Copyright
Mary Elizabeth Herbert Herbert.

Impressions of Spain in 1866 online

. (page 1 of 16)
Online LibraryMary Elizabeth Herbert HerbertImpressions of Spain in 1866 → online text (page 1 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


>



^



^ vfL^r



^z-



^



V




Gatezvay, Burgos.



IMPRESSIONS OF SPAIN



IN



1866.



BY



LADY HEKBEET.



WITH FIFTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS.




LONDON:
EICHARI) BENTLEY, NEW RUELINGTON STREET,

^lublisl^cr in (Orbinarij to i>)u Pnjcstij.

MDCCCLXVII.






LONDON
PniNTED nV SrOTTISWOODE AND CO.

KEW-STUEET SQUAHE



TO

THE LADY GEOEGIANA FULLERTON,

WHO HAS CONTRIBUTED

MORE THAN ANY ONE IN ENGLAND

TO GIVE A HEALTHY AND RELIGIOUS TONE TO THE

POPULAR LITERATURE OF THE DAY,

AND WHOSE WORKS ARE AN INDEX OF HER HOLY HIDDEN LIFE,

IS AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED.
Oct. 26, 1866.



3G5812



CONTENTS.



CHAr. PAQK

I. . . . ST. SEBASTIAN AND BURGOS .... 1

11 MADRID 22

III CORDOVA AND MALAGA .... 39

IV GRANADA 35

V GIBR.ALTAR AND CADIZ .... 79

VI SEVILLE ....... 95

VII EXCURSIONS NEAR SEVILLE . . .133

VIII THE CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS AND CONVENTS

OF SEVILLE 152

IX THE ESCURIAL AND TOLEDO . . . 178

X ZARAGOSSA AND SEGOVIA . . . .207

XI AVILA AND ALVA 227

XII ZAMORA AND V.iLLADOLID . . . .248

APPENDIX 2Co



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.



GATEWAY, BUKGOS ...... Fronttsjnece

MADEID ....... TofacciMgc 22

MOSQUE AT CORDOVA .... „ 39

MALAGA „ 48

ALAMEDA, CADIZ „ 88

GIEALDA, SEVILLE „ O.*)

ALCAZAR, SEVILLE „ 96

GARDENS OF THE ALCAZAR .... „ 99

DOORWAY OF CATHEDRAL AT SEVILLE . „ 116

ITALICA, SEVILLE ,,133

ST. THERESA STANDING FOR HER PICTURE . „ 166

CHURCH OF LA CRUZ, TOLEDO . . . „ 202

WEST DOOR OF CATHEDRAL OF AVILA . „ 227

PALACE, GUADALAJARA .... ,,238

APOSTLES' DOOR OF CATHEDRAL, BURGOS . „ 258



IMPRESSIONS OF SPAIN.



CHAPTER I.

ST. SEBASTIAN AND BURGOS.

What is it that we seek for, we Englishmen
and Enghshwomen, who, year by year, about the
month of November, are seen crowding the Folke-
stone and Dover steam-boats, with that unmis-
takable ' going abroad ' look of travelling — bags,
and wideawakes, and bundles of wraps, and alpaca
gowns ? I think it may be comprised in one
word : — sunshine. This dear old land of ours,
with all its luxuries, and all its comforts, and all
its associations of home and people, still lacks one
thing — and that is climate. For climate means
health to one half of us ; and health means power
of enjoyment ; for, without it, the most perfect of
homes (and nowhere is that word understood
so well as in England) is spoiled and saddened.
So, in pursuit of this great boon, a widow lady

B



ST. SEBASTIAN.



and her children, with a doctor and two other
j&'iends, started off in the winter of 186-, in spite
of ominous warnings of revohitions, and grim
stories of brigands, for that comparatively nnvi-
sited country called Spain. As far as St. Sebas-
tian the journey was absolutely without interest
or adventure of any kind. The express train
dashed them past houses and villages, and pic-
turesque old towns with fine church towers, from
Paris to Bordeaux, and fi'om Bordeaux to Bayonne,
and so on past the awful frontier, the scene of so
many passages-at-arms between officials and ladies'
maids, till they found themselves crossing the
picturesque bridge which leads to the little town
of St. Sebastian, with its beach of fine sand,
Avashed by the long billowy waA^es of the Atlantic
on the one hand, and its riant, well-cultivated
little Basque farms on the other. As to the town
itself, time and the prefect may eventually make
it a second Biarritz, as in every direction lodging-
houses are springing up, till it will become what
one of Dickens' heroes would call ' the most sea-
bathingest place ' that ever was ! But at present
it is a mass of rouoh stone and lime and scaf-
folding ; and the one straight street leading from
the hotel to the Church of S. Maria, with the
castle above, are almost all that remains of the



ST. SEBASTIAN.



old town which stood so many sieges and was
looked upon as the key of Northern Spain.
The hotel appeared but tolerably comfortable to
our travellers, fresh from the luxuries of Paris.
When they returned, four or &ve months later,
they thought it a perfect paradise of comfort
and cleanliness. After wandering through the
narrow streets, and walking into one or two un-
interesting churches, it was resolved to climb up
to the citadel which commands the town, and to
which the ascent is by a fair zig-zag road, like
that which leads to Dover Castle. A small gar-
rison remains in the keep, which is also a mili-
tary prison. The officers received our party very
courteously, inviting them to walk on the battle-
ments, and climb up to the flag-staff, and offering
them the use of their large telescope for the view,
which is certainly magnificent, especially towards
the sea. There is a tiny chapel in the fortress, in
which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. It was
pleasant to see the sentinel presenting arms to IT
each time his round brought him past the ever
open door. On the hill-side, a few monumental
slabs, let in here and there into the rock, and one
or two square tombs, mark the graves of the
Englishmen killed during the siege, and also in the
Don Carlos revolution. Of the siege itself, and

B 2



ST. SEBASTIAN AND LOYOLA.



of the historical interest attached to St. Sebastian,
Ave will say nothing : are they not written in the
book of the chronicles of Napier and Napoleon ?
The following morning, after a fine and
crowded service at the Church of S. Maria, where
they first saw the beautiful Spanish custom of
the women being all veiled, and in black, two of
the party started at seven in the morning, in a
light carriage, for Loyola. The road throughout
is beautiful, reminding one of the Tyrol, with
picturesque villages, old Roman bridges, quaint
manoi'-houses, with coats of arms emblazoned over
their porticoes ; rapid, clear trout-streams and
fine glimpses of snowy mountains on the left, and
of the bright blue sea on the right. The flowers
too were lovely. There was a dwarf blue bugioss
of an intensity of colour which is only equalled
by the large forget-me-not on the mountain-sides
of Lebanon. The peasants are all small proprie-
tors. They were cultivating their fields in the
most primitive way, father, mother, and children
working the ground with a two-pronged fork



like this



A



, called by them a ' laya ; ' but the



result was certainly satisfactory. They speak a
language as utterly hopeless for a foreigner to



LOYOLA. 5

understand as Welsh or Gaelic. The saying among
the Andalusians is, that the devil, avIio is no
fool, spent seven years in Bilboa studying the
Basque dialect, and learnt three words only ; and
of their pronunciation they add, that the Basque
write ' Solomon,' and pronounce it • Nebuchad-
nezzar ! ' Be this as it may, they are a contented,
happy, prosperous, sober race, rarely leaving their
own country, to which they are passionately
attached, and deserving, by their independence
and self-reliance, their name of ' Bayascogara '
— ' Somos bastantes.'

Passing through the baths of Certosa, the
mineral springs of Avhich are much frequented by
the Spaniards in summer, our travellers came,
after a four hours' drive, to Azpeitia, a walled town,
Avith a fine chm*ch containing the ' pila,' or font,
in which St. Ignatius was baptized. Here the

good-natured cure. Padre G , met them, and

insisted on escorting them to the great college of
Loyola, which is about a mile from the town. It
has a fine Italian facade, and is built in a fertile
valley round the house of St. Ignatius, the college
for missionary priests being on one side, and a
florid, domed, circular marble church on the other.
The whole is thoroughly Poman in its aspect,
but not so beautiful as the Gothic buildings of the



6 LOYOLA.

south. Tlicy first went into the church, which is
very rich in jaspers, marbles, and mosaics, the
marbles being brought fi'om the neighbouring
mountains. The cloisters at the back are still
unfurnished ; but the entrance to the monastery is
of fine and good proportions, and the corridors
and staircase are very handsome. Between the
church and the convent is a kind of covered
cloister, leading to the ' Santuario,' the actual
house in which the saint was born and lived. The
outside is in raised brickwork, of curious old geo-
metrical patterns ; and across the door is the
identical wooden bar which in old times served
as protection to the chateau. Entering the Ioav
door, you see on your right a staircase ; and on
your left a long low room on the ground-floor, in
which is a picture of the Blessed Virgin. Here the
saint was born : his mother, having a particular
devotion to the Virgin, insisted on being brought
down here to be confined. Going up the stairs,
to a kind of corridor used as a confessional, you
come first to the Chapel of St. Francis Borgia,
where he said his first mass. Next to it is one
dedicated to Marianne di Jesu, the ' Lily of Quito,'
with a beautiful picture of the South American
saint over the high altar. To the left again is
another chapel, £ind here St. Francjois Xavier, the



LOYOLA. 7

Apostle of the Indies, said his mass before starting
on his glorious evangelical mission. Ascending a
few steps higher, their guide led them into a long-
low room, richly decorated and gilt, and fiill of
pictures of the different events of the life of the
saint. A gilt screen divided the ante-chapel fi-om
the altar, raised on the very spot where he lay so
long with his wounded leg, and where he was
inspired by the Blessed Virgin to renounce the
world, and devote himself, body and soul, to
the work of God. There is a representation of
him in Avhite marble under the altar as he lay ;
and opposite, a portrait, in his soldier's dress, said
to be taken from life, and another of him after-
wards, when he had become a priest. It is a
beautiful face, with strong purpose and high
resolve in every line of the features.

In the sacristy is the ' baldachino,' or tester of
his bed, in red silk. It was in this room that he
first fell sick and took to reading the Lives of the
Saints to amuse himself, there being no other book
within reach. Such are the ' common ways' which
we blindly call ' accidents,' in which God leads
those whom He chooses, like Saul, for His special
service. The convent contains 30 fathers and
25 lay brothers. There are about 120 students,
a fine library, refectory, &c. They have a large



8 LOYOLA.

day-school of poor chilcben, whom they instruct
in Basque and Spanish ; and distribute daily a
certain number of dinners, soup, and bread, to
the sick poor of the neighboming villages, about
twenty of w^hom were waiting at the buttery door
for their daily supply.

The English strangers, taking leave of the kind
and courteous fathers, had luncheon at a little
' posada ' close by, where the hostess insisted on
their drinking some of the cider of the country,
which the doctor, himself a Devonshire man, was
obliged to confess excelled that of his own coun-
try. The good cure entertained them mean-
while with stories of his people, who appear to be
very like the Highlanders, both in their merits
and their faults. Some of their customs seem to
be derived from pagan times, such as that of
offering bread and wine on the tombs of those
they love on the anniversary of their death ; a
custom in vogue in the early days of Christianity,
and mentioned by St. Augustine in his ' Confes-
sions ' as being first put a stop to by St. Ambrose,
at Milan, on account of the abuses w^hich had
crept into the practice. The drive back was, if
possible, even more beautiful than that of the
morning, and they reached St. Sebastian at eight
o'clock, delighted with their expedition.



BURGOS.



The next day they started for Burgos, by rail,
only stopping for a few minutes on their way to
the station to see the ' Albcrgo dei Poveri,' a
hospital and home for incurables, nursed by the
Spanish sisters of charity. They are affiliated to
the sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, and follow their
rule, but do not wear the ' white cornette ' of the
French sisters.

The railroad in this part of Spain has been
carried through most magnificent scenery, Avhich
appeared to our travellers like a mixture of Pous-
sin and Salvator Kosa. Fine purple mountains,
still sprinkled with snow, with rugged and jagged
peaks standing out against the clear blue sky,
and with waterfalls and beautiful streams rushimjc
down their sides ; an underwood of chesnut and
beech-trees ; deep valleys, with little brown vil-
lages and bright white convents perched on rising-
knolls, and picturesque bridges spanning the
little streams as they dashed through the gorges ;
and then long tracks of bright rose-coloured
heather, out of which rose big boulder-stones or
the Avayside cross ; the whole forming, as it were,
a succession of beautiful pictures such as would
delight the heart of a painter, both as to com-
position and colouring. No one can say much for
the pace at which the Spanish railways travel ; yet



10 BURGOS.



arc they all too quick in scenery such as this,
when one longs to stop and sketch at every turn.
Suddenly, however, the train came to a stand-
still : an enormous fragment of rock had fallen
across the line in the night, burying a luggage-
train, but fortunately without injury to its diivers ;
and our party had no alternative but to get out,
with their manifold bags and packages, and walk
across the debris to another train, which, fortu-
nately, was waiting for them on the opposite side
of the chasm. A little experience of Spanish tra-
velling taught them to expect such incidents half-
a-dozen times in the course of the day's journey ;
but at first it seemed startling and strange. They
reached Burgos at six, and found themselves in a
small but very decent ' fonda,' where the daughter
of the landlord spoke a little French, to their
great relief. They had had visions of Italian
serving nearly as well as Spanish for making
themselves understood by the people ; but this
idea was rudely dispelled the very first day of
their arrival in Spain. Great as the similarity
may be in reading, the accent of the Spaniard
makes him utterly incomprehensible to the be-
wildered Italian scholar ; and the very likeness
of some words increases the difiiculty when he
finds that, according to the pronunciation, a



BURGOS. II



totally different meaning is attached to them.
For instance, one of the English ladies, thinking
to please the mistress of the honse, made a little
speech to her about the beauty and cleanliness of
her kitchen, using the right word (cocinct), but
pronouncing it with the Italian accent. She saw
directly she had committed a blunder, though
Spanish civility suppressed the laugh at her
expense. She found afterwards that the word
she had used, with the ' ci ' soft, meant a female
pig. And this was only a specimen of mistakes
hourly committed by all who adventured them-
selves in this unknown tongue.

A letter of introduction procured for our
travellers an instant admission to the Cardinal
Archbishop, who received them most kindly, and
volunteered to be their escort over the cathedral.
He had been educated at Ushaw, and spoke
English fluently and well. He had a very pretty
little chapel in his palace, with a picture in it of
Sta, Maria della Pace at Kome, from Avhence he
derives his cardinal's title.

The cathedral at Burgos, with the exception of
Toledo, is the most beautiful Gothic bull din 2: in
Spain. It was begun by Bishop Maurice, an Eng-
lishman, and a great fi-iend of St. Ferdinand's, in
the year 1220. The spires, with their lacework



12 BURGOS.



carving ; the doorways, so rich in sculpture; the
rose-windows, with their exquisite tracery; the
beautiful lantern-shaped clerestory; the curious
double staircase of Diego de Siloe ; the wonder-
ful ' retablos ' behind the altars, of the finest
wood-carving ; the magnificent marble and ala-
baster monuments in the side chapels, vying with
one another in beauty and richness of detail; the
wonderful wood-carving of the stalls in the choir ;
the bas-reliefs carved in every portion of the
stone ; in fact, every detail of this glorious build-
ing is equally perfect ; and even in Southern
Spain, that paradise for lovers of cathedrals, can
scarcely be surpassed. The finest of the monu-
ments are those of the Yelasco family, the here-
ditary high-constable of Castile. They are of
Carrara marble, resting upon blocks of jasper :
at the feet of the lady lies a little dog, as the
emblem of ' Fidelity.' Over the doorway of
this chapel, leading to a tiny sacristy, are carved
the arms of Jerusalem. In the large sacristy is
a Magdalen, by Leonardo da Yinci ; and some
exquisite church plate, in gold and enamel, espe-
cially a chalice, a processional cross, a pax, &c.
In the first chapel on the right, as you enter by
the west door, is a very curious figure of Christ,
brought fi'om the Holy Land, with real hair and



BURGOS. 13



skin ; but painful in the extreme, and almost
grotesque from the manner in which it has been
dressed. This remark, however, applies to almost
all the images of Christ and of the Blessed Virgin
throughout Spain, which are rendered both sad
and ludicrous to English eyes from the petticoats
and finery with which modern devotion has dis-
figured them. This crucifix, however, is greatly
venerated by the people, Avho call it ' The Christ
of Burgos,' and on Sundays or holidays there is
no possibility of getting near it, on account of the
crowd. In the Chapel of the Visitation are three
more beautiful monuments, and a very fine pic-
ture of the Virgin and Child, by Sebastian del
Piombo. But it was impossible to take in every
portion of this cathedral at once ; and so our tra-
vellers went on to the cloisters, passing through
a beautiful pointed doorway, richly carved, which
leads to the chapter-house, now a receptacle for
lumber, but containing the chest of the Cid, re-
garding which the old chronicle says : ' He filled it
Avith sand, and then, telling the Jews it contained
gold, raised money on the security.' In justice to
the hero, however, we are bound to add, that when
the necessities of the war were over, he repaid
both principal and interest. Leaving, at last, the
cloisters and cathedral, and taking leave of the



14 MTRAFLORES.



kind archbishop, our party drove to the Town
Hall, where, in a walnut- wood urn, are kept the
bones of the Cid, Avhich were removed twenty
years ago from their original resting-place at
Cardena. The sight of themi strengthened their
resolve to make a pilgrimage to his real tomb,
which is in a Benedictine convent about eight
miles fi'om the town. Starting, therefore, in two
primitive little carriages, guiltless of springs,
they crossed the river and wound up a steep hill
till they came in sight of Miraflores, the great
Carthusian convent, Avhich, seen from' a distance,
strongly resembles Eton College Chapel. It was
built by John II. for a royal burial-place, and
was finished by Isabella of Castile. Arriving at
the monastery, fi'om whence the monks haA^e been
expelled, and which is now tenanted by only one
or two lay brothers of the Order, they passed
through a long cloister, shaded by fine c}^resses,
into the church, in the chancel of which is that
which may really be called one of the seven won-
ders of the world. This is the alabaster sepulchre
of John II. and his wife, the father and mother
of Queen Isabella, with their son, the Infante
Alonso, who died young. In richness of detail,
delicacy of carving, and beauty of execution, the
work of these monuments is perfectly unrivalled —



MIBAFL0BE8. i?



the very material seems to be changed into Mechlin
lace. The artist was Maestro Gil, the father of
the famous Diego cle Siloe, who carved the stair-
case in the cathedral. He finished it in 1493 ; and
one does not wonder at Philip II.'s exclamation
when he saw it : ' TVe have done nothing at the
Escurial.' In the sacristy is a wonderflil statue of
St. Bruno, carved in wood, and so beautiflil and
life-like in expression, that it was difficult to look
at anything else.

Leaving Miraflores, our travellers broke tenderly
to their coachmen their wish to go on to Cardena.
One of them utterly refused, saying the road was
impassable ; the other, moyennant an extra gra-
tuity, undertook to try it, but stipulated that the
gentleman should walk, and the ladies do the
same, if necessary. Winding round the convent
garden walls, and then across a bleak wild moor,
they started, and soon found themselves involved
in a succession of ruts and Sloughs of Despond
which more than justified the hesitation of their
driver. On the coach-box was an imp of a boy,
whose delight consisted in quickening the fears of
the most timid among the ladies by invariably
making the horses gallop at the most difficult and
precipitous parts of the road, and then turning
round and ffrinnin^]: at the frio-ht he had ^iven



i6 GARDEN A.



them. It is needless to say that the carriage was
not his property. At last, the horses came to a
stand-still; they could go no farther, and the
rest of the way had to be done on foot. But our
travellers were not to be pitied ; for the day
was lovely, and the path across the moor was
studded with flowers. At last, on climbing over a
steep hill which had intercepted their view, they
came on a lovely panorama, with a background
of blue mountains tipped with snow ; a wooded
glen, in which the brown convent nestled, and
a wild moor foreground, across which long
strings of mules with gay trappings, driven by
peasants in Spanish costumes, exactly as repre-
sented in Ansdell's paintings, were wending their
way towards the city. Tired as some of our
party were, this glorious view seemed to give
them fresh strength, and they rapidly descended
the hill by the hollow path leading to the con-
vent. Over the great entrance is a statue of the
Cid, mounted on his favourite horse, ' Babicca,'
who bore him to his last resting-place, and was
afterwards buried beside the master he loved
so well. But the grand old building seemed
utterly deserted, and a big mastiff, fastened by an
ominously slight chain to the doorway, apj^earcd
determined to defy their attempts to enter. At
last, one of them, more courageous than the rest.



GARDEN A. 17



tempting the Cerberus with the rem ains of her
hmcheon, got past him, and wandered through
the cloister, up a fine staircase to a spacious cor-
ridor, in hopes of finding a guide to show them
the way to the chapel, where lay the object of
their expedition, i.e., the monument of the Cid.
But she was only answered by the echo of her
own footsteps. The cells were empty ; the once
beautiful library gutted and destroyed ; the refec-
tory had nothing in it but bare walls — the whole
place was like a city of the dead. At last, she
discovered a staircase leading down to a cloister
on the side opposite the great entrance, and there
a low-arched door, which she found ajar, admitted
her into the deserted church. The tomb of the
Cid has been removed fi'om the high altar to a
side chapel ; and there is interred, likewise, his
faithful and devoted wife Ximena, and their two
daughters. On his shield is emblazoned the
' tizona,' or sparkling brand, which the legends
affirm he always carried in his hand, and with
Avhich he struck terror into the hearts of the
infidels. This church and convent, built for the
Benedictines by the Princess Sancho, in memory
of her son Theodoric, who was killed out hunting,
was sacked by the Moors in the ninth century,
when 200 of the monks were murdered. A tablet

c



i8 BURGOS.



ill the south transept still remains, recording the
massacre ; but the monument of Theocloric has
been mutilated and destroj^ed. The Christian
spoilers have done their work more effectually
than the Moslem ! Sorrowfully our travellers left
this beautiful spot, thinking bitterly on the so-
called age of progress which had left the abode
of so much learning and piety to the owls and
the bats ; and partly walking, partly driving, re-
turned without accident to the city. One more
memento of the Cid at Burgos deserves mention.
It is the lock on which he compelled the king,
Alonso YI., to swear that he had had no part in
his brother Sancho's assassination at Zamora. All
who wished to confirm their word with a solemn
oath used to touch it, till the practice was abo-
lished by Isabella, and the lock itself hung up in
the old Church of St. Gadea, on the way to the
Castle Hill, where it still rests. This is the origin
of the peasant custom of closing the hand and


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryMary Elizabeth Herbert HerbertImpressions of Spain in 1866 → online text (page 1 of 16)