Imatges de pÓgina

Desert should be so taken up, and keeps them all at arm's length. Dyneley's chums admire her immensely—an admiration which, though she likes it, as it does credit to Dyneley's taste, her exclusive worship of him prevents her appreciating and cultivating as much as Lady Fitzcorrie, no doubt, would do. Dyneley says he has but one fault to find with hershe will pet Mousquetaire, and give him cream, and such-like injurious condiments; but the old dog is as game as ever, though he likes to follow her over the house as well as to follow the slot of a deer. Claude and his wife, Romer and I, and two or three other men, were down at Vauxley last September for the 1st, and very good fun we had. Altogether, my two friends have made a good thing of that autumn at Glenmist, when they bagged en même temps BELLES AND BLACKCOCK. I often think, when I hear his clear ringing voice in the Lords, or his musical laugh in the hunting-field—and he often says, when we sit in the smoking-room at Vauxley (into which sanctuary of Cavendish, Lilla, too, sometimes penetrates)—that he has good cause to mark with a white stone that memorable night when we lost ourselves in the mist, and—A LITTLE CANDLE ON THE MOORS LIGHTED HIM TO HIS DESTINY.




Having resolved to take a short tour in Spain in the autumn of 1859, we crossed the Channel from Folkestone to Boulogne, taking the usua route by railway from Boulogne to Paris, and from Paris to Bayonne. As we travelled solely for pleasure, we performed the journey through France very leisurely, staying a few days at Paris, one day at Tours, and about two days at Bordeaux.

Great improvements have been recently made in that part of the Landes traversed by the railway between Bordeaux and Bayonne. We had occasion to pass along this line in the autumn of 1855 through a desolate and gloomy region of flat sand, and the heat and dust were intolerable; but now the ground bordering the railway is for the most part covered with short moss, red heather, and dwarf brooms; in some favoured spots grass has been sown, and shrubs and trees have been planted, while here and there attempts have been made to raise scanty crops, so that the eye is relieved by fresh vegetation, and the dust nuisance is very much abated, to the great comfort of travellers. These improvements are no doubt mainly to be attributed to the all-powerful influence of the Emperor Napoleon, who has frequent occasion to travel on this line in going to and returning from Biarritz, which is five miles beyond Bayonne.

Before reaching Bayonne we had an unmistakable foretaste of what we were likely to suffer in Spain from the uncommon sultriness of the weather. Other indications were not wanting. We read in a French newspaper a paragraph taken from the España, which stated that in

Spain several persons had suddenly dropped down dead in consequence of being exposed to the solar rays, and that the heat was so great in Andalusia, that the labourers were prevented from working in the fields from dine in the morning till after sunset. To us this was very discouraging, when the luxury of railway travelling by easy stages had ceased at Bayonne, and we had the prospect before us of long journeys by dreary diligences over bad roads, exposed to the risks of being robbed, or starved, or poisoned with garlic, tormented by mosquitoes, and devoured by vermin, with the absolute certainty of being roasted alive before reaching the table-land. Bent as we were on a pleasure excursion, and, on a nearer view, seeing little reason to anticipate much enjoyment from this part of the programme, can it be wondered at that we were sorely tempted to abandon our Spanish tour and turn aside to Pau and the cooler regions of the Pyrenees ? Fortunately our better genius prevailed, the land of Cervantes had the charms of novelty and adventure, and we determined at all hazards to pursue our journey to Madrid over the torrid plains of Castile, resting for a reasonable time by the way at San Sebastian, Vittoria, and Burgos.

In the north of Spain you must travel either by the diligence, a large, lumbering machine, similar to that which used to be so common in France, or by a lighter and more expeditious conveyance called the “correo," carrying the mails along with a few passengers.

Unfortunately the correo is seldom available, either from being full or leaving at an upseasonable hour, so that you must mainly rely on the diligence, which is usually drawn by ten mules, with fresh relays every two hours. A postilion rides one of the leading mules, remaining a long time in the saddle, and undergoing an immense amount of fatigue. A driver on the box takes the general charge of the team, constantly encouraging the mules to greater speed by crying, “Anda! anda! Ya-ya-hasta! hasta !" and enforcing these oral exhortations by a liberal use of the whip. The conductor has the responsible duty of attending to the drag. With all these appliances, the Spanish diligences travel over rough roads much faster than we expected, and in going down hill they gallop at such a furious rate as to excite alarm, and suggest very unpleasant reflections as to what the consequences might be, if, in some wild spot far removed from the possibility of aid from the skilful services of a Ferguson or a Syme, the drag should suddenly give way, and the cumbrous machine should topple over one of those yawning precipices which occur so often at the sharp turns of the roads over the mountains.

Leaving Bayonne in the imperial of the diligence, we crossed the frontier, and reached San Sebastian after a pleasant journey of from five to six hours. The dress of the Basque peasantry is peculiar. The men, who are active, able-bodied, and industrious, with something of the fiery spirit of the Normans about them, wear a blue bonnet, a red sash round the waist, and hemp sandals. The women are good-looking, with small, regular features, and slender but handsome figures. They carry on their heads, which are usually ornamented with a coloured handkerchief, waterjars, baskets of provisions, and other heavy articles—a practice which seems to improve their carriage. On the road we met groups

of young fishwomen from St. Jean de Luz, carrying on their heads baskets of sardines for the market of Bayonne, and running in bands as rapidly as

[ocr errors]

the diligence. How they managed to keep up the speed and balance their baskets without the aid of their arms, puzzled us not a little.

Between Bayonne and San Sebastian the scenery is exceedingly picturesque. Within the French frontier you pass St. Jean de Luz and two small villages, Urugne and Behobia, after which you cross a bridge over the Bidassoa, which here forms the boundary between France and Spain. Near the bridge you are shown the famous “ Isle of Pheasants," where the conferences were held in 1659 which led to the marriage of Louis XIV, with the Infanta Maria Teresa, whereby the House of Bourbon afterwards succeeded to the crown of Spain. So much is this little island now diminished by the washing of the current, that a witty French traveller has described it “as not larger than a moderately sized fried sole.”

At Irun, a small town on the left bank of the Bidassoa, the Spanish officials examined our passports and baggage. Then, after traversing a hilly district, and passing close by the bay which forms the beautiful landlocked harbour of Passages, in the neighbourhood of which there was much severe fighting in the late Carlist war, we entered San Sebastian, just in time to partake of a table d'hôte dinner in the hotel of Señor Beraza.

All our associations connected with this town, which is the capital of Guipuzcoa, are naturally of a warlike character. It has long been distinguished as a place of great strength, being built on a sort of peninsula formed by the sea at the mouth of the river Urumea. According to Mellado (Guia del Viagero en España, 1858), the population within and beyond the walls is 15,906; but looking at the size of the place, this appears to us to be an exaggerated estimate. Since the destructive bombardment by the British troops in 1813, the greater part of the town has been rebuilt, according to a uniform plan. Unfortunately, from want of space, the streets are narrow, and the lofty houses are too closely huddled together; but there is one handsome square, which is surrounded by arcades, and used as a market-place. Small vessels only can enter the port.

The citadel is upon a steep hill, which rises abruptly immediately behind the town and between it and the sea, the heights on every side being crowned with formidable batteries. A cursory examination of the works left us under the impression that they are not in that high state of efficiency in which such an important fortress so near the French frontier ought to be. Some of the batteries, we observed, were armed with old guns of unusually small calibre, 6, 9, and 12-pounders, with only a few 16 and 24-pounders. Whether these can be replaced by better ordnance from the dépôt for artillery within the fort, we know not, being ignorant of the extent of its resources.

San Sebastian has a theatre, a plaza de toros, and several cafés; and the valley of Loyola and other places in the environs are very beautiful. In summer the town is much frequented by visitors for sea-bathing, for which it is admirably adapted. There are pavilions on the beach, and separate bathing-places for ladies and for gentlemen, so that here matters are managed more discreetly than at Biarritz, where, at a part of the coast not far from the Villa Eugénie, French ladies and gentlemen amuse themselves by assuming gay fancy costumes, and bathing promiscuously

in the same creek. Outside the walls of San Sebastian there is a fine park, used as parade-ground for the troops and a fashionable promenade after sunset, where the ladies may be seen in satin shoes and gay evening dresses walking in the open air, with their heads uncovered, as if they were in a ball-room. In every part of Spain bull-fights have still irresistible charms for the people. Here we see it announced in large placards on the walls that there will be an exhibition of this sort in the plaza de toros on Sunday next, to endure for three successive days; the names of the principal performers who are to figure in the circus being given, and it is stated that a similar display will take place at Bilbao in the course of the following week.



year 1841.

AFTER undergoing many political changes, Spain, which was an absolute monarchy on the death of King Ferdinand, in September, 1833, is now governed under the constitution promulgated at Madrid on the 23rd of May, 1845, except that portion of territory occupied by Navarre and the Basque provinces, which are under a special legislation known by the name of Fueros, according to a convention entered into on the fields of Vergara between the armies of Don Carlos and Queen Isabella II. on the 31st of August, 1839, and ratified at Madrid in the

The three Basque provinces, Guipuzcoa, Vizcaya, and Alava, form a triangle, of which the northern side is watered by the gulf of Gascony, while the two others are bounded by Navarre and Old Castile. This territory is mountainous, being traversed by the spurs of the Cantabrian Pyrenees. These Basque provinces differ from the rest of Spain not only in their language, but in their government and laws. They contribute a fixed sum annually to the national exchequer of Spain, which they call a voluntary donation, and beyond this they pay no taxes to the general government. Their chief privileges consist in being subject to no laws and no imposts except those sanctioned by their own provincial assemblies, which meet every year in a different town for purposes of legislation, and to levy the taxes necessary to defray the expenses of the local administration. The Basques are also exempt from the conscription, being only liable to military service when the country is invaded by a foreign enemy, They have the right to be represented by deputies in the national Cortes at Madrid; but we were told that, from motives of delicacy or policy, these deputies generally decline to vote. Navarre, another northern province, long an independent kingdom, and still isolated by its mountains, likewise possesses a local legislature, with peculiar political and fiscal privileges.

The journey by diligence from San Sebastian to Vittoria is performed in about twelve hours. At the end of the first stage we reached Tolosa, with a population of 7639, situated in a narrow valley between two mountains, and well watered by the rivers Oria and Arages. Beyond this the road passes a considerable number of small towns and villages, one of which boasts of having been the birthplace of the famous Carlist general Zumalacarregui. Vergara (the Basque Runnymede) lies in a rich valley on the banks of the Deva.

The general aspect of the country is hilly, well wooded, and very pic

turesque. Near Salinas there are lofty mountains. In the valleys the soil produces excellent crops of maize, wheat, barley, and flax, with abundance of pasture, besides a variety of fruits, ineluding apples, from which good cider is made. The women assist the men in the cultivation of the ground. Oxen are employed in field labour and in the heavy cartage on the roads, and the bulloeks, though not large, have a fine glossy, reddish hue, and appear, like their owners, to be in exeellent condition. The farm-houses are not collected in villages, but thickly scattered over the country, and they have an air of cleanliness and cheerful comfort about them which it is pleasant to witness. Hospitable to strangers, frugal, provident, and temperate in their habits, the farmers are a wellconditioned class; and when a daughter is married, we were told, she is never sent away empty-handed, but always carries along with her to her new home the fruits of her former industry, with a plentiful supply of bed and table linen.

We reached Vittoria, which is the capital of the province of Alava, at midnight, and found a hot supper prepared for us at the fonda where the diligence stopped. This “cena” was very acceptable, as no time had been allowed for dinner on the road, and we might have suffered severely from this arrangement, had we not been warned of it by a friendly Spaniard at Vergara, where, profiting by the hint when the mules were being changed, we made a sudden incursion into the posada, and carried off, brevi manu, the half of a cold fowl with some bread.

Rising early next morning we explored the town, which is pleasantly situated on an eminence overlooking an extensive plain, watered by the river Zadorra. According to Mellado, there are 18,710 inhabitants. We noticed some good streets, a theatre, and a handsome square, or plaza, used as a market-place, and capable of being readily converted into an arena for bull-fights. A public garden within the walls, called La Florida, is tastefully laid out with trees and flowers, furnished with seats and ornamented with some stone statues. From 1808 to 1813 Vittoria was occupied by the French, and it derives its chief interest for us from the victory gained by the British army in its vicinity in 1813, when Picton's division fought so gallantly, Wellington gained his dukedom, and the French, thrown back on the passes of the Pyrenees, were soon after compelled to evacuate the Peninsula.

We travelled in the correo from Vittoria to Burgos, and performed the journey in about nine hours. On leaving Vittoria the aspect of the country changes. You bid farewell to verdant valleys and richly wooded hills, and enter a bleak, monotonous plain, with a white, thin, sandy soil; the river Zadorra, a considerable stream, flows for some leagues on your right, and on each side there are distant mountain ridges of no great elevation, and partially covered with trees. After travelling about six leagues, you cross the boundary which separates the province of Alava from that of Old Castile, and enter Miranda, a small town on the Ebro, where the baggage is examined by the officers of customs, probably in consequence of the Basque provinces having different revenue laws from those of the rest of Spain. Miranda, with 2848 inhabitants, is defended by an old castle with a garrison, and the position is important, as the main road from France to Madrid here crosses the Ebro by a stone bridge of six arches. Taking its rise in the mountains of Santander near Reinosa, the Ebro traverses Old Castile and Navarre, and parts of

« AnteriorContinua »