« AnteriorContinuar »
When the thrust is true — when it strikes no bone, but glides under the left shoulder directly to the heart - death is almost instantaneous. The furious beast, which a moment before was so full of life and energy, falls prostrate at the feet of his conqueror, amidst the deafening shouts of the multitude. A gay team of mules, ornamented with flags and bells, now enters the arena, and the prostrate animal is dragged out at a rapid gallop.
When a bull runs from his adversaries, and cannot be made to show fight, he is doomed to a dishonorable death. A long pole, armed with a sharp steel instrument in the shape of a crescent, is brought forth, and the animal is crippled by dividing the tendons of his legs; and after he is thus maimed, an assistant approaches, and pierces the spinal marrow with a short dagger. This cowardly operation is considered beneath the dignity of a matador or picador, and is left for their inferiors.
Eight or ten bulls are usually sacrificed at one exhibition, and as many horses are often gored to death before the crowd disperses, and the approach of night puts an end to the bloody spectacle.
Leaving Seville by t':e steamer, I descended the poetical Guadalquivir to Cadiz. For several leagues, the banks of this river are charming. Orange-orchards, with their golden fruit, are seen on each side, and the verdant hills are embellished here and there with beautiful little countryseats. But soon the country becomes flat, treeless, and deserted, save by the wild bull, who roams here unmolested, until required for the amplitheatre. Toward evening, we approached fair Cadiz, which appeared to rise before us like a fairy city from the sea, its white palaces and towers tinged with the last rays of the setting sun."
This once populous and commercial city is now lifeless and inanimate. The harbor is almost without shipping, the quays are deserted, and every thing looks like decay. It has few attractions for the stranger, and one is soon wearied with the dull monotony of the place. Sunday is the only day that the streets look lively, and that the Alameda is frequented by those bright-eyed beauties who have a world-wide reputation. Wandering along the gravelled walks of the Alameda, or seated in some quiet nook by the sea-wall, the stranger may pass many a pleasant hour in gazing upon those sunny faces of which Doña Julia is the type.
Xeres, the great wine-mart of Spain, is about twelve miles from Cadiz. Although this is a town of thirty thousand inbabitants, the streets look so deserted, at some periods of the day, thai one might suppose it to be uninhabited. It is only toward evening that it appears to awake, and become somewhat animated.
Xeres is surrounded by vine-clad slopes, which yield a wine much more appreciated abroad than in Spain. It is very interesting to visit one of those immense wine-bodegas, or store-houses, where thousands of butts of this precious liquor are regularly arranged on each side, like files of soldiers.
Sherry-wine undergoes a variety of processes before it is fit for the market. Wines of different ages, different flavors, and different vintages, are mixed together, in various proportions, until a proper standard is obtained. This concocting of the wines devolves upon a very important personage, called the capataz, who is regularly trained to the business, and
passes his life among wine-butts, tasting and correcting, one by the other, according to his judgment.
The consumption of sherry in Spain is very trifling, as it is too strong for Spanish taste. Even the work-men in the bodegas, who are surrounded with it all day, seldom touch it, but prefer a lighter wine called Mansanilla, which grows in a neighboring district.
Returning to Cadiz, I took the English steamer for Gibraltar. Embarking at four o'clock in the afternoon, at about mid-night the huge rock loomed up in the distance, and soon after we came to anchor off the town.
Since the acquisition of Gibraltar by Sir George Rooke, in 1704, who found it garrisoned with only eighty men, the English have been gradually increasing its strength by adding to the fortifications; and, although it is now considered impregnable, the works still go on. A stranger may occupy his first day very well in inspecting the fortifications, which are built with a solidity to defy time and the enemy. On the second day he will procure a permit from the Governor to visit the galleries tunnelled in the rock, which are very curious, and are the result of immense labor and expense. Here, at every few steps there is a port-hole, cut out of the rock, from which points a huge cannon. These batteries are so much elevated, that they are more for show than use; and, ou the other hand, after one or two discharges, the smoke, which has no means of escape except through the port-holes, would be likely to suffocate the gunners.
Gibraltar is a free port, and is a dépôt for the commerce of various nations. It is the head-quarters of the Spanish smuggler, who, notwithstanding the difficulties and dangers he has to encounter in the pursuit of his calling, carries on a thriving business. There are smugglers here of all grades. I was much amused by one of the inferior class of these worthies, in crossing over in a small steam-boat to Algeciras, a Spanish town on the opposite side of the bay. As soon as the boat shoved off from the mole, the gentleman untied a small bundle, containing a variety of articles, and with great composure began to stow them away upon his person. He first placed about half a dozen silk handkerchiefs under his shirt, then put away a dozen or more gloves in the sleeves of his coat, pulled up his trowsers, and filled bis boots with stockings, and, finally, stowed away about one hundred cigars in the red sash which he wore around his waist. On our arrival on the other side, I had the curiosity to watch our smuggler, to see how he would behave on landing. He did not manifest any hurry to get on shore among the first, and when he landed on the mole, lingered about among the officers, speaking familiarly to his acquaintances, and finally sauntered off deliberately, to disgorge his contraband articles in the back-room of one of the best shops of the city.
The rock is principally formed of gray lime-stone, and, at its bighest point, is elevated one thousand five hundred feet above the level of the sea. Its length from north to south is about three miles, and its circumference, seven miles. A flat, narrow strip of sand, called the neutral ground, connects the rock with the main land, so that, at a distance, the huge mass looks as if it were surrounded by water. Passing over this narrow strip, the traveller at once feels himself again in Spain. The sallow Spaniard takes the place of the florid-faced Englishman, and the little village on the borders of the neutral ground has a dirty, uncaredfor look, which contrasts badly with the order and cleanliness which prevail at Gibraltar.
Gibraltar is a dull place for a stranger, and after he has visited the fortifications, he will generally be glad to proceed on his journey. But, unfortunately, it is not always in his power to leave when he may desire, as the steamers which run between Cadiz, Gibraltar, and the Mediterranean coast of Spain, to Marseilles, only touch at stated intervals. I had eleven days in prospect before the arrival of the steamer; eleven days of ennui, which I endeavored to cut short by taking one of those small craft called a felucca, to Malaga.
I made a bargain with the captain of one of these vessels, and had my baggage sent down to the mole, when suddenly a swift levanter commenced blowing, which was a head-wind, and I therefore had my choice of remaining on the rock, or of running the risk of being out at sea, in an open boat, for three or four days. The choice of evils appeared to me to be about equal, but after some reflection, I decided to remain, and therefore packed off to the hotel again, bag and baggage. I passed the remaining days of my stay in wandering around the fortifications, scaling the rock to its flag-staff, and making excursions along the sea-shore, and over the neutral ground into Spain.
I also crossed over a second time to Algeciras, on the opposite side of the bay, which is an old town, containing about sixteen thousand inhabitants. What a contrast there is between this place and Gibraltar! In the latter place, the English have brought with them to a southern climate the English style of building —small glazed windows, small doors, with brass knockers and door-plates. Every thing looks 'stuffy;' while at Algeciras there are large portals, cool court-yards, immense windows reaching from the floor to the ceiling, without glazing, or any other contrivance to exclude the air.
The streets of Algeciras, on ordinary occasions, are silent and almost deserted, and one is reminded, on every side, that he is within the precincts of Spanish rule. On entering the grand plaza, I found it crowded with people. The church, which occupied one side of the square, was open, and appeared to be filled to overflowing. I approached, and with some difficulty entered the building, where I found they were performing a Te Deum for the escape of the Queen from the attempt made upon her life a few days previous. There was a fine display of military present, and the music and singing were excellent.
After having been chained to the rock, like a second Prometheus, for two weeks, the Spanish steamer arrived, and I took passage in her for Malaga; and I do not remember ever to have left a place with less regret. Getting under way at about eight o'clock in the evening, we reached Malaga the next morning at day-light.
Malaga is purely a commercial town, and more celebrated for its sweet wine and raisins, than for its literature and fine arts. It is said that the export of raisins amounts to one million of boxes annually. The climate of Malaga is said to be superior to that of Italy during the winter-season.
The city is open to the south, and sheltered on the north by a range of mountains whereby it is protected from the cold wintry blasts. There is a very excellent hotel here, which is much frequented by English invalids in the winter-season, where one will find many English comforts not to be had in many parts of Spain. Malaga has a very pretty Alameda, shaded with trees, and ornamented with a handsome marble fountain, where the higher classes promenade in the evening. The public buildings will hardly require any mention. The Cathedral is comparatively modern, having been commenced in 1538, and finished in 1719. Though a spacious edifice, it is devoid of architectural beauty, and contains no good paintings.
The stranger should not leave Malaga without visiting one of the factories of clay-figures. These little statuettes are made to represent majos, contrabandistas, bull-fights, and other national characteristics, with a truthfulness to nature that is really surprising. The finish, the painting, and the expression, together with the anatomical accuracy with which they are moulded, excite the admiration of all.
Leaving Malaga for Alicante, we stopped for a few hours at Carthagena, once a naval post of great importance, but now in a languishing condition. The Marine Arsenal is on a large scale, but its basins, its docks, its foundries, and its rope-walks, are silent and deserted. Every thing appears to be suffering from neglect, and an air of gloom hangs over this once important place.
Leaving Carthagena, we experienced a severe levanter, and our steamer was obliged to put into the small harbor of Santa Pola after running about fifteen miles. We endured a penance of two days in this little port, being unable to land on account of the heavy sea running, or to continue on our voyage, owing to the severity of the gale.
But the good and the evil things of this life have alike their end. On the morning of the third day of our detention, the wind abated sufficiently to allow us to proceed to Valencia Valencia is situated about three miles from its port, and I was conveyed thither in a vehicle muchf used here, called a Tartana, which is nothing more than a cart without springs, covered with a round top, and having the bottom made out of a netting of ropes. Crack went the whip, and away flew the horse at a full gallop, over one of the roughest roads it has ever been my misfortune to travel; and the jolting was so great that I was obliged to hold on to the sides of the vehicle to steady myself.
Valencia is the capital and chief city of its province, and contains a population of one hundred and twenty thousand souls. It is surrounded with tapia walls, and has eight gates, the towers and machicolations of which are extremely picturesque. The town, like all Moorish-built towns, has narrow and tortuous streets, and high, gloomy-looking houses. The Cathedral is one of the least remarkable in Spain, and appears to be a mixture of the Gothic with the Corinthian style, which harmonize badly.
There are some very fine paintings in the chapels and sacristia by Sassoferrato, Juanes, and Ribera. The two latter were natives of Valencia. In the Relicario is the Santo Calix, the cup used at the Last Supper. I believe there are several other churches which claim to have the cu but the Sacristan assured me this was the true one.
In the museo will be found a large collection of paintings, taken principally from suppressed convents. A majority of them are poor, but among the number are several master-pieces by Pibalta, Ribera, and Juanes.
The climate of Valencia is very favorable for invalids. In the winterseason the air
soft and balmy, while during the summer the heats are tempered by the sea-breeze.
It is also one of the richest agricultural districts of Spain. Under a system of artificial irrigation bequeathed by the Moors, this huerta, or garden, as it is called, produces a never-ending succession of crops.
The Valencians are a much darker-looking people than any I have yet seen in Spain. They appear to be a gay, jovial, pleasure-loving race, but are said to be exceedingly fickle and treacherous. They are very prone to use the knife on the slightest provocation; and in no part of Spain are assassinations more common. While I was in Valencia, there were one or two murders committed in the street, and I was warned by my friends not to stray into any of the by-ways after dark.
The costume of the lower classes is quite oriental. The men wear the sandal, with their legs naked, or covered with a kind of a gaiter, or stocking, without feet; pantaloons of white linen, made broad, and extending only a little below the knee; a gay jacket, with slashed sleeves; and over one shoulder is thrown the manta, a many-colored plaid, which serves the purpose of a bed or a cloak.
Leaving Valencia by steamer in the afternoon, on the following afternoon I was in Barcelona. On approaching this city, the stranger is some what surprised to see the smoke of numerous forges and factories, a sight not witnessed in any other part of Spain. All the new portion of the city is magnificently built; and the streets are wide and well-paved. Every thing looks like good order and industry, wealth and prosperity, and presents a strong contrast to the other towns of the peninsula. The Catalans, however, appear to be a distinct people; they differ in dialect and habits, and are extremely frugal and industrious. In fact, they might with much propriety be called the Yankees of Spain. Here the picturesque costuines of Andalusia and Valencia disappear; the graceful mantilla is almost entirely replaced by the French bonnet, and the musical language of Spain is changed into a vile patois.
I arrived in Barcelona in the midst of a great fête, in celebration of the recovery of the Queen from the wound she had received in the attempt made upon her life. All the public buildings and private mansions were decorated with flowers and rich drapery, the streets thronged with well-dressed people, and the Rambla, the fashionable promenade, crowded with the élite of the city. At one end of the promenade a richly-ornamented tent was erected, where a fine band discoursed sweet music for those who wished to join in the dance. Near it was a greased pole, about forty feet high, which afforded constant amusement to a portion of the crowd, for the unlucky wight who attempted to climb it was almost sure to fail. If he succeeded in mounting to the top, he gained great applause, and in addition received a trifling prize. At night the city was brilliantly illuminated; bands of music were playing in every direction, and parties dressed out in fancy costumes, holding large flambeaux