Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

my silence meekly and without offence. office, the gentleman and lady were alIn this wise, I gained some pleasant ready installed in the two corners of pictures of the place; and the pictures the coupé. My place, apparently, was which come with least effort are those between them. The agent was politely which remain freshest in memory. handing me up the steps, when the

There was one point, however, where gentleman began to remonstrate; but my limping giant made a stand, and set in France the regulations are rigid, and his will against expostulation or en- he presently saw that the intrusion treaty. I must see the avenue of syca- could not be prevented. With a sigh mores, he said ; there was plenty of and a groan he gave up his comfortable time ; France, the world, had no corner to me, and took the middle seat, such avenue ; it was near at hand; for which I was booked!“Will you every stranger went to see it and was have your place?” whispered the agent. amazed ; – and therewith he set off, I shook my head. “You get the best without waiting for my answer. I for seat, don't you see?” he resumed, lowed, for I saw that otherwise he “because — " But the rest of the senwould not have considered his fee tence was a wink and a laugh. I am earned. The avenue of sycamores was sure there is the least possible of the indeed all that he had promised. I had Don Juan in my appearance ; yet this seen larger trees in Syria and Negro- agent never lost an opportunity to wink pont, but here was a triple avenue, at me whenever he came near the dilinearly half a mile in length, so trained gence, and I fancied I heard him humand sculptured that they rivalled the ming to himself, as we drove away, — regularity of masonry. Each trunk, at

“Ma-nella Spagna - mille e tre !" the height of ten or twelve feet, divided into two arms, which then leaned out- I endeavored to be reasonably courwards at the same angle, and mingled teous, without familiarity, towards the their smaller boughs, fifty feet over- opera-singers, but the effect of the malihead. The aisles between them thus cious winks and smiles made the lady took the form of very slender pyramids, appear to me timid and oppressed, and truncated near the top. If the elm the gentleman an unexploded mine of gives the Gothic, this was assuredly jealousy. My remarks were civilly if the Cyclopean arch. In the beginning, briefly answered, and then they turned the effect must have been artificially towards each other and began conproduced, but the trees were now so versing in a language which was not old, and had so accustomed themselves Italian, although melodious, nor French, to the forms imposed, that no impression although nasal. I pricked up my ears of force or restraint remained. Through and listened more sharply than good the roof of this superb green minster manners allowed, - but only until I not a beam of sunshine found its way. had recognized the Portuguese tongue. On the hard gravel floor groups of Whomsoever I may meet, in wanderpeasants, soldiers, nurses, and children ing over the world, it rarely happens strolled up and down, all with the care- that I cannot discover some common less and leisurely air of a region where or “mutual” friend, and in this intime has no particular value.

stance I determined to try the experiWe passed a dark-haired and rather ment. After preliminaries, which genhandsome gentleman and lady. “They tly led the conversation to Portugal, I are opera-singers, Italians," said my asked :companion, "and they are going with “Do you happen to know Count you in the diligence." I looked at my M- ?” watch and found that the hour of de- “Only by name.” parture had nearly arrived, and I should “Or Senhor 0% , a young man and have barely time to procure a little an astronomer?” Spanish money. When I reached the “Very well !” was the reply. “He

is one of the most distinguished young enough for me that here were the Pyrmen of science in Portugal."

enees, and I looked forward, perhaps, The ice was thereupon broken, and with a keener curiosity, to the characthe gentleman became communicative ter and forms of their scenery, than to and agreeable. I saw, very soon, that the sentiment which any historic assothe pair were no more opera-singers ciation could produce. A broad and than they were Italians; that the lady perfect highway led us through shallow was not timid, nor her husband jealous; valleys, whose rocky sides were hung but he had simply preferred, as any re- with rows of olive-trees, into wilder and spectable husband would, to give up more abrupt dells, where vegetation enhis comfortable seat rather than have a gaged in a struggle with stone, and stranger thrust between himself and his without man's help would have been wife.

driven from the field. Over us the Once out of Perpignan, the Pyrenees mountains lifted themselves in bold lay clear before us. Over bare red hills, bastions and parapets, disforested now, near at hand, rose a gray mountain if those gray upper plateaus ever bore rampart, neither lofty nor formidable ; forests, and of a uniform slaty-gray but westward, between the valleys of in tone, except where reddish patches the Tech and the Tet, towered the soli- of oxidation showed like the rust of tary pyramid of the Canigou, streaked age. with snow-filled ravines. The land. But, like “all waste and solitary scapes would have appeared bleak and places,” the scenery had its own pecumelancholy, but for the riotous growth liar charm. Poussin and Salvator Rosa of vines which cover the plain and would have seated themselves afresh at climb the hillsides wherever there is every twist of the glen, and sketched the room for a terrace of earth. These new picture which it unfolded. The vines produce the dark, rich wine of huge rocks, fallen from above, or shatRoussillon, the best vintage of South- tered in the original upheaval of the ern France. Hedges of aloes, clumps chain, presented a thousand sharp, forof Southern cypress, poplars by the dry cible outlines and ragged facets of beds of winter streams, with brown shadow, and the two native growths of tints in the houses and red in the soil, the Pyrenees - box and cork-oak increased the resemblance to Spain. fringed them as thickets or overhung Rough fellows, in rusty velvet, who them as trees, in the wildest and most now and then dug their dangling heels picturesque combinations. Indeed, durinto the sides of the mules or asses ing this portion of the journey, I saw they rode, were enough like arrieros or scores of sketches waiting for the secontrabandistas to be the real article. lected artist who has not yet come for Our stout and friendly coachman, even, them, -sketches full of strength and was hailed by the name of Moreno, and beauty, and with a harmony of color as spoke French with a foreign accent simple as the chord of triple tones in

At the post-station of Le Boulou, music. When to their dark grays and we left the plain of Roussillon behind greens came the scarlet Phrygian cap us. At this end of the Pyrenean of the Catalonian, it was brighter than chain there are no such trumpet sunshine. names as Roncesvalles, Fontarabia, The French fortress of Bellegarde, and the Bidassoa. Hannibal, Cæsar, crowning a drum-shaped mass of rock, Charlemagne, and the Saracens have which blocked up the narrow valley in marched through these defiles, and front, announced our approach to the left no grand historic footprint, but Spanish frontier. The road wound they will always keep the interest which back and forth as it climbed through belongs to those natural barriers and a stony wilderness to the mouth of a division walls whereby races and his gorge under the fortress, and I saw, betories were once separated. It was fore we entered this last gateway into VOL. XX. — NO. 120.

32

Spain, the peak of the Canigou touched begins to pull down her barriers and let with sunset, and the sweep of plain be- the stranger in ! yond it black under the shadow of I inspected our “insides," as they storm-clouds. On either side were issued forth, and found, in addition to some heaps of stone, left from forts and a priest and three or four commercial chapels of the Middle Ages, indicating individuals with a contraband air, a that we had already reached the sum- young French naval officer, and an old mit of the pass, which is less than a German who was too practical for a thousand feet above the sea-level. In professor and too stubborn in his views .ten minutes the gorge opened, and we to be anything else. He had made found ourselves suddenly rattling along fifteen journeys to Switzerland, he inthe one street of the gay French village formed me, knew Scotland from the of Perthus. Officers from Bellegarde Cheviots to John o' Groat's, and now sat at the table in front of the smart proposed the conquest of Spain. Here cafe, and drank absinthe; soldiers in Moreno summoned us to our places, red trousers chatted with the lively and the diligence rolled onward. Past women who sold tobacco and groceries; groups of Catalans, in sandals and scarthere were trees, little gardens, arbors let bonnets, returning from the harof vine, and the valley opened south- vest fields ; past stacks of dusky grain wards, descending and broadening to and shadowy olive-orchards; past open wards a cloudless evening sky.

houses, where a single lamp sometimes At the end of the village I saw a flashed upon a woman's head; past granite pyramid, with the single word a bonfire, turning the cork-trees into “Gallia” engraved upon it; a few paces transparent bronze, and past the sound farther two marble posts bore the half- of water, plunging under the idle millobliterated arms of Spain. Here the wheel, in the cool, delicious summer diligence paused a moment, and an air,—we journeyed on. The stars were officer of customs took his seat beside beginning to gather in the sky, when the coachman. The telegraph-pole be- square towers and masses of cubic hind us was of barked pine, the next houses rose against them, and the one in front was painted gray; the steady roll of our wheels on the smooth vente de tabac became estanco nacional, highway became a dreadful clatter on and the only overlapping of the two the rough cobble-stones of Figueras. nationalities which I observed - all The Pyrenees were already behind things else being suddenly and sharply us; the town overlooks a wide, marshy divided — was that some awkward and plain.' But the mountains make their dusty Spanish soldiers were walking up vicinity felt in a peculiar manner. The the street of Perthus, and some trim, north-wind, gathered into the low pass jaunty French soldiers were walking of Bellegarde and drawn to a focus of down the road, towards the first Span- strength, blows down the opening valish wine-shop. We also went down, ley with a force which sometimes lays and swiftly, in the falling twilight, an embargo on travel. Diligences are through which, erelong, gardens and overturned, postilions blown out of fields began to glimmer, and in half an their saddles, and pedestrians carried hour drew up in the little Spanish town off their feet. The people then pray to of La Junquera, the ancient "place of their saints that the tramontana may rushes." Here there was a rapid and cease ; but, on the other hand, as it is a courteous examination of baggage, a very healthy wind, sweeping away the call for passports, which were opened feverish exhalations from the marshy and then handed back to us without soil, they get up a grand annual procesvisé or fee being demanded, and we sion to some mountain-shrine of the were declared free to journey in Spain. Virgin, and pray that it may blow. So, Verily, the world is becoming civilized, when the Virgin takes them at their when Spain, the moral satrapy of Rome, word, the saints are invoked on the

other side, and the wonder is that both iards were too politic to acquiesce openparties don't get out of patience with ly. The officer replied, “ France has not the people of Figueras.

injured Spain, but, on the contrary, has The diligence drew up at the door of protected her!” and he evidently had a fonda, and Moreno announced that we not the slightest suspicion that there were to take supper and wait until mid- was anything offensive in his words. night. This was welcome news to all; The Spaniards still remained silent, but but the old German drew me aside as another expression came into their we entered the house, and whispered, eyes. It was time to change the sub“ Now our stomachs are going to be ject; so the principle of non-interventried." "Not at all," I answered, “wetion, in its fullest, most literal sense, shall find very good provender.” “But was proposed and accepted. A grave the guide-book says it is very bad,” he Majorcan gentleman distributed cigars; persisted. And he looked despondent, his daughter, with her soft, melodious even with a clean table-cloth and a voice, was oil to the troubled waters, crisp roll of bread before him, until the and before midnight we were all equally soup steamed under his nose. His face courteous and cosmopolitan. brightened at the odor, grew radiant at Of the four ensuing hours I can give the flavor, and long before we reached no account. Neither asleep nor awake, the roast pullet and salad he expressed hearing with closed eyes, or seeing with his satisfaction with Spanish cookery. half-closed senses, one can never afterWith the dessert came a vino rancio, wards distinguish between what is seen full of summer fire, and the tongues of and what is dreamed. This is a state the company were loosened. From the in which the body may possibly obtain weather and the Paris Exposition we some rest, but the mind becomes inexleaped boldly into politics, and, being pressibly fatigued. One's memory of on Spanish soil, discussed France and it is a blurred sketch, a faded daguerrethe Mexican business. The French otype. I welcomed that hour when officer was silent and annoyed: he was

“The wind blows cold a pleasant fellow, and I, for one, had a

While the morning doth unfold," little sympathy with his annoyance, but for it blew away this film, which usurped I could not help saying that all Ameri- the place of the blessed mantle of sleep. cans (except the Rev. ) considered Chill, even here in African Spain, where the action of France as an outrage and the pale pearl of the dawn foretold a an impertinence, and were satisfied burning noon, and where, in May, the with her miserable failure. The Span- harvests were already reaped, the mornish passengers nodded and smiled. ing brightened; but we were near the

I should not have spoken, had I fore- end of the journey. At sunrise, the seen one consequence of my words. towers of Giron stood fast and firm The German snatched the reins of con- over the misty level of the shimmering versation out of our hands, and dashed olive-groves; then the huge dull mass off at full speed, trampling France and of the cathedral, the walls and basher ruler under his feet. At the first tions of the hill-forts, which resisted a pause, I said to him, in German: siege of seven months during the Pen“Pray don't be so violent in your ex- insular war, and finally the monotopressions,-the gentleman beside me is nous streets of the lower town, through a naval officer.” But he answered: “I which we drove. don't care, -I must speak my mind, The industrious Catalans were already which I could not do in Paris, France awake and stirring. Smokes from dohas been the curse of Spain, as well as mestic hearths warmed the cool mornof all Europe, and there will be no ing air ; cheerful noises of men, anipeace until we put a stop to her preten- mals, and fowls broke the silence; sions ! ” Thereupon he said the same doors were open as we entered the thing to the company; but the Span- town, and the women were combing

and twisting their black hair in the shad- the red and rocky hills were turned inOws within. At the post some brown to garden-terraces, how the olive-trees grooms lounged about the door. A were pruned into health and producpriest passed,-a genuine Don Basilio, tiveness, how the wheat stood so thick in inky gown and shovel-hat; and that it rolled but stiffly under the these graceless grooms looked after breeze, I forgot the jaunty majos of him, thrust their tongues into their Seville, and gave my hearty admiration cheeks, and made an irreverent gri- to the strong-backed reapers in the mace. The agent at Perpignan came fields of Catalonia. into my mind; I winked at the fellows, The passengers we took up on the without any clear idea wherefore, but way, though belonging to the better it must have expressed something, for class, and speaking Spanish whenever they burst into a laugh and repeated it was necessary, all seemed to prefer the grimace.

the popular dialect. Proprietors of The lower town seemed to be of im- estates and elegant young ladies conmense length. Once out of it, a superb versed together in the rough patois of avenue of plane-trees received us, at the peasants, which to me was espethe end of which was the railway-sta- cially tantalizing, because it sounded so tion. In another hour the train would familiar, and yet was so unintelligible. leave for Barcelona. Our trunks must It is in reality the old langue limousine be again examined. When I asked the of France, kindred to the Provençal, reason why this annoying regulation, ob- and differs very slightly from the diasolete elsewhere in Europe, is here re- lect spoken on the other side of the tained, the Spaniards gravely informed Pyrenees. It is terse, forcible, and exme that, if it were abolished, a great pressive, and I must confess that the many people would be thrown out of lisping Spanish, beside it, seems to employment. Not that they get much gain in melody at the expense of pay for the examination, - but they are strength. constantly bribed not to examine! We approached Barcelona across the There was a café attached to the sta- wide plain of the Llobregat, where tion, and I advised my fellow-passen- orange-gardens and factory chimneys, gers to take a cup of the delicious ropy fountains “i' the midst of roses” and chocolate of Spain, after which one ac- machine-shops full of grimy workmen, cepts the inevitable more patiently succeed each other in a curious tangle

I found the landscapes from Giron of poetry and greasy fact. The Medto Barcelona very bright and beautiful. iterranean gleams in a blue line on the Our locomotive had fallen into the na- left, the citadel of Montjoi crowns a tional habit: it was stately and deliber- bluff in front; but the level city hides ate, it could not be hurried, its very itself behind the foliage of the plain, whistle was subdued and dignified and is not seen. At the station you We went forward at an easy pace, mak. wait half an hour, until the baggage is ing about fifteen miles an hour, which again deposited on the dissecting-tables enabled me to notice the patient in- of the customs officers; and here, if, industry of the people, as manifested on stead of joining the crowd of unhappy every plain and hillside. The Cata. murmurers in the anteroom, you take lans are called rough and ungraceful; your station in the doorway, looking beside the sprightly Andalusians they down upon porters, pedlers, idlers, and seem cold and repellent; they have less policemen, you are sure to be diverted of that blue blood which makes the by a little comedy acted in pantomime. beggar as proud as the grandee, but An outside porter has in some way they possess the virtue of labor, which, interfered with the rights of a stationhowever our artistic tastes may under- porter; a policeman steps between the value it, is the basis from which all two, the latter of whom, lifting both good must spring. When I saw how hands to heaven in a wild appeal,

« AnteriorContinuar »