even if you do permit me to write to you as I would talk to myself.
Our own captain, a long-legged, mutiny-loving individual, appears to be equal to the "devil on the plank," carrying a perfectly calm but fierce mien over a last year's celluloid collar and giving out atmosphere that scents of Conrad's "Rover." He must have indeed been a trial to his maker, for his head has the set of having been impatiently jammed onto his broad, high, fat shoulders. Being himself is the most conspicuous thing he does. Plainly he is the product of the old sailing vessel, and now that he has a passenger list that includes my sex, he thinks he is always ashore. . . . (I trust that you follow me.) If he ever had pure and tender inclinations they must have been spent in some former existence before he lashed a galley of Roman slaves!
But I shouldn't be too hard on the old dog. After all, he is of that rare variety which, drunk or sober, feels every variating point in the star of the winds. 'Tis said that he sometimes lists heavily under the hot juices of the vine, – but who minds these indulgences during fair weather? Not I. Besides, 'tis good to live, as Mussolini says, a bit "dangerously." Furthermore, didn't you Gods set the cup before men to lead them carelessly on into godlike endeavors?
As to our engineer – (always the important fellow) he is quite of another species. This moment he informed me that the Captain is all right, as proved by the fact that the Ramblacita is on time. Yesterday, in rivalry, the Captain vouchsafed the information that if we didn't arrive on schedule it would be because of a stupid engineer – so they agree in fact if not by compliments.
The Captain said that he would probably take a cargo of freight from Barcelona to Civitavechia. – So you see the Ramblacita is also an opportunist. Adventuresses usually are!
Would you that I sketch in the Purser? Tiens! One glance at him is worth the price of a show on dissipating Broadway. And one look from him is worth about all one aspiring male can sum up or suggest in one swing of an eye. The French would call him a gallant in the true sixteenth-century meaning of the word. His huge, ripe, dark eyes tempt me to flick them off like bulging, over-juicy, wild blackberries! He is without doubt the attraction of the two leathery-finned sharks that have followed us this last hour or more frightening my favorite of deep sea creatures, the racing, rollicking schools of dolphins, and scattering them off to happier fields of mirth. So much and enough of Señor Purser and the sharks!
The voyage has been a great success, and at last we are coming to the waters of the Mediterranean where ages of history whirl into the brain – waters particularly swept by "the thunder Steeds of Spain," (Lord Lytton), and zones, as you know, that were so repeatedly made murky with the blood of all the pirate races of Europe. To-morrow morning we shall be able to distinguish the first lines of "la tierra," and though the Harbor of Palos, known as the bar of Salters, will be lost in the mystic hues of earth and lee, I shall certainly see on my mind's horizon the ghosts of those three caravels, commanded by our First Western Pioneer, as they sailed from the delta of the Guadalquivir to disappear over the bottomless deeps we have traversed.
Columbus isn't the only person that looked back towards home! I have been at it for ten days!
ODES of Horace! If only I had you here –
Septimius, who with me would brave
Far Gades, and Cantabrian land
Untamed by Rome, and Moorish wave
That whirls the sand!
From the morning we glided into the Cadiz Bay I have given myself over to inducements which play on the emotions like music – "beautiful Electronic Music!" If you can imagine Turner painting a harbor scintillating with tartanes and small vessels, frigates and steamers from every country surrounding the Mediterranean, each flying its flags en gala in honor of the birthday of His Majesty Alfonso XIII – if you can see the shining sand undulating to the east and west and upon them build a little city smiling midst palms in an absolute Sunday calm, then you may have a picture of the beauty spot where I descended to terra firma and moreover to the tune of a Spanish national march! Yes, sir, a really truly grand brass band was decorating the docks as only Spanish mustaches and the Andalucian uniforms can. All was color – a bright gently moving agitation or semi-oriental excitement that pervaded even the quarters of the very uncompromising custom officials.
Customs and derechos (duties) always prick the fun out of any frontier. Simple philosopher that I am, never have I quite adjusted my tempers to fit these occasions. Being in high spirits I walked into the Cadiz customs shed, feeling very much like first declaring my alleged American liberty, but instead I produced the trifles that instantly marked me for special negotiations. One of my boxes gave up an electric coffee percolator and a toaster. They were for an American resident of Spain. Thereupon I became the center of attraction until the Spanish Condesa declared an incubator. The magic of an incubator when explained certainly struck consternation into those demurring, discrediting miscreants of the law who paid no heed to my smiles!
Detained as we were the hotel diligence left us to settle for our ne plus ultra, and by the time it returned all my missionary intentions (as if I ever claimed any) were completely exhausted. For all I care, backward southern Spain need never boast of another percolator and can boil coffee in an oven or toast its bread in the sun. I found the Hôtel de France a revelation. The service is courteous, the cuisine anything but French. The rooms being clustered about the glass-covered patio which serves as a lobby, make it impossible to proceed to the bath without attracting the attention of an audience. It is the best of the posadas in Cadiz with pension rates approximating thirty to forty pesetas per day.
Types of Peasant Women
From a Painting by Lopez Mezquita. Madrid
Following luncheon yesterday, I peered down from my iron-grilled balcony on the clean plaza and felt closed into some remote pocket of Time where nothing stirred – not even a cigarette butt in the wind. At that hour the entire population of 70,000 persons were either having a siesta or collectively running wild in the Plaza del Toro. I judged it to be the proper instant to saunter forth for exercising my curiosity in general.
Cadiz is projected into the sea on a slender peninsula. When I turned the corner I decided that had Hercules tried to drive away the oxen of the ancient King Geryon on so blustery an afternoon, that the feat of overcoming Eurytion and the two-headed Dog and driving oxen from Gades would not have been counted among his "twelve labors" – unless Hercules be the name for the four winds! At any rate I made a tour through streets almost too narrow for one vehicle to pass, noted the only trolley line that goes out into the country, mentally photographed several marvelous old doorways, and decided to write "Aunt Sallie" about the cigar factory planted right next to a church! On the quays I rested my weary legs on a very cold bench near trays of fish and cake. Soon thereafter I was on my way back to the hotel, arriving just as things were reawakening for the evening, and feeling two thousand years from home.
"Cadiz, sweet Cadiz," wrote your antithesis "Cortejo" Byron to his mother, "the first spot in creation, the beauty of its streets and mansions only excelled by the liveliness of its inhabitants." The "liveliness of its inhabitants" is the first mark made upon one's permanent impressions if one happens to be an unaccompanied woman – even when she is intent upon her own business! Men congregate upon the lintel at one's approach. – However, I made no acquaintances except the four-storied white-balconied houses aflame with flowers. The bright faces which at intervals beamed from the green outside shutters (called postigos), and were all of my sex, observed me investigating the squares and promenades fanned by rows of tropical trees. I have concluded that the place is rich with creative hormons and worthy of the list of artists, such as Gautier, de Musset, George Sand and various others who have left their names upon the Cadiz social register. The tom-toms of the Cosmic forces are in the air for one to collect into highly modern savage composition. I have, by the way, a copy of E. P.'s book on G. A.'s music. Having survived, I shall never forget his first concert in Paris – particularly the expression on the face of James Joyce.
I'LL admit here and now that I have become a "Peeping Tom" and am sinfully curious about the doings of these beautiful Señoras. Whatever Byron may have made it in his day when he was inspired to write the Girl of Cadiz, the parts played by women simply are not seen outside the hidden patios, except it be at the church. One is inclined to believe – owing to well-guarded gates – that "Apollo" Byron must have found Cadiz rather a discouraging corner of the world for his love-making overtures, and in sheer despair turned to the safety valve of boastfulness that nourished the incomparable escapades of his Don Juan. (Legend contends that Don Juan's father and mother actually lived near here on the banks of the Guadalquivir.)
Since Byron's time Andalucía cannot have changed much. They still possess the charm he couldn't forget, and their sphere still extends from the husband's arms to the cradle and back to the husband again. Novios sing of the "eternal flower" (siempre flor) of womanhood, sentimentalizing over the bud, the blossom, and the fragrance in the garden of love (particularly the fragrance)! And to quote some one whose identity I forget, "Rosa bianca at ten in the morning, rosa perfecta at two P.M., rosa perfecta incarnada at five." That well expresses the day-long life of her youth. These coveted flowers are hidden back of the semi-harem walls, and in many cases submit to being locked (like the Siciliana we knew in Rome) in their chambers while the passionately adored males make commerce abroad or release sparkling ventilations equal to this one; "The most fragile articles of furniture are women and windowpanes!" Unswerving in her place she is content to accept his dialectics, welcome him as master, show off the children, encourage him in manly pride by enjoying his society, and outside that seeking only the consolations of religion. Bearing the appellations of martyrs and saints, they live, to all outward appearances, up to the standard names of Maria, Solitude, and Concepcion, sharing the joys and also the collective woes of the Mother Immaculate, all the while swearing lightly by her purity.
How they pray! – constantly expecting everything from God! The extremes of medievalism are still attendant upon their natures, traits that comprehensively mark the southern Italian from the Italian of the north where the pre-Bourbon-Spanish influence did not altogether penetrate the public conscience. For instance, no doubt you have seen in southern Italy those Spanish-like ladies who without a sign of remorse are doing time after some hurried vow made before the Madonna by donning the leather belt, that being an ungainly and sometimes knotted cordon worn around the oft none too slender waist; by it they are evidently rendered all the more irresistible to the males! Is it any wonder one's humor reverts to Armida to whom Tasso, in his "Jerusalem Delivered" (1575) presented a girdle surpassing even the jeweled cestus of Venus which worked so much enchantment that men loved her all the more?
Yes, the Spanish ladies know how to live their verse and they sum it up in poetry like this –
"Love is Joy and Passion Pain.
Love is true and Passion vain,
Yet twin-like, for Passion glows
Through Love, as Color through the Rose,
And love that knows not Passion's bloom
Is like the Rose without perfume."
THIS morning my mail gave up a letter from Viscount George Henri du Manior, whom Dr. Thompson Sweeny rightly insists upon calling "Man o'War"! . . . He was with the French Mission in San Sebastian, having received there a military decoration at the hand of His Majesty. Since then he has been engaged with affairs stationing him in the Basque Provinces. From Bilbao he writes that which from the French point of view is amusing. He says – in translation : –
"There is no limit to the numbers of children in the Spanish family. I have seen as many as sixteen all by the same mother and father – and in spite of the fact that a Spaniard devotes more time to the café, telling all he knows, than to his wife. These large families are in fashion among the rich as well as the poor. The average of two or three in America or France attains the average of a dozen in Spain. The family has remained what it is said to have been in the Roman times, that is, governed by the Almighty 'Pater Familias.' In Bilbao the wealthiest gentleman in town, and in that part of Spain, sits at the dining table surrounded by forty-five of his sons and daughters with their husbands and children. He provides not only the roof, but the largest part of the spending money.
"An attractive dancer whom I knew in Madrid insisted that I call at her home and astonished me by introducing the mother and a sister and fourteen children, 'the how, why, and who' not even the grandmother could tell me.
"I called once on a customer who was about to sign a contract with our firm for the supply of oxygen. When I heard that he had lost a recently born child, I asked him to accept the expression of my sympathy. 'Oh, don't worry, the mold is not broken!' was his cheerful answer, asking me to have a little drink at the next café.
"A rich father is always prompt to tell you that in Spain they never give a 'dot' to the señoritas. It must be true, yet I never saw any young man working after being married to a rich man's daughter. As a rule the young married couple start borrowing the next morning after the ceremony. Day by day all they need is given them and sometimes much more. If the parents are known as rich people, the young couple may easily find credit up to the amount they are expected to inherit at the father's death. Of course they will have to pay a heavy interest on such money, but not as heavy as might be supposed, since the risk for the lender is not as big as it would be in other countries where money is made – but also lost – much more quickly than it is in Spain. Besides, divorce does not exist and people are married for life, with no way out; so they are all the more ready when they are young to spend everything they have in common. As age comes along they accept more readily a steady life, and are glad to live together in some quiet way, where little money will be needed. The children (for many children will be theirs) do not cost much to breed or rear in the way big families are brought up in this country."
From personal observation, I really believe that a woman's club such as a woman's club is known in England and America would throw a Spanish community into a state of panic or martial law. Phrases suggesting a quasi-public life for women or a "Pome" by E. P. would convulse the entire kingdom if repeated by any group of these subordinated ones aiming to see "la Vérité toute nue," or voice their opinions for home or state. At this stage of their evolution they are almost as fixed behind double standards as ever they were in the eighteenth century.
Of course, a great many American men profess to think that this Spanish code is half right. I, myself, believe that we American and English women are forfeiting too much in gaining our complete emancipation. We have lost a very great deal of charm that makes for power. We will drive our men to raising long, assertive, or parted J. Ham Lewis beards, and, moreover, with these shimmering garments outlining all the imperfections (as well as the perfections of sculptural line) it has reached the point where – well, our position has become decidedly unfair. That is to say, our styles leave nothing to the imagination, and in the instance of the intended marriage, unless the girl organizes a marathon, she is liable to draw any old pair of shanks, no matter how unshapely, and have to pretend for the rest of her life that she has married a Perseus.
The prurient Spaniard taboos our short skirt. To an extent one must agree with him, but entirely on American grounds where the æsthetic senses too often are sent shivering down the spine in revolt against the unbeautiful. In other words, if we women ever aspire to ideals about the underpinnings of the human race the deformities on exhibition to-day certainly don't prove that we have done our part. If we add leg-culture to the daily dozen perchance the future generations will profit by the concentration!
Now our Spanish sisters do not have to be preoccupied about this so much, for they live in the extreme of retirement. They are still victims of the system of education that has fostered false modesty and considerable illiteracy, a condition in this generation to which we in America can lay no claim.
Yesterday I spent an edifying afternoon in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan, who are established in an old Moorish house that is an enticing pattern of all the other ancient dwellings in Cadiz. Like the hotel, the square white marble patio is open to the sun. Mrs. Sullivan has drawn a beautiful canopy over this space which coaxes in the breeze and still protects the house from the summer heat. An arrangement of tile-floored rooms connects with the old galleries surrounding the rotunda where caged birds twitter amongst tropical plants and a soft tinkle of water plays in an Arabic-tiled fountain. It is the background into which I set the families of her more cloistered neighbors, who, I understand, are beginning to insist upon their "four o'clock," which in Madrid they say is really a five o'clock tea or coffee, but in Andalucía a refreshment of lime in sweetened water.
The inconveniences of these houses are countless. In comparison with the London apartment or Paris studio they belong to the Biblical era. The kitchen, by reason of the terrific heat of summer, is always on the top, or upper floor, where a two-hundred-year-old tiled stove (that being a series of open rings under which a charcoal fire burned) is built into the wall. But in such a house, made beautiful by many plants and ravishing old furniture, one falls under the benediction of peace that comes with turning one's back to the world.
For the respectable, outside diversions (other than the corredo and church feasts) don't exist any more than international politics. Of course, there is that question of the Riff, but in our sense they are free of the mad reactions following the World War. So it is that time doesn't mean "poco tiempo!" as it does in America. One can well imagine the type of relaxation habitual to the Spanish women who live to the measured passing of their child-bearing years, growing corpulent at thirty, and becoming old when forty. Fortunately at that age the "flower" of their youth causes their men no more alarm, and a little freedom comes with granddaughters they "duenna" to mass.
To go on with the love motifs of our Andalusian sisters, I must tell you how a hint to my young Spanish guide launched him into his version of this ever-refreshing refrain. He had but recently married and viewed himself still in the feathers of the conquest. He said that he had first followed his señorita to the church when she had the tender age of twelve years. He prided himself in the fact that before he had shadowed her she had not found a chance to think of any man but himself. (Observing the behavior of little girls of that age I am sure that she was well aware of her woman's mission.) However, during three years when other men had dared once or twice to slide into the offing, he had followed her about, suffering through the church feasts and winning never a satisfaction beyond a word slyly dropped in her ear. 'Twas her "wheedling she" part to lead him on with a smile, – scorning to answer. Then, continuing the Spanish courting receipt for accepting the gentleman, she unloosed the "Mimosa" glances and one day decided his future by dropping a little trinket from her bracelet. He had dashed four and five times a day lingering under her balcony to ache by the moon and bake by the sun.
"Carai, Señora, but that balcony was high!" said he.
Maria had several small sisters and brothers to attend in the patio. But when she was fifteen, another sister was fourteen and old enough to take over the young charges, whereupon mother and father suddenly appeared to have become aware of his Troubadour presence. They had obtained to their satisfaction his full record. He was invited on Christmas to warm his hands over the same brazier with the family of his enamorata. Fruit must not be over-ripened on the bough, and so a speedy marriage ensued.
"It costs a man a great deal to marry," he explained, and proceeded to tell me about the customary party he had given in her house, saying that he had paid all the expenses for his friends and hers, not forgetting to add that at this, her one party, she danced with no man but himself. Now she never leaves his house except on his arm. Vinculum matrimonii!
Considering the business from the other angle, that is from the woman's side of it, well, you must not think that she is unhappy in sharing such a contract. Except inside the Spanish convents, I'll venture to say that here there are no causes for the well-advertised Anglo-Saxon complex! The women are uncomplicated females exulting in the functions of Motherhood. Besides, I am wondering if Mr. Andalucía does not know his Mrs. Andalucía. Anyway whether 'twas spoken of the ladies or the gentlemen, history boasts that Cadiz was "the first to be free and the last to be subdued!"
In a manner of speaking it is a relief to be some place where the unmarried women do not archly discuss (in precious ridiculousness) the dangers of a "son complex" and "birth control" with women of substance who have given themselves over to the ecstasies of mothering their offspring – daughters as well as sons. Nor is there to be found within these boundaries that Allia-Lælia-Crispis woman of the U. S. A.; or that stall-bursting Margot-Scarfati-de-Stahl European type, who, deficient in æstheticism, sterile with feminine abstractions without corresponding reason, plop ideas upon a sensation-loving public without the slightest gradation of finer thought to back them up. Such a type overlooking the significance of epochs for incidents of a generation, and virtually being the annoying or amusing quantities known as "brilliant women" imagining themselves useful to politicians, and therefore a little dangerous to the reigning powers – that example of our sex, is, I believe, still unborn in Spain.
WELL how goes the Bel Esprit? I have just come in from an interurban drive, having stopped at the suppressed convent of San Francisco. (The priest in charge wasn't the least bit suppressed. He was too handsome for anything like that!) 'Twas there that Murillo, while working on the St. Catherine altar painting, moved to arrange the light and fell six meters, receiving the injuries which caused his death six months later in Sevilla. When I think about the jest you made on the last chapter in the life of "George" I begin to wonder if somebody who thought he had the right to the joys of prowess didn't give Murillo a little push! Anyway his collection of beautiful paintings in the Municipal Art Gallery, owned by the Municipal Council, is too sweet to suit your virile taste. You did not miss anything by not dropping in on Cadiz. Still I think you'd not scorn the few archæological treasures of the Museo where one sees rings, amulets, and escutcheons found in the eleventh century B.C. Phœnician tombs when the 1892 excavations were in progress. Considering the ravages of wars and the fact that Cadiz is surrounded by the ever-encroaching seas, beaten with the persistently blowing sands, it is amazing that even these tombs remained to tell the story of the post-Greek culture that followed the Carthaginians, who in their turn had driven out the ancient Berbers or Iberians. These conquerors under Pompey, Lucullus, Sylla, and Cæsar have left only a trace in the form of wall or the usual large stone roadbeds. One finds it difficult to realize that Hannibal, who had reduced Roman Legions at Cannæ (616 B.C.), supplied his fleet here. Nor is there anything to remind one of the first brute invaders of the north (60 B.C.), when Gothic Gods of Sun and Thunder met Roman Gods of Delian fame. Oblivion has practically swallowed up the fortifications of those Empire builders who passed on before the far-reaching Christianizing policy of Constantine (335 A.D.) delayed the dismemberment of the Roman Empire.
There is certainly something of the savage Goth shining in these Spanish faces, and something of those ancient barbarians who, exasperated under the cruelties of Emperor Valeus, rose along the Danube in combined tribal armies led by Aleric, to conquer Greece, Sparta, Corinth and Argos, and finally, during the reign of Honorius (408), to destroy Rome itself. Of the monuments of the first Visi-Gothic King (414) of León and Castile (a Scandinavian, who, like the Goths, affected a Roman name), I've seen nothing. And 'tis enough to forget them and not be conscious of anything but the sunshine painting more gay the fresh blue-green shutters on the pink washed houses. So quiet it is, one's thoughts flit unmolested on the quays, up the north road to the fortifications and along the shore circumventing many peninsulas given over to hundreds of shallow canals, where sea water is evaporated to crystallize the salt that for miles glistens white in pyramidic piles. Then in Cadiz, one's senses are lulled with the mystery of the kindred civilization that is calling from Algiers, just three hours' sailing across the strait. Something that is purely Spanish simply stops the pendulum. I am too tired after a long expenditure of strength to listen for the tick of modern advancement or miss the life force vibrating through our American flow of world energy.
When you wrote the volume on G.A., was a gadfly after your Pegasus? I could not quite follow you. I understand his harmonies – ? – or collections of hellish sounds are going to be heard in America. Tell him for me that he will be obliged to introduce a sky scraper in the stages of pneumatic hammering if he is to truly complete the orchestrated dins expressive of the unadulterated go-getting American spirit.
I have given to Dr. Christian Brinton (yes, he is only named Christian) a card of presentation to you! Without doubt you will some day come together in your travels. He is somewhat of a mental grasshopper – universal one to be sure – who knows his blue skies. If you want discussion tie him up, or he will whiz off to Russia where he is most at home.
Yes, Dr. Brinton is a critic, but he hasn't swallowed a porcupine. However, he doesn't wade into much MSS – just painting, and sculpture, etchings, drawing-rooms and museums.
Don't get too soon bored with EXILE. May it prosper and bring forth issue after issue . . . all virgins according to "le nouveau né"!
P.S. – I am grateful for the address. Now I shall think of zabaglione and by association of ideas know that it is Via Marsala . . . one dozen.
I MAILED a letter to Precious You just before taking a squeak tortured train for the interior of Andalucía, by Cervantes spoken of as the "gold purse of Spain." Over stretches of alluvial plain – through wild ranges and eroisms which inspired the fabulous poetry of a people that have been so productive in history – past aromatic thickets of myrtle and groves of citrous fruits – Sevilla-ward we crawled. I enjoyed the whole length of the trip even to the train's funny little thin whistle. There were no white bulls (emblems of pagan sacrifice and now used in special bull fights) to count, so I guessed how many Germans were in my coach and missed by a half a dozen! In truth I was anticipating the 280-plus castles we saw among the Vernon Howe Bailey drawings in the Hispanic Museum at New York. He certainly furnished the traveler toward Spain with anticipations. Tumble-down ruins really do top the crest of every commanding height. However, it was not until sunset that the first great castle rose from the mauves of the distance.
As we approached it, I perceived that a village old and gray as the earth from which it was born, nestled to its foundations still appearing to live by grace of shadowy feudal protection. When the magnificence of its towers and strength of its walls receded, it rested on the horizon like a crown of unparalleled medievalism. In isolation and resistance, in tranquil aloofness it expressed a sustained quality that is the soul of Spain. For one brief second I reverberated to the terror of the mystic life – a Spanish quality which is at once cruel, passionate, greedy, and self-sacrificing and withal something too illusive to be readily understood by an Anglo-Saxon.
In the compartment with me was a Californian couple who had spent the winter in Malaga, the second city of importance in Andalucía. It is a beautiful port and even by them praised for its perfectly dry winter air. A fountain there, according to their tale, is the scandal of Spain. 'Twas designed during the 16th Century for a Sultan of Turkey, stolen by pirates and sold to Malaga. To be explicit, it's a three-storied and several-figured elaboration of the little fountain lad of Brussels.
At Malaga the Easter ceremonies and religious processions and pasos were described as vying with those of Sevilla. Malaga is a great winter resort for the English (as Ronda is fast becoming popular with the Americans – which fact does not at all please our English cousins). The history of Malaga is lurid with the burnings of the Jews and the maltreatment of the African population when it fell under the Christianizing wills of Ferdinand and Isabella.
When I left New York, my plan was to debark at Gibraltar. In fact I had an English visé in order to be welcomed on that bit of "neutral ground" – neutral since the war with England (1702-13) said to have been precipitated by Philip V but in reality by Louis XIV who forced Bourbon politics over Spain through his incompetent grandson at that time surrounded with the English Allies composed of the Dutch, the Austrians (whose Archduke claimed the Spanish throne) and the Spaniards of Aragón and Catalonia. England was particularly anxious to bring about disruption of the unity between Spain and France, her object being to break Bourbon strength. The war continued until the Whigs in England (who had promoted the war) were overruled by the Tories who desired peace. Moreover Charles had ascended the throne in Austria, after having been completely vanquished in his attempt to take the Crown from Philip, and it was feared by England that Austria, the natural friend of Spain, would unite with the latter. Spain meantime had lost Sardinia and Minorca. Dismembership of the Dominions had been cruelly devastating since after the peace concluded at Utrecht, there remained nothing of the former Spanish Dominions but Spain and the Indies, with England standing in "Prudential" guard over the Gibraltar!
Now to go on with myself . . . I also wished very much to drive into the heart of the old Iberia (as well as Malaga) to the town of Elche where that beautiful sculptured bust (Lady of Elche3) was unearthed. It is situated in the much talked of forest of date palms and is the home of The Mystery, a sixteenth century Opera founded on an earlier pageant and given annually at the Cathedral on the day of the Assumption. I had intended to return by way of "Mare Nostrum" from Algeciras to Cadiz. But, I was advised not to make this picturesque journey to the English cemetery (and other coast attractions) without pleasant traveling companions. It was something sacrificed, for in that part of the land Flora holds a feast the year round. If I could find an agreeable traveling companion I should go on to Ronda before I start north.
To come back to the train – after crossings and re-crossings of the Guadalquivir's silver riband, making delays at every sleepy town en route, a little after dark the lusty voices of the blue-overalled porters of Sevilla tore me from a stupor whereupon I found my bags in the clutches of an Aleizegue (a famous giant of Spain) and the strongest portiero I can remember ever having encountered in all my wanderings. Not satisfied with one man's load, he and each of his tribe wore on his waist a heavy belt studded with iron hooks on which was attached a second man's capacity. (Tips, too, are doubled in Spain.)
Again I kept the hotel bus waiting, while I opened my trunk which was inspected by the consumos. Naturally I should not have had a trunk with me, but I did not feel that it was safe to send baggage on to Paris until I got to Madrid. Why this extra examination I could not ascertain, and being an unaccompanied woman in a land where women do not demand reasons, I didn't brave any man with an extra interrogation. In Cadiz, I heard that "nice" women do not go about alone, so I was almost too intimidated to ask if my room had been reserved. This timidity became real embarrassment when, on entering the lobby of the Inglaterra, the porter in unpardonable gaucherie but apparently without discourteous intent dropped my luggage with a resounding bang and the announcement "Una señora sola!" (A woman alone!) Having a letter to the American Consul and his wife who live in the hotel and had been apprized of my intentions to stop there, I rose to the occasion and ordered the entire hotel office to announce my arrival to the American Consul. As the Italians say, that put him and the audience "al posto" and they perforce accepted me as one of those independent English dames who have long traveled outside the bounds of domesticity and masculine authority. Before ten o'clock (the hour Spain dines and the hour the stranger will dine if he be comme il faut) I sent up a note to the Consul saying that I hoped to see him and his wife the next morning and then had my dinner served before the balcony in a delightful camera – where I am now writing.
Every little while I am drawn to the window by some strange and distracting sound. Already I find myself hanging over the iron grilling, very à la Española, filling my nostrils with the perfume of orange blossoms as 'tis borne out upon the night air that happily is no respecter of hidden away gardens, creamy-skinned damsels, frantic husbands and duennas, or jealous lovers. It is good to feel myself succumbing to the leisure-making processes of the Spanish climate and customs. The persons who ramble below my windows appear to have no industrial incentives beyond gaining the simple necessities of the day. They are at liberty to enjoy the evening as they were free to take the siesta in the early afternoon. That applies to all classes.
So you can see I am full under the spell of Andalucía. From my balcony I behold the first rays of the sun as He strikes the Giralda tower on which the most changeable female, a bronze figure of Faith (oh, happy fusion of ignorance and wisdom) turns like a weather-cock to the winds flaunting her bronze banner of the great liberalist Constantine. This tower was designed by Gever who introduced algebra into Spain during the twelfth century when the Moslem was about to terminate his renaissance in Sevilla, Córdoba, and Granada.
In the same Two-Hundred-Year epoch of prosperity shared by the Moors and Jews of Spain, their contemporaries in Europe, beginning with Godfrey de Bouillon in 1095 to Edward I of England in 1270 (forgetting not the seven others including Richard Cœur de Lion) had called the barons from their donjon keeps, draining off two million savage followers of the Cross in the Crusades against the Turks who had taken Jerusalem in 1096. Those of the eight armies of "Knight Errants" and riffraff fortunate enough to return, made great stock of the relics brought from the Holy Land, selling them for fabulous prices to anyone who could pay, all of which explains the great store of odd bones and splinters to be found in the church collections of Europe.
With the waning enthusiasm among the crusading Christians Ferdinand El Santo (1217-52) arrived at the Mosque of Sevilla, having taken it with a formidable army clad in metal visors, hauberks, helmets, greaves, fighting hand-to-hand battles with ax, spikes and arrows.
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The Giralda tower has been spared principally because gunpowder was not used in Europe until the siege of Algeciras in 1343. So there she stands, rising above every other building in Sevilla, unshaken by war and earthquakes that have been too numerous and devastating, and still carrying the golden floral decors of the cultured Arab.
Yesterday I stood in the Giralda on the level with these ornaments and feasted on pastoral hill and dale of the surrounding country. Below me were the Alcázar gardens where once reigned the Moorish queens amongst the Sultan's slaves and concubines, and where the crescent banners of the Arab Abd-el-Asis established other North African rulers in Spain (711).
I was amply repaid for hurrying on to Sevilla in order to attend the feast of May 21st when one hears the full Cathedral chorister with a special organ program. The service excelled even Rome. For a couple of hours I stood before the high gilt reja enthralled with the formalities and fervors of sense-stirring music that culminated in the utmost exaltation of Christian-pagan rites. The same day I returned to this most beautiful of the Spanish Cathedrals seeking to refresh me within its cool battlement walls built over the foundation of the old Mosque adjoining the Giralda. The feeling of tremendous space is caught within this architecture covering 124,999 square feet. The 100-foot nave and overwhelming length place it third amongst the world's Cathedrals. On entering one is attracted to the right side of the transept where stands the conspicuously handsome tomb of him who gave to Spain's glory the credit for the discovery of the Western Continent. This memorial was previously erected in Havana, but after the Cuban disaster was transported to the city that first proclaimed his daring worth.
If only one could flee from the sight of the beggars! A few of the muy pobres, tired of wandering in the streets, are always standing outside or praying before the stations and gilded saints, or by the golden gate set up between worshipers and the silver shrine in the Capella Real, where lies Fernando, founder of the Gothic line of kings of southern Spain and Castile (1217-52) and raised to sainthood (1671) for having begun the burning of the Moors.
Yes, one must take one's history with one's travels. Incidentally in this "deliverer of Sevilla" after the five hundred years of Moslem rule, one discovers the cousin to St. Louis. The latter, having set the boundaries between France and Spain, died attending a plague-ridden people of North Africa. Fernando El Santo is said to have passed on to his son, Alfonso the Tenth, some of his political talents which may have been the seed that flourished in the son (Sancho Fourth) who, being estranged, resorted to arms against the father. At any rate Sancho Fourth begot Fernando Fourth and Fernando enjoyed an uproarious seven years, leaving the crown to Alfonso Eleventh, "The Very Just."
In Alfonso Eleventh we have one of the busiest romancers that ever delighted in seraglios. Therefrom issued the characters for the next series of blood-curdling errors besmirching the careers of his legitimate heir, Pedro the Cruel, and Pedro's several bastard brothers. Regardless of his "left-handed" offspring writers have chosen to deal kindly with Alfonso Eleventh. They find in him much to talk about. Donizetti in "La Favorita," an opera (1842), tells the story of Leonora de Guzman (one of his mistresses) and Fernando (his kinsman) who, having won the battle of Tarifa in 1340, was created Count of Zamora and Marquis of Montreal. The story goes that the King, knowing the Marquis's love for Leonora, presented her to him in marriage. Fernando, hearing almost at once that she was the king's mistress, restored to the king both the lady and his new rank, retiring to the monastery of St. James de Compostella where he was soon joined by a novice, Leonora, who obtained his pardon and died. One surmises that the opera runs more or less to facts.
Pedro (El Cruel) with his rapacious mistress and accomplice, Maria de Padilla, is buried under another hallowed stone in the Cathedral. The old Spaniards, unlike the present Dean of Westminster, had no compunction about entombing Pedro in all the poetic glamour of his hard-ridden desires. Nowhere, with the exception of the incestuous Roderick Borgia (Vice-chancellor of the Church, Arch Bishop of Valencia, a criminal in Spain before he bought the papal chair) does one come upon a more complete archvillain and born murderer than Pedro El Cruel. Albeit he did not hunt human quarry with the hounds like the son of the great Gian Galeazzo of Milan, his sword is strung with the lives of his mother, Mary of Portugal; his wife, Blanche de Bourbon, whom he accused and had condemned by a perfidious council of bishops for incest involving a brother Fadique, who before the marriage he had sent to meet Blanche in Toledo. Added to these were two women cousins, three brothers, his head minister, the brother of his mistress, Don Juan d'Aragón, and countless of his subjects. Of his three illegitimate daughters, derogating from the title, two of them, Isabel and Costanza, he married to the Duke of Lancaster and John of Gaunt, brothers of the Black Prince. Beatrix, the third daughter, became a nun.
If we may go on with this deviation from the subject of the Cathedral, when still a young man we discover Pedro reduced and blockaded in the castle of Montiel on the crags of the Sierra Morena. There, according to the prediction of his long dead child-wife, he passed under the Torre de Estrella to final capitulation. A short distance from this castle he was met and slain (1369) by the remaining natural brother Enrique, first of the line of Trastamara, who having at last settled the old feud, realized by that assassination his ambition to take over the Crown.
Enrique reigned eleven years. In this line of the middle-age forerunners of the golden period of Medieval Spain, we note favorably that his son Juan First died at thirty-four in an honest game of tournament. En suite came Enrique "El Enfermo," who was all that "infirm" implies. Catalina then took the regency, only to be dominated by Doña Leonor Lopez, until Catalina's son, Juan Second, assumed the sovereign duties. He in turn abandoned public interests for literature. Enrique El Impotente (1454-74), the next king, is described in Spanish history as "indolent, weak, and alternately vicious and full of errors." His reign was fraught with civil wars which in the end forced him to resign in favor of his sister Isabel. She was married to her second cousin, the strong-willed Fernando "El Católico" king of Aragón. They initiated the Inquisition, vanquished the Moors in Granada, quelled the Jewish powers, and became great with new fortunes for a united Spain (1474-1516) that continued with the record of Church, Crown and Serfdom.
In the Cathedral are some grandiose paintings scarcely crossed by the rhombic rays of daylight. Better still are the priceless fabrics – robes spun of silk, silver, and gold – alongside jeweled chalices, patens, reliquaries and miters which with other splendors annually make worldly peregrinations into the street processions of Corpus Christi and Christi Domini. At these events the great diamond crowned Madonna afire with jewels, San Fernando in knight's armor of León and Castile, Rufina and Justina, the martyred Sans, and Santiago with his baton (every figure a personification of glory), come out into the 20th Century amongst thousands of worshipers, proceeding from the church to the Alcalde or Mayor's balcony back to safety in the vaulted treasury.
The unique Sieses dance performed with castanets by the chorister in Philip Second costumes is given once during the Setemana Santo, and on three other occasions during the year. On Good Friday the Miserere is sung. In the same week the Queen washes the feet of twelve old dames who are said sometimes to faint from an exhausted state of hysteria.
The feria, or horse show, brings Spanish custom into the open and has been attractively illustrated by the postcards I inclose. If they are true to color this floral display of gypsy-like garnishing of carriages and carts must be the most gorgeous extravaganza of the Spring season.
THE more one sees of the home city of "Figaro" the more one senses the blood of the Moor dominant over the early Goth, whose last sovereign, Roderick, gave way under the African swarm that covered the Peninsula and remained overpowering rulers for two and a half centuries, before the Goth returned to the re-conquests which were not conclusive until the 13th century.
This morning I have been in the Alcázar (accent middle A) built by Prince Abdurraman, enlarged by Yussuf after the Alhambra on a smaller scale for Pedro El Cruel. It is the key to the soul of Sevilla or the modified culture of the East, an exotic spot even in the times of Abd-el-Asis and his Arabs, who took the city from the Goth Roderick (709) demanding, according to the Moorish law, One-Hundred Christian virgins, Fifty rich and Fifty poor. 'Twas there in the Patio de las Munecas amongst the slaves that Abd-el-Asis found Roderick's queen, a former African Princess, who promptly kindled the "idle passion," led him up the shining steps of ambition to the Precipice of Ruin. This luxury-loving pair, drugged in seraphic dreams, were murdered by the Damascan Caliph and their bodies entombed no one knows where.
On entering the Alcázar one becomes nonplused by the character of the fortified walls. The passage inside takes almost the shape of a Roman sottopassaggio. These walls served to protect the Royal Palace both before and after Ferdinand (1217-52) raised the Christian flags over the fortress.
Crossing the Patio de la Monteria one confronts the portal of Don Pedro with its Gothic runes, declaring that "the most high and powerful Don Pedro by the Grace of God, King of Castilla y León, ordered these castles and fortresses to be erected."
Inside I stood futilely trying to follow the indescribable blending of old colors bringing out the contours of Arabesque borders, tiers, domes, roofs, arcades, horseshoe-shaped arches, lacy curves and carvings that only the Moor's accurate knowledge of geometries could produce. There under the hungry eyes of his mistress, who witnessed all from the Mirador, Pedro, to his dedecoration, put into action the awful declaration, "I am El Rey Justiciero."
The most splendid part of the chain of fantastic apartments is the Hall of the Ambassadors. It is a conglomerate of late Moslem and Mujedor of the Spanish Renaissance. On these walls that have buffed so many cries, curses and intrigues, run bands of Moorish plateresque and ungainly female heads. Below is a fitting congregation of busts, said to be the portraits of all the good, bad and inconsequential kings of Spain. In going over the Spanish history of the "Reyes y Jefes de Estado de España" I have counted one hundred and eight, beginning with Ataulfo (414 A.D.) and ending with the present very beloved Alfonso 13th.
But, caro mio, one of the objects in bringing you to me in this place is to show to you the trail of the scimitar brandished by the young, blond, and handsome-featured Don Pedro. In this patio are the porphyry pillars supporting a Moslem arch under which, on the marble pavement, after five centuries, are the stains of Don Fradique's, his brother's, blood. Into the same court was dragged the body of Prince Abu Said after he was murdered by Pedro, who coveted the great ruby worn in his green turban. That jewel was later given in settlement for a national debt by Pedro to the Black Prince of England, when he came to Pedro's rescue during the war waged with his brother Enrique de Trastamara. This celebrated stone you probably recall having seen in the Tower of London, where it smoulders in the Royal Crown of England.
Pending the Easter festivities, the present Royal Family occupy the upper chambers of the Alcázar, apartments that are not accessible to the public. But the gardens – the ancient pleasure paths of many sovereigns, are open the year round. There nothing remains of death's-heads or deathbeds. Nor does the profusion of laurel and roses red have anything to suggest of the violent deeds of former intemporizing inmates. Cross-shaped flower plots of the old orders of Catholic nuns resanctify the older earth and preach the gospel of living things. Midst marvelously groomed hedges, Arabic fountains and baths, one simply ceases one's silly thinking and is content to be a harmonious part of the beauty and stillness.
All the gardens of Andalucía have the same atmosphere. Unmolested by the demon of discontent they sing with beauty, and that quantity is copied throughout Spain. Every person of any wealth at all affords one. When the space is small it becomes a glassed "Solarium" which has many advantages of comfort, if lacking the promenade and vistas. One of the famous small gardens of Sevilla lies within the walls of the villa of El Condé de la Torres de Sanchez Dalp who is the famous plantation owner of Andalucía. His garden is about a hundred feet square, and set with pepper trees, oranges, blooming plants and palms. Steps inlaid with tile, lead down from the house in a walkway that is decorated with columns, jars, old iron, benches, and flowers blooming from niches. Seen from the garden this walk is framed by a beautiful Moorish arch. A pergola invites one to the right and trellised windows and tiles demand attention on the left. Frescoes painted over plaster walls (similar to those of the Alcázar), vines clinging here and running there, cast a network of charm over the whole, and leave one, as I have said, content to cease one's silly thinking in order to be a part of the harmony of it all.
The Famous Bullfighter of Spain
From a Painting by Lopez Mezquita. Madrid
NO matter in what direction one goes in Europe it is impossible to get entirely away from old associations of Rome. This afternoon I was meandering about the gardens of the Alcázar when, turning a hedge, I bumped pell mell into two of our compatriots from the American Academy on The Jenicolo, one of whom had grown a disguising beard. We engaged a carriage, much like the old vis-à-vis we used in Bologna, and drove to the Paseo de las Delicias, which, taking on the social importance of the Pincio in Rome, is a fashionable driveway. Following the principal avenues of the park, a number of buildings are in process of erection. They are going to house the 1927 Ibero-Americano Exposition.
Yesterday morning I drove around the remains of the 166 Roman towers and castellated town walls dating back to Cæsar and Pompey, and, after finding the Roman-Moorish aqueduct that still brings the waters from Alcala to Sevilla, I sped onward twenty miles or more over bad roads to the ruins of a Roman amphitheater and the site of ancient Hispania said by Madroza to have been the first Latin-speaking town outside of Italy. Imagine also my standing on the ruins of Trajan's Palace in this part of Spain! And a short journey would bring me to the high old Roman town of Medinaceli.
It is surprising how many great Roman names had their origin in the Spanish colonies. The Emperors Theodosius, Honorius, Hadrian, and Trajan were natives of this country. Seneca of Córdoba, who became a real person to me when I had seen the bronzes of him in the Museum of Naples, was said, like Marcus Aurelius, to have spoken Latin with the accent peculiar to this country. Peleyos, the 12th century Spanish bard who followed Homer in his epic style and subject matter, must have got all his inspirations from these monuments of Roman domination in Spain before Rome weakened through Greek infection of luxury.4
But to get back to yesterday's drive – I took another direction branching from the road leading towards Sevilla, arriving in Castilleja la Cuesta visiting a little palace where the hero of "The Fair God" (Hernando Cortez), first conqueror of Mexico, died in 1549. The wing of this palace adjoins the buildings occupied by an English order of sisters to whom I had the privilege of presenting myself with a large box of American bonbons sent to them by an acquaintance in Chicago.
I found these sisters to be among the most informed persons I ever met. They know all about Mussolini and President Coolidge and I presume Will Rogers! No international news seems to have escaped their vigilant minds. With the exquisite faced Mother Provincial I visited their snow-white chapel. The extensive gardens were sunny with the poor tots of the township who came each day to receive gratis not only instruction but a nourishing merienda. The types of families from whence these children came were in evidence all along the route, peasants who gained a slack livelihood during the farm season when work is available on the lands of the well-to-do.
Coming back through rather interesting country, passing the squalid outskirts of the city, I stopped in Triana. It is the languid community in Sevilla where one's olfactories constantly detect garlic and the cocido stew. To be exact, it is to Sevilla what Trastavere is to Rome, more consistently the bed of the old city where the business of living has been going on uninterruptedly since the days of the Roman Empire. It takes its name after the Emperor Adriano who was born there. What historical fact could make it more Roman than that?
Now you understand why I am thinking of you and your terrace. If I could only tell you how many wonderful benefits I gathered there during those far more than happy three winters.
IT was certainly good to have news from the "Four by Four." May I ask you to pass this letter on to them that I may not have to repeat in my notes to the other two.
I was thinking of you yesterday in Triana. My object there was, let us say, a little business compelling to the Pottheist! In that dingy corner of Sevilla are several of the oldest potteries in existence, and I rummaged around in one ancient factory that was for me a little bit of Paradise,
"Shapes of all sizes great and small
That stood along the floor and by the wall" . . .
a realm of clay products fashioned by the hand of the born artisan – a perfect world of disordered wares splashed in striking contrasts of color and design. Garden accessories tumbled alongside tea sets and tiles rising in drunken heaps all over the place. Don Quixote and his good palfrey Rosiante were prancing on earthen wares in every direction, repeatedly in company with Sancho Panza and the Burro, again romancing with the shepherdesses or "even as you and I" doing battle with the windmills! (Pardon me, perhaps you do not!) These incidents were sketchily drawn, even to the kernel of Cervantes' message embodied in the scene of the library where the niece and housekeeper have summoned the priest who, abnormis sapiens, is putting the books on trial – holding them responsible for the disappearance and probable undoing of Don Quixote. Alluding to him, none of the Spanish plate is so complete in rendering the affairs of the beloved madman as the famous 1818 English series reviving Cervantes on the old blue and white English china from the potteries of James Clews of Colbridge.
In Spain one becomes enamoured of tiles – principally the old ones. I have developed almost a collector's zest having from Cadiz carried in my handbag three precious red ones presented to me from the floor of an old Moorish house then in the stage of reconstruction. From such reconstructions (some of them discarding tiles from the 12th and 13th century) many of the roofs of Coral Gables in Florida and other Spanish-effecting communities in America have been built. Cyrus F. Wicker, I understand, has bought hundreds of thousands from the small towns of Iberia and Andalucía.
Having in mind to add to my nucleus of genuines, in this old shop I asked where such a miracle could be performed. Much to my consternation a most polite manager came forward to give it his consideration, which attention sent me on a tour accompanied by him and a couple of workmen. They dived into cracks, and dust of decades, that had settled over the several courts and sheds, finally to dig up some ancient colored tiles that had once served for the models of the modern reproductions. Following that success we visited the long departments of wet clay and wheels. There the relation of Pot and Potter to Man and his Maker was revealed in the exquisite proportions being so easily and I might say carelessly turned out. Needless to remark none of the workmen had even heard of the "redoubtable" and mystifying "dynamic symmetry" and ratios. They were all unconsciously creating "linear units" having that surprising sense of accuracy and distinction with which the Gods have endowed the brain-handed artist. Some of the men were turning the queer long spouted water jugs one sees in the market stalls all over Spain. Finished, they, like our Indian waterpots, have, as you know, by process of evaporation the virtue of maintaining liquids at a drinkable temperature despite the sun's undivided attentions to mother earth and are the most indispensable of all the simple commodities of the Peninsular restaurant table and household.
To arrive in the pottery section of Sevilla one crosses an old bridge, where a collection of quaint barks receive their quota of freight bound for the piers of the Mediterranean. I saw several larger vessels from the Americas that had come over with grain and other imports. These wharves are only sixty miles from the sea and mark the navigatable point of the Guadalquivir.
When you are here next year you must bring your water colors for sketches of this vicinity. Also you will want to get a picture of the scenes on the roof gardens.
Last week from the windows of a pension, I looked over a roof terrace that disclosed everything, even the family skeleton. These activities (by the guides called "life on the roofs") end with beginning of extreme heat. 'Tis now getting to be the time of year when families are contemplating moving down to the lower stories until summer has passed.
Don't forget in self-defense to adjust your program to the schedule of recreation hours, otherwise you will be aimlessly trotting about with no place to go. Beginning work at ten the "Juans" amble home at twelve or one and do not open their stores again until four or five. They place a little card on the doors to that effect which is not the most pleasing thing in the world to read when one goes out at the last moment determined to buy postals.
Apropos to railroad tickets, one may take advantage of mileage books sold by the 3000-kilometers, and cut one's fare in half, at the same time be free to come and go on any day during the year, the only attention necessary being to have the ticket stamped before boarding the train.
Needless to say after days of constant going I am beginning to be tramp-tired. Last night I went to sleep over some excerpts from Isadore of Sevilla, a 6th century scholar who claims to have rescued from oblivion the choice statement that Alia, a Spartan warrior, invented dice during the siege of Troy. Naturally anything that recalls the courageous Helen gets down to fundamentals which discredit the most careful of subconscious selves. In consequence, that oversoul of me which simply will not behave, promptly fell into weaving a dream from the doings and impressions of yesterday. Somewhere on this side of Censor I found me midst a collection of genuine Greek vases where black-lined warriors and silhouettes (after making a few Raymond Duncan gestures) calmly stepped into life and pantomime. Paris and Helen and Menelaus were there "having it out" whilst the place became eerie with shadowy forms of gods and the lesser deities. The scene changed, as dream products usually do, but not before Helen led out the Fates and in this delightful illusion advanced holding a bejeweled ivory die in each upturned palm. With the changeless expression of Michael Angelo's Pythia, she broke the silence saying, "They are only plaster of Paris." And that idiotic pun brought me to reality and my coffee, and thus to writing you before meeting an appointment at a studio near the Alcázar.
DAY before yesterday I came near completing my education in Spanish tiles or azulejos, ancient and modern. I had a selection of old and new ones packed and shipped to Valley-Bridge for the Rose Garden, where you may at length study them for yourself. The old ones are twice the thickness of the poor imitations manufactured to-day. I was told that it is impossible to reproduce the same quality in color of metallic lacquers and lusters so artfully developed by the Moslem. The Arabs inherited the secret from the Semitics. So it happens that the Spanish tile, probably originating under the Persians or the Egyptians about 1500 B.C. in the time of the Old Testament, arrived via Arabia to Spain and is now generally known as the Flemish or Dutch tile that was popularly used in the fireplaces of the 16th century English and Scottish castles.
[ quite agree with you in what you say in your last letter with reference to my attending a bullfight. Like you I have no desire to or curiosity about brutal exhibitions. But here in the Peninsula it is the rage that no one is allowed to overlook or dismiss from mind. For instance, on Sundays I must see from my windows the thousands that disgorge from the electric cars and dash across the plaza, towards the Bull Ring which is not distant. Then at this moment, on the plaza below, fresh and presentable horses are being harnessed to the shafts that have imprisoned the worn bony creatures of the night shift. All the joy of the morning goes with the sight of those miserable frames of bone and stiffened sinew. Many of them are in the last stagger before being relegated to the dealer who has a contract to furnish the horses to the managers of the Bull Rings. One's resentment rises against the conditions and educational systems or national consciousness that permits these poor beasts after a life of servitude to man to be so ungratefully beaten through to its last breath of usefulness into the arena or more cruel tortures. Six horses are sometimes killed by one bull. I have heard that the vocal cords of the horses are cut in order that they can utter no groans of agony when they are disemboweled.
Sevilla is the home of the bullfight. 'Tis said by Spanish historians that the game was established by the Moors in the 12th century which one is loath to accept as a characteristic of the Arabs whose athletic sports developed the delicate arched foot practiced in 25-foot jumps on level ground, and whose closest friends were the Kadischi, or the Kochlani (that more famous race of horses described by Niebuhr as the animals for two thousand years preserved in the pure line from the studs of Solomon and beloved as the devoted steed of battle which rescued fallen masters from the perils of the field).
The first bullfight seems to have been recorded in 1405 and took place in the Plaza del Triunfo in honor of the birth of a son to the Enfermo Enrique Third of Castile. At that time it was not so degenerate an amusement as it is to-day. Then knights who had never had the advantages of humane education, mounted in full armor on pure-blooded Arab stallions, presented a game where horse, rider, and bull had an equal chance. At that epoch the object of the competition was, if possible, to preserve the steed by quick maneuvers and to give the palfrey itself an opportunity to enter into the spirit of the contest. In 1499 a bullfight was participated in by Cæsar Borgia and Alfonzo, held in the Piazza before St. Peter's in Rome. Alexander Dumas' account of it does not mention horses having been used. In the recent bullfighting exhibitions in Rome (1923) given for the benefit of the mutilati of Italy, horses were covered with padded leather and were buffeted but not injured.
At this moment Canero, the famous bullfighter of Portugal, is giving hair-raising performances of the medieval methods and is said never to have lost a mount. Of course, the Portuguese game is still a brutal farce, yet it is certainly one step forward in the game as it is conducted in any Plaza del Toro in Spain or South America.
In a paper that was published in Madrid, I read a little announcement covering two square inches perhaps, reporting that a manager of a bull ring had been fined five hundred pesetas, or in normal exchange one hundred dollars, for having filled the abdomen of a horse with hemp after disembowelment and two days later pushing the animal out again in the ring to be the objective of a charging bull. Inasmuch as several old horses can be bought for five hundred pesetas, this law is said to be seldom broken.
The Spanish popolo, captivating as it is, like the popolo of Peru, has at the present rating very little conscious duty towards an animal. Only the few have ever thought of extending their love to them. Ethical judgment has never interceded and since their own experience has taught them nothing but the harsh natural laws it is not surprising to find this cruelty. Also a nation under so much artificial restraint must discharge the abderian-blues. Until Spain produces educational leaders in numbers the populace will continue to misuse animals with passion-doped senses. The English and American Humane Workers have representatives in Madrid and in consequence the two princesses, Infantas Doña Beatriz and Doña Cristina, are enrolled in support of the work. Initial steps have been taken to introduce the humane idea into the minds of the school children but that cure will not be very effective until all children are made to go to school long enough to really learn to read and write. It will doubtless be several generations before the principles of the movement ever reach the understanding of the people. In Spain the fruits of knowledge (for the many) are still a forbidden vision and violent emotion is the spice of life and religion. And yet one is not insensible to the change – the slow ferment of a hidden life, or a phase of new orientation that is in the air.
I am told that opposition is growing in Madrid against the Corredo. Two of the chic men of the Capital refuse to be seen at a bullfight. Many Spaniards naturally have that disinclination. No doubt Primo de Rivera will bring some humane action when he gets around to it.5 They from Madrid say that the queen, a true granddaughter of Victoria, wears glasses that blot out the gory scenes she is forced through political measures to witness. The English and American residents I have met have for the most part come to enjoy this Spanish sport.
The first Sunday I was here, Juan Lafitte, painter and brother of the sculptor who erected the monument to San Fernando in the principal Plaza, asked me to join some other Americans and two Spaniards for the Corredo. "Señor, I am not a savage," was my reply. He was stunned, but he remained polite.
The matador of that afternoon's performance I believe was Nicanor Villata, who has won the "Golden Ear" medal stamped with the spear of the matador piercing the ear of a bull. This medal has been won by only four or five living experts in the arena. Villata has a method all his own. When the toreadors have finished goading he faces the charging animal, evades him and manages to pat him on the flank. Sometimes he feigns sleep lying down in the ring. The bull being misled thinks the game is over, off guard, becomes easy prey and is dispatched with celerity. All this the matador has done within 20 minutes, for if he has not finished on the sound of the bell he is dismissed from the ring in disgrace. Villata has nearly a thousand notches on his matador's spear which is not unglorious for one whose career is yet only four years old . . . with a salary of forty thousand dollars per annum.
Among other things, Señor Lafitte informed me that by order of the Crown, respectful to sex even to the animals, mares are not permitted to be slaughtered in the bull rings and that only males can be entered.
In this province are many vacados or training corrals for the fighting bulls. Don Pedro of Larreatequi, forbear of the present Duque de Veragua, established one of the famous bull farms of Andalucía. These fighting bulls are advertised throughout Spain.
Luckily I saw at a cinema not only a bull ranch but the presentation of the Easter Game which opens the season as an established ritual of the Nation. On these occasions His Majesty is said to join the Grandees and populace in risking high stakes on bulls and toreros (toreros being the title for all bullfighters). This picture of the procession de la cuadrilla led by the matador and espadas, presented all the players from the dazzling picadors to the hospital carriage for the wounded, the garnished mule team that drags away the carcasses of bulls and horses.
Such a contest begins when the king (or mayor) throws down the key to the bull cages, and the bull comes pawing into the arena to meet the red muleta. Sharp spears soon form a halo of streamers about the beast's shoulders. Blood trickles down in a shining solid necklace leaving discolorations in the sand. If the bull is not impatient enough the crowds cry for burning darts and so our helpless fellow creature is worn down by torture and made safe for the espada to deliver the blade between the shoulders to the heart.
Following the Easter feasts the Plaza del Toro opens in every town large enough to support one. In villages too small and poor to afford an amphitheater, stakes or lists are built around the main square where the natives watch the ceremonious shedding of blood from the roofs and windows of the surrounding houses. Old horses fortunately are too valuable to be used in these Sunday butcherings. These are exhibitions given by venturesome boys who are anxious to become professionals.
Relative to Sports . . . In an antique shop here I saw a set of eighteenth-century English engravings which depicted not only the disgusting blood lust of the cockfight but also a scene in a bull baiting corral where a dozen or more dogs were being tossed to threads. It is not to be forgotten that bear baiting was the favorite New England Sunday sport until the game was made unlawful by the Puritans principally on the grounds that no one should enjoy himself – especially on Sundays. And considering the cruelty of the fox hunters and the Ingleses who permit the animal to be devoured by the chase-maddened hounds, one must conceded that all the medievalism of to-day does not thrive in Spain. Besides take a look at the dollar-hounds of the U.S.A. and the same snarling-for-power class in other parts of the globe. Furthermore, as to the Corredo, one can attend a bullfight in several towns in the Midi of France, a custom that has come over the borders with a mixed race, but nevertheless countenanced by the French Government. "So that is that," as Schopenhauer has said, exerting himself in his essay on Women.
IF you could be with me this morning you would not have to leave the hotel in search of a stage setting for a Spanish play. With me things begin at breakfast time from my window where I am imbibing a great deal that is the life of Sevilla. Being beset by a restless spirit that calls me early, I know that I am the bane of the cook's existence. I regularly ring for coffee about eight o'clock – before the fire is started.
At this precise moment the Señoras and Señoritas – those I'll wager who have "had the last word," or think they have – are following the angle across the little park on their way to Matins. Nearly all of them wear the mantilla which is light enough in texture to expose beautiful hair.
Spanish women take a great deal of pride in the coiffure. I never saw one that didn't appear to have just come from the piendora. Some of them comb the locks back into straight severe lines to a low Psyche knot, but I think the present styles favor the high coil and many little curls to frame the face. In all cases every little strand is in place, and a little old tradition seems to nest in each fold of the lace that drops from the high comb. Shingling the hair is of course unheard of here.
And, my dear, about the same hour an early Andalucíano wearing a tall crowned broad-brimmed felt dashes along in his fringed topped leather carriage driving a span of small, sleekly groomed, brightly harnessed mules of a breed that suggests Royalty and speed! He, too, has some special business at the feet of the Virgin. Maybe her name is not Mary but Carmen! You will forgive my levity when I explain that one of the two "sparking" places the women seem to rely upon is the church. Very safe and very conducive to the right temperate forms of yielding!
How often have I wished for you and the other members of our "Four by Four." I would this instant take you downstairs and push you into a bevy of the energetic and irresistible carnation venders who are ever on the lookout for the stranger. You would eventually tear yourself away – but not without carnations! Then, for this afternoon's diversion we would count on the motivas de la Calle Sierpes, a very narrow center which is always preparing to tempt the tourist and where the Andalucíano shows himself to perfection. There too, under the duster of the book merchant, Sherlock Holmes runs wild with Don Quixote – that embodiment of Spanish psychology of the zenith period of Spain.
Cervantes began "Don" here in Sevilla when, by reason of debt, he was detained for a year or so in the old prison.
The Sierpes is a veritable circus at certain hours. Ticket sellers are partout. One is pursued by them. You should hear me trying to say in Spanish, "No, Señor, I will not see a bullfight." After one reaches the hissing state they are discouraged, but another fellow wants you to buy a chance. "No, thanks," I repeat, "I do not want a fortune – I have no passion for the lotteries," – and in the end I buy a chance! In sequence to a few more attacks I've renounced all self-control and also reached the last word of my Spanish vocabulary. One day in desperation I resorted to the word "caramba" which for all I know may mean G – D – . Anyway it was just the word I needed for saying that my patience had its limitations and at once I found myself scot-free!
The Loteria Nacional is a state-wide institution and must be the inspiration of many a castle that never has been and never shall be built. The great Gordo of December 20th, aggregating fifteen million pesetas, is the chance that feeds perennial hope of a fortune in thousands of hearts. 'Tis the subject of conversation from one winter to another. The revenue on tobacco does not net the Spanish Government the returns gathered by the gambling system. Italians too have this craze but not to the madness that is practiced by the Spaniard.
We were straying along the Sierpes . . .
Here a few days ago I perceived a crowd staring towards a figure that had turned the corner. It was a Señor with a coleta neatly wound in a knob at the back of his skull. As a Sevillana would say, "Madre de Dios, it was Nacional the Second!" This torero, famous Lothario over two continents, on the coming Sunday is to deal the estocado (death stroke) through the shoulders of six Miura bulls.6 The Miura is a breed of black, crooked-nosed, narrow-chested beasts, tame in a sapling corral, but so brave and ferocious in the Corredo that matadors are paid extra fees to meet him in battle. Herds of this breed are raised on the famous ranch near Sevilla owned by the Duque de Veragua – a Grandee and the last of the direct descendants of Christopher Columbus. His name appears on the placards announcing the Corredo "and 8 bulls, colors red and white, from H. E. Duque de Veragua."
The famous "Nacional" is reputed to be rich and ready to retire, but popularity holds him in that most vulnerable of spots – the seat of vanity!
He, as I was saying, came down the Sierpes disporting himself. Agile as a serpent he glided through the crowds, contained and with the assurance of an espada who understands the hearts of women as he knows the nature of bulls. Not being content with the stir he had made on the streets the Idol entered one of the big coffee shops taking with him a trailing atmosphere of red-cloaked capeadores and explosive banderillas.
And on the Sierpes no one is as much engaged as Señor "Armado." Wearing his Fedora at a defiant yet indifferent slant, he struts along in an easy exulting manner, his eyes making momentary dessert of every passing woman. The duennas pretend to keep the weather eye on their fair damsels, but what can a chaperone see in the smiles of the Señoritas when the young ladies are walking ahead? Thus it is arranged for the heart smasher to put into service the prerogatives of his sex. In fact flirting is the first thing expected of the Spanish men and so the lure and the lured parade on!
I have been searching for a shawl, but so far have not found anything that would enhance green eyes without wrecking the purse. Most of them are expensive according to the weight of silk and embroidery. I watched two American men become involved in the purchase of two newly manufactured shawls (of pattern and colors designed for the flashing beauty peculiar to dark regular types) hoping their selections would not eclipse the ladies who were destined to wear them.
Accompanied by an M. P. and his wife from Cardiff (the last week in May), I attended a party where I had the opportunity of admiring shawls worn by the women of Sevilla who enjoyed the feasts and dances given in honor of St. Hyacinth. The fête was held before a temporary altar lighted by hundreds of candles and erected in an old court in Triana, the ancient part of Sevilla that is called the Gypsy Quarter. In a huge square surrounded by tables, Spanish maidens in the Provincial costume were keeping time with tambourines and castanets, clicking heels and swaying to the rhythms of the Provincial dances. A fortunate few, those who had reached the dancing stage of courtship, were reeling around in the arms of their lovers. Otherwise the girls danced sedately in groups while the stout duennas, looking on from their places at the tables, were discreetly libating champagne or having just another little cup of chocolate while her Lord husband, bibbling his everlasting canes of Manzanilla, maintained a perfect decorum.
No Americans were monopolizing the floor – for once! And only two others were present. The sensation of the evening was the appearance of three popular actresses who came unaccompanied. Several unattached Spanish gentlemen (one whom I knew) asked them for dance numbers. They appeared to have just come from the footlights and were very highly "made-up" after the Spanish idea of much black around the eyes, white faces and carmen lips. Like many of the other women they wore the "velo," that coquettish arrangement of the red rose and mantilla. Their jeweled hands fluttered the most delicate and priceless fans. Not a single one of them smoked. I have yet to see the Spanish woman smoke, – but perhaps that is because I have not been to the low dance halls.
This fête was in the essentials like all the other social affairs of the people of Sevilla – very gay but restrained. 'Twas a fitting opportunity for displaying the feminine foibles and therefore a little market for prospectors of wives.
On an elevated platform – a very elevated one indeed – the Infanta Marie Louisa, with her blonde daughter, sat good-naturedly among a party of attendants from the court. I should have been delighted to see Her Alteza fall into the enticing steps of the Agarrado which is unquestionably adequate exercise for reducing. The Agarrado I think ought to be mastered by anyone who can do the Charleston!
Now don't tell me that you are doing the Charleston too! With cutting your hair "to experience the psychology of change and to understand some of the reactions of the modern flapper" – I will not only fail to recognize "Alice" but the bust I made of Alice will surely be far out of date.
LATTERLY the heat has been too much! I shall not risk remaining in Andalucía until July. This afternoon I nearly collapsed on the Alameda. The Alameda being an avenue of commonweal known as the Alameda de Hercules is so called after the two Corinthian columns that were supposed to have been left in this territory by the Roman conquerors. My mind was hazily wandering around after some Julius (or Theodoric) when the shrill note of a rooster called me back to the local color. As my eye prospected around for the gentleman I wish you might have seen what pranced from the gutter to acclaim public approval. It was a perfectly shameless remnant of the cockfight plucked of all lustrous plumage of natural illustriousness, but solemnly bearing the wounds of Victory.
I had never seen a fighting cock after the match. I never wish to see one again either before or after the fray. Although his injuries were healing, a few drab wing and tail feathers and the terrible pair of spurs, presented an altogether too disgusting personality to risk snapping my fingers before.
This bird had escaped from some near-by training establishment. An Englishman who has visited these places tells me that this game is a most scientifically conducted amusement among the Spaniards. Innumerable cocks are kept in cages within the rooms of a regular house having an azotea (roof) for sunning, and garden for scratching. Perches are placed in the boxes only at the roosting hour and removed in the mornings. A hundred birds or more take their course in training and are matched in pairs with the same number of birds of another establishment. Seven pairs are allowed to brutalize one another at a single performance, each contest usually lasting from ten to twenty minutes. Oh, I have learned heaps from the English Sportsman. The fighting weight ranges from three pounds twelve ounces to five pounds two ounces. The object of the training is to keep the cocks within that weight, and therefore they are weighed each day and fed accordingly.
But the preparation for the last hour begins first with producing fighting-blooded stock. Breed, as to color, being of no particular importance, lineage alone is the point carefully guarded. Training, in cases of overweight, compels the cock to fight his weaker brothers that have for one reason or another been discarded for blood tasting in the sham battles. Sometimes the spurs of two-year-old gamesters are put into gloves and allowed to hack about in the training bin without being able to pierce each other. The spurs are usually cut away, the stubs serving for attaching on other spurs of steel which assures a more gory showing. If a cock naturally loses his spur in the act of fighting a new one is immediately wired on. A cock of extraordinary hereditary fighting ability and constitution sells for around seventy-five or one hundred dollars, but the everyday fodder for the cockpit are worth three to five dollars each.
At these tournaments the stakes made by the two establishments range from $200 to $500. The gate returns being divided between the owner of the cockpit and the establishments matching the birds.
There is a great deal of cooperative betting. Cheating is said sometimes to stir an audience. A greased cock or a cock with its spurs poisoned with garlic (which causes the wounds to swell) is considered not the squarest sort of sport for a Sunday afternoon. For the reason that the audience wishes to see a fair fight the formality of running the spur into lemon after the fowl is weighed dispels all doubt of this kind of cheating. The battle proceeds with each bird trying to push his spur into the brain of his antagonist.
The cock I have seen to-day had his comb and crests cut off. He had been plucked about the neck and breast and shorn of heavy feathers, the idea being that the bird must be kept cool and not have anything about the head onto which the other can lay hold. Unbeautiful beyond description he was a walking symbol of the national taste for blood or at least the taste of the majority of citizens promenading along the Alameda.
The Alameda, a parkway set between two drives, attracts nearly the whole of Sevilla during the street fairs where (in season) a galaxy of performing stars light up the midway from dusk to dawn. Anyone who relishes the sight of dwarfs, fire eaters and monstrosities, can usually find them spangling there.
Had'st thou been here we might just now have had a little tilting. We always clash on the nuances des mots. I see a word in the above paragraph that you will find très provoquant. We begin about like this . . . "Nancy, why do say the 'common people'"? (Nancy explaining) "I use it in a sense of world-wideness, in a sense of understanding and feeling . . . born equal if you will have it so . . . even sisters and brothers . . . but nevertheless persons who have little in common with me when they can enjoy a cockfight." As you once very inconsistently put it "They were born on the other side of the tracks!"
Whewwww. As I have already remarked it is a warm evening! More anon.
I RECEIVED the Marcus Aurelius clipping. You and Marcus are both pitiless in your admonitions to live each day as if it were my last. That is just what I can't do "nothing else but." If I became a slacker I should accomplish nothing in this land of a million wonders. Among other things for to-morrow I've promised myself a glimpse of the Casa de Pilatos, a "Gran Villa" owned by one of the most hospitable gentleman of Sevilla, the Duque de Madinaceli, but to whom I did not send my letters of introduction.
His palace is interesting. The townspeople tell how about four hundred years ago one of the women of the San Sidonia family sent architects to Jerusalem where plans were made after the Pro-consular Palace in which Pontius Pilate lived. Fiction or not, it makes a pretty story and a plausible one since the Spaniards have always been faithful to their African tastes and traditions.
Set into the wall of an old house on the Calle del Candelejo near the Gran Villa is the portrait of Pedro the Cruel. On the same spot Pedro when returning from one of his nocturnal prowlings, is said to have murdered a man with his own hands.
So far I've not visited the Casa Sanchez Dalp, which I understand, can be seen by applying to the hotel manager for special permission. This house is reputed to be lined with the rich Moorish antiques gathered from the old Arabic dwellings.
The Duke of Alba (to whom I did not present my letters) is another disciple of the royal custom of maintaining a home in Sevilla in order to participate in and lend his patronage to the Easter festivities. Visiting his palace brought your father to mind for its historic associations not long passed with the romantic period of Empress Eugénie (Godmother to Princess Victoria Eugenia of Battenburg, the present queen of Spain) and Napoleon, the Third. They stopped there after the end of the Second Empire. Full-length portraits of them, probably at the age your father knew them at court, still command one's attention on the grand stairway down which the faded little (Spanish) Eugénie, only ten or twelve years ago, taking her last farewell to Sevilla, descended to her carriage at the door opening upon the graveled court.
Sevilla, of course, has its fascinating old Jewry. From the doors of these houses thousands of the rich sons and daughters of Israel were driven out by the Inquisitors. Thereabouts lived the sweet-souled Murillo, but only a garden remains to identify the studio.
That reminds me that Murillo is the only one of the great Sevillanos represented in the Provincial Art Gallery, an old convent converted into a museum. The collection is destitute of Vargos, the exponent of the Italian Renaissance masters, and that strong independent and thoroughbred Velásquez. However, to make up for this loss, Cano, who in character was the Spanish Benvenuto Cellini, had the grace to leave his fine works profusely over the city.
In going into the details of Cano's career one is highly entertained with the accounts of his quarrels and impeachments. A gentleman born in Granada, he migrated to Sevilla to do his first works, but after an altercation with one of his contemporaries whom he seriously wounded, he took up residence in Madrid. There he was accused of wife murder. Of that, too, he was cleared which left him with sharpened wits for greater endeavors in sculpture. With a few students he developed the best of the Spanish schools of polychromed carvings. Unfortunately the influence of these masterpieces carried the multi-coloring into that imitation of life which in the 18th century ended in a decadence that spoiled good taste in altar decoration.
When I have visited the hospital of La Caridad with its tiles said to have been designed by Murillo, and the Hospital de la Sangre (blood) begun in 1546, I must say au revoir and perhaps farewell to Sevilla. I shall not be ready to go but time rowels me on my way – living each hour as if it were my last!
Before going on to Córdoba I shall forward to you a few photographs given me by the Marques de la Vega Inclan, a great enthusiast of his native arts. It is one of his houses that has recently been given to the city of Sevilla to serve as the Washington Irving Memorial. It is to be called "The American House." The family of our distinguished author and diplomat has sent a number of autographed letters with books concerning this province and other parts of Spain. More of these fascinating old houses and patios are to be put into order to invite tourists to the towns of Granada, Córdoba, Madrid, Palma, Santiago de Compostela, San Sebastián, Hulsca, Tarragona, Valencia, and Valladolid. Thus equipped to receive, it is apparent that Spain after centuries of indifference to the foreigner now intends to open her great Hispanic doors to the tourist caravans whose ingression to France and Italy brought demands that have established the custom of "rooms-with-baths" in the small hotels. Such demands will likewise stimulate Spain and soon enough she will find herself being swept into the tide of western modernism that has recreated so many cities of Europe.
Cheerios – miles of them!
IF I had my "unity in being" as a reformer I should be having an altogether unhappy time, for poverty is a much more salient monster in Spain than in the States. Then too, when we of rich America go among our fellows abroad, we are keen on discovering conditions which we have relatively overlooked in our own cities. I have just come up from Sevilla. The last scene to impress me there was two policemen weighing bread sold from street carts. In this manner the bakeries are prevented from cheating the customer.
In Sevilla, begging is emphatically against the law. Once outside the town, however, mendicants are legion at every wayside station scattered on plain and hill. The trains are simply bombarded with cooing-voiced young vagrants who with hands out-thrust scramble to the compartment steps insistent in the same appeal, "Gentle Señora, una donnetta!" Back of them on the gravel platform were the parent pobres, miserable old men and women, some blind, lame and ill, and all repeating their heartrending tribulations imploring "for the love God a little moneda." In a Catholic country these tattered shibboleths are a rebuke to the beloved Mendicant Orders of St. Francis of Assisi and the Dominics that in the 13th century were organized to win the poor, but soon fostered by priests to accumulate wealth for the Church.
At first I had not the hardness nor the principle to refuse them. However, when one's small money runs out and seeing that the number of entreaties are only increased by such relief one can offer, – well, I came to the decision that the only thing possible was for me to close my eyes and leave them, poor "Domini canes," to the throes heaped upon them by social diseases born of ignorance and threadbare traditions.
If the tourist American will only as he travels through Spain do a little to aid the work of the English and American organized humane missionaries, they could in time help the populace not only to be kind to the animals but teach them to be kind to themselves. After all, most poverty and cruelty grows out of the hardness of the lives of a people who have not the knowledge of things that lighten the burden of living.
The American tourist brings to mind the many altercations one witnesses on the trains, in the hotels, and with cab drivers. Most of these scenes are produced by the unrestrained, unthinking, non-reading and therefore unprepared traveler. In any country the tourist has come to mean to the native servitor just exactly what the individual brings or exposes of himself. A smile and a fair tip will quiet any extortionate cabby. A sustained temper will adjust any mistake on the bill. As Clara Laughlin says, "multa bella" will carry one from one end of Italy to the other. The same combination I am inclined to believe would extract friendliness from the most benighted person in Spain. The urge to enjoy what they have to offer as one finds it is what makes for harmony. Those who thirst for satiety in the lighter amusements are going to be met with little response and consequently will scamper back to the parasites. The culture seeker proceeds like a Roman in Rome and goes normally about radiating his satisfaction and not his discomforts.
But to get back to my niños . . .
Before I discontinued the distribution to these persevering little beggars, I offered a box of bonbons piece by piece. Packs of hungry puppies could not have been more savage. The recipient of a single sweet was so mercilessly attacked by his brothers and sisters that my fortitude snapped. Hopelessly I found myself saying – like the Spaniard – "Hombre!" and gave no more hand-outs.
This habit of begging is so general in some parts of Southern Spain that in self-defense one is forced to accept it as an established profession. Yet either by reason of shiftlessness or generations of poor government, this milieu is really half-nourished. I find them a "Spanish fly" to most of the joys of being in this wonderful country, for regardless of pains they are as active as the venders of agua fresca or the women whose cries direct one's eye to the great, shallow trays of special cakes of the towns.
And that reminds me, – I paid dearly for a single pink crust bought from one of the latter. (One must sample all the sweets of Spain!) She gave me a cake, grabbed the duro (dollar) from my hand and vanished from the earth, that being one of the best tricks that is played on the foreigner. The train creeps on at 12 or 15 miles the hour and there is nothing to be done about it. Let me tell you that the fugacity of the Spanish coin had been demonstrated to me long before that little incident!
The cost of living in Spain is exorbitant, especially for the average family who must labor much more strenuously for a little comfort than the same comforts afforded in either Italy or France. Here the ten-cent store cannot exist because money is hoarded by the father, handed on in gold to the son and by such methods never goes into investment and circulation. Even the wealthy are content with six per cent and never take a chance on the American type of promotion. Therefore the natural resources are still to an unbelievable extent undeveloped.
Take this for an everyday example. I went into a little shop to buy a fan. They were all marked, so my being a stranger did not raise the price. For an article we would value at not more than a quarter in America, I paid one dollar and a half. The fan was of paper and of third-rate manufacture. I suppose that all this really comes down to the antiquated tools and preferred methods of farming added to the deplorable fact that the majority are still the victims of the landowner or ruling class, consisting of the Grandees and affluent "Dons" who have accumulated fortunes from the fields of hemp, flax, grain and groves of oranges, limes, lemons, olives and almonds.
In the distance on the long clover-red ranges one can count numbers of herds of cattle, horses, sheep and swine always under the protection of a picturesquely mounted and armed herdsman. The range stock seem to have better care than the herds in our American West where, as you have said, so many thousands each year are sans pity left to die of cold and starvation. These Peninsular ranches are interspersed with orchards of figs and beautiful vineyards, where also are grown the sugar cane, beets and lots of cactus on which is indifferently cultivated the insect that gives out its ruby liquid called cochineal. Enough to sicken one with the old-fashioned striped candies, isn't it?
AND now before the mirage presented in the event of receiving your letter, we come together by the remains of Córdoba. I speak as if the town lay in a dead heap . . . a dead sleep would be more exact . . . or a town remembering much and disinclined to tell the half of it. I feel as if I had arrived at some distant outpost of the Universe with nothing left to do but historically walk back to the eighth century when Berber Tarik and other terrible bearded ones sounded the clarion that was to herald the city of endowed colleges and libraries. There is something stifling in this atmosphere. I couldn't live under the weight of it. If to-day there is anything akin to "pep" it must be of an esoteric nature that discloses itself only to the residents of the town, in the bull ring, or at the cavalry tournaments . . . all orbits unknown to my little world.
However a city that can boast of being the birthplace of the stoic Seneca (3-65 A.D.) who went to Italy to tutor and attempt to restrain the lascivious Nero during the years of his early youth . . . a town that has attracted the greatest Moorish scholars of an age (eighth century to the twelfth century) when the rest of Europe was harassed by the corruption of the church . . . a town that could support the Omayyad Caliphs and later enroll El Gran Capitan and the unmentionable nun Hrostwitha, who distinguished herself by succumbing to a wicked Moorish bath . . . such a place can afford to become dull or live in the peace that is bred of ability to be happy within itself and on the simplicities of its local production.
The most energetic persons I have seen were the peasants coming in early this morning bringing in their vegetables from the country. Their little burros being packed almost to a standstill you can imagine how much life was left in them. I observed one young man carrying the load and the donkey carrying his lovely gypsy-like wife. They were simply charming . . . and so completely happy.
All commercial activities like the Guadalquivir at that point, have dried up. I do not see any of the hand-tooled models of saddles and other specimens of the art trades developed by the Arab. Even in the Spanish museums one finds comparatively few examples of the Romantic chests of Córdoba leather that came into prominence with fabulous wealth and departed with bold deeds of sixteenth-century heroes. All of that belongs to the cinemagraphic camps of pirates and tales of doubloons spent and ducats buried. Even the layout of the town resembles broken parts that have been jumbled and settled back together without attaining a single square block. The weather being uncertain, this morning I started out in a joggly side-seated cart, driving through narrow-souled little streets that were in themselves a challenge to the generous gatherings held back of the patio doors. Following the ruts of centuries, I finally arrived at the angle of the map and rim of the city that dropped into the declivity of the river, which really brought me to the faubourg and at the gates of my objective.
There rose the Mezquita. Its tower is more simple and stately than the Giralda at Sevilla. One enters the mosque through the court where an old fountain, built by the first Moorish Governor, fixes the middle age epoch preceding Charlemagne's matchless thirty years, which began with banishment from his own regions after an unsuccessful attempt to murder his father and gathered force when he went into the service of the Moslem Prince in Toledo, whose daughter he wedded and soon placed in a castle at Bordeaux.
First serving as a place of ablutions, the Mezquita font is now given over to gossips of the vicinity who tarry while their water jars are being filled to overflowing. Once this court merged into the mysteries of the mosque. To-day one must pass the massive oriental doors in the crenelated wall to come upon the thrilling and famous expanse of graceful columns. Under this 35-foot jeweled ceiling one is speechless with appreciation. Great was my wrath when dawned upon me the import of the deplorable scheme of destruction originated and carried out by the stupid Bishop Don Manique, who prevailed upon Charles Fifth to overrule the objections made by the municipality and erect the Christian church in the heart of this Mohammedan masterpiece.
Wherever we go we must wonder why, after several thousands of years, man continues to choose gods that are so hopelessly human, demanding always the destruction of everything outside the understanding of his province and age. Will it always be our brothers' cry "God deliver me from the re-consecrating feet of him who differs from me in opinion"?
But to go back to the Mezquita. Despite the pitiless removal of two hundred columns hewn of choice tinted marbles and jaspers from various quarries over Spain, a telling number still support the fantasy of hundreds of horse-shoe arches and the mosque retains its indescribable solemnity of purpose. The arts of the twelfth century Moor still rule the atmosphere, but of the original structure measuring 742 by 472 feet, half of it has disappeared with the wars and whims of the Christians.
The prevailing perspectives in the Mezquita seemed to be awaiting to receive the Arabian pilgrim. One can imagine Averroes, the erudite Grecian disciple of Aristotle, joining the sons of Islam who worshiped before the Mirab. Then there was Al Rosi who brought the sciences of rhetoric and chemistry, the surgeon Moses Maimonides, and Ibu El Boal the botanist, Zaid and Altulmander, historians, and Tudela the great Jewish philosopher whose genius flourished with the culture that between the eighth and eleventh centuries admitted the Semitics in huge numbers.
The type of Arabs that developed Spain is by some persons not included in the category of high peoples. I was interested in what Chas. J. Finger in his little articles on lost civilizations had to say about the cultured Arabs of the period in which the Mezquita was erected. So to hear him:
"In many branches of science the words still used exist as indications of origin: algebra, alchemy, alkali, alcohol, almanac, elixir, talisman, zero, azimuth, nadir, zenith. Their literature, too, is peculiarly rich, though thus far few of the West have given it much study. Sir Richard Burton and Wilfred Scawen Blunt are notable exceptions. Arabian theories of finance have been made known to us recently by Nicholas P. Aghnides (Columbia University, 1916) and 'The Origins of the Islamic State' by Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan was printed by the same institution in the same year and translated by P. K. Hitti.
"The Arab belongs to the Semitic division of the white men and is akin to the Hebrew as well as the Assyrian, but superior to either in physique as well as in mental and moral qualities. He is tall and handsome, well formed and muscular, with black eyes and hair, white teeth and skin always scrupulously clean. 'Independence looks out of his glowing eyes; courage, temperance, hospitality and good faith are his leading virtues,' says one observer. 'I like the Moslem,' said General Gordon, 'he is not ashamed of his God; his life is a fairly pure one.' Burton and Cunninghame Graham speak in the highest praise of his temperance and fairness."
Monsignor Ubaid, an Arab and one of the high Prelates of the Church, when I was modeling a bust of him in Rome, told me that Arabic was the most philosophic of languages and that every letter in the alphabet embodied philosophic depths.
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The voice of the Christian organ brings me before the florido altar. After consideration I concluded that this shrine is a perfect Roman symbol of pagan under Christian in the time when the art thirsts of the people were easily quenched. Fortunately the Christian part of this spot has not been assimilated into the original, the latter being like the Arab by nature a quality of inconvertibility.
I must have left by the portal where entered Fernando when he passed into occupation of Córdoba in the 13th century. At any rate it was one of the 16 original inlaid doors of the temple that are still more or less intact. Once outside there was nothing to do but follow a frightfully worn cobbled stone road. It led down hill towards a monument where I was instantaneously rewarded with a smashing view of the handsome 16 arched bridge spanning the river where Cæsar is supposed to have indicated a crossing when he laid siege on Córdoba. The bridge runs a stunning length to a second tier of towers rising against the Sierra Morena Mountains. At the moment of my coming the heavens were overhung with swiftly moving angry-faced clouds. The effect loomed as a thunderous poem that is the history of the city. From the other side the scene was equally impressive. Córdoba sat steeping herself in tragic beauty. To the right of the mosque where the tower commanded the shore were rare Arabic battlements of ancient water mills. Visible also were the parapets of the Alcázar over which poor Princess Florinda flung herself after she had been branded "la Cava."
The banks of the Rio at Córdoba recall a world of Mohammedan song and story. Vermilion-colored baths and gardens of the exceptional Arab flowered there until the contumacious grandson (Philip II) of Ferdinand Fifth and Isabella leveled them. In spite of his austere ban on happiness the roses in the Alcázar gardens still bloom and there is little but the mellowness of antiquity to disturb one's thoughts. Crumbling are the old prison dungeons engulfed in the silences under the Palace where languished unto death the noble Theodofredo after his eyes had been burned out by the half-Goth Witica – later the Archbishop of Toledo.
Around this desolately beautiful neighborhood I loitered until one of those picturesquely laden trains of deliberating burricos passed towards the foothills recalling to me the homeward hour. The clouds had rolled by and so I walked, thereby encountering a dozen pebble-throwing niños so sternly opposed to strangers that there was no expedient but to mete out pennies thereby to melt their dispositions to not let me pass them.
With my map I had no difficulty following the circuitous route back to the plaza and superb equestrian statue of El Gran Capitan. The direction of his cream marble head set into a magnificently armored bronze figure has been the key to all my findings adding greatly to the joy of going and coming.
If you should at this moment ask me how I carry myself I'd be inclined to reply "non bene!" The land of "Mariana" with the present gastronomic regime would test the strength of the mightiest American powers of digestion. Forewarned I have been careful not to partake of uncooked foods, especially salads, and so far have escaped the ill effects from which a number of foreign travelers are ailing. The panaderos (bakers) are ruthless, for the bread is the toughest I have ever eaten. But that is the way Spaniards like it. The food is spoiled for us because it is cooked in a queer-tasting olive oil. And that is the way they like that! They make no bones about telling one what they think of the American cuisine and forgive us, so we shall have to forgive them, especially when as a race they have acquired the gift of transforming so many homely and beautiful things into the order of the unchanged. As Sir Walter Scott once wrote from France, "'Tis a very merry land and which I cannot blame because I sought it and it did not seek me." So it is understood that when I do not agree with Don Español I don't wish to censor him or impose customs and moral standards of the unhampered few upon the too hampered minds of the many. Whatever one's reactions to any condition might be it all comes down to "words, idle words" and reminds us of Washington, D. C., where one is saying "Boo" to another one saying "Baa," both being as near perfection or truth, as natural endowments, education, et cetera make them.
GETTING on to Granada was poky traveling but not so tedious to one in harmony with the fandango dancing rustic as he is seen sitting about cottage doors. Whether a man of the country comes down from the backwoods of the Tennessee Cumberlands or from out of an uncivilized waste of Sardinia or Spain, nature has made him an individual, who with the rest of humanity cries out childishly to be good, but failing, sins and cries again for pardon and mercy.
This none too tender woodsman of Spain has the virtue of being just what he is and carries about him the grave assurance of one perfectly poised in his sphere. Strong in passion and grief, there is that attractive and unfaltering sagacity which demands his farthing eye to eye and takes his revenge blood for blood, and withal beautified by kindliness of thought and action to a friend. I have yet to hear an Anglo-Saxon official living in Spain say that he did not love "Juan Español." Perhaps the affinity is based on these very primitive virile qualities that Americans and English share with the Spaniards, meaning that each in his own fundamentals is just plain ordinary "he man."
On the slow trains numbers of these fellows from the second class coaches swing to the ground (often where no station exists) and leisurely make off toward a distant ranch. Usually he is alone. With velvet coat over his arm, a handkerchief bundle over his cane or gun, the tall-crowned sombrero shading a head set seriously on its thoughts he strikes a sort of Indian toeing-in gait down the zig-zag path of the donkey, while all the world from the train respectfully follows him in speculation. In this land where every rock and clod means a hand to hand tussle, not only does he win respect but also a deal of sympathy and admiration. He doesn't know it but he is awaiting his Garibaldi and maybe his standardizing Henry Ford. The stamp of his 15th century ancestry will not be proof against newer educational reforms or the machine which is gradually being introduced through the north.
I had the pleasure of talking to Don and Señora — who own one of the famous olive plantations on which is operated a factory for pressing the cream from the olive. They told me that in this part of the province, owing to slight rainfall, the life of the soil is maintained only through irrigation. The people have inherited the systems of canals fed by main aqueducts coming from the mountains that were established by the Arabs. The distribution of water is governed by switches that are turned off and on at the ringing of the community gong. Any person who takes advantage of the water supply is tried by his neighbors and punished according to the gravity of the case.
PORTRAIT OF A SPANISH LADY
From a Painting by Lopez Mezquita. Madrid
Another charm of the country life amongst the constituents of Andalucian plantations is the gentle hospitality shown to the storks. These birds of good luck are never killed by the legend-fearing natives. One is touched by the old-worldness they lend to low thatched cottages. When these dwellings are built near a stream often three or four fagoted nests are visible on one roof and as many on every hay stack surrounding the stable yards. Usually the birds stand picturesquely over nests weirdly exposed to the elements. Indeed they appear to be so closely in touch with the life of the people one is not surprised that they acquired the reputation for cradle-filling.
In Sevilla I noticed that Mr. and Mrs. Stork are a choosey couple. I could scarcely believe my optics when one day I saw the shapes I had admired as iron decorations on a church belfry calmly lift wings and depart. If I had a house in the country I should certainly coax a family of these long-leggers to live with me and give the children of the county a chance to see that storks really do exist outside the story-book, and to some other purpose than stealthily leaving tiny sisters and brothers.
Coming hence I was alone in a compartment with two Germans, one of whom was acquainted with every phase of the country along the route. On passing into the ravines of the Sierras near Granada he startled me by addressing me in English calling my attention to a height, about which he related a story that is evidently authenticated in the tale of Laila, a Moorish maiden of great beauty and purity who loved Manuel, a youth worthy of her. The father's disapproval of the match prompted them to elope only to be pursued and overtaken near the precipice. They climbed to the top of the rock and seeing that death was inevitable from the arrows the father had discharged at them, threw themselves from the projection to perish in "The Lovers' Leap." Southey has perpetuated such a tragedy in "The Lovers' Rock," getting his inspiration from Mariana, 1798, a ballad De la Pena de los Enamorados.
Around Granada all the rocks and rills have half their beauty in historical romances. Generations of ghosts inhabit old castles and watchtowers outlined against snowy peaks. During summer the winds from the mountain elevations moderate the heat thereby idealizing the climate of a city seven hundred years the stronghold of odylic forces of the North Africans.
I should have preferred arriving via the mule train, over inroads one might take at Sevilla. The castle towns of Alcala, Gandul, and Orsuna offer a fascinating pursuit of routes to old haunts of robbers. The valleys and treasure-caverns of the Nevadas before the sighting of the "Vega de Granada" are in themselves enough to entice one to the saddle of the burro. You see not having a vagabond companion certainly has its drawbacks – at times!
THINK of my having the confidence to register in a Spanish posada that has not the custom of entertaining the tourist! Not being a "regular" tourist brings its complications and its rewards. The very first evening I swallowed a spoonful of Marcilla, that being a blood pudding seasoned with garlic, after which I tried to drown my sorrow with a libation of sweet Spanish wine. I was glad to retire early to my apartment which, by the way, has the insufferable atmosphere of being a bridal chamber! (Not that I am applying my wits to nostology!)
As usual I've acquired all the benefits of an outlook on the main plaza and in consequence spent the night wrestling with the sleeplessness enforced by the noctambulism that always takes possession of a Spanish town beginning around about ten o'clock.
Now if there is anything more fatiguing than the constant chatter of women it is the constant babble of night-hawking men who congregate around coffee tables in general symposiums below one's window. In lenience I tried mildly to assume that they were discussing the affairs of the Riff which compel the diverse interests of many Granada families, but knowing that a mere war cannot keep folks up-and-doing all night I decided that they must be addicted to confraternities Cicero records of the De Senectute that was organized for testing the conversational and dining capacities of males and which in this instance was being attended by the whole dear night-adoring public. Whatever the business was, so much talking should teach them something. At any rate, by the time they had concluded and ere the voice of the whip-cracking cabmen had subsided, I saw the dawn fly into a heavenly view of the Nevadas. But I had no more than snatched two winks before I awoke to the little bells of the milk caravan. Oh, Lord, that the day should dawn so soon!
No, I was not angry! I quite follow the proverbial saying of this country that "if you are vexed you will have two troubles instead of one." Besides I could never be so cantankerous in the face of a goat. In any part of Europe they seem to have been endowed with human precociousness. So I rose to take in the procession, searching at once for "Billy" who in Naples unfailingly leads the flock to the door of each customer and astutely waits with the remainder of the herd until the last she is milked. But here I perceive that he is never among those present. I presume that his absence is due to another phase of sex consciousness, or vivid moral standards so in evidence throughout the Peninsula.
I wonder if you in your travels in Italy ever tasted a strangeness that has the flavor of any unnamable ingrediant one's imagination can conjure into the coffeepot? I had sampled all the known and unknown concoctions drunk in Europe after the war but never had I been served with the shock to the palate that came in the form of my first cup of coffee in this hotel. The whole trouble was not with the gracious bean but the cream from one of Granada's famous little goats that had not been particular about the brand of cans she ate. One must always call for cow's milk in a Spanish posada or begin the day with disaster.
However, regardless of this series of circumstances, the stimulating thought of being near the Alhambra sped me out through the city to climb the "mountain of the sun." One does not approach this shrine that radiates the anomalous glory of one nation and creeds lying within another, without steeping oneself in Washington Irving's accounts of his journey to Granada and his life in the Alhambra. As our illustrious ambassador he was said never to have been able to make a public speech because of nervousness, yet with his fine appreciations, knowledge, good taste, and sensitive grasp on the things human and beautiful, he has gathered more light from the fulgency of this monument of Romance than all the other writers put into one. I believe that this fact is also admitted by the English. So here I refer you to Irving and knowing me as you do you can judge that I am getting out of the privileges of casting about what you called "the microscopic eye." In the language of K. L., I've been "translated," but only to wobble backwards into ecstasies which place one among the happy though mortally limited –
TO this paradise of views, shifting illusions and jasmine summer reveals herself in full abandon. All the way up the Alhambra hill, along a circuitous road shaded by English elms, I was making lackadaisical effort to recall the significance of Wellington and his elms in Granada only to see Gothic arches formed of living branches praying above me. Then I remembered other Gothic arches in that virgin forest on the sand dunes of Lake Michigan where the "Four by Four" used to take spiritual ablutions. Here on the Alhambra one's thrills are in these days tempered by the heated ozone and earth, or extracted from the ripples on dusty fragments still betokening storms of yesterdays. The thought of friends and trees in a cleaner, newer soil makes a gleamful thread on the tapestry of my present surroundings.
I am seated on the thither-side of the Gate of Justice, a place long since deserted by the alcaide who measured out the law to citizen and slave. On the hither-side of that wall is a gypsy woman, a very enterprising broad-smiling one, who fortunately had this book of illustrative post cards on which I am writing. With her I staged one of those performances, a series of extended gesticulations, which with a bit of Spanish conveyed all I had in mind anent the Chief of the gypsies who for years was the thriving off-shoot of the intimate life teeming around the Alhambra. Every time I have come hence (one usually descends to the city by a more direct path) I have been prepared to greet the "Chief" – to buy his photograph and make a neat escape. Having arrived many times at the top after meeting all the other members of the clan, I found myself athirst for the sight of the principal actor, and was beginning to suspect some one of having him waylaid. Had not Mr. Calvert introduced him saying, "'tis incredible that a human being could be so great a nuisance and still remain in good health"? Converse with the black daughter of the sun unraveled the truth. She indicated, with several crossings of her breast and jingling of bracelet, that the Chief had put away the ancient Fortuny costume and gone on where all the tired truants go. (So ends the sequel of Mr. Calvert's story!)
This ought to interest you. Before one reaches the esplanade one pauses on the other side of the "Gate of Justice" which bears a sculptured hand below a key, the combination that is said by the gypsies to hold the magic spell which still surrounds this mountain of earth-crusted rock. This secret emblem of the Moslem has stirred up considerable talk amongst literati. Irving says "they who pretend to some knowledge of Mohammedan symbols affirm that the hand is the emblem of doctrine, the five fingers designating the five principal commandments of the creed of Islam, i.e. fasting, pilgrimage, alms-giving, ablution, and war against infidels." – Then he continues to narrate how the key was emblazoned on the flags that were used in opposition to the Christians.
Delving slightly into Al Koran one finds that the epileptic descendant of Ishmael, inspired and outcast son of Abraham (Mohammed, 570-632 A.D.), gathered into his religion most of the Biblical legends, particularly those of Isaac, Solomon and Abraham, with the story of Jesus brought to him from a Nestorian monk from Syria. The fundamentals of his religion admit that Jesus, like Moses, was an earlier prophet of God, sent like himself to warn the people. First of the five duties of the Mohammedan was to acknowledge "there is but one God and Mohammed is his Prophet." The second entailed the answer to the Muezzin who calls the prayers five times a day from the mosque. Third, to fast every day in the month of Ramadan from sunrise till sunset. Fourth, to yearly give a percentage of all possessions to the poor, and lastly, to make one pilgrimage to Mecca.
All that may be symbolized in the five-fingered hand, but inasmuch as the "Gate of Justice" was a seat where the law was expounded, one can also explain the hand as representing the "five-fold book" of Moses (or the "Thoran") that was well known in the time of Christ as the five books of the Hebrew law. The disciples of Islam were Semitic and in thought differed from the Jew principally in the assertion first proclaimed by his wife, "There is but one God and Mohammed is his Prophet." It therefore seems plausible that the hand may simply have meant the hand of God (Islam), and resignation to the will of God, the keeper of the city, Mohammedanism being the key to the seven heavens. The seven heavens I believe were interpreted as ideal earthly conditions depicted in Eternity – peace, etc. Then there is another explanation from the Koran, that is of the secret knowledge of five things known to God alone, to wit, the time of judgment, the time of rain, the sex of an animal before birth, what will happen on the morrow, and lastly where anyone will die.
I will wager that the Masons know about that hand and key! Whatever it may signify to them it is evident that Mohammedanism is writ in fives. And to be facetious, there were just twenty-five other strong reasons, according to the Moorish system, for incorporating the hand and key symbol in Mohammedanism, namely the harem. Inclusive of Mohammed's twenty-five consolations was his first wife Kadijah, a wealthy widow of his own tribe, who took him in charge and matrimony at the tender age of fifteen. 'Twas she who first introduced Mohammed as a prophet in broadcasting the news to mystics and religious zealots about the good old-fashioned Biblical method in which Gabriel visited her young man in a dream, leaving him invested with the light of a new faith and in all probability the famous "hand and key." The other reasons came later on the death of this successful woman when the Prophet's life enrolled one widow after the other. Simultaneously with a widow Sonda appears Aysishab a nine year old bride on whose bosom he was to die. Then widows Hend and Zainab and Barra, forgetting not Safiza, the wife of Kenana, whom he had put to death in order to acquire another prize. Number seven was Rehana, a Jewess. Nine proved to be another widow as number ten was the eighth and survivor of all the other nine legal wives.
As ten from twenty-five leave fifteen, they are accounted for as concubines and were probably the houris of that Seventh Heaven brought to him in the wisdom of "the lightning"!
The key having forever been connected with symbolism and idolatry and forever indicative of one invested in Power or in charge of the house (of Rochab) is of course the key that Catholicism has awarded to St. Peter. In fact the statue of St. Peter in the Cathedral at Rome is by most authorities said to be of Pagan or pre-Christian derivation. Certainly the halo was not molded with the statue and therefore may have been adjusted over the head by the priests of San Martino al Vaticano. They could have in turn gotten it from the Emperor Constantine who, nominally Pagan, gave such gifts to the Church when he made Christianity the Roman State religion. At that time the heathen sacrifices became prohibited and all things Pagan (especially statues) were washed, re-consecrated, and hallowed under the dictates of Christianity.7
Early in the fourth century Christians under the Donatist priests became involved in a conflict over the question of whether a priest living in sin could administer the sacrament or no. In North Africa this sect was wiped out by the Mohammedan conquests, and it was these successes over the Christians that led the Moor across the straits to take the Peninsula where they eventually set up the baffling hand and key over the Gate of Justice.
I am still in the Esplanade and if I tried I could face the incongruous half-finished Rennaissance Palace that was to have been a home for Charles Fifth,8 when a succession of timely grumbles and quakes from the earth interrupted and stopped this work. Near this building and below the walks are the Arab granaries and reservoirs carved from the solid rock. Not distant, by the ancient well, a diminutive donkey patiently flaps his ears and fights the fly while the aguador dawdles at filling the huge wicker-covered bottles (cantores) girded to both sides of the burrico's tiny back. The load will grow lighter cup by cup as the water and slips of lime are sold to the persons treading the narrow streets of the sweltering city lying below.
Connecting Links in History of Granada
On April 17th at the little town of Santa Fé near Granada, probably in the Hermitage of St. Jerome founded that year (1492) by Ferdinand and Isabella, Columbus had received the signed agreements from their Majesties allotting him the title of Admiral and one-tenth of all lands and gold he might discover on his explorations. Eight years later, a victim of intrigue and jealousies, he came this way seeking to gain the understanding of his ungrateful king who in the end left him to die – some histories say in Sevilla, 1516. At that time Ferdinand and Isabella (parents of Catherine of Aragón, one of the six wives of Henry VIII of England) were engrossed with fresh triumphs and the business in Granada, a newly acquired city of the Arabs. Columbus represented a very uncertain source for immediate gain. The siege for these priceless new parts of the kingdom of Castile, León and Aragón had been waged with the confiscated wealth of the Jews collected by Torquemada during the Inquisition. Columbus going down the Guadalquivir on his voyage to America mentions having seen a boat loaded with homeless exiles who had been ordered to become Christian or leave the Kingdom. In my purse I have a copy of the edict issued by Isabella and Ferdinand. It reads:
"Whereby we command all Jews and Jewesses of whatever age they may be that live, reside, and dwell in our said Kingdom and Dominions – that by the end of July next of the present year 1492 they depart from all our said Kingdoms and Dominions with their sons, daughters, servants and maid servants and Jewish attendants, both great and small, and of whatever age they may be, and they shall not presume to return – etc. under pain . . . etc. . . . they incur the penalty of death and confiscation of all their property and treasury."
Though 800,000 went into other parts of Europe many there were who adopted or feigned to adopt the Christian religion, thus providing more fuel for the stake-burning progressions of the Church and Crown. Under Cardinal Mendoza, Torquemada zealously collected the last ducat from hundreds of Jewish "Faithfuls" tortured until, promised their lives, they admitted non-conversion. The term "life" was, after the Church had received revenues, interpreted as a "life" in Eternity. Thus all Jews, one by one, fed the conflagration. Read this excerpt by a contemporary in Italy (Machiavelli) who in "The Prince" says of Ferdinand Fifth:
"We have in our time Ferdinand of Aragón, the present King of Spain. He can almost be called a new prince, because he has risen, by fame and glory, from being an insignificant king to be the foremost king in Christendom; and if you will consider his deeds you will find them all great and some of them extraordinary.
"In the beginning of his reign he attacked Granada, and this enterprise was the foundation of his dominions. He did this quietly at first, and without any fear of hindrance, for he held the minds of the barons of Castile occupied in thinking of the war and not anticipating any innovations; thus they did not perceive that by these means he was acquiring power and authority over them. He was able with the money of the Church and of the people to sustain his armies, and by that long war to lay the foundation for the military skill which has since distinguished him.
"Further, always using religion as a plea, so as to undertake greater schemes, he devoted himself with a pious cruelty to driving out and clearing his kingdom of the Moors; nor could there be a more admirable example, nor one more rare. Under this same cloak he assailed Africa, he came down on Italy, and has finally attacked France. Thus his achievements and designs have always been great, and have kept the minds of his people in suspense and occupied with the issue of them."
While Ferdinand and Isabella Catholicized Spain, Martin Luther, "the great liberator of the human mind from the bonds of superstition," was working for his degree in the University of Erfurt in Saxony. Martin Luther, true to 16th century superstitions, had been so affected by a stroke of lightning at his feet that he felt called to go into the Augustine monastery where he wasted his body in fasting and prayer. By consulting Pryde, we see very plainly the conditions that rebounded in the Reformation (1588-1648) led by Luther.
"In 1517 the monks were plying the sale of indulgences throughout Europe. The most notorious of these was Tetzel, who advanced through Germany amid processions of people, the blare of music, and the chiming of bells. When he arrived at a town, the church doors were thrown open, the inhabitants were summoned together, and he mounted the pulpit. He was a robust monk, with a front of brass, a throat of adamant, and an endless torrent of words. He cried up his indulgences with all the extravagance of a huxterer at a country fair, and all the blasphemy of a scoffer. 'The Lord our God,' he said, 'is no longer God; He hath committed all power to the Pope.' 'Indulgences are the most precious and sublime gift of God.' 'I have saved more souls by my indulgences than St. Peter by his sermons.' 'At the very instant the money chinks on the bottom of my strong box, the soul comes out of purgatory.'
"Luther was a professor and a preacher at Wittenberg when Tetzel reached that town. When he saw his students and his flock falling into the snare, his honest nature rose in indignation. Without pondering the result, he affixed to the church door a thesis, denying the efficacy of the Pope's pardons, and asserting that God alone can forgive sins. This was a declaration of war, and he who had given it was startled by the sound he had made. Fain would he have retreated into his privacy; but the foes he had roused provoked him to advance. A vain debater named Eck challenged him to dispute at Leipsic; and there boldly avowed that the word of God was the only rule of faith. Then the Pope, after trying gentler means, sent to him a bull of excommunication; and he was driven to show his contempt for the Pope. On the 10th of December 1520 he invited a company of professors and students to go with him to the east gate of the city. A fire was kindled. He stepped forward in his gown, cast the bull into the flames, and thus threw off forever the authority of the Pope."
Thus reformers rose in other countries: Zwingli and Calvin in Switzerland; Cramar Ridley and Latimer in England; Patrick Hamilton, Wishart, John Knox in Scotland; Calvinists in Netherlands and Lutherans in Scandinavia. Then it was that the Church to save herself got up a counter-reformation. "In the course of a generation," says Macaulay, "her whole spirit underwent a change." All institutions anciently devised for the propagation and defense of the faith were furbished up and made efficient. Fresh engines of still more formidable power were constructed and the most effective of these machines was the order of Jesuits founded in Paris when Xavier, a Basque, with five others including an Alpine Priest, Faber, and The General, another Basque (Ignatius Loyola), who had led them halfway up the hill of Montmartre on the day of the Assumption (1534) to the chapel of St. Denis where Faber in vestments administered the communion which bound the first members of the Order of Jesus.
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But to return to the Arabs and the Alhambra. Within that superb Alcázar the genius of the Moor has engraved the chaste intricate fancies and philosophies that soften the echoing commands of the cruel Catholic sovereigns en suite. He has inscribed there his own prodigious love of life, learning, and the gold-power that inspired the growth of the Christian Kingdom and made it an individual among the art-producing nations of Europe. The Arab bequeathed a deluge of romance unequaled in beauty and decency and held the torch of advancement when Rome was eclipsed in darkness and England lived and fed in semi-barbarism.
So much there is in the Alhambra of spiritual gain and material loss one turns to the motto often worked into the design on wall and door saying, "There is no conqueror but God," being convinced that the Arabs in their uncomplicated religion were more just and sane than the Christians of that day who distorted Christ's idea of humility, wearing it as a cloak to cover greedy paunches and the right of might.
'Tis with the greatest relief that one reads of the fall of Boabdil, last of the great African rulers in Spain. We see him hand over the keys of the city of Granada to Ferdinand who, emulating the graciousness of the Moor, permitted him to fold his tents and follow destiny back to the African shores whence his race and religion had sprung.
Happily the centuries of conflict have not buried the charm suspended over Southern Spain in the works of the civilized Arab. To-day one traces in the Spaniard many of the traits that set the Moor amongst the most chivalrous and loyal men of the earth. The proverbs of Arabia, like the language, have basic (and beautiful) philosophy in generosity, being very arbitrary to the narrowness that embitters the provincial sentiments of Gothic-Spain. So it happens that the spirit of Andalucía is generous . . . like the music-soul of Africa.
ONE of the delights of sunny lime-washed Andalucía is finding every town different. Nothing is the least bit banal. In every direction there is something gripping and primitive in the Spanish soul carrying in its slow current vivid life-giving powers that are thrown up and about like so much natural ore. In the fancies poured out in elegancies of Moorish decoration and the simple beauty of the furniture serving for the utility for which it is made, in the very close-to-mother-earth natures of the people are smouldering the seed treasures of a proud race manured as it were with the dead husks of worn out customs and superstitions.
Granada thrived longer under the momentum of Asiatic influence and is geographically perhaps the most ideal spot ever chosen and embellished by the dream-struck Moslem, who continued to beautify the city and the Alcázar of Granada for over two hundred years after the Christians conquered Córdoba.
The inventiveness of the age was spun into the endless tangled patterns of lacy adornment pressed into the plaster Mudejar domes and stalactite ceilings which throughout the Alhambra spread, one canopy after another, above fanciful walls and metallic-lacquered dados of tile. It being a point in Islamism not to employ the Pagan idea of figures, or portraits, in decoration, they perforce must have been hard put to cover so many spaces with ever varying borders of extravagant geometric design.
In the Hall of Justice are 14th Century touches of color, an impure or decadent note of the last Moors, and borrowed from the Italians. Also the walls of the Torre de las Damas, said once to have been the pleasure halls, have shown up a shy hunting scene, presumably a beguiling and very lax type of wall decoration. In the same chamber stands the famous Alhambra vase on which are outlined timidly wrought tracings of gazelles.
So many changes have come over these apartments since Yusuf first built this tower, it is impossible for anyone to say who dared to begin these infidel or Pagan innovations. As Ismael usurped the throne of his brother, who had assigned these quarters to him, it is well warranted that he had princely inclinations, wealth, and liberties enough for making decorative experiments.
Nothing there is in the Arabic Alhambra of Christian vulgarity or Pagan obscenity. The Christian Kings redecorated several chambers after the Renaissance or modified Pompeiian styles but in the main this Alcázar of the Arabs retains its Moslem character and is free from the cavortings of Cupid and Venus.
Diverting chapters of the private comforts of the Sultan and the Daraxa (legal wife and queen) are disclosed in the basement rooms where the same element of entrancing color converts the Turkish baths into what must have been a domed bower of fantastic luxury. Fortunately, in all the Christian mordacity that followed Boabdil, no one wanted to steal a bath! These chambers were therefore in such fine condition that the late restorations, under the Contreras family, have held them almost intact. In descending to the lounging rooms, where the royal divans are built in either side of alcoves facing the pool and fountain, one steps into an atmosphere of a perfumed dream, which for the Turbaned Pair was made more seductive by sweetmeats of illusion served from the melodious zithers following voices of dancing attendants.
Another elegant, delicate flower of the Mussulman's creative genius blooms in the apartment of the queen. To-day orange blossoming limbs are reaching through the miradors from the fountain-cooled court below, pouring into that ravishing but vacant chamber all the fragrance of moonlight nights, sun, and morning dews. Nothing hints of the unhappy wife of Boabdil and her more unfortunate lover, Hamit, unless it be the sighing of the ancient cypresses without.
I have been daily making rounds of the Alhambra beginning with the first court inside where the Alberca (pool) has provided a haven for golden carp since Philip V, in the early 18th century, lived in a remodeled wing with his beautiful Elizabetta of Parma.
Previous to his reign (1710) the greater part of the Alcázar tile had been stolen, the inlaid woods pillaged, and cedar panels and domes fallen into decay. Not until a hundred years later were the roofs and water systems restored, when the French garrison were in occupation. After beautifying the grounds and making repairs necessary for the comfort of the officers, they forfeit all credit for having restored the roof, etc. when in the act of evacuation, they dynamited the venerable surrounding fortifications and towers, some of which dated back to the Phœnicians and Romans.
Following that catastrophe the Alhambra fell into the hands of the roving bands of contrabandista who, with the camping gypsies and occasional tourist, pillaged the place from cellar to ceiling. Don Francisco is cited by Irving as the savior of the palace (about 1840) when he revived the interest in reconstruction. Of late, the Contreras family have restored parts of it – and the Moorish Oratory on the sandy outskirts of the town where Boabdil rendered the keys unto Ferdinand. This family has given so generously to the Alhambra work that the sentiment was taken up by the government and recently much has been accomplished under the direction of the architect, Don Leopold Torres Balbas, who has set numerous watchmen to guard the floors and flowers from the ever-pilfering fingers of the tourist.
The repairs now going on were not initiated any too soon, for the Alhambra had gotten into such a condition that only a part of it was open to the public. The minions of the moon made the palace unsafe for visitors and the walls had every evidence of being insecure. I understand that those in charge are juggling the question of bolstering the damaged foundations (injured by the blastings of the French) in order to insure the weight of the palace, which, rising supernally from the river Darro, sits in tattered majesty over one of the most fascinating cities of the earth.
As is my wont I am writing on the spot. You can't imagine the disenchanting effect of the modern traveling togs worn by the gaping groups of tourists brushing in on all sides of one's actual and mental horizon. (They possibly feel the same way about me!) I should adore to cast an Arabian spell over this court and watch the Anglo-Saxon robed in flowing and striped garments, take on the lilt of the lark! (Or would they be too self-conscious to be themselves?) Can't you visualize the blue-eyed Emissary from the Court of Uncle Sam so arrayed and waiting in the Hall of Ambassadors to kiss the ruby bracelet on the fat wrist of the Lord of the Harem? I should dread to think of the scramble amongst the caravan of school teachers who have just flustered by – should you insist on completing the scene in the seraglio! Would it not be natural to trick in white throated houris to spin out intoxications from zambras and flutes? Oh, a dreadful thought assails me. . . . Oh, dreadful! What should we do for eunuchs? My party is waxing into complications . . . all but the slave problem which isn't a problem at all with so many American husbands about to serve the non-essentials "de luxe" to the Ladies' Court! However, I suspect after all that the tourist-folk who scurry in and out are better off in the realities of checkered stockings (many worn à la cavalier) and golf breeches, flat heeled oxfords and dotted Swisses.
Some old-time travelers tell us that the types of Americans locusting over Europe are very different from the former leisure class who were at home in European cities before we joined the Allies. One of these anything but ancient mariners, told me that her family scorned the ocean travelers' hotels having found their favorites amongst the older boats that were suggestive of real experiences. The "adventure" in crossing these days during the tourist season must be to get over in any kind of vessel without being trampled or smothered to death! There is no doubt but some day the world is going to lose its charms through standardization of customs, and then we will have to find some way of touring the moon for new discoveries – or be born again.
'Tis tantalizing, sometimes, to one's curiosity, to confront for the third and fourth time the same tourist couples, or small intimate groups. In any guise our compatriots are always much in evidence. Some are gayly living up to the program; others barely living through it, and many saunter along with the très important air of the plutocrat who is going to let everyone know sooner or later just who he is and where he comes from and how he runs that town back in "God's country."
A couple from a hotel near by, whom I last saw in Córdoba, have just stumbled past. I heard her say, "There is one of those stand-offish English women." She is misled by my cane. I'd like to tell her of delightful travels in England and contacts with English people, but she wouldn't want to hear anything so pleasant. She didn't wish to come to Spain anyway. I heard her tell him so in the compartment of the train leaving Sevilla. Besides "the art of the Moors is so entirely futile." – The poor plastic one has lugged all the way from home a load of Don'ts and Grudges and is incapable of freeing herself for the benefits she might derive by permitting herself a bit of human sympathy plus a little respect for things as she finds them. One marvels that she ever attracted that first cousin to a hieroglyphic who by all the Deans and Highbrows is going to know about these Moors in Europe and dig up at least two of the missing links in prehistoric epochs with the syllogisms involved.
Her husband evidently is not precisely averse to facing the new man in himself that has sprung into being on touch with elemental Spain. Travel to him offers an escape from the pretenses of things. As yet he is not altogether a domestic paralytic, merely numb I think with long exercise of a philosopher's patience. They separately have my sympathy even though they do make me shiver with the discord they keep humming between. I believe that he is convinced that one and one are two, while she insists upon the antagonistic singleness of their union and keeps the pediment of their marital temple tottering on its one pillar.
Appreciating the privilege of being free to think uninterruptedly one's thoughts, last evening I quelled an impulse to speak to him in the garden. But I sent out to him thought-vibrations of consolation, for if I know anything about faces he was in a mood of vast unrest. Perhaps he was pining over the eighty thousand Arabic manuscripts that were delivered to the flames in a Granada plaza by the order of Cardinal Ximines, or again he may have been agonizing over the sheer beauty for which his soul had so long yearned.
The chief trouble with my unknown brother must be in having hesitated too long to start abroad. He has digested too many theories, sixes and sevens, and the sap is slow and hot as it rises from the academic ruts. The quickening under the exhilarations of dreams finally come true is painful and he would expand to bursting, build himself an honest to goodness air castle, take in the Bazaars of Cairo and maybe never be responsible to anyone for anything ever again. But a somber profundity has settled into the expression of his eyes. His mouth has a little tight drop and his eyes squint as though his range of thought had taken on the shape of the too bright light seen from the bottom of the well.
Now I have no business talking like this about the pair. Just the same I am glad that I am not that kind of a frog, but a tree toad living where everything is remade for me with the turning of a leaf, added to the hazards of hopping about – like Humpty Dumpty –!
This morning I lost myself trying to find the way to the Cathedral, which presented the opportunity for addressing a comely Spanish woman obviously seeking provender, having on her arm one of those prettily woven marketing panniers. She insisted upon going out of her way in the most gracious act of seeing me around certain uncertain corners.
My dear Comrade, I shall not commit the indiscretion of trying to describe the Cathedral any more than I tried to give the details of the sacred mountain of the Alcázar. Sad to relate my first impressions were abortive. I had the misfortune to draw for a guide an unhappy looking priest whose face was a mask of disease. I couldn't look upon him, and he divested my soul of all religious response.
The doorways to this mine of treasures are infested also with beggars. One marvels at the courage of the priests who can address an audience where these crooked bundles of human dross and misery are ever in sight.
To-day I scouted the lower streets about the river before I returned to the hotel. Some of these byways are stricken with what we would judge as despair. My thoughts had reached the lowest ebb when there came along four laborers bearing the plainest of unpainted rough wooden coffins, broadened in the old-fashioned way for the angle of the elbows. Following the box, trudged one old and bent woman. It must have held her man. At any rate I put my heart right down before her, there being no other means of aiding myself to bear her situation. In Sevilla I had seen a funeral of ordinary pomp. The hearse, ornate with great white plumes at the four corners, reminded me of the processional flabelli of the Vatican. In a painting by Mezquita I had seen a picture of the Gitana as she mourned for her dead child uncovered under the candle light reflecting to the walls of a cave dwelling. All her friends, men and women, gathered about her with guitars and song, while she, after their custom, continued to weep. Such pictures are too suggestive of a grand last party and do not strike one cold . . . like the dumb weak old woman who followed her man on his last trip along the old streets by the river flowing on under the Alhambra.
But come with me back to the period that gave the Cathedral birth. Charles V of France (known as Charles I of Spain) was then King. Gold, yellow gold, was the cry. It was the memorable epoch when this grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella sent to Mexico (1519) the well-known hero (of Lew Wallace's "Fair God") Cortez, who soon presented the King with New Spain.
Cortez advanced upon a people ignorant of gunpowder and mailed armor, a kindly people whose temples guarded their history written in a picture language over innumerable manuscripts. On the annual feast day the Spanish buccaneers permitted unarmed Aztecs to enjoy their convention. When the music and dancing was at its height, the freebooters of Spain fell upon the company, massacring every individual for nothing more than the gold plates worn as adornments on their heads and limbs. Soon afterwards Don Juan de Zumanaza, in the market place of Mexico City made a bonfire of all the parchments and books, with one stroke burying the history of the Aztec civilization in oblivion.
Pending the days when Alvarado and his men were felling the architectures of the Aztecs and a civilization unique in the West, de Siloe was working on his plans for the Cathedral of Granada, introducing much of the classic idea. About the time the first building was finished, news came back from Peru in South America announcing that more infidels and another civilization had fallen under the onslaught of Christian soldiers led by Pizarro and Bishop of Cuzco (1532), who acquired all of the intrinsic properties of the Incas. Thus a beautiful new Christian altar in Granada was ready to receive the wealth, and the Imperialists, with the dignitaries of the Church, offered up their prayers in gratitude for new victories that filled the coffers of Church and State.
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Adjoining the Cathedral is the Sagrario, and behind that is the Royal Chapel and the magnificent tombs of Ferdinand and his queen (second cousin), Isabella. Alongside them is the memorial and remains of their daughter Joanna and her Flemish husband Philip I (The Handsome), whose corpse the first actually insane ruler of the Catholic line kept with her until it was forcedly interred. Following the custom of medieval Christian monarchs their marble effigies are laid out, in armor and crown, before an ornate altar. On the same level with the kneeling figures of Isabella and Ferdinand that appear over the altar, is a scene in high relief of Cardinal Mendoza spraying the baptismal water over the heads of the Moors.
Upstairs, glass cases hold the relics among which is the sword of Ferdinand; the mirror, scepter and crown of Isabella and the casket from which she produced the jewels pawned for Columbus to wage her missionary quests in America. But, no, one thing was missing – the body linen of Isabella, who swore before God that she would not change until the siege of Granada was won! (1483)
I have grown a bit dull about searching out convents and historic churches punctuating the epochs and activities of the Christian kings who visited or lived in Granada. Besides, 'tis more rational to use one's time and strength for absorption on the high lights of the Alhambra and let the rest fade off like so many little ex-votos pinned to the central picture.
Am mailing this to-day, it being enough for the nonce – n'est-ce pas?
ONE could browse forever in and around Granada. Everywhere are the inimitable gypsies or Gitanos, discursive offsprings of the wanderers mentioned by Aventinus in his "Annales Boiorum" as a tribe that refused to shelter the Virgin and Child on their flight into Egypt and therefore can never know the joys of home.
"SUZANNA," EL GITANA
(Suzanne, the Gypsy)
From a Painting by Lopez Mezquita. Madrid
Many writers have romanticized the gypsy of Spain, but no author, I believe, has brought out their character more perfectly than Sir Walter Scott in the crossroads of the destiny of Quentin Durward when he cuts down from a tree one of these "pilfering vagabonds, toques and turbans" as they called them in the epoch of Louis XI, when the Spanish gypsies and half-Moorish mercenaries invaded the valley of the Loire. Scott goes further with his information, and his note (inclosed) on these Spanish hadji is very illuminating.
Gypsies or Bohemians
"It is well known that this extraordinary variety of the human race exists in nearly the same primitive state, speaking the same language in almost all the kingdoms of Europe, and conforming in certain respects to the manners of the people around them, but yet remaining separated from them by certain material distinctions, in which they correspond with each other, and thus maintain their pretensions to be considered as a beginning of the fifteenth century, when various bands of this singular people appeared in the different countries of Europe. They claimed an Egyptian descent, and their features attested that they were of Eastern origin. The account given by these singular people was, that it was appointed to them, as a penance to travel for a certain number of years. This apology was probably selected as being most congenial to the superstitions of the countries which they visited. Their appearance however, and manners, strongly contradicted the allegation that they traveled from any religious motive.
"Their dress and accouterments were at once showy and squalid; those who acted as captains and leaders of any horde, and such always appeared as their commanders, were arrayed in dresses of the most showy colors, such as scarlet or light green; were well mounted; assumed the title of dukes and counts, and affected considerable consequence. The rest of the tribe were most miserable in their diet and apparel, fed without hesitation on animals which had died of disease, and were clad in filthy and scanty rags, which hardly sufficed for the ordinary purposes of common decency. Their complexion was positively Eastern, approaching to that of the Hindoos.
"Their manners were as depraved as their appearance was poor and beggarly. The men were in general thieves, and the women of the most abandoned character. The few arts which they studied with success, were of a slight and idle, though ingenious description. They practiced working in iron, but never upon any great scale. Many were good sportsmen, good musicians, and masters, in a word, of all those trivial arts, the practice of which is little better than mere idleness. But their ingenuity never ascended into industry. Two or three other peculiarities seem to have distinguished them in all countries. Their pretensions to read fortunes, by palmistry and by astrology, acquired them sometimes respect, but oftener drew them under suspicion as sorcerers; and lastly, the universal accusation that they augmented their horde by stealing children, subjected them to doubt and execration. From this it happened that the pretension set up by these wanderers, of being pilgrims in the act of penance, although it was at first admitted, and in many instances obtained them protection from the governments of the countries through which they traveled, was afterwards totally disbelieved, and they were considered as incorrigible rogues and vagrants; they incurred almost everywhere sentence of banishment, and, where suffered to remain, were rather objects of persecution than of protection from the law.
"There is a curious and accurate account of their arrival in France in the Journal of a Doctor of Theology, which is preserved and published by the learned Pasquier. The following is an extract: 'On August 27th, 1427, came to Paris twelve penitents, Penanciers (penance doers), as they called themselves, viz., a duke, an earl, and ten men, all on horseback, and calling themselves good Christians. They were of Lower Egypt, and gave out that, not long before, the Christians had subdued their country, and obliged them to embrace Christianity on pain of being put to death. Those who were baptized were great lords in their own country, and had a king and queen there. Soon after their conversion the Saracens overran the country, and obliged them to renounce Christianity. When the Emperor of Germany, the King of Poland, and other Christian princes heard of this, they fell upon them, and obliged the whole of them, both great and small, to quit the country, and go to the Pope at Rome, who enjoined them seven years' penance to wander over the world, without lying in a bed.
" 'They had been wandering five years when they came to Paris first; the principal people, and soon after the commonalty, about 100 or 120, reduced (according to their account) from 1000 or 1200 when they went from home, the rest being dead, with their king and queen. They were lodged by the police at some distance from the city, at Chapel St. Denis.
" 'Nearly all of them had their ears bored, and wore two silver rings in each, which they said were esteemed ornaments in their country. The men were black, their hair curled; the women remarkably black, their only clothes a large old duffle garment, tied over the shoulders with a cloth or cord, and under it a miserable rocket. In short, they were the most miserable creatures that had ever been seen in France; and, notwithstanding their poverty, there were among them women who, by looking into people's hands, told their fortunes, and what was worse, they picked people's pockets of their money, and got it into their own, by telling these things through airy magic, et cetera.'
"Notwithstanding the ingenious account of themselves rendered by these gypsies, the Bishop of Paris ordered a friar, called the Petit Jacobin, to preach a sermon, excommunicating all the men and women who had had recourse to these Bohemians on the subject of the future, and shown their hands for that purpose. They departed from Paris for Pontoise in the month of September.
"Pasquier remarks upon this singular journal, that however the story of penance savors of a trick, these people wandered up and down France, under the eye, and with the knowledge of the magistrates, for more than a hundred years; and it was not till 1561, that a sentence of banishment was passed against them in that kingdom.
"The arrival of the Egyptians (as these singular people were called) in various parts of Europe, corresponds with the period in which Timur or Tamerlane invaded Hindoostan, affording its natives the choice between the Koran and death. There can be little doubt that these wanderers consisted originally of the Hindostanee tribes, who, displaced, and flying from the sabers of the Mohammedans, undertook this species of wandering life, without well knowing whither they were going. It is natural to suppose the band, as it now exists, is much mingled with Europeans; but most of these have been brought up from childhood among them, and learned all their practices.
"It is strong evidence of this, that when they are in closest contact with the ordinary peasants around them, they still keep their language a mystery. There is little doubt, however, that it is a dialect of the Hindostanee, from the specimens produced by Grellman, Hoyland, and others, who have written on the subject. But the author has, besides their authority, personal occasion to know that an individual out of mere curiosity, and availing himself with patience and assiduity of such opportunities as offered, has made himself capable of conversing with any gypsy whom he meets, or can, like the royal Hal, drink with any tinker in his own language. The astonishment excited among these vagrants in finding a stranger participant of their mystery, occasions very ludicrous scenes. It is to be hoped this gentleman will publish the knowledge he possesses on so singular a topic.
"There are prudential reasons for postponing this disclosure at present; for although much more reconciled to society since they have been less the object of legal persecution, the gypsies are still a ferocious and vindictive people.
"But notwithstanding this is certainly the case, I cannot but add, from my own observation of nearly fifty years, that the manners of these vagrant tribes are much ameliorated; – that I have known individuals amongst them who have united themselves to civilized society, and maintained respectable characters, and that great alteration has been wrought in their cleanliness and general mode of life."
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In Spain the Church has reclaimed the Gitanos and redeemed them according to its formal rites. To know this, it is only necessary to make a trip to one of their settlements in the rock caves honeycombing the cliffs of the Darrow. An expedition over the narrow roadbed braiding the edge of the river precipice is a precarious undertaking, and in my lone travels stands out as an unsurpassed incident.
To go there one must be accompanied. A guide is absolutely necessary midst so many scurvy knaves with outstretched hands, asking, in the name of the Madonna, for anything they think they can't take anyway. On the day of my visit, my carriage was the only one in the street. The roadway will not accommodate two carriages at the same time. Old tatterdemalions with their young ones, climbed about me while the driver with the guide (and the policeman of those precincts, whom one tips) prevented them from collecting me button by button.
Because of the increase of visiting tourists a certain veneer is growing over this unwashed settlement. The artificial touches rather detract from the gypsy of the old school who rejoiced in glitter, plaster curls, and gay voluminous ruffles to be sure, but scorned the use of rouge and face powder. In a cleaner section both men and women (with a number of fortune tellers) were lined up at the opening of their grottos. All are said to be well practiced in the light-o'-hand arts. Nevertheless I was tempted into one of the more inviting places finding it a livable series of imperfectly carved Roman-like vaultings hung with baskets and musical instruments of gypsy creation. Candle offerings, to the wooden and plaster Christs suspended in the little niches and shrines, also served to illuminate the interiors where the light of the one opening at the entrance could not penetrate.
Families made assemblage under a patriarchal roof. One of the more prolific groups insisted upon the fascinating program of song and dance accompanied by tambourine and castanets. The participants sometimes reached the stage of excitement equal to the dances of the Cossacks of Russia screaming their "Olle Olle" in a fearful pitch of voice. Their show was worth the 40 pesetas if I had seen nothing more than the inside of their world honeycombing the ledges of the Darrow. Like other Spanish rock villagers, – and there are many of them – these people were a little part of the dregs of a sleeping race, and completely isolated from the interests of other communities.
Despite the vexations of thought produced by this large and ignorant beggar world of Spain, one becomes, if at all human, decidedly interested in a class that can remember the great outdoors rather than be slaves to the art of housekeeping and all the stabilizing details involved in the accumulation of properties. Boredom is unknown to him. And since the wisest of men have given us incomplete and varied ideas of the absolute values of life, my zest for reform does not permit me to exercise myself too deeply or agonize over a human stratum here so unrefreshingly evidenced. They have nothing to irk them more than the hot poultices administered by the church to light superstitious consciences. Thoreau, I believe, said that "a man is rich in the number of things he can afford to let alone," which is just the opposite principle of the gypsies, if we speak of the Church and another man's property! The roving occupants of rock caves have happily or unhappily adjusted their necessities to the tempers of the elements and in the same spirit they adjust their compromises with justice. For a livelihood there is begging, and there is his legitimate old profession of smuggling. He has a superb sense of joy, of irrelationship, and freedom. Directed now for generations by the nose of the fatalist he carries an unharnessed self straight through life and dies without ever having recognized the stings of sin and ambition. One loathes his cruelties but one must admire his colored ribbons and leave him there – an untroubled figure of Nature's graces.
Before we get away from the savage types of Spain and their haunts, I must tell you something about the Hurdes and Batuecas, the wild tribal communities habitating in mud huts near Plancencia, via Albesco along the precipitous and completely isolated region which has never, until very recently, come under the guardianship of the government. It appears that in the middle of the 17th century, certain Jews, hounded by the inquisitors, were too poor to procure passage out of the country and sought an asylum in these inaccessible mountains, where they became like the animals, almost forgotten of God and man. Enterprising explorers of that district within the last ten years found them and brought news of their existence to the attention of Bishop Coria who fired the interest of His Majesty. An expedition was arranged and the gallant King had his way out through the underbrush to their very doors, passing safely through fever-infested regions into the solitudes of the mountains where he found the lowest of human half-wits and lepers, and other repulsive forms of degeneracy due to generations of intermarriages, with only an occasional healthy Semitic face to prove the origin of the stock.
Vernon Howe Bailey, in talking about some of his explorations amongst Spanish gypsies, avows that it would be an unbearable experience for a woman who had not roughed it in the wilds of Africa catching big game! He ought to know inasmuch as no other American or Englishman, perhaps no other foreign artist has covered Spain more thoroughly. His drawings not only are valuable for the intrinsic value of his art, but are records of the medievalism that is still a breathing thing in Spain and like some hidden social octopus of a past still reaches from shadows of the present to have its being in the future. Mr. Bailey states that, had not his purpose been of such importance to him, a matter that held and interested him as significant material modernism may too soon sweep into the past, he could not have subjected himself to the many days broken by interferences from the curious inhabitants. He was in Spain for a certain work which he proposed to do despite the troublesome natives whose attentions were objectionable while he was trying to draw or paint.
Ward Williard, another painter to whom I have talked concerning Mr. Bailey's experiences alongside the inroads, assured me that his work in Spain was accomplished under the same unpleasantries. Furthermore, this gentleman having taught Spanish and knowing the language, even to some of the dialects, could understand perfectly all insults with which they stoned his sensibilities, and which he was obliged to overlook in order to accomplish his purpose.
We in the U.S.A. are not ignorant of wide social contrasts and conditions. The orders existent in segregated and unlearned communities, where the underlapping civilization still resists the white man's ways, are all prevailing in several of the Southern and Western states. What would the Spaniard think of our negroes, and our red men, mountaineers, and the semi-savage tribes inhabiting elevated villages of Acoma? The aborigines of the towns of Isleta and Zuñi would induce any Castillano to lift his hands to the Virgin. There the stealthy Kiva performances of the witch hanging Indians still practice superstitious worship of strange fetishes, and medicine men repeat rites for protection against the evil eye. Indeed Señor Spaniard would recognize something of himself in these semi-Christian programs, for certain details were absorbed when the Indian faith converged with the early Christian teachings of the Spanish Monks, who, during the reigns of the Philips, in brave companies pushed their paths across the deserts of New Mexico to establish the Franciscan adobe missions. Señor Español would also behold there, say at an Isleta funeral, maidens carrying ollas upon their heads, thus featuring the Indian ceremony in a procession led by a Catholic priest bearing the Standard of the Cross.
Among the Americans who have not forgotten the importance of the Spaniard to American History is Professor Eugene Bolton of the University of California, and his body of student researchers who are hunting throughout Texas, New and Old Mexico, for everything that pertains to the early conquests in America. They have dug up the reports made in Spain and those by Pedro Batista Pino, who went from New Mexico as late as 1811 to Cadiz, where he attended the sitting of the Cortes.
The invasions forwarded by the King's magistrates and missionaries during the reigns of the Philips weave a brilliant selvage in the history of Spanish-Anglo America. We find ourselves beholden to Spain all along the line, even before the pages dated 1598 following the death of Philip II; the year Philip III was inaugurated.
Pending the first year of Philip III's rule the Oñates' expedition (1599) cleared its way, through the density of every tried and untried difficulty, into the heart of New Mexico. This is history that the Spaniard has not forgotten. With those few hundred marched Villagra, whose Homeric voice lives in his verse published in Madrid, 1610.
The value of Villagra's "Historia de la Nueva México" written in thirty-four cantos of authentic information was (in America) initially recognized by Bancroft, about 1877, and lately mentioned by George Wharton James in his remarkable writing on the "delight makers" of New Mexico. From a copy of that rare edition ("rare as the proverbial hen's teeth," he declares) unearthed in Madrid by Don Francisco del Paso y Tronoso, Director of the National Museum of Mexico, James quotes a few of the opening lines, the beginning of which clarifies the American point of obligation to the Spanish pioneers.
"Of arms I sing and of the man heroic;
The being, valour, prudence, and high effort
Of him whose endless, never-tiring patience,
Over an ocean of annoyance stretching,
Despite the fangs of foul, envenomed envy,
Brave deeds of prowess ever is achieving;
Of those brave men of Spain, conquistadores,
Who in the Western India nobly striving,
And searching out all of the world yet hidden,
Still onward press their glorious achievements,
By their strong arms and deeds of daring valour,
In strife of arms and hardships as enduring
As, with rude pen, worthy of being honoured,
And thee I supplicate, most Christian Philip,
Since of New Mexico thou art the phoenix
Of late sprung forth and in thy grandeur risen
From out the mass of living flame and ashes
Of faith most ardent, in whose glowing embers
Thy own most holy father and our master
We saw enwrapped, devoured by sacred fervour –
To move some little time from off thy shoulders
The great and heavy weight, that thee oppresses,
Of that terrestrial globe which in all justice
Is by thine own strong arm alone supported;
And giving, gracious King, attentive hearing."
Philip the Pious was far too busy holding up the globe with one strong arm and banishing the Jews with the other, to give any phoenix-like attentions to the Poet warrior addressing him. The "sacred fervour" that had devoured his father, had become rampant. In his reign the Christian fever again quelled all commercial impulse with the banning of Jews; thus, with Spanish leaders and other enterprising men in America, the State fell into a long and troublesome decline.
The conquistadores in America left much of their blood in the sands with most of their bones and scalps, and every child knows, how, during the first half of the nineteenth century, the English-Scotch-Irish Americans gradually took from them all that their fathers had gained in California.
During the fall of 1849 when the gold rush was at its zenith, Lieutenant Colonel J. M. Washington sent Lieutenant J. H. Simpson out to the Navajo lands of New Mexico to make military reconnaisance starting from Santa Fé. His report describes his investigations anatomizing El Morro (The Moor), the famous inscription rock a few miles from the Pueblo of Laguna.
On the north and south facades of this fantastic sandstone abutment are engraved in Spanish many of the names of the conquistadores and their purposes. Men of nature they were, each challenging his birthright. Very appropriately one of nature's most imposing structures invited them to sign it as their greatest monument and memorial. It was a seal in passing to the death warrant presented by the desert, as one by one they laid down life in the effort to plant their religion and language over the King's New Spain.
Some of those signatures date from 1626. One registers the earlier journey of the explorer Don Juan in 1606. Numbers of others mark the coming and going of the Governors and pioneer mission builders. To this fearless list was added the fact that, "Lieutenant J. H. Simpson and R. H. Kern, artist, copied these inscriptions September 17th in the year of 1849."
THE brightness that is the inextinguishable gayness of Andalucía lies a long, long day's journey southwards and the country has grown somewhat drab. By a route contagious with a brooding spirit ever suggesting somnolence to any American, I have seen more of the semi-medieval Peninsula. What a great fertility lying fallow after the 16th century effort towards an easy foreign-grabbed prosperity!
I came via Madrid by motor. Droves of sheep broke the torpidity of the road and during the hour, on three occasions, brimmed the flat straight old-fashioned pike. Each flock, shepherded by armed but quiescent attendants and their dogs, seemed quite undisturbed when its woolly morass divided for the passage of our car.
Every few hundred yards in fields where gray dwellings squatted under the shimmering heat, a lone farm mule or broken-winded horse marched around and around at the pole of an old-world windlass, churning out a scant stream of water holding the destiny of the gardens and grain. Here and there patches of cane usurped the moisture of these narrow irrigations. From them the peasants fashion the gilded what-nots peddled on the streets of Madrid.
At intervals, in the distance, villages hoary with decay rose in sudden eruptions on the plans, or hunched slothfully by the way, somehow bearing up under the onslaught of ages. Inert oxen, of a much smaller breed than is common in Italy, poked alongside a donkey or horse before a stern plowman whose ancestors chased too many rainbows for the pot of gold.
You would agree with me when I say that in comparison to the peasant of France and Italy the man of this country is not a creature of indolence. He appears submissive enough to fate but he has something of the English WILL not to be controlled and much reserve about it.
An artist from Granada tells me that his people do not take their religion as seriously as the English. I suppose its rituals after all are but the scapulary pennies that must be taken along against the sharp gifts of life, just by way of superstitious safeguard. Like the rest of humanity they are seeking happiness but are being more bent and made more rugged by a stubborn resistance to practicalities which the English, Germans and Americans are reasonable enough to promote. We do not go about work in a silk-hat gait like "Juan" whose climate has multiplied the temptation to consider manual labor almost beneath the dignity of the race. I am wondering if he is not very much like the distant-future machine-directing American who will have absorbed all the races now distinctly outlined in New York. At any rate he is a puzzle to me or something like a cold Gothic unfathomable well with a Latin-Moorish bomb at the bottom of it.
But in Castile, if one expects this people to take on the sterility of the fawn-colored rock and earth, the direct opposite is the case. Energy there is, but 'tis the power of the earth-life beneath their feet or an overlying segnitude covering a live seed. Withal he is showing the world a gentle courtesy and at the same time doing his mule-best to withstand the mastery of life, deeming himself in all events a superior quantity. Unbelievably kind – and perfectly well-meaning – he admits of no criticism or change. But he gets the criticism – and he will have to admit of change, however slow it may be in arriving.
The road from Madrid to Toledo is devoid of rustic intimacies that gyrate midst cactus and brush along the bridle paths of Andalucía. About half way we passed a mountainous swell in the horizon on which is located a monastery marking the center of Spain. Forty-five minutes later we came into view of the rebellious city of Toledo, and the old bridge impressively leading to the Gate of the Sun. Below in the ravine, sturdy and comely women were beating (on ancient flat stones) homespun linen and gay articles of wearing apparel somehow producing cleanliness from the muddy waters of the Tajo. The river Tajo was named by the Punic governor, Tago (or Tagus) of the Carthaginians who fell before the eagles of Rome. It has worked itself into generous curve and surrounds the granite hill on which Toledo has weathered down in some many historical layers. Ancient fortifications of the Latin Classics still embrace the town where nothing is visible of the capital of the Visigoths and Vandals preceding the reign of Don Roderick, the last of the thirty-four Visigothic Kings.9 The monarchs of that purely northern race were too wilted under the exotic climate and influence of the Moor to build permanent monuments.
The ascent into Toledo is made by a serpentine route. Like Sienna the city is still wrapped and enwrapped with dulled strappings of Medievalism. Commercial life drowses after the orgies and famine enjoyed and suffered pending the epochs of the three warring Gods, when it took a mighty cumbersome sin to make a man stand out among his fellows.
The ways leading from the Puerto del Sol so entrancingly wound about Castilian houses gloomy in the long shadows, are intense with the atmosphere of old customs. Dry, moldering, and iron-bossed doors to residencies and patios are seldom ajar but I've had several peeps onto the elegant marble floors protected from the stranger by those firmly locked grillings.
The Christian period in Toledo begins in earnest about the time of The Cid – that fearless old swashbuckler spoken of as the "Child of Burgos." The Arabs, who feared him (but whom he served when the Christians were niggardly with funds) called him the Master Champion, translated in their language, Said Campeador – sometimes written in Spanish El Mitayo Cid Campeador. As the French called him "Le Cid" it's almost unnecessary to remember that he was the Christian christened Ruy Diaz de Bivar, now buried with his wife in the ancient part of the Burgos Cathedral.
In the year 1085, nearly four hundred years after Roderick left Toledo to the Moors, the great warrior Le Cid came frisking up the incline of Toledo on his good steed Babieca. Now it would seem that "Babs" was worth a fortune "on the hoof." The faultless, dauntless mount came to a praying posture beside the former Christian church that had been converted by the sons of Islam into a Mosque. The tale contends that so great was the faith of Master in his beast, the gesture of Babs could not be considered a slip, but was interpreted as an omen bearing unusual tidings to the brave and daring conquerors of Unbelievers. Straightway the wall before which the palfrey had made obeisance was opened and thereupon a myth was fledged. Within the ramparts of that wall burned a candle – the same sealed there by the pious comrades of Don Roderick, its flame having defied time for 375 years.
Alongside Le Cid had arrived Alfonso VI, King of León and Castile, who had come into his royal estate by killing in battle his sister's husband, Bernando. Thus it came to pass, on that day the Mosque was reconsecrated to Christendom by Alfonso VI. To-day the story is borne out in the name "Christo de la Luz" – as explained over the door in bronze.
Sections of this mosque and fragments of the two gates, Puertos de la Sol and Bisagra, are all that is left of the Moslem Toledo. The epoch following brought the French-Gothic architecture of the Cathedral begun at the order of Fernando III (El Santo) in the middle of the thirteenth century. Its beauty belongs to the category of the cathedrals of Chartres or Rheims. Other buildings of the times having been designed by Moorish talent are Mudejar in style supplemented by certain features of the Roman and Goth. From this mixture is risen the Spanish architecture, the result being a little bit of everything and exemplified to-day in the new Gran Via of Madrid.
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Some writers term the Cathedral (by Pedro Perez) the greatest of Christian monuments in Spain. I prefer the Cathedral of Sevilla. To be sure the one here covers a tremendous space, has its magnificently carved Capilla Mayor, and houses tapestries (hung during Corpus Christi) that rival the best in any European Museum. And the treasury! 'Tis weighted with jewels and precious metals including a service beaten from the first gold Columbus brought from America. French ivories and superb figures in silver stand beside Byzantine steatite reliefs. The chapel and church proper is heavy with gold leaf, hand-forged old doors, paintings, and endless stores of lace and pearl encrusted vestments gorgeous in medieval pattern and design.10 The grilled-iron doors leading to the crypt are marvels, but overlooked by the tourists I watched come and go.
Persons who have not come to rejoice before old and brawn-twisted, hand-filed iron decorations are out of the ken of people who feel the principle of elemental arts-craft. The real charm of the older streets of French-Spanish New Orleans (before 1812) creeps out in the balconies, those pure products of the negro master smith so indispensable throughout the early days of the South. In Italy I was brought fairly to my knees before the tombs of the Escaglieri, which you know are surrounded with an interlaced hanging of iron – so fine that I have been iron-struck ever since.
The stalls of the Toledo Cathedral preserve a lively rivalry between Rodrigo's carved scenes from the history of the Catholic kings and the more delicate triumphs of Berruguete de Vigarni. To have produced so many fruits of the chisel and mallet the soul of these sculptors must have been well supplied with the essences of talent and ambition, encouraged by competition, and sustained by a great faith in themselves and the subjects of their compositions. But they did not live in the epoch of the "Machine"!
At the head of the steps leading to a splendid old hospital erected for housing illegitimate children, on an equally ancient plaza, adjacent, I made a little detour into the court of a Posada or hotel which must have dated from the sixteenth century. Below the shades of rotting beams no less dismal than the opposite side where country folk were moderately drinking with the Merienda, oxen beside ass and goat, munched away at the midday repast. Overhead, for the repose of guests, single-doored chambers opened upon quaintly supported galleries forming an elevated runway around the cobbled court. Added to that, great earthen jars tall as a man created a scene suspending me in youthful emotion similar to those experiences of "Sunday-school days" away back in the nineties when 56 little verse cards turned in on New Year's drew a handsome eight-by-ten reproduction of a Murillo or some other master's equally enthralling representation of the "Holy Family." This court was a bit of Toledo that for five hundred years has been simply settling down into what is absolutely Spanish, or a flake from the amalgamation beginning with the sizzling of Islam and Jewry that made sacramental oils for lighting the altars of Christendom.
During these months, the guard in one of the synagogues, offers sticks of dried rosemary piled into the dusty windows. It is uncanny how not an atom of life is left in the two beautiful old shells so long bereft of the chanting money lenders who threatened the Catholicizing power of Ferdinand and Isabella. Some of the descendants of those hosts first driven into Spain when Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem (immortalized in the first account of the Chronicles of the Abbey of Saint Albans which was copied and continued by Mathew Paris (1228) and in 1242 rhymed by Bishop of Tournay) are still calling on Jehovah in Spanish colonies settled along the shores of the Mediterranean. Catania in Sicily received a number, and in Constantinople to this day ten thousand Jews are speaking Spanish in a quarter to themselves.
AND just to think – when I was working with you I thought I was destined to be a painter! Alas, alas, for better or worse. . . .
For Greco's sake I am in Toledo and have seen his twenty-four room house (a palace owned in his time by the Marques de Villena) now a realm of antiquity secreted back of nondescript walls midst ruins of a garden entered by the characteristically forbidding and beautiful bronze-nailed or bossed door.
'Tis now El Greco Museo, all of it having been restored to the honor of the great painter.11 Therein hang many of his early canvases several of them bad in drawing – or deliberately off-line. If one judges him by his drawing, from biography or his color obsession, he must have been an ascetic to the point of weirdness.
In many of his portraits, and especially the four unsigned canvases resembling the same individual, I believe we come to discover the likeness of Greco himself. It is a face that does not say anything, and in that fact rather suggests the politician and mayhaps an artist who had taken the diplomacy of Machiavelli much to reason. He appears too intelligent and prolific not to have had some well-designed success-producing principles. Was he not clever enough to establish himself in a strange country and live in luxury, regardless of the hardships generally known to his contemporaries? The very uncanniness of his mystic processes lurks in the nature of his color schemes, to me denoting some stark-mad moments. Possibly for that same reason he dared to be The Spanish independent of the sixteenth century, for in his generation as you know, painters were preoccupied with copying the Italians, producing yards of poor Raphaels and worse del Sartos, while others were fashioning stale virilities after Michael Angelo, or turning hopelessly towards "Charles the Fifth" realism.
Examining El Greco and his works, one must come to have a great respect for his illegitimate son borne by his housekeeper Doña Jeronima de las Cuevas. This son was a sculptor and painter of no mean talent. He, Jorge Manuel, was said to have finished over two hundred of his father's portraits. Their library reflecting their milieu, contained dozens of the Greek and Latin classics and included Dante, Petrarch, and all the potent writers of the Italian Renaissance.
It appears that Greco, living first under the restricted ideas of Charles the Fifth and then under Philip the Second, permitted his color tastes to reach the summit of dejectedness expected by his Sovereign. So completely does he envelope the spirit of the Escorial and its wretched inmate that one's risibilities are aroused by his play for favor, or we might say his inherent priest's understanding. Ungenerously one could almost accuse him of having painted entirely to the tunes of his Majesty's religious scruples, which proves how much the artist reflects of the age in which he lives.
Then, Greco is intriguing because he came hand and glove with the change of Spanish psychology under the influence of the pedantic Philip Second (1556-97) when all architectural embellishment was for the time brought to a full stop. In accord with that severe egotism and bigotry, the paintings of Greco were portraits of first-class hypocrites, being likenesses of political zealots of the Inquisition. His epoch is particularly interesting to us because he came with beginnings of a new architecture fostered by Philip Second when the Escorial sets the highest peg of a new standard. The plateresque was renounced and all symmetries in stone and stucco were perforce made chaste, grimly lacking in the former spontaneous mixtures of style. The result was not bad for it brought the mission school into flower, a school that rapidly spread even into Mexico and California.
Since then, in each century, Spain has evidenced resiliency that has marked but a slow advancement. But that advancement comes in such distinct layers it is readily traced in each king's temperament and the Catholic miter as it was wielded by the State for the Church. And in order not to minimize the importance of the Spanish virility one need only to follow its far-flung language as it fixed itself and formed the character of the greater part of the Western Continent. The present King Alfonso is another poignant reminder that Spain is imbued with ambition to reunite the Spanish-speaking peoples. But her tools are still of the middle ages – her man force the same. The ancient forges of Toledo may still be alive; enigmatic and elemental hands may yet be producing the true and valiant blade; but the spiritual rebirth in proportion to the slack material is like the spark unto wet chaff. The seed lacks nourishment but it may, at that, have the moral velocity with which to wake and flame.
THE Escorial is a church surrounded by convents, rising over an old iron mine. This Monastery of San Lorenzo El Real, a breeding nest of gloom, is but an hour or so from Madrid. Its huge granite bulk, outlined against a cheerless barren elevation, can be viewed from the trains going north toward Burgos, San Sebastian and Paris. If one desires to wear oneself out running the gamut of 1200 doors, passing as many windows crested with the gridiron of the Saint, peeking into the 16 courts and 88 fountains, climbing 86 staircases in all, one may complete the pilgrimage and realize the stupendous and prize inspiration of melancholia credited to Philip the Second, second in the line of the six kings of the Casa de Austria, espoused of Bloody Mary of England, and (like Mary) happy only when beheading heretics, exorcising devils or groaning out devotionals before one of the forty altars! The Escorial represents 21 years of labor (1563-84). Tis an enormous layout of masonry covering 744 feet by 850, erected in Philip's dreariest style, fulfilling the promises made to his Germanic father Charles V, for the burial place of the Spanish kings of Austrian strain. Of the original relics, probably the entire gruesome collection of 7421 old bones, etc. (including San Lorenzo and others), are still intact. The atheists under La Houssaye during the Carlist war, being unbelievers, preferred to carry away 14 loads of the valuable silver and jeweled altar accessories. The famous and miraculous wafer is therefore still a drawing card for the tourists. A few monks of the Order of St. Lawrence, who conduct a school for priests, expostulate endlessly about the collections. There are rare books and sacred MSS. of genuine and perhaps spurious character.
Most of the paintings have been on the secularization of the monasteries, hung in the museums. The little room wherein Philip II castigated the fourteen last years of his life, still contains his meager furnishings. 'Tis indeed a miserable place for a miserable gouty vampire whose ghostly bigot soul still seems to bat around the funeral urns like the twilight shades closing over a dying monarchy.
The story of the last eleven years of Philip's agony in the Escorial is the tragedy of his combat with Queen Elizabeth of England. Before drawing judgment one must compare him with his contemporaries. When he took his square on the chessboard of the World's affairs, the means of holding power was a foul one. Spanish standards were then balanced with the tactics employed by Catherine de' Medici, who had been pawned off to the French people by the right of Papal power. Catherine played a loathsome game because, like Elizabeth, she had Royal wickedness in the blood, and not unlike Elizabeth had grown up without the love and attention of parents, midst the intrigues that taught her from childhood that if she was to literally keep her head on her shoulders she needs must use cruel methods with political cabals. "Good Queen Bess" whose court was the least seditious in Europe at that time and most advanced in intellectual pursuits, was born to machinations set into action by the instigators of the Reformation in England. She had not only Catherine of France and Catherine's son to checkmate, but she was obliged to defend herself against the schemes of Mary Queen of Scots, and withal, to concentrate her English strength contro Philip II. Prior to Elizabeth's ascent to the throne, Philip II had married Mary Tudor who brought him the title of King of England with all administrations left to Mary whom he promptly deserted. Having failed there, upon the death of Mary, Philip determined to oust the young Elizabeth via the hopeless ambition of Mary Queen of Scots, who was caught at her bargainings and sentenced to the block. Nothing was then left for him but to propose marriage to Queen Elizabeth which he did, and was flatly refused. Beaten in the contest for supremacy he again augmented his case by an open assertion and claim to the throne of England as the legitimate heir to the line of Lancaster, brother of the Black Prince, through his descent from Philippa Plantagenet, Queen of Portugal, and Catherine Plantagenet, Queen of Castile, of the line of John of Gaunt who had married Costanza, the natural daughter of Pedro the Cruel, King of Castile and León during the Periodo Arabe (1350-69).
To focus light on all the facets accumulated in the character of Philip one must remember that he was the grandson of Crazy Jane, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, who married Philip the Handsome, inceptor of German blood into the Reigning House of Spain. The Escorial being erected by the order of that grandson, one need not resort to imagination for coloring the actual historical horrors of its atmosphere that reeks with the odors of his plight. We see him broiling over the gridiron of his own artisanship and writhing over the coals of broken vanity and blasted ambitions, a soul laboring under the atavistic tendencies towards an increasing cupidity and aberration. He had accomplished much that was expressive of the Catholic Kings in erecting the Escorial, which with all its forty altars did not serve in the least to bind up his conscience when the painful days of his last years closed upon him. Meditating the destruction and extermination of the Church of England did not prove him to be a successful instrument of the Pope further than the borders of his own domains wherein he boasted that not a single heretic was left alive.
As to his adversary, the English Queen, initiator of the "Augustan Age of England," historians have ascribed all that is despicable from the failure to pay her debts to personal indecencies. A close-up on her has been ably written in the arguments of Frederick Chamberlin, whose well-known two volumes are intelligible dissertations on the statesmanship of that great Regent Queen. She provoked Philip to a military insanity peculiar in our time to the German Kaiser. Philip's error crystallized in the building of the "Invincible Armada," which he partially directed from new doleful quarters in the Escorial.
Dr. Goldsmith touched on his depredations upon England in the advancement of the Armada, but Strickland's approach to this world event is perhaps more complete than many another historian. We first see the man "clearly talented, cold, reserved, and absolute." He has built this great memorial to his illustrious Father and is now ready to send out the famous 150 Spanish Galleons, a fleet the like of which had never been heralded in the annals of preceding history, something so astounding that the journals from Elizabeth's ministry published for mobilizing her soldiers really created a demand for journalism that was to become an eternal political weapon.
These sheets described Philip's fleet as towering in proportion and overwhelming in number. It carried the sons of the Spanish nobility and representatives of the genius of the day, the erudite Cervantes being one enlisted among the 19,209 soldiers aboard. The Invincible, functioning as both the Army and the Navy, 8,250 mariners were added to those thousands. This number was again swelled by the 2,080 galley slaves and a large company of priests whose duty it was to command the religious discipline and become the moral props of the 38,000 troops who had been placed on the opposite shores of the Channel in readiness for transportation to the White Cliffs.
And yet Philip did not terrify the Royal English Amazon. She went before her soldiers, saying, "I, myself, will be your General, your Judge, and the rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field."
When the Armada was ready to sail, despite all the invocations sent up by Philip and the priests in the Escorial, its Admiral, Santa Cruz, and its Vice-Admiral, Paliano, suddenly expired. They were replaced by the inexperienced Duque de Medina Sidonia, who contributed to a series of incidents demoralizing to the expedition. Misfortune was not to be eluded. Most portentous of all signs struck them in the form of a hurricane after they had left Lisbon when the fleet was obliged to return for the repairing of disabled vessels. Refitted they proceeded to Plymouth, lured there by the English Admiral Drake who, with his forty small ships, captured two of the Galleons. There ensued a notable number of changing positions, the English always leading and dexterously defending themselves, while the Invincible spent her ships and fired guns that were set at maladjusted angles on decks so lofty that the old and lower British ships were for the most part out of range. There was a great engagement near Cadiz, and another out from Calais where the Armada was revictualing.
In an attempt to transport Spanish soldiers, a sinister disturbance of the elements cast away 5,000 men off the coast of Ireland who dispersed to settle down with Irish wives. Only fifty-seven battered ships returned to Spain. The recounting of the siege by the surviving crews discouraged all efforts to renew the king's project.
So in the little room at the Escorial we may well hear the echoes of Philip's curses poured from the scandalously glutted heart of a débouché, beloved of his people and to this day spoken of as the Anti-Christ who is only awaiting his time to resume the monarchy over the world.
WATER and time have had their specific wills in chiseling out the fairy coast at San Sebastian, where the waves of the Atlantic dash in clearly over rocks opalescent with blues, greens and golds visible to the dwellers on Caprian heights who repay to the superfices of the quiet little Port des Pecheurs a thousand gleamful images of their white villas set into small Edens. Beginning with the extravagant moorings of the Royal yacht and arrested with the rotting old picturesque houses of the fisherfolk, continuing around the busy little city, this morning I took the drive that climbs the precipices of Mount Urgall from which rises the Castle de la Mota where are the graves of the English men who fell under the French attack in 1813.
The town nestles like a crescent tipped with lighthouses old and new, clasping between its thongs the Island of St. Claire which at dusk lights up with the Mondaine spirit always hovering over this part of the Atlantic coast.
Geographically and socially, San Sebastian is the most enchanting European summer resort I have visited since I left the Cyanean Shores of the Mediterranean and whether one views the town drenched in cold mists or dreaming in the sunlight, it remains exquisitely itself something a little apart. Perhaps that is because it is, after all, Spanish, as proven along its Alameda and the fascinating beach attractions and concinnity of the casual promenading "donna" of the leisure class.
Recently the Spanish aristocracy has fermented with discontent owing to the Casino and its lure for the Modèle de Paris, and conspicuously undressed adventuresses with their tight-faced gamester amis who have answered to the whirl of the roulette tables. They are in reality an overflow from Biarritz on the Bay of Biscay just across the border. But in San Sebastian there is the Royal edict for decorum. The Queen leads in example and the King favors tennis and other more healthy sports that do not interfere with the National standards of decency. Racing and bullfighting are supposed to be enough for the idle world to publicly indulge in. These forementioned professionals, and their uncertain ways, do not coincide with the idea of the city that was planned and has long been used as the exclusive summer resort of the aristocratic Spanish family.
Unfortunately in Europe a sea resort no sooner becomes popular than it begins to attract the world's parasitic classes and ends in becoming a third-rate Monte Carlo. In many of the delicious coast towns where climate is mild, the citizens are taking precautions to discourage this disturbing element of society. Last year when I visited Professor Piccoli of the University of Naples who, with his family, occupied a villa belonging to one of his students on the luscious island of Procida, just two hours from Naples North, I was astounded to hear that the town did not afford a single hotel except a tiny place for the fishermen. The professor said that with the exception of Mrs. Piccoli, I was the only American woman to ever put to shore there. The ten thousand natives of Procida, consisting of farmers and fisherfolk, had made selling property to outsiders unlawful. In other words an invitation to the mundanities of Capri (which Island was visible) is a public offense.
So the dissolute at San Sebastian are not welcome. It is only a question of time until the poker-faced unmorals and immorals will find the doors of the Kursaal closed to them and the transient pleasure-loving novice, who generally swells the bank, will have to trot elsewhere to be fleeced.
Furthermore, Spain carries on her gambling in the open, and by right of the State Lottery, where every man, woman, and child has his chance to help the government along with its public obligations and funds with which to support the innumerable members of the Royal constituency. Moreover the Spanish paragon of propriety prefers his brunettes in the boudoir rather than on the beach. Striking off all French standards his feminine companion must be all very, very bad, or sanctity itself. In any case he affects exclusiveness at San Sebastian, – Biarritz being so convenient! Spain is for Spanish manners consequently the foreigners usually pick up their playthings and play with them at Biarritz, unless, of course, they are by titles fitted into the secret crevices of the "Lords Anointed."
San Sebastian has its dance halls. Have I visited such dens of iniquity? That I am not going to tell! It suffices that I know folk who have and many a time has it been remarked that "ye Spaniard of Title" finds a niche that is oft occupied by his dependants and the rich parvenue, a place wherein the gentle-born woman can't figure, except in a scandal.
In these amusement halls "entertainers" are usually the "favorites" of the Dons and with rare exceptions pass on like so many glowing sky rockets flashed upon a naughty woman-devouring world. Here is a tragedy for you – but it is nothing new.
A young dancer, through the necessity of having to support an invalid mother, started a career in one of the popular dance halls where she was known as the amante of one of the prosperous Dons. One evening, as the person who related this story to me was entering the cafe with a group of friends from Paris and San Sebastian, he met the radiant one coming out. Her performance being the attraction of the place, he asked her if she was not to dance for them that evening. She explained that her mother (who was very ill) had sent for her. A couple of hours later as he was leaving he heard the stifled sobs of a woman back of the shrubbery in the garden. Curiosity overcoming conservatism, he searched out the pathetic creature whose clothes were torn in shreds, her shoulders showing marks of brutality. Much cajoling brought out the story of how she had been viciously attacked by both her father and brother – with their simple excuses that another man more or less would not make any difference to an already damned soul. That is, of course, the supererogatory savagery of the ordinary Spaniard who questions any woman and protects no woman not under lock and key.
I asked what happened after that, and naturally the usual thing was the answer. She was immediately deserted by the amante and within six months was relegated to the lot of Cyprian derelicts. Now you see the Chicago and New York Crime Waves chased one another all the distance across the great Atlantic to at last spring up at San Sebastian, and as freshly as Arethusa of Elis and her Alpheus bubble up in the fountain at Syracusa!
Ah, but we have been gossiping about the few and not the many. The Basques as a people are very admirably moral. Having come of sturdy seafaring races they go in for sports, in fact quite extensively for their Juego de Pelota, that being a ball game played with the gloved hand said to develop steel springs in the arms, shoulders, and hands of the young men. (A game of Pelota can be seen in a sports field at the southern end of the Prado in Madrid.) The people of Bilbao, as well as San Sebastian, evidently take a lively interest in tennis and support a thriving Magazine published in Bilbao for tennis fans.
The rural Basque is a picturesque specimen as he is met on the country roads driving his solid wheeled cart drawn by oxen wearing goatskin head coverings. One delights also in the charming Basque houses with roofs extending Swiss fashion and supported by splendidly carved beams over decorative balconies jutting from the window line. They chatter the most primitive cross-word-puzzle speech of Spain that had its beginning with the northern peoples said by archæologists to have been the original Basque who inhabited this part of Spain when the peninsula was only a series of islands.12 A Spaniard whose ancestry was crossed with the Irish when one of his ancestors swashed from the deck of a Spanish Galleon onto Ireland, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, said that to this day there is a colony in Ireland that understands Basque. I am sure that his relatives in Ireland would rejoice to think that all the world had to learn its fighting language from the Emerald Isle! Whatever the Basques share with the Irish the women of these provinces have always handled their estates well and in times of distress were historically cited for soldiership equal to that of their men children. The story of the defense of Avila, when besieged by Almoravides, equals that of the rebuilding of the walls by the women of Sienna, who, during their worst perils organized and held the city when their men were waging battle on the surrounding plains. The Condesa de Pardo-Bazan, a naturalistic novelist whose works have been ornamental to the modern Spanish literature, has proven that Spanish women, other than Basques, are known to have found ways out of parrotdom into individual channels of self-expression.
OLD PEASANT WOMEN OF AVILA
A Study in Color and Character
From a Painting by Lopez Mezquita. Madrid
In Madrid on my showing Don X a piece of pottery signed "Zuloaga," he explained to me that it was made by the brother of the famous painter who had his studio in the same house with the brother's kilns near San Sebastian. He gave me a letter to him but I shall not have occasion to present it.
I should think that anyone would find this country abounding in interest, both for its customs and their charming provincial superstitions. For instance, yellow hair on men is supposed to be irresistible to the able-bodied Basque women. Hence the Basque women speak of certain incantations which inspire the affection between the sexes and a positive talisman for holding the lover.
The Basques again stand out charmingly among Spanish peoples in entertaining their own species of fairies. Their particular fays live underground and actually come to the surface in order to fly down the chimney to exchange a fairy child for a human one. Sometimes they bring good luck and under all conditions insist upon cleanliness, giving orders in words that mean just the opposite of intention. To elucidate, should I say to you, "You dislike me with a little hate," that would be translated, "I love you with a great affection." They also are given to the characteristic of the devil and most humans – including myself, for should I hear the church bells summoning me to the father confessor, I should no doubt follow these same fairies in a sudden flight from the face of the earth!
To remain here for the rest of the summer would be agreeable but I have an engagement with friends in Paris on the 10th. It would be splendid to join some others for the fine drive straight across the North Coast to Vigo, but time presses and I shall have to forego that pleasure. I shall be back this way some day during the fall and have a chance, I trust, to see a few of the small towns that are standing midst enchantment valiantly withstanding anything like a touch of modernism or the fatal attrition of a century. If I can find no one who will share the hardships of the remote and more fascinating spots, I shall give up the idea and simply return to Madrid and continue the beaten path on to Barcelona and to the Balearics.
YES, I should like to read what Eunice Tietjens might rhyme anent these mighty "Profiles" in Spain. But I can already fancy how epochs of material primitive would lend itself to her eloquence of verse, yea, even unto the odors of pastoral goatskin coats worn by the shepherds.
I should not have come to Burgos the present time o' year had I not been chased out of Spain last summer by equatorial sciroccales before I had a chance to see any of this country of Le Cid – and I believe the birth town of Pedro the Cruel. Having forgotten the inconveniences of my gadding up alone from Cadiz last spring and remembering only that it was warm when I left Spain, I started here-ward from Paris with all the exuberance of a swallow just released from the North Pole – every bone and sinew aching for sunny climes – and only to find Burgos envelop'ed in a typical Parisian fall which immediately submerged me and my little cosmos into dreariness a deal more forgivable in elegant Paris than historic Burgos.
The footprints of the Arabs relieve any hint of tedium traveling these parts where the world is balanced between the West and the East if only by formalities rather than purely atavistic tendencies growing from the soil to the soul. En route, one no more than approaches Tours and Poitiers before speculations on the 8th century saturnalia of blood blots out the present, bringing into the panorama Viceroy Abdul Rahman with his lines of white-robed warriors who fell under the ponderous horses and hatchets of Charles "The Hammer," spreading o'er those near-mythological lands of the Loire a pall of dead thousands with their rich oriental accouterments.
In describing the Valley of the Loire 'twas natural for Balzac to say, "I loved it as an artist loves his art." But the southwest of France grows into more stalwart parts as the rugged Spanish border merges with it. There is no distinct line drawn in the line of the mountain people, who are tremendously virile of appearance, on one side of the Pyrenees swearing in unbeautiful French, and on the other side swearing by their God and King in Catalan and Basque, every one of them being substantial enough in body and intent to command respect from his neighbor.
On this border, midst wondrous mountain scenery south of Pau, is the town of Roncesvalles (in French Roncevaux) from which point one enters the Pass of the Foutarabia, famous in poetry and legends echoing with the last note of Roland's horn blown to recall his uncle Charlemagne who led the retreat with his army of Saxons, Fresian, Bavarian, Alamannian and Roman warriors that had followed him on his Crusade against the Saracens. Through the treachery of the stepfather (Ganelon, wasn't it?) Roland had been cut off by the Basques. When Charlemagne arrived with his sword "Joyeuse" unsheathed for defense, Roland and his blade lay broken on the stones in a valley hushed with the stillness of defeat.
The Spanish march of Charlemagne covered points between the Pyrenees and Ebro, Pampelma and Barcelona. It was an interlude in the struggle consistently waged by Charlemagne against the Saxons (772-804) and one of the heroic campaigns in behalf of Christianity when he descended upon the Pope at Rome in the effort to restore discipline to the Church, and which action was accepted without demur by the Pope who first abdicated and later, by reason of good behavior, was restored to the favor of the conqueror who permitted him to resume his Papal duties.
The activities of the Northern peoples during the 8th century settled the Moors in the lower half of Spain. The Church planted itself in the territory of these mountains bringing with it the first sculptures which now excite one to sources (before St. Louis established the frontier in the 13th century) when the Benedictine abbeys founded their pilgrimage churches on both sides of the Pyrenees. Some of these ancient retreats typify the sporadic examples of Byzantine renaissance from which we know all our modern art took root.
We never can separate sculpture from the building of a culture. In fact that is nearly all of permanence we sift from the sands of the distant past, and they are mere fragments registering man's rise from savagery. As to its significance in this section of the world . . . A. Kingsley Porter, whom you may know, gives a very clearly cut deduction on the pilgrimage sculpture that sprang up in the tenth and eleventh centuries, citing the church of Achthamar in Armenia (915-21) and its adornments in sculpture as indications of Eastern derivations for the following two centuries in Occidental development. Toulouse employed the same artists that were more productive in Santiago, where the flowering of the Byzantine was not so fine as that of Toulouse. But in both cases (as in Ravenna) this isolated sporadic growth thrills one with the romance of the old pilgrimage stories and the rise of the greatest Christian organization the world has ever seen.
But, as I have said, here I am in Burgos and very chilled. My enthusiasms begin to fluctuate! Having a letter to "Madame" of this hotel I presented it, hopeful of any comforting attentions that might relieve me from the depths into which the weather has sent me. But the letter was from a man, a point sufficiently culpable for incurring punishment. His name did not bear out a kinship so I am about as welcome as woman in the Players' Club of our New York – That reminds me, I think you might send me news of that famous have-lived combine of beloved scalawags. No, I do not apologize for 'scalawags'! I heard a well-known Divine announce that, but inasmuch as the said Divine himself frequents the fold I am persuaded that it is all right for me to quote him. Naturally I shouldn't think of begging their pardon for the "have-lived," for fear of serious offense! – But back to milady whose eye fixed itself in dubiousness, as if reassuring herself that I was not one of those lost, strayed, or stolen ladies of Paris. (This is no season for Americans you know.)
While I waited the preparation of my chamber I located amongst the time-tables and a lot of out-of-date travel pamphlets on the salon table, nothing less than a late volume of "Sherwood Anderson." "At last," says I, "some one to the rescue!" Wishing to prove to her that I was not an ordinary book-taking American, but a very punctilious guest in a land that usually leaves the Anglo-Saxon a total stranger, I politely asked her if I might buy the book. From the reaction you would have thought that I had asked her for her scalp. (I mean her wig.) Although she did not speak English she would neither lend it nor sell it to me. I could not fathom the mystery and so I regretted that I had not borrowed the book, enjoyed it and, unlike many an American (who used to stop at the small hotel where I resided in Rome) placed it back where it belonged. I was too uncomfortable to begin cajoling so just to gain some sort of a point and not be the "grasiosa" of the situation I reached into my bag and pulled out a brand new volume. Turning avidly to the same I established my independence. But I am still wondering why she would not trust me with that book. Do you suppose she thought I was too young to read "Sherwood Anderson"!!!
The little salon providing no warmth or sign of hospitality with which to combat the "colder and freezing," I at length did succeed in getting my room which had to be made even though the hotel is empty. So here I am – all out of humor – retired with hot water bottle and mittens, having found slight compensations in the letters written to the Duchess of Hanover by the ever-scribbling hand of Elizabeth Charlotte of Bavaria, that famous "Madame," sister-in-law to Louis XIV and first lady in court rank after the death of Maintenon.
When at random I opened the book the first line under my eyes ran like this;
"Spain is the most horrible country in the world – [For a moment – oh, no, I could never agree with her! Then she went on to gossip about the wife of Charles the Second of Spain (1665-1700) and continues:] The little dogs she took with her are her only comfort. [Pugs were then the height of chic.] Already such severe rules of behavior have been imposed upon her that she is not allowed to speak to her old groom. She may only make sign or nod to him as she passes. The French servants could not accustom themselves to being shut up at first and they all wanted to return to France."
The wife of the French Ambassador at that Court of Charles Second, Madame de Villars, in her letters to Madame de Coulanges, writes:
"The tedium of existence in the Palace (Madrid) is almost crushing. I sometimes remark to the Princess on entering her chamber that one seems to feel it, to see it, to touch it, so tangible appears the monotonous gloom around us."
During the next Reign under the first Bourbons, some of those old Court conditions were abolished. Chambers for the ladies in waiting, rich in every detail but fresh air, were provided with windows. They were permitted to sit in chairs around the Queen and not required to sit on the floor at her feet. Heavy ecclesiastical ornaments and the belts containing relics were less in vogue, concerts and Italian Music were introduced, and on rare occasions the King and Queen dared to lead off a dance. The Queen could mingle with the Court and listen to Moliere's plays.
A generation before Philip V, the Inquisition had furnished an auto-da-fé at the wedding of Charles II in 1680. Olmo, the architect who designed the theater in the Plaza Mayor, where the executions took place, left an account of the whole proceeding. The scaffold was built near the Palace for the benefit of the Court. A small fagot gracefully ornamented was carried by the Duke of Pastrano to the King who passed it to the Queen and then returned it to the Duke who restored it to the Captain with this formality: "His Majesty desires that this fagot shall be first thrown into the flames and that it shall be thrown in his name." The King then went to the scene of the execution where he made a solemn vow "to persecute all heretics and apostates, and ever to aid the Holy Inquisition in the accomplishments of its work, so agreeable to God and so essential to the glory of religion."
As the program went on, the crowd frenzied with religious zeal tortured the victims before the flames had done their work. Madame de Villars was there at that time and wrote, "I had not the courage to be present at the horrible execution of the Jews, etc."
During the reign following, under the weak but not cruel Philip V, more reforms were planted. An innovation that particularly pleased the ladies was the discarding of the "tantillo," an ungainly overskirt which, like the steps of the carriages, was designed to prevent the slightest disclosure of an object so terrifying as a lady's foot! This reform almost caused a disruption of the state since some of the Spanish Grandees refused to permit their wives to follow this wicked French audacity. Most of those wives had as many as five hundred female attendants, all of them somehow carrying on commerce of the Palaces without showing their feet!
Burgos was indentified with Philip V and his Queen. They retired to the House of the Cordon (that was the mansion of the constable) July 7, 1706, when the archduke of Austria occupied the palace in Madrid. To get back close to them we must return to the day of Louis XIV and one of the most interesting periods of European history.
Charles II of Spain, having died without issue, decreed in his will that his distant kinsman belonging to the elder branch of the Bourbon line, should be his successor to the Spanish Crown. This kinsman was the unlearned seventeen-year-old grandson of Louis XIV the first Bourbon "Catholic King." That debonaire, six months later, met his thirteen-year-old bride, Princess Marie Louise of Savoy, a few miles across the border of Catalonia at Hostel-nuevo, having gone hither incognito on account of the rigid Spanish etiquette that forbade his leaving the country. On the Spanish boundaries the attendants of the Ducal Court of Savoy were dismissed and the wedding was concluded at Figueras.
The Princess of Savoy wearing the famous pearl called the "Peregrina" (which was as large as a small pear) and also displaying the Spanish Kings' "Estanque," a diamond named "clear pool," made her magnificent entry into Madrid with only one foreign woman of her train accompanying her. That person was no other than Madame des Ursins, the Camarera-Mayor (first lady of the bedchamber) appointed by Louis XIV. Her duties of managing the Queen's household brought out the personality of the dominant figure who upheld the Bourbon dynasty during the turmoil of the Spanish Succession which followed upon the death of James II of England when Louis XIV recognized his son King of England. The protests at London grew into lively objections and before the death of William, the Grand Alliance of European Powers against the Bourbons of France and Spain had been constructed. In May, 1702, war was declared, England being joined by Vienna and The Hague.
In Spain a large contending party wished to crown the Archduke Charles of Austria while France was concentrating on her defeat in the Netherlands. The Boy King of Spain, harassed on every side, had led his forces into Italy in behalf of his Neapolitan and Sicilian interests. Marie Louise, having been declared Regent in his absence, was left to the intrigues of Cardinal Potocarero who was just another instrument in the decadent activities of the Inquisition.
Now then, behold Madame des Ursins the French Lady with Italian education and Bourbon support whose wisdom became the Queen's mainstay and who was first to espouse the cause of one of the Inquisition victims. This victim was the confessor of the late King of Spain who had been thrust into prison on the charge that he had practiced sorcery upon the late Monarch. The courts had proclaimed him innocent, but Mendoza the Grand Inquisitor had held him prisoner. Madame des Ursins, challenging the Pope's 'Nuncio' roused the public opinion in the behalf of the prisoner, and for the first time in two hundred years the body of the Inquisition by sentiment of the people was forced to obey the state law.
Madame des Ursins, an intimate of Maintenon and Marechale de Noailles, was a daughter of the family of La Trimouille and wife of the Duke de Bracciano, head of the house of Orsini and Grandee of Spain. The duke had died in Rome shortly before she accepted the position in the Court of Madrid where at fifty-nine years of age she began the political career that was to be so useful to Spain even though the helplessness of their youthful Majesties did bring about the disintegration of a large part of the Dominions.
Madame's letters to Maintenon, with the replies from that unrecognized French Queen, fill four volumes published by Bossange Frères of Paris. On former visits to Paris I've reveled in dozens of the fascinating miniatures and old gravures hung in the salon of a descendant of the Duke de Choiseul of the period when his ancestor was the chief Minister of Louis XV. Louis permitted the Duke de Choiseul to copy that famous correspondence and through the Choiseul family the manuscript was obtained by Bossange in 1826.
The story of Madame des Ursins, as I have learned it, came from the work compiled from twenty-two volumes of Mémoires and secret documents written by her contemporaries, and places light upon an epoch that one otherwise would have to search out for oneself. This volume crammed with entertainment was written by Constance Hill and published (1899) by R. H. Russell, N. Y., and sold in America only, owing to European countries being signatory to the Berne Treaty . . . (Whatever that was!)
Constance Hill says that the Princess's own letters of such "pure and lofty style" speak best for her reputation and able accomplishments. In the summing up of the Reign of her Royal friends, history confirms this. A Spanish record however speaking of Philip V states: "Su reinado duró cuarenta y cinco años, y durante él, fué España sometida á vergonzosa y repugnante tutela de Francia, que nos importó su arte y sus letras, sus costumbres y sus vicios, modificando profundamente el frivolo gusto francés de entonces lo que tenía de grave y reposado nuestro carácter."
Although there has been a decided reverse of things since Louis XIV's time and the first Bourbons in Spain, the same lourde psychology is omnipresent to this day. The minute I stepped off the train in Burgos I began to feel the handicaps of being an unaccompanied woman. My work in Madrid looms up in the guise of a trial for I am going there with plans to model Primo de Rivera and I don't like the humor of a society that constantly reminds one of one's sex. After the intoxications of last summer's recreation within the call of the wood pigeon's note along the Loire, and the enchanting weeks spent with Madame de la Gabbe in her historic Château at Bricot-la-Ville, this welcome, alongside limited accommodations of a half-closed hotel, leaves me feeling out of place. Then it's somewhat dislodging to one's vanity, to say nothing of the inconveniences one suffers owing to one's habitudes in the creature comforts. Did not professional duties point to Madrid I should at this minute be rolling on the brine enroute to "Xmas" and the place traveling Americans in Europe are happy to call "home."
And all this plaint of mine makes me fear that I am running true to touristic type and am raising unseemly mischief within myself because of the aforementioned difference of custom. After all I really am satisfied to let it be their country, and they can place their door knobs where they please, simmer in garlic and go on making their smelly matches. I find it all poetical. Then, advantages accrue from most any set of circumstances if one fishes with the right line of thought. Variable winds usually excite my interest and curiosity to pleasant sailings, and, besides, to-morrow I shall have my trading talents sharpened up for business with my hotel hostess. I wish to use her equipage, an old-fashioned vehicle or a city brougham. I believe that a brother, who is also in competition with the guides (idle in this season) is thrown in (for his fee) which will make it possible for me to drive in comfort towards the outlying points I wish to visit. There never was anything equal to the Spanish talent for eliciting information, unless it is the Italian! He will try to pelt me with personal questions and I shall tell him my favorite story "widow with thirteen children" and of course he will gasp and say, "Is it possible?" And then if he runs true to the usual masculine interest he will begin to brag about his own!
. . . Day Later . , .
The landlady is not so inflexible as she was yesterday. Or, perhaps, I am more cheerful. Last evening while I attacked something which turned out to be a star-shaped bun, I made conversation with a new arrival, another lone female who related to me a recent experience that explains present conditions in this country. She happens to be a very dignified young professoress in an American University for women. She speaks Spanish like a native and therefore braves some of the unfrequented villages, one of the places having been the picturesque little town of Cuenca. If you have kept in touch with the foreign exhibitions shown in America last year, you perhaps saw the paintings of the old houses over-hanging the cliffs which the artists painting in Spain have made famous.
Because on a previous visit passports were not generally demanded of foreigners traveling in Spain, and, intending to remain only one day, the lady in question left her passport in Madrid. She had scarcely arrived before the natives became exercised and curious about a strange unaccompanied woman entering their precincts and set the police on her track to see her passport. In all candor she explained that she forgot her passport and that she merely came to see the antiquities of the town. But because her Spanish was clear the more she explained, the more inquisitive they waxed, resenting her complete composure and, to them, her preposterous independence. Having the law on their side she was then submitted to the extreme embarrassment of having the authorities hold her in Cuenca until the hotel in Madrid could forward the case from which she produced the American credentials. Then she was permitted to return to the capital.
The latter day political unrest in Spain, said to be due to the revolutionary plots in Catalonia and ideas of the exiled Ibanez, (now a South American dictator, isn't he?) have given impetus to a new system of police duty that demands a card of identity from every man, woman and child who leaves his own town. Under present circumstances, such an occurrence was not to be taken seriously. She won't forget to have her passport on her next ventures.
THERE were two things I regretted not seeing with you last summer in Paris, one being the Notre Dame Cathedral where I should have had the benefit of your always illuminating remarks on church architecture. To-day I was wishing for you to be transported to Burgos where you might, despite the flood, have given vent to some of that characteristic dry humor. It would have cheered me up for I am freezing and in need of a Chicago "Cliff Dweller" constitution.
Before I investigated the lay of the Burgos Cathedral I had gotten drenched pulling up the hillside flanking the Cathedral by the steps, to find myself descending by the south door into the Cathedral; when, as you know, all I had to do to get out of the weather was to have followed the street to the north door of the oldest chapel, which would have been more impressive on a rainy day than viewing the wind-brushed superstructures and turrets from the high route.
I should have to wait for a change of season before I could adjust my impressions of the Cathedral. So far I have a very confused idea of the whole which seemed to be in the main something finely Gothic, but somewhat broken out in spots with florid retablos.
If St. Francis of Assisi still gets any satisfaction in being cold and hungry, his spirit must have a great time admiring a said-to-be authentic likeness in the present surroundings in the Capilla del Corpus Christi. The most human thing in the whole place, to me, is Le Cid's old leather trunk.
The Spanish Cathedrals, even on sunny days, are more alive with the glacial ghosts of the middle ages than the churches of Italy where the ancient Romans still camp outside with a happier humanity. When one remembers that in Spain the warmest meeting ground for the common people is in the church, one begins to understand the enigmatic stoicism of the Spanish folk – a stoicism that latterly begins to hanker for a surcease.
But speaking of Le Cid and weather, if it was on such a morn that he went to take leave of his lady-wife Ximena and by order of the king found his, and all other doors of Burgos closed to him, I don't blame him for galloping off to the banks of the Arlanson where he desperately gave orders to his nephew to fill the two trunks with sand which on this emergency he pawned to the Jewish moneylenders before offering his services at the tents of the Moor.
The episcopal portraits hung in the same section with these properly redeemed trunks, I am sure add veneration to the Cathedral, but for the moment I have lost my taste for cold galleries. Even effigies as rare as the one here of Bishop Maurice (which really dignifies his departure for Eternity) fail to increase my circulation!
Did you order those drawings we saw that day in rue de la Boëtie, Paris? Perhaps I shall add to this when my hands are thawed out. Being submerged in mounds of feather comforts doesn't moderate the temperature of this chamber or alleviate its effect upon one so out of sympathy with the patter of cold rain.
But what I wish to know is, how do the pretty young things on your horizon (and the horizon of Charles Collins), compare with the pretty young things of last year's debutante parties?
HAVING acquired the services of the effete brother of my hotel proprietress, with the closed carriage and driver, I yesterday succeeded, between showers, in making a pleasant enough journey beyond the Arch of Santa Maria that is so beautifully pictured in a painting reproduced in a W. W. Collins illustrated book on the Cathedral Cities of Spain.
We had not gone very far towards the Royal Cistercian Convent before I discovered a shop, which you remember having seen, where various sized pig-skin wine flasks were to be bought. They are the type used for shipping wine all over this country. Some were bloated baby things and others great enough to suggest a wholesale quantity. I wanted a tiny one for Charlotte R – thinking she'd find it picturesque and sometimes appropriate to a Spanish-rural character that might crop up among the plays they read chez elle. However, detecting an odor that made it objectionable for carrying with one's effects and seeing that all these bottles' interiors still bore the hair as well as the tied up leg-skins of the piggy, I was constrained to smother the inspiration on the spot. Instead I found ear-rings which will probably play a more ornamental part and certainly carry pleasant souvenirs of this ear-ringed (I almost said nose-ringed) country.
But as I started out to tell you, I went on to the Cistercian Convent, founded by Alfonso VIII and his Queen Eleanor (daughter of Henry II) about a hundred and fifty years after the Cid, and which you probably remember as the Santa Maria la Real de las Huelgas, within which primitive Gothic church walls so much of the business of constructing the Spanish kingdom transpired. Its principal traditions appear to have been connected with the women of the nobility and other aristocratic feminine individuals who, from its inception, chose to take up there the duties of the veiled nuns. This church, as you know, is inlaid with tombs of the royalty including the remains of the mother of St. Ferdinand who lived in Burgos as a child. I was too cold to tarry long enough to know the place but I did see the famous Moorish battle-tattered flag dropping to pieces from long hanging – (historians tell us since the siege of Las Navas de Tolosa).
The frigidity of the Cistercian praying grounds not permitting me to over enjoy the wonders of it, I drove on in the opposite direction through November weather to the fascinating antiquity of Cartuja de Miraflores where the rare alabaster tombs (of Juan II and his Queen and the Infant Alfonso) repay one for any amount of wrestling with cold penetrating winds.
A bent, young, barefoot priest in white woolens, who appeared never to have heard of the "Sunshine Fairies," answered to the repeated attentions to the bell rope which one jerks from outside the walls. My guide addressed him and continued to tell me what he said throughout a limited conversation. It evidently being against the rules of the order for the priest to address a woman, I was reduced to the punctilios of silence.
The sculptured tombs of course were the attraction to me. They are another triumph for Ferdinand and Isabella who, coming into power two generations after Juan II and his Eleanor, ordered them carved by Gil de Bias and erected to their memory. In Juan II's most dreamful moments he could not have contemplated more beautiful memorials. Since his reign is condemned by historians as a period "muy desastroso" because he was "muy amante de literatura," let's hope that he can look down over St. Peter's books and shoulder and be content!
Speaking of these always interesting sculptures, if you ever want material on the subject, there were issued in Madrid in 1919 profuse and scientifically arranged data in the works of Ricardo de Orueta entitled "Sculptura Funeria en España." With the dozens of plates it is the most complete writing ever published on Spanish tombs. In it, he has taken up the Personajes Sepultados and given not only the background of the sculptor who created them but the purpose of the sculptured subject in his relationship to his province and age. This aspect of sculpture in Spain is the most important of all historical records, is it not? I think that he who goes to Burgos and stands before the tombs of Juan II, or to the tombs of the Catholic Sovereigns in Granada, need travel no further to find out what la Rinascita Italiana did for Spanish civilization.
To-morrow I am off for Madrid . . . a most seasonable time to remain at the Capital city to see it at its best . . . wish you were coming along with me.
IN Europe, so many people to whom I have talked, discard Madrid as a city of insignificant appeal. But these persons either have been exalted critic snobs doing mental gymnastics or just too superficial to reach the elements of the "manes, anima, and umbra" of things living from that virile past or in the dynamic present.
On the streets of Madrid one can sift from the pepper and salt mixtures all the natural elements from the ancient crucial that make up the Spanish nation. The question for one is to know these parts when one beholds them. If one cares for antiques, or for costumes of the provinces he will always meet with them at this season when Christmas attracts the provincial with all manner of things from his haunts. The ordinary vender of matches, or his friend the water carrier, bears some insignia of origin both in physiognomy and dress. The dark knife sharpener before the butcher shop (where horse flesh is sold) may be plainly southern, while the blond-haired blue-eyed clerk bespeaks Galicia and its strains of Celtic blood. The Basque comes with his language just as the Catalonian brings his, and occasionally one detects the strangeness of it as one passes groups loitering along the Prado. Madrid is filled with the individuals saying things in a dialect not a word of which is communicative in the rhetoric of pure Castilian. And this very point seems to make up part of the humor offered in the little theaters.
As to the theater, although it has its colloquial educational benefits and enormous amusement for me, at the same time I find myself frightfully conscious of my "green horns" and my altogether limited knowledge of Spanish.
The playhouses are uncomfortable places enough if compared to our most ordinary cinema buildings, and so exclusively Spanish that a series of programs are advisable for one interested in dances or drama. The usual form, is an entertainment held together by the comedian who does his bit between every song number, and seems indeed to be the principal of the whole show. To these little theaters of Madrid come the stars from all over the Peninsula. Although this season's attractions are diverting enough, most of them lack that indefinable reserve from which the art of Rachel Meller emanates. Argentinita (the g pronounced like h) who has written some of the songs she sings, is uniquely popular. She has the individual charm of good breeding, and being statuesque is very much more relishable to the Spanish taste than the fleshless, lithe type snapping out the hate and passion of the Apache parts.
The Spanish make-up is amazing. Quite a few of the women artists had deliberately greased their cheeks and certain parts of the physiognomy where a shine would bring out the sculptural forms of the face. I had never seen this done before in an attempt to enhance the beauty of women! It was a savage effect at best and an idea folk, other than the Spanish, are not in a line to appreciate.
One hears much about Gregorio Martinez Sierra, novelist, playwright, and very well known poet. He is the manager of the Civic Repertory Theater of Madrid who has been aided in his successes by exceptional business gifts, having founded a publishing house which he also directs in the behalf of the most progressive thinkers. He is only forty-six years of age but stands out as one of the truly leading spirits of the intellectual life of modern Spain. He, with other young men of that group, was associated with Benavente in founding The Art Theater in Madrid, where the plays of both men have been, and still are, produced.
The Opera, sung in French, provides music reasonably good in the opinion of folk not educated to La Scala in Milano, the Chicago Civic Opera, or the Metropolitan in New York. The audience of cosmopolitan importance, assembled diplomats and the Society of Madrid with its sprinkling of dressed-up noble ladies, is worth going to see once. Scintillating for itself, it is more amusing than the performance one is supposed to hear.
Occasionally an opportunity comes to hear Lloblet the great guitarist, and Pablo Casals, the 'cellist. They are both internationally known, particularly Casals. But oh, how one misses the American orchestra! I am longing to hear just one orchestration of The Fifth Symphony . . . Tschaikovsky's. Or the unfinished (Schubert) B Minor symphony.
The restaurants again render glints of national color that seeps outside the patio, and with the exception of the few smart, but seldom emancipated women, they are, like the performances at the Opera House, mostly enjoyed by the men. These eating-houses have their specialties. One place offers the choice little suckling pig to which board and succulence the bullfighter repairs after the game. In a restaurant that specializes in sea foods, I was introduced to a curious and edible bunch of vegetable-like limbs resembling the legs of crabs. They grow in clusters on the rocks otherwise giving no indication of belonging to the vegetable kingdom. I shall try to find out what they are called.
Then there is the gayety in the parks where one sees the Madrileño exercising universal traits by comfortably taking a walk with his children, his Señora or sweetheart, and right out in the open where God and everybody may understand that he is a family man and can do no wrong! The monuments there imposingly rise from parked grounds worthy of any Capital in Europe. To me the whole of this town prickles with surprises that make for wonder and interest. But all the delights of Madrid (from diplomats to street sweepers) cannot change the lay of the land on which the city has subsisted. As John Hay puts it, the city was chosen for capital with "malice and forethought" – no other town being hopeless enough to please Philip II who moved the court from Valladolid.
The known history of Madrid begins with an oriental populace in the 8th century before Christ when its primitive name was Margarit, in Arabic meaning "abounding in water," which is precisely not the case to-day when the city water supply is a serious problem. Following the early Gothic period it became Moorish; then again its annals allude to its being captured by the Goths in 933 under Romiro II of Leon, and more definitely conquered after the fall of Toledo (1073) under the conquests made by Le Cid and Alfonso VI.
Those free-booters, lawless despots as they were, had the sense to organize a municipal regime that begot a few laws. They grew under the patronage of Henry IV who built the Royal Chapel on the Pardo Road. Two generations later Charles V dwelt and became indigent within its unhealthy precincts, passing on his ideas to the baneful Philip II who finished the titles begun with The Cid. Completed they run as follows: "Madrid, imperial and coronada, noble and heróica, y excelentísima villa. Capital de su provincia de primera clase." History further adds that about one hundred years ago the city took on civic pride to the extent of beginning to clean the streets.
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I can't omit telling you that I took a twenty-mile motor run out to the majestic old Roman town of Alcala de Henares particularly to see the façade of the university founded by Ximenez during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. The other interest of the place (other than architecture and the rare bits of sculptural decoration) is its claim to Cervantes who was born there not only in the time of Bacon but destined to be the Spanish Shakespeare and to die on the same day as the English actor – the 23rd of April, 1616.
To continue with Cervantes – it is only seventy-five years since the Spanish Academy established the claim that he was buried in Madrid under one of the stones in the floor of the Convent of the Trinitarians. There, also, was entombed his Spanish contemporary Lope de Vega, that fertile minded poet, playwright and competitor who lived on the fats of the Court while the former met and finally succumbed to every sort of hardship born of poverty and pride.
But, amigo mio, these two great men had other things in common besides their genius and being buried in the same convent. They lived at one time on the same street now known as the Calle de Cervantes, and both had placed a natural daughter in the fore-mentioned retreat for women in Madrid. The daughter of de Vega (remembered as the "Bride of the oldest son of God") wrote good poetry but with the nameless daughter of Cervantes died wedded to obscurity.
Though the records extant in the Church of Santa Mayor in Alcala prove that Cervantes was baptized there in 1547 on October 9th, he was unknown in his time among the scholars of his renowned city. Early in his youth he had gone in service of Lord Aquaviva the Papal Legate who took him to Rome. Soon afterwards he was battling in a war against the Turks. 'Twas then he lost his left hand. In Spain he joined the Spanish armies against the Moors and for six long years agonized in their captive camps being held there for ransom. His father and sisters (and not the king) sacrificing everything, finally obtained his release. It was after that, in Sevilla, that he succumbed to poverty and landed in the debtors' jail, where he began "Don Quixote." We find him in Madrid at sixty, settled in a section of the city occupied by a colony of artists and writers. In Alcala he adopted the uniform of the Franciscan monks and three years later died leaving the famous characters of his book to outlive the Drama of Lope de Vega. With his jolly Quixote was there ever a man who deserved more laurel and peace amongst the immortals?
To go back to the subject of the University, a portrait of Isabella, painted in the guise of the Virgin, still hangs there. The University, now active in Madrid (San Ildefonso) was and is to Alcala like unto the shades of a great soul lingering over an earthly habitation. During the 16th century it was to Spain what the University of Bologna was to Italy in the Dantian period, and for that matter, what that same institution is to-day. Students in the 16th and 17th century who did not go to Bologna, Padua, or to the Sorbonne in Paris, found their way to Alcala. Eleven thousand of them were said to have welcomed Francis First of France when, during the time of his imprisonment under Charles Fifth, he was permitted to visit the University. Since then the buildings have been occupied by the Gauls, (1818) but Romance, despite fire and stagnation, clings with the reverend touch throughout its ancients walls preserving the spirit forces so natural to the atmosphere of institutions of learning and antiquity.
WHEN I passed through Madrid on my way to San Sebastian last summer, our Ambassador took me to call upon His Majesty's pet sculptor, the right blazoned Maestro Benliure, whose works are renowned throughout the Peninsula and the Spanish Colonies in South America, and who modeled the equestrian statue of Their Majesties which stands in the headquarters of the Ministry of War, and may be viewed by those who are admitted to the salon of Primo de Rivera.
You will have noticed that the Maestro still carries a Moorish name. That distinction is borne out from vêtements to conversation, for all that was taught in chivalry by the Moors to the Goths has been epitomized in his captivating person. Living amongst rare collections and every luxury, where the bland eloquence of secretaries creates a protective atmosphere, he maintains a position of "personage of high rank," commanding the respect due a great artist and Spanish gentleman. I cannot begin to acquaint you with the courteousness of El Maestro, or describe his twinkly little dark eyes or his picturesque costume. He is one of those joys to be experienced, not pulled into parts with the hope of finding the nature of a man who must also have changed from Arabic to up-to-date Spanish.
Major Hodges, Military Attache of the U. S. Embassy, who was my escort on this week's visit to his home, while in the court, made some little photos before the studio that is separated from the house by the garden. These may disclose to you a suggestion of El Maestro's personality and the surrounding which he himself created.
His studios are enormous and house numerous models in the last stage of erection. I believe he has on the premises some ten or twelve sculptor assistants and as many workmen at the kilns, for the Maestro is not only a master craftsman of bronze and marble but, after the manner of Spain, has developed his own methods of firing terra cotta, tiles, and mosaics. He, himself, laid the beautiful patterns in the garden walks which carry one back to Austia and Pompeii. The sanctuary of his studio is on the second floor where many Spanish notables, including women, have come into the estate of being subject matter for our medium. Indeed his whole studio is as business-like a place as yours, reminding me of the happy days when I was trying to gather into my understanding the precious principles of your preachings. (Should I say, beatings?)
When we parted from him he had followed us to the machine, permitting no servant to open the huge doors that enclose him in a little kingdom all his own. With elaborations of the obsequious custom in Spain, he said, "Señora, my house and everything in it, my studio and all the equipment which may serve you as a sculptor are yours to command." Indeed his invitation was so tempting and acceptable I almost forgot my Spanish rules of conduct by replying, "Thank you, Sir, I should adore to come and sit in the moon-shade of your precious garden." But let me not go too far! His invitation was purely Spanish formality!
As to the arts and artists, unless one tarries long enough to personally meet them, one may almost know them with what is shown in the fine exhibitions and splendid permanent collections of the Museo Moderno on the Prado. Some very famous talents have been developed in the Spanish Academy on the Jenicolo in Rome, where you probably saw the very arresting work always in progress. But in the painter, Mezquita, classed in Spain with Zuloaga, we have a man who has come up by the boot straps of sheer work and genius.
The Most Celebrated Guitar Player of Spain
From a Painting by Lopez Mezquita. Madrid
Mezquita and Maestro Benliure are friends. Mezquita, like Benliure, has been taken up by the Court of Spain and by the Court of artists and International critics and patrons of Art. But what is just as important, he has the appreciation of the popolo who recognize in his pictures the natural born gentleman whose sympathies are big enough to encompass their worlds of joy and of misery.
One picture alone exposes the heart of him. The scene is depicted in a Spanish brothel, with its sordid background of dancing couples. Facing one are three blind beggars of the type who starve in Spain. They are seated at a table and are being served with food and drink by one of the kind inmates of the house. There you have a sermon greater than many discourses delivered ex cathedra.
Mezquita has given me photographs of some of these marvels which will speak for themselves. In them you may see Spain – the real Spain – the Spanish lusciousness and its deep frustrations and sorrow, its ruggedness and its moral. Take "Suzanne," the totally care-free gypsy. Could anything in the world tell her story so pleasingly? It is a gem of ripe coloring, as sparkling as a great Mancini, but purely Mezquita and absolutely sincere Spanish art. His old peasant women of Avila, philosophical in their bewilderment, break one's heart, and like the Artist make one a little silent before the things that bear weight in this world. For no matter how many distinguished notables Mezquita may paint, he will never be bedizened with fictitiousness. All of his medals could not shake him from the realizations of Life in all its poetical phases, Life that works through men and women to mold faces and hands and backs for better or worse. All that he tells us in his paintings, but here is something of his career.
Mezquita is of gentle heritage. At twelve years of age he began to paint. At the same time owing to reversed family fortunes he became a man. Now an indulgent father of a son just that age he has not the heart to place the lad under too much restraint, for he says, "You see, I had no childhood, no youth."
After the death of his father, his mother took him from his birth town, Granada, to Madrid, where he entered the Academy. When he was eighteen he won the first gold medal at the National Exhibition. No other artist in Spain ever won that medal at so early an age. His reputation spread with the gathering of medals throughout Europe and South America. His paintings followed his reputation into the Museum collections of the Luxembourg, Paris, and other important galleries. He is now a Trustee of the Museo at Madrid where he has several works. He has just finished a portrait of Primo de Rivera and is leaving almost at once for the United States where he has commissions, and where his pictures will be shown in New York, Boston and perhaps Chicago before going on to South America.
Mezquita, by the way, had his last sitting with Primo de Rivera13 the same day I was presented. The morning I went for my first sitting he was taking his finished canvas away. I will tell you more about my sittings with The General after I have the work out of my mind and shaped into the clay.
After all of my séances with The General, to clear my head and in order not to dwell too constantly upon a very absorbing problem, each day I stop in the Museo del Prado, where the galleries are replete with historical schools of Art. The Italians are there in numbers but I spend most of my time about the collections of Ribera and Goya and our favorite Velásquez, whose presentation of the 17th century Courts of Philip II and IV introduce one to the culture and refinements known to that age. If you remember, the pedantic Ruskin said:
"Spain produced but one great painter, only one; but he among the very greatest of painters, Velásquez. You would not suppose, from looking at Velásquez portraits, that he was an especially kind or good man; you perceive a peculiar sternness about them; for they were as true as steel, and the persons whom he had to paint being not generally kind or good people, they were stern in expression, and Velásquez gave the sternness; but he had precisely the same intense perception of truth, the same marvelous instinct for the rendering of all natural soul and all natural form that our Reynolds had."
Quoting Mr. Stirling of Kier:
"No mean jealousy ever influenced his conduct to his brother artists; he could afford not only to acknowledge merits, but to forgive malice, of his rivals. His character was of that rare and happy kind, in which intellectual power is combined with indomitable strength of will, and a winning sweetness of temper, and which seldom fail to raise the possessor above his fellow men, making his life a 'laureled victory and smooth success'."
But Velásquez was born to a rhythmic life. His professional work began harmoniously under the master Francisco Pacheco of Sevilla who recognized his talent and aristocratic soul, and who gave his daughter to Velásquez before proceeding to introduce him to the Court of Philip IV where his free style would, in perpetuating royalties, gain material for a lasting fame.
It was in the gardens of our friend M. Puesch, the Director of the French Academy (Villa Medici) in Rome, I was told that Velásquez painted his "Vulcan's Forge." To me his most satisfying works are the equestrian figures so much like the pageantry of the Italian Renaissance where design and color-blending of textures made for variety and demanded such consummate skill. The picture that held me closest, perhaps by that mysterious kinship of sympathies, was the portrait of his friend and sculptor, Martinez Montañes. In all that great collection no one subject gave up so much concentrated interest, spirit and character, or is rendered with so much respect and understanding.
Throughout the Prado copyists, true to rule, are making monstrous copies. Every day before the salmon-silver gowned Infanta, a diminutive dwarf meticulously groomed and too near his canvas, is concentrating upon small reproductions which have oversized heads, all unconsciously depicting the defects of his own proportions.
The Velásquez room is my retreat. The activities therein are always shedding new light upon the Art Lovers, – and the little superficialities of our kind. For the most part, folk enjoy these works of Velásquez. Others stop because they have heard that this room is the pinnacle of Spanish art. Two persons whose identity was not unknown to me, passed through this shrine in a blank state of hesitancy evidently produced by a self-consciousness that fairly screamed out, "Why, don't you know who I am!" Meantime, I tagged them for prize somnambulists!
But to jump from Sleepers to Cæsars, without question the rarest portrait of Julius in this world is to be found in the Classical collection to the right on the first floor of the Prado. This mellowed carving in marble was first owned by the Germanic Charles V. I can imagine that monarch ruling over Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, and Denmark, keeping it where he could walk around its dynamic exquisiteness, expanding under the influence of the Latin Imperialist whose greatness he fain would attain.
The Prado Museum is not far from the Modern Museum on the same side of the highway that runs through the Paseo del Prado, an avenue with parkways affording a stretch of promenade where it is wise to take one's exercise before noon, or after five. So en route to see the modern exhibitions of the very active new school of painters and sculptors, one may be liberally enlightened on the outdoor manners of peasants and driving princes. Here and there Guardias Civiles, rifled, revolvered, sworded and braceleted, gather in pairs, or singly eat hot potato chips with very attractively uniformed nurses of the unrivaled beauties in the perambulators of the very rich. Rounded women, and tousled boys with toys and hoops or miniature frigates for sailing in the fountain, attract the rickety old venders feathered with their bright balloons and highly colored paper windmills. But this is not Old Madrid. One must seek Old Madrid in the by-streets and literally go eye-prying behind great age-patinas of wooden and then iron-grilled doors. There indeed "Old Madrid" is alive in the customs of the home.
I've wished to see you many times since we met in Rome. And that reminds me that I have a confession to make. Do you remember telling I. D. L.'s brother and me about your moonlight visit to the Colosseum? Well we sat just back of where you were standing when you first entered the arena and seeing that you were accompanied we just let you stand there while we sat our ground . . . for an hour after you had departed! You see the spot was fascinating with the ghosts of Nero and the burning Christians!
AND had not my Ambassador said, "Why do you not model the Dictator of Spain?" I should have passed through Madrid last summer without fixing the purpose to make the bust of the Spanish Duce.
In my first session on December 12th the General made some very enthusiastic comment upon New Italy and told me that he had had the great pleasure of presenting himself to your Excellency14 when he visited Rome last year with Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain. He asked about "Il Diario" which I was fortunate enough to have with me owning to the fact that a first copy off the press was sent to me before I left New York last May. Your Excellency's book, having interested Primo de Rivera to the extent of his asking for that copy, is now resting on the General's desk with a line from my very humble self.
I take this opportunity to say to Your Excellency that the four misspelled Italian words in the preface which I had the honor to write, were due to the type-setter and not to my copy. That individual must have resented the "I" in Inglese and changed it to "E"! He also proceeded to feminize "Paolo" before Mechetti, who would not appreciate that kind of an error! The mistake of transforming the Italian "Segnora" to a Spanish "Señora" also might have its little disadvantages, but knowing your Excellency, such misprints (owing to your long editorship) I am sure you will have the graciousness to overlook.
I am sending this my most hearty Christmas Greetings by X. who tells me he is leaving for Rome to-morrow, and in whom –
ALL my dallying last summer has not reduced the fatigue brought on with the rush and work of eleven months in those blessedly stimulating United States. In other words for the moment the Remores have me! I could stay contentedly in my rooms with nothing more to do than imbibe air from my balcony, from which height I can, or have, made a friend! He is a street musician and something revived of chivalry. I think 'tis he that is spoken of as "that old disturber of the peace"! Now how persons with any human sympathies could once have laid eyes upon him and consciously fail to respond to his glorified person, and to his remarkable sound-producing manipulations on three instruments at the same time, – well, it is one more proof that my distillations for recompense in foreign lands must be above the average. After Italy it is natural that I shall never be de-sentimentalized!
To love ditties from the Spanish ballatas I awoke this nine A.M. – which was not a belated hour for New Year's day. Last evening I participated in a competition with all the world who gathered, after tradition, around the plaza of the Sun, to swallow twelve carefully prepared grapes, one at a time, whilst the old town clocks struck out the Old Year. Having done my "dozen" on time and thus assured myself of good pickings for 1926, I anticipated eight hours sleep. But that was asking too much for New Year's day. All the pearly hours preceding dawn were broken by the night watchman coming along with his lantern, pike and key in answer to belated persons who, wishing to enter their houses, loudly clapped palms three times or yelled "Sereno!" as they approached their block, and still conversationally wound up, were unwilling to close the doors.
This morning I was too engrossed with sleep for rejoicing, even at the late hour of nine, when my old favorite struck up the orchestrated New Year's gusto below my drafty window. Half awake I made up my foggy mind to forget him, but the strains continued blasting into my chamber. Finally, realizing that he had gone through his repertoire five times and was playing "God Save the King" on the sixth round, (as with some Italians, every stranger to a Spaniard is English), I decided to scramble for my customary small bit of silver with which to reward peripatetic stick-to-it-iveness. If you could only have seen what awaited the visible part of me that was all disheveled permanent waves and kimono! Unforewarned, down I peeked into the upturned faces of a goodly collection of Spaniards whose visages brightened with my coming. I felt like a really truly Dime Princess, for I was welcomed with respectful "Ahs," and smiles of relief. You see it was very evident that the dear old thing had told some one of them that he was going to play until that strange lady who always opened her lattice sent a small jingling coin below. So touching was this little attention I shall tell the hotel maid to inform him that the day for my departure approaches, otherwise I fear to think what his love for small silver (to say nothing of smiles) may do to his strength for keeping the three instruments clanging in harmony. Such an engaging old creature should make his fortune on the American stage. His stubble-bearded face is the perfection of a lovable type in Spain that is a cross between what is called in the South, "Shanty Irish" and a chimpanzee! Moreover the tricks of his talents would have made a monkey superfluous. Rigged up after the jacket and silver-buttoned costume of the unaffected Gitano, on his shoulders was attached a big bass drum and a pair of timbals both of which were operated separately from leathern cords fastened to gently shuffling sheep-skin sandaled feet. With these short dancing steps he was enabled to bring forth the clang and the boom, boom, boom, while like a musical snail he crept songfully on his way. His two free hands were expert with Fandangos and other jogging or wail measures congruous to his highly decorative accordion.
Such are the pictures I love in Spain – characters straight from the musical spheres, and so clearly the children of nature one wonders how they can, even in the face of a thousand Christian images be anything else at heart but Pagan. They leap from the past centuries to leave one blank in child-eyed amazement.
And this window of mine has been the open sesame to the apartment of a Madrileña who resides opposite where I can observe her engaged in wifely duties. There is a little Mirador where the children are sent on sunny days to study their lessons. Just below this family in the little by-street turning off from the Prado, the rounds of a proprietor of a fuel shop with his donkey and a hired man furnish me with immeasurable entertainment. The owner (who must be of Moorish turn of mind) and his beastie, have sane ideas as to capacity and limits for a tiny cross-marked burro. The assistant, a sly brute, is just plain sub-ass all the way through, and lends deaf ears to the sentiments voiced by the little frowsy quadruped whose brays compel me to drop everything and anything to see what he is fussing about. Sometimes he is half way into the shop grumbling to his master for oats and bran. With him he makes protest, or requests, straight from the solar plexus. Again he will be braying "Adios" commending another burro to God in the Madrileño style of salutation! Yesterday, as I was peering down on the scant activities of the cobbled way, an awful racket turned the corner below. My little pet was coming almost at a pace with a heavy, if small, cartload of bulging sacks of coal. Before the door he drew up, a stamping tiny charger of outraged dignity, much having transpired under the heavy threats, jerks and maledictions of the driver. The donkey made every effort to see into the shop. Indeed I thought he might twist himself in halves in order to find his master. Then, attracted by footsteps ahead, he suddenly threw his long ears forward and began to jumble the chromatic scale from the adagios to the crescendos and all over again. I knew something was about to happen, and sure enough the owner arrived from the other direction. The long and protracted lament from that donkey to his master was an endearing episode. He tried to subdue the little beast by pretending to bite his ears and ending with a series of friendly pats and cuffs, all the while listening to much back-talk from the little animal. Oh, yes, the "coke-man" is a delight – especially when he bites the ears of his four-legged friend!
But the disposition of this coal dealer certainly is not anything like that of two men I saw yesterday on the incline that begins with our hotel and climbs into the city from the Prado. I was forced to close my eyes and stop my ears while I passed two brutes who were pleasurably inflicting atrocious blows on the backbones and heads of three over-loaded mules. Nothing could persuade them to stop, until, being worn out themselves, they turned the quivering, un-remonstrative animals into a more passable route.
The other day I wanted to shoot a wretched animal I saw driven before a strong young mule. The hind legs of the poor beast in question were both too drawn by strain and age to make normal walking possible. One foot barely scraped along on the tip edge of shoe. The other hoof, maimed by a hideous growth at the joint, was shod with a stilted shoe of several inches, thus making the leg as long as the others. This is the sort of thing that takes the joy out of Spain for me – and at Christmas time when one would be happy.
However we have variety. Not long ago an admirable example of the Castilian peasant knocked on my door. She was accompanied by the chambermaid who explained to me that this jauntily scarfed and aproned person had Antiques from the country. Thrilled with the idea of what her neatly tied-up shawl might hold I was glad to welcome her. Inside was a homespun linen bedspread with a Castilian pattern woven straight-way into the linen. 'Twas big enough to carpet a room, but scarcely heavy enough to be used as one. She had several other colored, printed bed coverings. One of them was not too large and made up of pieces nicely matched into the pattern of Greek vases filled with conventional bunches of red and yellow roses, dotted here and there in blue flowers. It was about a hundred years old. I could not resist the colors or peasant, so I paid her on the spot exactly what she asked, sixty pesetas. It did not occur to me to want to bargain with her. She wasn't that kind. I was so pleased with my find I sent for some friends who were in the hotel to come and look. They immediately began to trade, asking for a reduced price on some of the more valuable things. And do you think that she could be moved? Not in the least. Smiling directly under her colored kerchief circling from the crown of her head and tied under her chin, (it is worn far back in order to enhance the line of the hair and beauty of the face), with all the dignity of the race she stood pat. I loved her for her courage. She left the place with the same clear brow, (which was more than the Americans did) seemingly being untouched by her failure to make the sale. She had entered pleasantly and calmly. She departed in the same erect state of mind. That won my respect.
With Mrs. Hutchins on Christmas Eve I pushed my way about a densely crowded plaza where the folk from the country and the lowly of Madrid came to pick up their meager holiday supplies. The Castilian peasant in all his variations was there, most of them apparently poor. We also visited another great plaza where Christmas tree decorations and "the makings" were sold from hundreds of stands. The toys for the boys I noticed were drums and horns, while toys for the girls consisted principally of tambourines with a few not uninteresting dolls. In Spain, parents do not feverishly hunt for novelties for their children or themselves. The several shops on the better streets carry a small line of more exclusive gifts, they being an array of bullfighting statuettes, Arabs mounted on horses and a few French dolls.
Everyone on this common plaza seemed to be buying the little figures and animals for the scene of the Nativity. Some of the stands sold only bark for the grotto – others carried artificial grass, and others little figures of the magi and the holy family. Each person evidently had his price for this neces-cording to his means.
On our way back to the Savoy we fell into an unusual silversmith's shop. He carried a line of new silver, but sold old ornamental hand-beaten trays and cups by the weight of the article in silver. Paying three to five dollars per article, many lovely things were collected to be given Christmas.
The custom of indiscriminate sending of cards and gifts among the grown-ups is unknown in this land where the duro is so evasive of the wage earners' grasp. Whatever they do to express the Christmas spirit takes the form of feasting, with limited presents for the children exchanged on Twelfth Night. With the advent of the English and Americans in the Capital, a few Spaniards of the upper classes, whose children attend the parties of the foreigners, are coming to know about Christmas trees. It was at such an affair that Christmas came to me in as purely old-fashioned glee as if it had been old England itself.
Do you realize that we have never spent a Christmas together?
I AM sending you a carbon copy of my article which I hesitated to emit for publication just now – so please keep it for me.
"The most striking figure in Europe to-day, after Mussolini, is Captain General Miguel Primo de Rivera, Señor Marques de Estella, who seized Spain and delivered her from a set of corrupt politicians.
"Primo de Rivera was born to two picturesque parts – first to the inexhaustible, gay, hazardous, reckless, frank, liberal, fearless and experienced soldier-man from romantic Andalucía, who laughs much. Second, to register in history as the national character big enough for his opportunity, who recognized the propitious hour to strike and so achieve for Spain through methods of dictatorship, not what Mussolini accomplished for Italy by something like the same methods, but the great step proportionate to the possibilities offered by this present stage of national evolution.
"Early in December 1925, a few days after his government had been changed from a military dictatorship to a civilian ministry, I gathered my courage to go to the Ministerio de la Guerra, located in the finest 18th century palace in Madrid, to ask for an interview with El Presidente del Consejo.
"With a combination of Spanish (inter-worded with Italian) I succeeded in passing three groups of porters, each one more forbidding than the other, and arrived before Señor Linares Rivas, the first secretary in the Directerio Militar, to whom I presented a letter from the American Ambassador to the Court of His Majesty Alfonso the 13th.
"The General had been informed concerning my desire to model his portrait bust and was said to have characteristically exclaimed, 'Mon Dieu, isn't modeling Mussolini enough for one woman?' Thereupon promising that he would pose for me if he could find the time.
"Because Spaniards have little idea of the independent place American women have made for themselves in the professional world, I half expected not to be taken seriously. During the few minutes I was waiting, in talking to one of the gentlemen close to Primo de Rivera, I quite forgot the status quo of woman in Spain and asked something about the particular reforms Primo de Rivera was interested in bringing about. This personage replied, 'Señora, we do not discuss such things with women.' 'But, sir,' I answered, 'I am not a Spanish woman and have a right to discuss that which interests me.' At that instant, fortunately for me, the very able Secretary to our Embassy, Mr. Henry I. Dockweiler, was shown into the room. The little bout ended accordingly, and I was soon ushered past a number of persons into the very presence of the Spanish Dictator himself.
"Primo de Rivera rose with the gentleness and courtesy of a grandee, extending his well-shaped hand. At the same time and with the air prevenance he gave me an adjudgment from great, keen, steel-blue eyes. The strong-jawed Spanish Duce, stood head and shoulders above the average man. His high masculine voice and animal vitality filled the room.
"Since at that hour he was accustomed to receive on the average of seven persons during fifteen minutes, we lost no time in getting to the subject. On producing my photographs, I did not overlook showing the one of the bronze bust I had made of Mussolini. His Excellency had last year accompanied the King and Queen of Spain on their sojourn to Italy, and consequently not only knows Mussolini, but admires him tremendously. Having established this point of interest I was instantly given an appointment for the first sitting on the third day following at eleven A.M.
"The Marques de Estella starts his day at nine. Often beginning at the Palacio Real, by eleven he is at his desk in the Ministry of War, beginning the endless dictation. Like Mussolini every day he works from twelve to sixteen hours and with an endurance that can only be sustained by a super-physique. By this capacity alone his example would be efficacious to the Spanish Moral. He has no time for outdoor sports, yet the Italian attache in Madrid, who was with the General on one of his trips to the Riffian front, told me that Primo de Rivera was indefatigable en marche, and the equal of the best of his soldiers.
"To observe this sententious man at work, was to see an archetype of what we Americans call, 100 percent efficiency. He dissipates no nervous energy in futile gestures and useless discussion. He continues dictations even while he eats his luncheon, which is as a rule served on his desk. At three in the afternoon, according to an unbroken Spanish custom, he goes home for the siesta and is back at his post at five when the audiences begin. Following the dinner hour, which interrupts the day again at 10 P.M., he often works with his secretaries until two and three in the morning. It was this sort of discipline (not forgetting the soldiers' discursions!) and hard training, that developed his physical and mental force, and to-day makes him a man of iron at the age of fifty-six."
˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙
To give a brief account of his career – when he was fourteen years of age he entered the General Military Academy. Four years later his active soldiering began as second lieutenant in the Infantry. He first distinguished himself at twenty-three when he went as standard bearer to Melilla, where he won the Cross of San Fernando of the first class.
In 1895 he was detailed to command a second company of the Battalion of Chasseurs, and the same year became aide de camp to General Campas in Cuba. There he was promoted to Major. Later service found him adjutant to the Governor General of the Philippines. Afterwards as Lieutenant Colonel he was 40 days entirely alone among the insurgent camps.
His next commission sent him to China, where for gallant service, he was awarded the Cross of Maria Christina and promoted to Colonel. In 1898 he was back in Spain, and during 1902 suppressed the disorders of Barcelona.
On the 16th of March 1906, Colonel Primo de Rivera and Deputy Soriano fought a duel – why? – I do not know, but they did participate in a real duel and both men were wounded!
About the same year the Colonel became Colonel by Seniority. In 1909, supported with a column of four companies of the block house "Velarde", he participated in a battle with the Moors. The five years following were spent in warfare on African sands where he added other honors to his service and became thoroughly schooled in the "ordered disordered" tactics of Spain's old enemy, the Moor.
Primo de Rivera's actual experience was broadened during the Great War, for when he was Military Governor of Cadiz he headed a commission sent to study the English and French front line maneuvers.
After 1917 he was first made commander of the 18th Division, as Lieutenant General, gaining the decoration of the Cross of the Order of San Denito de Avis – then as Captain General of the 1st Region he won another medal carrying the Legion of Honor. It is not surprising thereafter (in 1921) the same lucky star granted to him the title of Marques de Estella with the full grandeeship of Spain.
In 1923 Primo de Rivera attained the presidency of the Military Directorate and went by appointment as High Commissioner of Spain to Morocco.
About this time came the defeat of General Silvester in Morocco known as the "Annural disaster," when Spain lost ten thousand men, and General Silvester, overcome with grief, committed suicide. It has been said by a writer who is supposed to be in the know, that the investigation which followed disclosed a letter and telegram from the King secretly over-ruling all plans of the War Department. Whether this was the case or not, General Aguilero was chosen to navigate the Ship of State. In an argument in the Senate he made the unfortunate remark that "the honor of an officer is a much more serious matter than the honor of a civilian," and straightway received a slap in the face by the civilian, Señor Sanchez Guerra, a former Prime Minister. This affair bringing to an end the power of General Aguilero, General Primo de Rivera was substituted by the King.
At this period the Marques de Estella "planted his feet" for the Coup d'Etat, and to-day we see him not only the General in Chief of the army, but the president of the Council of Nine over whom His Majesty the King, according to the Parliamentary cabinet system, reigns but does not govern.
What the innovation of his dismissal of the Cortes and the undoing of Parliamentary machinery portends, is for the politicians and military to work out. The anarchistic movements, communists and Marx-schooled socialists are audaciously fermenting opposition to the law. The Reformist socialists, composed of the educated class, propose to reach power through the authority of the local comitias. The idealist republicans are also respectably doing their little best to evolve a new order. A short session with one of these reformists gave me sufficient grounds for a deduction not flattering to the present government. However that was the opinion of one Spaniard superbly upset!
To quote Manuel Bueno, –
"In Spain there is that attachment to the monarchial tradition and that sentiment is so deeply rooted into the nation that recently the mere fact that some one vilified the King was sufficient for the unanimous public opinion to rise in His Majesty's defense." But then he says in a sedative and Spanish inactive point of view, "Why rise in arms against any existing order of things when one is not sure what will follow is likely to be any improvement?"
In that remark we have a picture of the probably incurable social hook-worm that has kept Spain where she is to-day. The people say, "If I have nothing to ask, I have nothing to suffer," and continue to go their old way.
To go on quoting Bueno again in his "Spain and the Monarchy" (1925):
"As far as the King is concerned, he has never been an obstacle in any reform. Every time a Prime Minister has entered the palace with a plan for advanced reforms, no matter how extremist, he has been assured of the approval of the Monarch. Our politicians, despite their incompetency and their indolence, have been content with imposing upon the country the superiority of routine as a method of government, without ever resorting to tyrannical fancies which might have irritated the multitude."
Bueno has given us the words of the King himself who said, – "If I were certain that the majority of the Spaniards are republicans, not only would I not fight to keep the Crown against the national sentiment, but I would immediately abandon my office and be satisfied with remaining a simple citizen of my country."15
BRONZE BUST OF GENERAL PRIMO DE RIVERA
MARQUES DE ESTELLA, DICTATOR OF SPAIN
By Nancy Cox-McCormack. Madrid
But to get back to my tatting and personal interest. . . .
Because I did not speak enough Spanish to be considered de trop, I was permitted to continue my modeling while the General conducted several impromptu sessions with officers and other personages of the new civilian Government.
Under all circumstances it appeared to be no effort for the General to maintain cordiality, firmness and harmony, whether it was with his secretaries, friends or valet. Indeed when to the latter he said, "Mi sombrero, mi Tomas," one distinctly felt that Thomas considered his life too inconsequential a gift to offer to his master.
Although the Spanish politician has ever been lacking the moral rigidity of Fabricius, Primo de Rivera is so big, energetic, and able, that he immediately inspires confidence. Although he has a strong opposition among the deposed politicians, and, (judging from the conversation I had with an educator) the enmity of the free school or latter-day thinkers, who, with the socialists, say that he is "a product of the crown and army and therefore a tool of the army and monarchy" – he goes about entirely unprotected. Fines are known to have been imposed by the Government and thus the people have talked a bit of "Soviet Methods." Censorship, too,16 has stirred up comment amongst the liberalists, but having seen no significant demonstrations by the opposition on the day of the late change of government, I should judge that the General is bossing a natural Spanish revolution amongst political and party tagging groups – sans serious disturbance to the mostly acquiescing and dilatory masses.
Primo de Rivera does not give the impression of being a man who enjoys making war, yet I could imagine no more terrible foe. In the "Mussolini" sense, his revolution is not nation-deep. It has not united the youth of Spain nor attained that "Mussolini Inflexibility" that has been projected into Italy's moral spine to inspire economic reconstruction. But then, Primo de Rivera has another problem, and he does not pretend to be a spiritual leader. He is a master in practicalities of Army rule and proclaims the fact alongside his love of "King, God, and his Country." Despite the suspended action of the Cortes or Parliament, His Majesty the King and the majority of the Spanish people, (as well as the Church) recognize that "Primo" is the man of the hour – the only man available and capable of advancing the present fortunes of Spain.
The General has made striking a criminal offense. As a result industry is reorganized. He has cleared the country of bandits. He is restoring the national moral. His civil guard is a body of fit and effective men. The anarchists of Catalonia have been decidedly discouraged. He is trying to persuade the Provinces of Spain to cooperate as one. He has forwarded educational reforms, and what was most important in the prevention of complete national economical collapse, he has commanded the citizens of Spain to invest their moneys at home and to bring into Spain all outside capital possible.
To go into the banking systems or politics is out of my sphere – so let's get back to my work in his bureau.
At the termination of the first morning's sitting, the General explained to me that his oldest son, Miguel, was interested in sculpture and that he had a studio where he modeled when he was not attending to business. Furthermore, he announced that his son wished also to model him while I was engaged in trying to do the same. I may say here that Primo de Rivera was content to have his son display a talent and I could not but stop to compare his attitude with that of many practical business men in the States whose sons develop tastes for the fine arts.
The day following, the heir to the title of Estella, a slender, oriental-eyed young man in his early twenties arrived, with clay and pedestal, to take advantage of the time his father was giving to me. The playful salutations exchanged between the two were a revelation in son-worshiping, where father expected great things of his son, and son saw God himself in his father.
"Señora, how does my son speak English?" was the first question, (in French). I assured his Excellency that the young man with a slight mustache and captivating eyes, spoke a fine English, which was true. "Bon," he grunted, "my son must speak English well."
El Presidente de Consejo de España is a widower and has two other sons, both young cadets, and two beautiful daughters of the ages of sixteen and eighteen years. The family residence is tucked away in a narrow street just off the Paseo del Prado and is conspicuous only by reason of two guards at either end of the short block.
Each day at his bureau, I prayed and hoped that the General would keep his rubicund face quiet and really pose. Each day his iron-gray head became submerged in notes and other pressing duties, now and then coming to the surface long enough to look regretfully in my direction to disappear again.
These were not the sittings I had been promised, but I had not a complaint to make, considering myself fortunate in being the only sculptor, so far, to have even this opportunity for making his portrait bust. And being received consistently in the most polite manner, I possessed my soul with patience and continued to hope.
After the third morning, when Señor Miguel Junior gave up and sent his model to the studio where he said he would have more success by working from photographs, I was left with an apologetic dictator.
Determined to finish what I had started, and though my model stood for the most part in a blinding light by a large window, I struggled on, and after the tenth morning arrived at a result, which if not photographic in detail, is I think considered a successful interpretation of the master of Spain.17
In a sense, despite all the splendid attentions shown me on every side, it was a great relief to finish my sittings, impart my appreciation and go – for often when the General went for a short conference with the Minister of War in the adjoining apartment, I was left alone amidst war maps and documents, which had every reason to be too precious for my well-being had anything been mislaid during the days this confidence was thrust upon me.
The Department at the Ministerio de la Guerra functioned per force on Sundays. My sixth appointment falling on that day, and the exigencies of work being somewhat abated, General Primo de Rivera took occasion to conduct me into the chamber occupied by the Minister of War.
This beautiful salon like other parts of the palace was rich in 18th century furniture and Spanish tapisserie. It served also as the Council Chamber for the Ministery, and was lined with portrait paintings of several preceding generations of the ministers of war.
Most intriguing figure 'mongst those dignified, proudly uniformed daredevils, was pictured in the life size portrait of the first Duque de Tetuan, a Spaniard of pure Irish ancestry, and great-grandfather of the present John McDonald, Duque de Tetuan, the witty Minister of War in the present Spanish Cabinet.18
Since, long before the days of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Church and the politics of Spain have been one in thought and action, it was therefore appropriately Spanish to find this bureau of the Minister of War connected with a chapel where every Sunday at noon a special mass is said for the benefit of the Ministry and those engaged in the Department. Señor Miguel de Rivera attended this service with his father. The mass is said in half an hour.
Every day brought its new entertainment in the appearances of personages who had business with the Dictator. As an American, the most interesting person to whom I was presented was the last of the line of Christopher Columbus, – Cristobal Colon, after his illustrious ancestor, but known among the grandees as the Duque de Veragua.
Apropos, it is said that the collection of Columbus documents representing a part of the original files made to establish the legal titles of the Columbus heirs, as historical papers are about to be taken over by the Spanish Directorate, His Grace the Duque de Veragua and Marquis de la Vega having refused to sell them to Harvard and other bidders outside of Spain. These papers hold to the titles of Grand Admiral of the Indies, to which none of the heirs has ever succeeding in collecting the properties entitled. Even the contentions of family rights were not settled until after long litigation when the Council of the Indies transferred the titles to the present Larreategui family from the claims of the family Berwick-Liria.
Just as it is the passion of the Royal Prince of Asturias to raise prize pigs, the Duque de Veragua finds his main sport in breeding the Miura bulls. Thus he, like many of the other high-born gentlemen, has his hall of fame or photographic collection of renowned bulls as well as fighters of bulls.
The last of the line of Cristobal Colon recounted to me how years ago he had made, with Count de Vela, (now introducer of the Ambassador at the Court) the voyage with the copies of the three Caravels sent by Spain to the Chicago World's Fair. He was happy to learn that one of them still lends enchantment to the Jackson Park lagoon in Chicago.
IN Rome two years ago I quite unexpectedly saw the Spanish Sovereigns when, accompanied by Primo de Rivera, they made their pilgrimage to the Vatican. To-day's privilege was just as unlooked for, and most unique in my observations of the formalities traditional to Royalty. It all came about through the apt kindness of a charming lady living at the Palacio Real whom I had on several occasions met during my limited stay here.
"Come," she wrote, "and I shall have a place reserved, that you may view the Court Procession which will proceed to the Royal Chapel for the eleven o'clock mass of the Epiphany." (Jan. 6th.)
To this friend's apartment I repaired at the appointed hour. The amanuensis at the Palace door lackeyed me to her rooms where I pushed a regular little apartment door bell button. There in my dressiest black gown I was to don the necessary requirements of comb and mantilla before I could take my position in line beside the mother of His Excellency the Ambassador from Great Britain.
The sensation of seeing one's locks and forelocks being conformed into the Spanish style was one of the most agreeable turns I have taken in Spain. Presto, a maid with dextrous fingers showed me one of my submerged selves. I not only looked coyly flirtatious but I felt that way and was glad I had withstood the tyranny of unshorn hair. Never had I conceived that one's head could become so ornamental without a painful lack of balance. But when the donna muy sympatica, had terminated her task, the veil, held in place by dozens and dozens of fairy pins, set as comfortably over the comb to my head as if it had grown that way. When the effect was finally patted into "just right" the maid turned to her mistress saying, "There, one could mistake the Americana for a Spanish lady," which was explained as being the greatest compliment the Spaniard can pay a foreigner. Then, to reassure one for the duration of a long and tiresome service, we emptied glasses of Madeira and descended through blocks of the superb palace to find our places at the head of the corridor which led to the private chapel of the Kings of Spain.
It was no ordinary pageant – nor a make-believe one! When we arrived, a silent and beautifully appointed band was already stationed at the doors of the chapel – the drum-major surpassing all examples of sculpture I have ever seen in human sphericality. In fact, he was made up of one spheroid after another, aggregating a bulk that, with his costume, presented the reincarnation of several fastidious Captain Bloods poured into one pair of boots. The master of Court functions before him, faultlessly fine as a colored Dresden porcelain, stood ready to lift the lace-cuffed hand exquisitely in signal as the music from a remote part of the palace announced the coming of the Court. First in view were two lines of grandees, tall, lean, chapeaux-a-plumes, filing on either side of the Royal carpet. They were all array, magnificence, jeweled decorations, gold embroideries and breast ribbons; and no two of them alike. Of course, I did not know a Knight of Montesa, instituted by James II of Aragón (1317) from the grand master of St. Jago whom Pope Alexander 3rd. invested with a rank next to the King, nor a Knight of St. Salvador instituted by Alfonso First (1188) from the knights of Maris de Mercede who exist for the redemption of captives! I saw some beautiful white feathers in an enormous headdress that might well signify the Knights of the Dove, that order being the inspiration of Don Juan number one (1379-90) whose reign was fraught with civil wars and the personal complications of Love-fare. But there they were, all of them, I presume, even unto the Knights of the Red Staff of Alfonso II of Castile and León (1330) and Cristobal Colon, Duque de Veragua himself. Before going into the door of the chapel and within a hand's-reach of me every one of these gleaming figures turned to curtesy in front of their approaching Majesties who had the center of the carpet preceding other members of the royal family.
The King, in Military (as head of the Army) atavism has plainly marked with the features of Philip IV in a finer type. In or out of procession he is an impressive figure, not only as King of Spain, but among the remaining crowned heads of Europe. From little confidences indulged in by my friend, I understand that he has great sport with his children. One can understand his being human enough to play pick-a-back in the nursery, but hardly go to the length of Henry the Fourth of France who permitted Bonington to paint him on all fours with the Spanish Ambassador gazing on in horror of such unregal deportment.
The Queen, really a great beauty whose features and blond coloring were slightly enhanced by touches of latter-day alchemy, has the graceful height and carriage that would declare a queen were she not the English consort of Alfonso 13th. She is not unlike her kinswoman, the beloved, handsome, spectacular and clever Marie of Rumania who emulates the Byzantine Empress Theodora.
Queen Victoria of Spain aside from striking statuesqueness has a refreshing personality that fairly glowed under her silver and white satin tissues. Her bearing did not suggest any predilections for the old fashion Spanish place in the background. On this occasion her bodice was cut low in the neck, it had long, close sleeves and medieval lines very much like those Sarah Bernhardt used to wear for dinner. Of course it carried the indispensable royal train, attached to the near-fashionable length of skirt. In truth it was a gown fashioned after the French idea, being a beautiful foundation for the wealth of matchless pearls. A marvelous pearl tiarra and the enormous pendant-cross constructed of great emeralds proclaimed her position.
Both King and Queen wore the smileless mask of convention which they put on with a certain assurance of "knowing their cues." I felt satisfied that they could shed their roles of placidity as one peels off a nicely fitting glove and not feel any the worse for the devouring curiosity and attentiveness of their subjects. If they have any qualms about the insecurity of crowns, they have had practice enough (beginning with the bomb thrown at their wedding coach) not to appear concerned. One can have nothing but admiration for any head that carries a crown in these "democratic" days of mighty dictatorships.
Close to his royal parents walked the Heir Apparent, Prince of Asturias, a pale lad of eighteen, accompanied by his Noble attendant. The Prince's title, by the way, originates from the territory by that name in Galicia and descends through King Pelayo (718-37) first of the Periodo Arabe who established the Monarquía de Asturias, composed of the "reinos de Asturias, Navarra, Sobrarbe, y Aragón y condado de Barcelona." The other three Princes and two Princesses do not as yet appear in functions of State.
The Queen Mother, scintillating in silver-mauve brocade and diamonds carried perhaps more of the personality of warmth and graciousness than Queen Victoria. She was followed by two dozen or more of the wealth laden ladies of the court each of whom vied with the other in richness of tiarras, costume, jewels and style, but none of them approaching Queen Victoria in beauty or stage presence. I rather felt that these high born women must have been somewhat removed from the sphere of Les Femmes Savantes and were a little lined in soul as well as visage, for where is there a court that is free of intense formalities, heart-aching jealousies, hopeful matchmakings and but few triumphs to relieve the dull stilted routine?
Coming back to the little tragedies of life – the most deranging circumstance has come upon me. About the time I had settled into the work on the Primo de Rivera sittings, the return of that strange fatigue of heart and the muscles of my chest made it almost impossible for me to finish the work. The very day I was most pre-occupied as to whether I was going to get through with it or not, the diplomatic secretary who functions between the General and His Majesty came to me with a message from the latter saying that he would pose for me. Not having ever approached the question of modeling the King you can imagine how I felt when I was obliged to say that I had not the health to take up such a commission. I put forward a clumsy excuse in the explanation that I would return when I was well enough to do myself justice and thereby do justice to the portrait of His Majesty. It was a terrible situation for me . . . and the fact that I am out of order for work (and may remain so for some time) is what I call being out of luck.
But getting down to things that really count in this world, how is the baby and does he still resemble Della Robbia's little Christ? . . .
Please pass this on to Mary Newell – I really have written it to you both.
IN Madrid, day before yesterday, I came on by night train, finding accommodations very good indeed. I could not get a compartment to myself but the young person who shared the section with me, occupying the upper berth, was a pleasant Miss on her way to Switzerland where she was to be in school. Rather surprised at a damsel being sent alone out of her country, I asked her if she was Spanish, to which she responded, "Certainly, Señora. Of course my father is German and my mother is English, but I am Spanish!" Then she went on to tell me the great differences in her home and the home of her Castilian friends – which we already had reason to know.
The sun decided to favor me on this day of my arrival and so I have "made hay" – driving and walking about the characteristic parts of ancient and up-to-date Barcelona.
The charm of Barcelona lies, I think, in a few early buildings, to wit, the fourteenth century Town Hall, the unique old Parliament House of Catalonia and the beautiful fifteenth century Gothic cathedral where the streets surrounding it have their unmolested being with the shadows and narrownesses of palace walks of the same epoch. There is an old palace (with famous ceiling) built by Charles V, that left Francis the First in awe of Spanish wealth when he was kept prisoner in 1525 – do you know it?
I found the Cathedral particularly impressive inside and out. The fine ancient glass and carvings of the legendary Knight and Dragon, the fountained court where white geese and pigeons still plume themselves, the altars protected with the bent-iron screens of the earlier church, all please one's taste for ecclesiastical architecture and its ornature.
Outside this edifice, walking in the cobbled byways, one's attention is drawn to the decorative figurines of composition immured back of the glass in the basement shop windows where scenes familiar to the two Spanish religions – meaning the life of Christ and the gay little "ases del Toros" of the Bull Ring – can be purchased either in groups or singly. They are the prettiest to be found in all Spain. I have some carefully packed for presents.
The ordinary show-windows of Barcelona proclaim the prosperity of the Catalonians in the high grades of chic apparel and toilet accessories. All this finery is a noticeable change from the average Spanish city where the antiques in the shops are the only temptations to the touring artist. The proprietors of these shops tell me they are now thriving on the demands of Italian buyers who find no more Italian antiques in Italy to sell to the tourists and are combing Spain for a supply.
The Catalonians going about their activities, singing their songs in their own language and speaking Castilian to the outside world, have brought Barcelona into a hectic nineteenth century prosperity. Disinterestedness of the people to strangers on the streets indicates another plane of thought or Spanish education. All classes are busy making money – the vigorous Goths and Alanes are coming into the expression of racial distinction. Around six o'clock young men and women crowd the hotel dining rooms to drink their tea and dance American Jazz. Perhaps some like to sit in the clubs fully asleep or flirt (as you said they did) from the windows, as do the army officers and cock-midden gentry of Madrid or Sevilla. But I doubt it, for this one reason – Barcelona is like Milano, (Mussolini's adopted province in Italy) . . . the men come out to seek the ladies with all the vim of a full developed vanity! Also there is plenty to talk about . . . Primo de Rivera and the new change of Government, for Barcelona is uproariously "politico." Everyone here has the feeling of "change." There is much fretting under the Dictatorship. Liberals there are enough to support a journal that prints officious editorial opinions of "Don Alfonso." The anarchists, as in every other country, are taking their soapbox stands here and there but they don't make a scratch over the lacquer of decorousness which proves all Spain to be inactively sufficient unto itself.
All of new Barcelona has been crystallized by the needs of the growing Metropolis. Broad fine streets are well lighted with lamps that on the longest avenue have their setting in beautifully modern cement benches which at noon are filled with clerks from the stores. The latter day streets are faced with over-trimmed apartment houses, some designed in a fashion that leaves one lost in stupification. For example, there are the deliberately affected forms of the cave dwelling architecture, by Gandi, where three or four-storied apartment houses loom up in irregular layers like one cave on another but fitted inside with the conveniences of American homes.
Before I got around to the several churches dating from the tenth and eleventh centuries (not being interested in the 18th-century conglomerates) I took a run out towards the edge of the city to what was to have been the new Cathedral of The Holy Family. It is a terrible half finished mass of bad sculptures that creep and crawl, strangling the feeling for architectural proportions and so expressive of the devil and all his evils that it will be a long year before I can remove Don Gandi's fantasy from my special chamber of horrors! I asked the driver what this unfinished towering mass might be and he immediately won me by shrugging his shoulders and replying, "Oh, Madame, that is a mad-house for the owls and bats" – that being a perfect picture of the utility for which it now stands.
So you see I have had a crowded day, and you may well wonder how I did it. One's capacity happily stretches under the necessity if one has a sense of humor and the estate of loving uncommon exhibitions of things common to all mankind as expressed by his geographical possibilities. Absorption is so much a part of the nourishment for my soul it generates new undercurrents, in a manner replenishing my physical strength. Though I think I do not commit much fruitless chasing about, after that siege in The States I am half ill of fatigue. Unfortunately at the moment I have not even the strength with which to speculate on a post-existence – or half try to live up to the appetite of the spirit. If I had had my usual health I should have made several stops enroute to Barcelona – or even taken the day train in order to see the ancient castles which are said to be within sight of the poky train. My ambition now is to take a little boat for the Balearics and drive into the interior in order to have an idea of that civilization before going back to France and to a reliable Medico.
The Imperators of this hotel wish to see me safely on the top of Mont Serrat! If I made this journey I should visit the Countess X, but it is out of season for excursions into the country and the mountains. Furthermore, I have climbed to the shrine-cave of Monte Pelligrino in Sicily and made trips to almost similar haunts in France and thus should be exempt as well as content to leave Mont Serrat dormant in my imagination; or alive only in the fascinating history of its goigs (Catalan hymns to the Virgin) and in the little legend that I will paraphrase for you now while I am waiting for my dinner to be brought up.
In early Feudal days, Richildis, the comely daughter of the right doughty Count Wilfred of Barcelona, became possessed with the devil. Padre Guarin, a monk of far reaching fame was called from his cave at Mont Serrat to cast out the demon. Upon rendering that service he found that he himself had become possessed of the demon and during a fit of aberration he secretly beheaded the girl and buried her corpse in his cave.
Overcome with remorse, he fled to the Pope for absolution, where, after confessing, he was ordered to crawl on his hands and knees back to his mountain haunts and never to rise again to his feet until God gave him redemption through some supernatural omen.
For seven years he fed as a beast over the mountains. Count Wilfred, out hunting one day, captured him and had him sent to his stables at Barcelona. On a day of feasting he was led forth into the Castle to perform tricks before Wilfred's infant son of three years, but before Guarin could perform any of his tricks the baby cried out, "Arise, Guarin, for God has pardoned you," whereupon the strange animal stood upon his hind legs and rehearsed his crimes.
The golden gates of truth having been partially opened by this miracle, Count Wilfred pardoned Guarin and straightway hastened to the lonely mountain to recover the body of his daughter. When he arrived in the cave, lo and behold, Richildis was gradually regaining life!
In gratitude, the count founded the present monastery for Guarin and other churchmen; and Richildis became Abbess in a convent for women which existed there until the Arabs in 926 drove them to more secure quarters.
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I never thought in New York when you were telling me about your years in Spain that I should ever have such happy experiences here. And now I am contemplating the Balearic Islands . . . Not all of them – just a few days in Mallorca where I shall be thinking of your accounts of the place and knowing that I am missing all of your Palma.
I DON'T believe I mentioned that I was going to the Canaries. Be informed therefore, Lady Poé, that I have been leading a double life with part of me here and the rest of me there, having just completed an invigorating trip thence, (sans bites or bills) through the Beautiful Island of Tenerife and its towns, including some of the interesting points around its satellites, islands that are classified as the Western Group, comprised of Palma, Gomera, Hierro, and Tenerife; and the Eastern Group (of three) called Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lazarate.
You have never told me if you have visited, with the Admiral, these islands so easily approachable from Cadiz, and said to have been a part of the Ancient Atlantis. Anyhow I simply must talk to you about them.
They do not come into Spanish history until early in the fifteenth century; the Arabs during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries having partially occupied them pending their last stands on the Peninsula. A Norman, whose surname was de Bethencourt, was sent there by a Castilian king during the first part of that century, the javelin fighting natives having fallen under the gunpowder of the Spaniards. Bishop Don Mendo, hearing in Spain that this Norman had made himself King, came to rescue the place in behalf of the Church. Bethencourt disappeared and soon after that Ferdinand and Isabella annexed the Canaries as more pretty stars in their crowns.
To-day the English are the chief excursionists to the Canaries, finding there all sorts of retreats and relief from the English winter. Hotels understanding English customs abound to a comfortable degree, so it is not so unusual as it sounds to be visiting the Canaries.
And did I go all alone? No, Sir-reel We left Marseilles, sailing due south across the Mediterranean via Cadiz to the Atlantic landing in classic soil just off the coast of Africa – all the way with Olivia M. Stone and her John – all the way back again in her two voluminous books written several years before I was preoccupied with my teething! And I could not have wished for better company. Just to prove it to you, read this letter written by "John" published in the London Times January 4, 1884, which has to do with the Canaries of his day and which conditions remain to a large extent exactly as he saw them forty years ago, when the first cable was laid from Cadiz to the Palma harbor.
Excerpts from "John's" Letter
"I may mention The head Priest on the exquisite island of Hierro telling me that I was the first Englishman who had been there in modern times. Certainly Tenerife has its handful of yearly tourists to the world-famed Peak, Palma, its annual visitors to the Caldera, and the town of Las Palmas now and then receives casual and passing strangers bound for far distant lands, but with these exceptions, no English visit the Fortunate Isles. . . .
"But the object in writing you is not to attempt lauding what nature has so lavishly endowed, but to ask you for the sake of the present and future generations to raise your far reaching voice in the endeavor to stay a spoliation, which if continued will be forever regretted. The gentle and noble Guanches – that extinct race which formerly inhabited these Islands – have left behind them several records of their existence. Two are particularly worthy of note; the cemetery of Agaete and that on the Isleta in Gran Canaria. These have the common feature of graves being upon the roughest and volcanic ground, and each grave covered by a carefully constructed pile of loose lava stones. That at Agaete from being a part of the island at present approached by the worst of bad mule tracks, has escaped the hand of the spoiler. But the Guanche burial ground on the Isleta, being only three miles from the town of Las Palmas, has been terribly mutilated. There is a great demand for the Guanche skulls and consequently nearly every pile of stone here has been dilapidated and the contents of the grave stolen."
But John isn't the main comrade of this trip. 'Twas his Madam that interested me. Once I passed the Canaries on an Italian steamer, longing to stop there. After seeing touches of the really antiquated Spain I have no regrets. And now that I have accomplished this voyage by map, and Mrs. Stone's book, over oceans of my own imagination, I am content, being forever indebted to this energetic English couple who recorded all the details of their travels, even to the occasion of giving a potion of wine to her horse in order to help him through the day's journey.
For a woman who sought the Canary Isles on account of the "chest disease" she proved to be a wonder. She managed to take John and me into some of the most unheard of places, beginning with the 12,160 foot climb to the peak of old Pico on the Tenerif – to eighteenth century Inquisition prisons, law courts, over the craters and other volcanic mountains, down into the bowels of the earth, across stretches of desert, on dromedaries, over rivers, and plains, forever demanding information, and jotting it down at random. Accordingly she whisks one alongside her like a little Alice being whirled through Wonderland, but she has kept me in gales of laughter. Perhaps my risibles are all the more susceptible to the ridiculousness of her situations because I've heard other people talk about their experiences in Sicily, Sardinia, and isolated villages of Italy and Spain.
To quote her in one of her most lucid moments – "I do not advise anyone to go to this hotel, for we have later learned that the widow has not that social reputation that English people like!" Secondarily cometh the excruciating point, when she, in a tone of one become inured, proceeds to give a classic account of the restless night she passed owing to "sun spots," meaning burns. Quelle chance! When she got up to light a candle she discovered that a million of a certain nomadic population had taken possession of "her nice, white bed"! Then she called John to see her whited sepulcher, saying, "Oh, do come here and see what these things are." But he was too sleepy to move! She described them carefully, "brown like lady birds." "Do they bite you?" John said. "I don't think so," she replied, "it was the sun spots on my hands that awakened me." – "Well, if they don't bite, why trouble about them? Go to sleep" – which he did!
Can you imagine guiding, or being guided by, a husband like that over all those islands? Yet I'm sure that John could never have been so impolite as to forget to remove his hat during the passing of a funeral, nor could he have made horrible faces while masticating his food. Mrs. Stone gives us, in this respect, much of her philosophy, and she seems to have touched so minutely upon the "heresay" in the Canaries, and putting down so many of her goings and comings, that she prepares a liberal mental cud over which one can muse and digest for oneself. Hers is certainly one of the most successful forms of travel-writing – since many of us wish to be given highly colored facts and left to draw on our own funds for enjoyment.
The chapter written on the Island of Palma and already registered for the forementioned incident, flows on with data about wells, summer resorts, the newspapers, the weekly mails, the usurer who charges a dollar a month on a four-dollar loan, an old silk steam factory, cheap rents, goats, superstitions, cruelty, jails, the priests, landlady and consequences, "ladies work," carved doors, dancers, whip goads, costumes, edible snails, and, lastly, for I cannot go on forever, she tells about the burial of the Guanches who did not originally belong to this Island of Palma but on the Island of Tenerife, or Chierfe – after the King of the Island of the Inferno.
The Guanches, she states, were associated with the Islands with its first name given by Suetinius Paulinus perpetuated by Pliny. She says Bory de St. Vincent works backward, and tries to show that the ancient Egyptians came from the Canaries and were the remains of a nation which inhabited the lost Atlanta before the Berbers overran the Isle, establishing laws similar to the Touarecka of the Great Desert. The leaves of the laurel placed on the head of a Guanche King at his coronation were similar to the lotus placed on the head of Isis. The Colocase, (a plant the root of which is eaten, and leaves represented in Guanche painting) also accompanies the Gods of Egypt. The best argument is perhaps that the mummies are embalmed in a similar way, and that the incision for extracting the entrails was done in Egypt by a stone, which like the tabona of the Guanches was of hard basalt. To quote her here:
"Both used caves in which to lay their dead, and both used tombs of pyramidal form. Upon this latter fact Bory de St. Vincent lays much stress, and goes into much detail upon it in a way that shows he never saw the crude stone tombs of the Guanches, or he could not have compared them (save as a general idea pertaining to both nations) with the magnificent monuments of Egypt."
And to continue to quote Mrs. Stone:
"M. Rochemonteix finds kinship between the Berber and the Egyptian language. Messrs. Hooker and Ball mention that the Berber or Riffian houses are built of mud mixed with stone. Houses similarly built are to be found in the Canaries at the present day." –
And I may add in many parts of Spain. Towards the last part of the first volume she goes again into the habits of these ancient inhabitants of Tenerife, copying Azururara, who said:
"They live in caves, etc. – there were eight or nine tribes, each had two kings, one embalmed dead king and one living king, for they had the strange custom of keeping the dead king unburied until his successor died and took his place; the body was then thrown into a pit."
The Guanches believed in God. Cadamostro writing in 1455 after the conquest of Bethencourt says that Tenerife was governed by nine chiefs, – chiefs perforce and not by inheritance. Their weapons were of stone and wood – their dress a single skin, adorning colored painted bodies. Their harvests were gathered in March or April, being chiefly figs, – other fruits of the Islands having been planted there by the Spaniards. No woman was looked upon by a man passing her in the road unless she addressed him first. (That is what I call civilized!) Women were not taken in common, but each man might have as many wives as he chose. No maiden, however, was taken until she had first come under the personal attentions of the Chief himself. The early Christians who came in those times took the natives off to be sold as slaves in Spain. The Christians captured by the Guanches were not killed but were made to do the slaughtering of their animal food, as slaughtering was considered the lowest work to which a Guanche could sink. (Another sign of civilization.) On the festival day when a new chief came into possession of his State, a native offered himself in human sacrifice by throwing himself from a great height into the sea. His family was greatly honored by the Chief, who sent presents. The race on this Island embalmed their dead and buried them and are said never to have been hunted and conquered like the other ancient peoples on the other islands of the Archipelago. Thus they earned the tribute of "The Islanders of Hell."
Olivia (Mrs. Stone) writes that the Canaries are divinely beautiful in many ways, having many fine villas with gardens of the large variety of trees and flowers. She convinces one that aside from the interesting present civilization, the Canary Islands are naturally lands of milk (goats') and honey, and areas of tropical flora which, like the southern part of Spain, is profusely abloom with oleanders, eucalyptus, arancaria, pritchardia, folifera, bamboos, India-rubber, and the classic papyri and dragon tree.
Let us beard the "dragon tree" which she says guards a certain old garden. But let us be enlightened first!
"The Cracaena draco from which the Arabian chemists produced a beautiful scarlet dye, is not really a tree, but a kind of gigantic asparagus. What has made it so famous is the slowness of its growth. So slow it is that the dragon tree of Orotava was by the most moderate botanist considered to be six thousand years old, while many placed its age at ten thousand. When Alonzo de Lugo conquered this island, he found that the Guanches performed their religious ceremonies in the hollow trunk of this particular specimen, its great age even in their day rendering it sacred to them. By de Lugo its large cavity was turned into a chapel, where mass was performed. Humboldt in 1799 gives an account of this vegetable curiosity. He says, 'Its height appeared to us to be 50 or 60 feet; its circumference near the roots forty-five feet. We could not measure higher, but Sir George Staunton found that ten feet from the ground the diameter of the trunk is still twelve English feet, which corresponds perfectly with the statement of Bordo, who found its mean circumference thirty feet, eight inches, French measure. The trunk is divided into a great number of branches which rise in the form of a candelabrum, and are terminated by tufts of leaves like the Yucca. The trunk and branches are smooth and perfectly bare but the outer bark is divided into what can be more fitly described as scales than aught else. The branches are bare of leaves, about two to four feet in length and one or two wide, and stand out stiffly like spikes.'"
Also, listen to this –
"The old dragon tree was said to have been somewhat in the shape of an hour glass, that is, although forty or fifty feet round at the base it narrowed to less than half of that size and again spread out its branches to about 200 feet circumference. When the storm in 1867 broke off the upper part of the tree, some of the branches lying on the ground measured 18 feet in circumference. Notwithstanding the fact that the trunk was supported in every way to keep it standing, it fell and now there is not a vestige of it left. In its place, however is its child. A seedling of the giant was planted in 1877 on the exact site of the old tree. It is a healthy plant some four feet high; there is only a single stem from the top of which shoots out a mass of sword leaves. When a dragon tree once branches, it never grows higher but continues to spread in width. The branching takes place only after it blossoms. It generally does not flower until it is 30 years old, in fact there is a tree 30 years old in Doña Balvina Machado's garden that has not blossomed yet."
That was forty years ago and I daresay that dragon tree has flowered and will grow grim enough "to guard the golden apples in the garden of Hesper-ides."
Olivia and John had introductions to people who directed them from one town to another. The two started out from Puerto for Laguna to visit the Museum at Tacoronte and its owner, Mr. le Brun. This is how the journey is described:
"I fear, English readers, on hearing of a coach you will have visions of something very different from the reality. The vehicle in question was very old, coach-shaped, not like an omnibus. The door would not close on account of the wheel, which got in the way. The brake was on all the way up hill because it could not be taken off!" Then she changed coaches for what she calls the Villa Coach, saying it was an old omnibus so crowded that the other coach had to come likewise. "We are drawn by four horses and a mule all different in color – the harness consists to such a large extent of cord that I doubt we shall get to our journey's end." – They pass blue-jacketed and red-trousered soldiers on the roads – also an itinerant dealer of cotton goods, walking. "We arrived in half an hour at Santa Ursula and passed down through an avenue of untidy-looking tamarisks. Pigs large and for the most part black, grunt along the roadside, dogs of all sort and sizes and of no breed come out and bark at us – but a lash of the long whip sends them home. Ascending the other side, the unfortunate horses, ill-fed and worse treated, could scarcely pull up the 22 passengers and their luggage and had to be urged beyond their powers by a man who ran alongside and, as well as the driver on the box, whipped them in a most brutal manner. The former deliberately chose out the sore places on the animals" . . . et cetera. "At the Matanza fonda – we changed horses, and as the horses were taken out of the harness two made no attempt to move, the others with the mule staggered away to drop with a groan."
Isn't that terrible. One can only repeat what a prominent Italian once said to me in Naples, "Ah, how it is regrettable that social and economical conditions can give rise to such brutality." That was before Mussolini's day.
To the same degree that the people of Holland went beauty-mad and then bankrupt raising tulips, the Canarians went "bug-mad" and then "to-the-bad" on producing cochineal. We gather from what Mrs. Stone had to say on the subject that whole towns and handsome villas during the early 19th century came into existence over the profits made on cochineal. One acre of ground produced $500 a year. So solid were these values that bags of cochineal (like tobacco in old Virginia) were exchanged for articles instead of money. Jewelers taking advantage of the natives' wealth from these insects, sold as many as three and four watches to one family. But the cochineal business brought its diseases resulting from unburned cactus dumps. The propagating "madres" and "padres" that were separated and sold as first and second rate articles, had their final slump back to normalcy when the Chemical Society at Burlington House revolutionized the chemistry for dyes. Then cochineal bugs were no longer the rage.
I must not go on trying to tell you what this horsewoman saw and said about the state of the Canarian civilization in 1887 when she said that she found it exactly as described by Cap. George Glas in his book published 1764. What she did not tell us was that Spain, as late as 1721, sent out an expedition in search of a fabulous flying Island of San Barandan, some ninety leagues in length West of the Canaries. An old French chart actually placed it 5 W. of Ferro Island; 29 North Lat. It owes its existence to atmospheric illusion such as the Fata Morgana, a sort of mirage that is seen in the straits of Messina. Poets say it is inaccessible to man by diabolic magic.
Olivia's books are on the way to I.D.L. so if you wish to penetrate the fastnesses of the Fortunate Isles so replete with colorful curiosities, I'll ask I.D.L. to forward them to you that you may do so at leisure! I acquired them in New York one morning shortly after ten o'clock following attempts to enter the locked doors of five book stores in The Village. The early book-man who now owns the New Door turned out to be a Spaniard, and so my impatience was dispelled by finding someone interested in my quest and preparation for so many pleasant days in Spain.
Palma de Majorca
THIS I promise you is the last scouting about Spanish Dominions that I shall do for some time. I am here just for two or three days to see what the possibilities are for my coming back another season. And I am impressed, not only with the picturesqueness of the country and people but with the unusual civilization of the place. I go too fast.
I had a fine night's voyage, it being twelve hours by a tiny white steamer much too small for plying the Mediterranean during mauvaise temps. However, the Mediterranean is now in one of its saintly moods and I slept so soundly that I missed being up early enough to see the Dragonera rock marking King James the First's landing place, and all the pale reliefs of rugged shore lines that make landing at Palma one of the points of coming over to the Balearics.
Mr. Chamberlin was there to meet me. He is a most distinguished appearing individual who conversationally lives up to the reputation of his quill. Naturally my appreciations of his attentions were vast, and particularly when he not only arranged my hotel accommodations but he and his wife offered me a suite in their house where I might settle down for keeps.
Their home is a little paradise all in itself commanding a stupendous sweep of the sea and the view of the town lying to the left on the bay intersected by the pier, where three times a week the little steamers from Barcelona wedge into a line of migrating yachtsmen who with the fishermen carry on a quiet little traffic with leisure.
Immediately upon my arrival this morning my first breakfast was served on the terrace. Real coffee put the finishing touches to the conversational occasion, producing perfection. Such coffee and such food! By food I mean the enciamadas that are the specialty of this Island. They have the appearance of large doughnuts and taste as though they had been sent straight from the board of the angels, being so light and delicious I ate three great big puffed out fat ones without any conscious feeling of having eaten at all. We ordered coffee twice and the talking lasted long after the sun lifted the mists from the town below, where the great cathedral of the 15th century rises back of the Mare Clausum.
It was this Cathedral that attracted Mr. Cram who came to the Balearics to study certain architectural problems of its roof before going on with the plans of St. John the Divine in New York. I strolled into it for a few minutes this afternoon, finding it austerely beautiful. It is located near a Government building where my sculptor's eye fell upon a soldier guard of such great beauty that I found myself saying, – "Alas, alas, it is only flesh."
Near by one also finds the spacious Club of Mallorca, a modern, comfortable, and quite elegant building that centralizes the social proclivities of the town.
I almost forgot to tell you that while we were partaking of the enciamadas this morning a Government ship arrived with soldiers from the Riff, the military activities in Africa having almost closed owing to the setting-in of the rainy season. The faintness of distant cheers came to us from the mothers, wives, fathers, and sweethearts, as the crowded decks were about to land their desirous, worn-out warriors.
In speaking of his work here Mr. Chamberlin (LL.B., F.S.A., F.R. Jist. S.) tells me that he is writing a book on the history of the Balearics and its peoples. He has just received the first copy off the press of his "Guide to the Balearics" and is now about to sail over, with a batch of data, to study the Island of Cuidadela.
His latest work is compiling the old discoveries with the fresh discoveries of unique and very ancient historical monuments of these Islands. They have been classified in three lots. The first, a form of dwelling (sometimes having a stair) being a one-roomed circular and uncemented stone mound, twenty or thirty feet high, is locally known as a talayot. The second group rounds up the stone monuments made of two stones set up in the shape of a Greek T, and for that reason called taulas. The third group is sorted from the low, long monoliths called naus, from the Greek word meaning a boat of that character.
Mr. Chamberlin has prepared an article for the London Times in which he outlines the historical significance of these monuments found to be much like certain specimens in Sardinia and resembling the ancient chambered cairns of Great Britain. His chief concern is to attract students of archæology to the Balearics before the native has carted away the last of these monuments to put into the road beds or for building walls. The hotel accommodations are improving in the Balearics and scientific explorers need not depend upon camping unless they choose to do so. The Chamberlins settled here after investigating every part of the Archipelago, feeling that there never was such a spot for enjoying health and beauty, or affording such sane demands upon the literary man's purse.
This afternoon I again climbed the little street, all of steps, leading up to the indescribable location of the Chamberlin Villa, where, accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. X. of Boston, we had tea before a big, open fireplace that was equipped with the old iron works of the Moors. (Mrs. Chamberlin was generous enough to let me have one of her treasures, consisting of five old forks, all different, and the old bakery rack to which they belonged – a wonder in wrought iron at least three hundred years old.) The X's, seeking a retreat, have taken a house here for the winter and are proudly boasting of paying so little rent that it can be considered a gift. Mrs. Chamberlin is assisting them in collecting a few rare things to send to their own historic house in Massachusetts.
From this point where I am seated one can see the sailing vessels gliding in like gallant gilded argosies of one's dreams all laden with beauty and joy and the last lights of a gorgeous day. The atmosphere is so peaceful and clear that the voices of the fisherfolk come cutting in muffled staccatos through the block of space separating us. Here and there masses of almond blossoms are melting into the tones of plaster-covered dwellings resting in little gardens that are strewn with the ripe fruit from over-burdened orange trees. Above us the Belver Castle hovers, a great and massive old spirit true to everything Spanish and therefore still keeping guard lest the 20th century comes across the Atlantic, by the Gibraltar, to blot out that which is still classic in this isolated island civilization.
There are many spots I could mention where one can have the "best place" for seeing the sunset! From the Pincio, Rome, . . . from the walls of Perugia . . . perhaps at Valley Bridge, or even the Sunrise Club out from Nashville. We all have our favorite and local angles on sunsets, but the sun, when he rises brings, a much more concentrated picture, an auspicious moment which calls for more space . . . and more everything! A sunrise just cannot be fitted back of a skyscraper. It can't be fully appreciated in the mountains . . . even after a sleepful night! But Jupiter, the Radiant rover of Heavens, Ruler of the Universe, being a gatherer of clouds and dispenser of rains, moderator of seasons and holding the very thunderbolts of Olympus, must positively have the whole face of the earth at his disposal, a part of it which must be visible to us, if we are to witness him in the supreme gesture of driving off the night. The rising God of Fire wants the other side of the horizon, then the whole bottom of it and the endless line of distance where shore line becomes sky and sky becomes sea.
This morning I may say that I have beheld a sunrise. The Deity of the Hellenic Race was not alone. He could not achieve such splendor without Juno to assist in the glorification. But once they had burst upon our world they went their way, concealing their course in the Scotch mists with which they managed to cover us. The never-left-behind Edinburgh coat assured my happiness in an open car, so we did not postpone our drive over the extraordinary Government Road that climbs into grandeur, curves and cliffs, to steal upon tiny clusters of houses and gardens and orchards leading to Sola. This being a scouting tour I did not contemplate any of the walks laid out in Mr. Chamberlin's guide. Having him with me you can imagine how the benefits of motoring compared with the luck of the lone traveler depending upon Castilian in a land, where folk speak Mallorcan . . . one of the thousand confusing dialects of the Mediterranean.
The Chamberlins are godsends at Palma for the Americans. He is Vice consul and therefore within reach of those so far few persons who need advice on how to "do" the Islands.
I have never seen more inspirational outdoors. And the walls! There never were such ageless walls. They hold up the terraced plots of olive trees, or, orange and almond groves, and are so regularly and solidly constructed that one wonders at the stolidity and art of the farmers who have built them. It is not impossible that the English encouraged them when they occupied Majorca. One look at those walls and you have the key to the exceptional state of civilization that is existent in the Balearics. Up and down and around picturesque terraced levels they lead the eye, always leaving the spirit calmed. Nothing seemed to be in the stage of reconstruction. Yet in one place alongside the road, I did see a group of workmen who evidently were mending a rut. It was about one o'clock and they had finished their luncheon and were singing. Several of them were seated with their shovels resting handle up, in guitar fashion, pretending an accompaniment on the same. Where else could one find this simple expression of the joy of living!
A little farther on, at a point where a long reef of the rocky shore line reveals the wonders of nature embracing land, sky, and sea, we got out our picnic basket. I found myself suddenly relieved of everything but the spiritual reality of it all. Literally thousands of nightingales were singing, it being the time of mating. Great and priestly firs and an occasional Biblical locust tree, (an evergreen, huge and beautifully rounded), attended these outdoor rites. Even the zenith of the crags seemed to reach down to lift one up into the grayness. I believe that this point was called San Morroig for it is located above the great estate of Archduke Francis Joseph, the Austrian exile who, being a "gentleman" and doting on blonds, frittered his life away in a harem. The estate was left to his secretary, a young man said to have been a relative.
In this section, I believe, Chopin spent the winter with George Sand who brought him here for his health. At Deya there is a fair hotel where one may have comfortable quarters or stop for a cordial or tea. The English, having discovered the Balearics ages ago, have found many restful spots from which to do their tramping over the Islands.
There are many attractions here to be reached by driving or walking. One always chases off to find the thousand-year-old olive trees, which have roots so far out of the earth some of them look as though they were petrified in the act of running about. The oldest ones are supposed to have been planted about two hundred years after Charlemagne presented the Balearic Islands to the Church (799).
Ancient towers and castles, an old bull ring – a trip to the Cave of the Dragon (Manacor) where stalactites of unusual formation shoot up and hang down over one's little skiff – the garden of Raixa – all offer splendid diversions for the so far limited number of tourists. What I have seen inspires me to wish for a "rain check" to see the rest. And who knows but some day I shall get around to spending a season here.
THE hope of finding a spot where absolute rest could reign supremely has been by me with little reason entertained, and yet there is such a place. That is, this city of Palma on the Island of Majorca would be such a place if I had not so many outside strings hitched to my brain – and a golden one so particularly attached to my heart. Would that I could cut all these cords and be a contented captive under this lethargic spell – but I have ordered my ticket, sent my notes of farewell, and am ready to depart with what looks like changing weather. This afternoon I took a last look – walking down to the city. I made a photo of an ordinary little Majorcan precisely as I found him standing at the public water faucet. He was wearing the regular type of sandals or cepargatas common to the Island and to Spain. His jar was pure Roman or Greek, as was the stationary iron fixture which held it up under the waterspout. This same jar used by his mother in the kitchen is carried by the laborer. From the dining terrace of my hotel I watched a man carrying a jug of water down three flight of steps to the garden below where a few trees were being cultivated above the sea waves. He seemed to have all the time in the world so I went out and made a snapshot of him.
I have a word with the manager of this hotel who came to my table as I was dining here on the terrace. He called my attention to the sea that is as smooth as resin, saying that during January and February the waters are always quiet along these shores. Notwithstanding, I am not so sure that such calm does not mean a sudden storm. The sun is going down in a film of gorgeous red that is now being blotted out by streaks of very heavy black clouds. The last few minutes before boat time is customarily charged with duties, but in this instance I have been reduced to watching the little party of ants getting frightfully hurried about something they are doing beneath the upturned sand between the stones of the floor. A black cat on the balustrade has at last finished washing her face. Beyond her the sea stretches out where I see "a school" of fishermen coming in. The crows with the sea birds are flying about in great numbers. There is a beetle clicking somewhere in a secret crevice and something ominous fills the air.
Here comes Mr. C. to say good-by and I shall take this along to Barcelona and continue to-morrow.
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To begin where I left off day before yesterday, I shall have to descend again over the road through the impenetrable thick black night that wrapped itself over the Mediterranean around Palma. I don't think I saw anything along the way but a hare as it crossed the road before the flare sent ahead from the oil lamp of the diligence. It was not such a long drive down but I was more at ease when we were on the paved streets of the town and finally on board the Palma that welcomed us like a four thousand ton giant of the eighteen-seventies.
After I put my things in order for the night, I walked out fore and aft conversing a few minutes with three Americans, one of whom bore my paternal name. We were all restless. I think I was more than usually talkative. The barometer must have been dropping fast because the boat did not stir. She must have been awaiting an additional crew. She did not appear to be manned at all. Still it did not occur to me that we were really in for anything but a moderate crossing. Before we started I had put myself to bed and when we steamed out of the bay a baby's cradle could not have been more soothing. But I hardly dozed when the sea suddenly seemed to put up its back announcing that we had reached the currents and I then felt we were in for a jolly bit of rolling. As the minutes passed we experienced a few spasmodic lunges. With them arrived the conviction that we would have a great tossing.
The hours that crept by after that were only made mentally possible because of the extreme novelty of it. I turned on my light and tried to read, but the stress of our little steamer was too evident. There was no agitation of passengers or movement among the attendants since walking or rising from one's bed was impossible. Everywhere glass began to crash and my luggage with the one chair tried to find a place in the bouleversement, aiming at me with every lunge – poor little me by that time holding on for dear life to the brass parts of my "No. 13" bed. I have been on the Channel in very capricious weather, I have been from one end of the Mediterranean to the other and knew that it has its passionate moments, but never had I heard the sea snap and growl like angry lions above me, paralyzing us from stem to stern, crushing from the sides and head on. Chains constantly grinding away at the ballast or something (perhaps it was the noise of the screw) added to the din as we fought for balance midst the assailing mountains of water recumbent upon other mountains of water.
I had always wondered what my reactions would be under such circumstances and here I had the satisfaction of knowing that I was not preoccupied with general safety so much as with the physical exertion of bearing up under the pitching far ahead or falling down below the rolling, tumbling deluge.
Moments of honest fright did beset me when I thought of the size of our boat. (The I.D.L. half of me didn't wish to drown!) However, that which is distinctly and legitimately English in me wanted to joke. Suddenly I wish to go above to see if any of that St. Elmo's fire was playing with a "Jinks" on the smokestack. Then I began worrying about the antique Saint that I feared would be reduced to splinters and must be having anything but a peaceful time in my restless baggage. Saints have a way of getting divided you know. Consider the fearful St. Christopher of Lycia whom James de Voragine (13th century) tells us was a protector against floods. Is not his body said to be at Valencia, a shoulder in St. Peter's at Rome, one arm in Compostella, a jaw bone at Astorga, and a tooth-plus-rib at Venice? I even remember saying to my little Saint that his parts might become as numerous but not so easily gathered and if he had any miracles he had best get them out! That appealing bit of sacrilege was the offshoot of a story related in an early 18th century letter by a certain Chevalier de Clermont of his experience on a Portuguese ship. It goes something like this: –
"There arose a terrible storm. The captain ran to dust his little St. Anthony and besought him earnestly to put an end to it. The tempest continued to rage. 'Make haste,' said the Captain, 'or it will be the worse for you.' Still the weather did not calm. He sent for the irons and put them on the little saint's feet – to no avail. Then he tied a rope around his body and hung him head down nearly touching the water and when the storm began to abate he said, 'You Frenchmen may laugh at our behavior, but I assure you there are some Saints who have to be threatened and ill-treated else they do nothing worth while.''
So I was afraid if my little Saint forgot how to work miracles it would be too late! All of which I had no right to expect of a St. Dominic who was totally unpracticed in quieting troubled waters! Well, our storm kept right on the warpath. Never being seasick, and therefore grateful, I reassured myself saying, "Aren't the Spanish sailors the most noble, daring, bold, fearless, successful men of the earth? Haven't they proven it? Why splashing around like this must be just fun for them! Think of Columbus and the three little Caravels! Woman, banish thy fears!" And then we would tremble and creak, crack and crunch until I thought every moment would be the last. But we did make Barcelona without loss of life, and at length I dragged my completely exhausted remains off towards the gangplank. When an English-speaking sailor took me in tow I remarked something about being surprised that we landed, to which he replied, "Oh, Señora, dis leetle boat she got he engines," which sally not only proved that his sailing spirits were sound but that he was running true to the aggravating Spanish point of view that anything that copes with the important situations in life must be a "He." But then I concede that sailing is a man's job – bless 'em!
Hours late, and in a thoroughly drenched cab, I arrived at the Ritz, where I had slight acquaintance with the concierge, to whom I simply said, "Give me my room and send restoratives!" – which restorative came in the form of food. I mentioned my troubles to the maid who passed over the subject with the remark, "Oh, Señora, the crossing to Palma is always rough and the boats are very poor." A little later she knocked on my door to give me a paper reporting a tidal wave! It had taken out to sea more than three hundred houses from Barcelona, involving an ambulance and the driver who had been one of the number called out for first aid to the marooned and homeless. The papers furthermore gave an account of how an English cruiser, making for port, had cut a large sailing vessel in two parts before the captain even knew it to be in close proximity. In trying to save the lives of the sailors on the wretched vessel the English captain lost his first officer. There were other stories of complete wrecks and disasters. So it is that every year the Blue Mediterranean collects her toll from the fearless hearts of those who put too much faith in her. But I doubt that mariners ever give her an inch when it can be avoided. I recollect once seeing a sailor, after a rough night coming from Sicily, double under his thumb with the third and fourth fingers, giving the Mediterranean what is called the sign of the Horns, saying, "You haven't got me yet!"
That is about the way I feel about her and after I've tuned up a half-a-tone I'll be vernal-hearted with hope of Spring, being (I trust) worthy of it!
THE Spanish cable service translation is misleading to say the least. Clever as the Latins are, English is in the ordinary sense too much for the operators of the telegraph or telephone wires. After two weeks, every other day insisting that I had a message from you, the clerk in Madrid became so impatient with me that he asked me to look over the cables on hand and see for myself. All of them had been inspected. Among the unrecognizable foreign names I saw one that looked suspiciously like something that might belong to me. This is the manner in which my name had been transcribed . . . "Sr. D. Ahamn Coy Hecormsck." (The "cor" and not the "coy" proved that it had to do with me!) I was given permission to open it finding one correctly spelled word that was fortunately your signature – "Warren." The duplicate I found at the bank and so that straightened out the entire business but not without an hour of talking and waiting around to prove my identity. After this I shall never allow myself to run out of traveling checks for that is after all (in case of lost papers) the only means of going through a foreign country with any degree of ease or safety.
Before I left Madrid I sent a telegram to Cook's, requesting them to reserve a passage to Palma in the Balearics. They did not receive the message. I should have written them. Just to-day the message came back from the hotel in Madrid where it had been returned from a Hotel Colon – an address unknown to me.
It is as you see most obvious that the lack of education, or attention, is the condition most to be deplored in Spain. For the ordinary people education ceases a few grades after the A. B. C.'s. If you are interested in how they think, and what is the chance for individualism, or what is coming to pass now in the Epoch of Giner, just read the first chapter of J. B. Trend's "Picture of Modern Spain," wherein are released facts concerning the birth of the first Free School, that being the first school free from the inspection of the Church and Government control.
Giner having got his inspiration during the Gladstone period at an International Conference of education in England, returned to Spain with English methods. He and a few of his rationalist followers soon lost their professorships in beginning to raise Spain from its intellectual inanition. Keeping in touch with the German, French, and English educators, (particularly the English, who gave him every assistance in his system developed by the exchange of students and scholars), he educated the best of the living Spanish teachers of Spain to-day. His influences determined the direction of the group of writers known as the "Generation of 1898." "The Institution," founded by him, has revived interests that have "renewed Spanish painting in the works of Beruete, Sorolla, Zuloaga, Mezquita and others, and has led to a reexamination of traditional literary values." The results of the moral medicines administered by Don Francisco Giner are even to be detected in the manners, clothing and cleanliness of the awakening classes.
But you must read Trend for yourself. He deals with the cultural points that are most illuminating, and also interprets Spain's aloof attitude towards the late World War.
I HAD a tedious, cold journey up from Barcelona. The tracks, being near the shore for several miles along the frontier, having been washed out by the heavy seas had caused a wreck that delayed everything and made traveling very uncomfortable.
But here I am in Carcassonne at last, thankful that I do not after all face a future wherein I might be repeating the sentiments expressed in Gustave Nadaud's poem – about an old man who had planned all his life to go up the few hill-miles to La Cite de Carcassonne and never to arrive any nearer than "Jusqu'à Narbonne."
At Narbonne a huge Frenchman, speaking the outlandish French of the Spanish borders, came into my compartment and settled himself into conversation. He was on the eve of the great event, "Paris!" where (he confided) he was to attend a meeting of those engaged in the commerce of selling "the Chicago family" farming implements. I was not headed for Paris but I had the opportunity to tell him all about my stairway of thirteen children, which I assure you commanded no end of respect. The half hour with him was entirely taken up with the description of his household. Every morning he made the fires . . . first one up in the house. Every morning he searched the milk for the coffee while the wife prepared the breakfast. Then there was the matter of the son-in-law who was also a part of his business. Eleven in all and no small band to feed in these days when the cost mounted daily, – and the whole situation becoming more difficult. With the Americans, whose ready dollars made it impossible for a Frenchman to frequent his old hotel in Paris, as in times before the war, when a good room and bath could be had for ten francs per day, Jesu! where was he to stay? Where was any Frenchman to stay in Paris? Only the Bon Dieu knew! Poor Monsieur, he had reason to his arguments, much reason. I left him still absorbed in his problem when I descended at the station, where I was whisked into a motor-bus that sped over neglected streets of the lower town, around corners that bent upward and led to an ancient moat, and again making fearful curves, on over the drawbridge under the portcullis and up more steeps of the 12th century, safely through the narrownesses of older alleys, finally to this heavenly place of comfort.
The Hotel La Cite has recently been established in the Bishop's old mansion which is just another story of the enchantment lasting with the great medieval walls overlooking the valleys surrounding them. Before a crackling log fire in this old, old dwelling, I am listening – for its doors and windows are whistling in a chorus of strains from the winds assailing this high and still impregnable fortress city. Such sounds on such a sleet-maddened night invoke nothing that is living in the present. The Carcassonne ghosts that whine in unison must be the old Romans, the fifth century Goths, the fallen twelfth century Counts of Trencaval, the unrestful Huguenots who in 1560 dragged the statue of the Virgin in the mire, or some of St. Louis' friends isolated in the Villa Basse which he founded in 1247. What I am perfectly convinced about is that the place is bereft of comfortably housed Troubadours, although in the Springtime or on a better night . . . who knows! – At any rate, on this very spot the Troubadours' musical rhymes made many a Countess more or less merrier, according to the initiation into the grand art de plaire. They taught many a Fair Knight to ape the chivalry of the Moors who in their day (12th century) were setting a new standard of manners for the Northern Lords and Ladies established beyond the Pyrenees.
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This morning the town is encased in ice and snow. It is the first they have seen here in several years. The storm that attacked us on the Mediterranean has become general and the whole of France is frozen up. Looking from the windows of this stronghold I feel me a very long way from home. And yet I am thankful for the stars that lure one from one's safe little New York coop onto the highroads of the older world where moments of trepidation chase one contentedly back to the professional's studio cage . . . and to the Art patrons!
I could begin to enumerate . . . I could go into Akensidean verse, or more aptly repeat after Samuel Rogers how the "charm around the enchantress 'Memory' threw" . . . in recalling those gone days so bright with sunshine and camp fires. But if I so far forgot myself my pink-eyed Pinto-of-a-Pegasus would gallop off with my reason to say nothing of my discretion, for you know, I.D.L., being so many in one, you alone can exist where the single Romancer has utterly failed! A swooping cargo of my homeward thoughts. They (my thoughts) are still conspicuously colored by Spain and for that reason ought to wear their veils becomingly. I hope they do!