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Ar! actually into Spain—the land of the Cid and Sancho, of Boabdil and Don Quixote-into Spain we have journeyed! But so short a way, reader, that, without risk of tiring your patience, we ask you to retrace it with us, and to travel mentally over the road that we in our bodily presence traversed on the last day of April, 185–
We had spent the preceding day at Biarritz-a spot now rendered classic by the visits of our imperial French ally, who has there erected a marine villa—the “Villa Eugénie"-commanding an extensive view of the cruel grey expanse of the Bay of Biscay; the really beautiful landscape towards the Spanish frontier being skilfully excluded. Sans this landscape, and taking the village in itself, lo! we are transported once more to the outskirts of Brighton. Brightonian dwellings, square, and new, and ugly, meet our hewildered gaze on every side, and in miniature proportions. But here the likeness stops. In vain we look for esplanade and goat-chaises ; Biarritz boasts them not. In vain we sigh for cupola and dome, and, sighing, learn that even the Villa Eugénie lacks the eccentric beauty of our own Pavilion !
But it was at Bayonne that, on this 30th of April, we took our place in the diligence for San Sebastian, the day fine and bright, and our humour equally genial. Taking our place, be it known, implied a great deal more than might at first be imagined, for that place happened to be on the banquette of the diligence; and, after ascending to it by a ladder, we suddenly found ourselves lodged behind a leathern contrivance that closed precipitately over our long legs in the form of an apron, and made us understand the helplessness of Dr. Rickeybockey's condition when philanthropy betrayed him into the village stocks. However, there was no help for it, and this place was better than none, the other alternative; so, being once fairly established, we forgot the trap we had fallen into.
Hue-hiouppe!” shouted the driver, and off we set with our team of five small horses along the straight unvaried road which leads out of Bayonne-a road which the monotonous chant of the conducteur—a chant evidently borrowed originally from the Arabic—did not tend to enliven.
At St. Jean de Luz-a quaint-looking old town, whose projectingroofed and painted houses gave a very foreign character to the placewe were subjected to the attentions of the douaniers, the frontier, of course, being jealously guarded on both sides. And so also at Irun, where, having crossed the Bidassoa (memorable passage!), we found ourselves on Spanish ground.
A sudden step, too, it seemed to be, this one “into Spain,” as if Prince Hassan's carpet had been put into requisition, and carried us in a moment a long way farther than across that same Bidassoa, a distance of only some two hundred yards ; for no sooner did we touch the Spanish side than we were, to all intents and purposes, literally struck dumb. Not one of the custom-house officials—not one of the loungers round the custom-house door-could speak or understand a word of French; and
when the driver of the diligence was not in the way to interpret for us, we bewailed the fatal hour when the foundation-stone of Babel was laid.
On again ; passing to the left the ancient city of Fontarabia, and through the strikingly picturesque town of Rentiria, till we came to that of Passages, with its land-locked bay, at whose entrance two rocks stand sentry, showing through their framework the glistening sea beyond. Hurrying on ; for we are anxious, reader, that you should make your entry into San Sebastian as we did, while the evening red still glows over the sea from which the fortress-crowned rock abruptly rises against the clear atmosphere, and while but the evening star shines overhead. This evening light lasts not long, and by the time we are deposited at the diligence-office the night has come, and we are glad of the moonlight to make our way to the Fonda Berasa,” where we recommend you to take up your quarters the first time you travel-bodily-to San Sebastian. Especially if you are anxious to study the effect of pantomime ; for we
that no one in the house but the landlord's very pretty daughter (and an invisible but beneficent French cook) understands a word of French.
The sun rose beautifully bright on the 1st of May, and that being the festival of St. Philip and St. James, the fair devotees of San Sebastian were of course early on their way to the churches, into the principal of which we also followed. The interior is very handsome, and the eye is not there shocked by those glaring outrages on good taste that so perpetually revolt one in French churches, great and small. True, there was much gilding and ornament, but it was at least not tawdry, the high-raised and massive gilt altars seeming quite in keeping with their vast temple and with each other. True, also, that the Madonna, instead of being left simply to the sculptor's draping, had received extra adornment; but this adornment, in lieu of the usual frippery of dirty finery, consisted of a black lace mantilla, which covered the statue from head to foot, and thus left the imagination some play. Altogether, there was more solemnity about the whole church, more apparent devotion, than we had hitherto in our progress along the south of France witnessed; and-though this may seem irrelevant to the subject - as one by one the señoras of San Sebastian glided into the church, crossed themselves, and knelt silently down, we were fain to confess that, of all the head-dresses we had ever seen, none could be more graceful or becoming than the much-vaunted mantilla of Spain.
What a pretty picture " the señorita,” our landlord's daughter, made while she knelt near one of the great pillars, her hands clasped together, her large dark eyes almost closed as she looked demurely down with their long lashes sweeping her cheek---the cheek through whose clear, pale brown there rushed such a bright carmine, fluctuating with each changing emotion. And over her small, delicately shaped head, with its masses of glossy, dark hair, fell the graceful folds of the mantilla, made simply of black net, deeply bordered with lace, and therefore transparent enough to show clearly the slightly aquiline nose and its proudly cut nostrils, and the curve of her full, red lips, the upper one shaded- dare we say it, fair English maidens ?—with just the very least little black moustaches that ever grew on Spanish lip! You may not think it sounds pretty or looks pretty on paper, but I assure you that if you had seen the reality
Out of the church we now went, and, securing a guide, began the ascent of the rock, on the summit of which stands the fort of San Sebastian. Our guide, a little hunchbacked man, was singularly intelligent, and talked French fluently. On our questioning him as to his proficiency, “ Je l'ai appris par la misère,” he said, simply; and then went on to tell us how he had gone seeking employment through France; how work came not, and hunger did ; and how he learned to beg, and, begging, learnt the most polished of languages.
The path wound by a steepish ascent round the sea-washed rock, and growing out of crevices in the grey stone, bright green grass and brushwood, ferns and rock-plants, made pretty contrast with the sober tints of the rock and the time-stained outworks of the fort. " And here,” said the hunchback, stopping, and pointing to the side of the path—" here are the English graves.'
Here, too, oh, my brethren! here, as throughout the world, we find silent records of your fame! Reverently we paused and looked ; looked where our noble dead lay buried beneath the long grass and under the shelter of that Spanish fortress. It was no trim churchyard this ; it lay unenclosed at the pathway side. Where they had fallen, there they lay, with the calm blue sky above them, and sounding through the air the distant murmur of the old Atlantic, girding their fatherland too. But never could finer monument have been raised to their memory than one that marks the spot-one more striking in its ruggedness than ever could be column or storied urn. Into a huge fragment of rock that lies detached from the mass a plain tablet of white marble has been inserted, and simply graven on it are the names of Sir Richard Fletcher and some of those who fell here in 1813, at the siege of San Sebastian.
Well my countrymen that one stone of the soil ye won should render you this tribute. But rest, rest, oh, noble dead! No tables of stone need ye to tell your deeds of fame, neither here nor of late on Alma's heights, nor on Balaklava's plain. On living, beating tablets are they inscribed-on fleshly tables of our hearts—of English hearts, oh, brothers !
The day was clear and bright as May-day need be; the sun shed a warmer light on us than it is wont to do on an English May-day; but as we followed our guide up the path a fresh breeze blew straight from the sea, invigorating us for the further climb. We entered the fort at length, and ever ascending, now by flights of stone steps, found ourselves on one of the ramparts, and in the midst of the enemy! A detachment of the garrison (a well brushed-up and trimly appointed set of men) were here actively employed, and made noise enough to acquaint one of the fact. But the noise was of an hilarious nature, and the weapons used showed that the men, instead of being at “sixes and sevens,” were simply at “fives," which delectable game afforded them intense apparent enjoyment.
At length we found ourselves on the top of the citadel, and had leisure to look around. Shades of Claude and Salvator! what a view! We pause to take breath as we recal it, and as we did when we first beheld it. (Though for the latter suspiration, impeach the steep ascent, oh reader!) Descriptions of scenery avail but little in comparison with the reality; and yet imagine to yourself, first, the town in the foreground, with
its rock-pedestalled “pharos" and the bright sea girdling it, shining round it, not with the sapphire blue of the Mediterranean, but like dancing waves of turquoises and diamonds dissolved. (Shade of Monte Christo, we now call upon thee !) And then, far as the eye could reach, that glorious stretch of the Lower Pyrenees dividing the Basque Provinces from France, their distant alpine peaks gleaming in the broad sunlight, standing ever still
and snow-clad--sentries placed there by the Frost King to guard the border land. And in dark contrast cluster throughout the landscape woods of pine, and cork, and ilex-features of strength and sternness; for a physiognomist may read character in the face of nature as in that of man. And then But our attention is suddenly called away, for a human face presents itself before us, the like of which we have never yet bad to read.
We were not alone on the citadel; besides our hunchbacked guide (who was but now pointing out to us the spot where at low water the English crossed to the assault) there was another man present, than whom we have rarely seen a more striking figure. Tall and commanding in stature, his dark eyes, high features, and olive-brown colouring, would have suggested his Spanish nationality, even had not the military undress of a Spanish officer he wore already told it. Though under a broiling sun, he was bareheaded, and paced restlessly backwards and forwards, his arms folded across his breast, his fine head bowed down in an attitude of the deepest dejection. And, as I scanned his features, I thought (my feelings assert my individuality, and I drop the editorial "we") that
any face before, had I seen so strongly blended rage, despair, and sorrow. No resignation was there, even though once tears started to his eyes as some more tender thought crossed his mind; indignantly were they repressed, and, like a caged lion, he resumed his walk to and fro, treading on the ground heavily with his heel, as if beneath lay the neck of an enemy.
Well might he chafe, well despair. Soldier though he was, he had no sword by his side ; Spanish gentleman as he looked, he was a prisoner in this Spanish fortress.
We turned inquiringly to the guide, who shook his head and shrugged his misshapen shoulders. “No one knew his name, nor what his offence had been. He had been brought there a prisoner ; and that was all.” Food for speculation enough! He became to us a romance hero at once. The very soul of honour shone out of his proud eyes, telling us he was imprisoned for no base deed. Some political offence probably---some share in the turmoils of this ever-embroiled country; and here, perchance, he was doomed to linger on for years and years, while the sad mother at home sighed prayers in vain for her captive son, sighed out thus her last breath for him, and, praying, died. His hand should have closed those eyes. Or, perhaps, the long loved, the promised bride he thought of, wasting away her youth in weary watching for his return, and seeking rest at last in some convent shelter, as in the old Rhine legend did poor Ildegonda. Or else, maybap, jealousy showed a darker picture. Weary of watching for him, the ladye fair had listened to some hated rival's voice, and on another than him bestowed her hand. That hand that he alone should have clasped! Alas, poor captive!
Torments of Tantalus, too, arose from the very beauty of his prison.
With such a view as that before him, mountain, wood, and water, breathing freedom around, every bird that soared above him, every boat that spread its white sails below and danced along the waves, but meeked him with their liberty. The voices of the soldiers taunted him with their merriment as its sound came up, borne by the free heaven's breath ; the doors of his prison stood open, luring him to attempt escape; but the guard was below. Heigho! the misery on that one human face has elouded for us the brightness of Dame Nature's ; for that face would have drawn milk of human kindness from heart of stone. So, expressing as much compassion with our eyes as those small grey orbs are capable of, we cast a last look at our hero, and began our descent of the rock again.
Fair art thon, oh, fortress !—fairer the land on whose bosom thou liest! Yet, often as we have thought of both fort and land, our memory has oftener far recalled to our mind's eye the Prisoner of San Sebastian.
THE BHEEL TRIBE OF CANDELSH.*
By no means the least beneficial influence of British rule in India has been the complete reclaiming of many uncivilised tribes to a state not only dvantageous to themselves, but useful to the government. Among the foremost may be mentioned the Bheels of Candeish, on the western coast. Warlike by nature and hardy to a degree, they were long looked upon with some feelings of uneasiness, and their antecedents are so interesting, exemplifying as they do what may be arrived at under careful management, that I cannot forbear entering into a few details respecting them. There can be no doubt that they are one of the aboriginal races of Hindostan, and have for ages been noted for their marauding propensities. They lay claim to high antiquity, and were formerly in possession of rich pastures in the low lands -Candeish and the fertile banks of the river Taptee--but were gradually driven out of them, and compelled to seek refuge in the passes of rugged and impenetrable mountains, where they pursued, free from molestation, the greatest atrocities. Strange as it may seem, they appear to have had a kind of moral code of their own-something on the principle of honour among thieves—and were considered quite capable of being trusted, and faithful to an extraordinary degree. They always exacted å tribute from every one found in or passing through their country, and, if paid, their word was sacred and their promise unimpeachable, but if not paid, or overcome by force of arms, they never forgot to seek retribution at some future day; the day might be distant, but satisfaction they would have.
Since this paper_was written, an émeute has broken out at Nassik, near Bombay, among the Bheels. It appears to have been confined, happily, to the villagers, and not to have affected the loyalty of that portion of them lately formed into a local corps. The disturbance
was promptly quelled, though not before the life of a gallant and brave officer had been sacrificed.