Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

same feeling in both places, but modified a little by favourable circumstances among the ruffians and ruffianesses of the pavé. Most persons remember the affection of Ferdinand the Seventh for petticoats, not those sported by condesas, or queens, but those which Conceal the worm-eaten images of Spanish superstition from the public gaze. Isabel, being petticoated herself, entertains no reverence for that article, but transfers her veneration to bon-bons and friars, spoiling her complexion by means of the one, and her conscience by the other. Of the museum of sweetmeats at Madrid, we have the following picture :

"This pastrycook museum, which extends over every apartment of the palace, contains some most interesting specimens-the tortas, or tarts of Moron, the most celebrated in Spain-the panes pintados, or painted buns of Salamanca-the paschal ojalores, or carnival and Easter dainties-the hard turrones of Alicante, composed of almonds, nut kernels, filberts, and roasted chesnuts, intermixed with honey and sugar-dulces, of cocoa-nut, frosted with sugar roasted almondsavellanas, a peculiarly nice sort of filbert, whole and in powder-cinnamon, pine-apple kernels, jelly, blanc-manger, and custard-gingerbread in its several varieties, and sugared rice in its sundry convolutions, marmalade, jam, and blando de huevos, or sweetened yolks of eggs; capuchinas guindas (cherry-brandy), barley-sugar, imitation walnuts, and sugar-stick; alfajor, or spiced bread, and the delicious cheese; jijona, pomegranate jelly; melocotones, Madroño strawberries, and other curious specimens. Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the youthful majesty of Spain is her relish, and constant use of these bon-bons and sweetmeats. Her papers of comfits strew the palace, her bags of sugar-plums visit the council-chamber, her dulces line the throne."-Revelations of Spain, vol. i., p. 107.

Sweetmeats enter also into the other picture, in which the royal child plays so humiliating a part. Christina was spoiled, we suppose, by Muñoz-if the supposition does not do him too much honour-and by way of proving her proficiency, she, at a very early age, seems to have spoiled her daughter. Certainly, at least, they form between them a trio, which it might not be easy to match out of Spain. Christina has every reason in the world to be proud of her hopeful daughter. She herself could not have displayed a greater ability in lying, a more imperturbable power of face, a more truly Častilian contempt of human life, than did the charming little Isabella in her attempt to destroy Olózaga. We introduce our readers to the scene, as it is altogether characteristic:

"On the night of the 28th of the month last past, Olózaga presented himself before me, and proposed to me that I should sign the decree of dissolution of the Cortes. I answered that I did not like to

sign it, having this, amongst other reasons, that these Córtes had declared me of age. Olózaga insisted; I again refused to sign the said decree. I rose, directing myself towards the door, which is to the left of my table for despatch of business. Olózaga placed himself before me, and fastened the bolt in that door; I directed myself towards the door in front, and Olózaga again placed himself before me, and fastened the bolt of that door. He caught hold of my dress, and obliged me to sit down. He seized my hand and forced me to sign. After this he left, and I retired to my apartment.'

"The declaration, as attested by Bravo, proceeded thus - The foregoing manifestation having been read over by me, the undersigned, Her Majesty deigned to add the following:- Before Olózaga took his departure, he asked me if I would give him my word not to tell any person what had happened; and I answered that I would not promise.' Her Majesty then invited all present to enter the room in which she despatches business, and examine the place in which what she had just told them happened; and so they did in effect, all entering the royal cabinet. Afterwards I placed the declaration in Her Majesty's royal hands, who, attesting that that was her true and free will, affirmed and signed it in the presence of the above-mentioned witnesses, after I had asked those present if they had possessed themselves of its contents, when they all answered that they had so possessed themselves, whereupon the said act was announced to be terminated. Her Majesty commanding that all present should withdraw, and that this her royal Declaration should be deposited in the office of my department, where it is now archived. And in order that it may be known hereafter, and produce the effects for which it took place, I give these presents in Madrid, this first day of December, 1843.

'LUIS GONZALEZ BRAVO.'

"Such was the Royal declaration and solemnly attested act, which bore upon the face of it the stamp of impossibility, and, ere four-andtwenty hours had elapsed, was universally discredited. Its disproof, as will be seen in the sequel, was of the most convincing description; and never, indeed, was calumny confuted by a stronger array of human evidence. The Moderados imagined that none would presume to question the royal word, but, happily, they were hugely mistaken.

"A remarkable feature in this transaction is, that amongst the great officers of state, and of the legislature who repaired to the palace, to receive queen Isabel's declaration, was her confessor, the Patriarch of the Indies. Her statement, therefore, was made in the presence of the only person in the world who could ask her, in the name of her God, for an account. Perhaps the eye of the right reverend father, when it met hers rather troubled her; and perhaps this, in some degree, accounts for the excitement with which she ran to and fro, and said :Here it was Olózaga caught my arm.' 'Here he held my hand,' et cætera; with sundry palabras de houra! Probably the Patriarch has told her, that a sullied throne is a throne undermined."

There is here nothing unworthy of the sweet pledge of the loves

[blocks in formation]

of Ferdinand and Christina. Even the slight token of faltering at the look of the confessor, is strikingly in keeping with the rest. It matters little that Olózaga was the Proteus of Spanish politics, for though a man may shift and cut capers on the floor of the Spanish Córtes, he may not like or deserve to figure on a scaffold, which was what the pale, delicate, imperial liar intended.

By way of contrast, carry we now our eye down yonder long street, and observe as well as we can for the smoke of the cigarrillos, the wild groups assembled there for the discussion of politics. Uncourtly, of course, are the tones and gestures, abrupt the language, fierce and fiery the looks which accompany it. But in proportion as the disputants have less to gain or lose, by the fluctuations of public affairs, is the enthusiastic earnestness with which they interest themselves.

"Here there are no palatial convenances, nor social conventialisms, to mislead or to suppress; no parliamentary forms of phraseology and discussion to hamper and cramp the utterance of undisguised opinion. Truth flourishes in the open air-a hardy plant-shoots up in the dew and ripens in the sun, without pruning, training, or covering with glass-houses. The debaters here are frank and plain-spoken, and the audience mingles unrebuked in the discussions. With every cigarrillo

a character is puffed away, and with each fresh demand for fuego* new light is thrown upon the world of politics.

"Here is a fellow in rags, who wears his tattered cloak with the dignity of a grandee, for every Castilian deems himself noble; there is a more youthful picaro, with a hat more highly peaked than ordinary, and an inordinate supply of tags adorning its velvet round-that is the energetic youth of the assembly-the Gonzalez Bravo of the pavé-the Young Spain of lanes and alleys; there, with a loose faja, or red sash swathed round his waist, with leggings thrown wide open and displaying those muscular calves, with a short and tight-fitting jacket, exhibiting to full advantage his amazing breadth of shoulder and depth of chest, is the Mars and Massaniello of the party. Prepared to take the lead of a popular army and around and in the midst of every circle is the due proportion of Madrid Manolas, the viragos of metropolitan low life, discussing more eagerly, and far more fluently than the rest, with flashing eyes and dilated nostrils, and each with a formidable knife stuck between her right leg and stocking, beneath the garter; some, too, smoking their paper cigars with as much nonchalance as the men. In this centre of intelligence and focus of popular disturbance, you will hear more in one hour of the scandalous secrets of Madrid, and learn more of its patriotic or treasonable designs, than in the choisest réunions of its most exalted diplomacy."-Revelations of Spain, vol. i., p. 220. "The Puerta del Sol, so often alluded to in the accounts of the last revolutions of which Madrid has been the scene, is the general rendezvous

* "Fire;" a light transmitted from one paper cigar to another.

of all political aspirants, of the idle, of street speakers, in short, of all the discontented and turbulent. At this central place, at this famous square, three of the principal streets of the city meet and cross each other. Situated between the most populous and the most fashionable quarters of Madrid, it is, in fact, as though the Faubourgs of St. Honoré and Chaussée d'Antin were placed beside those of St. Denis and St. Martin, at Paris. It is the forum wherein the affairs of the state are discussed. There the first royal decree of Ferdinand, after the insurrection of Madrid, was torn in atoms. There, also, the priest, Vinuesa, accused in 1822 of conspiracy against the constitution of Cadiz, was publicly tried, and there he was subsequently condemned and put to death. This is the reason why M. de Martignac called the Puerta del Sol the 'unofficial seat of government. More than one minister has changed his whole system, more than one orator has delivered his speeches with the view of securing the good opinion of the Puerta del Sol. It is a certain fact that when, contrary to his general plan of campaigning, Cordova gave battle to the Carlists at Arlaban, his only object was to please the brawlers of the Puerta del Sol, who had reproached him with his pretended inaction. It is known, also, that General Seoane came hither in person, on the day following the revolution of La Granja, to announce his nomination as Captain-General of Madrid, in the room of the unfortunate Quesada, assassinated by the national guards.

"The Casa del Correos, situated in this square, serves also as an additional attraction to the crowd; on account of its lofty flight of steps, and commanding position, it has frequently been employed as a citadel by the revolutionists. Its possession, in fact, has on more than one occasion decided the issue of the contests between the government and the national guard of Madrid. Such speakers as are desirous of haranguing the multitude, generally take their stand upon the raised pavement which surrounds this building-one of the finest in the city. The people who, at Madrid, are passive spectators of all insurrections, generally occupy the middle of the square; the high functionaries, and the wealthier inhabitants, who come hither between the hours of one and three, group themselves about the opening of the street Montera, which commands a view of the whole place. On the opposite side, near the hôtel of Victory, assemble the soldiers, the empleados, and the partizans of the existing government. Last in the list, about three o'clock, the bankers and the stock-brokers come to discuss their affairs beneath the shade of the Casa del Correos.

"The Puerta del Sol extends its influence throughout all the surrounding neighbourhood, where clubs, the furnace of political fanaticism, were once formed. In the cafés, situated in the streets Alcala, de Montera, and de Carrera San Geronimo, are by turns assembled the Chevaliers Communeros, the Isabelists, the Federalists, the Carbonaros, the members of Young Italy, of Young Spain, and many others. There was even once at Madrid and Barcelona a secret society established, composed of the Avengers of Alibaud. Now, the Café Nuevo is the

[blocks in formation]

rendezvous of the Esparterists, of the Exaltados, and of the united Republicans, but the Café de los Amigos is the place where the Moderados and the Constitutionalists, the friends of peaceful progress (!) assemble to confer. Even the very shops, situated in the neighbourhood of the Puerta del Sol, resemble political clubs. To each a number of newsmongers resort, and pass sometimes the whole day in discussions and disputes on the affairs of the country. And this causes such injury to trade, that several of the more prudent shopkeepers, particularly a hatter of the street Montera, have hung up in their shops the announcement, Conversation not allowed here.'

[ocr errors]

"A foreigner with a taste for political gossip, and an easy recklessness of consequences, soon becomes initiated into the mysteries of the Puerta del Sol. Journals, extraordinary bulletins, flying sheets, are cried and sold by blind men and children, and are eagerly passed from hand to hand. Private letters relating to the affairs of the day are communicated even to foreigners; in fact, to any one desirous of beholding them, "The Castilian pride, so intolerant of foreigners, is exchanged for the most perfect familiarity, in these sort of communications, and in all political conversations. On entering a café or a public square, whatever seat you occupy, at whatever table you place yourself, you are sure to hear state-affairs discussed, and no change in the conversation is discernible, no train of thought appears to be disturbed by your presence; you are at full liberty either to listen or join in it, of whatever opinions you may be, or whatever side you may choose to take.”— Tanski, L'Espagne, p. 10.

With such a court and such a people, with such a clergy, and such manners, where lie the hopes of Spain? Is it susceptible of regeneration? Can order possibly succeed to the existing confusion? Can honesty be substituted for selfishness in its councils? Can its slumbering humanity be awakened? Can it again have commerce, and inudstry, and military power, and naval greatness, and, along with these, the freedom which it never possessed?

Our hopes are not sanguine, though there be doubtless circumstances in the character and condition of the Spanish people which may justify us in refusing to despair. The civilisation of modern times is rough and ready, and may be brought to the state of maturity of which it is susceptible, through the instru mentality, in a great measure, of material agencies. If Spain had railways run into the heart of her Sierras, her industry might, perhaps, be awakened, and instead of cutting each other's throats, her children might take to making embankments, and building bridges, and mining, and smelting the ores that so richly abound in her mountainous districts. From this step she might go on to reconstruct her foreign trade, by placing on a rational footing her relations with other states. But who is to commence this process? There is little enterprise among her hidalgos, still less among that

VOL. XXXVI. NO. LXXI.

H

« EelmineJätka »