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of the fifth century. In 714, the Goths were expelled by the Moors, and in 1085, the latter were driven forth by the Spaniards, under Alonzo VI., who took the title of Emperor of Toledo.
Toledo has sadly fallen from its high estate. Yet the city, and even the surrounding country, show the remains of prosperity passed away, in the numerous ruins of all ages that cover the soil.
The Roman, the Goth, and the Moor, have alike left some trace of their passage; but it remained for the Spaniard to adorn it with one of those stately cathedrals which are the pride and boast of Spain.
The town is composed of an irregular jumble of narrow, tortuous, and steep streets, or rather lanes, impracticable for any thing like a vehicle, and the stranger is obliged to procure a guide to conduct him through the intricate labyrinth.
The dark Moorish houses have the appearance of so many prisons, and give to the place a gloomy aspect, which is heightened by the silent and deserted streets.
In walking around this most picturesque old city, the antiquary finds numerous objects to attract his attention. Here the ruins of the Roman and the Goth are mingled with those of the Moor and Spaniard.
In the centre of the town towers aloft the cathedral, which was founded by St. Ferdinand in 1226, and completed in 1492.
The exterior is imposing, but the building is so much blocked up by surrounding houses that a good view of it cannot be obtained.
The interior realized all my ideas of the sublime in Gothic architecture. The body of the church is composed of five naves, the arches of which are supported by eighty-four enormous columns. The central nave is truly grand, and rises to the height of one hundred and sixty feet. Upon the sides of the building are numerous chapels, nearly as large as churches, all of which are richly adorned with paintings and sculpture.
The choir, as in all Spanish churches, occupies the central nave, but from the mode of its construction, it does not mar the effect so much as that in the cathedral of Burgos. Its Silleria, which was carved in the fifteenth century, is truly worthy of admiration. Each stall represents some passage in the campaigns of Ferdinand and Isabella, and the examination of these beautiful carvings, which are authentic records of the costume and arms of the age, has afforded me hours of pleasure.
The Capilla Mayor contains many objects of interest. The retablo of the altar, which is reached by a flight of marble and jasper steps, is ornamented with a profusion of painted and gilded carvings, representing passages from the life of our Saviour. Here are the tombs of the ancient kings of Toledo, viz.: Alonzo VII., Sancho el Deseado, Sancho el Bravo, and the Infante Don Pedro. Here, likewise, repose the ashes of the great Cardinal Mendoza, who was called Lertius Rex, and almost shared the sovereignty with Ferdinand and Isabella. The chapel of los Reges Nuevos, or later kings of Toledo, is also well worthy of inspection. Here, under most beautifully sculptured niches, repose Henrique II., Henrique III., and Juan II.
The remaining chapels are all worthy of attention, but we will pass from them into the Sacristia, a magnificent gallery, adorned with many fine paintings by the great masters. The ceiling of this room is vaulted and painted in fresco by Luca Giordasio.
From the Sacristia I was ushered into a small octagonal room, constructed entirely of polished marble, where I was shown a magnificent silver custodia, six feet in height, constructed of solid gold and silver, most exquisitely wrought, and inlaid with diamonds and precious stones. I was also shown the magnificent ornaments of the Virgin of the Sagrario, or the Black Virgin. This Virgin is carved out of black wood, and is held in great veneration at Toledo. Her robes were of magnificent brocade, richly embroidered with gold, and adorned with innumerable pearls. Her crown was of gold, set with diamonds and emeralds, with which there were two bracelets to match. We now entered the chapel of the Sagrario, and beheld the sacred image seated upon a silver throne, under a silver-gilt canopy, supported by pillars. The throne is said to contain fifty-two arrobas, or thirteen hundred pounds of silver.
After visiting the cloisters, the library, and several curious old halls and chapels, I finally ascended the tower of the Cathedral to take a view of the town and surrounding country. The prospect was charming. From east to west, the valley was bounded by a range of mountains, covered with the olive tree, and dotted with small houses; and from north to south a vast plain was spread out, the surface of which was marked by numerous ruins; while beneath the steep mountain, which is, as it were, a pedestal to the city, the poetical Tagus boiled and foamed over its rocky bed.
The scene was pleasing, yet melancholy. No sounds of life and activity came up to me from the city beneath ; no laborers, no cattle were to be seen in all the vast extended plain; while the ruins of temples and churches, that every where met the eye, brought to the mind the sad lesson of the instability of all earthly things.
My first view of the cathedral of Toledo was during a day of great solemnity, when the Archbishop officiated at High Mass.
The venerable prelate entered the body of the church from the sacristy, under a richly-embroidered velvet canopy, supported by four persons, and followed by a procession of more than a hundred priests, in their robes of office.
The solemn organ pealed forth, mingling with the rich voices of the choir, and the song of praise reëchoed along the vaulted arches with a pathos befitting the house of God. The church was crowded with worshippers, and every one appeared to be impressed with the solemnity of the occasion. Indeed, I have never beheld a scene more impressive, nor worshippers more devout, although it is said the Spaniards are muy buenos Catholicos, pero muy malos Cristianos.
I next visited the Alcazar, or palace-fortress, once the residence of the Moorish kings, which stands in the most elevated portion of the town, and overlooks the Tagus and surrounding country. The venerable building is flanked by four square towers, and has a noble façade. Internally, it is damp and gloomy, and presents a sad picture of the effect of war and conflagration, which have entirely stripped it of its ancient splendor.
Toledo, independently of its cathedral, possessed at one period twenty parish churches, seven chapels, three colleges, fourteen convents, twentythree nunneries, and several hospitals. But many of these monuments of former prosperity have fallen to ruin; and those that still exist appear
likely to share the same fate. Among the most interesting of these was the Franciscan convent of San Juan de los Reges, a Gothic pile, built by Ferdinand and Isabella, upon the outer walls of which still hang the votive chains of captives delivered from the hands of the Moors by their intercession. During the French invasion the church was dismantled, and used as a stable, and the beautiful cloisters as a barrack for troops ; therefore, little remains to attest its former splendor.
The far-famed sword-factory of Toledo is situated on the banks of the Tagus, about two miles from the city. The blades made here have been celebrated for centuries, and are said to be unsurpassed in temper and polish. The finer kinds are so elastic that they can be packed in small round boxes, curled up like the main-spring of a watch. There was one manufactured here a short time since, as a present to the Duke of Montpensier, which was contained in a case of the size of a snuff-box.
The excellence of these swords is said to be owing to the quality of the native iron out of which they are made, and to some secret in the mode of tempering. The swords are all wrought by hand, there being no machinery used in the factory, except in the grinding-room.
The forges are contained in small apartments, where there are usually two workmen employed. After the blade is formed on the anvil, it is passed to the grinding-room, where the asperities are smoothed down, and the edge given to it; after which it goes into the hands of the polisher, and is finally completed by the addition of the hilt and scabbard.
Toledo is bleak and cold in winter, and very disagreeable as a place of residence. What we call the comforts of life are hardly known there. Even in the best hotel, there was not a room with a fire-place in it; and stoves and furnaces are literally unknown. The only convenience for giving warmth is the brasero, a small copper or brass pan, filled with ignited charcoal, from which one may extract sufficient caloric to warm the feet and hands. To keep the body comfortable, one is obliged to adopt the custom of the country, and sit all day enveloped in a huge cloak. Yet, uncomfortable as I found Toledo, I looked forward with regret to the day of my departure from this curious old city. There is something peculiarly novel and fascinating in its venerable aspect, its curious steep winding lanes and picturesque ruins; while the people themselves, grave, dignified, and formal, real Castellanos viejos, as antiquated in appearance as their city, form not the least uninteresting part of the picture.
From Toledo to Aranguez, there are only six leagues, the road passing through the valley of La Sagra, and in sight of the Tagus, which in this part of its course did not realize to me the dreams of the poets who have painted it in such glowing colors.
Aranquez is a small, modern-built town, without importance, except that it contains a royal palace, which is occasionally made the summerresidence of the Queen.
The town is approached through an avenue of pine-trees, which leads to the Plaza de San Antonio, upon which one of the façades of the royal residence is situated.
Among the four Posadas in the place, I was fortunate enough to hit upon one kept by an Englishman. Mine host was a stout, round-faced, good-humored-looking person, who did not appear to have exchanged roast-beef for olla, in changing his country. He had lived in Aranguez for twenty-odd years, but he had not lost his nationality, nor forgotten English comfort. I was ushered into a snug parlor, where a genial fire was blazing upon the hearth, and in the course of a half hour, 1 sat down to a most capital old-fashioned English dinner, which commenced with roast-beef, and finished with plum-pudding:
The Royal Palace was commenced by Philip II., and finished by Philip V. The building covers a large surface, but it is without architectural beauties, and, like every thing in Spain, is suffering for want of repairs, both inside and out. The apartments appeared to me small, and wanting in the usual elegance which characterizes the abodes of royalty. Being a summer-residence, great labor and expense have been bestowed on the gardens, which are very beautiful. Situated upon an islet between the Tagus and Jarama, these rivers supply abundance of water for irrigation, very necessary in this parched-up country, and for the numerous fountains and artificial cascades which beautify the grounds. The trees are magnificent, and the finest we have seen in this almost treeless land; they are said to have been brought from England by Philip II.
The ornaments of art are in bad taste, and entirely unworthy of the garden. The fountains are mean in comparison with those at Madrid, and the statuary, nearly all of which is painted plaster, looks out of place among the avenues of noble trees.
The Casa del Labrador, or house of the laborer, situated in the midst of the gardens, is well worthy of a visit. This is a miniature palace similar to that one at the Escurial, and was likewise built for Charles IV. It is a charming little play-thing, which art, luxury, and taste have combined to beautify and render attractive. The stair-cases are of marble and jasper, the floors in beautiful mosaic, and the walls hung in white satin, covered with landscapes embroidered by hand, which must have been the result of great labor.
R. T. U.
HIER EA F T E R :
E X TRACT.
*If all our hopes and
all our fears
'We saw no better world beyond;
What earthly thing could pleasure give!
Oh! who would venture then to live!
Were life a dark and desert moor,
Where mists and clouds eternal spread
And tempests thunder overhead;
And not a floweret smiles beneath
Who dwell in darkness and in death!
We lingered far into the night's decline;
Abroad in fitful gusts the rain was falling ; All silently we quaffed the ruddy wire,
And gazed therein, our absent loves recalling. We spoke not, for the soul's dark depths within
With fancies strange and wonderful were teeming; Before me sat, as in a trance, LEVIN,
My friend LEVIN, with eyes unearthly gleaming.
I spoke to him: “Thy look doth frighten me!
Oft have I dared in the dread midnight-hours Within the mirror mine own face to see;
Then such a form as thine before me towers : Then sense of life and being seem to flee;
And from her cave, with horrid darkness reeking, The Sphynx - eternal soul - doth look on me,
In low and scornful tones her riddle speaking.'
'So doth thy gaze my very soul appal !
And yet elsewhere no earthly shape may daunt me: Thy look is demon-like; 't is spirit all
And like a spirit doth thy presence haunt me. Thou art a ghost, and wanderest bodiless :
Oh! turn thy gaze, that I may peace recover! Thy body dead, fast in the earth's embrace
Hence, wandering ghost! round me no longer hover!'
Then, like dull flame with fuel fresh supplied,
His troubled soul 'gan at my words to quicken; The dusky curtain had I torn aside,
And with rude hand the heart's deer chords had stricken: Who has not thrilled before their awful might?
Silent we heard, our souls with transport riven, And trembling looked into the realm of night,
Far from whose depths the cheerful day is driven.
Oh! what a silent and an unknown land !
E'en to the elect but scanty news it giveth; He only may their import understand
Who in true faith the ghostly words receiveth. Such was LEVIN: the thoughts that in him lay
Now found a voice- in magic chains he bound us; Entranced we sat: the hours fled fast away,
And the gray morn still eager listeners found us.