Edward Frederick Leveson-Gower.

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arranged, which caused so much friction between
the English and French Governments and nearly
brought about a war. I found Baron Talleyrand
established in a charming apartment with a fine
view of the Guadarama Mountains and the vast
plain below, where bridges denote that a river
ought to flow. The guide-books say that when
it rains you must run and see the river before it
is gone. Talleyrand was most kind in his offer
of services, and he put boxes at the theatre and
horses at my disposal.

My time was fully occupied during my short
stay at Madrid. The mornings I spent in taking
Spanish lessons and in listening to gossip about the
royal marriages, with the French and English versions
of every detail. I met journalists at Bulwer's and
Prime Ministers at Bresson's. There was a Mr.
Sansom, an enterprising dandy, who three years
before arrived in Spain without a penny, and had
since made a large fortune. He had become the
head of a flourishing bank, had hired the finest
palace in the town, and was on familiar terms with
all the grandees. He gave me a place in a box
at the opera which he shared with Gllicksburg
and Talleyrand, presented me with a box of



68 SPANISH JOURNAL

cigars, and gave me introductions to every town
that lay in our route. I went with him one
night to the opera, where I was much amused.
Opposite was Salamanca, the greatest speculator
in Europe, the "Marquis de Carabas " of Madrid.
A few boxes off sat Madame Villagarcia, whom
I had known at Paris. She had been a great
beauty, but there were few remains of it. Beyond
was the Queen's betrothed, a perfect monster, with
a square face and turned-up nose.^ No wonder
that her mother had difficulty in persuading her to
marry him. It took her, they say, a whole night,
during which a French courier was at the door of
the Palace, ready to take the news of her consent
to Louis Philippe. Next to us was one of the
Madrid beauties, to whom Sansom introduced me.
It was a shy proceeding, as we disturbed every one
in the box — habitues, lovers, and Gonzalez Bravo,
The latter began life as editor of the Spanish
Satirist. He afterwards became Prime Minister,
and finally Ambassador to Portugal. Spanish
statesmen as a rule are not consistent politicians,
and abandon their principles and political friends
very readily. For this Gonzalez Bravo was con-
spicuous. When quite a young man he was a
furious demagogue, and his newspaper was as
scurrilous and sanguinary as was Marat's L' Ami
du Penple in the French Revolution. A few years

> On October loth, 1846, the Queen Isabella married this fiance,
Don Francis d'Assisi, who was her cousin, being the son of her father
Ferdinand VII. 's younger brother. It was thought unlikely that he
would have any children, which was the reason why the match was
pressed by Louis Philippe, whose son, the Due de Montpensier married
her younger sister, Maria-Luisa.



1846] SPANISH SOCIETY 69

later, having become a member of the Cortes, he
changed his opinions, and energetically defended
the cause of order. He became Prime Minister,
and ruthlessly suppressed all disturbances. At the
death of Narvaez he again became Prime Minister,
and in that capacity passed some useful measures,
amongst them the liberty of the press.

The owner of the box deserved her reputation.
She was a Mexican, with a lovely Creole face
and a perfect figure, besides charming manners.
Her husband was in the box and shook me by
both hands. He was a great friend of the English,
and therefore the following account of him, given
me by a Frenchman, should be received with
caution. He was driven out of Mexico for robbery,
and became a spy in London and Paris till they got
too hot to hold him. He then took up his abode
in Spain, where he ingratiated himself with each
successive puissance and made a gigantic fortune.
He was one of the many instances which prove that
Spain is a country where this can easily be achieved.

I was lucky in getting the following day a good
view of the Queen as she was driving by in an
open carriage. She looked bloated, but less ill-
looking than she had been described to me. The
Spaniards all talked with the greatest horror of
the French alliance, and we were told that if the
National Guard existed, or the people had either
arms or money, there certainly would have been
an insurrection.^ Frenchmen were hooted in the

' The following was the version I heard of the case of the Mont-
pensier marriage, as it stood between Guizot and Lord Palmerston.
Guizot promised Lord Aberdeen that it should not take place till the



70 SPANISH JOURNAL

streets, their Government messengers ill-treated,
and sorbets thrown in their faces at the cafes.
But these were the only signs of opposition to
an alliance which they declared threatened the in-
dependence of their country.

We went one day to our first bull-fight. The
amphitheatre filled slowly till the last few minutes,
when there was a rush, and you could not see a
vacant place. It was a gay scene, more men
than women, but enough of the latter with their
fans to enliven it. I confess that I enjoyed myself,
and there was much more reality in it than I had
expected. I thought it had been mere bull-baiting
without any danger except through accident, instead
of a regular contest between man and beast, in
which the former owed his safety to his own
skill and activity. The representation began with
a procession of all the performers headed by the
Master of the Ceremonies in an old-fashioned black
dress with a white feather in his cocked hat.
Then came the picadorcs, men on horseback who
encountered the bull with lances. They were
dressed in yellow and silver, their bodies padded,
and their lesfs encased in iron. Then followed

Queen had issue, on the condition that Lord Aberdeen would not
promote the Queen's marriage to any one but a Bourbon prince. Lord
Palmerston, when he came into office, declared that he considered the
Coburg prince one of the 'candidates. This Guizot pretended was a
breach of the engagement made by Lord Aberdeen, which consequently
left him at liberty to bring about the Montpensier marriage without
informing England or any other power, and without allowing them
time to present their objections. The merits of this question have
never been quite cleared up. Lord Stanmore, in his interesting
memoirs of his father, Lord Aberdeen, tries to make out a case for
Guizot. I fancy Guizot did not break his word, but was not straight-
forward,



1846] BULL-FIGHTS 71

the c/mlos, who appeared to play at blind man's
buff with the bull, and had coloured cloaks with
which they irritated and dodged him. And lastly
the matadoreSy the great heroes of the fight, armed
with scarlet cloaks and Toledo swords. Their
work was the most dangerous and their skill the
most esteemed. They earned fifty pounds a day,
and I was told often became the friends of the
fast men about town, as our prize-fighters were
formerly. The trumpets sounded and the fight
began. Parts of it were disgusting, and ought
to have made me dislike the whole thing. I
sat still and saw horses bleed to death, led blind-
fold to their fate without any chance of escape,
and the stunned men carried out, either to the
hospital or the confessor. But then, I saw the
bull's entry, the deliberate way he looks round the
arena for a foe, his first rush at the picador,
the dexterity with which the picador wards him
off with his lance, how the bull gets alternately
cowed and infuriated, how he bellows and paws
the ground previous to the next charge ; the
presence of mind with which the chilos turn him
off from the unhorsed picador \ the activity with
which they avoid his pursuit, his horns seeming to
touch them as they vault over the barriers ; the
intrepidity with which they meet him with
banderil/as, a sort of dart, which, as he lowers
his head to toss them, they stick into his neck,
and his consequent foaming rage. Then the last
act takes place. The matador places himself
before him, enticing him to rush upon the red
cloak and avoiding him as he does so till the



72 SPANISH JOURNAL

opportunity occurs of piercing him in his back,
which, if dexterously done, lays this maddened
animal in all his dangerous fury and strength
prostrate at his feet. The band immediately
strikes up, mules in the gayest trappings carry
the dead bull away, and the door is hardly closed
upon them when another appears and the same
scene is re-enacted. Every instant presents a
picture which is engraven on my memory.

The excitement of the people was beyond descrip-
tion. Each little turn in the sport made the whole
crowd vibrate. If the matador pleased them they
shouted, waved their handkerchiefs, and threw their
hats and even their jackets into the arena after
him ; but if he shrank from an encounter they were
proportionately indignant. I was told of one man
who had hesitated to give the final thrust. A
relation, who was a ckulo, tried to assist him. The
people cried out, " Leave him alone — he is a
miserable coward ! " and hissed and hooted. The
matador at last, losing all command of himself,
threw away the red cloth, waved his hand-
kerchief, and closed with the bull, who killed
him on the spot. If the bull is a furious one
and causes much havoc he wins their affection,
and they call him by endearing expressions,
such as torito, " the little bull " ; but they never
wish to have his life spared.^

I dined one night at the French Embassy. I
was late, and was much distressed at their having

' I have since felt rather ashamed of the pleasure I found in the
bull-fight. I can only say that I believe that what pleased me in
early life would later have disgusted me.



1846] DUG D'OSSUNA 73

waited for me, particularly when I found that the
company consisted of all the celebrities of Madrid.
First there was Narvaez, who a few months before
had been obliged to fly from the Ministry, with
which he was then hand in glove. He was all-
powerful with the Army, and they were afraid of
him. People said that as he was there he would
soon be Prime Minister. He was a violent and
cruel man, but with exalted views and courage
and energy to carry them out. There was stern-
ness and decision in his countenance. Then
there was Mufioz, Queen Christine's ^ husband,
a fine-looking man, of whom she was jealous, and
it was said not without cause. He was a Spanish
officer, but not of noble birth. One day he was
riding by the side of her carriage as one of her
escort. She was so much struck with his appear-
ance that she made his acquaintance, and was soon
afterwards secretly married to him. He was not
ambitious and kept aloof from politics, and either
on that account or because he was amiable became
generally popular. The Due d'Ossuna, the richest
man in Spain and the dullest to sit next to, was
also there. I was informed that he was a man
" avec du caractere, un excellent officier qui s est battit
en duel plusieurs fois avec le sa7igfroid que vous
voyez." He was in love with Lady Clementina
Villiers, and corresponded with Lady Jersey. There
were besides at this dinner the whole Cabinet,
all ordinary looking with the exception of Mon,
a very remarkable man, who has since justified
what I heard in his favour. He was several times

' Mother to Queen Isabella.



74 SPANISH JOURNAL

Finance Minister, in which post he showed great
abihty and redeemed as much as it was possible
the deplorable condition of the finances. He was
an excellent speaker and frequently crushed his
opponents in debate/

In addition to all these there were some of the
chief orators in the Chambers. They did not talk
much and I was glad to see them. Talleyrand,
who sat next to me, told me all about them.
Immediately after dinner the Ambassador offered
us cigars, which we. smoked in one of the drawing-
rooms, a delightful custom which in England, with
all our pretensions to a civilisation, we have only
lately attained to. He later came and sat by me,
and was very civil, talking with great feeling
of my father and the kindness he had received
from him."

We started the next morninof at six o'clock for
Toledo. I was sitting the day before with Mr.
Sansom at one end of his magnificent gallery when
I mentioned our intention of going there. — " You
are quite right, and I know what I will do for you.

Don ," he called to a man at the farther

end of the gallery, " come here. This gentleman,
my friend Don Leveson Gower, is going to
Toledo." — " What day ? " inquired the Spaniard.
— " On Monday." — " Very well, I will write." —
Sansom then turned to me and said, " This gentle-
man offers you the use of his house there. He

' Pidal y Mon, one of the present leaders of the Ultramontane
party, is his descendant.

^ In 1847 he was sent as Ambassador to Naples, where soon after
his arrival he committed suicide, to the surprise and rtgret of his
numerous friends.



1846] TOLEDO 75

will write to announce you."— I did not know what
to answer, or whether this man was an inn-keeper,
lodging-house keeper, or grandee. I stammered
out some gracias, and when he had gone out in-
quired of Sansom whether I was to hire my lodging.
— " Good heavens, no ! This is the owner of a
large property about Toledo, and he has got a
pied-a-terre there in which he will be only too
happy to lodge you."

Toledo must have been a magnificent place in
the time of its glory. It rises above a perpendi-
cular rock, which is nearly surrounded at its base
by the Tagus. There are glorious sights ; the
palace from which Roderick first spied La Cava
bathing in the river, synagogues turned into
churches by perfidious Christians, a Moorish mosque
where they value the lovely stucco so little as to
offer to knock off bits to give to travellers, the
beautiful church and still more beautiful convent
cloisters built by the pious Isabella to celebrate
the conquest of Granada, with the chains of
Christian captives found there hung against the
walls ; and last, but not least, the Cathedral. Its
interior is magnificent. Certainly in decoration the
Spanish cathedrals leave all others in the shade.
There is a richness and gorgeousness about them
which no churches, even in Italy, can equal.

We found there an English artist, and, liking
his drawing, got into conversation with him. He
begged us to drink tea with them. Who constituted
"them" we were curious to find out. George
guessed a lovely wife. It turned out to be a
matronly mother, who roughed it in Spain in order



J(i SPANISH JOURNAL

to procure her son his accustomed comforts. She
bought their food at the market herself. At parting
we promised to pay him a visit in London to see
the result of his labours. — " Mr. Lake Price, if you
will remember," were the last words of the old lady.
'* At his birth he took my maiden name of Lake —
no dishonourable name, either," which meant that
she had a brother who was a Royal Academician.

George kept to a determination he had made
of going to the inn, where he fared very ill.
He was lodged next to a riotous set of students,
and was ill-treated by the women of the house,
who were more occupied with flirting with the
young men than with attending to his necessities.
I, on the contrary, delighted in my quarters, a
charming little house with a picturesque court-
yard to match, with trellis-work and balustrades,
a well, an old-fashioned lantern, and cleanliness
that did one's heart good. The food was plentiful
and generally delicious. The cook, as well as
the rest of the establishment, stood round to look
at me enjoying it, and encourage me to persevere.
My host was at Madrid, but his bailiff sest mis
en quatre to do the honours. It was distressing
but at the same time amusing to see him follow
George about with proffers of bed and food, and
every instant at the meals he exclaimed, " Y el
companero ! " — " Un poco loco " ( " A litde mad "), I
assured him.

After losing our way and being shaken like
physic, we drove next day to Aranjuez, which
is hardly worth stopping to see. In the evening
we got into the Valencia diligence. We passed



1846] VALENCIA 'jy

through a dreary country and suffered at night from
intense cold — a wind that pierced us through.
We made friends with our travelling companions.
Two of them were Valencians, who were never
tired of boasting of their native place. Such
beautiful women, such amusements, such exquisite
food — all to be obtained at the cheapest rate
— the climate heavenly, the inhabitants angels.
After I had fallen asleep they woke me to propose
a walk while the mules were being changed near
the Puerta de Almanz, which forms the entrance
into the " kingdom " of Valencia. Before reaching
it the whole way was dreary and the wind
intensely cold. Beyond it, only a hundred yards
further, there was the softest, balmiest air and most
luxuriant vegetation — vines, maize, aloes, canes, and
aromatic herbs in the greatest profusion. What a
heavenly night it was ! Such a moon, such stillness,
such repose after the late boisterous wind.

On the whole we thought our Valencian com-
panions had overrated their town and its attractions.
The streets were narrow — I could nearly have
jumped over the principal one. I did not remark
any of the much-vaunted beauty of the women.
On the other hand, the climate was delicious, and
there were some most picturesque old Moorish
houses with charming courts. We found two
young men of the name of Arcos, who had come
to Valencia to establish a bank. Talleyrand had
given me a letter to them. One of them called
on us in the evening. He was very agreeable,
had seen everything, had been to learn civil
engineering at King's College, London, had



78 SPANISH JOURNAL

hunted ostriches over the Pampas, and had been
a fldneiir at Paris. He talked politics, was a
Progressist, and thought anarchy must precede any
decided improvement in Spain — that the men then
in power had not the ability to do good ; the people
were heavily taxed and got no return for it — no
public works, no encouragement to enterprise.^

I had another letter to the American Consul,
whose brother-in-law took me to see the pictures
of a man much celebrated in Valencia and its
guide-books — by name Pedro Perey, by trade a
barber, and by inclination a collector of an immense
number of pictures. He had just given up his
trade and become a gentleman, was at the head
of the Academy of Arts there, and wore a ribbon.
He lived in an out-of-the-way house. We mounted
a ladder and were admitted into two small rooms,
in which the walls, chairs and tables were covered
with pictures, one above the other. They all
appeared to me trash. My guide explained to
him that I had only half an hour to spare. — " In
that case he can see nothing. But I will hurry
as much as possible. You see there is a Rubens,
and by the side of it a Vandyke ; up there a
Murillo, and below it a Leonardo da Vinci." — So
he went on in these as well as in a dozen other little
rooms, giving to every daub the name of the
greatest master. If he ever allowed any to be
anonymous he added, " You will never again see
such a picture." My guide afterwards assured me

' The Empress Eugenie afterwards took an interest in the two
Arcos, one of whom married Miss Vaughan, who lias for many years
been devotedly attached to her.



1846] ALONG THE COAST 79

there were very few originals. But there was a
delightful old gouvernante, exactly like Mora in
Gil Bias ; she did all the work, brushed and moved
every picture, and opened and shut every shutter.
The calls for " Pepita" were incessant. She took a
great pride in the collection, and so she ought.
The old man buys a quantity of pictures wholesale,
and when they come home examines them with
Pepita and asks her by whom each is painted. —
" Oh, by Rubens, to be sure, and that other by
Murillo." And so they are noted down. — One day
the barber remarked to my guide, " What an
extraordinary talent that old woman has ; she
recognises all the great masters immediately."
At parting we had to write our names down in a
book, filled chiefly with the most fulsome flattery,
to which I added my mite.

We found ourselves next day in a delightful
steamer, large, clean, without vibration, and with a
cabin apiece. I was delighted with this part of
our journey. The sea was like a lake, the days
hot but with a fresh breeze, and the nights divine.
We always anchored before daybreak, and landed at
the various towns on our way — Alicante, Cartagena,
Almeria, and Malaga — all attractive places in their
different ways. The steamer only proceeded at
night, enabling us to spend our days on shore.

My servant, Pedro, a Spaniard I had hired in
Madrid, was in the seventh heaven, had made
many friendships, believed everything he was told,
and was firmly convinced that porpoises ate men.
Nevertheless, on my return to the boat from
Almeria I found him expatiating to George on the



8o SPANISH JOURNAL

horrors of the place. No inns, no shops, no theatre.
Its African look, terraces, gardens, and wild popula-
tion had no charm for him, nor the country round,
with its palm-trees, fields of cactus, and hedges
of aloes.

The coast from Almeria to Malaga is magnificent,
perpendicular rocks rising straight from the sea,
and in the distance the Sierra Nevada. We
spent a charming hour at sunset on the Alameda
where, under the trees, all the inhabitants were
promenading. We saw for the first time the
Andalusian dress, the velvet jacket and breeches,
the gay sash and embroidered gaiters open at
the side, with small leather straps hanging from
them. The women were lovely, much prettier
than the much-vaunted women of Valencia ; and
the gypsies, with their bright-coloured shawls worn
like mantillas, formed a charming picture. The
evening was heavenly, and the scene enchanting —
the town all lit up, and the dark water of the port
occasionally gleaming with the silver phosphorus
as the boats shot across it.

On nearing Gibraltar I got up early and soon
after was on deck. The Rock loomed in the
distance, very indistinct, lit up by the pale crescent
of the moon. As we approached, the daybreak
helped us to distinguish its grand outline.

The first thing we did on arriving was to
leave our names on Sir Robert Wilson. A
fidgety young aide-de-camp then appeared bringing
an invitation from the Governor to dinner. Sir
Robert, the son of the portrait painter, Benjamin
Wilson, a man who was a miser and left a great



1846] GIBRALTAR 81

fortune, entered the Army at the age of seventeen
and had a most remarkable career, greatly distin-
guishing himself by his courage and ability in the
numerous campaigns of that period. He was
present at the battle of Leipzig, where, according
to Prince Schwartzenberg, he contributed to its
success by his intelligence and able dispositions.
After the conclusion of the war he resided at Paris,
where, in conjunction with Michael Bruce, surnamed
"Lavalette" Bruce, and Captain Hutchinson, he
was instrumental in the escape of Count Lavalette
from prison, for which he was condemned to three
months' imprisonment and reprimanded by our
Government. He became a warm partisan of
Queen Caroline. At her funeral he commanded
the troops and prevented a collision between them
and the mob. For this he was turned out of
the Army by the Tory Government, and only re-
instated on the accession of William IV. Soon
after he was appointed Governor of Gibraltar.

In the afternoon we took a walk to Europa Point.
The batteries are endless ; most of them have been
erected in Sir Robert's time, and some are un-
finished. Every day he expected to see Joinville^
arrive, and said he was prepared to receive him.
He fully expected a war with France and talked
of it with glee. The view from the Signal Point
beggars description — Africa at your feet, Tangiers
and Ceuta in sight, and the glorious Mediterranean
below, dotted with vessels of every size.

I afterwards paid a farewell visit to the Governor.

^ Prince de Joinville, third son to Louis Philippe and Admiral of
the French fleet.



82 SPANISH JOURNAL

It was a long one, and he talked a good deal.
He was proud of the fortifications he had made,
and assured me that when he arrived at Gibraltar
it was untenable against battle-ships. He was full
of politics, and told me he had heard from Bulwer
that Sir Robert Peel as well as Lord Palmerston
had written to him to approve of his protest against
the Montpensier marriage. He boasted of the
discipline of his troops, and read to me some returns


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Online LibraryEdward Frederick Leveson-GowerBygone years; → online text (page 5 of 21)