Copyright
Louise Chandler Moulton.

Lazy tours in Spain and elsewhere online

. (page 1 of 21)
Online LibraryLouise Chandler MoultonLazy tours in Spain and elsewhere → online text (page 1 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


WILLIAM\1
AND ANNE
HABBERLEY,




IN MEMORY OF
WILLIAM C. HABBERLEY



LAZY TOURS

IN SPAIN AND ELSEWHERE



LAZY TOURS



IN SPAIN AND ELSEWHERE



BY



LOUISE CHANDLER MOULTON

Suttjor of

"SWALLOW FLIGHTS," "IN THE GARDEN OF DREAMS," "RANDOM

RAMBLES," "BED-TIME STORIES," "SOME

WOMEN'S HEARTS," ETC.



BOSTON

ROBERTS BROTHERS
1897



Copyright, 1896,
BY ROBERTS BROTHERS.



All rights reserved.



1^J2^L^



SEttttattg

JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE, U. S. A.



/?



TO
SIR BRUCE AND LADY SETON,

THE WELL-BELOVED FRIENDS AND FREQUENT HOSTS OF
THIS LAZY TOURIST,

I INSCRIBE THESE PAGES.

L. C. M.



M595670



SHALL a Lazy Tourist apologize for laziness ?
Then forgive me, kind readers, that I have trav-
elled in pursuit of pleasure, or of health, rather
than of " very hard facts ; " that I have recorded
impressions more often than details, and that 1
have not even the saving grace to be ashamed
of having been a vagrant.

L. C. M.



CONTENTS.



PAOB

I. A LAZY TOUR IN SPAIN 1

II. IN SOUTHERN ITALY 49

AT NAPLES 51

IN PURSUIT OF VESUVIUS 60

SORRENTO DAYS 67

POMPEII, AMALFI, AND PAESTUM 76

III. IN AND ABOUT ROME 86

ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME 87

MOST ROMAN PART OF ROME 97

AMONG STATUES AND PICTURES 107

AMONG THE MANY CHURCHES OF THE ETERNAL

CITY 116

SOME ROMAN VILLAS 130

IV. FLORENCE THE FAIR 139

FLORENCE THE FAIR 141

FROM FLORENCE TO PARIS 154

V. PARIS AND PICTURES 163

VI. RAMBLES IN SWITZERLAND 191

IN SWITZERLAND : AT LUCERNE 193

To, AND IN, GENEVA 200

CHAMOUNY AND THE MER DE GLACE .... 213

OVER THE TETE NOIRE, TO CHILLON .... 220

A POSTSCRIPT: AT RAGATZ 228



X CONTENTS.

PAGE

VII. CERTAIN FRENCH CURES 235

AT AIX-LES-BAINS 237

BRIDES-LES-BAINS 254

LIGHTS AND SHADES OF TRAVELLING IN

SAVOIB 264

LES VOIRONS: A PARADISE ON A HILL-TOP 270

VIII. HOW THEY CURE THEMSELVES IN

GERMANY 277

MARIENBAD AND NUREMBERG 279

To, AND AT, CARLSBAD 296

FROM CARLSBAD TO PARIS 313

IX. AT WIESBADEN, AND AFTER 323

WHAT ONE DOES AT WIESBADEN 325

To PARIS, BY WAY OP FRANKFORT AND

METZ 248

X. AN ENGLISH "CURE," AND A GLIMPSE

OF YORKSHIRE 357

TUNBRIDGE WELLS 359

IN YORKSHIRE 366



A LAZY TOUR IN SPAIN.



LAZY TOURS.



A LAZY TOUR IN SPAIN.

THE only bit of real estate I ever owned was
" a Castle in Spain." I have long been
familiar with its aspect. I have seen its shining
turrets in the crimson of sunset skies. I have
heard faint music, on winds blowing from the
East, which I felt sure was caught from harps in
its high windows; and mysterious scents have
reached me now and then, wafted, doubtless, from
its far-off gardens.

From my childhood I had longed to visit my
Spanish estates as pertinaciously as Columbus
longed to set forth from those shores of Spain to
discover this far-off new world in which I thus
discontentedly abode. But tales of expense, diffi-
culty, and danger have been rife about the pleas-
ant paths of Spain.

" You will find it such a fatiguing journey,"
said one. " The hotels are poor, the railway
trains crawl, and you 11 be poisoned with garlic."



4 LAZY TOURS.

" And you 11 not be free from danger," said an-
other. "Bandits have been banished from the rest
of the civilized world to survive in Spain. They
may take possession of your train any fine day.
You '11 still find the ' robber purse,' which Wash-
ington Irving speaks of, a necessary precaution."

" And then the expense," croaked a third. " You
can't go without a courier, and he 11 pillage you
right and left."

"And then you'll never find your castle, you
know." But it was only Mrs. Gradgrind who said
that ; and I did not mind Mrs. Gradgrind.

Suddenly, in Paris, I made up my mind to go.
Four other rash ladies came to the same resolu-
tion; and we looked about for a courier. We
chose him at last for his pious face. He was the
Vicar of Wakefield, in German, at least, that is
how he impressed me; but the Wise Woman of
our party said he was a Sunday-school superin-
tendent off home duty, and disposed to treat us
with a sort of paternal care, as if we had been the
lambs of his flock.

It was a frowning October morning when we
left Paris, and by the time we got to Tours it
rained most spitefully. We defied the rain, how-
ever, and drove about the town, and back and forth
across the beautiful river, which flows through
Tours as the Arno flows through Florence. We
went to the cathedral, and lingered under the
great tent-like cedar of Lebanon in the Arch-
bishop's garden, and then drove out through the



A LAZY TOUR IN SPAIN. 5

sullen rain to that Plessis la Tour which the
readers of "Quentin Durward" know.

The next day it rained still, and it rained all day
long, while on we journeyed. We drove through
a pouring rain at night to our hotel in Bordeaux,
and started away from it the next morning in
the same cheerful condition of the weather. But
the sky had cleared before we got to Biarritz ;
and after that the sun shone on us for seven
weeks to come, with only one brief and appro-
priate interruption.

Biarritz the beautiful ! No wonder the Empress
Eugenie built her villa there in the days of her
glory. Part of that villa is a restaurant now, and
looks like " a banquet hall deserted," or it did
in the late October when the Biarritz season was
coming to an end ; but there is hardly a more
superb view in Europe than can be seen from its
windows. Biarritz, like Tours, is a place to go
back to; but we had little time to linger there.
Were we not en route for Spain, the country of
beauty and of bandits, of love and of fear ?

On the 26th of October we entered our promised
land. We went through the custom-house at
Irun. We had been forewarned that the exami-
nation would be rigorous and disagreeable, and
that our papers especially would be subjected to
the closest scrutiny. On the contrary, not a
paper was examined, and nothing could have been
more perfunctory than the whole performance.
The officers consulted somewhat over a seal-skin



6 LAZY TOURS.

cloak belonging to the Nut-brown Maid ; but
whether they were admiring or condemning we
could not tell. They folded it up respectfully
at last, and marked the box that contained it as
passed.

It was on this occasion that the Nut-brown
Maid confided to me that she had a passport which
had cost her time and trouble and a national
bank-note for five dollars ; and of which, therefore,
she was extremely desirous to make use. The
officers of the customs grieved her by not asking
for it ; and I must mention here that for a lady
travelling in Spain a passport is as unnecessary
as a marriage certificate.

We journeyed on from Irun through the lovely
Basque country. The Wise Woman grieved that
we were thus hurrying through the abode of these
gentle, serious, handsome Basque folk, whose lan-
guage, they claim, is the oldest in Europe. But
the rest of us were happy, if only there had not
been so many tunnels to shut out from our view
the wonderful mountain scenery. The railway
from Irun to Burgos is said to be a masterpiece
of engineering. Shall I ever forget how that
afternoon sped on, leading us from beauty to
beauty, until at last the royal Spanish sunset
came, kindling the skies to crimson, and touch-
ing the hill-tops with a baptism of blood and
fire ? And then we saw visions. Down one west-
ern slope we were sure we saw Don Quixote ride,
and on the hill-top opposite it was a true giant,



A LAZY TOUR IN SPAIN. 7

and not a windmill, that confronted the faithful
knight. And in the heart of that western glory
surely we saw a castle,

" With its battlements high in the hush of the air,
And the turrets thereon,"

and each woman of us believed herself its rightful
chatelaine.

We were tired enough when we got to Burgos,
at a late hour in the evening; and I fear we
grumbled unduly as we jolted on through the
rough streets the long, long way to the hotel.
Why it is that all over Spain the railway stations
have gone into the country on a vacation, and you
have to drive a Sabbath day's journey before you
get into town and find your hotel, I have not yet
been informed ; but, even here, I have faith in the
good intentions of the Spanish people.

Our Vicar of Wakefield had telegraphed for
rooms for us beforehand ; and on arriving, chilled
to the bone, at the Fonda del Norte, we found a
bright fire burning, and we found Mate*o. Matdo
was our chambermaid ; and for good-humor, bright-
ness, and black eyes, it would be hard to name her
peer. She and the fire consoled us. The beds
were clean and soft, and we laughed at the idea
of Spanish discomforts until breakfast. But the
breakfast, oh, the breakfast ! The tea was bad ;
the eggs deserved respect only for their age ; the
bread was sour ; and the butter, it is a horror
to remember. All over Spain the butter is vile,



8 LAZY TOURS.

on account, I imagine, of the sterility of the soil ;
but in most places the food, as a whole, is good.
We took the worst first, in the matter of provi-
sions, in taking Burgos. But when our rather
forlorn breakfast was over, and we went out of
doors, it mattered little that to break our fast
had been a penance. Here we were, in Spain, in
Spain !

Had we been taken up blindfolded by some of
the genii that did transport duty in the time of
the Arabian Nights, and set down in Burgos with-
out a word of forewarning, we could not have
mistaken our locality. Here were the dark-eyed
senoras of our long dreams; here "the stately
Spanish men ; " and here, above all, were the beg-
gars, the gentle, persistent, picturesque Spanish
beggars, and it was escorted by a troop, a throng
of them, that we moved on to the cathedral, that
cathedral of which De Amicis speaks as a miracle
of boldness, genius, and labor, producing "the
effect upon you of a superhuman voice which
cries 'I AM.'" What vastness of space, what
splendor of design, what lavishness of ornamen-
tation, what superb expression altogether of man's
faith and worship! One grieves only that the
grandeur of the vistas should be broken by the
choir, which is almost a church within a church.

Burgos is the town of the Cid, the Homer of
Spain. Everywhere you come upon traces of him.
One favorite excursion is to his tomb. On the
way you pause at the Convent of Miraflores, built



A LAZY TOUR IN SPAIN. 9

by Isabella the Catholic in memory of her father
and mother, and containing their monument. It
is a desolate road that leads from Miraflores to
San Pedro de Cerdena, the beloved home of the
Cid, whither, when he was dying at Valencia, he
begged with his latest breath to be taken. Thither
was he borne, when all was over, upon his faith-
ful horse Bavieca, who is said to have wept at
his deathbed. Upon Bavieca was the dead Cid
set upright, clad in his armor, and with that good
sword Tibona in his hand, with which, though
dead, he yet struck down a Jew who audaciously
plucked him by the beard. At San Pedro de
Cerdena was Bavieca buried, as the will of the
Cid commanded. "When ye bury Bavieca," he
wrote, " dig deep, for shameful thing it were that
he should be eaten by curs, who hath trampled
down so much currish flesh of Moors." The Cid
is no longer buried in his own tomb, which is in
the centre of the convent chapel. Here, indeed,
are the marble effigies of himself and of his faith-
ful wife, Ximena ; but their bones are in a casket,
with a glass top, in the town hall at Burgos, where
my own eyes have beheld them.

It would be a mistake to leave Burgos without
seeing the beautiful Cistercian Convent of Las
Huelgas, founded by the wife of Alonzo VIII. as
a refuge for unmarried women of noble families.
Through the grating that shuts off the choir in
the church of this convent we saw some of these
white-robed Cistercians at their prayers. Was I



10 LAZY TOURS.

wrong in pitying them, I wonder? Some were
young and beautiful now, and others had been so
long ago ; but here they all were, women of noble
race, with their ardent Spanish eyes and their
pleasure-loving Spanish lips ; full, when they came
here, of all girlhood's restless dreams and longings,
and yet condemned by family pride and family pov-
erty to this life of seclusion; this finality of all
things, which has nothing beyond it save death.

The Wise Woman of our party decreed that our
next stopping-place should be Valladolid; so we
made the journey thither from Burgos in an even-
ing, found a comfortable French hotel, slept the
sleep of the weary, and awoke next morning ready
for a day of sight-seeing in Valladolid. It was a
very satisfying day to me, for it satisfied me that
I never want to go there again. The cathedral is
grand in its outlines, but so white and bare and
cold that I shiver to remember it. The interests
of Valladolid are all in the past tense. In the
fifteenth century it was the home of kings.
Charles V. adorned it with noble edifices, and his
son, Philip II., was born here. Cervantes lived
here once, but I believe that Cervantes was a
melancholy man. You are taken to his humble
house, and his " statue watches it from the square."
Here the great man worked, making clothes for the
king and his nobles, and thinking, meanwhile,
his immortal thoughts. You go also to see the
house where Columbus died ; the university, and
a whole list of other things, among them the



A LAZY TOUR IN SPAIN. 11

convent built by Torquemada, the terrible con-
fessor of Isabella the Catholic, and the Plaza
Mayor, where, under his influence, heretics used
to be burned for the glory of the Lord. The
court was at Valladolid then, and the court used
to go to see an auto-da-fe as now in Madrid it
goes to see a bull-fight; and the poor heretics,
arrayed in yellow shirts painted all over with
flames and figures of devils, made much amuse-
ment for the fine folk.

The Museo of Valladolid has received more
praise than it deserves, for it is largely given
over to rubbish. It contains a few good pic-
tures, however, Kubens's " St. Anthony of Padua "
among them; and some wonderful statues in
wood from the two greatest wood sculptors
Spain has ever known, Juan de Juni, who de-
lighted in using his art to depict the morbid
and the terrible, and the gentle Gregorio Her-
nandez, who, like Fra Angelico, never began his
task without first saying his prayers.

In the afternoon we drove all about the dreary,
desolate town, which looks as if some caprice of
fate had set it down in the midst of a desert, and
which we were thankful enough to leave in the
gray of the next morning.

Our destiny that day was the Escorial, and on
our way we passed Medina, where Isabella the
Catholic died in 1504, and Avila, where her
only son, Prince Juan, was buried. Juan was a
young prince of very noble qualities, and had



12 LAZY TOURS.

been most carefully educated by his royal parents.
In his twentieth year he was married to the beauti-
ful Princess Margaret, daughter of the Emperor
Maximilian, whom he loved as well as if they had
not been the children of kings. Leaving him thus,
just married, and with every prospect of happi-
ness, Ferdinand and Isabella hastened away to
another marriage, that of their daughter Isabella
to the King of Portugal. Meantime Prince Juan
was taken suddenly ill. King Ferdinand, by trav-
elling rapidly, managed to reach his death-bed ; but
Queen Isabella, who was forced to journey more
slowly, only arrived after all was over. When
the young prince was near his end, his father
strove to cheer him with hopes of his recovery,
but he lifted his eyes as toward some vision of
glory that others could not behold, and said that
he was ready to leave a world which at the best
was so full of vanity and trouble ; and he prayed
only that the loved ones from whom he parted
might be as resigned to part with him as he
was ready to go.

There, in Avila, his sorrowing parents built his
monument, and placed on it the semblance of his
sleeping figure, " lying as he had smiled," the
most touching of all sepulchral effigies. From
the carven stalls which they occupied at Mass
the stricken father and mother used, thenceforth,
to look down on their best-beloved sleeping below,
and the sad eyes of one would seek the sad eyes of
the other, and the silent tears would start.



A LAZY TOUR IN SPAIN. 13

Avila is still surrounded by its perfect wall,
and is scarcely changed at all since the time of
Santa Teresa, who was born there in 1815. The
Eoman Catholic Church regarded Santa Teresa as
especially raised up by Heaven to breathe new
life into their religion. She was born of noble
parents, who were also very pious ; only, biog-
raphers say, that the mother was given too much
to the reading of romances, and it was no doubt
from her that Santa Teresa inherited her strong
bent to the romantic, as well as to the mystical.
From her earliest childhood she was constantly
reading the lives of the saints and martyrs, and
at eight years of age she set off from home with
her little brother to find the country of the
Moors, in the hope of being martyred by them,
but was captured and brought back by a hard-
hearted and unromantic uncle.

When she was twelve years old her mother died,
and Teresa got possession of the deceased lady's
beloved library of romances, the consequence of
which was that the student of her character finds
in her a curious blending of religion and romance,
personal vanity and personal piety. One noble say-
ing of hers deserves to be remembered : " I con-
ceive," said she, " that the misery of damned souls
in hell consists in the impossibility of their loving
God or man." She believed that when she was
twenty she was caught up into heaven, and shown
a plan for reformed convents, which she returned
to earth to carry out. She founded seventeen



14 LAZY TOURS.

nunneries and fifteen monasteries, in different parts
of Spain, beside her own especial Convent of St.
Joseph at Avila. She arrived at Toledo, with
only four ducats to found a convent, and when
people exclaimed at this she said, calmly,

" Teresa and four ducats can do nothing ; but
God, Teresa, and four ducats can do anything."

She died in her sixty-eighth year, in her own
convent at Avila. Roman Catholic legends assert
that the spirits of ten thousand martyrs were pres-
ent at her death-bed, and the Lord Jesus came in
person to convey her to her heavenly home. Even
now, in her convent chapel, the nuns sit during
Mass upon the steps, rather than in the stalls
carved for their use, because they believe that in
Teresa's life-time angels used to come down to oc-
cupy these seats, and they wish still to leave them
free for the possible grace of such high visitants.

From Avila the railway climbs toilsomely along
the mountains up to the Escorial, passing through
sixteen enormous tunnels on the way. Just be-
fore we reached the Escorial it began to rain.
This was the only rain that diversified our seven
weeks of brilliant Spanish sunshine. Somehow it
seemed fitting that it should rain then and there.
In the morning we went across to that palace
so gloomy that, as The'ophile Gautier in his " Voy-
age en Espagne" suggests, one can, after seeing
it, always console himself, whatever the trouble
of his life may be, by thinking that he might be
at the Escorial, and is not.



A LAZY TOUR IN SPAIN. 15

From far away you can see the gloomy pile, so
massive that it stands out from the mighty hills
behind it, and confronts you in all its stately
ugliness. It was built in the form of a gridiron,
in honor of St. Laurence.

Do you know his story, with its touch of grim
humor ? He was broiled on a gridiron, in the
year 261, over a very slow fire. He bore the
grilling, while his life "held out to burn," with
scornful composure, and when one side of him
was well-done, he told his cooks that it was time
to turn him ; and suggested that they should
taste him, and see if he was most palatable well-
done or under-done. In memory, then, of this
grim saint, on whom he had called for aid during
the battle of St. Quentin, Philip II. resolved that
the Escorial should be built.

The first stone was laid in 1563, but the erection
was not finished until 1584; and in 1598 its
founder, Philip II., died here, where for fourteen
years he had lived, more as a monk than as a
monarch, though he boasted that he was ruling
the world, with a bit of paper, from under a hill
This mighty gray pile seems almost a part of the
strong hills ; and Ford says of it, that, cold as the
gray eye and granite heart of its founder, it would
have been out of keeping if placed amid the
flowers and sunshine of a happy valley. The
largest number of the priceless pictures that used
to adorn it have been removed to the gallery at
Madrid, though many still remain ; and there are



16 LAZY TOUKS.

rooms on rooms hung with tapestry that it is worth
a journey to see ; also the noble library is full of
interest, and the chapel is a miracle of stately
simplicity.

Yet it is none of these which chiefly moves
you, but rather the all-pervading memory of one
thin-lipped, implacable man, who built this place
for his home and his tomb, who lived here
mournfully, and died here awfully.

As you move on from place to place, you feel
that you are treading in his footsteps. I sat in
the very seat where he was sitting when news
was brought to him of the destruction of the
Spanish Armada ; and there was something right
royal in the way he received these tidings. Not
a muscle of his face moved, we are told ; and he
said quietly, "I thank God for having given me
the means of bearing such a loss without embar-
rassment. A stream can afford to waste some
water when its source is not dried up."

The little inner room in which Philip II. died
opens into the chapel, and at this opening the
king's face used to be seen, during his last illness,
following the prayers with a sort of desperation.
It seems that at the end he was haunted by awful
doubts whether his bigotry and his persecutions,
by which he had thought he was doing God ser-
vice, had not, after all, been a crime. The story
of his death, with all its terrible details, came
back to us as we looked from the little room
which had witnessed his agonies into the stately



A LAZY TOUR IN SPAIN. 17

chapel where his effigy, in gilt robes, kneels for-
ever beside the high altar.

Then we followed him down into the Panteon,
that place of sepulture for kings and the mothers
of kings, where he sleeps peacefully, let us hope,
in that coffin of gilt bronze for which, with almost
his latest breath, he ordered a white satin lining
and a plentiful supply of gilt nails. This Panteon
seems to have possessed a singular attraction for
the Spanish sovereigns. They have not been dis-
tinguished for holiness of life, yet they have been
wont, while living, to haunt the Panteon, and
look at their future resting-places. Maria Louisa
scratched her name upon her empty urn with a
pair of scissors, and Philip IV. used to sit in his
niche often during his lifetime to hear Mass.

The whole Escorial is pervaded by a sense
of almost supernatural gloom. You can hardly
breathe freely there, or speak in an ordinary tone
of voice ; and to get away from the place, and move
on to Madrid, is a relief.

The situation of Madrid is as little attractive
as it well can be. It was chosen for the capi-
tal of Spain because that vandal, Charles V., had
the gout. The city is two thousand four hun-
dred feet above the level of the sea, and its stim-
ulating air so helped the royal great toes that
the august Charles exclaimed, " Here shall be the
only Court ! " And here it is to this day. It
is a fascinating city, notwithstanding, with its
great plazas, its park, its prado, and its fine out-



18 LAZY TOURS.

of-doors statues, of which, perhaps, the best is
that of Philip IV., in the Plaza del Oriente, in
front of the royal palace which Velasquez him-
self designed. From the windows of the royal
palace one of the grandest royal residences in
the world you can look off to the snow-capped
Guadarramas, and, beholding their icy splendors,
forget the pitiful little play-river near at hand,
the Manzanares, concerning which some joker
suggested to one of the kings that he should
either sell his bridge or buy a river.

Whatever fault may be found with Madrid as
to its situation, it must be conceded that it has
one of the finest picture galleries in the world.
One of the finest, did I say ? I pause to ask my-
self if I ever received as much pleasure from any
other. It should have volumes written about it
instead of a mere brief mention in the uncritical


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryLouise Chandler MoultonLazy tours in Spain and elsewhere → online text (page 1 of 21)