Copyright
Francis Wharton.

Wharton and Stillé's medical jurisprudence .. online

. (page 2 of 36)
Online LibraryFrancis WhartonWharton and Stillé's medical jurisprudence .. → online text (page 2 of 36)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


provinces as effectually as broad oceans.

Though springing from a common root, i.e., the blend of
Roman and Phoenician blood with the aboriginal tribes of
Iberia, the vicissitudes of twelve centuries of history, with



A Glt^VNADlNO.

its successive foreign invasions and occupations, have
materially modified the racial characteristics of the Spanish
people. The Latin element still predominates, both in type
and tongue: but Semitic, Aryan, and even Turanian
strains are all present. The Spanish nation . of to-day is
composed rather of a congeries of heterogeneous peoples
and provinces, once separate kingdonui, and still incapable
of coherence or of fusion into a concrete whole, than of
sections of a single race. Compare the sturdy and indus-
trious, albeit somewhat phlegmatic, Galician, the happy
despised bondsman, the hewer of wood and drawer of



Digitized by



Google



ANDALUCU AND HER MOUNTAIN-BARRIERS. 5

water of the Peninsula, with the gay and careless Andaluz
who spurns and derides him : or the fiery temperament of
aristocratic Castile and Navarre with the commercial
instincts of Catalonia and the north-east. Probably the
most perfect example of natural nobility is afforded by the
peasant proprietor of pastoral Leon ; then there is a pelt-
clad, root-grubbing homo sylvestris peculiar to Estremenian
wilds, who awaits attention of ethnologists. There are
the Basques of Biscay — Tartar-sprung or Turanian, Finnic
or surviving aborigines, let philologists decide; at any
rate, a race by themselves, distinct in dress and habit, in



BASQUE PEASANT.

laws and language, from all the rest. Reserved, but cour-
teous and reliable, the Basques are dangerously ready for
their much-prized fueros to plunge their country in civil
war.* The differences which to-day distinguish these
allied races are as deep and defined as those which stand

♦ The fueros of the Basques comprise certain franchises and privi-
leges granted or upheld by ancient charters, and are their undoubted
right, though sought to be ignored by Madrid statesmen. It was
largely through his promises to re-establish their fueros, that Don
Carlos enlisted the sympathy and support of the Basque provinces.
The subject, however, is an intricate one, and is only alluded to inci-
dentaUy.



Digitized by



Google



6 WILD SPAIN.

between themselves and the foreigner of alien blood. But
we are rambling, and must remember that in this chapter
we only propose to deal with



Andalucia.

Often and well as in bygone days this sunny province
has been described, yet the modern life and nineteenth-
century conditions of rurar Andalucia are now compara-
tively unknown — have fallen into oblivion amid the more
ambitious and eventful careers of other countries. And,
indeed, there is needed the genius of a Cervantes or a Ford
adequately to depict or portray the quaint and picturesque
ensemble of this old-world corner of Europe, so distinct
from all the rest, and unchanged since the days of Don
Quixote. Spain, the land of anomaly and paradox, is a
complex theme not lightly to be understood or described
by aliens, albeit possessed of that first qualification, the
passport to every Spanish heart — a sympathetic nature.
Around the country and its people, around everything
Spanish, there hangs, in our eyes, a grace and an infinite
charm ; but it is a subtle charm, hardly to be described or
defined in words of ours.

The very inertia, the mediaeval conditions thinly
veneered, which characterize modern Andalucia in an era
of insensate haste and self-assertion, prove to some a
solace and a fascination. There are not wanting minds
which, amidst different environments, can enjoy and
admire such primitive simplicity — stagnation, if you will —
and find therein a grateful and refreshing change. In
Southern Spain life is dreamed away in sunshine and in
an atmosphere forgetful of the present, but redolent of the
past. The modem Andaluz is content de s'ecouter vivrcy
while the ancient chivalry of his race and his land's
romantic history is evidenced by crumbling castle on each
towering height ; by the palace-fortresses and magnificent
ecclesiastical fabrics of the middle ages : while the aban-
doned aqueducts, disused highways and broken bridges of
the Eoman period, attest a bygone energy.



Digitized by



Google



I



o

OS



OS

o

H

H
U
H

O

QQ

0S



o
o



O



H

Ofi



I



Digitized by



Google



Digitized by



Google



ANDALUCU. 7

Andalucia is a land of vine-clad slopes and olivares ; of
boundless prairies and corn lands where rude old-world
tillage leaves undisturbed the giant of European game-
birds, the Great Bustard, pushed back by modem cultiva-^
tion from uorthem fields ; a land of vast trackless heaths
aromatic of myrtle and mimosa, lentisk and palmetto,
idtemating with park-like self-sown woods of cork-oak and
chestnut, ilex and wild olive, carpeted between in spring-
time with wondrous wealth 6f flowers — lonely scenes,
rarely traversed sate by the muleteer. • For Spain is a
land where the mule and donkey still represent the chief
means of transport — ^not yet, nor for many a year, to be
displaced by steam and rail. Through every mountain-
pass, along every glen of her sierras, across each scrub-
clad plain and tomd dehesa, still file long teams of laden
pack animals urged townwards by sullen muleteer: or,
when returning to his pueblo among the hills, himself and
beasts in happier mood, and sitting sideways on the hind-
most, he sings his songs of love and wrong, no tune or
words of modem ring, but those in which the history df
his race is told ; now sinking to a dii'ge-like cadence, anon
in high-pitched protests of defiance — songs that ever have
been sung since the Arab held his sway over a proud but
conquered people. Truly the arriero is a type of rural
Spain : his monotonous chant, and the gaudy trappings of
his mule-team appearing and disappearing with every
winding of the mountsun-track, bespeak the spirit of the
sierra. In all these and in a host of cognate scenes and
sounds, in the grandeur of untamed nature, and in the
freedom and inborn grace of a rarely favoured people,
there springs a perennial charm to the traveller, a restful
refreshing draught of laissez faire, and a glimpse into a
long-past epoch that can hardly be enjoyed elsewhere
in Europe. Here of old fierce fights were fought for
this rich prize in soil and climate ; its fabled fertility
attracting hither in turn the legions of Rome, the Goths,
and, last, the Moorish hordes, to conquer and to hold for
seven hundred years.

The Province of Andalucia with its corn-plains and vine-



Digitized by



Google



8 WILD SPAIN.

yards, orange and olive-groves, barren wastes and lonely
marismas, covers a stretch of three hundred miles from
east to west, and half that extent in depth ; and is bounded
— save on the Atlantic front — by an unbroken circle of
sierras. Commencing at Tarifa on the south, the moun-
tain-barrier is carried past Gibraltar and Malaga to the
Sierra Nevada, whose snow-clad summits reach 12,000
feet ; and beyond, on the east, by the Almerian spurs.
Nestling in the lap of this long southern range lies the
narrow belt of " Africa in Europe," above alluded to.



FAIR SEVILLaSaS.

where, secured from northern winds and facing the blue
Mediterranean, grow even cotton and the sugar-cane ; while
the date-palm, algan-obo or carob-tree, the banana, quince,
citron, lemon, and pomegranate, with other sub-tropical
plants, flourish in this Spanish Biviera. Then, from the
easternmost point of the province, the Sagres Mountains
continue the rock-barrier to the point where the Sierra
Morena separates the sunny life of Andalucia from the
barrenness of La Mancha and primitive Estremadura.
These grim and almost unbroken solitudes of the Sierra



Digitized by



Google



ANDA.LUCU. y

Morena form the entire northern boundary, continued by the
Sierra de Aroche to the frontier of Portugal, and thence, by
a lesser chain, to the Atlantic once more. The short coast-
line between Trafalgar and Huelva thus forms, as it were,
the only opening to this favoured land, secure in a moun-
tain-setting — the gem for which contending races fought for
centuries, and from whose southernmost rock the British
flag floats over the bristling battlements of Gibraltar.

To see Andalucia, the traveller must ride. In a wide
and wild land, where distances are great and the heat
greater, where roads, rail, and bridges exist not, the saddle
is the only means of locomotion. In Spain nothing can
be done on foot : in a land of caballeros even the poorest
bestrides his bonieo. The traveller becomes an integral
part of his beast, and his resting-place, the village posadu,
is half-inn, half-stable, where he must* provide for the
needs of his four-footed friend before he thinks of his own.
A ride through the wilder regions, and especially among
the sierras, involves, however, an amount of forethought
and provision that, to those unacquainted with the cosas de
EspaflUy would be well nigh incredible. In the open
country no one lives, and nothing can be obtained, or, at
least, it is unsafe to rely on it for anything. Thus one is
obliged to carry from the town all the necessaries of life —
an elastic, indefinite expression, it is true. What serves
amply for one man may imply discomfort and misery to
another : still, there remains for all an irreducible mini-
mum, and only those who have tested their requirements
in the field know how numerous and bulky remains this
absolutely indispensable " balance." First there is provend
for the beasts ; heavy sacks of gi'ain, straw, &c., necessitating
mules to carry them, and this, in turn, nearly doubling the
quantity. Thus an expedition of a fortnight or so signi-
fies nothing less than the transport of huge mule-loads of
impedimenta, the most bulky of which are for the use of
the beasts themselves : though the indispensables for their
riders are considerable — bread, meat, eggs and oranges,
skins of wine, and, in most cases, tents with all the para-
phernalia of camp-outfit, cooking apparatus, and the rest.



Digitized by



Google



10 WILD SPAIN.

Burdened with all this cargo, and in a rough country
where each traveller makes his own road — since no others
exist — progress is slow : through jungle, broken ground or
wood, the wayfarer steers by compass, landmark, or in-
stinct — sometimes by the lack of the latter, as he finds too
late. Deep bits of bog and frequent lagoons must be
circumvented, and rivers forded where no " fords " exist :
an operation which, owing to the deep mud and treacher-
ous ground bordering the sluggish southern rivers, often
involves off-loading, carrying across in detail, and restow-
ing on the. other bank— a troublesome business, especially
after dark.

In this land of surprises, the pays de Vimprevu, it is the
unexpected that always occurs.. Seldom does a ride through
the wilder regions of Spain pass without incident. Thus
once we were carried off as prisoners by the Civil Guard —
not having with us our cedulas de recindad — and taken
forty miles for the purpose of identification : or the way
may be intercepted by that fraternity whose ideas of vieum
and tuum are somewhat mixed ; or, worse still, as twice
happened to us, by a fighting bull. One toro h-avoy
having escaped in a frenzy of rage from a herd whose
pasturage had been moved fifty miles up the country, was
occupying a narrow cactus-hedged lane near his old haunts,
and completely barred the way, attacking right and left all
who appeared on the scene. Warning of the danger ahead
was given us at a wayside shanty where the ventero and
his wife had sought refuge on the roof. Nothing re-
mained but to clear the way and rid the district of
a dangerous brute already maddened by a wound with
small shot. Leaving the horses in safety, we proceeded
on foot to the attack, two of us strategically covering
the advance behind the shelter of the cactus; while
our cazadovy Jose Larrioe, boldly strode up the lane.
No sooner had he appeared round a bend in the
fence than the bull was in full charge. A bullet from
the "flank gun," luckily placed, staggered him, and a
second from Jose, crashing on his lowered front, at five
yards, ended his career. When the authorities sent out



Digitized by



Google



ANDALUCIA. 11

next morning to bring in the meat, nothing was found
remaining except the horns and the hoofs ! On another

occasion, when driving tandem into the town of P , we

met, face to face, a novillo or three-year-old bull which,
according to a custom of tauromachian Spain, was being
baited in the pubUc streets. We only escaped by driving
across the shrubberies and flower-beds of the Alameda.
In the former case we received the thanks of the munici-
pality : in the other, were condemned to pay a fine ! *

Another ride was saddened by finding on the wayside
the body of a murdered man ; his mule stood patiently by,
and there we left them in the gloom of gathering night.
On all the bye-ways of Spain, and along the bridle-paths
of the sierras, one sees little memorial tablets or rude
wooden crosses, bearing silent witness to such deeds of
violence, according to Spanish custom : —

** Below there in the dusky pass
Was wrought a murder dread.
The murdered fell upon the grass,
Away the murderer fled."t

On more than one occasion our armed hunting-ex-
peditions in the wilds have been mistaken — not perhaps
without reason, so far as external appearances go — for a
gang of niala gente; and their sudden appearance has struck
dire dismay inthe breasts of peaceful peasants and arrieros^
with convoys of corn-laden donkeys, till reassured by the
brazen voice of Bias or Antonio — ** Ole^ amigos ! Aqui no
hay mano negra, ni hlanca tampocol^^ — which we give in

* An amusing little instance of Spanish justice arose out of this : —
Having refused to pay the fine, no further steps wete taken for its
recovery, nor to uphold the majesty of the law, until, long afterwards,
the mulcted man's purse was stolen from his pocket in the bull-ring

at P . On his appearing to prosecute the thief, whose guilt was

clearly proved, the Alcalde declined to restore the money, quietly
pocketing the purse with the remark, *' I think, SeAor Caballero, this
will just about settle the account between us I " This casual way of
administering justice was amusing enough, and consoled one for the
feeling of having been " bested/'

I There is an excellent description of one of these tragic scenes in
Borrow (Zincali, i., pp. 48, 49).



Digitized by



Google



12 WILD SPAIN.

Spanish, as it is not readily translatable at once into
English and sense. On two occasions in the Castiles has
our advent to some hamlet of the sierra been hailed with
joy as that of a strolling company of acrobats ! " Mira
Im Titeres! — Here come the mountebanks ! " sing out the
ragged urchins of the plaza, as our cavalcade with its tent-
poles, camp-gear, and, to them, foreign-looking baggage,
filed up the narrow street.

It is, however, unnecessary here to recapitulate all
the curious incidents of travel, nor to recount the
difficulties and troubles by which the wayfarer in Spanish
wilds may find himself beset — many such incidents will be
found related hereinafter. Sport and the natural beauties
of this unknown land are ample reward, and among the
other attractions of Andalucian travel may be numbered
that of at least a spice of the spirit of adventure.

This flavour of danger gives zest to many a distant
ramble: of personal molestation we have luckily had
but Uttle experience, although at times associated in
sport with serranos of more than dubious repute, for the
Spaniard is loyal to his friend. At intervals the country
has been seething with agrarian discontent and sometimes
with overt rebeUion. On more than one occasion the
bullets have been whistling pretty freely ^bout the streets,
and the surrounding campiiia was, for the time, practically
in the hands of an armed, lawless peasantry. In addition
to these exceptional but recurrent periods of turmoil and
anarchist frenzy, there exists a permanent element of law-
lessness in the contrahandistas from the coast, who per-
meate the sierras in all directions with their mule-loads
of tobacco, cottons, ribbons, threads, and a thousand odds
and ends, many of which have run the blockade of the
" lines " of Gibraltar. The propinquity — actual or imagi-
nary — of mala gente, often causes real inconvenience while
camping in the sierra, such as the necessity of seeking at
times the insectiferous refuge of some village posada instead
of enjoying the freedom of the open hill ; or of having to
put out the fire at nightfall, which prevents the cooking of
dinner, preparing specimens, or writing up notes, &Cv



Digitized by



Google



LIFE IN THE SIERRAS. 13



Life in the Sierras.

As the sinuous, ill-defined mule-track leaves the plain
and strikes the rising ground, the signs of man's presence
become rapidly scarcer ; for none, save the very poorest,
live outside the boundaries of town or village. For mile
after mile the track traverses the thickets of wild olive and



'A OflOZA: THE mmE OF THE'iVJ«>AT^irClAN PJKASANT.

lentisons ; here a whole hillside glowd with, the/pipk Hoom
of rhododendron, or aoree of asphodel clothe ^ barren
patch ; bat not so much as a solitary choza^ the rude reed-
btiilt hut of a goatherd, can be seen. Now the path
merges in the bed of some winter torrent, rugged and
boulder-strewn, but shaded with bay and laurestnm8,-and
a fringe of magnificent oleai^ders ; anon we flounder
throu^^de^ deposits of alluvial mud bordered by waving



Digitized by



Google



14 WILD SPAIN.

brakes of giant canes and briar, presently to strike again
the upward track through evergreen forests of chestnut
and cork-oak.

The silence and solitude of hours — that perfect loneU-
ness characteristic of highland regions — is broken at last
by a human greeting so unexpected and startling, that the
rider instinctively checks his horse, and grasps the gun
which hangs in the slings by his side. But alarm is soon
allayed as a pair of Civil Guards on their well-appointed
mounts emerge from some sheltering thicket, and com-
mand the way. The guardias civiles patrol the Spanish
hills in pairs by day and night, for it is through the passes
of the sierra that the inland towns are supplied with con-
traband from the coast, and all . travellers are subject to
the scrutiny of these sharp-eyed cavalry. Yet, despite the
vigilance of this fine corps and their coadjutors the
carbineers, the smuggler manages to live and to drive a
thriving trade. Possessing a beast of marvellous agility
and tried endurance, he carries his cargo of cottons or
tobacco — the unexcised output of Malaga or Gibraltar —
across the sierras, by devious paths and break-neck passes
which would appear impracticable, save to a goat; and
this, too, generally by night.

Towns are few and far between among the mountains,
and the rare villages often cluster picturesquely on
the ridge of some stupendous crag like eagles' eyries:
positions chosen for their strength centuries ago, and
nothing changes in Spain. It is not considered safe for
well-to-do people to live on their possessions of cork-woods
and cattle-riins, and few of that class are ever to be seen
in the sierras, while those whom business or necessity
takes from one town to another naturally choose the route
which is, as they term it, ** mas acompanado,'' i.e., most fre-
quented, even though it be three times as long — in Spanish
phrase, " no hay atajo sin trabajo,'' A wanderer from these
veredas is looked upon with a suspicion which experience
has shown is not ill-founded.

One evidence of human presence is, however, inevitably
in sight— the blue, curling smoke of the charcoal-burners,



Digitized by



Google



a;



o






I



^



Digitized by



Google



Digitized by



Google



LIFE IN THE SIERRAS. 15

the sign of a wasteful process that is ruthlessly destroying
the silent beauties of the sierra. Every tree, shrub, or
bush has to go to provide fuel for the universal puehero.
No other firing is used for kitchen purposes ; no houses,
save a few of the richest, have fireplaces or cooking-
apparatus other than the charcoal anafe — with its triple
blow-holes, through which the smouldering embers are
fanned with a grass-woven mat (see cut at p. 22) — and its
accompaniments, the casuela and clay olla. The mountain
forest is his only resource : yet the careless Andaluz never
dreams of the future, or of planting trees to replace those
he bums to-day.

Hence year by year the land becomes ever more treeless,
barren, and naked; whole hill-ranges which only twenty
years ago were densely clad with thickets of varied growth,
the lair of boar and roe, are. now denuded and disfigured.
The blackened circle, the site of a charcoal-furnace, attests
the destructive handiwork of man. If one expostulates
with the carbonei'08, or laments the destruction wrought,
their reply is always the same : — " The land will now
become tierra de pan^' or corn-land, of which there is
already more than enough for the labour available.

In some upland valley one comes across a colony of
carboneros who have settled down on some clearing under
agreement with the owner to cut and prepare for market.
These woodmen are either paid so much per quintal, or
obtain the use of the land in return for clearing ^nd
reducing it into order for corn-growing. No rent is
asked for the first five years, or if any be paid, a portion
of the crop is usually the landlord's share. During the
first few years, these disafforested lands are highly pro-
ductive, the virgin soil, enriched by carbonized refuse,
yielding as much as sixty bushels to the acre. The
carboneros lead a lonely life, except when their sequestered
colony is enlivened by the arrival of the arrieros with
their donkey-teams, to load up the produce for the nearest
towns.

Fortunately for the Spanish forests, there are two
circumstances that tend to limit their destruction. First



Digitized by



Google



16 WILD SPAIN.

there is the value of the cork-oak ; for, besides its bark, which
is stripped and sold every seven years, its crops of acorns
fatten droves of shapely black swine during autumn and
winter, and a substance is obtained beneath the bark
which is used in curing leather. Hence the forests of
noble akomoques escape the ruthless hatchet of the car-
bonero. The other limit is the cost of transport which
restricts his operations to within a certain distance of the
towns which form his market. Beyond this radius the
forests retain their native pristine beauty : under their
shade are pastured herds of cattle, and a rude hut, built of
undressed stones and thatched with reeds, forms the lonely
cma of the herdsman. By day and night he guards his
cattle or goats, often having to sleep on the hill, or under
the scant shelter of a lentisco, for which he receives
about eightpence a day, with an allowance of bread, oil,
salt, and vinegar. His wife and children of course share
his lonely lot, their only touch with the outer world being
a chance visit, once or twice a year, to their native village.
Our rough friend, clad in leather or woolly sheepskin, is
a sportsman by nature, and can '' hold straight " on his
favourite quarry, the rabbit, whose habits he thoroughly
understands. The walls of his hut are seldom unadorned
with an ancient fowling-piece : generally a converted
" flinter," modernized with percussion lock, and having an
enormous exterior spring for its motive power. When the
long, honey-combed barrel has been duly fed with Spanish
powder from his cork-stoppered cow's horn, the quantity
settled by eye-measurement in the palm of his hand, a
wisp of palmetto leaf well rammed home, and a similar
process gone through with the shot from a leather pouch,
he may be trusted to give a good account of darting bunny
or rattle- winged red-leg. Poor fellow ! the respect and love
he bears for his old favourite receive a rude shock when
the power of modem combinations of wood-powder, choke-
bore, and Purdey barrels have been successfully and
successively demonstrated. But it is only after repeated
proofs that his lifelong faith in the unique powers of that
old escopeta begins to shake.



Digitized by



Google



LIFE IN THE SIERRAS. 17

Then it is a study to watch that bronzed and swarthy



Online LibraryFrancis WhartonWharton and Stillé's medical jurisprudence .. → online text (page 2 of 36)