It is always a question how much or little we had better know about the history of a strange country when seeing it. If the great mass of travelers voted according to their ignorance, the majority in favor of knowing next to nothing would be overwhelming, and I do not say they would be altogether unwise. History itself is often of two minds about the facts, or the truth from them, and when you have stored away its diverse conclusions, and you begin to apply them to the actual conditions, you are constantly embarrassed by the misfits. What did it avail me to believe that when the Goths overran the north of Spain the Vandals overran the south, and when they swept on into Africa and melted away in the hot sun there as a distinctive race, they left nothing but the name Vandalusia, a letter less, behind them? If the Vandals were what they are reported to have been, the name does not at all characterize the liveliest province of Spain. Besides, the very next history told me that they took even their name with them, and forbade me the simple and apt etymology which I had pinned my indolent faith to.
Before I left Seville I convinced a principal bookseller, much against his opinions, that there must be some such brief local history of the city as I was fond of finding in Italian towns, and I took it from his own reluctant shelf. It was a very intelligent little guide, this Seville in the Hand, as it calls itself, but I got it too late for use in exploring the city, and now I can turn to it only for those directions which will keep the reader from losing his way in the devious past. The author rejects the fable which the chroniclers delight in, and holds with historians who accept the Phoenicians as the sufficiently remote founders of Seville. This does not put out of commission those Biblical “ships of Tarshish” which Dr. Edward Everett Hale, in his graphic sketch of Spanish history, has sailing to and from the neighboring coasts. Very likely they came up the Guadalquivir, and lay in the stream where a few thousand years later I saw those cheerful tramp-steamers lying. At any rate, the Phoenicians greatly flourished there, and gave their colony the name of Hispalis, which it remained content with till the Romans came and called the town Julia Romula, and Julius Caesar fenced it with the strong walls which the Moorish conquerors, after the Goths, reinforced and have left plain to be seen at this day. The most casual of wayfaring men must have read as he ran that the Moorish power fell before the sword of San Fernando as the Gothic fell before their own, and the Roman before the Gothic. But it is more difficult to realize that earlier than the Gothic, somewhere in between the Vandals and the Romans, had been the Carthaginians, whose great general Hamilcar fancied turning all Spain into a Carthaginian province. They were a branch of the Phoenicians as even the older, unadvertised edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica will tell, and the Phoenicians were a sort of Hebrews. Whether they remained to flourish with the other Jews under the Moors, my Sevilla en la Mano does not say; and I am not sure whether they survived to share the universal exile into which Islam and Israel were finally driven. What is certain is, that the old Phoenician name of Hispalis outlived the Roman name of Julia Romula and reappeared in the Arabic as Ishbiliya (I know it from my Baedeker) and is now permanently established as Seville.
Under the Moors the city was subordinate to Cordova, though I can hardly bear to think so in my far greater love of Seville. But it was the seat of schools of science, art, and agriculture, and after the Christians had got it back, Alfonso the Learned founded other schools there for the study of Latin and Arabic. But her greatest prosperity and glory came to Seville with the discovery of America. Not Columbus only, but all his most famous contemporaries, sailed from the ports of her coasts; she was the capital of the commerce with the new world, ruling and regulating it by the oldest mercantile tribunal in the world, and becoming the richest city of Spain. Then riches flowered in the letters and arts, especially the arts, and Herrera, Pacheco, Velasquez, Murillo, and Zurburan were born and flourished in Seville. In modern times she has taken a prominent part in political events. She led in the patriotic war to drive out the armies of Napoleon, and she seems to have been on both sides in the struggle for liberal and absolutist principles, the establishment of the brief republic of 1868, and the restoration of the present monarchy.
Through all the many changes from better to Worse, from richer to poorer, Seville continued faithful to the ideal of religious unity which the wise Isabel and the shrewd Ferdinand divined was the only means of consolidating the intensely provincial kingdoms of Spain into one nation of Spaniards. Andalusia not being Gothic had never been Aryan, and it was one of her kings who carried his orthodoxy to Castile and established it inexpugnably at Toledo after he succeeded his heretical father there. When four or five hundred years later it became a political necessity of the Catholic Kings to expel their Jewish and Moorish subjects and convert their wealth to pious and patriotic uses, Andalusia was one of the most zealous provinces in the cause. When presently the inquisitions of the Holy Office began, some five hundred heretics were burned alive at Seville before the year was out; many others, who were dead and buried, paid the penalty of their heresy in effigy; in all more than two thousand suffered in the region round about. Before he was in Valladolid, Torquemada was in Seville, and there he drew up the rules that governed the procedure of the Inquisition throughout Spain. A magnificent quemadero, or crematory, second only to that of Madrid, was built: a square stone platform where almost every day the smoke of human sacrifice ascended. This crematory for the living was in the meadow of San Sebastian, now a part of the city park system which we left on the right that first evening when we drove to the Delicias. I do not know why I should now regret not having visited the place of this dreadful altar and offered my unavailing pity there to the memory of those scores of thousands of hapless martyrs who suffered there to no end, not even to the end of confirming Spain in the faith one and indivisible, for there are now, after so many generations of torment, two Protestant churches in Seville. For one thing I did not know where the place of the quemadero was; and I do not yet know where those Protestant churches are.
If I went again to Seville I should try to visit them — but, as it was, we gave our second day to the Alcazar, which is merely the first in the series of palaces and gardens once stretching from the flank of the cathedral to the Tower of Gold beside the Guadalquivir. A rich sufficiency is left in the actual Alcazar to suggest the splendor of the series, and more than enough in the gardens to invite our fatigue, day after day, to the sun and shade of its quiet paths and seats when we came spent with the glories and the bustling piety of the cathedral. In our first visit we had the guidance of a patriotic young Granadan whose zeal for the Alhambra would not admit the Alcazar to any comparison, but I myself still prefer it after seeing the Alhambra. It is as purely Moorish as that and it is in better repair if not better taste. The taste in fact is the same, and the Castilian kings consulted it as eagerly as their Arabic predecessors in the talent of the Moslem architects whom they had not yet begun to drive into exile. I am not going to set up rival to the colored picture postals, which give a better notion than I could give of the painted and gilded stucco decoration, the ingenious geometrical designs on the walls, and the cloying sweetness of the honeycombing in the vaulted roofs. Every one will have his feeling about Moorish architecture; mine is that a little goes a great way, and that it is too monotonous to compete with the Gothic in variety, while it lacks the dignity of any form of the Greek or the Renaissance. If the phrase did not insult the sex which the faith of the Moslem insufferably insults, one might sum up one’s slight for it in the word effeminate.
The Alcazar gardens are the best of the Alcazar. But I would not ignore the homelike charm of the vast court by which you enter from the street outside to the palace beyond. It is planted casually about with rather shabby orange trees that children were playing under, and was decorated with the week’s wash of the low, simple dwellings which may be hired at a rental moderate even for Seville, where a handsome and commodious house in a good quarter rents for sixty dollars a year. One of those two-story cottages, as we should call them, in the ante-court of the Alcazar had for the student of Spanish life the special advantage of a lover close to a ground-floor window dropping tender nothings down through the slats of the shutter to some maiden lurking within. The nothings were so tender that you could not hear them drop, and, besides, they were Spanish nothings, and it would not have served any purpose for the stranger to listen for them. Once afterward we saw the national courtship going on at another casement, but that was at night, and here the precious first sight of it was offered at ten o’clock in the morning. Nobody seemed to mind the lover stationed outside the shutter with which the iron bars forbade him the closest contact; and it is only fair to say that he minded nobody; he was there when we went in and there when we came out, and it appears that when it is a question of love-making time is no more an object in Spain than in the United States. The scene would have been better by moonlight, but you cannot always have it moonlight, and the sun did very well; at least, the lover did not seem to miss the moon.
He was only an incident, and I hope the most romantic reader will let me revert from him to the Alcazar gardens. We were always reverting to them on any pretext or occasion, and we mostly had them to ourselves in the gentle afternoons when we strayed or sat about at will in them. The first day we were somewhat molested by the instruction of our patriotic Granadan guide, who had a whopper-jaw and grayish blue eyes, but coal-black hair for all his other blondness. He smoked incessant cigarettes, and he showed us especially the pavilion of Charles the Fifth, whom, after that use of all English-speaking Spanish guides, he called Charley Fift. It appeared that the great emperor used this pavilion for purposes of meditation; but he could not always have meditated there, though the frame of a brazier standing in the center intimated that it was tempered for reflection. The first day we found a small bird in possession, flying from one bit of the carved wooden ceiling to another, and then, taking our presence in dudgeon, out into the sun. Another day there was a nursery-girl there with a baby that cried; on another, still more distractingly, a fashionable young French bride who went kodaking round while her husband talked with an archaeological official, evidently Spanish. In his own time, Charley probably had the place more to himself, though even then his thoughts could not have been altogether cheerful, whether he recalled what he had vainly done to keep out of Spain and yet to take the worst of Spain with him into the Netherlands, where he tried to plant the Inquisition among his Flemings; he was already much soured with a world that had cloyed him, and was perhaps considering even then how he might make his escape from it to the cloister.
We did not know as yet how almost entirely dramatic the palace of the Alcazar was, how largely it was representative of what the Spanish successors of the Moorish kings thought those kings would have made it if they had made it; and it was probably through an instinct for the genuine that we preferred the gardens after our first cries of wonder. What remains to me of our many visits is the mass of high borders of box, with roses, jasmine, and orange trees, palms, and cypresses. The fountains dribbled rather than gushed, and everywhere were ranks and rows of plants in large, high earthen pots beside or upon the tiled benching that faced the fountains and would have been easier to sit on if you had not had to supply the back yourself. The flowers were not in great profusion, and chiefly we rejoiced in the familiar quaintness of clumps of massive blood-red coxcombs and strange yellow ones. The walks were bordered with box, and there remains distinctly the impression of marble steps and mosaic seats inlaid with tiles; all Seville seems inlaid with tiles. One afternoon we lingered longer than usual because the day was so sunnily warm in the garden paths and spaces, without being hot. A gardener whom we saw oftenest hung about his flowers in a sort of vegetable calm, and not very different from theirs except that they were not smoking cigarettes. He did not move a muscle or falter in his apparently unseeing gaze; but when one of us picked a seed from the ground and wondered what it was he said it was a magnolia seed, and as if he could bear no more went away. In one wilding place which seemed set apart for a nursery several men were idly working with many pauses, but not so many as to make the spectator nervous. As the afternoon waned and the sun sank, its level rays dwelt on the galleries of the palace which Peter the Cruel built himself and made so ugly with harsh brown stucco ornament that it set your teeth on edge, and with gigantic frescos exaggerated from the Italian, and very coarse and rank.
It was this savage prince who invented much of the Alcazar in the soft Moorish taste; but in those hideous galleries he let his terrible nature loose, though as for that some say he was no crueler than certain other Spanish kings of that period. This is the notion of my unadvertised Encyclopaedia Britannica, and perhaps we ought to think of him leniently as Peter the Ferocious. He was kind to some people and was popularly known as the Justiciary; he especially liked the Moors and Jews, who were gratefully glad, poor things, of being liked by any one under the new Christian rule. But he certainly killed several of his half-brothers, and notably he killed his half-brother Don Fadrique in the Alcazar. That is, if he had no hand in the butchery himself he had him killed after luring him to Seville for the tournaments and forgiving him for all their mutual injuries with every caressing circumstance. One reads that after the king has kissed him he sits down again to his game of backgammon and Don Fadrique goes into the next room to Maria do Padilla, the lovely and gentle lady whom Don Pedro has married as much as he can with a wedded wife shut up in Toledo. She sits there in terror with her damsels and tries with looks and signs to make Don Fadrique aware of his danger. But he imagines no harm till the king and his companions, with their daggers drawn, come to the curtains, which the king parts, commanding, “Seize the Master of Santiago!” Don Fadrique tries to draw his sword, and then he turns and flies through the halls of the Alcazar, where he finds every door bolted and barred. The king’s men are at his heels, and at last one of them fells him with a blow of his mace. The king goes back with a face of sympathy to Maria, who has fallen to the floor.
The treacherous keeping is all rather in the taste of the Italian Renaissance, but the murder itself is more Roman, as the Spanish atrocities and amusements are apt to be. Murray says it was in the beautiful Hall of the Ambassadors that Don Fadrique was killed, but the other manuals are not so specific. Wherever it was, there is a blood-stain in the pavement which our Granadan guide failed to show us, possibly from a patriotic pique that there are no blood-stains in the Alhambra with personal associations. I cannot say that much is to be made of the vaulted tunnel where poor Maria de Padilla used to bathe, probably not much comforted by the courtiers afterward drinking the water from the tank; she must have thought the compliment rather nasty, and no doubt it was paid her to please Don Pedro.
We found it pleasanter going and coming through the corridor leading to the gardens from the public court. This was kept at the outer end by an “old rancid Christian” smoking incessant cigarettes and not explicitly refusing to sell us picture postals after taking our entrance fee; the other end was held by a young, blond, sickly-looking girl, who made us take small nosegays at our own price and whom it became a game to see if we could escape. I have left saying to the last that the king and queen of Spain have a residence in the Alcazar, and that when they come in the early spring they do not mind corning to it through that plebeian quadrangle. I should not mind it myself if I could go back there next spring.
We had refused with loathing the offer of those gipsy jades to dance for us in their noisome purlieu at Triana, but we were not proof against the chance of seeing some gipsy dancing in a cafe-theater one night in Seville. The decent place was filled with the “plain people,” who sat with their hats on at rude tables smoking and drinking coffee from tall glasses. They were apparently nearly all working-men who had left nearly all their wives to keep on working at home, though a few of these also had come. On a small stage four gipsy girls, in unfashionably and untheatrically decent gowns of white, blue, or red, with flowers in their hair, sat in a semicircle with one subtle, silent, darkling man among them. One after another they got up and did the same twisting and posturing, without dancing, and while one posed and contorted the rest unenviously joined the spectators in their clapping and their hoarse cries of “Ole!” It was all perfectly proper except for one high moment of indecency thrown in at the end of each turn, as if to give the house its money’s worth. But the real, overflowing compensation came when that little, lithe, hipless man in black jumped to his feet and stormed the audience with a dance of hands and arms, feet and legs, head, neck, and the whole body, which Mordkin in his finest frenzy could not have equaled or approached. Whatever was fiercest and wildest in nature and boldest in art was there, and now the house went mad with its hand-clappings and table-hammerings and deep-throated “Oles!”
Another night we went to the academy of the world-renowned Otero and saw the instruction of Sevillian youth in native dances of the haute ecole. The academy used to be free to a select public, but now the chosen, who are nearly always people from the hotels, must pay ten pesetas each for their pleasure, and it is not too much for a pleasure so innocent and charming. The academy is on the ground floor of the maestro’s unpretentious house, and in a waiting-room beyond the shoemaker’s shop which filled the vestibule sat, patient in their black mantillas, the mothers and nurses of the pupils. These were mostly quite small children in their every-day clothes, but there were two or three older girls in the conventional dancing costume which a lady from one of the hotels had emulated. Everything was very simple and friendly; Otero found good seats among the aficionados for the guests presented to him, and then began calling his pupils to the floor of the long, narrow room with quick commands of “Venga!” A piano was tucked away in a corner, but the dancers kept time now with castanets and now by snapping their fingers. Two of the oldest girls, who were apparently graduates, were “differently beautiful” in their darkness and fairness, but alike picturesquely Spanish in their vivid dresses and the black veils fluttering from their high combs. A youth in green velvet jacket and orange trousers, whose wonderful dancing did him credit as Otero’s prize pupil, took part with them; he had the square-jawed, high-cheek-boned face of the lower-class Spaniard, and they the oval of all Spanish women. Here there was no mere posturing and contortioning among the girls as with the gipsies; they sprang like flames and stamped the floor with joyous detonations of their slippers. It was their convention to catch the hat from the head of some young spectator and wear it in a figure and then toss it back to him. One of them enacted the part of a torero at a bull-fight, stamping round first in a green satin cloak which she then waved before a man’s felt hat thrown on the ground to represent the bull hemmed about with banderillas stuck quivering into the floor. But the prettiest thing was the dancing of two little girl pupils, one fair and thin and of an angelic gracefulness, and the other plump and dark, who was as dramatic as the blond was lyrical. They accompanied themselves with castanets, and, though the little fatling toed in and wore a common dress of blue-striped gingham, I am afraid she won our hearts from her graceful rival. Both were very serious and gave their whole souls to the dance, but they were not more childishly earnest than an older girl in black who danced with one of the gaudy graduates, panting in her anxious zeal and stopping at last with her image of the Virgin she resembled flung wildly down her back from the place where it had hung over her heart.
We preferred walking home from Senor Otero’s house through the bright, quiescing street, because in driving there we had met with an adventure which we did not care to repeat. We were driving most unaggressively across a small plaza, with a driver and a friend on the box beside him to help keep us from harm, when a trolley-car came wildly round a corner at the speed of at least two miles an hour and crossed our track. Our own speed was such that we could not help striking the trolley in a collision which was the fault of no one apparently. The front of the car was severely banged, one mud-guard of our victoria was bent, and our conversation was interrupted. Immediately a crowd assembled from the earth or the air, but after a single exchange of reproaches between the two drivers nothing was said by any one. No policeman arrived to constater the facts, and after the crowd had silently satisfied or dissatisfied itself that no one was hurt it silently dispersed. The car ambled grumbling off and we drove on with some vague murmurs from our driver, whose nerves seemed shaken, but who was supported in a somewhat lurching and devious progress by the caressing arm of the friend on the seat beside him.
All this was in Seville, where the popular emotions are painted in travel and romance as volcanic as at Naples, where no one would have slept the night of our accident and the spectators would be debating it still. In our own surprise and alarm we partook of the taciturnity of the witnesses, which I think was rather fine and was much decenter than any sort of utterance. On our way home we had occasion to practise a like forbearance toward the lover whom we passed as he stood courting through the casement of a ground floor. The soft air was full of the sweet of jasmine and orange blossoms from the open patios. Many people besides ourselves were passing, but in a well-bred avoidance of the dark figure pressed to the grating and scarcely more recognizable than the invisible figure within. I confess I thought it charming, and if at some period of their lives people must make love I do not believe there is a more inoffensive way of doing it.
By the sort of echo notable in life’s experience we had a reverberation of the orange-flower perfume of that night in the orange-flower honey at breakfast next morning. We lived to learn that our own bees gather the same honey from the orange flowers of Florida; but at the time we believed that only the bees of Seville did it, and I still doubt whether anywhere in America the morning wakes to anything like the long, rich, sad calls of the Sevillian street hucksters. It is true that you do not get this plaintive music without the accompanying note of the hucksters’ donkeys, which, if they were better advised, would not close with the sort of inefficient sifflication which they now use in spoiling an otherwise most noble, most leonine roar. But when were donkeys of any sort ever well advised in all respects? Those of Seville, where donkeys abound, were otherwise of the superior intelligence which throughout Spain leaves the horse and even the mule far behind, and constitutes the donkeys, far beyond the idle and useless dogs, the friends of man. They indefinitely outnumber the dogs, and the cats are of course nowhere in the count. Yet I would not misprize the cats of Seville, which apparently have their money price. We stopped to admire a beautiful white one, on our way to see the market one day, praising it as intelligibly as we could, and the owner caught it up, when we had passed and ran after us, and offered to sell it to us.
That might have been because it was near the market where we experienced almost the only mercantile zeal we had known in Spain. Women with ropes and garlands of onions round their necks invited us to buy, and we had hopeful advances from the stalls of salads and fruits, where there was a brave and beautiful show of lettuces and endives, grapes, medlars, and heaps of melons, but no oranges; I do not know why, though there were shining masses of red peppers and green, peppers, and vast earthen bowls with yellow peas soaking in them. The flowers were every gay autumnal sort, especially dahlias, sometimes made into stiff bouquets, perhaps for church offerings. There were mounds of chestnuts, four or five feet high and wide; and these flowers and fruits filled the interior of the market, while the stalls for the flesh and fish were on the outside. There seemed more sellers than buyers; here and there were ladies buying, but it is said that the mistresses commonly send their maids for the daily provision.
Ordinarily I should say you could not go amiss for your profit and pleasure in Seville, but there are certain imperative objects of interest like the Casa de Pilatos which you really have to do. Strangely enough, it is very well worth doing, for, though it is even more factitiously Moorish than the Alcazar, it is of almost as great beauty and of greater dignity. Gardens, galleries, staircases, statues, paintings, all are interesting, with a mingled air of care and neglect which is peculiarly charming, though perhaps the keener sensibilities, the morbider nerves may suffer from the glare and hardness of the tiling which render the place so wonderful and so exquisite. One must complain of something, and I complain of the tiling; I do not mind the house being supposed like the house of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem.
It belongs to the Duke of Medina–Celi, who no more comes to it from Madrid than the Duke of Alva comes to his house, which I somehow perversely preferred. For one thing, the Alva palace has eleven patios, all far more forgotten than the four in the House of Pilate, and I could fully glut my love of patios without seeing half of them. Besides, it was in the charge of a typical Spanish family: a lean, leathery, sallow father, a fat, immovable mother, and a tall, silent daughter. The girl showed us darkly about the dreary place, with its fountains and orange trees and palms, its damp, Moresque, moldy walls, its damp, moldy, beautiful wooden ceilings, and its damp, moldy staircase leading to the family rooms overhead, which we could not see. The family stays for a little time only in the spring and fall, but if ever they stay so late as we had come the sunlight lying so soft and warm in the patio and the garden out of it must have made them as sorry to leave it as we were.
I am not sure but I valued the House of Alva somewhat for the chance my visit to it gave me of seeing a Sevillian tenement-house such as I had hoped I might see. One hears that such houses are very scrupulously kept by the janitors who compel the tenants to a cleanliness not perhaps always their nature. At any rate, this one, just across the way from the Alva House, was of a surprising neatness. It was built three stories high, with galleries looking into an open court and doors giving from these into the several tenements. As fortune, which does not continually smile on travel, would have it that morning, two ladies of the house were having a vivid difference of opinion on an upper gallery. Or at least one was, for the other remained almost as silent as the spectators who grouped themselves about her or put their heads out of the windows to see, as well as hear, what it was about. I wish I knew and I would tell the reader. The injured party, and I am sure she must have been deeply injured, showered her enemy with reproaches, and each time when she had emptied the vials of her wrath with much shaking of her hands in the wrong-doer’s face she went away a few yards and filled them up again and then returned for a fresh discharge. It was perfectly like a scene of Goldoni and like many a passage of real life in his native city, and I was rapt in it across fifty years to the Venice I used to know. But the difference in Seville was that there was actively only one combatant in the strife, and the witnesses took no more part in it than the passive resistant.
As a contrast to this violent scene which was not so wholly violent but that it was relieved by a boy teasing a cat with his cap in the foreground, and the sweet singing of canaries in the windows of the houses near, I may commend the Casa de los Venerables, ecclesiastics somehow related to the cathedral and having their tranquil dwelling not far from it. The street we took from the Duke of Alva’s palace was so narrow and crooked that we scraped the walls in passing, and we should never have got by one heavily laden donkey if he had not politely pushed the side of his pannier into a doorway to make room for us. When we did get to the Casa de los Venerables we found it mildly yellow-washed and as beautifully serene and sweet as the house of venerable men should be. Its distinction in a world of patios was a patio where the central fountain was sunk half a story below the entrance floor, and encircled by a stairway by which the humble neighbor folk freely descended to fill their water jars. I suppose that gentle mansion has other merits, but the fine staircase that ended under a baroque dome left us facing a bolted door, so that we had to guess at those attractions, which I leave the reader to imagine in turn.
I have kept the unique wonder of Seville waiting too long already for my recognition, though in its eight hundred years it should have learned patience enough for worse things. From its great antiquity alone, if from nothing else, it is plain that the Giralda at Seville could not have been studied from the tower of the Madison Square Garden in New York, which the American will recall when he sees it. If the case must be reversed and we must allow that the Madison Square tower was studied from the Giralda, we must still recognize that it is no servile copy, but in its frank imitation has a grace and beauty which achieves originality. Still, the Giralda is always the Giralda, and, though there had been no Saint–Gaudens to tip its summit with such a flying-footed nymph as poises on our own tower, the figure of Faith which crowns it is at least a good weather-vane, and from its office of turning gives the mighty bell-tower its name. Long centuries before the tower was a belfry it served the mosque, which the cathedral now replaces, as a minaret for the muezzin to call the faithful to prayer, but it was then only two-thirds as high. The Christian belfry which continues it is not in offensive discord with the structure below; its other difference in form and spirit achieves an impossible harmony. The Giralda, however, chiefly works its enchantment by its color, but here I must leave the proof of this to the picture postal which now everywhere takes the bread out of the word-painter’s mouth. The time was when with a palette full of tinted adjectives one might hope to do an unrivaled picture of the Giralda; but that time is gone; and if the reader has not a colored postal by him he should lose no time in going to Seville and seeing the original. For the best view of it I must advise a certain beautifully irregular small court in the neighborhood, with simple houses so low that you can easily look up over their roofs and see the mighty bells of the Giralda rioting far aloof, flinging themselves beyond the openings of the belfry and deafeningly making believe to leap out into space. If the traveler fails to find this court (for it seems now and then to be taken in and put away), he need not despair of seeing the Giralda fitly. He cannot see Seville at all without seeing it, and from every point, far or near, he sees it grand and glorious.
I remember it especially from beyond the Guadalquivir in the drive we took through Triana to the village of Italica, where three Roman emperors were born, as the guide-books will officiously hasten to tell, and steal away your chance of treating your reader with any effect of learned research. These emperors (I will not be stopped by any guide-book from saying) were Trajan, Hadrian, and Theodosius; and Triana is named for the first of them. Fortunately, we turned to the right after crossing the bridge and so escaped the gipsy quarter, but we paused through a long street so swarming with children that we wondered to hear whole schoolrooms full of them humming and droning their lessons as we made our way among the tenants. Fortunately, they played mostly in the gutters, the larger looking after the smaller when their years and riches were so few more, with that beautiful care which childhood bestows on babyhood everywhere in Europe. To say that those Spanish children were as tenderly watchful of these Spanish babies as English children is to say everything. Now and then a mother cared for a babe as only a mother can in an office which the pictures and images of the Most Holy Virgin consecrate and endear in lands where the sterilized bottle is unknown, but oftenest it was a little sister that held it in her arms and crooned whatever was the Spanish of —
Rack back, baby, daddy shot a b’ar;
Rack back, baby, see it hangin’ thar.
For there are no rocking-chairs in Triana, as there were none in our backwoods, and the little maids tilted to and fro on the fore legs and hind legs of their chairs and lulled their charges to sleep with seismic joltings. When the street turned into a road it turned into a road a hundred feet wide; one of those roads which Charles III., when he came to the Spanish throne from Naples, full of beneficent projects and ideals, bestowed upon his unwilling and ungrateful subjects. These roads were made about the middle of the eighteenth century, and they have been gathering dust ever since, so that the white powder now lies in the one beyond Triana five or six inches deep. Along the sides occasional shade-trees stifled, and beyond these gaunt, verdureless fields widened away, though we were told that in the spring the fields were red with flowers and green with young wheat. There were no market-gardens, and the chief crop seemed brown pigs and black goats. In some of the foregrounds, as well as the backgrounds, were olive orchards with olives heaped under them and peasants still resting from their midday breakfast. A mauve bell-shaped flower plentifully fringed the wayside; our driver said it had no name, and later an old peasant said it was “bad.”
We passed a convent turned into a prosperous-looking manufactory and we met a troop of merry priests talking gayly and laughing together, and very effective in their black robes against the white road. When we came to the village that was a municipium under Augustus and a colonia under Hadrian, we found it indeed scanty and poor, but very neat and self-respectful-looking, and not unworthy to have been founded by Scipio Africanus two hundred years before Christ. Such cottage interiors as we glimpsed seemed cleaner and cozier than some in Wales; men in wide flat-brimmed hats sat like statues at the doors, absolutely motionless, but there were women bustling in and out in their work, and at one place a little girl of ten had been left to do the family wash, and was doing it joyously and spreading the clothes in the dooryard to dry. We did not meet with universal favor as we drove by; some groups of girls mocked our driver; when we said one of them was pretty he answered that he had seen prettier.
At the entrance to the ruins of the amphitheater which forms the tourist’s chief excuse for visiting Italica the popular manners softened toward us; the village children offered to sell us wild narcissus flowers and were even willing to take money in charity. They followed us into the ruins, much forbidden by the fine, toothless old custodian who took possession of us as his proper prey and led us through the moldering caverns and crumbling tiers of seats which form the amphitheater. Vast blocks, vast hunks, of the masonry are broken off from the mass and lie detached, but the mass keeps the form and dignity of the original design; and in the lonely fields there it had something august and proud beyond any quality of the Arena at Verona or the Colosseum at Rome. It is mostly stripped of the marble that once faced the interior, and is like some monstrous oval shaped out of the earth, but near the imperial box lay some white slabs with initials cut in them which restored the vision of the “grandeur that was Rome” pretty well over the known world when this great work was in its prime. Our custodian was qualified by his toothlessness to lisp like any old Castilian the letters that other Andalusians hiss, but my own Spanish was so slight and his patois was so dense that the best we could do was to establish a polite misunderstanding. On this his one word of English, repeated as we passed through the subterranean doors, “Lion, lion, lion,” cast a gleam of intelligence which brightened into a vivid community of ideas when we ended in his cottage, and he prepared to sell us some of the small Roman coins which formed his stock in trade. The poor place was beautifully neat, and from his window he made us free of a sight of Seville, signally the cathedral and the Giralda, such as could not be bought for money in New York.
Then we set out on our return, leaving unvisited to the left the church of San Isidore de Campo, with its tombs of Guzman the Good and that Better Lady Dona Urraca Osorio, whom Peter the Cruel had burned. I say better, because I hold it nobler in Urraca to have rejected the love of a wicked king than in Guzman to have let the Moors slay his son rather than surrender a city to them. But I could only pay honor to her pathetic memory and the memory of that nameless handmaid of hers who rushed into the flames to right the garments on the form which the wind had blown them away from, and so perished with her. We had to take on trust from the guide-books all trace of the Roman town where the three emperors were born, and whose “palaces, aqueducts, and temples and circus were magnificent.” We had bought some of the “coins daily dug up,” but we intrusted to the elements those “vestiges of vestiges” left of Trajan’s palaces after an envious earthquake destroyed them so lately as 1755.
The one incident of our return worthy of literature was the dramatic triumph of a woman over a man and a mule as we saw it exhibited on the parapet of a culvert over a dry torrent’s bed. It was the purpose of this woman, standing on the coping in statuesque relief and showing against the sky the comfortable proportions of the Spanish housewife, to mount the mule behind the man. She waited patiently while the man slowly and as we thought faithlessly urged the mule to the parapet; then, when she put out her hands and leaned forward to take her seat, the mule inched softly away and left her to recover her balance at the risk of a fall on the other side. We were too far for anything but the dumb show, but there were, no doubt, words which conveyed her opinions unmistakably to both man and mule. With our hearts in our mouths we witnessed the scene and its repetitions till we could bear it no longer, and we had bidden our cabman drive on when with a sudden spring the brave woman launched herself semicircularly forward and descended upon the exact spot which she had been aiming at. There solidly established on the mule, with her arms fast round the man, she rode off; and I do not think any reader of mine would like to have been that mule or that man for the rest of the way home.
We met many other mules, much more exemplary, in teams of two, three, and four, covered with bells and drawing every kind of carryall and stage and omnibus. These vehicles were built when the road was, about 1750, and were, like the road, left to the natural forces for keeping themselves in repair. The natural forces were not wholly adequate in either case, but the vehicles were not so thick with dust as the road, because they could shake it off. They had each two or four passengers seated with the driver; passengers clustered over the top and packed the inside, but every one was in the joyous mood of people going home for the day. In a plaza not far from the Triana bridge you may see these decrepit conveyances assembling every afternoon for their suburban journeys, and there is no more picturesque sight in Seville, more homelike, more endearing. Of course, when I say this I leave out of the count the bridge over the Guadalquivir at the morning or evening hour when it is covered with brightly caparisoned donkeys, themselves covered with men needing a shave, and gay-kerchiefed women of every age, with boys and dogs underfoot, and pedestrians of every kind, and hucksters selling sea-fruit and land-fruit and whatever else the stranger would rather see than eat. Very little outcry was needed for the sale of these things, which in Naples or even in Venice would have been attended by such vociferation as would have sufficed to proclaim a city in flames.
On a day not long after our expedition to Italica we went a drive with a young American friend living in Seville, whom I look to for a book about that famous city such as I should like to write myself if I had the time to live it as he has done. He promised that he would show us a piece of the old Roman wall, but he showed us ever so much more, beginning with the fore court of the conventual church of Santa Paula, where we found the afternoon light waiting to illumine for us with its tender caress the Luca della Robbia-like colored porcelain figures of the portal and the beautiful octagon tower staying a moment before taking flight for heaven: the most exquisite moment of our whole fortnight in Seville. Tall pots of flowers stood round, and the grass came green through the crevices of the old foot-worn pavement. When we passed out a small boy scuffled for our copper with the little girl who opened the gate for us, but was brought to justice by us, and joined cheerfully in the chorus of children chanting “Mo-ney, mo-ney!” round us, but no more expecting an answer to their prayer than if we had been saints off the church door.
We passed out of the city by a gate where in a little coign of vantage a cobbler was thoughtfully hammering away in the tumult at a shoe-sole, and then suddenly on our right we had the Julian wall: not a mere fragment, but a good long stretch of it. The Moors had built upon it and characterized it, but had not so masked it as to hide the perdurable physiognomy of the Roman work. It was vastly more Roman wall than you see at Rome; but far better than this heroic image of war and waste was the beautiful old aqueduct, perfectly Roman still, with no visible touch from Moor, or from Christian. before or after the Moor, and performing its beneficent use after two thousand years as effectively as in the years before Christ came to bless the peacemakers. Nine miles from its mountain source the graceful arches bring the water on their shoulders; and though there is now an English company that pipes other streams to the city through its underground mains, the Roman aqueduct, eternally sublime in its usefulness, is constant to the purpose of the forgotten men who imagined it. The outer surfaces of the channel which it lifted to the light and air were tagged with weeds and immemorial mosses, and dripped as with the sweat of its twenty-centuried toil.
We followed it as far as it went on our way to a modern work of peace and use which the ancient friend and servant of man would feel no unworthy rival. Beyond the drives and gardens of the Delicias, where we lingered our last to look at the pleasurers haunting them, we drove far across the wheat-fields where a ship-canal five miles long is cutting to rectify the curve of the Guadalquivir and bring Seville many miles nearer the sea than it has ever been before; hitherto the tramp steamers have had to follow the course of the ships of Tarshish in their winding approach. The canal is the notion of the young king of Spain, and the work on it goes forward night and day. The electric lights were shedding their blinding glare on the deafening clatter of the excavating machinery, and it was an unworthy relief to escape from the intense modernity of the scene to that medieval retreat nearer the city where the aficionados night-long watch the bulls coming up from their pastures for the fight or the feast, whichever you choose to call it, of the morrow. These amateurs, whom it would be rude to call sports, lurk in the wayside cafe over their cups of chocolate and wait till in that darkest hour before dawn, with irregular trampling and deep bellowing, these hapless heroes of the arena pass on to their doom. It is a great thing for the aficionados who may imagine in that bellowing the the gladiator’s hail of Morituri salutant. At any rate, it is very chic; it gives a man standing in Seville, which disputes with Madrid the primacy in bull-feasting. If the national capital has bull-feasting every Sunday of the year, all the famous torreros come from Andalusia, with the bulls, their brave antagonists, and in the great provincial capital there are bull-feasts of insurpassable, if not incomparable, splendor.
Before our pleasant drive ended we passed, as we had already passed several times, the scene of the famous Feria of Seville, the cattle show which draws tens of thousands to the city every springtime for business and pleasure, but mostly pleasure. The Feria focuses in its greatest intensity at one of the entrances to the Delicias, where the street is then so dense with every sort of vehicle that people can cross it only by the branching viaduct, which rises in two several ascents from each footway, intersecting at top and delivering their endless multitudes on the opposite sidewalk. Along the street are gay pavilions and cottages where the nobility live through the Feria with their families and welcome the public to the sight of their revelry through the open doors and windows. Then, if ever, the stranger may see the dancing, and hear the singing and playing which all the other year in Seville disappoints him of.
On the eve of All Saints, after we had driven over the worst road in the world outside of Spain or America, we arrived at the entrance of the cemetery where Baedeker had mysteriously said “some sort of fair was held.” Then we perceived that we were present at the preparations for celebrating one of the most affecting events of the Spanish year. This was the visit of kindred and friends bringing tokens of remembrance and affection to the dead. The whole long, rough way we had passed them on foot, and at the cemetery gate we found them arriving in public cabs, as well as in private carriages, with the dignity and gravity of smooth-shaven footmen and coachmen. In Spain these functionaries look their office more solemnly even than in England and affect you as peculiarly correct and eighteenth-century. But apart from their looks the occasion seemed more a festivity than a solemnity. The people bore flowers, mostly artificial, as well as lanterns, and within the cemetery they were furbishing up the monuments with every appliance according to the material, scrubbing the marble, whitewashing the stucco, and repainting the galvanized iron. The lanterns were made to match the monuments and fences architecturally, and the mourners were attaching them with a gentle satisfaction in their fitness; I suppose they were to be lighted at dark and to burn through the night. There were men among the mourners, but most of them were women and children; some were weeping, like a father leading his two little ones, and an old woman grieving for her dead with tears. But what prevailed was a community of quiet resignation, almost to the sort of cheerfulness which bereavement sometimes knows. The scene was tenderly affecting, but it had a tremendous touch of tragic setting in the long, straight avenue of black cypresses which slimly climbed the upward slope from the entrance to the farther bound of the cemetery. Otherwise there was only the patience of entire faith in this annually recurring visit of the living to the dead: the fixed belief that these should rise from the places where they lay. and they who survived them for yet a little more of time should join them from whatever end of the earth in the morning of the Last Day.
All along I have been shirking what any right-minded traveler would feel almost his duty, but I now own that there is a museum in Seville, the Museo Provincial, which was of course once a convent and is now a gallery, with the best, but not the very best, Murillos in it, not to speak of the best Zurburans. I will not speak at all of those pictures, because I could in no wise say what they were, or were like, and because I would not have the reader come to them with any opinions of mine which he might bring away with him in the belief that they were his own. Let him not fail to go to the museum, however; he will be the poorer beyond calculation if he does not; but he will be a beggar if he does not go to the Hospital de la Caridad, where in the church he will find six Murillos out-Murilloing any others excepting always the incomparable “Vision of St. Anthony” in the cathedral. We did not think of those six Murillos when we went to the hospital; we knew nothing of the peculiar beauty and dignity of the church; but we came because we wished to see what the repentance of a man could do for others after a youth spent in wicked riot. The gentle, pensive little Mother who received us carefully said at once that the hospital was not for the sick, but only for the superannuated and the poor and friendless who came to pass a night or an indefinite time in it, according to the pressure of their need; and after showing us the rich little church, she led us through long, clean corridors where old men lay in their white beds or sat beside them eating their breakfasts, very savory-looking, out of ample white bowls. Some of them saluted us, but the others we excused because they were so preoccupied. In a special room set apart for them were what we brutally call tramps, but who doubtless are known in Spain for indigent brethren overtaken on their wayfaring without a lodging for the night. Here they could come for it and cook their supper and breakfast at the large circular fireplace which filled one end of their room. They rose at our entrance and bowed; and how I wish I could have asked them, every one, about their lives!
There was nothing more except the doubt of that dear little Mother when I gave her a silver dollar for her kindness. She seemed surprised and worried, and asked, “Is it for the charity or for me?” What could I do but answer, “Oh, for your Grace,” and add another for the charity. She still looked perplexed, but there was no way out of our misunderstanding, if it was one, and we left her with her sweet, troubled face between the white wings of her cap, like angel’s wings mounting to it from her shoulders. Then we went to look at the statue of the founder bearing a hapless stranger in his arms in a space of flowers before the hospital, where a gardener kept watch that no visitor should escape without a bunch worth at least a peseta. He had no belief that the peseta could possibly be for the charity, and the poverty of the poor neighborhood was so much relieved by the mere presence of the hospital that it begged of us very little as we passed through.
We had expected to go to Granada after a week in Seville, but man is always proposing beyond his disposing in strange lands as well as at home, and we were fully a fortnight in the far lovelier capital. In the mean time we had changed from our rooms in the rear of the hotel to others in the front, where we entered intimately into the life of the Plaza San Fernando as far as we might share it from our windows. It was not very active life; even the cabmen whose neat victorias bordered the place on three sides were not eager for custom; they invited the stranger, but they did not urge; there was a continual but not a rapid passing through the ample oblong; there was a good deal of still life on the benches where leisure enjoyed the feathery shadow of the palms, for the sun was apt to be too hot at the hour of noon, though later it conduced to the slumber which in Spain accompanies the digestion of the midday meal in all classes. As the afternoon advanced numbers of little girls came into the plaza and played children’s games which seemed a translation of games familiar to our own country. One evening a small boy was playing with them, but after a while he seemed to be found unequal to the sport; he was ejected from the group and went off gloomily to grieve apart with his little thumb in his mouth. The sight of his dignified desolation was insupportable, and we tried what a copper of the big-dog value would do to comfort him. He took it without looking up and ran away to the peanut-stand which is always steaming at the first corner all over Christendom. Late in the evening — in fact, after the night had fairly fallen — we saw him making his way into a house fronting on the plaza. He tried at the door with one hand and in the other he held an unexhausted bag of peanuts. He had wasted no word of thanks on us, and he did not now. When he got the door open he backed into the interior still facing us and so fading from our sight and knowledge.
He had the touch of comedy which makes pathos endurable, but another incident was wholly pathetic. As we came out of an antiquity shop near the cathedral one afternoon we found on the elevated footway near the Gate of Pardon a mother and daughter, both of the same second youth, who gently and jointly pronounced to us the magical word encajes. Rather, they questioned us with it, and they only suggested, very forbearingly, that we should come to their house with them to see those laces, which of course were old laces; their house was quite near. But that one of us twain who was singly concerned in encajes had fatigued and perhaps overbought herself at the antiquity shop, and she signified a regret which they divined too well was dissent. They looked rather than expressed a keen little disappointment; the mother began a faint insistence, but the daughter would not suffer it. Here was the pride of poverty, if not poverty itself, and it was with a pang that we parted from these mutely appealing ladies. We could not have borne it if we had not instantly promised ourselves to come the next day and meet them and go home with them and buy all their encajes that we had money for. We kept our promise, and we came the next day and the next and every day we remained in Seville, and lingered so long that we implanted in the cabmen beside the curbing the inextinguishable belief that we were in need of a cab; but we never saw those dear ladies again.
These are some of the cruel memories which the happiest travel leaves, and I gratefully recall that in the case of a custodian of the Columbian Museum, which adjoins the cathedral, we did not inflict a pang that rankled in our hearts for long. I gave him a handful of copper coins which I thought made up a peseta, but his eyes were keener, and a sorrow gloomed his brow which projected its shadow so darkly over us when we went into the cathedral for one of our daily looks that we hastened to return and make up the full peseta with another heap of coppers; a whole sunburst of smiles illumined his face, and a rainbow of the brightest colors arched our sky and still arches it whenever we think of that custodian and his rehabilitated trust in man.
This seems the crevice where I can crowd in the fact that bits of family wash hung from the rail of the old pulpit in the Court of Oranges beside the cathedral, and a pumpkin vine lavishly decorated an arcade near a doorway which perhaps gave into the dwelling of that very custodian. At the same time I must not fail to urge the reader’s seeing the Columbian Museum, which is richly interesting and chiefly for those Latin and Italian authors annotated by the immortal admiral’s own hand. These give the American a sense of him as the discoverer of our hemisphere which nothing else could, and insurpassably render the New World credible. At the same time they somehow bring a lump of pity and piety into the throat at the thought of the things he did and suffered. They bring him from history and make him at home in the beholder’s heart, and there seems a mystical significance in the fact that the volume most abounding in marginalia should be Seneca’s Prophecies.
The frequent passing of men as well as women and children through our Plaza San Fernando and the prevalence of men asleep on the benches; the immense majority of boys everywhere; the moralized abattoir outside the walls where the humanity dormant at the bull-feast wakes to hide every detail of slaughter for the market; a large family of cats basking at their ease in a sunny doorway; trains of milch goats with wicker muzzles, led by a milch cow from door to door through the streets; the sudden solemn beauty of the high altar in the cathedral, seen by chance on a brilliant day; the bright, inspiriting air of Seville; a glorious glimpse of the Giralda coming home from a drive; the figure of a girl outlined in a lofty window; a middle-aged Finnish pair trying to give themselves in murmured talk to the colored stucco of the Hall of the Ambassadors in what seems their wedding journey; two artists working near with sketches tilted against the wall; a large American lady who arrives one forenoon in traveling dress and goes out after luncheon in a mantilla with a fan and high comb; another American lady who appears after dinner in the costume of a Spanish dancing-girl; the fact that there is no Spanish butter and that the only good butter comes from France and the passable butter from Denmark; the soft long veils of pink cloud that trail themselves in the sky across our Plaza, and then dissolve in the silvery radiance of the gibbous moon; the yellowish-red electric Brush lights swinging from palm to palm as in the decoration of some vast ballroom; a second drive through Triana, and a failure to reach the church we set out for; the droves of brown pigs and flocks of brown sheep; the goatherds unloading olive boughs in the fields for the goats to browse; a dirty, kind, peaceful village, with an English factory in it, and a mansion of galvanized iron with an automobile before it; a pink villa on a hillside and a family group on the shoulder of a high-walled garden; a girl looking down from the wall, and a young man resting his hand on the masonry and looking up at her; the good faces of the people, men and women; boys wrestling and frolicking in the village streets; the wide dust-heap of a road, full of sudden holes; the heat of the sun in the first November week after touches of cold; the tram-cars that wander from one side of the city street to the other, and then barely miss scraping the house walls; in our drive home from our failure for that church, men with trains of oxen plowing and showing against the round red rayless sun; a stretch of the river with the crimson-hulled steamers, and a distant sail-boat seen across the fields; the gray moon that burnishes itself and rides bright and high for our return; people in balconies, and the air full of golden dust shot with bluish electric lights; here is a handful of suggestions from my note-book which each and every one would expand into a chapter or a small volume under the intensive culture which the reader may well have come to dread. But I fling them all down here for him to do what he likes with, and turn to speak at more length of the University, or, rather the University Church, which I would not have any reader of mine fail to visit.
With my desire to find likeness rather than difference in strange peoples, I was glad to have two of the students loitering in the patio play just such a trick on a carter at the gate as school-boys might play in our own land. While his back was turned they took his whip and hid it and duly triumphed in his mystification and dismay. We did not wait for the catastrophe, but by the politeness of another student found the booth of the custodian, who showed us to the library. A noise of recitation from the windows looking into the patio followed us up-stairs; but maturer students were reading at tables in the hushed library, and at a large central table a circle of grave authorities of some sort were smoking the air blue with their cigarettes. One, who seemed chief among them, rose and bowed us into the freedom of the place, and again rose and bowed when we went out. We did not stay long, for a library is of the repellent interest of a wine-cellar; unless the books or bottles are broached it is useless to linger. There are eighty thousand volumes in that library, but we had to come away without examining half of them. The church was more appreciable, and its value was enhanced to us by the reluctance of the stiff old sacristan to unlock it. We found it rich in a most wonderful retablo carved in wood and painted. Besides the excellent pictures at the high altar, there are two portrait brasses which were meant to be recumbent, but which are stood up against the wall, perhaps to their surprise, without loss of impressiveness. Most notable of all is the mural tomb of Pedro Enriquez de Ribera and his wife: he who built the Casa de Pilatos, and as he had visited the Holy Land was naturally fabled to have copied it from the House of Pilate. Now, as if still continuing his travels, he reposes with his wife in a sort of double-decker monument, where the Evil One would have them suggest to the beholder the notion of passengers in the upper and lower berths of a Pullman sleeper.
Of all the Spanish cities that I saw, Seville was the most charming, not for those attributive blandishments of the song and dance which the tourist is supposed to find it, but which we quite failed of, but for the simpler and less conventional amiabilities which she was so rich in. I have tried to hint at these, but really one must go to Seville for them and let them happen as they will. Many happened in our hotel where we liked everybody, from the kindly, most capable Catalonian head waiter to the fine-headed little Napoleonic-looking waiter who had identified us at San Sebastian as Americans, because we spoke “quicklier” than the English, and who ran to us when we came into the hotel and shook hands with its as if we were his oldest and dearest friends. There was a Swiss concierge who could not be bought for money, and the manager was the mirror of managers. Fancy the landlord of the Waldorf–Astoria, or the St. Regis, coming out on the sidewalk and beating down a taxicabman from a charge of fifteen pesetas to six for a certain drive! It is not thinkable, and yet the like of it happened to xis in Seville from our manager. It was not his fault, when our rear apartment became a little too chill, and we took a parlor in the front and came back on the first day hoping to find it stored full of the afternoon sun’s warmth, but found that the camerera had opened the windows and closed the shutters in our absence so that our parlor was of a frigidity which no glitter of the electric light could temper. The halls and public rooms were chill in anticipation and remembrance of any cold outside, but in our parlor there was a hole for the sort of stove which we saw in the reading-room, twice as large as an average teakettle, with a pipe as big around as the average rain-pipe. I am sure this apparatus would have heated us admirably, but the weather grew milder and milder and we never had occasion to make the successful experiment. Meanwhile the moral atmosphere of the hotel was of a blandness which would have gone far to content us with any meteorological perversity. When we left it we were on those human terms with every one who ruled or served in it which one never attains in an American hotel, and rarely in an English one.
At noon on the 4th of November the sun was really hot in our plaza; but we were instructed that before the winter was over there would be cold enough, not of great frosty severity, of course, but nasty and hard to bear in the summer conditions which prevail through the year. I wish I could tell how the people live then in their beautiful, cool houses, but I do not know, and I do not know how they live at any season except from the scantiest hearsay. The women remain at home except when they go to church or to drive in the Delicias — that is to say, the women of society, of the nobility. There is no society in our sense among people of the middle classes; the men when they are not at business are at the cafe; the women when they are not at mass are at home. That is what we were told, and yet at a moving-picture show we saw many women of the middle as well as the lower classes. The frequent holidays afford them an outlet, and indoors they constantly see their friends and kindred at their tertulias.
The land is in large holdings which are managed by the factors or agents of the noble proprietors. These, when they are not at Madrid, are to be found at their clubs, where their business men bring them papers to be signed, often unread. This sounds a little romantic, and perhaps it is not true. Some gentlemen take a great interest in the bull-feasts and breed the bulls and cultivate the bull-fighters; what other esthetic interests they have I do not know. All classes are said to be of an Oriental philosophy of life; they hold that the English striving and running to and fro and seeing strange countries comes in the end to the same thing as sitting still; and why should they bother? There is something in that, but one may sit still too much; the Spanish ladies, as I many times heard, do overdo it. Not only they do not walk abroad; they do not walk at home; everything is carried to and from them; they do not lift hand or foot. The consequence is that they have very small hands and feet; Gautier, who seems to have grown tired when he reached Seville, and has comparatively little to say of it, says that a child may hold a Sevillian lady’s foot in its hand; he does not say he saw it done. What is true is that no child could begin to clasp with both hands the waist of an average Sevillian lady. But here again the rule has its exceptions and will probably have more. Not only is the English queen-consort stimulating the Andalusian girls to play tennis by her example when she comes to Seville, but it has somehow become the fashion for ladies of all ages to leave their carriages in the Delicias and walk up and down; we saw at least a dozen doing it.
Whatever flirting and intriguing goes on, the public sees nothing of it. In the street there is no gleam of sheep’s-eying or any manner of indecorum. The women look sensible and good, and I should say the same of the men; the stranger’s experience must have been more unfortunate than mine if he has had any unkindness from them. One heard that Spanish women do not smoke, unless they are cigarreras and work in the large tobacco factory, where the “Carmen” tradition has given place to the mother-of-a-family type, with her baby on the floor beside her. Even these may prefer not to set the baby a bad example and have her grow up and smoke like those English and American women. The strength of the Church is, of course, in the women’s faith, and its strength is unquestionable, if not quite unquestioned. In Seville, as I have said, there are two Spanish Protestant churches, and their worship, is not molested. Society does not receive their members; but we heard that with most Spanish people Protestantism is a puzzle rather than offense. They know we are not Jews, but Christians; yet we are not Catholics; and what, then, are we? With the Protestants, as with the Catholics, there is always religious marriage. There is civil marriage for all, but without the religious rite the pair are not well seen by either sect.
It is said that the editor of the ablest paper in Madrid, which publishes a local edition at Seville, is a Protestant. The queen mother is extremely clerical, though one of the wisest and best women who ever ruled; the king and queen consort are as liberal as possible, and the king is notoriously a democrat, with a dash of Haroun al Rashid. lie likes to take his governmental subordinates unawares, and a story is told of his dropping in at the post-office on a late visit to Seville, and asking for the chief. He was out, and so were all the subordinate officials down to the lowest, whom the king found at his work. The others have since been diligent at theirs. The story is characteristic of the king, if not of the post-office people.
Political freedom is almost grotesquely unrestricted. In our American republic we should scarcely tolerate a party in favor of a monarchy, but in the Spanish monarchy a republican party is recognized and represented. It holds public meetings and counts among its members many able and distinguished men, such as the novelist Perez Galdos, one of the most brilliant novelists not only in Spain but in Europe. With this unbounded liberty in Andalusia, it is said that the Spaniards of the north are still more radical.
Though the climate is most favorable for consumptives, the habits of the people are so unwholesome that tuberculosis prevails, and there are two or three deaths a day from it in Seville. There is no avoidance of tuberculous suspects; they cough, and the men spit everywhere in the streets and on the floors and carpets of the clubs. The women suffer for want of fresh air, though now with the example of the English queen before them and the young girls who used to lie abed till noon getting up early ta play tennis, it will be different. Their mothers and aunts still drive to the Delicias to prove that they have carriages, but when there they alight and walk up and down by their doctor’s advice.
I only know that during our fortnight in Seville I suffered no wound to a sensibility which has been kept in full repair for literary, if not for humanitarian purposes. The climate was as kind as the people. It is notorious that in summer the heat is that of a furnace, but even then it is bearable because it is a dry heat, like that of our indoor furnaces. The 5th of November was our last day, and then it was too hot for comfort in the sun, but one is willing to find the November sun too hot; it is an agreeable solecism; and I only wish that we could have found the sun too hot during the next three days in Granada. If the 5th of November had been worse for heat than it was it must still remain dear in our memory, because in the afternoon we met once more these Chilians of our hearts whom we had met in San Sebastian and Burgos and Valladolid and Madrid. We knew we should meet them in Seville and were not the least surprised. They were as glad and gay as ever, and in our common polyglot they possessed us of the fact that they had just completed the eastern hemicycle of their Peninsular tour. They were latest from Malaga, and now they were going northward. It was our last meeting, but better friends I could not hope to meet again, whether in the Old World or the New, or that Other World which we hope will somehow be the summation of all that is best in both.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:09