ARE you getting tired, patient reader, of Madrid and museums and churches and Goya ? I don’t mind admitting that I am. I may as well confess what you have probably suspected all the time, that Goya is little more than a colourable excuse for being in Spain. It would perhaps be more honest to acknowledge that we have come here merely to enjoy ourselves. After all, I don’t believe that the mediæval pilgrims journeyed to Canter-bury solely, or even chiefly, for the purpose of performing their devotions at the shrine of the blessed martyr St Thomas ; half at least of the attraction was the sheer fun of the outing, the mere pleasure of journeying, and gossip and interest and adventure of the road. The Pilgrims’ Way was to mediæval England very much what the Brighton Road is today, a pleasure highway ; but the pleasure was assuredly more social and joyous and humaneperhaps just because it was linked to some high human purpose. The difference between the mediæval and the modern holiday-maker is that the latter is under the delusion that in order to enjoy his holiday he must leave his soul behind. Doubtless that accounts for his restlessness, for the senses are always restless when they have lost the companionship of the soul.
But where shall we go ? How does Toledo strike you ? No, the suggestion does not imply much originality ; but it has this advantage, that we need not altogether abandon the pretext of our pilgrimage, for on referring to Gautier’s ” Voyage en Espagne” I observe that he mentions a notable picture by Goya in the sacristy of the cathedral, ” an effect of night which Rembrandt would not have disowned.” By making this our objective we shall still be able to preserve an agreeable sense of superiority to the mere tourist.
Toledo is usually despatched by the tourist in half-a-dozen hoursthat is to say, in the interval between the arrival of the Madrid express at 11 A.M. and its departure at 5 P.M. At the booking office at Madrid the clerk hands you a return ticket automatically, and if you push it back and ask for a single one instead he peers out of the narrow aperture through which booking clerks communicate with the outer world, and surveys you with that air of disapproval which officials always assume whenever you show an inclination to err from the beaten track, which all well-regulated tourists follow without questioning. It is clear that you are not playing the game according to the proper rules. In manifesting a personal idiosyncrasy you have committed a breach of etiquette. In all foreign countries it is to be noted that the punctilious observance of an inflexible etiquette is expected of the traveller by guides, doorkeepers, porters, sacristans, vergers, distributors and collectors of tickets, and all that prolific army of functionaries whose business it is not so much to minister to his wants as to prescribe and regulate them. He is but an amateur in travelthey are specialists. They have been trained from infancy to deal with the tourist. They know precisely what itinerary he must follow, whether he must travel by train, steamboat, landau and pair, camel, mule or on foot, where he must lunch and what varieties of cold food he must lunch upon, what churches he must visit and when, what pictures he must see and how many minutes he must be allowed before each in which to experience his emotion or indifference. To crave a more liberal allowance of time than the scheduled programme permits is just as bad form as to ignore a revered name, such as Raphael or Rubens, in order to linger over the work of that insignificant painter Ignoto, whom every self-respecting tourist coldly ignores. Freedom in travel, in fact, like every other form of freedom, is not to be enjoyed without making an obstinate stand for it.
Therefore it is necessary to be quite firm with the clerk at the booking office at Madrid and to refuse categorically an ida y vuelta ticket, howsoever seducing may be the reduction of the fare.
I don’t know whether it was to punish me for my obduracy in defying the regulations that the engine driver contrived to run his engine off the lines midway between Madrid and Toledo. How he contrived it I cannot tell, but when I descended from the carriage and strolled along the track to inquire into the cause of the delay (such investigations are not resented in Spain) there was the locomotive placidly reposing on the sleepers. I suppose it was only a matter of a couple of inches from the level of the sleepers to the summit of the rail, but for a locomotive a leap of two inches is a very awkward feat to accomplish. It requires the co-operation, gesticulation, objurgation and expostulation of all the railway employees who can be conveniently summoned to the spot. A pair of guardia civiles surveyed the scene of the catastrophe pessimistically, curling their moustaches with a fine air of detachment. The locomotive, which appeared to have been built upon the design of George Stephenson’s ” Rocket,” had a perceptible list, inclining its steeple-like chimney in the direction of the sunset. I feared that all the King’s guardia civiles would never be able to re-instate it in its former position. Apparently the catastrophe was not altogether unforeseen, for the engine was provided with a complete repairing outfit. Levers were adjusted, screws turned, ropes hauled, and the work of elevating the helpless monster progressed surely but infinitely slowly. Hours passed ; the sun dipped below the edge of the plain and the moon rose above the Guadarrama mountains. The spot was as bleak and desolate as you could find in the whole tableland of New Castille. The inhabitants of a lonely hamlet flocked to the line and, standing or squatting in the red glare of the lantern, followed every movement of the mechanics with large solemn eyes. At length, millimetre by millimetre, the engine was persuaded back on to the rails and with a screech of triumph steamed slowly forward along the plain.
The entry into Toledo is more dramatic even than that into Zaragoza. Here a team of five mules is harnessed to the public conveyance and ascends the cliff on the summit of which Toledo is perched at a gallop. We thundered through the labyrinth of stony streets like an avalanche, grazing the houses on either side and sending the occasional pedestrian flying for shelter under arches and doorways. The darkness, the dizzy crossing of the ravine by the lofty Gothic bridge, the strange elevation of the mountain city and the extravagance of its sky-line, lent to the commonplace act of driving to one’s hotel all the zest of a romantic adventure.
Toledo is one of those lamentable cities on the lamps of whose railway stations “ Ichabod ” should be inscribed. Its glory is departed. It is a city with a pasta more vivid and splendid past than that of any other city of the Peninsula. It is the ancient heart of Spain. But now that heart has almost ceased to beat. Almostfor Toledo is not dead as Avila and Segovia are dead. There is usually a noble gravity and peace in a dead city, one that has died a natural death I mean, and is resigned to its fate, forgetful of its throbbing past and asking only to be allowed to sleep undisturbed. In Avila and Segovia you can wander about the large deserted spaces and beneath mouldering walls and dream to your heart’s content, for no one invites you for a small fee to inspect historic sites and ancient monuments. They have not yet been embalmed in museums. But the tragedy of Toledo is that it is not dead. It is in its second childhood. It subsists on the alms of the tourist. It narrates to him its long and troubled history, like a garrulous old woman, shows him with a kind of morbid pleasure its decay and its deformities, reminds him of its ruined beauty and then whines for a peseta. It is a humiliating ending for so splendid a career.
Once impregnable on its craggy heights, now it is invaded every day from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. by the cosmopolitan army of pleasure-seekers that invincible army which has overthrown so many of the world’s fair cities. They patrol the streets singly and in companies. They are recognisable by a certain grim interrogatoriness of aspect, an intent and searching curiosity of the eye, as of those who are looking for something that they have lost. In this instance they are looking for something that they have destroyedthey are looking for romance.
The Chapter of the Cathedral wisely appoints the hour of ten for the singing of High Mass, an hour before the arrival of the Madrid express, you will observe. All is decently over before the vanguard of the invading army delivers its first assault upon the secular silence of the great church. So meagre was the attendance of Toledans at this ceremony, however, that I could almost have wished for the addition of that half-devotion which the northern tourist permits himself when he bows his head in the House of Rimmon, curious, furtive, grudging, half apology and half reprobation. A few black-clothed old women, a few black-caped old men-the size and quality of the congregation were dismally disproportionate to the splendour of the ritual, the numbers of the performers, the titanic magnitude of the temple. The canons filedtottered and shuffled rather, for they appeared to be all of incalculable ageinto the coro, itself a church, more elaborate and exquisite than some capitals can boast of, and the procession of celebrants with their assistants ascended to the Capilla Mayor, which displays with ostentatious prodigality all the wealth and craftsmanship of mediæval Spain.
The office proceeded with all its traditional solemnity, as it had proceeded every morning, I suppose, for five hundred years less or more. As the immemorial drama unfolded itself, no sense of an expanding triumph visited me ; in its stead a numbing chillness gradually froze my spirits. How should I explain it to you ? And is it worth explaining ? Probably you know the sensation, but to me it was strange. For I have always found ‘ myself most happy and secure in those places where the ancient order still survives, not petrified as in a museum, or artificially stimulated as in a modern revival of pageantry, but still sentient, thriving and unselfconscious ; where the processional movement of the ages, continuous and unbroken, imposes itself upon the ,imagination ; where I can see plainly with my own eyes the bared and knotted roots through which the flourishing tree of life draws up from the dark night of the earth its everlasting sap. For this reason alone I can never hear without a daily renewed wonder this most ancient rite, in which is caught, as in a net, the faith and tradition and language of so many ages, so many peoples, even the fashion of their vesture, the attitude of their bodies and the very intonation of their voices, so that in listening to it one seems to overhear the vague murmur of the ocean of humanity. But this morning, in this cathedral of Toledo, it seemed not so much old as antiquated. Upon everything weighed the burden of an immense decrepitudeupon the building, the priests, the worshippers. The sap seemed at last to have dried up and the branch to hang withered on the tree, ready for falling. All those phrases which come so glibly to many mouths, outworn creeds ” ” exploded superstitions and the like, sounded mockingly, triumphingly in my ears. And my spirit rebelled against the domination of age. In this imprisoning cathedral I felt myself exiled from life and from youth. I looked around and everywhere I saw only ” portions and parcels of the dreadful Past.” Here everything young was banned. No, not quite everything, for suddenly behind me I was aware of a noise of pattering footsteps and childish laughter. I turned round and saw three gleeful urchins, joyously arrayed in scarlet cassocks and white lace surplices, staggering along beneath the weight of a gigantic folio, wooden-backed and iron-clasped. Panting, struggling, quarrelling, laughing, the merry group lurched uncertainly towards the choir. Then it swayed and broke. There was a detonating clap and the dust of centuries hung for a moment over a wriggling, gurgling mass of scarlet and lace. Blessed infants ! What charitable providence sent you to me in my so urgent need ? Or can it be that here was but another instance of the unfailing kindly wisdom of Mater Ecclesia, who foresees that there must come times when we shrink from her aspect of intolerable age and purposely summons the pagan children to diversify her solemn mysteries with their unheeding and divinely irreverent laughter ?
Now the long undulating ” Ite missa est” was sung, and already the skirmishers of the approaching army were peering in at the doorway beneath check-cloth caps and flowing veils. It was time to hurry to the Sala Capitular and buy a ticket. Yes, a ticket, for the cathedral of Toledo, although it may dream the dreams of the Middle Ages, is run on strictly modern business principles. Blasco Ibanez will tell you all about it in his novel, ” La Catedral,” in which he has made a living personality of the cathedral itself. Listen to old Don Antolin on this matter of the tickets.
” A very slack day, Gabriel ! ” he remarks, examining his little book of counterfoils. ” Being in the winter, so few people travel. Our best time is in the spring, when they say the English come in by Gibraltar. They go first to the fair in Seville, and afterwards they come to have a look at our Cathedral. Besides, in milder weather the people come from Madrid, and although they grumble, the flies crowd to see the giants and the big bell. Then I have to hurry with the tickets. One day, Gabriel, I took eighty duros. I remember it was at the last ` Corpus ‘ ; Mariquita had to sew up the pockets of my cassock, for they tore with the weight of so many pesetas. It was a blessing from the Lord.
” You see these green tickets ? These are the dearest, they cost two pesetas each. With these you can see everything that is most importantthe treasury, the chapel of the Virgin, and the Ochavo with its relics which are unique in the world. The other cathedrals are dirt compared with ours. . . . You see these red ones ? These cost only six reals, and with them you can visit the sacristies, the wardrobe, the chapels of Don Alvaro de Luna and of Cardinal Albornoz, and the Chapter-house, with its two rows of portraits of the archbishops which are wonders.
” These white ones are only worth two reals. They are to see the giants and the bells. We sell a great many of those to the lower class who come to the Cathedral on feast days. Could you believe it, but many of the Protestants and Jews call this a robbery?”
Not a robbery, by any means, for even the Protestant gets good value for his money. And after all, the cathedral cannot be expected to maintain so much grandeur on the beggarly allowance of a thousand pesetas a month which is granted to it by the State. Still, this box office business is not endearing. It is another proof of Toledo’s debility that its proud cathedral, the cradle of Spanish Catholicism, has sunk to living upon the memories of its past. I thought regret-fully of El Pilar bidding a daily welcome to the democracy of Zaragoza.
I purchased a red ticket, and neglecting the wardrobe and the two rows of archbishops’ portraits went straight to the sacristy. At first I had eyes for nothing but El Greco’s altarpiece, ” El Espolio de Jesus,” the casting of the lots for the raiment of Our Lord. Then, turning to the right, I recognised no possibility of mistaking it the bitter realism of Goya’s ” Betrayal of Christ.” Painted some ten years earlier than the San Antonio decorations, this picture, as befits the subject, is far graver in intention and more poignant in effect. The lighting is remarkable and effective. The figure of Christ stands in a pale light, clad in a mauve-white robe, very simple, very majestic, very sad, beside Him a Roman soldier who is about to take Him prisoner. Judas, also in the foreground, is cloaked in shadow. Immediately behind these figuresand here is the unmistakably Goyaesque touchis a shadowy ring of faces, coarse, lewd, ribald, mocking, with gaping mouths and eyes darting hate and scorn, faces of night-mare, faces of hell. Above broods the blackness of night, faintly bestarred. Indisputably a master-piece, tragic, vivid, haunting, and yetwell, the eye wanders back to El Greco. . . .
It was the hottest 4th of May that I ever remember. The midday comida at the fonda had been quite a meagre affair, yet never before had I been so completely stunned, body and soul, by that peculiar post-prandial Sabbatic oppression of a Sunday afternoon. The hot air vibrated in the narrow streets and the slit of sky overhead was colourless with heat. The churches and the museums were closed for their afternoon siestaas a matter of fact, I believe I would not have crossed the street to visit them had they contained a thousand Goyas, but the knowledge that they were closed seemed to confirm my conviction that Toledo had nothing to show that could arouse a moment’s interest. The morning papers from Madrid were filled with a meaningless jargon. My circulating library I had left behind, having brought with me only a single volume. Shall I tell you what it was ? a book strangely remote from the atmosphere of Toledo” Far from the Madding Crowd.” I thought that if I could transport myself to the dewy meadows of Wessex and feel the cool wind on the downs I might be able to forget this intolerable heat ; but the very letters ran into one another as if the book had been printed from molten type. It was one of those afternoons when time stands still, and the last interest has perished out of life, and all things seem to be accomplished and ready for the end.
Staring vacantly out of the open door of the fonda I saw a horseman ride past. He wore a costume of black velvet, with lace at his wrists and neck, and on his head a widespreading hat garnished with an immense sable plume. Some soldier of the Catholic Kings, I dreamily supposed, riding off to Granada to fight the Moors. The clatter of his horse’s hoofs had died away before I recollected that the Catholic Kings had been dead a very long time and that the costume was unusual for a horseman even on a Sunday afternoon in Toledo. And yet the costume did not appear altogether unfamiliar. Of coursenow I remember where it was that I had seen it beforein the bull-ring. The man was an alguacil on the way to the corrida. So there was some life stirring in the moribund city after all. I got up and, looking among the papers and notices on the table, discovered a long blue handbill which announced that a gran corrida de novillos (a fight of young bulls) would take place in the Plaza de Toros de Toledo at half-past four o’clock on the 4th of May. The espadas, or gentlemen with the swords, were Antonio Blanco and one known as El Chico de Lavapies, a pet name which might be freely Englished as ” The Whitechapel Bantam.” A brilliant band of music would enliven the spectacle, so the bill went on to announce, the price of a seat (in the shade) was one peseta twenty centimos, and los ninos que no sean de pecho (infants not at the breast) could not be admitted without tickets. To watch a fight of young bulls is not perhaps the pieasantest way of spending a Sunday afternoon, but what was the alternative ? There appeared to be a complete dearth of alternatives. I glanced at the bill again, and noticed that there was no mention of any picadores, which indicated that the slaughter of horses was not to be included in the programme. I decided to go.
Beneath a moving canopy of dust we trudged down the long twisting road to the plain. Viewed from above the long black centipede of men might have been taken for a gigantic funeral procession. Arrived at the ring we made straight for our places in the shade. Opposite, the semicircle of empty seats blazed in the glare of the sun, with only here and there at wide intervals a peasant, handkerchief on head, who was willing to risk sunstroke in order to economise a few centimos. The sight of this circular bank of steep stone tiers, the shining, sandy arena between, the naked blue overhead, never fails to provoke in me a strange sense of remoteness from my own time and of nearness to the first pagan centuries of our era. A Roman of the Empire, had he been sitting in this Plaza de Toros de Toledo, would have found little that was unfamiliar, beyond the costume of the people and the strains of the brilliant band of music. I confess I am not one of those whom the spectacle depressesI accept it as a perhaps not untimely reminder of that old, sleeping brutality in man, without a strain of which life would be, for all I know, not quite possible on this rude and death stricken earth. More welcome it is to recognise the no less ancient delight in a ceremonial ordering of things which has all but passed away from the life of modern democracies. It is one of the superstitions of the modern man to distrust all modes of dignity, suspecting it, oddly enough, to be insincere and anti-democratic. He allows sincerity no other wear than the uniform of the citizen, trousers and a bowler hat. All forms of dressing up to him are foolishness, all fineness of gesture out of place, except perhaps in the arts. The Church and the bull-ring have at any rate this in common, that they preserve the tradition of a more simple age, when special acts had their special ritual, and the attitude of the mind always found a concrete expression in the attitude of the body.
Then was rehearsed again the familiar, time-honoured pantomime, which never loses its impressive charm. The glittering phalanx of toreros stepped bravely across the sand to salute the president in his boxa rhythmic swaying of lithe bodies and a twinkle of pink calves. They ranged themselves round the edge of the arena, hung their fine silvered capotes de lujo over the barrier, and took from the attendants on the other side the more workmanlike and blood-stained cloaks with which the real business is done. The sombre alguacil rode in, like the figure of Death in the Apocalypse, received the key of the toril from the president, and cantered out again with many practised curvets and caracoles. Then the expectant hush of a crowd holding its breath, the opening of the doors of the toril, and then–
Well, then should have come the blind rush of an angry bull, con muchos pies (with many feet), as runs the expressive phrase of the ring. But you must remember that this was not a bull-fight proper, only a novillada. We waited with eyes fixed on the open door, but nothing emerged. At last a small horned head peeped round the corner of the barrier, peered timidly into the arena and then withdrew. This dismal lack of enthusiasm on the part of the chief performer was received with a growl of disapprobation from the stone benches. Another pausethe application of some ungentle persuasion behind the scenesand then the head appeared again, followed this time by a slim body, as the little animal walked nervously into the ring, much as a self-conscious member of a company of amateur theatricals advances on to the stage. Manchegito, for such was his name, glanced round the arena As though he were looking for his mother, and not finding her there turned round and proceeded to walk back to his stable. But in the meantime the door of the toril had been closed. Somewhat disconcerted by this unpleasant trick he snuffed perplexedly over the edge of the barrier for a minute or two. But now El Chico de Lavapies, a ruffianly-looking brute with blue-shaved cheeks and an underhanging jaw, walked across the arena with a heroic swagger, which did not quite conceal an attitude of caution, approached to within a yard or two of the beast’s hind-quarters and waved his cloak and stamped upon the ground. The bull wheeled round and surveyed the astonishing pink and silver apparition wonderingly. The Chico gesticulated with his arms, raised himself on the tips of his toes and spoke insultingly of the bull and its ancestors. Manchegito at length made a half-hearted charge at the flaunting cloak, encountered nothing but the unresisting air, and returned to search for the entrance to the toril.
Another member of the troupe next advanced with a pair of banderillas in his hands and dodged to and fro behind the bull, shouting to attract his attention. The bull refused however to be attracted, whereupon the man smote him sharply on the flank with his barbed stick. Manchegito quickly faced him, lowered his head, received the banderillas in the nape of the neck, and then, stung by the sudden pain, bounded about the arena like a bucking horse. Two more attempts were made to plant two other pairs of banderillas, but both without success, for the animal was now thoroughly frightened and his adversary apparently no less so.
It only remained for El Chico de Lavapies to give the coup de grâce. Armed with a sword and a small square of scarlet cloth he set out to meet the bull. The animal, however, scenting danger, did not stay to meet him, but leapt over the barrier into the narrow passage between the spectators and the ring. A gate was opened and Manchegito quickly found himself back in the arena. Again the espada faced him, but again he refused to face the espada and made his exit over the barrier as before. The corrida, which had never been anything that you could call a fight, now became nothing more than a chase. The timid, panting creature trotted across the ring from one side to the other, the little group of glittering manikins trotted after him with a pattering of slippered feet on the sand. From time to time the bull, always in search of the toril, leapt the barrier and was shoo’d back again into the ring. The shadow of the wall of the plaza crept inch by inch over the circle of sand. The spectators became impatient. Tengo sueno, matador” (I’m getting sleepy), roared a sarcastic Toledan next to me.
At last El Chico, growing desperate, made a lungethe sword struck the shoulder-blade and flew high into the air. The crowd jeered. Manchegito disappeared over the barrier. Having manoeuvred the beast into position once more, he lunged again, slipped and fell. The crowd gave a startled cry of horror. The bull, however, disdaining to take his, adversary at a disadvantage, merely sniffed at the prostrate figure and walked away. The hero of Lavapies rose trembling with fear and fury and swore horrible vengeance upon his mild enemy. He rushed up to him and stuck the sword blindly into the shoulder. The stroke was a vile one. The sword just glanced under the skin, the blade emerging a little behind the foreleg. The animal trotted off with the weapon grotesquely dangling against its leg. “Fuera !Fuera !” (Outside) yelled the crowd, resenting this lack of dexterity rather more, I suppose, than the maltreatment of the animal. The matador, white with passion, pursued his victim round the ring, delivering a series of vicious and ineffectual stabs. The weary animal began to falter, pawed the sand feebly and bellowed once or twice. The valour of the toreros rose visibly at this display of distress ; they waved their cloaks before the beast’s glazing eyes, and dared even to touch the points of its horns with their hands. Amateurs of the sport clambered over the barrier, eager to take part in the fray. The espada, who was now nearly beside himself with rage, protested, that he, El Chico de Lavapies, and he alone, would kill the bull. And with a final rush he buried the sword in its body. The animal spread out its legs and fell.
Pandemonium reigned. The crowd screamed, jeered, hooted, whistled, stamped, flourished sticks and umbrellas and shook their fists. The butcher of Lavapies retired to the barrier, sat on the stone ledge at the foot of it and buried his head in his hands. He had met his Waterloo. Meanwhile the band struck up a brilliant air, the team of mules dragged out the carcass at a gallop, and the arena was cleared and sanded to make ready for the harrying of Manchegito’s three little brothers.
It is only natural that the bullfight, which in spite of perennial protest holds so prominent a place in the popular life of Spain, should have occupied in no small measure the brush and needle of the great delineator of Spanish manners. It is commonly believed that in his tumultuous youth Goya not infrequently entered the ring himself and performed exploits with the cloak and sword. No doubt he was quite capable of it, but the legend rests only upon the flimsy evidence of a supposititious letter signed ” Francisco de los toros” (Francis of the bulls), which has never yet been produced, and would not prove anything if it had. His authentic letters, however, provide sufficient proof that he was an aficionado of the sport, and the numerous portraits which he painted of bull-fighters naturally brought him into close touch with the professional element of the ring. One of the earliest works which he produced on his return from Rome was the little picture of a bull-fight, which now hangs in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes ; the subject figures among the tapestry cartoons; and late in life he executed the well-known Tauromachia, a series of thirty or more etchings illustrating the history and complete art of bull-fighting.
Whatever opinions may be held as to the barbarity of the sport, it is impossible to ignore the pictorial values of the bull-ring. The circular theatre, half in dazzling light, half in cool shadow, with the blue curtain of sky overhead ; the curves of the barrier and the arena ; the spectators crowded in dark masses, with the bare stretches of sun-bleached stone tiers between ; the gay processional entry of the company of glittering toreros ; the lithe and agile movements of the human body contrasting with the brute force or ponderous inertia of the bull ; the swaying entanglement of men, bull and horses ; here is a shifting scene of colour, light, life and motion which, if you can temporarily persuade the humanitarian in you to look the other way, presents a very moving beauty to the eye. It is characteristic of Goya that he seized upon not the æsthetic, but the tragic side of the spectacle. You will not find a single picture or plate of his illustrating the bull-ring which suggests any exceptional grace of bodily form or movement ; but in almost all you will be shocked with a frank and wilful exposition of all that is frightful, savage and intimidating in the spectaclebulls thrust through and through with barbarous spears, horses and mules overthrown and disembowelled, dogs tossed and mangled, toreros mortally wounded, and even the spectators themselves impaled upon the horns of beasts that have run amuck. It is said moreover by experts that the fight is usually depicted without any correctness of technical detail, a fact which again demonstrates his lack of a practical knowledge of the art. The incidents which he chiefly selects for illustration are not the true lances de lidia, but sensational accidents, moments of panic, phenomenal feats of daring, freakish variations of the sport. At times he shows a grim irony in representing the victim as victor. In what is perhaps the most effective plate of the Tauromachia series the bull is seen standing in the midst of the flying, terror-stricken spectators, triumphant, avenging, with swinging tail, transfixing with his horns the limp body of a man.
Though he chose to emphasise its horror, Goya had, of course, an eye for the singular beauty of the bull-ring. In particular he was intrigued by that contrast of semicircular shadow, which creeps like a dark tide across the shining sand, with the dazzling whiteness of the arena. The lines of the barrier and the stone tiers have a simple and sweeping beauty of their own. And he was fascinated, as Mr Rothenstein has remarked, by that striking feature of the bull-ring, a girdle of figures encircling a vacant central spacea pattern which he appropriated with telling effect both in the picture in the Academia and in the lithographs which he executed fifty years later at Bordeaux.
The shadow had crept all the way across the sand, now stained with dark wet patches, by the time the last little carcass had been dragged out of the ring to the cheerful strains of the band. The crowd swarmed out of the plaza. I stayed and watched the long black centipede twisting up the white road until its tail had wriggled into the gates of the city on the hill. Then I wandered along the banks of the river, crossed the dizzy Alcantara bridge and climbed the heights on the farther side of the ravine. A long while in the lessening light I sat and gazed at the wild irregular sky-line, thin like paper against the purples and greens of the western sky. There is nothing quite like it in the world. It has something of the poignancy of a shrill cry. The whole city seemed to be on tiptoe for flight, exalted, aspiring, straining at its anchorage to the solid earth. As the light faded and its rocky base dissolved into shadows, the mystical city appeared at last to sever itself from its foundations and to float midway between earth and heaven.
It was quite dark when I climbed up the narrow, ill-lit streets. Toledo is a maze, in which I believe the very inhabitants only find their own homes by accident. I willingly left it to chance to direct me to my temporary home in the fonda. I was content to roam in the streets this night. No breath of air stirred in these winding lanes, but a refreshing coolness dropped like dew from the sky. I heard no sound ; I met no wayfarer ; the whole city was dreamlessly asleep. In the night its aspect seemed to change from Gothic to Moorish. Granada and Cordova never spoke to me so plainly of Africa as did Toledo as I wandered among those waste places on the edge of the ravine, littered and unkempt as a desert village.
Then I heard the sound of music, rapid and even and staccato, like a barrel-organ. I followed the direction of the sound and it led me to an ancient and palatial house, with a vast expanse of window-less wall rising sheer out of the dark lane. A faint light streamed with the loud music through a half-open door. I entered and found myself in a large patio, dimly lit by an oil lamp and one or two candles stuck on benches. In a corner a man at a barrel-organ ground out El Garrotin. On the uneven stone floor a company of men and girls shuffled to and fro, dancing with a grave and passionate intentness. The patio was open to the stars. Round the wall ran a wooden balcony, on which stood shadowy groups of spectators, gazing down upon the moving crowd below. I supposed that presently the music would cease and the company break up into laughing couples. But no from time to time a couple fell out and rested upon a bench, that was all. The spectre at the barrel-organ never wearied ; the shadows on the balcony never moved ; the grave dancers neither laughed nor spoke.
It was a scene made for the brush of Goya, vivid, sombre, racial, throbbing with an immense and suppressed passion. Such sombre and sullen gaiety is not wholly Europeanin France or Italy or Germany I think you will not meet the like of itit is African, and therefore, I would venture to say, Iberian. As I stood there, an unregarded spectator, it seemed to me as if the thin crust of the Europeanised surface of Spain had suddenly collapsed, revealing a glimpse of the ancient, smouldering, subterranean fires.
How deceitful are the appearances of cities ! Half-an-hour ago Toledo had shown herself to me mystical and aspiringnow I knew how deeply and tenaciously her living roots struck in to the primitive soil. She had no eye for her coronet of stars. Neither was she so dead as I had supposed. Now that I had my ear against her breast, how strongly I could hear the old heart beating ! Yet it was a frustrate and ineffectual life that was beating there. That splendid energy and passion which once spent itself in spreading the fiery cross of the Faith, in assailing the Moslem, in dominating new continents, was now cabined in a patio of the slums and found the only outlet for its fever in dancing, dancing. And in the sullen rhythm of the dance there was surely a kind of bitter exasperation at the consciousness of the futility of energy misspent. It was not the healthful beating of a sound heartin this stifling courtyard, beneath the secret cloak of night, the ancient city was eating out its heart in mirthless and repining revelry.
But I must not linger hereI believe they will dance till dawnfor I have to be back in the cathedral in the morning to hear Mass sung according to the Mozarabic rite. Alone in this one chapel in Toledo still survives the ancient Spanish liturgy, which came to Spain direct from the East and not by way of Rome, brought by the disciples of St John the Evangelist say some, though without much show of probability. The canons glanced at me with some surprise, for the stranger does not often enter the closed doors of the Mozarabe chapel so early in the morning. It was interesting to observe, if only with an antiquarian interest, the divergences from the Roman ritethe transposition and slightly different text of the Creed, the responses to the Pater _Waster and the giving of the kiss of peace before the Canon instead of after the Agnus Dei. Surely the happy embrace of the celebrant, which is passed on in turn to each of the ministers, comes most fitly after the consummation of the sacrifice. I wish, however, that Rome had preserved that popular, mediæval, half-punning ejaculation : Ave in cevum sanctissima caro. . . . But I am indeed forgetting myself. You must be wondering what possible connexion there is between liturgical formulas and the painting of Goya. None whatever, so far as I can see. Yes, I am quite ready to return to Madrid now that I have satisfied my curiosity in the Mozarabe chapel. That was really one of the reasons why I wanted to come to Toledo, although I didn’t mention it when I proposed this expedition for fear that you might raise objections. But you have at any rate seen a novillada. You really can’t have it all your own way.
Another advantage of not taking an ida y vuelta ticket to Toledo is that on our return to Madrid we can make a deviation in order to visit Aranjuez. You should not omit this visit if you are curious to know a certain aspect of the eighteenth century, the most characteristic aspect I think. Here the spirit of the century is perfectly and appropriately embalmed in a palace and gardens. The gardens, as I have remarked before, are not so much gardens as woods, but woods that have been half weaned from Nature, trimmed into stately avenues, coaxed into bowers and arbours, and here and there persuaded to give place to lawns on which gleaming marble figures gravely pose to the apathetic elms. But the woods have never quite submitted to conform to the demure demeanour of a garden, and although an army of gardeners is continually employed to subordinate them, they are impatient of controlthe towering elms toss their mighty limbs petulantly, the oaks dig their trespassing talons into the lawns, the undergrowth breaks out into open mutiny, the hedges mock the restraining shears, and the irrepressible weeds fearlessly annex the untrodden walks. This partial triumph of disorderly Nature gives a dispiriting air of human abandonment to the scene. The very gardeners, who with the statues are the sole inhabitants of this immense solitude, wear, not unnaturally, an air of dejection. They know that there is none to commend their unavailing labours or to censure their extravagant noonday indolence. The Court never comes here, preferring the less discreet delights of San Sebastian. The infrequent visitor tires after the first avenue or two. This once lordly pleasance now serves only the purpose of a squirrels’ playground and an evening auditorium for the nightingales.
The palace itself, a formal brick erection, edged with stone and crowned with a steep slated roof, is pure eighteenth-century. It shares the abandonment of the encompassing gardens, but its abandonment is more pathetic, being mixed with humiliation. Once reverberating with the frolics of a court, it echoes now only to the shuffling footsteps of a solitary caretaker and the monotonous tramp of the army of sightseers. ” Nous n’eûmes pas le temps d’en visiter l’intérieur,” remarks Théophile Gautier complacently, ” et nous le regrettâmes peu, car tous les palais se ressemblent.” Perhaps ; yet I am sure I should have regretted it had I neglected to perambulate this defunct eighteenth-century pleasure-house and its contemporary annex, La Casa del Labrador (Labourer’s Cottage, if you please !), where the Court amused itself with playing at an elaborate and expensive rusticity. For it revealed with a terrible pathos the futility and falsity of those little-minded, little-souled people of the Rococo. They appear to have lived so consistently in the atmosphere of unreality that they derived pleasure only from illusion. Here you will find rooms decorated with porcelain tiles to imitate silk, and with silk to imitate porcelain tiles. The chairs are of marble to imitate wood and the ornamental birds of wood to imitate feathers. The clocks are furnished with silver spirals to imitate waterfalls. Everything seems to exist only for the purpose of imitating something that it is not.
But it is in the Casa del Labrador that the pettiness and artificiality of this eighteenth-century Court reached the limit of its wasteful folly. Here the restrained language of Baedeker becomes informed with such tremendous significance that I cannot refrain from quoting it : ” We now return and pass into the Sala de Maria Luisa (VII.),” he says, in his dry, precise way, ” with several clocks and vases and a crystal chandelier. The ballroom (Salon de Baile ; VIII.) contains several musical boxes. The tables and chairs are of malachite. In Room X. the cornice and frames of the door and windows are of marble. Room XI. has a fine clock. The well-known Gabinete de Platina (XIV.) has panelled walls inlaid with gold and platinum. On a table in Room XV. stands an ivory bird carved with astounding delicacy. The floor is in marble mosaic. Room XVI. has a musical box and views of La Granja. We now return, I wonder if, after writing this passage, in the crisp and transpicuous style of which he is a master, the precise and prying Karl realised that he had written the indictment of a whole civilisation.
An Armida-palace poised on the brink of a volcano ! Already the volcano is in eruption. Ominous confusion of sounds beyond the Pyrenees which finally resolves itself into the tap of drums and the rattling of sabres. The Pyrenean passes are choked with the horse, foot and artillery of Napoleon’s marshals. Charles must abandon his gold and platinum ” labourer’s cottage ” and be-take himself to Bayonne or Compiègne, or wherever the masterful Corsican may be pleased to direct. Maria Luisa must leave her Sala, with its ” several clocks and vases and crystal chandelier.” Shifty young Ferdinand, too, must throw away his musical boxes and lay obsequiously his newly acquired crown at the Emperor’s feet. For the age of unrealities is over. The gardens and palaces of Aranjuez are deserted for ever. Spain is at last face to face with something that is by no means illusionrevolution and invasion.
It is time that we turned to see how Francisco Goya, he who was never illuded, comported himself in this new age of blood and iron.