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A TAILOR's drawer, did you say?
Yes; a tailor's drawer. It is, indeed, rather a quaint rubric for a chapter in the pilgrim's breviary; albeit it well befits the motley character of the following pages. It is a title which the Spaniards give to a desultory discourse, wherein various and discordant themes are touched upon, and which is crammed full of little shreds and patches of erudition ; and certainly it is not inappropriate to a chapter whose contents are of every shape and hue, and “ do no more adhere and keep pace together than the hundreth psalm to the tune of Green Sleeves.”
my residence in the hired house of Valentin Gonzalez, at the foot of the Calle de la Montera. My apartments were in the third story, above the dust, though not beyond the rattle, of the street; and my balconies looked down into the Puerta del Sol, the heart of Madrid, through which circulates the living current of its population at least once every twenty-four hours.
The Puerta del Sol is a public square, from which diverge the five principal streets of the metropolis. It is the great rendezvous of grave and gay, -- of priest and layman,
of gentle and simple, — the mart of business and of gossip, — the place where the creditor seeks his debtor, where the lawyer seeks his client, where the stranger seeks amusement, where the friend seeks his friend, and the foe his foe ; where the idler seeks the sun in winter, and the shade in summer, and the busybody seeks the daily news, and picks up the crumbs of gossip to fly away with them in his beak to the tertulia of Doña Paquita !
Tell me, ye who have sojourned in foreign lands, and know in what bubbles a traveller's
It is recorded in the Adventures of Gil Blas de Santillana, that, when this renowned personage first visited the city of Madrid, he took lodgings at the house of Mateo Melandez, in the Puerta del Sol. In chosing a place of abode in the Spanish court, I followed, as far as practicable, this illustrious example ; but, as the kind-hearted Mateo had been long gathered to his fathers, I was content to take up
happiness consists, – is it not a blessing to nave your
window overlook a scene like this?
claws, head downwards, fluttering, scratching, crowing with all their might, while the good woman tries to drown their voices in the discordant cry of " ¿Quien me compra un gallo, — un par de gallinas ?” (Who buys a cock, - a pair of fowls ?) That tall fellow in blue, with a pot of flowers upon his shoulder, is a wag, beyond all dispute. See how cunningly he cocks his eye up at us, and cries, " Si yo tuviera balcon !” (If I only had a balcony :)
What next? A Manchego with a sack of oil under his arm; a Gallego with a huge water-jar upon his shoulders ; an Italian pedler with innages of saints and madonnas; a razor-grinder with his wheel ; a mender of pots and kettles, making music, as he goes, with a shovel and a frying-pan; and, in fine, a noisy, patchwork, ever-changing crowd, whose discordant cries mingle with the rumbling of wheels, the clatter of hoofs, and the clang of church-bells; and make the Puerta del Sol, at certain hours of the day, like a street in Babylon the Great.
There, — take that chair upon the balcony, and let us look down upon the busy scene beneath us.
What a continued roar the crowded throughfare sends up! Though three stories high, we can hardly hear the sound of our own voices! The London cries are whispers, when compared with the cries of Madrid.
See, — yonder stalks a gigantic peasant of New Castile, with a montera cap, brown jacket and breeches, and coarse blue stockings, forcing his way through the crowd, and leading a donkey laden with charcoal, whose sonorous bray is in unison with the harsh voice of his master. Close at his elbow goes a rosy-cheeked damsel, selling calico. She is an Asturian from the mountains of Santander. How do you know? By her short yellow petticoats, her blue bodice, her coral necklace and earrings. Through the middle of the square struts a peasant of Old Castile, with his yellow leather jerkin strapped about his waist, his brown leggings and his blue garters, — driving before him a flock of gabbling turkeys, and crying, at the top of his voice, “ Pao, pao, pavitos, paos!!” Next comes a Valencian, with his loose linen trousers and sandal shoon, holding a huge sack of watermelons upon his shoulder with his left hand, and with his right balancing high in air a specimen of the luscious fruit, upon which is perched a little pyramid of the crimson pulp, while he tempts the passers-by with “ A cala, y calando; una sandía vendo-0-0. Si esto es sangre !” (By the slice, - come and try it, - watermelon for sale. This is blood !) His companion near him has a pair of scales thrown over his shoulder, and holds both arms full of muskmelons. He chimes into the harmonious ditty with “ Melo — melo-0-0 — meloncitos ; aquí está el azúcar !” (Melons, melons ; here is the sugar!) Behind them creeps a slow-moving Asturian, in heavy wooden shoes, crying watercresses ; and a peasant woman from the Guadarrama Mountains, with a montera cocked up in front, and a blue kerchief tied under her chin, swings in each hand a bunch of live chickens, that hang by the
Chiton! A beautiful girl, with flaxen hair, blue eyes, and the form of a fairy in a midsummer night's dream, has just stepped out on the balcony beneath us! See how coquettishly she crosses her arms upon the balcony, thrusts her dainty little foot through the bars, and plays with her slipper! She is an Andalusian, from Malaga. Her brother is a bold dragoon, and wears a long sword; so beware! and “let not the creaking of shoes and the rustling of silks betray thy poor heart to woman.' Her mother is a vulgar woman, “ fat and forty”; eats garlic in her salad, and smokes cigars. But mind! that is a secret ; I tell it to you in confidence.
Tell me, thou gallant cavalier,
Whose shining arms I see, If steed, or sword, or battle-field
Be half so fair as she !
Tell me, thou swain, that guard'st thy flock
Beneath the shadowy tree,
Be half so fair as she !
A miller has just passed by, covered with flour from head to foot, and perched upon the tip end of a little donkey, crying “Arre borrico !” and at every cry swinging a cudgel in his hand, and giving the ribs of the poor beast what in the vulgar dialect is called a cachiporrazo. I could not help laughing, though I felt provoked at the fellow for his cruelty. The truth is, I have great regard for a jackass. His meekness, and patience, and long-suffering are very amiable qualities, and, considering his situation, worthy of all praise. In Spain, a donkey plays as conspicuous a part as a priest or a village alcalde. There would be no getting along without him. And yet, who so beaten and abused as he ?
VIII. What a contrast between this personage and the sallow, emaciated being who is now crossing the street! It is a barefooted Carmelite, a monk of an austere order, wasted by midnight vigils and long penance.
Abstinence is written on that pale cheek, and the bowed head and downcast eye are in accordance with the meek profession of a mendicant brotherhood.
What is this world to thee, thou man of penitence and prayer?
What bast thou to do with all this busy, turbulent scene about thee,
with all the noise, and gayety, and splendor of this thronged city? Nothing. The wide world gives thee nothing, save thy daily crust, thy crucifix, thy convent - cell, thy pallet of straw! Pilgrim of heaven! thou hast no home on earth. Thou art journeying onward to “ house not made with hands ; ” and, like the first apostles of thy faith, thou takest neither gold, nor silver, nor brass, nor scrip for thy journey. Thou hast shut thy heart to the endearments of earthly love, — thy shoulder beareth not the burden with thy fellow-man, — in all this vast crowd thou hast no friends, no hopes, no sympathies. Thou standest aloof
and art thou nearer God? I know not. Thy motives, thy intentions, thy desires are registered in heaven. I am thy fel. low-man, — and not thy judge.
"Who is the greater ?” says the German moralist; "the wise man who lifts himself above the storms of time, and from aloof looks down upon them, and yet takes no part therein, - or he who, from the height of quiet and repose, throws himself boldly into the battletumult of the world? Glorious is it, when the eagle through the beating tempest flies into the bright blue heaven upward ; but far more glorious, when, poising in the blue sky over the black storm-abyss, he plunges downward to his aerie on the cliff, where cower his unfledged brood and tremble.”
Here comes a gay gallant, with white kid gloves, an eye-glass, a black cane, with a white ivory pommel, and a little hat, cocked pertly on one side of his head. He is an exquisite fop, and a great lady's man.
You will always find him on the Prado at sunset, when the crowd and dust are thickest, ogling through his glass, flourishing his cane, and humming between his teeth some favorite air of the “Semiramis," or the “Barber of Seville." He is a great amateur, and patron of the Italian Opera, — beats time with his cane, — nods his head, and cries Bravo! — and fancies himself in love with the Prima Donna. The height of his ambition is to be thought the gay Lothario,
- the gallant Don Cortejo of his little sphere. He is a poet withal, and daily besieges the heart of the cruel Doña Inez with sonnets and madrigals. She turns a deaf ear to his song, and is inexorable :
“Mas que no sea mas piadosa A dos escudos en prosa,
No puede ser."
Sultry grows the day, and breathless! The lately crowded street is silent and deserted, hardly a footfall, — hardly here and there a