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homage to the throne, and the Spanish Court has once more resumed something of its ancient splendor. Indeed, I had seen the royal palace so brilliantly attended; and the whole ceremonial had an effect even upon the French Ambassador, who has been slow to see anything good at Madrid, but who acknowledged that the splendor of the court quite surpassed his expectations.
After we had been for some time assembled, the Queen was announced, and every one immediately ranged himself in order. The grandees take their station on the right hand of the throne; the diplomatic corps forms a line directly in front of it, with the French Ambassador at the head. The Queen entered first, followed by her mother and the Princess Royal, and a long train of ladies of the highest nobility, magnificently dressed. The Queen and the Queen-mother took their seats on the throne, the latter on the left hand. The Princess was seated in a chair of state to the left of the throne, and the ladies in attendance ranged themselves from the left of the throne to the lower end of the hall. Among them were some of the most beautiful ladies of the nobility; they were all in court dresses with lappets and trains, and as fine as silk, and plumes and lace, and diamonds could make them. I doubt whether even the lilies of the valley, though better arrayed than King Solomon in all his glory, could have stood a comparison with them. (I hope it is not wicked to say so.)
The little Queen and her sister were each dressed in white satin, richly trimmed with lace; they had trains of lilac silk, and wreaths of diamonds on their heads, the only difference in their dress being the superior number of diamonds of the Queen. The Queen-mother had a train of azure blue, her favorite color. I like to describe dresses, having a knack at it; but I absolutely forget the rest of her equipments. The little Queen, who, by the by, will soon cease to deserve the adjective of little, looked rather full and puffy on the occasion, being perhaps rather too straitly caparisoned; the Infanta, too, looked pale, and, I was told, was in bad health. The Queen-mother, on the contrary, was in her best looks; no longer fatigued and worn by a long and anxious journey, as when I saw her at Aranjuez, but cheerful and animated. I think, for
queenly grace and dignity, mingled with the most gracious affability, she surpasses any sovereign I have ever seen. Her manner of receiving every one, as they knelt and kissed her hand, and the smile with which she sent them on their way rejoicing, let me at once into the secret of her popularity with all who have frequented her court.
I remained but a short time after the Besa manos had commenced. It was likely to be between two and three hours before the immense crowd of courtiers, clergy, military, municipality, etc., could pay homage, and it was impossible for me to remain standing so long. I beat a retreat, therefore, in company with the chargé d'affaires of Denmark, the veteran D'Alborgo-a thoroughgoing courtier, who had risen from a sick-bed to be present on the occasion. I have since written a note to the Minister of State, requesting him to explain to the Queen and Queen-mother the cause of my absence from most of the court ceremonies on the recent joyful occasion; and have received a very satisfactory note in reply, with kind expressions on the part of the sovereigns. There is to be another grand Besa manos on the twenty-seventh of this month, by which time I hope to be sufficiently recovered from my long indisposition to resume my usual station in the diplomatic corps.
I am happy to tell you that I am getting on prosperously in my cure by the aid of baths, which I take at home. Indeed I expect, in a very little time, to be able to go about on foot as usual, and only refrain from doing so at present lest, by any over exercise, I might retard my complete recovery. When I drive out and notice the opening of spring I feel, sometimes, almost moved to tears at the thought that in a little while I shall again have the use of my limbs, and be able to ramble about and enjoy these green fields and meadows. It seems almost too great a privilege. I am afraid, when I once more sally forth and walk about the streets, I shall feel like a boy with a new coat, who thinks everybody will turn round to look at him. "Bless my soul, how that gentleman has the use of his legs!"
I want some little excitement of the kind, just now, to enliven me, for Alexander Hamilton is packing up, and preparing for his departure, which will probably take place in the course of three weeks. It will be a
hard parting for me, and I shall feel his loss sadly, for he has been everything to me as an efficient aid in business, a most kind-hearted attendant in sickness, and a cheerful, intelligent, sunshiny companion at all times. He will leave a popular name behind him among his intimates and acquaintances in Madrid, who have learned to appreciate his noble qualities of head and heart. What makes his departure very trying to me, is, that he is in a manner linked with my home, and is the last of the young companions who left home with me. God bless him! he will carry home sunshine to his family.
And now with love to "all bodies," I must conclude.
Your affectionate brother,
On the 27th of April, Mr. Irving informs his niece, at Paris, that he had given two diplomatic dinners lately, and should give a third the next day. "You will think,' he says, "I am quite breaking forth' with dinner parties; but, in truth, I have for a long time been so much depressed and out of social mood with my tedious malady, that I fell quite in arrears; and one of the first impulses, on finding myself really getting better, was to call my friends about me and make good cheer."
To another niece, under the same auspicious improvements in the state of his health, he writes, April 28:
I have been rather light-hearted of late, at being in a great degree relieved from the malady which has so long kept me, as it were, in fetters. Yesterday I was at a Besa manos, or royal levee, at the palace, in honor of the birthday of the Queen-mother, where all the nobility and people of official rank have the honor of kissing the hands of the Queen and royal family; and, though the ceremonial lasted between two and three hours, I stood through the whole of it without flinching. I have
also taken a walk in the green alleys of the Retiro, for the first time in upward of fifteen months, and performed the feat to admiration. I do not figure about yet in the streets on foot, lest people should think me proud; I continue therefore, to drive out in my carriage. Indeed, 1 endeavor to behave as humbly and modestly as possible under "so great a dispensation;" but one cannot help being puffed up a little on having the use of one's legs.
DEPARTURE OF HAMILTON.— LONELINESS. THE NEW AMERICAN MINISTER AT PARIS.-HEARTSICK WITH THE POLITICS OF SPAIN.-THE RETIRO.- A NEW SECRETARY OF LEGATION. LETTER FROM BARCELONA. THE TURKISH MINISTER.-AUDIENCE OF THE QUEEN, REMINISCENCE OF THE PALACE.— ITS PECULIAR INTEREST TO HIM.-COUNT DE ESPAGNE.-LETTER TO PIERRE M. IRVING. -TEMPORARY LEAVE OF ABSENCE GRANTED HIM. -INTENDS TO VISIT PARIS.
HE day after the departure of Mr. Hamilton, the last of the three young companions who had embarked with him in his mission, and were linked to him by home affinities, Mr. Irving writes to Mrs. Storrow (May 15th):
To-day there is an inexpressible loneliness in my mansion, and its great saloons seem uncommonly empty and silent. I feel my heart choking me, as I walk about and miss Hamilton from the places and seats he used to occupy. The servants partake in my dreary feelings, and that increases them.
I am scrawling this, because it is a relief to me to express what I feel, and I have no one at hand to converse with. The morning has been rainy, but it is holding up, and I shall drive out and get rid of these lonely feelings. To-day I dine with the Albuquerques, of which I am glad.
All this will soon pass away, for I have been accustomed, for a great