The Project Gutenberg eBook of Galicia, the Switzerland of Spain

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Title: Galicia, the Switzerland of Spain

Author: Annette M. B. Meakin

Release date: July 9, 2016 [eBook #52538]
Most recently updated: January 24, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Josep Cols Canals, Chuck Greif and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
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List of Illustrations
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“Lugar mais hermoso
No mundo n’hachara
Qu’aquel de Galicia
Galicia encantada.”
Rosalia Castro




First Published in 1909{v} 










I. Ancient Galicia1
II. The Geography of Galicia17
III. The First Golden Age24
IV. The Salve Regina39
V. The Language of Galicia49
VI. Pilgrims to Santiago60
VII. The Architecture of Galicia78
VIII. The Cathedral of Santiago94
IX. The Pórtico de Gloria107
X. Sculptured Capitals126
XI. The Royal Hospital136
XII. The Colegiata de Sar145
XIII. La Coruña152
XIV. Emigration172
XV. Rosalia Castro182
XVI. Santiago de Compostela190
XVII. Galicia’s Livestock210
XVIII. Padron222
XIX. La Bellísima Noya231
XX. Pontevedra254
XXI. Vigo and Tuy276
XXII. Orense286
XXIII. Monforte and Lugo297
XXIV. Betanzos and Ferrol308
XXV. The Great Monasteries of Galicia317
XXVI. Trees, Fruits, and Flowers343
XXVII. Dives Callaecia352
 Index: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z363




The Pórtico de Gloria in the Cathedral of SantiagoFrontispiece
Map of Galicia1
The River Sil, Orense22
Where the Sil joins the Cabe57
A Mountain Vineyard57
The Treasury, Santiago Cathedral102
Puerta de las Platerias, Santiago Cathedral102
Puerta Santa, Santiago Cathedral102
The Silver Altar with Statue of St. James in Santiago Cathedral104
The Stone Coffin in which the Lost Body of St. James was discovered in 1879. It had been hidden there when Sir Francis Drake attacked Coruña104
Window in the Palace of Gelmirez127
Archway in the Palace of Gelmirez127
Sculpture in the Chapel beneath Santiago Cathedral127
Sculpture in the Refectory of the Palace of Gelmirez128
Sculpture in the Chapel130
Sculptured Pillar in the Chapel130
Entrance to the Chapel beneath Santiago Cathedral130
Sculptured Capitals exactly beneath the Pórtico de Gloria132
The Palace of Gelmirez132
Entrance to the Royal Hospital at Santiago136
Vestibule of the Royal Hospital140
Cloister in the Royal Hospital140
Convent of San Payo, where each Nun had a Separate Kitchen and a Maid to wait on her142
Royal Hospital, Santiago142
A Corner of a Cloister, Royal Hospital, Santiago {x}144
A Doorway leading to a Cloister, Royal Hospital, Santiago144
A Sculptured Altar, Royal Hospital, Santiago144
Interior of the Colegiata de Sar147
Cloister of the Colegiata de Sar147
Peasants in Costumes peculiar to Galicia154
A Native Cart158
A Street in La Coruña158
A Water-Carrier158
Keeping May Day158
The Tower of Hercules159
The Tomb of Sir John Moore on the Ramparts of La Coruña159
Bridge of Alonso where the Tambre joins the Ria de Noya228
The Bed of San Mamed, Noya236
Cloister of San Justo de Tojosutos236
Group of Musicians; one is holding the Galician Bagpipe239
Merchant’s Palace of Sixteenth Century, Noya239
Ruined Church of Cambados256
Interior of Santa Maria la Grande256
The Church of Santa Maria la Grande and Houses once inhabited by Merchant Fishermen256
Old Jewish Quarter, Pontevedra260
The Ruins of Santa Domingo now an Open-Air Archæological Museum, Pontevedra260
Part of the Museum of Archæology, Pontevedra262
Tomb of an Ambassador to Tamerlane in the Museum of Santa Domingo, Pontevedra262
The Village of Combarro, Pontevedra267
A Native Dovecot267
Castello Mos, now the Summer Residence of the Marquis de la Vega de Armijo, Pontevedra272
Prehistoric Writing discovered on Boulders near the Town of Pontevedra in 1907274
(From a Drawing by E. Campo)
Bell Tower of the Cathedral, Tuy282
The Cathedral at Tuy282
Porch of Tuy Cathedral{xi}284
Apse of the Parish Church at Allariz289
Façade of the Church of El Mosteiro289
Entrance to Orense Cathedral289
Stone Reredos in the Capilla de los Condes, Monterrey290
The Puente Mayor, one of the Wonders of Orense290
Northern Entrance to Orense Cathedral292
Side Entrance to the Church of Santa Domingo at Tuy292
Romanesque Façade of the Parish Church at Allariz292
Window in the Church of Santiago at Ribadavia292
Tower near Monterrey294
Church of Aquasantas294
Apse of the Church of El Mosteiro294
Apse of a Church near Orense296
Conventual Church of the Monastery of Osera296
Part of the Apse of the Church of Aquasantas296
The Market-Place, Lugo312
Children playing Hide-and-Seek among the Coffins exposed for Sale in a Street of Santiago312
Romanesque Side Entrance to Church of Tiobre, Betanzos312
Tomb of Andrada, Betanzos312
The Monastery of Osera, Orense321
Cloisters in the Monastery of Osera, two Pictures321
Cloister in the Colegiata de Junquera de Ambia321
Cloister in the Monastery of Celanova329
Santa Comba de Bande332
Horseshoe Arch in Santa Comba de Bande332
Oratory of San Miguel in Garden of Celanova Monastery332
Monastery and Church of Celanova332
The River Cabe335
My Guide leading me up to the Monastery of San Estevan335
The Bishop’s Cloister, Monastery of San Estevan, Orense338
Rock-hewn Chapel in the Monastery of San Pedro de Rocas340
Vestibule of the Rock Chapels of San Pedro de Rocas340
Primitive Maize Barn in Village near Osera345
Mountain Slope cultivated in Steps or Terraces, Orense345



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Ancient Galicia—Never conquered by the Moors—The cradle of Spanish nobility—A goal for pilgrims—Modern writers on Galicia—A rich literature—National traditions—Martial genius—No Basques—Iberian words—Ligurians in Spain—Barrows and tumuli—Druidical stones—Celtic Spain—Derivation of “Galicia”—Scotch and Irish traditions—Julius Cæsar—Phœnician colonies—The Cassiterides—Plato’s theory—Iron implements—Quintus Fabius—Brutus in Galicia—The theatre of Cæsar’s battles—The Roman Legions—The most ancient of all the Spanish kingdoms

GALICIA is the least known and the least written about of all the little kingdoms that go to the making of Spain. Her boundaries have been greatly reduced since the days when the Romans divided the Peninsula into five provinces and called one of them Galicia. In the fourth and fifth centuries, when the Sueves and the Vandals poured into Spain, they made Galicia their centre, and their kingdom extended into what is now the kingdom of Portugal, while Braga, now a Portuguese town, was for a long time the residential city of their kings. At the end of the seventh century King Witiza resided in Galicia, not as its king, but as the companion of his father in the kingdom of the Goths, whose seat was Toledo; it was as governor of Galicia that he resided at Tuy. In the days of the historian Mariana part of his palace was still to be seen there. His father died in 706, and he then became king of the Goths. The irruption of the Saracens in 713 again changed the aspect of the Peninsula, and the limits of Galicia were contracted; but Spanish geographers to this day call her a reino, or kingdom, and divide her into four little provinces—Coruña, Pontevedra, Orense, and Lugo. Like our Wales, Galicia once had kings of her own, and at a later date the title “king of Galicia” was given to the heir to the Spanish throne, just as that of “Prince of Asturias” is given now. It is an interesting fact that Moorish historians speak of that part of the Peninsula{2} which retained the Christian faith during their occupation as “Galicia,” and of all the rest of the territory as “Spain.” Just as Novgorod proudly boasts of never having been conquered by the Tartars when the rest of Russia was subjected to their sway, so Galicia is proud to remember that she, at least, was never conquered by the Moors.

Galicia may justly be called the cradle of the Spanish nobility, for almost all Spain’s proudest families have their roots in Gallegan soil, their titles having been given to their ancestors as a reward for the heroic resistance they offered to the Moors.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Galicia seems to have been left out of count, and to have gradually sunk into oblivion. Even the Spaniards themselves know very little about her to-day. Yet in the Middle Ages her fame as a goal of pilgrims rivalled that of Palestine, not only throughout Spain, but throughout the length and breadth of Christendom; while earlier still, when she bravely resisted Julius Cæsar’s attempt at conquest, she won for herself no little glory.

The small amount of information relative to Galicia which is to be obtained from English and French books is distinctly unfavourable. We are told that her climate is damp and rainy, and that her inhabitants are dull, stubborn, and stupid; while her wonderful history, her exquisite scenery, and her fascinating architecture are barely alluded to, if not passed over in absolute silence. It is to Spanish writers that we must turn for information that is neither superficial nor unreliable.

There exists in the Spanish language a rich literature relating to Galicia, but a good history of this province has yet to be written. Aguiar began to write one in the thirties of the nineteenth century, but death frustrated the completion of his design, as it did those of several other competent men who had planned a similar task.[1] Aguiar explained in his first volume that he had been led to undertake the work by finding how unjustly and incorrectly Galicia had been treated by earlier writers, and how little she was known to the rest of Spain, in spite of her being one of the most important, one of the most beautiful, and one of the most cultured of the Spanish provinces. He further complained that no historians had ever taken the trouble to visit Galicia, except Ambrosio{3} Morales,[2] whose sole object in doing so was to search for antiquities for the Escurial collection.

Galicia was the province that suffered most from the political unification of Spain; she was the one most sacrificed to the centralisation of political administration, partially, no doubt, in consequence of her position being the most distant and the most isolated one. There are many devoted Gallegans who compare their beloved territory to Finland, to Ireland and Hungary, and are never tired of saying that self-government alone could restore to her the prosperity that has forsaken her shores. They feel that as long as she is governed at a distance and by strangers she can never hope to raise her head.

Less troubled by invaders, less influenced by the Moors than the rest of Spain, Galicia at one time became the centre in which was propagated the purest of Spain’s lyric poetry; she constituted a neo-Gothic society the hearth on which were kindled the earliest flames of Peninsular civilisation;[3] hither came even kings to complete their education, and the language of Galicia—“O crown of fame!”—was the medium chosen by Spain’s greatest troubadours in which to express their poetic thoughts. But Galicia lost her political existence, and with it her culture was also extinguished.

But neither unification nor centralisation have the power to destroy national traditions, and Galicia is still, as one of her children has expressed it, “the land of glorious recollections.” The songs of her bards are still in the hearts of her people, and a passionate love for her mountains, vales, and rivers is perhaps the most marked of all the interesting traits to be found in the Gallegan character.

We were all taught at school, if not in the nursery, that Spain was conquered by the Romans, and later on by the Moors,—all Spain, except one little corner to the north-west,—and some of us have wondered how it came to pass that one little corner of the Peninsula should have succeeded in resisting so stoutly, not only Julius Cæsar, but the Moorish hosts who for eight long centuries held sway over the rest of the land. We have wondered what sort of people the Gallegans were, and whence came their martial genius, and, above all, their unconquerable love of liberty.

Every group of human beings, every town, every nation, leaves to posterity some record of its civil life and of its customs, according to the degree of civilisation in which it lived. These records come down to us preserved in rocks and stones, in{4} hieroglyphics, in Runic characters and in Greek and Latin inscriptions, in lines upon parchment and in rustic dwellings. Such is the book in which our past is written, the book in which every generation has written a page. Some British ethnologists still think that the Basques are the oldest inhabitants of Spain, and that they once spread all over the Peninsula, but, as Barros Sivelo[4] and others have pointed out, that is impossible, for there is no trace of the Basques in the whole of Galicia. On the other hand, it has been proved many times and beyond all doubt that Celtic tribes inhabited that part of Spain for a considerable period. Borrow, after translating the Bible into Basque, strongly opposed the theory that this language was of Celtic origin. As this gifted student of languages spoke Erse, the native language of Ireland, fluently as well as that of the Basques, I think we may consider him a competent judge when he tells us that “perhaps in the whole of Europe it would be difficult to discover two languages which exhibit fewer points of mutual resemblance than the Basque and the Irish.”[5]

The oldest-known inhabitants of Spain were called Iberians. There are many theories about these people as to who they really were and whence they came, the most interesting and probable theory being that of Marcus Varro (who was about ten years older than Cicero), that conscientious historians believed that they were originally Scythian Iberians, and that they made their way from the neighbourhood of Armenia by way of northern Africa to Spain.[6] It is, at any rate, an interesting fact that Georgia also bore the name of Iberia in olden days, and that the hemispheric writing found among the Georgians of the present day is brought to our memory by the appearance of the wonderful hemispheric writing still to be distinctly traced upon the boulders of Galicia. Furthermore, we learn from the chronicle of Idatius, written in the fifth century, that the Roman Emperor Theodosius was born in the town of Cauca, in the province of Galicia.[7] No one can say with certainty where the town of Cauca was situated, but it is thought to have been somewhere between Braga and the river Miño. Now the word cauca in the language of the ancient Scythians meant “white,” and the name of the mountains of Georgia which divide Europe from Asia is{5} “Caucasus,” said to have been given to them on account of their peaks being eternally “white” with snow.[8] So here we have at least one Asiatic Iberian name given to a town of Galicia, and we should in all probability find others were we to begin to search for them.[9]

The Iberians of the Caucasus are believed to have established themselves on the banks of the Caucasian rivers as far back as 3000 B.C. They multiplied so fast, we are told, that four hundred years after their arrival numbers of them wandered forth to seek a new home. They hurried along the northern coast of Africa and entered Spain by what was then the Isthmus of Hercules. But when the Celts came to Spain there were two other peoples already there besides the Iberians—the Ligurians and the Phœnicians. Jubainville assures us that the presence of Ligurians in Spain is attested by the presence of twenty-one names ending in asco, asca, ascon, and usco, and three of these names are found in Galicia. The Phœnicians never conquered Spain, they were only her masters as far as commerce was concerned. From the first to the last the Spanish Peninsula has never been completely conquered by any of its invaders except the Romans.

I have not had an opportunity of following the more recent anthropological studies of Señor Anton Ferrandez in connection with the subject of the first inhabitants of Spain, but in some of his lectures in the Athenæum of Madrid he has propounded a theory that the two primitive races of Spain were that of the Cro-Magnon and that of the Celto-Slav. His conviction had been supported, moreover, by the recent discovery of prehistoric antiquities in Egypt analogous to those that have been found in Spain such as stone instruments, ornamental vases, and pictorial engravings upon rocks, representations of men and animals. In certain cases the signs discovered on Egyptian rocks have been found to be identical with those found in central Spain (Fuencaliente, Cueva di los Letreros, etc.); even the red colour with which some of them were engraved appeared to be the same. It is also anticipated that the recent discoveries made by Evans in the island of Crete may throw more light upon this problem.[10] I saw recently in the Archæological Museum at Madrid some cases of glazed terra-cotta fragments from the neighbourhood of Cordova exactly similar to those that have been found{6} at Arezzo in Italy, and which are considered to be Etruscan; in another room I found some remarkable stone figures of women with peaked head-dresses, said to be Phœnician antiquities, but which bore an unmistakable resemblance to the stone babus found on the plains of Russia, and attributed to the Huns.[11] The Spanish ones were, it is true, very much smaller, but the attitude and the position of the hands was identical. Another recent discovery is that of fragments of pottery in various parts of Spain bearing the zigzag ornamentation—supposed to represent the running of water—which is so often found upon Egyptian pottery.[12] Señor Melida considers this a fresh testimony to the Libian origin of the primitive inhabitants of Spain.

So far no comparative study has been made of the barrows and tumuli of Spain, but it has at least been ascertained that there are none in the east and only a few in the centre, while in the north, west, and south they are frequently to be met with—a fact that has been supposed by some to indicate the isolation in which their constructors lived. There are two distinct kinds of dolmen: some are square in form, notably those in Cataluña and Andalusia; others are circular, with walls arranged in a conical form—the latter being the type most frequent in Galicia and in Portugal.

In Galicia, barrows, locally known as castros, are very numerous. On one occasion four were pointed out to me during an hour’s drive. As Señor Villa Amil has remarked, they are too well fortified to be temples, and too numerous and too near together to be war camps. During the Middle Ages the Gallegans used them as forts; and earlier still, when defending themselves against the Romans, they made them their chief strongholds. These castros are frequently mentioned in the Historia Compostelana, and always as fortresses. Señor Villa Amil concludes that they must have originally been, at one and the same time, both fortresses and towns. Strabo’s statement that the Celts lived in little villages close to one another supports this view. Some authors, taking the accessary for the principal, have called these castros, mamoas, or modorras; but mamoas are, in fact, what archæologists have agreed to call tumuli. In the old Latin documents of Galicia these last are called mamulas and mamonas. The most important articles found in these mamoas are the so-called{7} torcs, or torques, of massive gold, with coarse workmanship and very little ornamentation. Señor Villa Amil explains the paucity of iron instruments by the climatic conditions of the country, which he thinks lead to the total decomposition of iron weapons. Handmills of two pieces of granite have been found, very similar to those discovered in French caves. Though he has found many fragments of pottery, Señor Villa Amil has never come across a whole vase, and he takes this as a proof that the people who formed these tumuli could not have used funeral urns; the fragments are in almost every case of a material which gives them an undoubtedly historic character—they are of clay mixed with sand and scattered over with mica. Some iron instruments and some bronze jewellery, more finely worked than the gold torques, were found with these. Our friend concludes that the tumuli must be prehistoric citadels which continued to be used as fastnesses right down to the end of the Middle Ages. Melida states that on all the mamoas of Galicia there have been found indications of the cremation of the dead. Señor Macineira has prepared a map of the castros in the neighbourhood of Ortigueira (Galicia), showing which of them he considers to be of ante-Roman and which of Roman origin,[13] those of Roman origin being similar to our “Cæsar’s camps.” Many of them served as defences of the coast. They are oblong or circular in shape with double parapets, often showing that much thought must have been expended upon their construction. It is supposed that the ante-Roman ones were used as the residences of tribal chiefs as well as for sepulchres, while Druidical stones resembling those of Stonehenge are to be seen in several wild and mountainous spots, and huge heaps of stones like the cairns of Scotland and Ireland also testify to Celtic customs. Galicia certainly rivals the British Isles in her megalithic remains; she can also boast of “rocking” boulders[14] such as those that were formerly used as tests of female virtue in Brittany. That Celts inhabited Galicia at a very early period in the history of the human race is certain, but they were not her earliest inhabitants. Barros Sivelo was convinced, after years of study, that the earliest inhabitants of Galicia were neither Celts nor Iberians. To discover who were the forerunners of these two races will be the business of archæology, and in archæology the words “prehistoric” and “historic” cease to have any value, for every object that comes{8} down to us from the earliest times is itself a historical document, which, if properly interpreted, will help to throw light upon the past.

Jubainville,[15] who has devoted years of patient study to the ancient history of the Celtic race, tells us in his latest work that the Britons reached Great Britain from the continent in the eleventh century B.C., and that their language is represented to-day by two of their living daughters, the Welsh-speaking people in Britain and the Breton-speaking people of Brittany in France. He also believes that the Celts penetrated into Spain from France before Druidism had reached Gaul from its birthplace, Britain. When the Celts and the Iberians had, in certain parts of Spain, amalgamated into one race, they began to be called Celtiberians; but in the corner of Spain with which we have now to do a small group of Celtic tribes kept themselves quite distinct from the Iberians. The Celts of Galicia were still Celts pure and simple when the Romans, under Decimus Brutus, conquered that province in B.C. 136, and it is from them that the present inhabitants of Galicia have inherited their Celtic place-names, their Celtic bagpipe, their Celtic dances, their Celtic temperament, and many other things Celtic which they share with their neighbours of Scotland, Ireland, and Brittany to-day.

Celtic Spain is thought to have embraced part of Lusitania (now the north of Portugal), the whole of the territory now called Galicia, Asturias, and all the other northern kingdoms of the Peninsula. Paul Orosius, a local writer of the fourth century, is one of our authorities here, but Manuel de la Huerta y Vega was somewhat doubtful on this point.

With regard to the derivation of the word “Galicia” there are still many contested opinions. Florez[16] tells us that the ancients spelt it both with a C and a G. Martial speaks of “Oceano Callaico,” and Brutus was called “Callaicus” when he returned to Rome for his “triumph.” St. Isidore of Seville derived the word “Galicia” from γαλα, the Greek word for milk, thinking that the inhabitants had received the name on account of their milky-white complexions. Julius Cæsar begins his Commentaries by saying that they called themselves Celts in their own language[17] and that the Roman equivalent was “Galli,” but Florez argues that{9} as the Celts had relations with the Greeks long before they had any with Rome, we must take the name Galatos to be much more ancient than that of Galli, the former having been used by the Greeks, and the latter by the Romans. St. Isidore says that the Gallegos were also called Galos, and that both these names originated in the fairness of their complexions; but again Florez demurs, assuring us that he has never seen in any document the name of Gallos applied to the Gallegans. “We know,” he adds, “that the Celts entered Galicia, but the territory they occupied was called ‘celtico,’ not ‘galico’ nor ‘galiciense.’ ” Mela and others thought, on the other hand, that the term Calaicos was derived from the name of a town called Cale. Florez says that it is certain, from the writings of Sallust, that there once existed a town of the name of Cale to the north of the Duero, and that at the mouth of that river there was a Portus Cale, from which the name of Portugal is derived; but he concludes his chapter on this subject by declaring that it is impossible to say what is the true derivation of the word “Galicia.”

The question as to how and whence the Celts entered Galicia has become of late years a thorny subject to Spanish students of Gallegan history, and a foreigner who has followed their discussions can hardly approach it without feeling that he is treading upon dangerous ground. I shall avoid taking it upon myself to decide which of the many theories put before the Spanish public is nearest to the truth. There are some who think that Galicia, Ireland, and America were once connected by land, and there are many who maintain that in prehistoric times there must have been a close maritime intercourse between Ireland and Galicia.

Both the Scotch and the Irish have traditions to the effect that the native races of Scotland and Ireland are descended from Spaniards. Curiously enough, I came across a proof of the freshness of such traditions in the minds of the Irish of my own day just as I was starting for Galicia in 1907. An Irish maid who was assisting me to prepare for my departure, on hearing that Spain was the destination of my journey, remarked, “That is the country my people came from. All the Irish came from Spain a long time ago.” “Are you quite sure?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied, “quite sure. Everybody in Ireland knows that; even the poor people know it.”

Some Spanish writers believe that the Celts, passing from Galicia to Ireland, crossed thence to England. “But if it is true,” says Aguiar, “that the English Celts came to{10} France from England, how comes it that Julius Cæsar tells us that the Galli went to England to be instructed in the sciences?” Others are of the opinion that the earliest inhabitants of Galicia entered Spain at a much earlier date than that which the Gauls settled in France—Herodotus having written about Spanish Celts, but not about French ones. They believe that the Spanish Celts are a branch of the Cimmerians described by Herodotus as dwelling in the Crimea,[18] who disappeared completely from the neighbourhood of the Black Sea, and were thought to have settled in Wales under the name of Cimbri.[19] There have come down to our own times many geographical names, not only in Britain, but also in Galicia, containing the roots Cam, Camb, Cambr, Cim, and Cimbr.

The earliest documentary information about Galicia comes to us from the Romans, from the writings of Julius Cæsar, Strabo, and Pliny the Younger, from Justin, Silicus Italicus, and Asclepiades. The last-named writer speaks of Greek colonies in Galicia and Lusitania, but many Spanish writers have discredited their existence, and Barros Sivelo affirms that there is not a single monument in Galicia testifying to the Greeks having settled there. Recent writers have devoted much time to the extraction of imaginary Greek roots from words in daily use among the Gallegan peasantry, but, as far as I can judge, too much free play has been allowed to their imagination; and when one remembers how distinct are the traces left by Greek colonies in other parts of the world, one naturally looks for more substantial proof than that which is afforded by a page or two of strained philological comparisons.[20] The tradition has, however, been handed down to us that several Gallegan towns, notably those of Tuy and Pontevedra, owe their origin to Greek{11} settlers, and certain Greek customs are said to be still extant there.

There were Phœnician colonies in Galicia in the twentieth century B.C. In Pontevedra I came across an interesting little Spanish book with the title, “A Critical Dissertation, undertaken to prove that William Cambden was wrong in stating that the islands to which the Phœnicians came for tin were the Scilly Islands, and that these islands (known to the ancients as the Cassiterides) are those which are situated on the coast of the kingdom of Galicia”[21] (opposite Vigo harbour). Ptolemy wrote of them as being ten in number, and all inhabited, except one, by a people who clad themselves in long black tunics with a girdle round their waist, who walked staff in hand and wore beards like goats.

Pliny, quoting Herodotus, owned that he knew nothing about the islands in question, “Nec Cassiterides novi insulas, unde ad nos venit stanum.” The first writer to mention these islands is Herodotus. Himilcon’s expedition is supposed by the Spanish historian Velazquez to have taken place in 400 B.C. Cornide quotes many Spanish writers who believed the Cassiterides to have been situated on the coast of Galicia; he then complains that Cambden only quoted that part of Diodorus Siculus which was favourable to his theory, and passed over in silence the words “supra Lusitanorum provinciam multum stannei est metalli in insulis videlicet occidentalibus Oceano Iberico adjacentibus quas idcirco Cassiterides nuncuparit.” How could this passage possibly refer to the Scilly Islands? Then, too, if the Scilly Islands were once so rich in tin, it surely is strange that they now show traces of nothing but granite and quartz. But what islands are these on the Gallegan coast that may once have contained so rich a supply of tin? Only a group of minute ones opposite the harbour of Vigo. “Perhaps,” say some, “the group contained larger islands once; they may have been swallowed by the sea.”

The Phœnicians had long held sway over the empire of the sea, and to this they owed their immense wealth. In the Bible they are alluded to as merchant princes. They visited India for their own private interests, and fetched thence gold, precious stones, valuable woods, ivory, monkeys, and peacocks’ feathers. Herodotus tells us that to satisfy the curiosity of Necho, king of Egypt, they sailed round Africa, starting from the Red Sea and taking three years for the voyage. When they explored the coast of Africa they brought{12} away as trophies the skins of some Ethiopian women who had refused to be taken captive alive. The Carthaginians and the Phœnicians were both from the same Semitic stock as the Hebrews. Aguiar, quoting Pliny, says that Midacritus made a voyage to the Cassiterides in 1600 B.C., thus initiating commerce in the famed tin of these islands, and he goes on to say that without doubt the Cassiterides, if they were not on the coast of Galicia, were the British Isles. The Phœnicians even visited Ireland and brought information to the Romans about far-off Thule. If these navigators reached Britain, where vestiges of their language still remain, they must of a certainty have been acquainted with the coast of Galicia, whose mountains contained tin of so fine a quality that where English tin contained six parts per hundred of lead these contained thirty. According to Jubainville, it was from the Phœnicians that the Celts (after their establishment in Gaul) heard of the rich mines in Spain which induced them to conquer that country. The power of the Phœnicians was already in its decline when they came under the sway of Persia about the year 537 B.C. Jubainville believes that the word Cassiterides is derived through the Greek χασσιτερος, from a Celtic root cassi, meaning agreeable—whence also he derives the Irish word caise, meaning esteem, love. He believes that the Celts from what is now Hesse-Darmstadt, being pleased with Great Britain, gave it that name, and he agrees with Reinach’s suggestion that tin came to be called χασσιτερος, because it was found in the country known by that name.[22]

Galicia has traditions reaching back into the remotest antiquity. The name of the famous tower of Hercules, at the entrance to the harbour of Coruña, proves the presence of Phœnicians in Galicia. It was they who named the Straits of Gibraltar the Pillars of Hercules, and they who gave the name of Hercules to a tower they erected in the harbour of Cadiz.

Local archæologists are, as we have seen, convinced that some other race dwelt in Galicia before it was invaded by the Celts, but they tell us that, so far, no very distinct vestige of such people has been traced, there is nothing sufficiently definite to prove their identity.

The fact that no iron implements from their time had been discovered till quite recently, leads to the conclusion that they were in absolute ignorance of the use of metals, but I speak with hesitation on this point, awaiting the final decision{13} of Señor Villa Amil at the conclusion of the interesting studies he is engaged in with respect to the iron instruments he has himself excavated in Galicia. Barros Sivelo, quoting Italicus, says that the ancient Celts wore their hair flowing down their backs, and semicircular caps upon their heads, while their women wore high peaked head-dresses covered with black veils which drooped over their foreheads. These people had a strange custom of exposing their sick upon the public highways in order that those who had suffered from the same malady might recommend a cure.

Florez says that Galicia sent forth the flower of her youth to fight under Hannibal, and he quotes Silius Italicus, “Misit dives Gallaecia pubes,” etc.

For twenty-four years Rome and Carthage had fought over Sicily. After the Sicilian defeat the Carthaginians, who were (like the Phœnicians) of Semitic extraction, landed at Cadiz with the flower of their army that they might gain in Spain what they had lost in Sicily.[23] Their leader was Hamilcar Barca, whose ambition it was to conquer Italy as well as Spain. Carthage had exploited Spain for four hundred years when, after the second Punic war, Rome took up the cause of the inhabitants of Spain against their Carthaginian oppressors, and Hamilcar found a worthy opponent in Scipio Africanus. The people of Spain, after fighting on the side of Scipio, were also crushed by the Romans in their turn, but they cost Rome every year an army and a consul. The cruelty of Lucullus and Galba made the name of Rome hateful to Spanish ears. Spanish bandits continually attacked the Roman legions; Rome feared insurrection more and more, and at last was not ashamed to buy with gold the life of her enemy.

When Quintus Fabius had subjugated the greater part of Lusitania,[24] now northern Portugal, the tribes dwelling in Galicia came down against the Roman cities, continually raiding them in flying columns, and fleeing to the mountains for refuge when the Romans gave them chase. Brutus, when he crossed the river Limia, was the leader of an expedition sent out to follow and punish them. In all these skirmishes the Gallegan women played a prominent part, taking the field beside their husbands and brothers, and employing their weapons with the greatest courage and determination. They received their wounds with silent fortitude, and no cry{14} of pain ever escaped their lips, even when the wounds which laid them low were mortal. Both sexes preferred death to loss of liberty, and when taken prisoners they put themselves and their little ones to death that they might not fall into slavery.

In the year 131 B.C., Brutus, entering Rome in triumph, received the name of Calaicus[25] in honour of his successes in Galicia. Nevertheless, he had not succeeded in penetrating into Galicia farther than the river Miño. Valerius Maximus tells us that Brutus found one city in Lusitania—Cinania or Cinninia—so hard to conquer that at last he sent legates to offer them money, to which the citizens replied that their ancestors had left them iron in order that they might defend their city, not gold with which to buy liberty from an avaricious emperor—“A speech,” adds Valerius Maximus, “that would have sounded better in the mouths of the Romans than in their ears.” The name of this city is not mentioned by other writers, and no trace of its site has remained.

The inscription relating to the Triumph of Brutus shows that Galicia as well as Lusitania belonged to “Further Spain.” But in the time of Julius Cæsar historians spoke of that general’s having made Galicia and Lusitania equally the goal of his campaigns. “Further Spain” was the theatre of his battles from first to last. It was there that he set the seal to his triumph over the sons of Pompey, and there that he did the deeds of prowess that won him, first the title of Quæstor, and at length that of Prætor of Spain. It was when he received the last-mentioned title that his head began to be filled with the idea of a universal empire, and that he added ten Cohorts to the twenty he had already.[26] For one of his expeditions in these parts he caused ships full of troops to be sent round the coast from Cadiz. Doubling Cape Finisterre, he arrived with his fleet before Coruña (Brigantium), and terrifying the nations who had never before set eyes on such{15} an Armada. Galicia was peopled at that time with many different tribes and races.

Strabo, writing in the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, stated that between the Tagus and Cape Finisterre there dwelt as many as thirty different races, most of whom bore such strange names that the Greeks and Romans found them difficult to pronounce, and Mela remarks that some of these names could not be fitted to the Roman tongue. Plutarch tells us that Julius Cæsar then conquered not only the Lusitanians and Gallegans, but also many peoples till then unheard of at Rome. It was then that, proud of their general, his soldiers for the first time proclaimed Cæsar Imperator (they being intoxicated with the booty with which he had enriched them). It was in Galicia that Julius Cæsar first dreamed of becoming an emperor.

When the Gallegans fled for refuge to their mountains, these seemed inaccessible to the Roman legions. In fact, so much importance did Augustus attach to their complete subjugation, that, rather than trust the task to one of his generals, he prepared to command in person; but in spite of all his efforts he was so continually repulsed that he fell ill from sheer worry, and was obliged to retire from the field and leave his generals in command. At last the Romans gained the upper hand, and Augustus made Galicia into a province. It was then that Galicia was separated from Lusitania by the river Duero. She was not separated from Taraconensis till the reign of Constantine the Great, in the year 330.

The Emperor Theodocius, we have already observed, was born in Galicia in 346. It is thought that his son Arcadius was also born there. The mother of the latter, Flacila, was herself a native of Galicia; the poet Claudia praises her beauty in a poem in honour of the marriage of the Emperor Honorius. It was in the reign of Theodocius that the heresy of Priscillian spread throughout Galicia.[27]

From the year 411 the northern barbarians who had invaded Spain, the Sueves and Vandals, began to hold sway over Galicia. As these two tribes could not manage to agree, it ended in the Vandals vacating that territory and passing southward to Bætica: thence they passed over to Africa in the year 429. The Sueves, who were one of the bravest of the German tribes, then spread all over Galicia, the Gallegans defending themselves in the mountain fastnesses with{16} great bravery, and often forcing the Sueves to make treaties with them.

Very little is known about the doings of the Sueves during the century and a half of their power, before they were finally overthrown by Theodoricus, king of the Goths. But certain recent Spanish historians have filled in that part of their narrative with original legends, and made as much as they could out of the historical fact of the conversion of the king of the Sueves to Christianity through the instrumentality of St. Martin Dumiensis. In the year 585, Leovigild, king of the Goths, finally destroyed the kingdom of the Sueves, and made himself lord of all the territory within and around Galicia which had come under their rule. Although St. Martin was the means of the conversion of King Miro, his people were not brought into the fold of the Church till the reign of Recaredo, son of Leovigild.

Florez impresses upon his readers that the kingdom of Galicia is the most ancient of all the Spanish kingdoms; that not only is it older than that of the Goths, but also than that of the Franks in Gaul, seeing that it existed in the year 411, and never from that date did it cease to be a kingdom. So wide did its boundaries become at one time, that Archbishop Rodrigo spoke, in his History of the Barbarians, of the king of the Sueves as practically the sole monarch in Spain. Leovigild did not destroy it, he incorporated it into the kingdom of the Goths. “Therefore,” says Florez, “the Spanish monarchy clearly dates from the year 411, when the Sueves established the kingdom of Galicia, that being quite independent of the Roman Empire.”{17}



Boundaries of Galicia—Spurs of the Pyrenees—The Rias—Exuberant vegetation—Herds of cattle—Rivers—The “River of Oblivion”—The Miño and the Sil—Sword-making—Ptolemy—The first map—France and geographical literature—The finest harbours in Europe—Columbus and Galicia—Rich in relics of the past

GALICIA is bounded on the north by the Bay of Biscay, on the south by Portugal, and on the east by the provinces of Asturias and Leon. This province is the most westerly and at the same time the most northerly part of Spain, and her cape—Finisterre—was once the uttermost part of the Roman Empire. It was from the Romans that Finisterre received its name, “the End of the Earth.” The Pyrenees, which extend along the whole of northern Spain, have their last ramifications in Galicia, meeting the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Finisterre.[28] If we place our hand flat upon a table with palm downward and fingers and thumb outstretched, the thumb pointing northwards and the middle finger due west, we have before us a rough idea of the configuration of Galicia. The back of the hand, the highest part, represents the mountains of moderate altitude which form the centre of the province, while the outstretched thumb and fingers represent the ridges into which these mountains divide as the Atlantic Ocean is approached. The waters of the Ocean run inland between each finger of the Pyrenees, forming a wide and beautiful Ria, such as in Scotland we should call a loch, and in Norway a fjord. But here the similitude to the human hand ends, for the beautiful bends and curves of the rias, their snake-like insinuations landward among the mountain slopes, bear no likeness to the straight lines of the human finger. The four principal inlets are called Rias bajas; they are the Ria de Muros, the Ria de Arosa, the Ria de Pontevedra, and the Ria de Vigo. The seacoast formed by these Rias and the smaller inlets to the north of them is so dangerous to ships that sailors call it “the coast{18} of death.” Many an English vessel has been lost on that coast—indeed, two ships from our shores met with disaster there in the year 1907. But a reform which has long been demanded by England seems at last about to be carried out. Señor Besada, Minister of Public Works, and one of the most eminent men in the Conservative party, is, we are told, about to give instructions for the provision of luminous buoys and fog-signals at the points of danger. A Commission of Engineers has already been nominated to study the question. It is here that the furious waves, working like yeast, break against the half-hidden rocks, and, rising to a stupendous height, swoop down upon them with thundering noise even in the most smiling weather. It is here that corpses of unfortunate fishermen are so constantly washed ashore that the local papers announce such events almost without comment. It is truly most appropriate that San Telmo, the patron saint of all Spaniards who go down to the sea in ships, should have had his birthplace in Galicia,[29] Spain’s breakwater against the Atlantic.[30]

The last outposts of the Pyrenees advance a considerable distance into the sea. The Atlantic Ocean alone checks the spread of “the great dorsal chain which comes down from Tartary and Asia,”[31] whose highest peak within the boundaries of Galicia is the peak of Guina, in the Sierra de Ancares, which is only a little over two thousand metres high:[32] many winters pass without its once becoming covered with snow. A glance at the map of Galicia will show the reader that this province is entirely composed of alternating peaks, hills, and valleys. It has often been called on this account “the Switzerland of Spain.” The rock of which the mountains and boulders are formed is almost entirely of granite. In fact, all the higher levels of the province of Pontevedra are so covered with granite that it is impossible to tell what other formation this stone has replaced. The rocky soil possesses all the ingredients most favourable to rich vegetation. Galicia has many different climates, resulting from the varied heights of the different zones above sea-level. The differences in temperature and in the humidity of the air are very considerable. Central Galicia is in the same latitude as Russian Turkestan, as part of Albania, and as Pennsylvania, but her climate is infinitely more humid than that of these countries. Heavy and continuous rains soak through the earth and replenish the innumerable mountain springs which are the great cause of Galicia’s wonderful fertility; the{19} springs, themselves perennial, feed in their turn the countless streamlets, each of which is again a fresh centre of evaporation. The vigorous vegetation which responds to these extremely favourable conditions helps to preserve, by the cool moisture of its rich and abundant foliage, the dampness of the atmosphere, and to the reunion of these three causes may be traced the remarkable humidity of the province.

The vegetation varies with the height; wheat, maize, and rye thrive in the basins of the valleys and in all the spots on a level with the sea. The peasants raise two crops a year on the same ground, but many writers who have studied the question say that these double harvests often result in more harm than good—the blind ambition of the ignorant peasants leading them to dry their rye too soon in their hurry to get the maize planted.

Right down to the seashore the ground is remarkable for its spontaneous vegetation, which is in itself a cause of the richness of the soil. Every kind of fruit tree known to Europe thrives upon the lower slopes of the ever-verdant valleys, the fruit upon the higher slopes ripening twenty days later than that upon the sea-level. Woods of oak and chestnut cover the hillsides, and pines dominate the loftiest crags of the mountain peaks. Within a radius of ten miles my eyes have rested upon pine-clad mountain scenery wild and beautiful as that of Norway, and upon a riviera of vegetation like that of Mentone, embracing the orange, the cactus, the olive, the fig, and even the lemon tree laden with its ripening fruit. The sides of the narrow and undulating valleys are often entirely vine-clad; the steeper slopes, cut into terraces, are planted with potatoes, cabbages, or bristle-pointed oats. Sometimes a mountain-side appears as if it were provided with a majestic flight of verdant steps cut in its side from base to summit.

High up among the mountains the peasants breed large herds of cattle, which graze upon the fertile plains and slake their thirst in the crystal water of the running brooks. “As one travels through Galicia,” wrote a monk of Osera in the seventeenth century, “one experiences at every mile—nay, at every step, let me say—a change of air, a change of sky, and a change of scene sufficient to create the impression that one has entered another country. Every kind of fruit, every kind of vegetable will thrive in Galicia; and if any particular kind is wanting, its absence must not be put down to any fault of the soil and climate, but to the laziness of the inhabitants in failing to cultivate it. It is true that one{20} country may excel another in the quality of one particular fruit, but it is nevertheless certain that, not only in all Spain, but, without any exaggeration, in all Europe, there is not a province that equals Galicia in the fertility of its soil.” I may add that all who have studied the subject from that day to this have added their testimony to that of this monk of Osera as to the extraordinary capabilities of the Gallegan soil.

The principal rivers of Galicia have kept the names given to them by the ancients—because the land through which they flow was never, like the rest of Spain, conquered by the Moors. Galicia is the best-watered territory in the Peninsula. The river Limia, known to the ancients as Lethes, or Oblivionis, was mentioned by Pliny as running between the Miño and the Duero, and Silius Italicus said of it—

“Inique super gravios lucentes volvit arenas,
Infernae populis referens oblivia Lethes.”[33]

The name of Limia was thought by Florez to be derived from the Greek word λιμνη, a lake; Pliny called it Limæa, and said that some called it Flumen oblivionis—“river of forgetfulness.” This river rises in the lake of Antela in the province of Orense, and, after flowing through a fertile valley to which it has given its name, and receiving the waters of two smaller streams, the Ginzo and the Salas, enters Portugal at Landoso, and at length flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Vianna de Castello.[34] The Greeks and Romans seem to have persuaded themselves that this river had the power of making people forget, in a moment and for ever, everything connected with the past; they consequently regarded it with positive terror—

“Formidatumque militibus flumen oblivionis.”[35]

Strabo tells how an allied army of Celts and Bætians who had joined forces for some particular expedition quarrelled after passing the Limia, and killed in the fray their common leader, after which they one and all, forgetting what was the object of their expedition and whither they were bound, became scattered, and each man returned home independently of the others.[36] Decimus Junius Brutus was the first Roman who dared to cross the river, and Livy relates that when Brutus ordered his soldiers to cross it they refused to do so, in fear lest by so doing they might lose all memory of{21} their country; whereupon Brutus, seizing the flag from his standard-bearer, waded into the river alone, and, having reached the opposite bank, returned to his soldiers and entreated them to follow him across, which they, overcoming their superstition, eventually did. More than one Portuguese poet, charmed by the beauty of the Limia’s winding banks and by the gentle flow of its limpid waters, and above all by its historic name—“river of forgetfulness”—has crystallised the legend of its miraculous power in musical verse, such as—

“O’ que inveja vos hei a esse correr,
Pola praia de Lima abaixo e’ arriba
Que tem tanta virtute de esquecer!”

Limia, in Portuguese, is spelt Lima, and the Lima of Peru was named after this river. Another point of interest in connection with this river of classic fame is the discovery that has recently been made by Dr. Marcelo Macias of the exact site upon which there once stood a great city, mentioned by Ptolemy as φορος λιμιχῶν and by later Roman writers as Civitas Limicorum.

Another of Galicia’s rivers, the Miño, is one of the six largest rivers in Spain. Its present name was given to it by the Romans; it is a Latin word meaning vermilion,[37] and was chosen on account of the metallic yellow its waters left upon their banks. St. Isidore and Justin both give this explanation of the name. Pliny says its mouth was four (Roman) miles wide, and Strabo adds that it was navigable for a distance of about eight hundred stadia. In the present day it is not navigable for even half that distance—“a great loss,” remarks Florez, “to commerce.” Florez, however, is convinced that the ancients called by the name of Miño the river that is now called the Sil—because the Sil is the river whose banks receive the vermilion. Orosius, moreover, speaks of Monte Medulio as situated above the Miño, whereas it is now above the Sil, at the point where that river enters Galicia, and the earth there is said to be of a reddish hue. Besides, the Sil runs into the sea, receiving the waters of many other streams, but it does not flow into any river. Molina, however, whose description of Galicia was first published in 1550, goes still further, and says he is sure the Gallegans changed the names of the two rivers because the Sil was a foreign river, rising outside Galicia, whereas the Miño was a native! Molina believed that the Miño got its name from Miñan, the spring which is its source. The Miño rises near the town of Lugo,{22} flows through the province of Orense, and, while forming the natural boundary between Galicia and Portugal, flows into the Atlantic a little beyond the town of Tuy. The beauty of the scenery through which the Miño passes after it has left the town of Orense is hardly to be surpassed in the whole of Spain.

Two other important rivers are the Sar and the Tambre, called by the ancients “Sars” and “Tamaris.” Both of these rivers are historically famous. Pliny mentions only two rivers in Spain as possessing the properties that temper iron—the Bibilis and the Turrafo. But Silius Italicus mentions the river Calybe as one whose waters were used to temper the metal of Spanish arms, and immediately afterwards he refers to the arms made in Galicia, and to their excellent quality. He supports the opinion of Justin, that Gallegan arms were alone found worthy to be used by the great Hannibal, whom the Spaniards presented with a complete suit of armour ornamented with tiny pictures of Dido and Æneas, of which each piece had been tempered by the waters of the Calybe and decorated with gold from the sands of the Tagus.

The river Calybe now bears the name of Cabe: it rises in the hills of Cebrero and flows into the Sil at the foot of the vine-clad mountain on which stands the ruined monastery of San Esteban. St. Isidore thought that this river gave the name of Calybis to iron, but the ancient Calybes of the east (afterwards called Chaldeans, according to Strabo) are said to have been the first people to employ iron; so the Gallegan river must surely have derived its name from them.

Another important river is the Eo, which, rising in Galicia above Salvatierra, divides this province from that of Asturias, and is the natural boundary line between Lugo and Oviedo. Galicia has upon her coast some of the finest harbours in Europe. Vigo, for one, has often been described as the finest natural harbour in the world; while Ferrol, once so famous as the Arsenal of Spain, is likely to become ere long, in the hands of English shipbuilders, one of the world’s greatest dockyards, and to supply ironclads to all the nations. One of the ships with which Columbus set sail to discover America was called La Gallega, and a book has been written to prove that not only did the great discoverer set sail from the harbour of Pontevedra, but his ship, La Gallega, was built in her dockyards with the wood of Gallegan pines.[38]

Many of the beautiful trees and shrubs that help to make Galicia’s gardens so beautiful in our day were imported by Jesuits who had gone as missionaries to the New World. In

[Image unavailable.]



short, if the traveller really wishes to understand and appreciate Galicia or any other part of Spain, it is imperative that, side by side with the objects of interest that present themselves to his view, he should become acquainted with the story of Spain’s glorious past. All who have studied Galicia are unanimous in their opinion that she contains more relics of that past and more trophies of antiquity than any other part of the Peninsula.{24}



Galicia’s first golden age—From Galicia to Palestine—The father of Spanish historians—His birthplace—Civitas Limicorum—An amusing story—Early life of Idatius—Arianism—St. Jerome—Paul Orosius—King Alfred’s translation—St. Augustine and Orosius—Orosius travels to Jerusalem—Roman pilgrims—Etheria—A plucky abbess—Her visit to the holy places—Gamurrini discovers the manuscript—Not Silvia but Etheria—A curious coincidence—Unpublished manuscripts

IT was in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries of the Christian era that Galicia reached her first zenith as a centre of learning and literary fame. During this period her intellectual development and culture far exceeded that of the whole of the rest of Spain: she was freely acknowledged to be the Magistra Litterarum. The writings of the men who made her famous are many of them preserved intact to this day; they are all, without exception, the work of monks or church dignitaries. Outside the Church learning was practically non-existent. But the monks and bishops of those days were anything but mere bookworms, mystics, or recluses; they were men who helped to make history as well as to chronicle and record it. Many a Spanish bishop had earned a name for bravery on the field of battle before his elevation to a See, and was, as Lopez Ferreiro has remarked, a soldier at heart, and, what is also worthy of notice, a married man—with a large family. Many a monk in those days was a bold and fearless traveller, who had seen many peoples and many lands, and enlarged his mental horizon by much and wide observation. We moderns are apt to think that travelling for purposes of education is a comparatively recent invention, but that is not the case. From Galicia in the fourth century young men of spirit and religious zeal—ay, and even young women—started forth to visit far-distant lands and gather for themselves the flowers of learning and piety from their native meadows.

Jerusalem was a great meeting-place for leaders of religious thought at that date, so that it had a double attraction for{25} young Gallegans fired with spiritual ambition and a Celtic love of enterprise. Many found their way thither, and each on his return to Galicia became in himself an influence of culture in his diocese or monastery as the case might be. The journey from Galicia to Palestine, in spite of its difficulties and dangers, seems to have been undertaken by the pious as readily in those days as a journey from London to Rome is in our own. Monasteries, which were in reality schools of higher culture, had already become numerous throughout the province. Most of the parochial churches had already been established before the end of the first half of the fourth century; they were almost all dedicated to martyrs, and erected over some spot sanctified by the presence of holy relics.[39] Young men of noble family invariably took up the profession of arms or entered the Church; consequently, clergy and monks abounded in the land. “Fifteen centuries separate us from that epoch,” says Ferreiro, “and twice has the chain which connects with our own time been broken, first by the invasion of barbarians, and then by that of the Saracens. Yet the stars of that period still shine.” Perhaps the brightest of these stars is Idatius, the father of Spanish historians.

Bishop Idatius, the celebrated author of the earliest chronicles of Spanish history, was born in Galicia, in a town, now non-existent, which took its name from the river Limia, and was called civitas Limicorum, or “the city of the Limicos.” Very little was known about this city till an eminent local archæologist, Dr. Marcelo Macias, began to devote time and study to the deciphering of some inscriptions that had been found upon certain stones on the shores of the lake of Antela close to the spot where the Limia rises. Dr. Macias has recently found the site of the city, and is now convinced that it was once populous and wealthy, not a Roman but a Gallegan town, and the birthplace of eminent men—a city respected and feared during the later centuries of the Roman Empire.[40] Until Dr. Macias discovered the site, the Portuguese were in the habit of claiming that Portuguese soil had given birth to the famous Idatius, who in his youth had visited Jerusalem and knew St. Jerome, and who in his old age wrote the famous Chronicles—a priceless treasure as regards the early history{26} not only of Spain but also of Spanish Catholicism. Ptolemy mentions this city as φορος λιμιχῶν, and the Ravenate calls it Limia or Limæa, and mentions it as the first halting-place on the road leading from Braga to Lugo, by way of Tuy. Dr. Macias has satisfactorily proved that this city once stood in the province of Orense, near what are now the little towns of Lodoselo and Nocela de Pena, two miles to the south-east of Ginzo de Limia; he has proved this from inscriptions discovered in that neighbourhood in the middle of the eighteenth century, which are dedications, the one to Hadrian and the other to Antoninus Pius, by the city of the Limicos (Civitas Limicorum). Till now, most Spanish writers, confounding the Forum Limicorum of Ptolemy with the Limia of the Itinerary, have asserted erroneously that it was the Ponte de Lima in the neighbouring kingdom of Portugal. Florez and Hübner both helped to make the inscriptions known, but it was left to Dr. Macias to interpret their significance to students of Spanish history. They now stand in the museum of local antiquities at Orense.

The story of their arrival there is amusing. These stones had been employed in the building of a hermitage erected on the spot where they had been found[41] in honour of St. Peter; they had been built into the porch in such a manner that their inscriptions could be read by those who entered the church, and it was here that a neighbouring abbot noticed them, and, about the year 1775, drew the attention of Florez to them. In 1835, at the taking down of the hermitage, another abbot brought them into the town with several other Roman tablets. He had a stone cross made of them and placed in the open space before the church. As time went on the ignorant peasants got the idea that the cross protected them and their cattle from hailstones, and so strong was their superstition that they did not like strangers to approach the cross even to copy the inscription. The stones were at length presented to the Orense Museum by the bishop of the diocese, and in November 1897 three of the leading members of the Orense Archæological Society—Dr. Macias, the late Arturo Vazquez, and Señor Benito F. Alonso—started out to fetch them. Although the Abbot of Nocela had assured them that the peasants of the neighbourhood would offer no objection to their taking the stones,—adding that he had continually preached to them on the folly of their superstition,—these gentlemen thought it prudent to be ready for all emergencies, and took along with them some half-dozen policemen from{27} Ginzo. Thanks to this precaution, they did not return home with battered skulls and broken noses, nor were they stoned to death on the road; yet one or the other fate would certainly have befallen them had they ventured on that expedition unprotected, for the men and boys of Nocela, having got wind of their purpose, gathered together before the porch of the little church and protested against the removal of the stones, while their womenfolk set up an outrageous hullabaloo at the corners of the village streets; and one urchin, thinking to get the better of the policemen, climbed the church tower that he might deliver a surprise attack upon the common enemy. No effort on the part of the archæologists to bring the people to reason met with the least success. “As pedras son nosas,” they cried (“The stones are ours”), and even tried to offer bodily resistance. When at length the stones had been taken possession of, there was not a single yoke of oxen to be found in the village, and a cart had to be brought from the neighbouring town of Lodoselo; but even then the peasant driver, terrified by the threats of the people standing round, begged with tears that he might be released from his bargain, and there was nothing for it but to let him go. Finally, the policemen themselves fetched a pair of oxen from the fields and harnessed them to a cart; the stones were put into it, and an old man was persuaded to drive it. Thus, at nightfall the party set out for Ginzo, the wife and daughter of the driver following the cart and tearfully entreat him to return. The rest of the people, who would have thrown stones but for their fear of the police, accompanied their departure with prolonged howls and hisses. Dr. Macias relates this story in order, he explains, to warn future archæologists that the modern citizens of the Forum Limicorum are as superstitious as were the Romans who refused to cross the river Limia at the command of Brutus.

In the prologue of the chronicle of Idatius we read these words: “Idatius Provinciae Gallaeciae natus in Lemica Civitate,[42] mage divino munerequam proprio merito summi Praesul creatus officii,” etc. “Neither in his prologue nor in the years 431 and 462 of his chronicle,” says Dr. Macias, “where he speaks of himself as a bishop, does he once mention the name of his diocese; neither is it given us by St. Isidore or by Rodrigo, Archbishop of Toledo, when they speak of{28} Idatius.” Dr. Macias reminds his readers that the fact of Idatius’s having been a native of Limica in no way proves that he was ever a bishop of that city. He is generally mentioned as “a bishop of Galicia” simply.

Idatius gives no clue in his chronicle as to the date of his own birth, but we know that it was towards the close of his life that he sorrowfully wrote, lacrymabile propriae et vita tempus—and ut extremus plagae, ita extremus et vitae. These words were written by him in connection with the events of the year 469, the last year of those included in the chronicle. Dr. Macias adds that if he was about eighty years of age when he finished his chronicle, he must have been born about the year 390. The Portuguese writer Jorge Cardoso states in his Hagiologio that Idatius was of the race of the Sueves; but, as it happens, these people did not invade the Peninsula till twenty years later. Dr. Macias is sure, moreover, that the fact of the name being foreign to the Latin tongue indicates that he was not a Roman but a Limico of the Hispano-Galaic race.

While still young—adhuc infantulus, or, as he says in another place, et infantulus et pupillus—he was taken to the East, either by his father or some other member of his family, and there he met St. Jerome, St. John, St. Eulogius, and St. Theophilus (bishops respectively of Jerusalem and Alexandria). His pilgrimage, as he calls it, could not have lasted longer than the year 402, when he was about twelve or fourteen years old, for he says he cannot give the dates of the deaths of St. Jerome and the other Fathers—among whom he mentions St. Epiphanius, who, we know, died in 402.

In his shorter chronicle, Cronicon pequeño, we read that Idatius was converted to Christianity in the year 416,—“Idatii ad Dominum conversio peccatoris,”—and that eleven years afterwards he was elected bishop. Macias, like Florez, explains that the words conversio ad Dominum do not mean that he was converted from heathendom to Christianity, but that, till then a layman, he now entered the Church.

The stipulated peace between the natives of Galicia and the Sueves[43] having been broken, the former commissioned Idatius to represent their case to the general Aecius. He set out for Gaul upon this errand in the year 431, and returned{29} to Galicia the following year, accompanied by Count Censorius, the ambassador sent by Aecius to try and induce Hermanricus II to make a fresh peace. But Censorius being called to Rome by the Empress Placidia before this had been accomplished, the negotiations were left in the hands of Idatius and several other bishops. “Great,” says Dr. Macias, “were the services which upon this critical occasion Idatius rendered to his country”, but this is not by any means his only title to honour. Galicia was at that juncture not only overrun by barbarians but perturbed by heretics, and Idatius played no mean part in the struggle that was sustained between Arianism[44] and the Sueves, and which was more serious against the doctrines of Priscillian, which had by that time taken such deep root in Galicia, “a struggle obscure but heroic,” said Menendez y Pelayo, “which must have left some records behind it; but the torments endured by human thought and by the conscience are those which are the least reflected in the pages of history. What long accounts of conquests and battles, what innumerable catalogues of dynasties would we not gladly relinquish that we might know when and how the heresy of Priscillian disappeared from among the people of Galicia!”[45] But we will leave the subject of the persecution of the Priscillianists to another volume, and turn our attention at present to the writings of Idatius. The greatness of his name is due to the chronicles he left behind him,[46] and not to his religious zeal. Historians have pronounced them to be a literary production of the greatest importance, not only because they are the oldest historical documents possessed by Spain and because they testify to Spain’s having been one of the earliest among the nations to cultivate history, but also on account of the quality of the facts recorded. Florez calls them “an original source from which we may learn the events connected with the entrance of the Vandals, the Alanes, and the Sueves into Spain.” The fifth century would indeed be, historically, almost blank but for the light that is thrown upon its events by the chronicles of Idatius. St. Jerome, the translator and continuer of the history begun by Eusebius of Cæsarea, did not get farther than the year 378, everything having been thrown into confusion by the invasion of the barbarians. This, says Macias, was the point at which Idatius took up{30} the thread. His chronicles begin with the following year, 379, the first year of the reign of Theodosius, and end in the year 469, thus embracing the events of ninety-one years. Idatius witnessed and took part in many of the events he recorded. Being, as he himself said, cognisant of all the calamities of his unfortunate epoch, he relates with truthfulness the invasion of Galicia by the Sueves, and paints their methods of raiding the country with the most lively colours. But for him the Spaniards would to-day be in ignorance of many of the facts which later historians—St. Isidore, and Rodrigo, Archbishop of Toledo, and others—have handed down, for they constantly copied word for word from the chronicles of Idatius.

Until the year 1615, historians possessed only fragmentary editions of the chronicle, bearing the title Chronographia ex Idatio collectore quodem Caroli Maequali. But about that date a more complete and a more correct parchment copy was discovered in a monastery at Metz, and from this editions appeared in Rome, Paris, Leyden, Amsterdam, Frankfort, and other places. There is also his second chronicle, called Cronicon pequeño de Idacio, because it is practically an extract, or résumé, of the first. It begins twenty-six years later and terminates a hundred years later. In spite of its brevity, it contains several facts that are not included in the larger one, as, for instance, the conversion of Idatius above alluded to. Another document, Fastos Consulares (from the year 45 B.C. to A.D. 468), has been called, by the Jesuit Sirmondo, Idacianos, though it bears no author’s name; but Florez has proved in his España Sagrada that Idatius was not the author, and that it must have been penned by some Spaniard of the sixth century. “Truth to say,” concludes Dr. Macias, “Idatius can dispense with this new mark of literary fame. Great enough is the honour due to him as a writer for having traced, in the midst of such calamitous times, the first page of our mediæval history, a gloomy picture indeed, but one of rugged grandeur, in which his own venerable personality stands clearly forth, a glory to Galicia and an honour to the city of the Limicos.”

Another Gallegan star of the fourth century was Paul Orosius, also an historian. In the time of King Alfred Orosius was so well known that his name was commonly used instead of the title of his work. This is evident from the first sentence of Alfred’s translation—“Here beginneth the book which men call Orosius.” Joseph Bosworth, whose literal translation of King Alfred’s Anglo-Saxon version appeared in 1854, said in his preface, “The{31} compendious history of the world from the creation to the year A.D. 116, written by Orosius, continued to be held in high esteem from the days of Alfred till the invention of printing, for it was selected as one of the first works to be committed to the press. The first edition appeared in Germany as early as 1471. After this numerous editions were published by the most celebrated printers”; and this writer adds, “It must be interesting to know the origin of a work that has attracted so much attention and been highly valued for so many ages,—a work chosen by the first man of his age, our glorious King Alfred, as a book worthy to be translated by him into Anglo-Saxon,—the English of his day—to teach his people history.”

For centuries it was erroneously believed that Orosius was a native of Tarragona, on the shores of the Mediterranean, but Florez and others have now satisfactorily proved that he was a native of Braga in Galicia. Orosius himself stated that his patria was ab oceani littore (on the ocean shore), and that it was overrun by barbarians. He was born before the year 395, in which Arcadius and Honorius ascended the throne. It seems that he received his education and was ordained to the priesthood at Braga, for he was already a presbyter[47] when he started on his travels.

It appears from the testimony of both St. Augustine and Orosius that the latter left Braga by ship, without any definite intention of going to see St. Augustine, but that, on finding that his ship touched upon the African coast, he felt himself impelled by some hidden power to break his journey there and visit St. Augustine at Hippo. Priscillian’s heresy was then widely spread throughout Galicia; our historian’s own writings tell us that he was still in Spain at the time of the entrance of the Sueves and the Vandals,[48] and that he was far more afflicted by the heresies that had crept into his beloved church than by the invasions of the cruellest enemy. “Dilacerati gravius a doctoribus pravis quam a cruentissemis hostibus sumus,”[49] and it is probable that he was glad of an opportunity to seek Augustine’s advice and counsel as to the best means of bringing about the extirpation of the above-mentioned heresy. He also consulted St. Augustine “on several abstruse points of doctrine,” and discussed with him the nature and origin of the reasoning mind. He wrote, about that time,{32} his Consultatio sive commonitorium ad Augustinum de errore Priscillianistarium et Origenistarium, in answer to which Augustine published his Ad Orosium contra Priscillianistas et Origenistas. These are both included in the works of St. Augustine. About A.D. 414, St. Augustine advised Orosius to proceed to Palestine to study the heresy of Origen on the spot, and at the same time to consult St. Jerome on some of his difficulties as to the origin of the soul. St. Jerome was then living at Bethlehem, engaged in translating the Scriptures into Latin from the Hebrew and Greek originals. That translation is the present Vulgate or Authorised Version of the Roman Catholics, which is now (1909) being revised with the sanction of the Pope. Orosius was not himself acquainted with the Greek language.

He carried with him to Palestine a letter of introduction to St. Jerome, in which St. Augustine wrote of him as follows: “Behold there has come to me a religious young man in Catholic peace, a brother,—in age, a son; in rank, a co-presbyter,—Orosius; of active talents, ready eloquence, ardent application, etc.” While Orosius was in Palestine, Pelagius was disseminating his new doctrine with great zeal, and our historian was called on to oppose him before a synod held at Jerusalem in July A.D. 415, and presided over by John, the bishop of that city. It was then that Orosius wrote his celebrated treatise, which he modestly called Apologia contra Pelagium de arbitrii libertate. It is appended to his History.

The sacking of Rome had afforded the Romans a pretence for accusing Christianity of being the cause of the ruin which had befallen the Empire, and for asserting that Christianity had been injurious to mankind. St. Augustine wrote his celebrated treatise to show the absurdity of this assertion, “and to prove, by historical facts, how much the world had been ameliorated by revelation.” Orosius wished to prove, from the history of the world, what Augustine had proved from the history of the Church, and the result was the great work for which he is famous. It is written on Christian lines and is in reality a defence of the Christian religion. Orosius undertook the work at the request of St. Augustine, to whom it is dedicated. King Alfred, in translating it into Anglo-Saxon, introduced much new matter. Here is a paragraph relating to the history of our own land:—

“The Romans gave Caius Julius (Cæsar) seven legions, to the end that he might wage war four years on the Gauls. When he had overcome them, he went into the island of{33} Britain, and fought against the Britons, and was routed in the land, which was called Kentland, and they were routed. Their third battle was near the river, which is called Thames, near the ford called Wallingford.

“After that battle the king came into his hands, and the townspeople that were in Cirencester, and afterwards all that were in the island.”[50]

Another remarkable traveller who started out from Galicia was a woman. “Jerome had been the leader,” says Montalembert, “of that permanent emigration which, during the last years of the fourth century, drew so many noble Romans and Christians of the West towards Palestine and Egypt.” “In proportion,” he adds, “as souls were more penetrated with the truths of the faith, and gave themselves to the practice of Christian virtues, they experienced an attraction more and more irresistible towards the countries which were at once the cradle of the Christian religion and of monastic life. Then were seen beginning those pilgrimages which ended in the Crusades.” The writer has given us an account of many Romans, both men and women, who undertook pilgrimages to Palestine in the fourth century, but the story of Etheria—the illustrious Spanish lady who travelled to the Holy Land from distant Galicia about 385 A.D.,[51] and who wrote a book about her journey, the original manuscript of which is still in existence, quite escaped his notice. Florez, writing towards the end of the eighteenth century, believed that of this interesting lady no other record had been preserved than that which he found in the works of the Abbot Valerius, and which he published for the first time. Florez devoted several pages of his volume on Galicia to this plucky abbess, or nun, whichever she might be, because he felt sure that she was a native of that province. Long after his day the discovery of her own writings (in 1883), and the research of which she has since been the subject, has proved beyond all doubt that she was indeed a native of Galicia. Florez begins his account by a disquisition upon her name; he tells us that Morales spoke of her as Echeria, that Tamazo called her Eucheria, and that the Toledo manuscripts have her name as Egeria and Etheria. Florez had the same manuscript to go by as Morales had had two centuries earlier—that of the Cistercian Monastery of Carracedo in Bierzo, so he decided to adopt the name Echeria in writing of her. As, however, it is now agreed that{34} her right name was Etheria, we will adopt that in preference.

A certain monk, Valerius, wrote a letter in Latin, in the second half of the seventh century, to the monks of the Bergidensis, telling them about the pilgrimage of Etheria, and holding her up to them as a model of fortitude and perseverance. He spoke of her as “the most blessed Etheria,” and related how, fired with religious enthusiasm, she had undertaken a perilous journey to the East, in order that she might see for herself the sacred land where her Saviour had lived and suffered for the redemption of the world. He told of the difficulties she had faced and the risks she had encountered in that long and fatiguing journey over sea and land, over river and mountain, to Palestine and Egypt. She felt that, like Abraham, she had received a call, and neither the weakness of her body nor the love of her home could hinder her from answering it, that is, from setting out on what, in those days, was, for a woman, an unheard-of journey. Etheria crossed seas and ascended mountains, no obstacle, no difficulty, no hardship could stop her till she reached at length that holy spot where Christ was born, suffered, and rose again. On her way Etheria visited the tombs of many martyrs and prayed beside them, often going considerably out of her way to do so. She carried with her as her guide both the Old and the New Testaments. To reach the places mentioned in the Bible, she boldly crossed the most dangerous deserts, and travelled by the most perilous roads; she visited many isolated monasteries, and conversed with the most inaccessible hermits in their cells.[52] She refreshed her soul, says Valerius, with the sweet teachings of these seraphic beings. She also studied with particular care the Book of Exodus, and followed the very road that the Children of Israel took when they set out for the Land of Promise. She reached at length the spot where Moses drew water from the rock, and there she refreshed herself with the Water of Life. She came to the desert, where the manna fell and where the foolish multitudes had sighed for the flesh-pots of Egypt, being weary of their celestial food; here she fed her spirit with the precious word of God.{35} The pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night which led the Israelites through the desert did not prevent them from remembering all that they had left behind them in Egypt. But Etheria had but one desire, to reach Mount Sinai. On arriving at the foot of that mountain, she mounted to its summit, and stood where Moses had stood to view the Promised Land, and then she fell upon her knees, offering up her heart in praise and fervent prayer. Thence she passed to Mount Tabor, whence Moses viewed the Promised Land, and the mountain on which Christ Himself had prayed.

Etheria took several years to accomplish this pilgrimage, and all the time she thought with longing of her far-off home. “It is marvellous,” cries Valerius, “how much she endured and how much she went through”; it is a story to confound the proud, a story to show how God chooses His weakest vessels, passing by the strong, to show what the human breast can endure when filled with the love of Christ. The world itself was the theatre of her undertaking; seas, rivers, and mountains were the steps she trod. “What,” he asks, “must have been the force of that love which so many waters failed to quench? with what firm hope did Etheria pass through all those different countries with their different races and different customs, and many of them barbarians! What must have been the faith that could have preserved her intrepid to the end!” “Usque in finem irrevocabili audacia procul dubio perpetravit.” This, according to Florez, was Etheria’s greatest triumph, and Valerius said in his day that, not desiring to have rest in this world, but rather to enter into eternity palm in hand, she even maltreated her own body that she might prepare her soul for heaven and make it spotless. She made herself “a pilgrim upon earth, that she might rest in heaven and stand with the choir of virgins round their glorious Queen.” Valerius does not say where she died, but he adds that she reached her house in safety. He related all this to the monks, that, at the thought of such heroic virtue on the part of one of the weaker sex, they might be ashamed of their own half-heartedness and shortcomings, and beware lest, at the coming of the Bridegroom, Etheria’s lamp might be found brightly trimmed and their own be extinguished for lack of oil.

Florez based his conjecture, as to Etheria having been a native of Galicia, on Valerius’s statement that she was a native of territory in the west bordering upon the Ocean. “Extremo occidui maris Oceani littore exorta.” But nearly a hundred years after the death of Florez, an Italian,{36} M. Gamurrini,[53] made a very interesting discovery. He found in the year 1883, in an Arezzo manuscript, part of a long account of Etheria’s pilgrimage written by herself. Three years later he published it in book form under the title of Sanctae Silvae Acquitanae peregrinatio ad loca sancta. This manuscript, written in the second half of the fourth century, had till that moment remained unknown to any but a small circle of devotees to early Christian literature.

In 1888, M. Gamurrini published a second and more carefully prepared edition. A year later a translation of this appeared in Russian at St. Petersburg, accompanied by the Latin text. It was not till the year 1891, that the Palestine Pilgrims Tract Society published, in London, the original text, accompanied by an English version made by John H. Bernard, an introduction and notes. The English title was as follows, “The Pilgrimage of St. Silvia of Acquitaine to the Holy Places about 385 A.D.” In 1898 a learned edition was published at Vienna by Herr Paul Geyer.[54]

The manuscript of Arezzo is incomplete,—having neither beginning nor end, and it has no author’s name. Now the question that naturally arises in our minds is, How did M. Gamurrini know that the writer was Silvia of Acquitaine? What autobiographical details did the manuscript reveal? It certainly revealed that its author was a lady of distinction, and that she was a native of a western province of the Roman Empire, bordered by the ocean. After the discovery of the manuscript there was a great deal of discussion as to who could have been its author. Some thought she must be Silvia, sister of Rufinus; Kohler thought she was Galla Placidia, daughter of Theodosius;—it will be remembered that this emperor was born in Galicia; but now the date of the pilgrimage is known to have been much earlier than that of the birth of Theodosius, so that the pilgrim could not have been his daughter. In October 1903, Father Marius Férotin, a learned French monk of the Benedictine Order, published an article in the Revue des Questions Historiques, entitled “Le Véritable auteur de la Peregrinatio Silvae. La vierge Espagnole Etheria.”[55] This student says that the first sentence{37} of the manuscript shows us the intrepid lady traveller already far from her native land—at the foot of Mount Sinai. “Dans un Latin vulgaire plein de simplicité, j’allais dire de bonhomie, mais qui ne manque pas de charme et où déborde à chaque page un saint enthusiasme pour les souvenirs bibliques.” She tells her readers that she is in haste to see everything. “Ego, ut satis curiosa” (satis is here used for valde), and the number of questions she asks prove that she has not exaggerated. When she came to where the city of Sodom once stood, she wrote: “The place where there was once an inscription about Lot’s wife was shown to us, which place we read of in the Scriptures. But, believe me, venerable ladies (the nuns of her convent in Galicia), the pillar itself is not visible, only the place is shown. The pillar is said to be covered up in the Dead Sea. We certainly saw the place, but we saw no pillar; I cannot deceive you about this matter. The bishop of the place, that is, of Segor, told us that it is now some years since the pillar was visible.”[56]

It is evident that it was Etheria’s own account of her journey which gave rise to Valerius’s letter to the monks. The date, as well as the departure and the various stages of the journey, all tally with those given by Valerius, and he even makes use at times of the identical expressions used by Etheria. As Father Férotin truly remarks, although history is known to repeat itself, it has never done so to such an extent as to give us two such women and two such journeys to Palestine! Greek names were rare in Spain in the fourth century. Etheria is the Greek equivalent for Céleste. The name of Etheria in its masculine form is found in Spain in the eighth century,—it was the name of a bishop—St. Etherius. “La liturgie wisegothique faisait grand usage de l’épéthète etheria.”[57] Férotin gives the whole of the Latin from the original manuscript, the Codex Escurialensis of Valerius’s letter to the monks, which ends with the exhortation: “Ideo fratres dilectissimi, cui non erubescimus, qui uribus corporis et integretate salutes consistimus, mulierem patriarchi Abrahe sanctum complesse exemplum, qui femineum fragile sexum,” etc., of which I have given Florez’s free translation above.

Férotin reminds his readers that the greater part of this interesting and important manuscript has yet to be discovered, but that we now know for certain the name, the native land, and the rank of this illustrious lady of Galicia, which a short time since were supposed to have been lost for ever. Father{38} Férotin does not think, like Gamurrini, that she was an abbess, though the catalogue of Limoges gives her that title.

It has fallen, then, to the lot of a Frenchman to discover that the manuscript published by an Italian (Gamurrini) is the original from which the Spanish abbot Valerius drew the account of Etheria’s journey which he sent in his letter to the Bergidensian monks. But perhaps the most interesting point in connection with that discovery is the fact that in Lemberg another monk, of yet another nationality, made the same discovery at the very same time, and would have published it had not he accidentally learned that Férotin had anticipated him by a few days. Father Férotin tells us that while his article was in the press he received a letter from Father A. Lambert of Lemberg, dated 8th July 1903, in which the latter informed him that he too had made the same discovery, and had been on the point of publishing it when he saw that of Férotin announced in the Review in which it afterwards appeared; and he adds: “La découverte de la lettre de l’abbé Valerius ad monarchos Bergidenses m’avait amené sur l’origine de la Peregrinatio a une resultat identique, mais par une route differente.” “I found it,” he adds, “by noticing a sentence that occurs in three of the catalogues of the manuscripts of St. Martial, J. Limoges (thirteenth century). I found that mention was made of a journey made by the Abbess Etheria, Itinerarium Egeriae Abbatissae, the identification of which with that of the account above mentioned is beyond all doubt.” Father Férotin published the whole of the letter at the close of his article, that his readers might see for themselves how two persons quite unknown to one another had made the discovery simultaneously.

Etheria wrote, as we have seen, the story of her travels for the religious edification of the nuns of her convent. It was of quite a private nature, and this probably accounts for the fact that no other writer besides Valerius seems to have had his attention drawn to it.[58] The archives of Spain’s convents and churches teem with unread and unpublished manuscripts which await the student of the future. Among them may perhaps, some day, be discovered the lost part of Etheria’s Journey to Jerusalem, or possibly it may lie hidden in some dusty parchment roll at Florence, or in the Vatican.{39}



Avitus I. and Avitus II.—St. Isidore—The story of St. Fructuosus—The origin of duplex monasteries in Spain—One of the favourite saints of Galicia—Almanzor comes to Santiago de Compostela—San Pedro de Mezonzo—Almanzor returns to Cordova—The Salve Regina—Who wrote the Salve Regina?—Alfonso el Sabio—His Cantiga—The Mariner’s prayer—St. Gregory—Foreign authorities—How the Salve reached France and Italy—Dr. Oviedo’s Thesis—A startling article—The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception—De Consolatione Rationis—An allegory—Eadmer and Pedro Compostelano

IN our cursory survey of Galicia’s first golden age we have not attempted to give a full and complete account of all the strong souls who helped to make that age a golden one; we have been obliged to content ourselves with giving a few meagre particulars about those whose life and work have impressed us the most, and refer briefly often only to the names of those who loom less distinctly out of that distant past; such men, for instance, as the monk Bacchiarius, as Avitus I., and Avitus II., as the poet Prudentius and the saint Fructuosus. Of these we know for certain that the first three visited the East. Florez tells very fully the story of Bacchiarius, and how he came to wander forth from his monastery in search of that knowledge which he could not extract from books alone. As for the two Aviti, they were both in Jerusalem when Orosius was there, and one of them has been charged with having become infected with gnostic errors during his stay in Palestine, and having disseminated them in Galicia on his return thither. As for the poet Prudentius, he is to-day known to Spanish writers as “the Horace of the fourth century.” He was born in Galicia, in or near the town of Braga, about the year 368, during the reign of Constantine the Great. Two volumes of his lyric poetry have come down to us, both bearing Greek names, Kathemerion (Songs for Every Day) and Peristephanon (The Book of Garlands). Critics tell us that the lyrics contained in the former bear distinct traces of the literary influence of St. Ambrose; those contained in the latter, fourteen{40} in number, are dedicated to the glorious sufferings of the early martyrs. Boissier calls Prudentius “un véritable Espagnol,” a poet who expressed the thoughts and feelings of his own people, and he adds, “c’est là le principal verité de la poèsie lyrique: jamais elle n’est plus grande que quand elle traduit ainsi les sentiments populaires.”

St. Isidore, bishop of Seville, who was the most illustrious representative of intellectual Spain at the close of Galicia’s first golden age, and who earned for himself the title of “the oracle of the Spanish Church,” died in 636. “God created at this time,” says a contemporary monk, “two great suns to light these western shores with the rays of that flaming truth which shone from the Apostolic See; the one, Isidore of Seville, relighted among us, by his eloquence, his writings, his wisdom, and active industry, the great light of dogmatic truth issued by the Supreme Chair of Rome; the other, Fructuosus, by the immaculate innocence of his life, by the spiritual fire of his contemplations, made the virtues of the first fathers of the desert and the prodigies of the Thebaid shine into our hearts.”[59]

St. Fructuosus was a son of a general of the Gothic army. We read that when, as a boy, he was taken by his father into one of his estates upon the frontiers of Galicia, to number his flocks, “he secretly noted in his soul a site for a future monastery in that wild country.” Later on, when he had become his own master, he retired to the spot he had chosen as a child, and built a monastery, which he endowed with all he had. Montalembert tells us how he was shortly joined by a numerous band of monks, but that he himself, flying from the renown of his virtue, took refuge in the woods and most precipitous rocks, that he might be forgotten by all. One day, while he was at prayer in the forest, a labourer passing by took him for a fugitive slave, questioned him, and, dissatisfied with his answers, overwhelmed him with blows and led him with a rope round his neck to a place where he was recognised. Another time, like St. Bernard, he was taken for a wild beast. A hunter, seeing him covered merely with a goat-skin, and prostrated upon the summit of a rock, had aimed an arrow at him, when he perceived, by seeing him lift his hands to heaven, that it was a man occupied in prayer.[60]


Eventually the example of Fructuosus became so contagious that he had to build other monasteries to shelter his crowds of followers. Their number became so great that the duke of one of the provinces wrote to the king to warn him that if some obstacle were not interposed the country would be so depopulated that there would be no men to fill up the ranks of the army. The women imitated the men. A young girl of noble family, who was about to be married to an officer of the Visigothic Court, fled from her father’s house and hid in the woods near the monastery of Fructuosus, to whom she wrote, begging him to have pity upon her as upon a sheep which he must snatch from the fangs of the wolf. He received her, and built her a little cell in the forest, which soon became the centre of a community of eighty nuns. The officer endeavoured in vain to recover his betrothed. He compelled the superior of the new monastery to bring her to him; she came, but refused to look at him, and he remained mute in her presence. Then the royal judge said: “Leave her to serve the Lord, and find for yourself another wife.” Thus it was that Fructuosus originated the system of duplex monasteries in Spain.

Fructuosus cultivated literature sedulously, and led his monks to do likewise. He also wrote poetry, some of which is still extant; it is quoted by Florez. His monks kept great flocks of sheep, the profit of which they spent in charity. Some years before his death he was made archbishop of Braga, but he did not cease to practise the rule of monastic life, and he built many new monasteries. He surveyed all the coasts of Spain from Cape Finisterre to Cape St. Vincent, crossed the rivers Duero and Guadalquivir, reaching the promontories and islands, even to the spot where Cadiz now stands, and seeking everywhere asylums for prayer and solitude. “Thanks to him,” continues Montalembert, in a prophetic strain, “the extreme frontiers of the West become guarded by a line of monastic garrisons. The great waves of the ocean rushing from the shores of another hemisphere, from that half of the world still unknown to Christians, is met by the gaze and the prayers of the monks from the lofty cliffs of the Iberian Peninsula. There they stand firm, awaiting the Mohammedan invasion; there they endure and survive it; there they preserve a nucleus of faith and Christian virtue, for those incomparable days, when, from those shores freed by unwearied heroism, Spain and Portugal shall spring forth to discover a new world and to plant the Cross in Africa, in Asia, and in America.”{42}

St. Fructuosus is still one of the favourite saints of Galicia. The cathedral of Santiago has a chapel dedicated to him, built in 1696,[61] and his day is honoured by every peasant in the land.

Galicia has some valuable archæological monuments of the eighth century, to which we shall refer in a later chapter, but she produced no great literary character whose history need detain us here. It was in this century that the Moors first invaded the Peninsula; and Galicia, though not then invaded, began from this time to send the flower of her youth to fight the Saracens. In the ninth century there took place the discovery of the tomb of the apostle St. James on the spot where the cathedral of Santiago now stands, a discovery which led to the concentration of the reverential love of all medieval Christendom upon that distant corner of Spain, and eventually caused Santiago to rival Jerusalem as a centre for holy pilgrimage from all parts of the known world.

In the tenth century, in 997, the Moor Almanzor, a celebrated minister of the Moorish Court, arrived with his devastating army at the gates of Santiago, having reduced thirty monasteries and palaces to ruin on his way. Troops of Moors had come over from Cordova to join forces with Almanzor’s hosts. San Pedro de Mezonzo, the author of the Salve Regina, was then archbishop. When the Moorish army reached Santiago, they found to their surprise that its towers and its walls were deserted, and that no resistance was being offered to their advance. Penetrating into the heart of the city, they found stillness and solitude everywhere; they found the doors of the cathedral open, but there was only one living person inside it—an aged monk prostrate in prayer.

“What are you doing here?” demanded Almanzor.

“I am praying before the sepulchre of St. James,” replied the monk.

“Pray as much as you wish,” replied Almanzor, and he thereupon gave orders that none should molest him; after which, according to some, the Moor stationed himself before the altar to protect it from desecration at the hands of his followers.

St. Pedro de Mezonzo had fled to a neighbouring stronghold, bearing with him as much of the treasure of the cathedral as he could manage to carry.[62] It is clear that he at least{43} was not one of the fighting prelates for which Galicia has been famous. Ferreiro tells us that when excavations were made in the cathedral of Santiago in 1878, traces of fire were certainly found. He argues from this that the Moors must have used fire in their attempt to destroy the building. Almanzor returned to Cordova laden with booty, and driving before him four thousand Christian captives, bearing on their shoulders the gates of Santiago Cathedral and its smaller bells, which, according to Fernandez Sandez, served as lamps in the great mosque of Cordova until the day when Ferdinand took the capital of the Calyphate, and caused captive Moors to bear them back to Santiago on their shoulders and restore them to the cathedral. Almanzor’s triumph was merely that of a successful expedition into the heart of Galicia, for the Moors never conquered that province.

San Pedro de Mezonzo was a monk of the Benedictine Order before he was raised to the archbishopric. The fact of his having been archbishop of Santiago at the time of Almanzor’s entry is not the only one that contributes to his fame. He is illustrious in the annals of Spanish history as being the supposed author of that beautiful prayer to the Virgin so universally revered throughout Catholic countries, the Salve Regina,[63] a prayer which every Catholic child lisps at its mother’s knee, and which has been translated into every language:—

Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae; vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, salve. Ad te clamamus, exules filii Evae; ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes in hac lacrymarum valle. Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte, et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui, nobis post hoc exilium ostende: O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

Of late years there has been much discussion among students of ecclesiastical literature as to who was really the author of that prayer. At a recent Catholic Congress held at Munich this question was raised by a Benedictine monk. Florez devoted many pages to his argument that St. Bernard was its author.[64] In 1892 a book on the subject was published{44} at Karlsruhe, in which W. Brambach tried to prove that Hermanus Contractus, a Benedictine monk born in 1013 in Suabia, had composed the Salve. There are French writers who support the claims of a French priest, Ademar de Monteil, bishop of Puy-en-Velay about 1087, said to have been one of the most active organisers of the first European crusade. But the most recent as well as the most learned and scholarly thesis[65] on this question is that of Dr. Eladio Oviedo, professor of Ecclesiastical History and Archæology at the Pontifical University of Santiago. Dr. Oviedo has spared no pains in his search for the real author of the Salve; he has weighed every atom of available evidence, and patiently searched through the religious literature of centuries for traces of its influence, with the result that he is convinced that—not St. Bernard, not Hermanus Contractus, not Ademar de Monteil, but Pedro de Mezonzo of Galicia was the author of this prayer so dear to the Catholic heart.

The idea is not a new one. I have met with it in several old works on Galicia, but the proofs brought forward by Dr. Oviedo are more convincing than any others that have as yet appeared in print. He shows, and I think conclusively, that the Salve was known in Spain long before any allusion to it or sign of its influence appeared in French, German, or Italian literature. Gonzalo de Berceo, in the thirteenth century, introduced it into his Milagros de Nuestra Señora. Alfonso el Sabio relates in his Cantiga 262 a legend of how an old woman, who was deaf and dumb, was cured by the Holy Virgin, and straightway taught her townspeople the memorable Salve, which she, in her turn, had been taught by the angels. According to Alfonso el Sabio, it was sung for the first time in the church of Santa Maria del Puy.

In the sixteenth century the Salve was known to the fisherfolk on the Spanish coast as “The mariner’s prayer.” In the sixteenth century it had already become popular in France, Portugal, and Italy. It is mentioned in the Legends of St. Francis of Assisi by St. Buenaventura in 1274.

Dr. Oviedo points out that the melody of the Salve is written in the purest Gregorian style, and evidently composed at a date anterior to the musical innovation which first showed itself at the beginning of the eleventh century, and was fully consummated in the first half of the twelfth. In order to perceive the archaic character of the musical style of the Salve, Dr. Oviedo observes, it is sufficient to compare it with the melodies of the first period of liturgic song, which begins with its creator,{45} St. Gregory,[66] and terminates with the tenth century. Our friend has made the comparison, he has noted the beauty, the freshness, the spontaneity of the ancient melodies that sprang from the musical vein of St. Gregory, Charlemagne, Paul Varnefried, and others, and he has decided that this is the school in which the Salve must be classed; he has studied it also from a paleographical point of view, and made himself acquainted with its primitive form and with the various changes through which it has passed. Those who wish to follow these interesting investigations step by step can do so by perusing Dr. Oviedo’s own account of them.

A set of homilies preached upon the Salve Regina in the thirteenth century has been attributed by many, but without any foundation, to St. Bernard. It was in the sixteenth century that this prayer became crystallised into its present form. The first instance of its translation into a romance language occurs in the Cantiga 262 of Alfonso el Sabio. Yepes, the first Spaniard to claim for Spain the glory of being the birthplace of the Salve, wrote: “It has been usual for Germans and other authors to say that a Benedictine monk called Herman Contractus was the composer of this impassioned antiphona so celebrated in the Church. But Claudio de Rota, Antonio de Mocares, and Durando think that St. Pedro Mezonzo (or Mozonzo) composed the Salve; and I do not see why we Spaniards need let our hands be tied and assent unquestioningly to the statement that a German was its author.” Dr. Oviedo laughs to scorn the absurd theory that it was originally composed in Greek by one of the Apostles, and only translated by Pedro de Mezonzo.

Having fixed, then, the period within which the Salve must have first appeared, namely, the eleventh century, Dr. Oviedo goes on to search for the precise moment in that century at which the prayer became a historical fact. St. Pedro de Mezonzo died in 1003, Herman Contractus in 1054, and Ademar de Monteil in 1098. One of these three must have been the author of the Salve. In the eighteenth century the famous poet-priest of Fruime, in Galicia,[67] published a little work entitled Who Wrote the Salve? and he{46} brought all his erudition, all his power of literary criticism, to bear upon the subject, with the result that he was able to successfully combat the theory upheld by Florez, that St. Bernard was its author, as well as to prove that it was not written by Contractus or by Monteil. His judgment has been upheld by the most eminent writers of Galicia in our own time, including Lopez Ferreiro.[68] Among foreign authorities who have held this view may be mentioned Mabillon, Du Cange, and Pope Benedict XIV. Dr. Oviedo in his recent thesis brings forward two important witnesses. The first is Guillermo Durando, a canon of the school of Bologna, who became bishop of Menda in 1285, best known as the author of a book on ancient ecclesiastical institutions, entitled Rationale Divinorum Officeorum. The second is Ricobaldo de Ferrara, canon of the cathedral of Ravenna, who was a contemporary of Durando, and who is best known as the author of a Universal History. Both these writers clearly affirm that St. Pedro de Mezonzo was the author of the Salve Regina. Dr. Oviedo has copied out their words on the subject with full contexts. I have them before me as I write. “If anyone should ask,” says Dr. Oviedo, “how it comes that the Salve was known in France and Italy in those remote times, I reply that it was from Provence in the eleventh and twelfth centuries that the greater number of the pilgrims who visited Galicia came. Thence also there came those pious caravans who, attracted by the throngs of French, Belgians, Germans, Hungarians, Poles, juglares and troubadours, who animated the streets and palaces of Compostela, the Holy City of the West, the emporium and centre of a powerful movement which carried multitudes of clever men from Galicia to occupy the professional chairs of the most celebrated schools of the Middle Ages, and multitudes of inspired Gallegan poets to sing before the most splendid courts of Europe. Who doubts that by means of these troubadours, of these scholars, the glorious traditions which join the name of Salve to that of St. Pedro de Mezonzo should have been spread far and wide?”

The Salve Regina made its first appearance in history as the product of Galician soil. We have seen that that royal troubadour of the thirteenth century, King Alfonso el Sabio, introduced a legend of the origin of the Salve into his Cantigas.[69] “Where,” asks Dr. Oviedo, “did he get that legend?” It is precisely those of his cantigas which have to do with this legend that give us the most difficulty, and whose{47} source we are to-day unable to trace.[70] The fact is, that the source of all Canciones of the Salve, no matter whose name they bear, is popular tradition, which had its rise in Santiago, at the tomb of St. James, at the sepulchre of St. Pedro de Mezonzo. From this source the story spread, first all over Galicia and then all over Spain. In the last decade of the eleventh century the Salve—carried by the pilgrims—was being intoned in countries far from the land of its birth. But it gained such an early popularity in Spain as to be reflected in Spanish lyric poetry in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, at which time it had not yet begun to influence the poetry of France.

The reader cannot fail to be struck, while perusing the pages of Dr. Oviedo’s thesis, with the patient perseverance and the stubborn determination with which these battles over the authorship of the Salve has been carried on by French, German, and Spanish patriots wishing to claim the glory for their own respective lands. But now, if fresh combatants enter the lists, their efforts will have to be superhuman indeed if they are to refute the proofs brought forward by this valiant Gallegan to show that Galicia rightfully claims the authorship of the Salve Regina.

In the summer of 1906 there appeared a startling article in the newspapers of Galicia,[71] entitled “The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.” It began with the question, “Who was the first Western Theologian to Defend the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception?” “Dr. Eladio Oviedo,” it continued, “has brought about quite a revolution in history by affirming that before Eadmer must be mentioned Pedro de Compostela.” “Eadmer,” wrote Dr. Oviedo, “was an English monk of the twelfth century, educated under the rule of St. Anselm in the celebrated school of philosophy at Canterbury. He wrote about the year 1151 De Conceptione Sanctae Mariae—in which he argued, against all the most learned doctors of his time, that the Virgin Mary was born immaculate. Not only England, but France, Belgium, Germany, and even Spain believed till now that Eadmer was the first to defend this theory. But they were all wrong. About the year 1140, Pedro Compostelano (Petrus Micha, according to Lopez Ferreiro) wrote a treatise entitled De Consolatione Rationis, of which a manuscript, possibly the original, is still preserved in the Escurial Library, but, alas, unpublished. In this treatise{48} Pedro presents, in the form of an allegory to Catholic Reason, the questions which occupied his mind, and, among them, that of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. It is in the form of a dialogue, and begins thus—

Compostellanus.—One doubt occupies my mind. Tell me, Was she who merited the honour of becoming the mother of Christ conceived without original sin, or with it? Truly, the former appears the most likely, because I think that to the glorious Virgin Mother of our Lord were granted all the virtues it was possible for Her to have; from this I infer that Mary was sanctified in Her conception, and thus immune from original sin.

Reason.—No one can deny that the Virgin was given every virtue, and this is a sufficient answer to thy question. Further, it is evident that before life she could not be sanctified, as she was not yet a rational being, which alone is capable of receiving Divine grace, but I do not vacillate an inch in affirming the fortunate Mary was enriched with the plenitude of sanctity in the precise instant that her soul had its birth, in ipsa animae infusione omnium gratiarum plenitudine Eam beari non ambigo.”

“It was the seed sown,” wrote Dr. Oviedo, “by Pedro Compostelano, of the Galician school of the twelfth century, that produced Cantiga 5 of the Festas de Sancta Maria, which begins thus—

“E logo que foi viva (Maria),
no corpo de sa madre
foi quida do pecado,

lines which appear to be a romanced version of part of the book De Consolatione Rationis, which was written in Galicia by Pedro before he became a priest, and at least ten years before Eadmer in England took up his pen to defend an opinion which was subsequently upheld by a host of eminent Catholic writers, including Feijoó, and which has since been incorporated among the unalterable dogmas of the Catholic Church.”{49}



A Romance language—The universal language of Spain—A provincial dialect—George Ticknor—The Cantigas of Alfonso el Sabio—Comparison between the languages of Galicia and Portugal—A Celtic trait—The wing of the tongue—The native poets of Galicia—Trovadors—The Marquis de Valmar—Latinised forms—Amador de los Rios—The young Italian language—French takes the precedence—Romance poetry in England—The troubadours of Aquitaine—Alfonso the royal trovador—The poet of true love—The martyr to Cupid—The story of Macias—His tragic end

WITH the production of the Salve Regina, and with the origination of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Galicia may be said to have entered triumphantly upon her second golden age, an age which extended from the eleventh to the sixteenth century, and in which is comprised the period which witnessed the most glorious triumphs of lyric poetry in Spain.

It must be remembered that for a hundred and seventy years previous to the year 585, when the Visigoths became the sole masters of Spain, the present province of Galicia, united to what is now the northern half of Portugal, had formed one united kingdom—that of the Sueves. As an independent nation, this portion of Spain, with a language of its own, and kings of its own, had more pronounced characteristics and traditions than any other part of Spain. Its language, originally Latin, had become, under the Sueves, a distinct Romance language, just as the Latin of central Spain became by degrees a Romance tongue, and finally developed into the Spanish language, as it is spoken in Madrid to-day. The language of Galicia during its second age of gold, the language of its lyric poetry was, like the Spanish language, a child of the Latin tongue; they were, we may say, twin branches from the same stem. But while the one became the universal language of Spain, the other split into two smaller branches, of which one became the national{50} language of Portugal,[72] and the other—while it remained the purest of all the Latin dialects except the Italian—eventually sank to the level of a provincial dialect—that spoken by the peasants of Galicia to-day, a dialect which not even the historians of Spain and Portugal professed to understand till the close of the nineteenth century.

It was as recently as the last decade of the nineteenth century that students of Spanish history became conscious of the fact that a true knowledge of the history of Spanish civilisation in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries could only be attained by careful study of the literature produced in the Galician tongue during Galicia’s second age of gold. An American writer, George Ticknor, whose work is still considered an authority on Spanish literature, erroneously attributed to flattery the words of the marquis of Santillana in his famous letter to the Constable of Portugal, “non ha mucho tiempo, cualesquier deçidores e trovadores destas partes, agora fuesen castellanos anduluces o de la Estremadura, todas sus obras componian en lengua Gallega o portuguesca[73]; but we know now that it was the simple truth, the language universally chosen by the famous trovadores of Spain, no matter which might be their native province, and by all Spain’s greatest poets of the Middle Ages was that of Galicia. “Ticknor thought it an insoluble mystery,” says Valmar, “why King Alfonso el Sabio should have left in his will a command that the poetry of Galicia should be sung over his tomb, seeing that he was buried in Murcia, where that tongue was not spoken; but if he had studied the Spanish poetry of that time, if he had read the beautiful Cantigas written by Alfonso himself, he would not have called the idiom spoken in Galicia in the thirteenth century a dialect, nor would he have been surprised that Alfonso should wish Gallegan poetry to be sung over his tomb.”

As we have seen, northern Portugal was once part of Galicia. When Portugal became a separate kingdom, she retained her original (the Gallegan) language. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, Feijoó pointed out that it was an error to suppose that there only existed three dialects derived from the Latin language, namely, Spanish, Italian, and French: there was a fourth—the Lusitanian language, that is, the language of Galicia, which was once identical with{51} that of Portugal. The chief difference between the two is the pronunciation, and this is not sufficient to prevent individuals of the two countries respectively from understanding one another. Feijoó went on to insist that the Gallegan idiom was not, as generally supposed, a sub-dialect of Latin nor a corruption of the Spanish tongue, but an independent branch from the Latin tree, a branch more closely connected with the parent stem than even the language of Castille. “No one denies,” he says, “that Latin words have degenerated less in the Portuguese and Gallegan idioms than they have in Spanish: this could not be the case if they were sub-dialects of the Spanish language—the nearer the fountain the purer the stream. Italian is the purest of the Latin dialects; Portuguese comes next.”

The Gallegans have been a poetic people from the very earliest times, and this fact tallies with the traditions of their Celtic origin. Like the Irish, they have preserved even to our own day the Celtic predilection for spontaneous wit. The poetical contests indulged in by the trovadores of the Middle Ages were only an elaboration of the Celtic contests of wit so popular among the ancient Irish, and which are still part of the programme connected with a Gallegan peasant’s wedding. On the eve of her wedding-day the peasant girl in Galicia hears before her window the witty and often sarcastic couplet flung by the friends of a disappointed rival at the successful suitor and his friends who have come to serenade her, and then, as quickly as an echo, it is answered by the triumphant couplet of the happy bridegroom. Verse comes as readily as prose to the lips of these people, and the peasant bride may listen half through the night to their poetic banter.[74] Where the disappointment of the rival is very great, not only is the sentiment confessed in his spontaneous couplets very bitter, it is sometimes even cruel. French critics in Feijoó’s day complained that Italian and Spanish poets put too much enthusiasm (poetic frenzy) into their poetry, and to this{52} charge Feijoó replied that he who wishes to turn the poets into prudent, discreet, and sensible beings, wishes to do away with them altogether, for enthusiasm is the soul of poetry, the ecstasy of the mind is the wing of the pen. In Galicia it is the wing of the tongue. “Impetus ille sacer, qui vatum pectora nutrit.

The fact that Portugal and Galicia had for several centuries one common language accounts for the other fact that both have more than once laid claim to the honour of having produced the same great poet or literary man. Hence it comes that the trovador Macías el Enamorado appears as a Portuguese poet in the works of Portuguese writers, and as a Gallegan poet in the works of Spanish writers. The same apparent contradiction occurs with regard to the Cantigas of Alfonso el Sabio.[75] Great was the importance of Galicia in the Middle Ages. Constantly was she visited by royalty, by princes, and by the flower of chivalry, attracted to the sepulchre of St. James. The greatest and noblest families of Spain had their senorial estates in Galicia. It was there that they founded the “Order of the Knights of Spain,” and later the Hermandad de Cambiadores, institutions which lent their powerful protection to the pilgrims who passed to and from Santiago on the French road (Camino francés).

Not only did the nobles speak the language of Galicia, that tongue was also the language of the court. It was in those days that a taste for la poesia provenzal penetrated into Galicia from France (brought by French pilgrims of aristocratic birth), and was imitated by the nobles of Galicia. “This persistence of the sentiment of love,” says the marquis of Fegueroa, “the chief argument of provençal lyric poetry, necessarily influenced our Knights of the Order of Spain, as it did the knights of northern France, Theobald IV, Count Champagne, and Charles of Orleans.” King Alfonso deliberately chose the language of Galicia in which to compose his hymns to the Virgin (Cantigas de Santa Maria); he chose it because it was so much more poetical than the language of Castille, so much more expressive, so much more tender; and for the same reason it became the favourite medium of all the poets of Spain. The native poets of Galicia were among the most famous of their age. It is now known that the curious book of poetry so long preserved in the Vatican library under the title of Cancionero de la Vaticana, was composed almost entirely by Gallegan poets, and not by{53} Portuguese—as was believed until about twenty years ago.[76]

The trovadores of Galicia were great travellers, as well as musicians and poets. Not only did they visit and sing before the most powerful courts of Europe, but they studied at the schola mimorum of the countries they visited, and brought back with them to Santiago the most famous musical compositions of France and Italy. The music of Santiago Cathedral was for several centuries unsurpassed in Europe.

The Marquis de Valmar, in his fascinating work on the Cantigas of Alfonso el Sabio, describes their language as spirited, flexible, impressive, and of rich variety. It was a language found ready for his use by the royal trovador; he did not improvise his happy expressions, they were already current among his people. The old idea that the modern languages of Europe were a result of the amalgamation of Latin with the barbaric idiom of the invaders of the Roman Empire is now completely abandoned. The philologists of to-day do not believe that the substantial changes introduced by the neo-Latin languages into the Latin tongue came from the Northern invaders except in very extreme cases. The transcendental transformations were a natural and inevitable result of the presence of Roman social life in Western countries.

The separation between the official and aristocratic language and that of the lower classes in such distinct regions, became the more palpable and determined, as the traditional glory of Imperial Rome waned. One Imperial Latin was spoken in the laws, tribunals, and schools, in the forum, the temple, and the palace; a common idiom bound together the educated classes of the vast Roman Empire; but in the business houses and the workshops, among the slaves and the lower classes, there was no common tongue; each country had its local expressions and its dialects, of which—though Latin was the foundation—a great part consisted of Latinised forms, and words of diverse origin—sometimes native, sometimes exotic—here Celtic, there Iberic, yonder Breton or Arabic, as the case might be. Later, when Roman fame and influence had declined still further, when the old Roman families had sunk to a plebeian level, and their place had been taken by a new, locally produced aristocracy, then it was that, along with{54} the toga and the sword, the grand old Latin language disappeared for ever, leaving in its place a mixed dialect, which we call “Romance.”[77] The various provinces of the Roman Empire during its last period were, without doubt, bi-lingual. The conquerors adopted, as is invariably the case, the language and customs of the conquered, and forgot their own.

Valmar remarks that Amador de los Rios was right in saying that the common idiom of the peninsula was already completely formed at the beginning of the twelfth century. There are popular couplets written in the language of Galicia which can be traced back to the year 1110, namely the couplets that were sung on the occasion of the enthusiastic welcome given by the townspeople of Santiago to Bishop Gelmirez, who in 1105 had founded there a school for the cultivation of oratory, letters, and the Latin tongue. It is true, as Valmar points out, that the formation of the languages of Castille and Galicia must have required centuries, but that formation reached its completion towards the middle of the twelfth century. When new dialects came into existence, the synthetic beauty so remarkable in the Latin language was lost, but in its place animation and ease of expression were gained. “Marriages,” says Valmar, “also helped on the triumph of the Romance languages; but perhaps the most powerful influence was Christ’s religion of charity and love.”

Even in Italy Latin gradually became an unknown tongue to the lower classes. Pope Boniface VIII. translated the Stabat Mater into the young Italian language that the people might be able to appreciate it.

Alfonso x. indicates in Cantiga viii. that in his day a young man needed the help of the Holy Spirit before he could learn to speak Latin. To help on the propagation of the Christian religion, even Arabic was sometimes resorted to. Juan, Bishop of Seville, wrote sermons in Arabic at the beginning of the tenth century,[78] “a proof,” says Valmar, “that Latin was little known, as also the Romance language which was not yet risen.”

French, owing to the influence of the parish schools, took the precedence of all the neo-Latin languages, and had a powerful influence over other nations. There was a sudden flowering of Romance poetry in England just after the Norman conquest in 1066, and this spread to all the neo-Latin peoples{55}—the story of Tristam and Iseult, the Arthurian legends, penetrated more deeply than the provençal lyrics. St. Francis of Assisi went about reciting French songs. Sir John Mandeville was the precursor of the famous Portuguese Ferñao Mendes Pinto, wrote in French the story of his travels in Asia (published by Lynn just after the invention of printing in 1480). Marco Polo also wrote, or rather dictated, his book of travel in French.

Alfonso el Sabio did not write in a vulgar dialect, but in the cultivated and polished language used by the aristocracy of Galicia. “The popular Gallegan dialect remained in the land of its birth, and kept the characteristic of a euphonic dialect,” says Valmar; but the language of learning ‘el Gallego erudito,’ so skilfully used by Alfonso and those innumerable Portuguese Spanish poets whose work is preserved in the Cancionero of the Vatican, acquired (without losing the essence of the primitive dialect) the character of a refined literary language. This language it was which became the mother of Portuguese.

The trouvadores of Aquitaine came in such numbers to Santiago, that it is no wonder they founded a centre of poetical unification, as Theophile Braga has called it. It was a school of national lyric poetry in the language which has been called Galaico-Portuguese. French influence was strongly reflected in it. It reached its highest point of resplendence in the reign of Alfonso X., and at that time even the lower classes understood and appreciated its poetry; so historians need be surprised no longer that the poet king chose to write in the language of Galicia.

Valmar has made a critical study of the versification of the Cantigas.[79] “In vain,” he says, “philologists have sought a connecting link between Latin prosody and the prosody of the Romance languages.” To write Hexameters in the language of Galicia would be impossible. The origin of the Cantigas is undoubtedly the popular and religious poetry of Latin decadence, at the moment when there was added to it a rhythmic element. There were, in Roman days, two Latin versifications, rhythmic and metric, corresponding to the two idioms sermo plebius and sermo patricius. The rhythmic versification used in popular poetry existed from the earliest{56} days of Rome. It is mentioned by Livy, Cicero, Horace, and many other literary Romans. In the primitive hymns used by the Christian Church, the metric and rhythmic principles were curiously mixed. The earliest of these were composed by St. Ambrose and sung in Milan in 386. Léon Gautier has remarked that the poetry of France originated with the verses sung in the churches.

The fact that Alfonso X. wrote many hymns of devotion to the Virgin does not prevent his morals from having been very shady. Dante went so far as to class him among princes unfit to reign,[80] and Valmar, unable to truthfully contradict the Italian poet, devotes pages to proving that Dante himself was not a better man. It is clear, however, that morals were everywhere very lax in those days, and one need not be surprised that the trovadores of Galicia were infected by the “audacias de la musa provenzal.” The poets of those days often seem to forget the moral dignity of humanity; they would attack the honour even of princes in their bold and bitter satyrs. “Alfonso,” says Valmar, “ever expressed real tenderness in his love songs.” But one or two of them have shocked even Valmar by their naked naturalism. “All this,” he says, “shows the relaxation of morals in his day, and the evil influences that came from Provence.”

One of the most singular legends contained in the Cantigas is that in which a rich and gallant gentleman, who has fallen blindly and immorally in love with a lady, prays with obstinate fervour two hundred Ave Marias to the Virgin every day for a whole year, entreating her that she would touch the lady’s heart. At length the Virgin appears to him in the church, and says, “Look at me well, and then choose between me and that other woman, the one who pleases you best (a que te mais praz).” The gallant gentleman instantly consecrated himself wholly to the adoration of the Virgin, and a year later she took him up with her to heaven.

In another Cantiga, the nun who acts as sacristan of the convent of Fontebras is in love with a knight, and is on the point of fleeing with him. She goes and prostrates herself before the Crucifix to take leave of Christ. Suddenly the holy effigy gives her such a blow in the face that it leaves a mark for ever on her cheek.

In yet another Cantiga (xciv.) a nun who acts as treasurer of a convent escapes from the cloisters with a lover, after having left the keys of the treasury before the altar of the Virgin with a prayer. The Virgin, in pity, takes her place,

[Image unavailable.]


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and when the repentant nun returns after many years to the convent, she finds the keys where she had left them, and learned with astonishment and gratitude that no one had noticed her absence.

There are three hundred and fifty-nine Cantigas in Alfonso’s collection.

Macías (“O Namorado,” the infatuated lover) flourished in the last half of the fourteenth century, in the reign of Peter the Cruel (1350-69). Of all the trovadores of Galicia, Macías is the most popular. His fame is due to his tragic end, rather than to his merits as a poet. Professor Rennert,[81] who has recently published a monograph of Macías, does not find enough merit in his poems to account for his extraordinary fame. Macías has been extravagantly glorified alike by all the Portuguese and Spanish poets as a perfect model of true love, of love faithful even unto death. “Love alone was the cause of his death,” says Gregorio Silvestre.[82]

“El fino amante es Macías
Que con solo amor murió.”

Macías is one of the most romantic figures in Spanish literature. Rennert has spared no pains in hunting for every scrap of information obtainable with regard to this pattern lover. He has perused the Satira de Felice e’ Infelice Vida, by Pedro, Constable of Portugal, written between 1453 and 1455; also the writings of Fernan Nuñez of Toledo, which appeared in 1499, and he assures his readers that all later writers who have made Macías their subject have drawn their inspiration from these two authorities.

From the pen of Macías himself, “the martyr to Cupid,” we have only four poems that can be authenticated. Rennert has examined these with extreme care, and says that the dialect (or language) in which they are written differs in no particular from the language of the early Portuguese poets.

As we have seen, the language of Galicia separated itself gradually from that of Portugal, as a result of the union of Galicia with the rest of Spain. Each of the four poems of Macías contains a sprinkling of Castillian words.

“His story fired the popular imagination,” says Fitzmaurice Kelly, “and enters into literature in Lope de Vega’s ‘Porfiar hasta morir,’ and in Larra’s ‘El Doncel de Don Enrique el Doliente.’ ”{58}

There are two versions of the poet’s life story. The one taken up by Argote de Molina, and, in the words of Rennert, embellished with additional touches of romance,[83] is the most popular: “Macías was born in Galicia, and was a great and virtuous martyr to love, who, being enamoured of a gentle and beautiful lady, it happened that, riding one day over a bridge together, fortune so willed it that the mule upon which the lady was riding, becoming restive, threw her into the deep water. And as that constant lover, no less determined than fired by love, and fearless of death, saw what had happened, he quickly leapt into the deep waters: and he, whose infinite longing the great height of the bridge in nowise checked, nor whom the black and angry waters made forgetful of her in whose thrall he lived, seized her, already half dead, and bore her to the white sands safe and sound, and afterwards despairing of the reward that is not denied in the end to all true and faithful lovers, she was married to another. But that constant and gentle soul, that knew no change, loved her being married as he had loved her a maid, and as the faithful lover was journeying along one day, he met the cause of his undoing, for there came towards him his lady, and in requital of his great services to her he asked her to descend from her palfry. Thereupon Macías thanked her for her bounty, and bade her remount and ride on, so that her husband might not find her there, and she having departed, her husband arrived, and seeing him whom he did not much love standing in the middle of the road, he asked him what he was doing there, and Macías replied, ‘Here did my lady set her feet, and in these footprints I intend to remain, and end my sad life.’ And her husband, wanting in every feeling of courtesy or nobility, more actuated by jealousy than by mercy, dealt him a mortal blow with his lance. There, stretched upon the ground, his eyes turned in the direction in which his lady had departed, he uttered the following words: ‘O my only lady and for ever! Wherever thou mayest be, I entreat thee to remember me, thy unworthy servant’; and, having uttered these words with a deep sigh, his blissful soul passed away.”

Macías wrote a poem in which he upbraided Love. Here is the first verse of it—

“Amor cruel e briosa
Mal aia a ta alteza,
Pois non fazes iqualeza
Seendo tal poderoso.”


And here is the fifth and last verse—

“Ves, Amor por que o digo,
Ser que es cruel e forte,
Adversario ou enemigo
Desamador de ta corte:
Al vil deitas en tal sorte
Que por prez lle das vileza!
Quen te serve en gentileza
Por galardon lle das morte.”

No doubt if he could but have foreseen his own tragic end, he would have reproached Cupid with even greater bitterness.{60}



St. James’s Road—The legend of St. James—Landing at Padron—Abbot Ildefred—Alfonso el Casto—The town of Santiago—Diego Gelmirez—The Historia Compostelana—Another famous manuscript—The Codex of Calistus II.—Basque words—Origin of the Basques—Molina’s list of pilgrims—In the cathedral—Hymn of the Flemings—Relics of St. James—The scallop shell—Images of St. James—Jet workers—Money-changers—St. Bridget—Philip II—William of Rubruquis—Queen Matilda—An irreparable loss—A book on Galicia—Why the pilgrims wear a scallop shell—Crowding of pilgrims to the Mass—Beds in the cathedral—Incense in Christian worship—The great censer—Early references to the botafumeiro—The censer swings too far—Candlemas—An impressive ceremony—The Chirimias—English pilgrims to Santiago—An English hospital—The monastery of Sobrado

“THE mediæval Spanish roads were the work of the clergy,” wrote Ford, “and the long-bearded monks, here as elsewhere, were the pioneers of civilisation.... In other provinces of Spain, the star-paved milky way in the heavens is called El Camino de Santiago (“the road of St. James”); but the Galicians, who know what their roads really are, namely, the worst on earth, call the milky way El Camino de Jerusalem (“the road to Jerusalem”).” And here is a passage that we find among the poetic writings of Daudet: A shepherdess has asked a young shepherd if he knows the names of all the stars, and he begins his reply with, “Why, yes, mistress. Look, straight above our heads. That is St. James’s Road. It runs from France straight over Spain. It was St. James of Galicia who traced it there, to show the brave Charlemagne his way when he was making war upon the Saracens.”

The actual road which brought pilgrims and troubadours from France, across northern Spain to the town of Santiago in Galicia, was known as el camino francés, or the French Road. Ford says that the Spaniards made Santiago a centre for their pilgrimages, because, as every one knows, the Pope had forbidden them to take part in the Crusades as long as they had infidels on their own soil.

The legend of how St. James came to be the patron saint{61} of Spain—the legend as it is authorised by the Catholic Church in the twentieth century, is as follows:—St. James, eleven years after the crucifixion of Christ, was decapitated by the order of King Herod, because he preached the Gospel to the Jews. The disciples took possession of his holy body by night, and, accompanied by the Angel of the Lord, arrived at Joppa, on the seashore. While they were hesitating as to what they should do next, a ship, provided with all that they could require during a long voyage, appeared before them. The disciples, filled with joy, entered the ship, and, singing hymns of praise to God, sailed with favourable breezes and a calm voyage, till they came to the harbour of Iria, on the Gallegan coast. There, full of happiness, they sang a psalm of David.

Having landed near what is now the town of Padron, the disciples deposited the holy body in a little enclosure, which is venerated to this day under the name of Libredon—about eight miles distant from the town of Iria. There they found a great stone idol that had been erected by the pagans,—this they hacked to pieces with the aid of some iron tools they had discovered in a cave close by. Having reduced the idol to dust, they made of it a very firm cement, and with this they made a stone (or marble) sepulchre, and a little oratory supported by arches. Having enclosed the holy body in the sepulchre and placed it in the oratory, they built over it a tiny church with an altar for the use of the people of the neighbourhood. Then they sang two more psalms (which are still given in the guide-books). The people of the place were very soon converted to the true faith through the preaching of the disciples, and it was at length decided that two of them, Athanasius and Theodosius, should remain at Iria to watch over the sepulchre of St. James and strengthen the new converts in their new religion, while the rest departed to carry the Gospel to other parts of Spain. Athanasius and Theodosius kept reverent watch over the sepulchre, and commanded their converts that after their death they two should be buried one on either side of St. James. In due time they died peacefully and happily, and entered into heaven. Later on a small community of monks, twelve in all, established itself near the spot; they were presided over by the venerable Abbot Ildefred, and it was their business to offer up solemn prayers to the glorious apostle to whom Spain owes her faith, and by whose valiant championship that nation considers itself to have been freed from the Mussalman yoke.{62}

For eight hundred years the holy body remained where the disciples had placed it, forgotten by all. Then in the year 812 “some men of authority” went to Teodomirus, who was then bishop of Iria Flavia (Padron), and informed him that they had seen on many occasions strange lights flickering at night-time in a neighbouring wood, and angels hovering near them. The bishop hurried to the spot indicated, and, seeing the lights with his own eyes, at once ordered the wood to be carefully searched. Very soon, amongst the trees, a little oratory was discovered, and in it a marble sarcophagus. The king, Alfonso el Casto (Alfonso II.) was at once informed of the marvellous discovery; he came in person to see the sepulchre, and immediately decided to transfer the Episcopal See from Iria to this sacred spot, which henceforth bore the name of Compostela (from campos “a field,” and stella “a star”). A solemn procession of bishops, priests, nobles, and citizens inaugurated the foundation of the new city (which became known to all the Spanish world as Santiago de Compostela). This (the translation of the Episcopal See) took place, we are told, in the reign of Charlemagne. From that moment “Spanish heroism sought, as was natural, in the sepulchre of the holy Apostle the strength and enthusiasm which saved Europe from the barbarism of Islam, and the roads leading to Santiago were the wide highways that were trodden by nobility and virtue, by science and valour, during the centuries of the Reconquest.”

Santiago soon became one of the most celebrated cities of Christendom. The modest church built by Alfonso el Casto was too small to accommodate the pilgrims who flocked to it, so it was replaced by a beautiful cathedral. The whole Christian world is said to have contributed towards the building of this edifice, pious alms poured in from every part of Europe, the pilgrims themselves took part, with their own hands, in the laying of its stones,—young men and old, women of all ages, rich and poor, learned and ignorant, popes and prelates, emperors and kings, all lent their aid.

Diego Gelmirez was at that time the prelate of Santiago. This remarkable man is famed not only for the zeal with which he superintended the building of the cathedral, but also for the many agricultural improvements which he introduced and encouraged, and for the works of art with which he beautified the city; he also erected many churches, both within and without it, among which may be noted that of Sar, that of Conjo, and that of St. Susanna. He performed the part of bishop and mayor combined in one. So much did{63} literature flourish under his patronage, that he has been called “the Mæcenas of Galicia.” The Historia Compostelana, preserved in the archives of the cathedral, from which I have taken my account of the finding of St. James, was written at his bidding. The first part of it is the work of two authors, and the last of one. The first two were chosen by Gelmirez as the most learned of his canons, Don Munio (or Nunio) a Spaniard, and Don Hugo a Frenchman by birth. Both, according to Florez, had the full confidence of the prelate, who confided to them without reserve his most important secrets. Gelmirez set them to work upon this book as soon as he became bishop, in 1100. In 1112, both canons became bishops in their turn, Munio of Mondoñedo, and Hugo of Porto. After their departure from Santiago the work of writing the book was carried on by Girardo. The work is without doubt one of the most precious literary monuments of the twelfth century. Florez brought it before the public after it had lain dead for six hundred years, by publishing it in his España Sagrada.

In the Historia Compostelana there is no allusion to St. James beyond the finding of the sepulchre in the first chapter, and some have thought this fact a proof that the legend about the apostle has no foundation, but Florez points out that this book was written solely to perpetuate the memory of Gelmirez, as the title, Registro del Venerable Obispo, shows. The early history of Santiago is only touched upon in the first three chapters, and the work does not pretend to be a church register.

Another famous manuscript preserved in the archives of Santiago Cathedral since the twelfth century is the priceless Codex of Calistus II., the date of which is supposed to be a few years later than that of the Historia Compostelana (about 1140). This document, of which the capitals are illuminated, contains some curious miniatures, one having for its subject the departure of Charlemagne for Spain. Here there is a description of the principal roads by which pilgrims were wont to reach Santiago. Pope Calistus II. was one of the most illustrious of all the pilgrims who visited Santiago. He undertook the pilgrimage when he was an archbishop in France, about 1109. There are in existence three examples of this manuscript which bears his name: one is in the Royal Library at Madrid, and another, preserved in one of the other libraries, is a Gallegan translation dating from the first half of the fifteenth century. At the end of the twelfth century there was in existence a French translation.

In the year 1173, Arnaldo del Monte, a monk of the celebrated{64} monastery of Ripoll in the province of Gerona, went on a pilgrimage to Santiago. He handled, described, and made extracts from the precious Codex; his dedication of it is still preserved in the library of Ripoll, and there is also said to be a copy in the Paris library.

The Codex of Calistus III., supposed to have been partly written by his chancellor, Aimerico Picard, is in five books. The first contains four homilies of Calistus on the three great festivals of Santiago, and the Mass, with a dramatic liturgy set to music composed by Fulbert de Chartres, retouched by the hand of Calistus or some other personage; some of the writings of Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, and, we are told, of Bede, per totum annum legenda. The second contains “The Miracles of the Apostles”; the third gives an account of the translation of St. James from Jerusalem to Spain; the fourth, “How Charlemagne brought Spain under the yoke of Christ”; and the fifth, various writings.

According to the written testimony of Pope Calistus II., the most wonderful cures were effected at the shrine of St. James. “The sick come and are cured, the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the dumb speak, the possessed are set free, the sad find consolation, and, what is more important, the prayers of the faithful reach to heaven, the heavy weight of sins is removed, the chains of sin are broken, thither come all the nations of the earth,” and here follows a list of some eighty tribes and nations. These pilgrims travelled across Europe in companies, and in companies they placed themselves beside the sepulchre, the Italians on this side, the Germans on that, as the case might be; every one holding a wax taper is his hand, there they remained to worship the whole night long, and the light from the innumerable tapers made the night like day. Some sang to the accompaniment of the cithara, others to that of the lyre, some to the timbrel, others the flute, others to the fife, others to the trumpet, others to the harp, others to the viola, others to the British and Welsh harp and crouth, others to the psaltery, and others to many other musical instruments. Some weep for their sins, some read psalms, and some give alms to the priests. There does not exist a language or a dialect that is not heard in that cathedral. If any one enters sad, he goes out happy; there is celebrated one continuous festival, people come and go, but the service is not interrupted by day or by night. The doors of the sacred edifice are never closed, lamps and tapers fill it at midnight with the splendour of midday. Thither all wend their way, rich and poor, prince{65} and peasant, governor and abbot. Some travel at their own expense; others depend upon charity. Some come with chains for the mortification of their flesh; others, like the Greeks, with the sign of the cross in their hands. Some carry in their hands iron and lead for the building of the basilica of the Apostle. Many whom the Apostle has delivered from prison carry with them their manacles and the bolts of their prison doors, and do penance for their sins.

“The many thousands of miracles,” says Calistus, “that were worked daily through the intercession of the Apostle in the happy city of his glorious tomb increased the legions of pilgrims, who carried back with them to the utmost confines of the world the name of Compostela!” “And how the highways of Asia and Europe must have resounded in those days,” cries Sanchez, “with hymns of praise sung by the pious pilgrims to St. James!” Every nation had its own special hymns, a mixture of Latin and the local idiom. One of the most beautiful of these compositions was, according to Fita, that sung by the Flemmings, “que es de lo mas selecto de la poesia del siglo xii.” In each verse the name of St. James appears in a different case of the Latin declension.

As we have seen, special roads were built in Italy, France, and Spain to facilitate the pilgrimages. Bridges were thrown across ravines and rivers; inns and monasteries sprang up at the chief halting-places, such as St. Marks at Leon and the monastery of Roncevalles, and in the lonely and dangerous places where they were most needed. The fame of St. James impressed even Rome. In the beginning of the tenth century, Pope John X. (915-928) sent a priest named Zanelo to Santiago to find out if it was really true that so many pilgrims went there and so many miracles were wrought. Book ii. of the Codex of Calistus II. tells of many wondrous miracles.

The most glorious days of the pilgrimages were those in which Diego Gelmirez was archbishop. It is difficult for the uninitiated to see why the tomb of St. James should have been considered to be the most glorious of all the saints’ tombs in the world; but so it was, according to St. Buenaventura.[84] There constantly occurred such frightful crushes and stampedes in the fourteen gateways leading to the sacred edifice, that a great many accidents happened even to the members of the best-regulated pilgrim bands, and free fights ensuing,{66} complaints went up even to the Pope at Rome! For very often the prelate of Compostela was absent from his post, and there was no other to take his place.

There is still preserved among the ancient constitutions of the cathedral a description of the ceremonies prescribed in connection with the pilgrims, and carried out by Archbishop Juan Arias 1282, 1266. The custodian of the altar and a priest standing erect with rods in their hands called up the bands of pilgrims in turn according to their nationality and in their own language, and told them to group themselves round the priest who was to hand them the indulgences they had gained by their pilgrimages. Each pilgrim received a sharp rap from the rod as he passed. As soon as divine worship was over (that is, the portion which they attended), the pilgrims proceeded to lay their offerings before the altar, and then went to venerate the chain. Sanchez thinks this was the chain by which the Jews secured their prisoners. After the chain came the crown, the hat, the staff, the knife, and the stone. It seems that even the hatchet with which St. James was beheaded lay upon the altar when Baron de Rozmilal made his pilgrimage in 1465. The staff is the only one of these sacred relics that has survived to our day.

Most of the pilgrims, after they had done with Santiago, went on to Padron to see the spot where the Holy Body had been landed by the Disciples. But there was a great deal to be done in Santiago. Money-changers sat with little heaps of coin close to the entrance of the church, and did a lively business with the foreigners. Scallop-shells had to be purchased, for the pilgrim who returned home without his shell would not get his friends to believe he had got as far as Santiago. This shell, the pecten Veneris or ostra Jacobea (Linn.), was called in Galicia ó Jacobea (the shell of St. James). It received the first of these names because it resembled in its form the comb employed by the ancients, and Aphrodite was supposed to comb her hair with one of these shells when rising from the sea. It is the common convex bivalve so familiar to English eyes, white inside, and the fish of which somewhat resembles an oyster, though it is less delicate in flavour and odour. This sacred shell was offered for sale to the pilgrims in all sizes, and made of many different materials: there were shells in black jet, in porcelain, in silver, in copper and in brass, in tin and lead. Traders called los conchiarii, concheiros, or latoneros, sold shells, images of the Apostle, crosses, medals, and other objêts de religion to the pilgrims. The insignia of St. James consisted chiefly in the{67} metal scallop-shells which the pilgrims attached to their robes and broad-brimmed pilgrim’s hats. Villa-Amil, quoting Lopez Ferreiro,[85] tells us that in virtue of an edict of Gregory IX. about 1228, in answer to a petition from the Archbishop and Corporation, the manufacture of these shells in any place except Compostela was strictly prohibited. In 1224 any one found falsifying them was threatened with the anathema of Pope Alexander IV., and in 1266 Pope Clement IV. went even so far as to publish an edict excommunicating those pilgrims who purchased or wore any other shells than those manufactured in Compostela. Alfonso X., also, in 1260 forbade the pilgrims to wear any insignia of St. James that had not been manufactured on the spot, because by so doing they caused the Cathedral of Santiago to suffer loss both in honour and revenue. Later on, in 1581, confiscation of the article and a fine were imposed on those who dared to falsify the insignia of the Apostle or gilded them with saffron that would not wear. The inns of the town of Santiago at which the pilgrims put up had the sacred sign of the scallop-shells over the central porch. Many of these, now turned into private houses, may still be seen by the traveller. “But how,” the reader will ask, “did the scallop-shell come to be chosen as the chief emblem of St. James?”

Next, perhaps, to the scallop-shells in popularity among the pilgrims were the images of St. James, also manufactured for them at Santiago, a favourite material being black jet (azabache). Dr. Fernando Keller, an antiquarian of Zurich, published in 1868 a description of two jet figures of St. James found in Switzerland, near the chapel for leprous pilgrims at Einsiedeln; and a similar one found in Scotland has been described by a Scotch antiquary as the signaculum of a pilgrim to Santiago, blessed at the shrine before it was carried away. The poorer pilgrims who could not afford a jet image contented themselves with a pewter one. But Villa-Amil says there is plenty of evidence that the sale of the images had nothing to do with the Cathedral, and that the workers in jet were in the habit of besieging the pilgrims and worrying them into the purchase of their images. A few years ago, according to Villa-Amil, not a single specimen of the ancient Santiago jet-worker’s art was known (except to a few persons) to be in existence. Yet the confraternity of jet-workers flourished up to the close of the sixteenth century. They are mentioned in a curious notice in a memorial dated August 8, 1570, which Villa-Amil gives at length. In the{68} Ordinances of the Confraternity there are some interesting technical details, such, for instance, as the statement that jet from the Asturias was preferred to Portuguese jet “because it took the straw,” i.e. had the power of attraction. With regard to the jet images—the bearded image of St. James, with pilgrim’s hat, robe, and staff, usually had two smaller images kneeling on either side of it, but sometimes there was only one. On the upturned brim of his hat there is the conventional shell, and in his left hand he holds an open book. A rosary is suspended from his girdle. He is usually barefooted and barelegged. From the hook of his staff is suspended the leathern bag which was part of every pilgrim’s staff. The kneeling figures are attired in pilgrim’s garb, also with rosaries. The figure of St. James is never more than seven inches high. The more ancient ones bear traces of gilding. Examples are to be seen in the Kirker Museum at Rome, in the British Museum, in the Museum at Perugia, in the Cluny Museum, and in many other places. Mr. Joseph Anderson, according to Villa-Amil, was long under the impression that the only piece of jet workmanship in the United Kingdom was the little figure of St. James in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. A very rare and interesting specimen is the one of which Señor Villa-Amil has kindly presented me with an illustration, and which is in the possession of Guillermo de Osma.

The jet-workers (azabacheros) gave their name to the street in which they carried on their trade, which led up to the principal entrance of the cathedral, the façade of which is still known as la Azabacheria.

Señor Villa-Amil[86] has devoted a most interesting chapter to the subject of the Santiago money-changers. He is convinced that there is absolutely no foundation for the popular fallacy which attributed to these money-changers the functions of a noble corporation, and wrapped them in a romantic halo, as though they were something like “Knights of the Round Table.” It is not true that, while they spent their days in changing the pilgrims’ money, they guarded by night the sepulchre of St. James. On the contrary, it is now quite certain that, according to the earliest mention that has been found of them, their position was neither a high nor a remarkably honourable one. They are mentioned in reference to a statute passed in the year 1133 to prevent them from using false weights. And Mauro Castella Ferrer, in his History of St. James, informs us that a man who had{69} been a money-changer, or the master of such, was prohibited from wearing the garb of St. James! Far from being looked upon as honourable knights, men of this trade were constantly being upbraided all through the Middle Ages for the abuses of which they were the originators. This was the case not only in Santiago, but all over Spain. One charge against them was that they knowingly received and circulated coins that they knew to be worthless.

The Confraternity of Money-Changers of Santiago was in existence in the middle of the fifteenth century—for in 1450 Juan II. conceded to them certain privileges. Money-changers, silversmiths, and jet-workers represented the most important industries in Santiago in the Middle Ages, and all these were established in quarters close to the Cathedral. The money-changers, according to Aimerico, carried on their trade in the Azabacheria in company with the jet-workers. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries these money-changers were no longer simple money-changers seated on the ground with heaps of coin piled around them; they had risen to the rank of respectable bankers, and many of them were men of considerable standing and wealth. Villa-Amil thinks that Francisco Trevino, whose tomb and effigy may still be seen in the capilla del Salvador of the cathedral, and who was secretary to Archbishop Fonseca in the sixteenth century, was one of these money-changers.

Among the saints who came as pilgrims to Santiago are the great names of St. Frances from Italy and St. Bridget from Ireland. Warlike princes journeyed thither that they might obtain the protection of the Apostle against the enemies they were to meet in the field of battle. Philip II. visited the sepulchre of St. James before embarking with the Armada for the British coast. Among the queenly pilgrims to Santiago were Isabel, queen of Portugal, and Catherine of Aragon, the unhappy wife of our Henry VIII. The Cid and the Gran Capitan both came to Santiago. William X., Count of Portiers and Duke of Aquitaine, expired in 1137 in the nave of the Cathedral while joining in the Divine service. Louis VII. of France came here on his return with the French army from the Second Crusade. It was thought a blessed thing to die on the road to or from Santiago. In the thirteenth century, Juan de Briena, King of Jerusalem and Emperor of Constantinople, was among the pilgrims. The Franciscan monk William de Rubruquis, who was sent by Louis IX. to convert the Mongols of Siberia, found among the Tartars a Nestorian monk who intended to make a pilgrimage to{70} St. James of Galicia. Queen Matilda, the daughter of Henry I. of England and wife of the Emperor Henry V. of Germany, on returning to her old home as a widow in 1124, carried with her the bones of one of the hands of St. James. Contemporary annalists regarded this as an irreparable loss to the Kingdom.

Pilgrims continued to flock to Galicia in thousands up to and throughout the sixteenth century.

In the year 1550 the first edition of a book entitled Descripcion del Reyno de Galicia was printed at Mondoñedo. Its author was Francisco Molina, a native of Malaga and a canon of the Cathedral of Mondoñedo. There is a copy of the first edition in the library of Santiago University. This is one of the most curious and at the same time most valuable of all the old works upon Galicia that are still extant. This “Description of the Kingdom of Galicia” is written in verse, with explanatory footnotes on every page. Here we read that of all the cathedrals of the world that of Santiago was the most visited. “It is venerated by all nations,” says the writer, “especially by the Slavs. A Slav who makes a pilgrimage to Santiago is, on his return to his native country, considered free from all his sins and escapes many of the annoyances to which the others (who had not been to Santiago) are subjected. Every year we see, on the 1st of May, processions of Slavs with offerings, with thick and long wax candles. Having shown themselves to their friends at home, they return the next year, in May, till they have been three times, and on the occasion of the third procession they wear three crowns. They then return to Esclavonia, where they henceforth enjoy great liberty.” This is certainly very like the journey of Mohammedans to Mecca! “The number of pilgrims is a marvellous thing!” exclaims Molina. “The only other cathedrals where there is a concourse of pilgrims anything like that at Santiago are St. Peter’s at Rome and St. John’s at Ephesus. More pilgrims come to Santiago than to these two, especially in Jubilee year (every seven years); but since Luther arose with his dangerous views, the number of German, French, English and Bohemian pilgrims has somewhat decreased.” Molina owns that the people who take the least part in these pilgrimages are the Spaniards, “perhaps because they are contented to know that they have the Cathedral and relics of St. James in their own land, or perhaps because they prefer seeing foreign lands to travelling in their own country.”

Molina tells his readers that the relics are shown to the{71} pilgrims on certain days of the week by a man specially appointed for the purpose on account of his linguistic talents. He is called lenguagero (linguist). The head of the glorious Apostle is carried round the Cathedral on all feast days in solemn procession. “One of the relics is a drop of milk from the breast of the Virgin in a vase as fresh and perfect as if of to-day. There is also a precious lock of her hair, and a thorn from Christ’s crown which turns the colour of blood every Good Friday.”

“St. James brought nine disciples with him to Spain,” writes Molina. We will leave his account of the great hospital erected for the pilgrims till another chapter. He devotes many pages to a careful description of the arms of the great families of Galicia, and with them of the arms of St. James. “The reason why the pilgrims wear a scallop-shell as the insignum of St. James,” he explains, “is that a certain nobleman, who wished to accompany the body of the Apostle to Galicia, not finding a passage in the ship, entered the sea on horseback, and thus reached Galicia. As he came out of the water it was found that his body and that of his horse were covered with scallop-shells. And now, the pilgrim who does not bring scallop-shells back with him is not believed to have been to Santiago at all.”

The crowding of the pilgrims to Mass was so great in the early years of the seventeenth century, that the priest, after administering the Holy Communion in the Chapel of the King of France, administered it in the nave, in the transept, in the cloisters, and even in the large square which is now called Plaza de los Literarios, but which was then called the La Quintana. All these places were tightly packed with pilgrims. As late as the year 1706, altars were temporarily erected in the cloister for the priest to say Mass. In 1794, D. Miguel Ferro, Architect of the Cathedral, wrote: “The crowd of pilgrims on the great feast days is so large, that only two-thirds of them can get into the Cathedral, apart from the families who live in the town.”[87] “Since then,” wrote Sanchez in 1888, “the revolutions which inaugurated the present epoch, and the spirit of religious indifference which has unfortunately affected modern minds, have influenced the decadence of pilgrimages to Santiago; they are now only the shadow of what they were.... To-day, nevertheless, we feel the fervour and enthusiasm of bygone days is once more growing.... With the discovery of the Sacred Relics of the Apostle, Santiago appears at certain epochs to recover her{72} former appearance. Never shall we forget the 29th of June 1883, on which, staff in hand, and on foot, and chanting hymns, there arrived at the sacred portal of the Cathedral a company of Augustine friars, who had been unjustly forced to leave France, their mother country. Shortly after their arrival we witnessed that of another band of pilgrims, composed of students from the Catholic University of Paris, and most of whom belonged to the noblest families of France.”

It has been seen that the portals of the Cathedral were kept open day and night for the convenience of the pilgrims; those who had been unable to receive shelter in the overcrowded inns often passed entire nights within the precincts of the Cathedral, sleeping on the stones of the cloister and even in the Cathedral itself, using the galleries as if the sacred edifice had been an inn. If we may trust Quintela Naya, it was not till the thirteenth century that the making up of beds in the Cathedral was forbidden. In order that the atmosphere of the edifice might be purified for the relays of pilgrims, recourse was had to incense-burning, and there eventually came into use, history cannot tell us when, the wonderful botafumeiro, or giant censer, which is to this very day one of the glories of the Cathedral.

There seems to be no trace of the use of incense in Christian worship during the first three centuries. St. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 192) said, when contrasting the Christian service with pagan rites, “the truly holy altar is the just soul, and its perfume is holy prayer.”[88] Only when great crowds of unwashed pilgrims began to make the air of the churches intolerable was the use of incense, as a disinfectant, introduced into Divine Service.[89] Its use as a part of the ritual dates from about the end of the fifth century. It is supposed that all the side chapels of Santiago Cathedral had at first their own incense-burners, but that when the pilgrims took to sleeping round the altar and in the gallery which encircles the nave and transept, these being found insufficient to purify the air of the entire building, their place was taken by a huge silver casket filled with incense and suspended by iron chains and by ropes and pulleys from the triangle of the{73} cupola. This great incensario was solemnly swung the whole length of the nave backwards and forwards above the heads of the pilgrims.

Whether the botafumeiro, which may still be seen to swing in Santiago Cathedral is the original one which was in use there in the thirteenth century, is not known. Señor Villa-Amil was not able for many years to find any earlier allusion to this one than a passage discovered by Zepedano in Oscea’s Historia del glorioso Apostol Santiago (1615), which says that in 1602 an order was given for the old beams from which the great incense-burner was suspended to be replaced by new ones, and new pulleys to be provided from the Biscay iron-works. The censer is described as resembling a great silver cauldron, into which were put from four to six pounds of perfume, and which, suspended by a long rope, was swung to and fro by five or six men during the principal festivals so as to fumigate the entire edifice. Recently, with the help of Señor Lopez Ferreiro, a passage dating from the fourteenth century has been found, in the Codex of Calixtus II., where the great annual festival in honour of St. James is described. It runs thus: “Nunc decoretur cum Capite beati Jacobi alphei mire magnitudinis in testis argenti deaurati cum multis et magnis lapidibus pretiosis in testis et maxime cum magno turibulo argenteo, a sumitate ecclesie et funibus suspensum per rotas currendo a portale septentrionali usque a portali meridiano pleno carbonibus incensis cum ture feriendo in utraque parte sumitatis ecclesie, estante antistite in pontificale cum tota procesine ut supra.” With regard to the form of the incense-burner here mentioned, Villa-Amil says that it was fashioned like a turret, because in a Bull of Nicholas V., which was dispatched from Rome on September 27, 1447, there is promulgated a sentence of excommunication against the person who should steal from the Cathedral of Santiago “quoddam jocale argenteum in modum bastitie artificis ingenio fabricatum, valoris mille ducatorum vel circa.”

In yet another passage in an old volume in the Library of Seville Cathedral, Señor Villa-Amil has found the following: “In the year 1499 the Infanta Catalina was about to be married to the Prince of Wales, the son and heir of the king of England, and she, the daughter of King Fernando and Queen Isabella, before she embarked at Coruña (it was the Jubilee year), attended Mass in the Cathedral at Santiago, which was so full that it seemed as if it would be impossible, without the greatest difficulty, to get another person into the transept. A censer swung above the people as large as a great{74} cauldron, suspended by very thick iron chains. It was filled with live charcoal, upon which had been heaped incense and other perfumes. And it swung so far as to reach almost from one door of the transept to the other. Suddenly, while it was swinging, the chains upon which it was swinging broke with a sound like the report of a gun, and, without dropping a single ash, the censer swung out of the door of the Cathedral, where it was smashed to atoms, and dispersed all its red-hot coals without any one being hurt.”[90]

Villa-Amil’s article was published in 1889. His book, from which I have translated the above incident, was not published until May 1907, but the story appears to have been handed down from generation to generation among the townspeople of Santiago; it was related to me by a Santiago shopkeeper in February 1907. “Once,” he said solemnly, “in ages past, the rope by which the censer was swinging broke, and the censer flew out of the window over the gate of the Platerias, right over to the fountain.” “And killed a lady,” put in his son, who was listening. “No; it did not hurt any one,” said the shopkeeper, shaking his head. “It was before my time and before my father’s time but it can’t happen again, for ever since that day the master carpenter of the Cathedral is always present to watch. He is one of those who pull the rope, and it is he who stops the censer at the conclusion of the ceremony.”

It was on February 2, 1907, that I had the good fortune to assist at the celebration of Candlemas, one of the four principal festivals of the year, at Santiago Cathedral; and on that occasion the “king of censers,” as Victor Hugo called it in his poem, swung before my admiring eyes. The service began at 9.30. The Archbishop with his red cap (for he is now a Cardinal) and ermine cape, presided. Standing in the transept close to the choir in the midst of a large congregation, all standing or kneeling, I saw two men come forward bearing “the largest incense-burner in the world” suspended by its chains to a horizontal pole. They placed it on the pavement, exactly under the central cupola, from the triangle of which hung the two ends of a rope worked by a pulley. The chains of the great silver censer were now attached to one end of the rope, while seven strong men clutched the other end, and, pulling it, caused the cauldron to rise in the air above our heads till it was about ten feet from the ground. Then it began to swing gently. Every eye was fixed on it, and there was for a moment the perfect silence of universal{75} expectation, but only for a moment, for then the silver tones of a couple of clarions (chirimias) fell upon our ears.[91] At length the great censer, as if taking courage at the sound of the music, swung boldly out across the transept. It swung higher and higher, and the clear voice of the silver-voiced clarions sounded more and more triumphant. At last it swung so high that I thought it must turn a somersault, and pour its glowing charcoal upon our upturned faces. We saw its perforated top filled with tongue-like flames fanned by the wind. And, in the midst of it all, the sight of those hundreds of eager, upturned faces. What a study! When Borrow visited Galicia he heard of “the mighty censers, which are at times swung so high by machinery as to smite the vaulted roof of the Cathedral,” but he did not have the privilege of assisting at one of those extraordinary ceremonies. “It is one of the things to see,” said a professor of the University to whom I mentioned it. “It is one of the sights of Santiago.” I do not know for how long the censer swung above our heads, covering at each gigantic swing the whole length of the transept,—perhaps ten minutes, perhaps fifteen,—but at last it began to swing more gently and to rise less high, and then it gradually subsided till it ceased swinging altogether. While the five men were detaching it from its rope the congregation began to press into the central nave, where a large ring had been formed by the priests. Here the ecclesiastical musicians had taken their stand, and here they gave us a (violins and ’cellos) repertoire of church music, to which the congregation listened with rapture. The two clarionets or chirimias are only heard while the censer swings. It is their sacred privilege to accompany its flight, and give by their clear tones the final touch to one of the most dramatic scenes ever witnessed in a Christian church. It reminded me of the moment when I saw the aged Pope Leo X. carried to his throne in St. Peter’s at Rome (on the occasion of his Jubilee), while clarion music imitated the singing of angels in the great cupola of Michael Angelo.

Señor Villa-Amil has discovered that Sergius I. (687-701) provided a censer, according to the biography of this pope quoted by Anastasius the {76}librarian: “Thymiamaterium aureum columnis, ... quod suspendit arte eandum imaginum S. Petri, in quo incensum et odor suavitatis festis diebus missarum solemnia celebrantur omnipotenti Deo opulentius mittitur.” Villa-Amil believes, with Ferreiro, that of this class of suspended censers that of Santiago was probably one of the first. For many years the swinging censer of Santiago was thought to be the only example of the kind, but Señor Benito Alonso has published the following paragraph, which he recently discovered among the Proceedings of the Corporation of Orense, by Inocencio Portabales: “On December 21, 1503, the Corporation of Orense appointed Juan Diaz, a citizen of the town, to the office of administrating and swinging the censer (botafumeiro), which was provided with ropes and enormous cords. It was swung in the transept of the Cathedral suspended from the roof of the lantern on Christmas Day, at Easter, Pentecost, Ascension, Corpus, St. John the Baptist’s Day, St. Peter’s Day, etc.”[92] It is clear, then, that in the Cathedral of Orense, as well as in that of Santiago, there was a swinging censer in use during the Middle Ages.

But to return to the pilgrims: the roads of Christendom were so crowded with them that Dante exclaims—

“Mira mira ecco il Barone
Per cui laggiu si visita Galizia.”

“At the marriage of our Edward I., in 1254, with Leonora, sister of Alfonso el Sabio, a special bodyguard for English pilgrims was demanded; but they came in such numbers that the French took alarm, and when Enrique II. was enabled by the aid of France to dethrone Don Pedro, he was compelled to prevent any English whatever from entering Spain without the French king’s permission. The capture of Santiago by John of Gaunt increased the difficulties.... Rymer mentions 916 licences granted to English in 1428, and 2460 in 1434. In the Middle Ages the duty of a pilgrimage to Compostela was absolutely necessary in many cases to take up an inheritance.”[93] A guide-book for the use of English pilgrims was published in the fourteenth century, entitled The Way from the Lond of Engelond unto Sent Jamez in Galiz.[94]

Lopez Ferreiro tells us in his great work on Santiago Cathedral that the English had both a hospital and a church for the use of their pilgrims near Cebrero in the province{77} of Lugo. Pope Alexander III. mentions it in his Bull conferring upon them all the privileges of Santiago. English pilgrims used to come by sea for a long time, but when they became masters of Aquitaine most of them came by land. Henry II. sent ambassadors to Ferdinand II. with a message that for some time he had been intending to visit the Cathedral of Santiago, and asking him to provide a safe escort for his ambassadors. Pilgrims from England were kindly received at the Gallegan monasteries, which they passed on their way from the coast, especially at Sobrado,[95] of which the picturesque ruins are still standing.{78}



The beginnings of archæology—Caumont—The power of the Church in the Middle Ages—Montalembert—A despot who never dies—The age of cathedral-building—The architecture of Galicia—Mudejar architecture—Byzantine art—The horseshoe arch—Tombstones with Roman inscriptions—The ruins of Segobriga—The Mosque of Cordova—The Puente de Pinos—San Juan de Baños—Santa Comba de Bande—The circular arch—French students of Spanish architecture—Moorish architects—St. Isidore and the Visigoth kings—Two streams of influence—Moorish relief work—Transformers, not originators—The immense power of the monasteries—Traces of the Moors in Galicia—The rise of Gothic architecture—Viollet-le-Duc—The origin of cathedrals—Gothic art in Galicia—The Byzantine cupola—Michael Angelo—A transition—Origin of the term “plateresque”—Origin of the term “churrigueresque”—The façade of Santiago Cathedral

ARCHÆOLOGY is a comparatively modern branch of study; it can hardly be said to have existed as such before the third decade of the nineteenth century, when Caumont,[96] the first real archæologist, began to awaken the interest of his countrymen in the architecture of past ages and in the science and customs of antiquity. Since Caumont there have been many workers in the field, not only in France but in every civilised country, and splendid have been the results of their earnest and conscientious labours. Among the most brilliant of these may be reckoned the strong, clear light which has dissipated the darkness that so effectually hid from our eyes the degree of civilisation attained in the Middle Ages. It is only during the last thirty years that we have become aware that the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries were not a stagnant period in the world’s progress. Buckle would not have written as he did about the Middle Ages had he come into the world a couple of decades later; or, putting it in another way, had he lived a few years longer and not been suddenly cut off in his early manhood, he would{79} certainly have modified his caustic strictures upon the times which so nearly preceded our own.

Like Buckle, many other writers of his day believed implicitly that the power of the Church during the Middle Ages was such that it destroyed all individual liberty; but now we know that though religion governed all, she stifled nothing.[97] Our ancestors were religious, they were even superstitious to a very high degree, but they loved their individual liberty with a passion that the bulk of our socialistic contemporaries would be puzzled to understand. “Our proud ancestors ignored the very idea of that unlimited power of the State which is now so ardently appealed to,” wrote Montalembert, one of the greatest students of the Middle Ages, after twenty-five years of study. “A dead level has been regarded (in the nineteenth century) as a mark of progress, and identity of yoke as a guarantee. God forbid that we should assert equality to be incompatible with liberty; but up to the present time the art of making them live together has not been discovered in any of the great countries of the great European continent.... I remain sadly impressed by the spectacle of the debasement, feebleness, and growing impotence of each individual man in modern society. Does not this stupid and servile apotheosis of the wisdom and power of the masses menace us with the extinction, at once, of every personal initiative and all strong originality, and with the annihilation, at the same time, of all the proud susceptibilities of the soul and the genius of public life?”

The study of archæology did not cease with Montalembert; since his day it has made enormous strides. We know now that he was right. The men who lived in the Middle Ages did not recognise, as we do now, the “omnipotence of numbers,” hence the glorious originality shown in their architecture, its dignity, its liberty, and its nobility. We have only to look a little way to note that “in those countries where the sovereignty of the State is most absolute, the originality of art is nearest to its vanishing point, diminished by the State, that despot who never dies, who already extends everywhere his irresistible and pitiless level, over prostrate human dust.” The music, poetry and painting, sculpture, as well as the architecture of the Middle Ages, all point with unerring finger to the individuality of the Middle Ages. The songs of the Gallegan trovadors, the Cancionero Gallego, are full of tales that bear witness to the liberties taken by individuals in those days even with their religion. Have we not already repeated{80} in this very volume tales in which nuns and gallants freely appealed to the Virgin for her assistance in designs which they knew to be immoral!

The age of cathedral-building is not over. We see new cathedrals rising in Russia, in England, in America. Huge and massive and costly they are, but have they the spiritual and subtle beauty of the Gothic or the charm of the Renaissant architecture? Can they be judged by the same standard? No; for, to use the words of Spain’s great architect, artistic collectivism has succeeded personal art, just as personal art once succeeded symbolic art.[98] And architecture, according to the eternal laws of its being essentially an interpretative, not an imitative art, it interprets the soul-language of the human beings amongst whom it rises into existence.

Galicia of the twentieth century has inherited from Galicia of the Middle Ages poetry, sculpture, and architecture, each of which, in its own line, is absolutely unrivalled. These offer a wide and fascinating field of research to all those who seek to understand the civilisation of that period in the world’s history. The architecture of Galicia can be said to be exclusively Christian, for Moorish influence, which, penetrating into every other part of Spain, mingled itself with Christian art and produced what Spaniards cell el estilo mudejar, never gained any footing in this province. Perhaps it may be well to say a word about this style in passing, in spite of the fact that Galicia is not the province in which to study it. The Moors, it will be remembered, began to invade Spain in the year 712, and they remained in the Peninsula for the space of four hundred years. As Señor Lamperez has remarked in his interesting series of lectures, this branch of the art was the natural outcome of the mingling of two distinct civilisations, the civilisation of Spanish Christendom and that of the Oriental followers of Islam, during the eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries of the Christian era. It resulted from a fusion of the art of two distinct races, and the highest point of development was reached during the period which began with the reign of Ferdinand I. and ended with that of Alfonso X. (the eleventh to the thirteenth century), and that which began{81} with Alfonso X., and ended with Ferdinand and Isabella in the fifteenth century; it had its birth and development in the first of these periods, reached its climax, and declined in the second. Mudejar architecture, according to Lamperez, was the work of Moorish architects employed in the service of Christians: it exhibited the elements of both peoples. In some instances, indeed, it has been the work of Christian artisans superintended by Moorish architects. There still exist churches in Spain whose plan is Christian (basilical), whose structure is of the simplest, showing avoidance of all the difficult problems of equilibrium, and whose materials are of the smaller order (tiles, etc.), with much plaster gypsum and excessive subdivision of excessive and artificial ornamentation dominated by geometrical ideas. The Ordinances showing how the corporations of artisans were formed and what specifications were required of the men who took the position of alarif (skilled) and maestro-al-arif (Arabic) are still preserved at Seville.

Mudejar architecture was no mushroom style—on the contrary, it had its slow rise and fall, and it evinces a state of constant and continual transformation. The oldest edifice now in existence is perhaps the church of San Roman at Toledo. Those who would study the manner in which the mudejar architecture has been modified in turn by Roman, Byzantine, and Gothic influences, would do well to follow the advice of Lamperez, and group their researches on geographical lines. Catalonia, Castille, Andalusia, Aragon and Toledo, and so on. In Aragon are to be found the strongest and most splendid Mohammedan influences that Spain can show; while in Galicia these influences are, as it were, but momentary. Even Granada can show nothing to compare with the glories of Aragon, with its towers of Teruel, Daroca, and Saragossa, and with its churches of Calatayred.

But before Spain gave birth to her mudejar architecture, and long before the Moors set foot upon her shores, her Christian art owed more to the East than to the West, for it was as much Byzantine as Roman. Byzantine art dates its origin from the year 330, when Constantine moved his court from Rome to Constantinople, to a town on the borders of Asia and Europe. Constantinople, by its geographical position, was the natural meeting-point of Persians, Indians, Armenians, and Syrians. All these influences, as well as those of Asia Minor, were now brought to bear upon the Christianised pagan art of Rome. The result was the birth of Byzantine art.{82}

How Byzantine art was carried to the furthest corners of the Christian world it is not difficult to see. Constantinople had become the centre of the Roman Empire. From her shores there poured forth warriors, traders, missionaries to every part of the earth.

Byzantine architecture borrowed her massive cupolas, supported by square pillars over a square edifice, from Persia, and from Syria she borrowed her floral ornamentation; while her love of colour, of brasses and mosaics, is traceable to the influence of all the Oriental centres where wealth and ostentation abounded. The greatest monument of Byzantine art is, of course, St. Sophia’s (now a mosque) at Constantinople, which the Emperor Justinian erected between 527 and 565. Here we see the decadent art of classic Rome transformed and vivified by Asiatic influences. In the seventh century, the agitation against the Iconoclasts (destroyers of images), in the reign of the Emperor Leo the Isaurian[99] (813-821), resulted in a wide diffusion of Byzantine influences throughout the western provinces of the great Roman Empire. Spain, herself a province, became affected.[100]

There are numerous indications that between the decadence of Roman architecture and the invasion of the Moors, Spain produced a phase of architecture quite her own,[101] of which the most striking characteristic was the horseshoe arch. It has been suggested that this kind of arch was introduced from Constantinople; but students of Spanish architecture have long tried in vain to ascertain with certainty either the date of its appearance or the source of its introduction. It is known to have existed centuries before the Christian era in Persia, India, and other parts of Asia, without, however, characterising any special style of architecture.

Almost until the close of the nineteenth century it was erroneously believed that the horseshoe arch entered Spain for the first time with her Moorish invaders. We now know for a certainty that Spain had it long before—that she had it already in the second century. Tombstones with Roman inscriptions have been found with horseshoe arches sculptured{83} upon them,[102] and it has even been found sculptured on pagan tombstones whose inscriptions point unerringly to the second century.[103] As Christian architecture began to rise on Spanish soil, with it there reappeared the horseshoe arch. It is visible upon the sepulchral tomb, in Mértola, of a man named Andrew, which bears these words, “Princeps cantorum sacrosancte aeclisae Mertillane,” and the date 525. This arch has also been found in two white marble windows, the one, now in the Museum of Merida, has barbaric ornamentations; the other, with three horseshoe arches more pronounced, exists in the church of St. Martin de Nieble.[104] A church discovered in 1789, close to the ruins of Segobriga, and which contains the epitaph of Bishop Sephronius, who died in 550, has four somewhat oval horseshoe arches in its chancel. It was thought until quite lately that there were no traces of this arch having existed in Andalusia before the arrival of the Moors, but Señor Gomez-Morenno believes he has discovered three edifices in which it was used: one of these is the western entrance of the town of Cordova, which the Moors called Bibalatarin. The Arab historian relates that the Visigothic nobility and garrison escaped by it in 711 A.D., to take refuge in the church of San Acisclo; and this circumstance alone is sufficient to verify its antiquity.

“Everybody believes,” says Señor Gomez-Morreno, “that the Grand Mosque at Cordova was the work of Abderrahmen I., with successive amplifications, and that in order to build it the Moors completely destroyed the church of St. Vincent. I do not think this is correct.” He then points out how, to begin with, the Mosque of Abderrahmen was constructed in a single year, between 169 and 170 of the Hegira (786 A.D.). Now to have built that edifice as it stands in one year would have been an utter impossibility; but to have transformed the Christian cathedral already there into a mosque within that time would be quite feasible. The western wall and façade with horseshoe arch of the old Christian church is still visible; its style is pure Byzantine. “I believe,” says Gomez-Morreno, “that this façade is a remnant of the basilica of San Vincent, and that it dates from the middle of the sixth century.” Another proof of the anteriority of the horseshoe arch to the Moors is the Bridge of the Pines, Puente de Pinos, in Granada, over the river Cubillas; this bridge, which the Moors found there on their arrival, has three horseshoe arches.{84} The Moors, admiring it, called it by its Latin name, Ponte-Pinos.

When, in the sixth century, the entire nation of the Visigoths had been bodily converted from Arianism to Catholicism under Recared, son of Leovigild, Christian churches began to rise in all parts of Spain; and in these the horseshoe arch once more appeared. One of the most ancient of these is supposed to have been St. Roman de Hornija (Valladolid), mentioned by Morales. Then there is the famous little church, St. Juan de Baños (Palencia), within ten minutes’ walk of the important railway junction Venta de Baños, which we all pass through on our journey from Paris to Madrid. There are French archæologists who refuse to believe that St. Juan de Baños really dates from the seventh century; and I have even heard a great Spanish authority suggest that the name of King Recesvinto, and the date 661, may have been added later. For years this church, first discovered by Quadrado, was thought to be the only Visigoth church preserved in Spain;[105] but now there are known to be others, as we shall see in due course, for one of the most unique specimens of this kind of architecture is standing to-day in Galicia, and in a state of remarkably good preservation. I allude to the little church of Santa Comba de Bande, in the province of Orense.

The circular arch, which the Spaniards claim to have received from the East at least five centuries before the invasion of the Moors, and which is supposed to have had its origin in the bending of twigs and branches, differs somewhat from the genuine Moorish arch, its curves being less pronounced. The earliest example of the Mussalman arch is thought to be that of the Grand Mosque of Cairuan.[106] It{85} is extremely interesting to trace the changes through which this Spanish Mussalman arch passed during the four centuries of Moorish supremacy in the Peninsula. Those of my readers who have watched the evening sun gradually disappear behind the horizon of the sea, can easily picture to themselves the curves of this arch in its early stages. As the golden ball first dips itself, as it were, into the water, its outline forms a circular arch; but one which is neither the Roman arch nor the later horseshoe arch, but what may be called the archaic circular arch. Then, as it dips deeper and deeper, the curves gradually disappear, till exactly half of the ball is hidden: at that moment the outline is that of what is usually styled a Roman arch (early Norman). About the beginning of the eleventh century, Moorish architecture showed a tendency to lengthen the curves of its circular arch, and at the same time began to make it pointed instead of circular. That is to say, the circular arch and the pointed arch were fused into a new kind of arch, a pointed horseshoe arch.

It is the first of these, the archaic circular arch, which we find on the pagan tombstones of the second century preserved in various Spanish museums, which we find traced in the illumination of ancient Spanish parchments, which we find in the bridge over the river Cubillas, and, finally, which we find in the extremely rare relics of Visigothic architecture, of which two of the most interesting are in the province of Galicia.[107]

The foreigners who have devoted the most careful study to Spanish architecture are the French; but they have all without exception approached the subject with the preconceived idea that all the best architecture in Spain is the work of French architects; and, under this unfortunate delusion, they have misled almost every one, even Spaniards! Street is still the best English authority on Spanish architecture, though, of course, his work is somewhat antiquated;[108] but he saw comparatively little—too little to enable him to be a competent judge of Spanish national art.

The Moorish architects who constructed the Great Mosque{86} at Cordova, as we see it to-day, adopted and improved the style of architecture which the Visigothic Christians had employed there before their arrival. It must be remembered that the Visigoths were the most cultured of all the barbarians of the north, and they were Arians long before they became Roman Catholics.

Until quite recently, even English and French historians fell into the common error of believing that Spain lay buried in uncivilised darkness during the whole dominion of the Visigothic kings.[109] Yet there has existed all the time, from their day to ours, irrefutable documentary evidence to the contrary, the writings of St. Isidore of Seville. This illustrious bishop, to whom we have already alluded in a former chapter, and who died in 636, wrote a treatise on Etymology, or The Origin of Things, and A History of the Gothic Kings. Montalembert calls him “the last philosopher of the ancient world, and the first Christian who arranged for Christians the knowledge of antiquity.” The Visigothic kings had their seat in Toledo, and the writings of St. Isidore bear incontrovertible testimony to the degree of culture to which Spain attained under their rule. There is also plenty of proof that many beautiful buildings were erected in Toledo under the Visigoth monarchy. The Moors, according to their own historian, looked with admiration on the churches, palaces, and mansions which greeted their eyes on their entrance into Toledo. There they found sumptuous palaces, with magnificent porticoes (St. Isidore calls them aulas regias).[110] Not only were these buildings beautiful, but their appointments, and the treasures they contained, were equally dazzling to the eyes of the invaders. One of the palaces had twenty-four strong rooms for storing articles of priceless value, among which were certain mysterious amulets and magic figures upon whose safe custody the safety of Ataulf’s kingdom[111] was superstitiously believed to depend. The palaces, too, of the Metropolitan bishops were most sumptuous. The Visigothic kings showed a strong predisposition to adopt the civilisation of decadent Rome, and to break for ever with their own past; they freely adopted Roman customs and usages, and even their architecture was not pure Visigothic, but Gotho-Roman: it had two distinct sources, one Roman, one Byzantine. Art entered Spain for the first time after the{87} conquests of Julius Cæsar, while Byzantine art was brought from Constantinople in the train of the Christian religion.

While characteristics of the real Visigothic art became more and more indistinct, those of Roman and Byzantine art gradually amalgamated and formed a style of architecture which the Spaniards have called Latino-Byzantine. The Visigoths, enchained by the prestige of the ancient civilisation, and dominated by the irresistible force of the Catholic religion, offered no resistance to the development of the new art; their gold work,[112] as well as their architecture and their literature, became Latino-Byzantine. The Courts of Recared and the other Gothic kings were in constant commercial communication with Constantinople. The two streams of Roman and Byzantine influence thus flowed together, and became the channel by which the Renaissance[113] was eventually reached.

The Moors in their earlier buildings in Spain show traces of Roman influence, and even of Byzantine influence; for, as we have seen, they admired the handiwork of the Visigoths, and often adapted it to their own uses. The art of Granada is in reality the result of a fusion of Roman, Byzantine, and Arab influences. Moorish relief work is much deeper than that of Rome or Constantinople; that is to say, their sculptured designs project much farther from their base. The Moors, in the words of Lamperez, did not bring a new style of architecture with them into Spain, but, by the peculiar way in which they adapted to their own temperament the art which they found waiting there, a new style was produced.[114] Neither under the Visigoths nor under the Moors can Spanish soil be said to have produced a national architecture. The Spaniards of the Middle Ages were great transformers, but they were not originators or inventors. Lamperez seems to think that Spain would have produced from the days of the Visigoths onward a distinctly original and national style of architecture had she been allowed sufficient time. A glance at her history is enough to show us that this was not permitted to her.{88}

As we have said, the Moors did not conquer Galicia; her examples of the Latino-Byzantine and Romanesque styles are consequently free from Moorish influences;[115] but they are nevertheless hybrid in character, as all art which is nothing but a combination of several foreign styles must necessarily be. The widespread belief that the world would come to an end in the year 1000, having been proved erroneous, the building of churches and monasteries suddenly increased, and a period of remarkable architectural development was the result.[116] The monasteries represented a sort of reaction against the brutality of feudalism, by offering refuge to the oppressed, and to those who sought a safe retreat in which to dedicate themselves to intellectual pursuits. The immense power to which the monasteries afterwards attained began in this way. Cluny became, as it were, the focus of that power, and from its sheltering walls there poured forth armies of monks, who propagated their arts along with their religion in all parts of Europe. Thus the Latino-Byzantine or the Romanic styles of architecture reached from Rome to Scandinavia and from Palestine to Galicia. It is to Galicia that we must bend our steps if we wish to look upon the chief monument of Romanic architecture in Spain, for that monument is no other than the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

The rise of Gothic architecture began in the early part of the eleventh century, which forms one of the most important epochs in the annals of the Roman Catholic Church; it began at a time when civilisation, fleeing from the brutalities of feudalism, had taken refuge in the cloister.[117] It was then that the sap of a new life began to rise in the old tree,—a life thirsting for liberty, and open to all development and progress. It was between the beginning of the last decade of the thirteenth century and the end of the first part of the fourteenth that the sap rose highest. The work of civilisation passed from the hands of the monks to the hands of the newly formed middle classes. Before that time all the architects and even stone-masons were monks. Montalembert tells us how our own English monk of the seventh century, St. Wilfrid, brought stone-masons{89} (coementarii) from Rome to build his beautiful conventual church at Ripon.

The king, formerly only a figurehead, now recovered his regal power;[118] the bishop, formerly subject to the abbot, now stood above that dignitary; the city became a municipal community, struggled for its rights and privileges, erected its own municipal buildings; the artisans, no longer feudal serfs, formed themselves into guilds, corporations and fraternities so exclusive, that none might be initiated into the secrets of their trade without undergoing long years of apprenticeship.[119]

With all these changes, architecture kept pace. “It felt in its soul a burning life which urged it to the most daring conceptions.”[120] Gothic architecture represents not a revolution in art, but an evolution. The sap rose in the old trunk, and the buds burst forth from the old branches. It is a mistake to think that Gothic architecture was introduced into Europe from the East by the Crusaders; these soldiers did not, as Viollet le Duc has remarked, bring back art in their knapsacks—they had other things to think of.[121] The constructors of Romanesque art had struggled with a double problem—how to support wide vaultings, and how to let light in upon dark naves. Merchants of the ninth century, pilgrims of the tenth and eleventh, Crusaders of the twelfth, all had their influence. Larger churches with wider vaultings became urgently needed. The new cathedrals were to play a civil as well as religious part—quite different from that which had been played by the conventual churches. These are some of the elements which contributed to the development of Gothic architecture.

Just as the cathedrals were the expansions of the conventual churches, the universities were expansions of the monastic schools; and, as Preissig has observed, this transformation was due in the main to the great reputation for learning enjoyed by the schoolmen, “who attracted such multitudes of students that it was found necessary to recognise the schools on a broader basis.”[122] Our own oldest university,{90} that of Oxford, owes its foundation to a mandate from the Holy See. The first university to be founded in Europe was that of Paris. The second was that of Bologna.

Though Spain possesses some of the finest specimens of Gothic architecture in the world, she has never made that style her own. Her grandest Gothic cathedrals were designed by foreign architects; and in her remote corners, like Galicia, that style never reached perfection. We will tell our readers at once that there is no example of pure Gothic art in the whole of Galicia, in spite of the fact that it struggled hard to find a footing.

In the fifteenth century, when the rules of Gothic architecture were being followed by all the greatest architects of Europe (except the Italians), it had already passed its highest stage of development, and its glories were beginning to decline. Italy was already turning to the past for fresh inspiration. Nicolas of Pisa was already copying the sculpture of pagan sarcophagi; Petrarch was unearthing the classic literature of Greece and Rome; Giotto was appropriating the pictorial art of the Byzantine Church, and Brunelleschi was replacing the Gothic pillar by a classical column. Sculpture had opened the way, literature and painting had followed in her footsteps, and it only remained for architecture to do likewise. The Renaissance originated in Italy, and in Italy it attained to its highest development.[123]

Gothic architecture had been the work of men who only valued their handiwork as an expression of religious faith, it was nothing if not symbolic; but with the Renaissance the spirit of faith, reverence, superstition, or whatever we may choose to call it, was changed into something quite different. In the Renaissance, as Lamperez has forcibly expressed it, men began to value their work intrinsically, and individuals began to claim their personal rights. Buildings began to be admired for the grandeur of their conception, the delicacy of their form; the amount of labour they had cost, and their symbolism were forgotten. In the age of St. Bernard, cathedrals were raised for the glory of God; during the Renaissance, they were raised to enhance human glory.

The architects of the Renaissance retained the Byzantine cupola, the basilical plan, and the plan of the Greek cross; they also retained the gallery over the naves, the two towers of the façade and the portico (narthex liturgico) of the Gothic style; but the sublime in architecture had disappeared, the magnitude of the mass, the imposing length of the line, the{91} grandeur and simplicity of the conception, were gone for ever.[124] Florence was the cradle of Renaissance architecture, and Brunelleschi the first of its architects; he constructed, in 1425, the cupola of the Duomo at Florence, where ornamentation plays so great a part. It was not till the sixteenth century that the new style appeared in France, under the name of “Francis I.,” in Spain as “Plateresco,” and in England as “the style of Queen Isabella.” St. Peter’s at Rome (begun as a basilica and completed as a Greek cross) is looked upon as the great model of this style.

But the Gothic style of architecture died hard in France, Germany, England, and Spain; for Christianity still clung to its mystic ideals. The change, to Italy, was merely a change of dress; but to those countries where the Gothic style had taken deeper root, it was a much more serious affair. That is why they did not begin to build their churches in the Renaissance style till the second half of the sixteenth century. “Gothic architecture was the child of the Romanesque style, from which it gently evolved; but that of the Renaissance was revolutionary, it despised the past, to which it did not feel itself a successor. The architect of the Middle Ages worked anonymously for the general good; the architect of the Renaissance was a personage, and his name has always been preserved along with his work.” We never forget Michael Angelo when we speak of St. Peter’s at Rome,—St. Peter’s the grand prototype of Renaissance architecture—the most perfect copy of which is perhaps our own St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was Michael Angelo who said, “Trifles make perfection, and perfection is not a trifle.” Neither the architect of Seville Cathedral nor the architect of Canterbury would have said that. But who will deny that the perfection of the Duomo, to take only one example, is the result of patient and trifling detail?

It is important to remember that architecture is a science in which each style must be studied geographically. To understand the history of Gothic architecture in England, for instance, is not necessary, though helpful, to understand the history of its development in Spain, France, or Italy. Each of these countries has produced varieties peculiar to itself for which special names have been found; such, for instance, as the “Perpendicular” style peculiar to England. We may even say that architecture should in some cases be studied provincially, and certainly in the case of Galicia.{92} “To understand the architecture of Galicia is not an easy thing,” is a remark I have heard from the lips of some of Spain’s most distinguished architects as well as from her archæologists. Professor Lamperez, whom I have quoted so often in this chapter, tells me he has dealt very fully with the subject of Gallegan architecture in his great work on Christian architecture in Spain; but, unfortunately, it has not yet been given to the public.

Our readers must bear in mind the fact that the Middle Ages embraced two great architectural epochs, the Romanesque and the Gothic. The Romanesque epoch, in which the Latino-Byzantine style predominated, may be divided into three periods, the first from about the year 400 A.D. to the year 1000,—the second from 1000 to 1100,—and the third—commonly known in Spain as the Transition Period—from 1100 to 1200. The Gothic epoch may also be roughly divided into three periods, the first, that of the Lancet Window, from the year 1200 to the year 1300; the second, that of the Circular Window, from 1300 to 1400; and the third the Ornamental Gothic, from 1400 to about 1520.[125] Then followed the Renaissance.

Galicia was very slow to adopt Gothic architecture, and it will be found that nearly all her churches, even when the influence of Gothic architecture is very decided, partake more of the Latino-Byzantine than of the Gothic style. Another noticeable point with regard to Galicia is that she continued to build in a particular style even after it had become quite antiquated in other parts of the Peninsula; consequently many of her churches look at first sight much older than they really are. In Spain, more perhaps than in any other country, the Renaissance began with a Transition—a Transition, to quote Lamperez, in which the spirit was Gothic still, though the details were classic. After a while the classic details took the name of plateresco; then, after the great mathematical architect, Herrero, had introduced a mathematical precision in the detail of ornamentation, plateresco gave place to, or rather, was transformed into churrigueresco, which in due course brought about a reaction which resulted in the neo-clasica. These are the three principal periods of the Spanish Renaissance.

The word plateresco, or plateresque (from plata silver), is derived from the idea of silver filigree. The stone lacework of the Burgos cathedral, to take a well-known example, is plateresque{93}. The word churrigueresque is derived from the name of José Churriguera, though Churriguera was not the first to introduce it, Pedro Ribera and Narciso Tomé having been before him. Between the middle of the seventeenth century and the middle of the eighteenth, the Churrigueresque style of decoration was looked upon as the most perfect in creation.

“Along with all the contradiction, all the praise and the censure with which this style of architectural decoration has been heaped,” says Lamperez, “we must consider what are the eternal and unchanging laws of architecture; we must remember that this art is not one of initiation, but of interpretation. Its form must be judged in relation to the end it has in view; it has both active and passive elements. It may seem hard, but we are compelled to pronounce the verdict that the so-called churrigueresco style does not meet these requirements of true architecture. It may do honour to the man who executed it, but it does not bring honour to the architect who designed it.”

The period during which the Churrigueresque style predominated was that which began with the year 1669 and closed about the middle of the eighteenth century. José Churriguera was born and educated at Salamanca. He made his name by work on the tomb of Queen Maria of Savoy, who died in 1489. Pedro Ribera exaggerated the defects of his master in the fountain of Anton Martin; so also did Narciso Tomé, who let the light through the roof of Toledo Cathedral by inserting an architectural filigree of Churrigueresque work. “The idea,” remarks Lamperez, “was bold in the extreme, and the conception grandiose; but—it produces optical illusions, a panoramic, not an architectural effect.” No art should ever be permitted to overstep its limits, and the architecture of Spain commits this crime in its most excellent examples of the Churrigueresque style. The examples of this style in Spain are very numerous, but of them all the most beautiful and sumptuous, the most truly magnificent and monumental, example in the whole of the Peninsula may be seen in the façade of the Cathedral of Santiago in Galicia, which was the work of Casas y Novea in 1737.{94}



The original church—Compared with St. Sernin of Toulouse—A great resemblance—Notable differences—The respective architects—The monks of Cluny—Two master builders—The cupola—The naves—Street’s description—Seven gates—The Puerta de los Platerias—Sculptured figures—Defects of the age—Street’s admiration—The windows—The horseshoe arch—Sculpture and statuary—The dramatic sentiment—The clock tower—The deep-toned bell—The Puerta Santa—The Quintana—The Azabacheria—The Obradoiro—The Italian staircase—The cloister

THE central point both of archæological and of architectural interest in Galicia is, without a doubt, the beautiful cathedral of Santiago. Tradition tells us that this majestic edifice covers the spot where the body of St. James was discovered by the guiding light of a star, in the year 812.[126] The original church erected there having been destroyed, the first stone of the present one was thought until recently to have been laid by Alphonso VI., king of Castille and Leon, on July 11th, 1078, because, on a jamb of the Puerta de los Platerias there is an inscription to the effect that the work was done in the year 1116 of the Spanish era.[127] There is nothing, however, to show whether that date refers to the commencement or to the conclusion of the façade.[128] The Codex of Calixtus II. (Bk. v.) gives this date as that of its commencement; but it also gives the length of time which elapsed between the beginning of the work and the death of Alfonso I. of Aragon as fifty-nine years, and between the beginning of the work and the death of our Henry I. as seventy-two years—and again, between that date and the death of Louis VI. of France as seventy-three years. The{95} building must then have been begun in 1074 or 1075. Another indication of this is the fact that in the writings of St. Fagildo the work is spoken of on August 17th, 1077, as already begun. The exact date of the building of this cathedral is of considerable interest to students of architecture, because, when once it is proved that it was begun before the French cathedral of S. Sernin of Toulouse, the repeated assertion that the cathedral of Santiago is a copy of that of St. Sernin will no longer hold good.[129]

It cannot be denied that the two cathedrals in question bear a strong resemblance to one another. Nevertheless, their plan of construction is far from being identical. Both have the form of a Latin cross, but St. Sernin has five naves, Santiago only three. The proportions of the Spanish edifice are more harmonious than are those of the French one. The naves of St. Sernin are too long in proportion to the length of her transept. The transepts of the two cathedrals are very much alike; each has one wide central nave, and a surrounding collateral one. St. Sernin has two small apse-chapels opening on the southern side of each arm of the transept, and Santiago must have originally had the same, though only one exists to-day. The principal nave in each case is headed by a semicircular apse fringed with five apse chapels. Fernandez Casanova, after careful and minute study of both edifices, has pointed out two other radical differences, beside that of the number of naves, and the disproportionately long naves of St. Sernin. Firstly, the cathedral of Santiago has its two lofty central naves entirely surrounded by a collateral one without any interruption, whereas that of St. Sernin has two distinct collateral naves on either side of the principal nave; but these verge into one on reaching the transept, with a result that is far less symmetrical: secondly, the spaces into which the collateral naves of St. Sernin are divided are square, while in the case of Santiago cathedral they are rectangular. Then, too, the towers of Santiago are placed to the north and south of the west front, not to the west of it, as is the case with that of St. Sernin. Besides,{96} according to the description given by Americus in the Codex of Calixtus II., the cathedral of Santiago could originally boast of no less than nine towers, and traces of some of them are still discernible in spite of the countless alterations and mutilations to which the building has fallen a victim.

In the construction of the triforium galleries of these respective cathedrals there is also a notable difference: in that of Santiago one uninterrupted gallery runs round the whole edifice. Ascending by the broad tower staircase, I was able to pass round the inner side of the outer walls of the entire building. The galleries of St. Sernin only surround the body of the church. Both cathedrals have their central naves covered with barrel vaults,[130] and their side naves with quadripartite ones. Beside the differences I have pointed out, there are also many minor ones, which will be found conscientiously described by Fernandez Casanova.

The cathedral of Santiago is constructed of sparkling grey granite; that of St. Sernin is of brick and mortar. Not only the cathedral, but practically the whole town of Santiago, is built, like Aberdeen, of granite, that material being exceedingly abundant in Galicia. Travellers used in former times to complain of the sombre look of the houses on that account. But now almost every dwelling is well whitewashed, and presents, with its green shutters, quite a cheerful appearance. And the grey cathedral itself lights up beautifully under the golden rays of the afternoon sun. Many a time have I seen its sparkling stones resembling rather burnished bronze than sombre grey granite.

Lopez Ferreiro points out that one of the singularities of the cathedral of Santiago is the length of its transept, which is almost as long as the body of the edifice. And well I remember how, on entering for the first time, I for a moment mistook the wide and lofty transept for the central nave. In the whole of Europe there are only five other cathedrals which share this peculiarity—Pisa, Salisbury, Conques, St. Sernin of Toulouse, and St. Petronius of Bologna. Ferreiro firmly believes that the cathedral of St. Sernin is a copy of that of Santiago. This writer has also drawn attention to the ingenious and original form of the buttresses[131] which{97} surround the body of the cathedral. They are all joined together and strengthened by arches; they thus form, as it were, one great buttress. There seem to be only two other examples of this—that of Poictiers and that of Celles (Belgium).

It is not known who were the respective architects of the cathedrals of St. Sernin and Santiago, so that when French writers claim for their country the honour of having produced both these works of art, they have no real foundation to go upon. Still one cannot deny that they have an appearance of great probability on their side, especially when we find that Dalmatius, the bishop of Compostela under whose guidance so much of the work was carried on, had himself issued from the cloisters of Cluny.[132] It was the monks of Cluny who designed the beautiful porch (narthex) of the church of Vézelay which is permeated with the Greco-Roman art of Syria. In 1150 they constructed the capitular chapel of the same edifice, of which the sculpture is so remarkably Byzantine, and, as we shall see, there is a strong Byzantine element in the design and sculpture of the Cathedral of Santiago. But then Byzantine influence made itself felt in Spain as far back as the first century of the Christian Era, through commercial intercourse with the Mediterranean. In the eighth century, too, Spain was filled with Byzantine Christians fleeing from the Iconoclast persecution.[133]

When we consider how far the monks of Cluny travelled and how wide was their influence upon the architecture of other countries besides their own, including England, it would not be surprising to find that after crossing the Pyrenees they had found their way even to Galicia, and left traces of their influence in the architecture of that province. Nevertheless, feeling on this disputed point runs very high between Frenchman and Spaniard, and the latter is leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to prove that the Cathedral of Santiago owes less to foreign artists than the French have hitherto claimed.

The Cathedral of Santiago was built just at the period when the architecture of Europe was beginning to change from Romanesque to Gothic; it belongs, therefore, to a period of transition. Enough of the original structure remains for it to rank as the chief monument of the Romanesque style in Spain and one of the most famous cathedrals of that architecture{98} in the world. The importance of the pilgrimages to the tomb of St. James in the eleventh century created a demand for a great cathedral. Begun, as we have seen, about the year 1074, it was completed in 1128. Lamperez describes it as being more noble, more magnificent, and more perfect than either of those so nearly resembling it in the south of France. “Was it a copy of these?” he asks, “or was it the pattern from which they were taken?” “But where,” he adds, “if the Cathedral of Santiago was the original model, where, in Spain, are the edifices—the attempts at perfection—which must have preceded and led up to it?”[134]

In the Historia Compostelana we read that the cathedral was set on fire in 1170, and Ferreiro says that in 1878, when excavations were made within the precincts of the building, traces of fire were certainly found. He takes this as an indication that the Moors must have used fire in their attempts to destroy the cathedral. Aimerico[135] says that in spite of the fire the structure was completed in 1122. He remarks enthusiastically that every one who ascends to the gallery, even if he be sad at heart, must become joyful in contemplating from thence the beauty of the cathedral. In those days it was much better lighted than it is at present, for the upper windows had not been closed up, and the light of heaven streamed in on every side. Clearly its present gloom, though not unpleasing, was never intended by the architect. The names of two master-builders who superintended the building have been preserved—Bernardo and Rotberto: the latter had fifty masons to work under him, and the former is characterised by Aimerico as mirabilis magister. I have already described the eagerness with which pilgrims of all ranks, ages, and sexes assisted the workmen. In the year 1124 two canons of Santiago were engaged in collecting money for the completion of the cathedral in places as far away as Sicily and Apulia. Money continued to flow in from all parts of Spain. “After St. James’s body had been removed to Santiago,” writes Ford, “riches poured in, especially the corn-rent, said to have been granted in 846 by Ramiro, to{99} repay Santiago’s services at Clavijo, where he (the Apostle) killed single-handed 60,000 Moors—more or less. This grant was a bushel of corn from every acre in Spain, and was called el voto and el morion, the votive offering of the quantity which St. James’s spacious helmet contained.... This corn-rent, estimated at £200,000 a year, used to be collected by agents.... This tax was abolished in 1835.”

Where the cupola now rises over the centre of the cross which the building forms there once stood one of the original nine towers: it was destroyed in 1384. The cupola is Gothic and polygonal in form, and should have eight elegantly pointed Gothic windows, separated from one another by Byzantine columns, but, according to Fernandez Sanchez, some architect of the seventeenth century substituted ugly rectangular windows here and there, while he blocked up some of the old ones, and so firmly were they closed that it was found impossible to restore them to their original form when the restoration of the edifice was put in hand towards the end of the nineteenth century. This cupola, according to Sanchez, is the first piece of work put in by the later generations who subsequently did so much to ruin the harmonious unity, the exquisite symmetry of the original cathedral.

The naves of this cathedral are, as Ford noticed more than fifty years ago, narrow in proportion to their height and length—the height of the central nave being a little more than seventy feet. “The light and elegant piers contrast with the enormous thickness of the outer walls.” For my own part, I know of no cathedral whose interior proportions are so simple in their perfection and so restful to the eye. Street describes them in these words: “Engaged columns run up from the floor to the vault, and carry transverse ribs or arches below the great waggon-vault. The triforium opens to the nave with a round arch subdivided with two arches carried on a detached shaft.” The gloom-filled side naves are still lined with confessional boxes dedicated to various saints, where pilgrims of every nationality can find a priest who understands something of their language.

This cathedral once had seven gates,[136] most of them open day and night to pilgrims. Aimerico gives all their names: the Porta-Santa is the only one remaining. There are three{100} façades which merit our careful attention. Let us leave for awhile the beauties of the interior and devote ourselves now to those of the exterior. The edifice is built on ground by no means level, hence the necessity for the handsome flight of steps that lead to the Puerta de las Platerias which constitutes the southern façade of the cathedral, and is thus named because it faces the Street of the Silversmiths. This façade is of extreme interest for many reasons. To begin with, it is the oldest part of the cathedral, and the only one of the original façades that has been preserved, the only one left to give us a true idea of what the exterior must have been like in the days of its pristine beauty. This façade is decorated with no less than a hundred sculptured figures, most of them of white marble. The sculpture of the façade itself is remarkable. In most countries where granite abounds sculpture is coarse and rude, but here the reverse is the case, in spite of the fact that it is the work of the eleventh century. All the statues are semi-relief, the white marble being encrusted as it were upon the granite walls. Although these statues exhibit some of the defects of their age,—rigidity of limb, unnatural posture, and other faults,[137]—yet they are indisputably an example of the best sculpture of the last quarter of the eleventh century. Upon the tunics of some of the statues Ferreiro has noted a suspicion of the corded fringe seen upon statues of the ancient Romans.

Street could not speak too highly of the beauties of this façade. He wrote: “The detail of the front is of great interest, inasmuch as it is clearly by another and an earlier workman than that of the western porch. There are three shafts in each jamb of the doors, whereof the outer are of marble, the rest of stone. These marble shafts are carved with extreme delicacy, with a series of figures in niches, the niches having round arches, which rest upon columns separating the figures. The work is so characteristic as to deserve illustration. It is executed almost everywhere with that admirable delicacy so conspicuous in early Romanesque sculpture. The other shafts are twisted in very bold fashion.... Figures on either side support the ends of the lintels of the doors, but the tympana and the wall above for some feet are covered with pieces of sculpture evidently taken down and refixed where they are now seen. They are arranged, in short, like the casts of the Crystal Palace, as if the wall were part of a museum. One of the stones of the tympanum of the eastern door has the ‘Crowning with Thorns’ and the ‘Scourging,’{101} and on the other stones above are portions of a ‘Descent into Hades,’ in which asses with wings are kneeling to our Lord. Asses and other beasts are carved elsewhere, and altogether the work has a rude barbaric splendour characteristic of its age.”

Street was also much struck with the windows above the double entrance of this façade, and he wrote: “Their shafts and archivolts are richly twisted and carved, and the cusping of the inner arch is of a rare kind. It consists of five complete foils, so that the points of the lower cusp rest on the capital, and, to a certain extent, the effect of a horseshoe arch is produced. This might be hastily assumed to be a feature borrowed from the Moors; but the curious fact is that this very rare form of cusping is seen in many, if not most, of the churches of the Auvergnal type ... and it must be regarded here, therefore, as another proof of the foreign origin of most of the work of Santiago rather than of any Moorish influence.” This allusion to the horseshoe arch is of particular interest in connection with the remarks we have already made upon that form of architecture in a previous chapter. Fernandez Casanova and Lopez Ferreiro would describe the form of the arches of this façade as Byzantine, and argue that such a form has existed in Spain since the sixth century.

The statues of this façade—the birds, the flowers, and the beasts—are all part of a mystic and profound symbolism. Ferreiro calls them a compendium in stone of Divine Revelation,[138] remarking that they offer sufficient material to fill a book; he then quotes a different text of Scripture to explain each figure. In the space between the figures of Christ and St. James are sculptured vertically the letters—


meaning King Alfonso VI., in whose reign this portico was constructed.

In this portico, as Ferreiro rightly observes, we must distinguish the sculpture from the statuary. The former is rich and varied and its execution and composition are above praise, especially as seen in the sculpture of the capitals. But the age of iconography was only just dawning, and the statues show a sad want of proportion and are too monotonously alike to be really lifelike. The dramatic sentiment is here interpreted by means of contortions of the limbs and exaggerated facial movement. Yet among these hundred{102} figures there are at least two statues that stand out as far superior and more lifelike than any of the others—namely, those of Christ and of Abraham, whose faces are very beautiful, and might take their place even beside those of the Pórtico de Gloria, with which we shall occupy ourselves later on.

The tympana of this façade exhibit certain peculiarities which may be said to be specialities of Gallegan architecture. In other schools the tympanum is divided into two parts, but here it is not divided.[139] The tympanum of each gate rests upon the heads of monsters sculptured with remarkable energy.

Standing with our backs to this façade, we have to our right the offices of the cathedral chapter and the treasury with its plateresque or filigree stone-work of the Renaissance style, and in the corner where the treasury runs into or joins the façade is the gigantic and much-talked-of Shell of St. James, which supports almost the entire weight of the wide treasury staircase, and is considered a marvel of engineering skill. Above the southern end of the treasury building rises one of the original towers, still in good preservation. It reminds one somewhat of a Japanese tower, and contrasts strangely with the more modern ones. There is a tradition among the townspeople that a lady left a large sum of money to be spent in honour of this tower. Priests in gorgeous mitres purchased with this money were to make annual processions beneath its shadow scattering the fumes of incense and chanting. There is a couplet composed by some local wag, which alludes to the mitres and incense somewhat mockingly.

On the other side of the Puerta de las Platerias rises the beautiful clock tower which was begun in the Gothic style in 1463. “We cannot understand,” writes Sanchez, “how the architects of the seventeenth century could possibly prefer those great pointed windows (which they added) to the beautifully shaped Gothic ones of the lower part with their elegant columns and pilastres!” Here were formerly hung the two great bells whose metal was presented by Louis XI. of France, and which were cast in Santiago in 1483. This was one of the first cathedrals to possess a clock tower, and its example was soon followed by Milan and Padua. The original clock was the work of a clever mechanic named Guillen. In 1522 he put up the first one, and ten years later he replaced it by one of better make. The machinery was most complicated and curious. This remarkable clock,

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according to Lopez Ferreiro, struck not only the hours, but also the days, the months, the movable feast days, the course of the sun, and even the changes of the moon! The last was at the special command of Cardinal Maldonado. Guillen was also a skilled artist in ornamental metal work; several specimens of his work are still preserved in the cathedral, including a candelabra, and the railings of the Capilla Mayor, which he made in conjunction with Pedro Flamenco between 1535 and 1540. The authorities granted him and his wife Constance a house in the town in 1467. Guillen’s clock having been destroyed, another, manufactured in London, was put up in its place. The present clock was paid for by Archbishop Velez and constructed by Andreo Antelo, a skilled artist of Ferrol, in 1831. There is a long Latin inscription round the pedestal.[140] The bell which strikes the hours is said to be one of the best in the world. It was hung towards the close of the eighteenth century; Villa-Amil gives the date as 1779. Such is the richness and body of its tone that on calm days it can be heard in the surrounding valleys at a distance of seven miles. For three months I resided within a stone’s throw of the cathedral, and never did I listen to the mellow and sonorous tones of that bell without experiencing a thrill of pleasure. Galicia’s poetess, Rosalia de Castro, loved to hear it, and mentions it in one of her poems.

As we have seen, the only one of the seven minor entrances to the cathedral is the Puerta Santa, or, as it is sometimes called, la Puerta de los Perdones; it opens upon the Plaza de los Literarios, to the west of the cathedral. This is the Jubilee door, and is only opened once in every seven years, on the occasions when the feast of Santiago falls upon a Sunday; the archbishop himself performs the ceremony. The Jubilee is celebrated in accordance with the privilege conceded by Calixtus II. in the year 1122. The Puerta Santa, of which the original sculpture has disappeared, is now adorned with twenty-four Byzantine statues, whose inscriptions have gone: there are twelve of these in twelve niches on either side, which have been utilised from the débris of the older parts. Above the door is a large statue of St. James in pilgrim’s garb with staff in hand; and on either side of him, also in niches but some three sizes smaller, are the two disciples who were buried with him. On the tympanum of the inner door are inscribed the words: “Haec est Domus Dei et porta Coeli.” Every Jubilee year for many a century a choir of blind peasants has stood by this door and sung{104} to those who entered the simple folk-songs of their native land.

Another entrance on the same side of the cathedral, and the one by which pilgrims have been wont to enter the sacred precincts from time immemorial, is called la Façade y Puerta del Reloj, or the façade and door of the clock. It is also called the Quintana; because the square upon which it opens was once the Quintana de los Muertos, or the cemetery of the canons. This square is one of the finest in the town: its name was changed in honour of those brave students of the University who formed themselves into a battalion at the time of Napoleon’s invasion, and fell fighting for the deliverance of their country. A white marble tablet on the fortress-like wall of the convent of San Payo, which forms the side of the square opposite to the cathedral, bears an inscription to their memory. Another side of the square is formed by a huge monastic pile—the convent of Antealtares—and on the south the handsome granite building with Doric columns now used as post and telegraph offices. Many a time have I stood in front of the post office, sometimes to take a photo of the cathedral, and sometimes to admire the winding granite balustrades upon the battlement-like towers and cupola which rise majestically behind the western front. This façade, with its four stout Doric columns, replaced the original Romanesque entrance towards the end of the seventeenth century. The heads of many of the statues on either side of the entrance have long since disappeared.

We now turn our steps northwards that we may examine the Façade of the Azabacheria, which faces to the north, and is so called because the street of the jet-workers[141] leads up to it. Fernandez Sanchez describes this façade as “without a doubt the best of the modern works which surround the cathedral.” It was planned by the celebrated Spanish architect Ventura Rodriguez, and finished under the supervision of a local genius, Domingo Antonio Luis Montenegro, in 1758. It consists of two storeys: the lower one is of the Ionic order, the upper of the Doric. Each has four columns, while the lower one has a pillar in the centre, separating the two entrances and serving as a basement for a statue of Faith which is seen in the centre of the upper storey. The doors and windows have semicircular lintels of the pattern seen in hundreds of Italian churches of that period. Above these are the arms of the archbishops, medallions, and other military trophies. To crown all, there rises the figure of St. James

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in pilgrim garb, with a king kneeling on either side of him. Alas, indeed, that so ordinary and uninteresting a piece of work should have replaced a façade that must have rivalled that of the Platerias in its beauty and elegance!

There still remains one more façade for us to study—the western one, called the Façade of the Obradoira, after the workshops of the goldsmiths that were once situated in the building to the right. Here we have what may be called the grand entrance to the cathedral. Eighteenth-century Italian steps in two winding flights with stone balustrades lead up to the double doorway, behind which is concealed the crowning glory of Galicia, the world-famed Pórtico de Gloria. On either side rise the great twin steeples, the lower portions of which date from the eleventh century and were part of the original Romanesque towers. “The only peculiarity about them,” wrote Street, “is the planning of the staircases. The steps are carried all round the steeples in the thickness of the walls, and the central space is made use of for a succession of small chambers one above the other. These staircases are unusually wide and good, and their mode of construction obviously very strong.”

We stand in the centre of the chief square in the town, the Plaza de Alfonso XII., to study the workmanship of the façade of which the twin steeples seem to form a part. The general effect of the whole is really very fine, but we feel as we gaze upon this façade that, to say the least, it is monotonous even in its grandeur. Yet, for all that, we are now contemplating a piece of work which is universally acknowledged to be the most beautiful, the most sumptuous, the most truly magnificent example of the Churrigueresque style[142] of architecture in the whole of Spain. So monumental is it that in looking at it we fail to perceive the details. It is indeed “a perfect example of monumental exuberance.” As we have remarked in the preceding chapter, the style of Churriguera is in reality a prolongation and exaggeration of the style which in Spain is called plateresque; it is a decadent, a fin du siècle style even at its best, and we have a lurking sensation of sympathy with the traveller who wickedly designated the style of this façade as vile. However, as the work is unquestionably monumental, it is of interest to the student of Galicia to learn that its author was a native of that province, a Gallegan—Fernando de Casas y Novoa.{106}

This façade is composed of three storeys, with columns of the mixed order and covered profusely with bas-relief twists and curls of granite, which do not show up at all clearly in any photograph that has come under my notice. Those, therefore, who wish to form a correct opinion of it should suspend their judgment until they have had an opportunity of examining the original.

The doors of this entrance to the cathedral are of cedar wood and studded with handsome bronze nails, with elaborate plates and knockers from the workshops of Cordova, so celebrated at the commencement of the seventeenth century. Below, on a level with the Plaza de Alfonso XII., is the entrance to the so-called Catedral Vieja, the little crypt-like chapel of which we shall have much to say in another chapter.

Let us now find our way to the cathedral cloister, which is described by Fernandez Sanchez as “a perfect example of the plateresque style,” with its beautiful bas-reliefs, saints and busts, and the arms of Archbishop Fonseca, under whose auspices it was built at the same date as the neighbouring sacristy. The original cloister, erected by Gelmirez, was destroyed by fire towards the end of the eleventh century; the present cloister was begun in 1521 and finished fifty-nine years later. It is in the Renaissance style, and was designed by a Flemish architect; above its arches, some of which are slightly pointed, the sloping roofs terminate with a lace-like border of elegant stone filigree work, and there are graceful pinnacles between the arches. The joins and angles of the Gothic vaulting of this cloister are groined with simple fan tracery which springs from its own capitals supported by the graceful and elegantly moulded pillars which divide the arches on the outer side and spring from the bas-relief border on the wall side. The graceful Renaissance windows in the walls give light to the neighbouring sacristy and other offices of the cathedral.

The inner walls of the cloister are decorated with bands of bas-relief sculpture in the purest Greco-Roman style of the Renaissance. The pavement is composed partly of tombstones of priests with interesting inscriptions and heraldic emblems. Standing in the patio of this cloister and looking to the south we get a fine view of the two steeple towers that rise behind the Churrigueresque façade.{107}



A wonderful portico—The triple archway—Origin of Western Christian art—A system of symbols—“Bible of the Poor”—Mosaic gives place to statuary—A magnificent design—The focus of the world—The figure of Christ—The Four Evangelists—The four-and-twenty elders—Musical instruments—Jews and Gentiles—The Man Christ Jesus—The central pillar—The seated figure of St. James—The Stem of Jesse—Custom and superstition—Judith—The prophets—The bases of the pillars—Mateo represents himself—Another superstition—“The saint with the curls”—The capitals—A lifelike effect—A great thought—Didron—The drapery—The portico at South Kensington—Colouring—Mateo’s inscription—Mateo’s birthplace

THE Cathedral of Santiago di Compostella is celebrated all the world over for the exquisite beauty of its sculpture not only as regards its statuary but also for its ornamentation generally. Here at least the Cathedral of St. Sernin, or St. Saturnine, as it is sometimes called, does not attempt to compete with it: here it stands absolutely alone and unrivalled.

Facing due west, and concealed by the Churrigueresque façade, is the most wonderfully sculptured portico that human eye has yet seen. This portico, or narthex,[143] was originally part of the exterior; now it is part of the interior of the cathedral. It was once an open façade; the pillars which supported its front on either side stood far apart, and pilgrims caught sight of its beauty even before they entered the building, and rain and wind as well as daylight and sunlight played freely upon the flesh-coloured and lifelike features of the sculptured saints. But in our day the brickwork of the modern façade so darkens the portico that even when the doors are flung open it is never seen at its best.

A triple archway gives entrance to the three naves of the cathedral; the central arch fronts the principal nave, and the smaller arches (to the north and south), the two collateral{108} naves, or, as some would call them, the side aisles. These three arches and their tympana are covered with statues which have been adapted to the architecture with such skill that at a little distance they appear to be carved out of the actual material of which the arches are composed. Examined closely, every statue, every ornament is a masterpiece of delicate sculpture. The whole is intended to represent the Christian Church—the entrance to the House of God, of which Christ is “the chief Corner-Stone.”[144]

It is to the walls of the catacombs that we must turn for the origin of Western Christian art. In the West, as Didron has pointed out, the Christian painters limited themselves to a small cycle of subjects. Setting history and chronology aside, they treated their subjects solely with reference to some hidden moral or devotional truth which they were known to signify. Thus the events recorded were represented by symbols. A system of such symbols was developed which illustrated the most salient points in the Christian faith. A hieratic cycle of subjects came into use, not necessarily for doctrinal purposes, but as expressive of religious facts.[145] In the days when few, even among the rich, could read, outside the monasteries, pictures and statues were the most potent medium by which the contents of the Bible could be explained to the general public. Even in our day pictures represent words to the illiterate Russian peasant; when he goes to the neighbouring town to purchase an agricultural implement or a new coat, he enters such shops as have similar articles painted in brilliant colours above their respective doors. Gregory of Tours, writing towards the close of the sixth century, tells a pretty story of how Namatea, the aged widow of Namatius, bishop of Auvergne (A.D. 423), reads to the painter decorating the walls of the church she has raised over her husband’s tomb the scenes he is to depict with his brush: “She used to sit with a book upon her knees reading thereout stories of the deeds of the men of old.”[146] One of the manuals so used was known as the “Bible of the Poor.” Many legends{109} drawn from pagan mythology were included in these manuals[147] as types of events in the life of Christ. As Didron says, the iconography of the pagans dovetailed into that of the Christians.

The architect of the Pórtico de Gloria drew his inspiration not from manuals, not from popular legends, but purely and simply from the Bible alone. “Protestants,” says Ferreiro, “accuse Catholics of not letting the people have the Bible, but Mateo, in the twelfth century, certainly knew it as well as any Reformer ever did, and what is more, he wished to put it before the eyes of the ignorant.” Yes, the Pórtico de Gloria was begun in the twelfth century, twenty years earlier than the façade of Notre Dame de Paris. The façades of Rheims, Chartres, Amiens had not yet come into existence, and Italy still gave the preference to mosaic rather than to statuary, and, as Ferreiro adds, she had not yet grasped the way to adapt statuary to architecture. Even if Mateo had prepared himself by studying the two façades which were already in existence, Repoll and Vézelay, he must have felt dissatisfied with them.

The pervading idea in Christian art as seen in the sculpture of the primitive sarcophagi was the Fall and the Redemption. Every epoch[148] had its own ideal: in the early ages of Christianity the martyrdom of the saints was the favourite subject; then followed a period when asceticism came into vogue; and after the beginning of the thirteenth century the struggle against the temptations of the world, and especially against sensuality, became the principal topic. In the Pórtico de Gloria all these are represented. My first thought on seeing it was instinctively, “How did the architect manage to get that wealth of statuary into so small a space without giving the slightest impression of overcrowding, or in any way disturbing the grand architectural outlines of his magnificent design?” He not only succeeded in getting them in, he did more: he succeeded in producing a piece of work in which architecture and sculpture were interwoven and inseparable. M. Roulin, a French Benedictine, who studied this masterpiece from a printed plan (being unable to go and see the original), published a critical article on it, in which he stated that the archivolts of the lateral arches were overcrowded with{110} statues.[149] When he looks at the real thing he will retract this statement.

The tympanum of the central arch has three times the diameter of the side ones: its centre is occupied by a colossal figure of Christ with a crown and a cruciform nimbus, seated upon a throne with His feet upon two sculptured fern leaves curled like ostrich feathers. Christ serves as the centre towards which all the lines converge—“the focus of the whole world in the splendour of His glory. He attracts and absorbs everything, as the ocean absorbs the rivers. But Christ was also the Victim, the Scapegoat: there are marks on His hands, His feet, His side. He is the victim who has burst asunder the bars of Hell and has opened the gates of Heaven to all Believers.”[150] Mateo chiefly follows the words of St. Paul, but in the disposition of the figures on the tympanum he follows the description given in Rev. iv. and v.:—

And there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

And round about the throne were four-and-twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four-and-twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. ...

“ ... The four beasts and four-and-twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

The figure of Christ, as Ferreiro observes, is the only statue of hieratic form; all the others are human to a remarkable degree.[151] The seated statue of Christ measures nearly five yards in height; His arms are outspread, and He is raised six yards from the ground. His features are serene, with a broad forehead and somewhat protruding eyes and thin lips. His beard reaches to His shoulders. The throne is a Roman curule, the faldesterium of the Middle Ages. It was a rule among the Greeks that the larger the statue the more they must sacrifice detail to important points, and Mateo followed this rule most strictly. Much detail is left out altogether in this statue of Christ.{111}

Grouped round the throne are the Four Evangelists writing on the respective animals that accompanied each: John, a youth with an eagle; Luke with a bull; Mark with a lion, whose front paws rest upon his knee; Matthew, a beardless young man, writes on his knee. St. Luke writes: “Facit in Diebus Herodis.” Some of the words on the open page of John’s book are also still readable: “Initium Sancti evangelii secundum Joannem.”[152] These evangelists represent the interpreters of the Word. In the base of the pediment there are four angels on either side carrying trophies of the Passion. One, kneeling, presents the column to which Christ was bound; two others carry the cross; a third bears the crown of thorns; a fourth, four keys; a fifth, Pilate’s sentence (on a scroll); a sixth, a pitcher; a seventh, the leathern thongs; an eighth, the cane and sponge with a scroll which is now illegible. The feet of these angels rest upon clumps of sculptured foliage.

The four-and-twenty elders are placed like a fringe round the inner side of the arch; the tympanum describes a perfect semi-circle. Each has a stringed instrument and a little vessel, and each has a kind of ducal crown upon his head. The crowns were gilded originally, and their tunics were white bordered with gold. Some of them have short mantles fastened on the left shoulder. All are seated on a kind of Oriental divan, and are conversing together two and two, like people at an entertainment whose thoughts are engrossed in what they are saying and who are careless of what others are doing. Their musical instruments are a study in themselves: some think they are copied from the instruments that were used by the troubadours and other minstrels of the day, but Dr. Eladio Oviedo, who has made a special study of the subject, believes they are intended to represent the musical instruments of the Old Testament. They all have three strings, though there are five screws; some of them resemble the violins of our day. “Strange,” says Ferreiro, “that there is not a viola among them, especially as there is a viola in the hands of King David on the Puerta de Los Platerias. Perhaps it is because, a bow being needed, it would be difficult to get it in.”

A crowd of little human figures take the space round the figure of Christ. All are crowned, and most of them are carrying books or scrolls, but all have their eyes fixed upon Christ. These represent the citizens of the Holy City, of Isaiah, who have been redeemed by Christ; or the Ten Thousand{112} times ten thousand, who are singing a new song. Their crowns are symbols of glory.

On either extreme of the tympanum are two angels, lifting in their arms and presenting to Christ each a little naked figure representing a human soul, which holds in its little hands its “title clear to mansions in the skies.” The faces of the angels are full of tender and passionate sympathy. Those to the left are bringing in the Jews, those to the right the Gentiles, an illustration of the words, “And He shall give His angels charge concerning thee.” The number of figures on the Gentile side is double that on the side of the Jews, according to Isaiah’s prophecy that the barren woman should have more children than she who had a husband. The archivolt or face of this marvellous arch is decorated with exquisitely sculptured foliage, which forms a graceful background to the heads of the four-and-twenty elders.

The lateral arch to the right has also a statue of Christ, but a very small one, on the keystone of its archivolt. In His left hand he holds a sealed book representing Eternal Truth. Eve is seen to His right and Adam to His left; then in the next semi-circle come Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah on the right, and Moses, Aaron, Samuel, and David on the left. A thick and exuberant foliage partially conceals these figures; the upper band of sculpture in this arch also appears, at the first glance, to represent nothing more than a semi-circle of foliage behind a tore or large round moulding such as is commonly used in the bases of columns. Looking more closely, however, and with the aid of an opera-glass, we clearly distinguish the arms and heads of little naked human beings at intervals between the foliage peeping over the tore, with their legs and feet on the lower side of it. Lopez Ferreiro and Eladio Oviedo believe that the tore represents the old Jewish Divorce Law, and the figures—the Jews who are still bound by it (they nearly all hold scrolls in their hands stretched over the tore)—Bills of Divorce; the thick foliage represents sin. The Jews are being rescued, two and two, naked (so that no sin may remain on them), by tender angels. The first angel, with a cloth, bears them in his arms, and the second hands them still naked into the Christian Church (which is represented by the tympanum of the central arch already described).

The sculpture on the side arch to the south is supposed by the above-quoted authorities to represent the conversion of the Gentile or pagan world, as that to the north represents that of the Jews. The keystone of the southern arch is{113} occupied by two busts—the upper, with a beard, represents “the man Christ Jesus,” and the lower, a beardless youth, also Christ, but this time “the God-Christ.” To the right of these busts are sculptured horizontally four angels bearing little human figures, round which they have wrapped their flowing mantles, towards Paradise (i.e. the central arch). To the left, also placed horizontally, are four hideous demons—the nearest one to the keystone of the lower archivolt is crouching down, and has the limbs of two little human beings hanging from his jaws; the second, with the feet of an ox, is also maltreating human beings; the third, who has claws instead of feet, has four little figures suspended from his neck; the fourth, with human feet, is munching human beings, two at a time. These demons, in the opinion of Lopez Ferreiro, represent not devils but violence, cruelty, rapine, and gluttony. Serpents are seen entwining some of the little figures; they are the passions which tyrannise over the unconverted.

As I have said, Lopez Ferreiro was the first writer to interpret the symbolism of the Pórtico de Gloria in this way. The fact that four angels blowing trumpets are sculptured at the four corners of the narthex led some critics to believe that the whole was nothing more nor less than the hackneyed theme of the Last Judgment; they took the beardless bust of Christ to represent St. Michael, though they were obliged to admit that his scales were not visible. Some have thought that the monsters represented purgatory, but this is not likely, as purgatory was not represented either in painting or sculpture until the fifteenth century, except metaphorically (which it was from the earliest times).[153] Roulin strongly opposes the interpretation of Lopez Ferreiro, and remarks that the theme of the Pórtico de Gloria is well known to iconography, and that it is the same as that found in many other cathedrals. He is convinced that the angels carrying the instruments of the Passion, or of Christ showing His wounds, are never represented, except when the subject is the Last Judgment. With regard to the Jews behind the tore he remarks: “Il faut convenir que pareille representation est insolite,” but adds that there are various ways in which it might be interpreted, one being Death and the Resurrection; the tore would then be the emblem of death, and the green foliage that of the green pastures of Paradise. As for the beardless bust on the other arch representing Christ—a bust with neither{114} beard nor nimbus is, in his opinion, a thing unheard of after the middle of the eleventh century! The extension of the theme of the Last Judgment to three arches is, he owns, the point which distinguishes the Pórtico de Gloria of Santiago from analogous works,—he knows of no other such; the whole subject is usually limited to the tympanum of one arch.[154] He also points out that Lopez Ferreiro is mistaken in thinking that the Christ in the cathedral of Autun has wounded hands outstretched in blessing, and a bare breast showing a wound,—the arms of that statue are not raised, and the breast is covered, so that no wounds are seen.

A clustered pillar composed of six granite columns, with a richly carved capital, separates the two entrances beneath the tympanum of the central arch. This pillar rests its base on the back of the figure of a man lying on his stomach with head and shoulders raised above a scroll, the writing upon which has been effaced. His arms are extended over the backs of two lions with huge gaping jaws. Beneath the capital of this column is a large seated figure of St. James, the “Son of Thunder,” the patron saint of Santiago di Compostela, and in fact the patron saint of the Spanish Peninsula. St. James, larger than life, is seated in an armchair, the feet of which are supported by two little lions. Round the saint’s head is a nimbus studded with crystals and other stones,—very Byzantine in appearance, and supposed to be of much more recent date than the sculpture. St. James holds in his left hand a staff the handle of which is shaped like the letter T,[155] and in his right he holds a parchment scroll on which we read “Misit me Dominus.” The lions, and the chair in which St. James is seated, rest upon the beautifully carved capital of a slender marble[156] column, the whole fust, or shaft, of which is covered with delicate bas-reliefs illustrating the Stem of Jesse. The idea was first suggested by Jerome in the fourth century: in this representation of it there are seven human figures. Jesse lies at the foot, while out of the heart there grows a tree which wraps in its foliage the seated figure of King David, with his crown and musical instrument, and between his knees the stem passes; above him is King{115} Solomon, also enfolded in the leaves, and above King Solomon is seated the Virgin Mary, not concealed or shaded by any leaves, but rising out of the tree, as though she (who was believed to be born without sin) were its perfect flower. Above her delicate profile on the capital of the same marble column is sculptured a representation of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove is appearing from a cloud; below is seated the Almighty with a mantle round His shoulders and a royal crown upon His head, pointing to His Divine Son, whose arms are extended on a cross. Four angels, two on either side, are engaged in adoration of the Holy Trinity. This way of representing the Trinity, according to Sanchez, is very ancient: it fell into disuse centuries ago, because the ignorant crowd used to mistake it for the Coronation of the Virgin.

For centuries poor women from all parts of Spain and Portugal have implicitly believed that by placing their right hand where the branches of the Tree of Jesse are thickest, and praying at the same time that God will grant them children, they will receive the desired end. At the spot where so many thousands of hands have been placed the marble is literally worn away, like the toe of St. Peter at Rome. Priests shake their heads at this superstition, but the women’s faith is not shaken, and the custom continues to be practised.

The Tree of Jesse has often been used to represent the genealogy of Christ. Parker tells us that it was by no means an uncommon subject for sculpture, painting, and embroidery. At Dorchester Church, Oxfordshire, it is curiously formed in the stone-work of one of the chancel windows. At Christchurch, near Bournemouth, it is chiselled in stone on the reredos of the altar; the figure of Jesse is here much larger than life size, and the whole thing is larger in proportion; in this case the tree springs from the loins of Jesse, not from his heart, as at Santiago. The same subject is introduced in a painted window at Chartres; also in one at Rouen.[157]

In a line with the statue of St. James, and the same height from the ground, upon other sculptured columns with their backs to the great piers which support the arches of the narthex, are grouped the startlingly life-like figures of a number of evangelists and prophets, each of which deserves the most careful study. The names of most of them are indicated by{116} the writing on their scrolls, or by some unmistakable token. St. Peter, for instance, holds the keys, and is the only one wearing pontifical dress; he represents the Head of the Church. St. Paul holds a book, in which we can read the opening words of the Epistle to the Hebrews. St. James the Elder, again represented, holds a scroll on which we read, “Deus autem incrementum dedit in hac regione.” St. John, the brother of St. James, is known by his sweet juvenile face, and by the eagle which supports him. He has the Apocalypse open at the page Vidi civitatem sanctam, etc., and appears to be reading it. There is some doubt as to who the four next to him are meant to represent; after them, on the eastern side, comes St. John the Baptist holding in his hands the Agnus Dei. Next is the figure of a woman with a crown, whom some take for Queen Urraca, niece of Pope Calixtus II., and others for Catherine of Leon. The most modern theory about this figure is that she is intended to represent Judith; Judith’s appearance among the prophets and evangelists in the Pórtico de Gloria is taken to be a proof that in the twelfth century the Book of Judith was included amongst the canonical books of the Old Testament. Dr. Eladio Oviedo tells me, moreover, that this belief is supported by many passages in the books of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries. There is also a quotation from the Book of Judith in one of the poems of Prudentius, the Gallegan poet of the fourth century, of whom we have already spoken. Not having seen any of these passages, I am not myself competent to give an opinion on the matter. All the representations of Judith that I remember noticing in Italy and elsewhere represent Judith striding along with the head of Holophernes in one hand and a sword in the other, such, for instance, as the famous picture by Botticelli in Florence. Next in order comes another female figure wrapped in a mantle, who was long thought to represent “la sibille annoncaatrice du Jugement dernier,” but is now believed to be Queen Esther; she carries a parchment scroll, but its words have been obliterated. The next is a bearded statue with a staff in tau, who has not been identified; then follows another unknown statue. One of these is probably Ezekiel; and then we come to Jeremiah, whose name is on his scroll; this prophet is communicating something of great interest to Daniel, who stands next him, a handsome young man who smiles as he listens with his eyes on the ground. Daniel’s amused smile is so real that it is quite infectious, the spectator finds himself smiling too as he looks at him. According to Lopez Ferreiro, “Daniel cannot hide his joy at some news{117} which Jeremiah has just imparted to him.” At any rate, no traveller contemplating the Pórtico will ever have the least difficulty in finding out Daniel, as his broad smile is sufficient to mark him out amongst a thousand statues. For many decades there was a legend among the people of Santiago to the effect that he is laughing at the disproportionately fat figure of the crowned lady opposite (Judith), and such a hold did this idea take upon the mind of the crowd that at length the archbishop had that lady relieved of some of her corpulence by means of the sculptor’s knife; one can see that she has been trimmed a bit. Daniel’s name is still visible on the scroll he carries.

Isaiah, standing next to Daniel, has a curious turban on his head; he is the only one not bare-headed; his name is also readable on his scroll. Moses, standing next to Isaiah (beneath the angel in the corner of the right entrance under the central arch), is dressed in a blue tunic with a gold mantle. He has a benign and venerable face, with parted hair and a long flowing beard. In his hands he holds the two Tables of Stone on which we can still decipher one word, “Honra.” All these statues are above praise, not only as works of art, but as representative of the sculpture of their epoch. Their wonderful anatomy, the perfectly natural folds of their drapery, are marvellous when we consider the age in which they were executed. High up above the southern arch we see two unfinished and unsculptured stones, where the wings of the angels should be represented to match the one above the northern arch. This unfinished piece of work was pointed out to me by Dr. Eladio Oviedo. No other archæologist seems to have noticed it. Did the sculptor die before his work was finished? we wonder. In former days the four angels with trumpets placed at the four angles of the rectangular portico were taken to be the four archangels sounding the trumpets of the Last Judgment. In the more modern interpretations they are celestial servants of the Great King, whose duty it is to show Him honour.

The bases of all the pillars supporting the Pórtico de Gloria rest upon groups of extraordinary animals, about the symbolism of which there has been much dispute. These creatures, which take the place of pedestals, have been thought by some to represent the vices which corrupt humanity, but surely if such were the case they would be more varied in type! whereas one cluster is composed entirely of eagles and another of lions. Eagles are not found anywhere else in Galicia, but lions are quite common. The lion is used as an emblem of{118} Justice, the eagle represents Faith. Lions at the entrance of a church, one on either side, are constantly met with in old Gallegan churches. The magistrate used to sit between them on one of the steps, and judge cases in the open air. It was quite public, and any one who liked might hear the whole proceedings. The Moors have a similar custom to this day. Many a time have I seen the judge with his white turban seated tailor-fashion between the columns of the white building on the Kashab hill at Tangier, to try cases in the open air, while a triple ring of Moorish spectators listened to his words. Those who considered the theme of the Pórtico de Gloria to be that of the Last Judgment believed that every one of the monsters on which its piers rest represented a different vice—Pride, avarice, sloth, envy, etc. By their crushed position, beneath the whole weight of the whole portico, they were supposed to represent the vices of man triumphed over by the Church of Christ. The fact that in Assyrian ruins we meet with strikingly similar monsters supporting the piers of ancient buildings has led some archæologists to suppose that the idea of placing such creatures beneath this portico reached Galicia through Eastern channels.

Behind the central pillar of the portico and facing the altar is the figure of a man upon his knees with his hands together as if in prayer; he is so placed as to appear as if supporting the weight of the whole pillar upon his back. This is Mateo, the architect, who evidently did not intend to be forgotten by those who came to admire his work. The face is supposed to be a true portrait. It is virile, with a good forehead clustered with crisp curls; their granite locks show signs of wear. Here we see where another superstition has had its hold for centuries. Mothers have from time immemorial rested their babies’ heads against that stone head, because “Mateo was a clever man, and baby must be clever too.” In the language of Galicia, this figure of Mateo is sometimes called el santo dos croques, the saint with the curls (lit. “of the curls”). Mateo has represented himself as a humble supplicant whose eyes are directed towards the holy altar, and whose knees are bent in adoration. He is clad in a tunic with wide sleeves, probably the every-day garb of a Gallegan citizen of the twelfth century. Over the tunic he wears a mantle fastened at the neck with a broach. His right hand is laid upon his breast, as a sign of penitence, and in his left he holds a scroll, which is said to have originally shown the word Architectus.

One of the small shafts which ornament the pier supporting{119} the right side of the central arch (the one exactly beneath the statue of Isaiah) is also of marble, like that on which is represented the stem of Jesse: it is banded with spiral and exquisitely carved bas-relief. Here we at once recognise Abraham being stopped by the angel just as, knife in hand, he is about to offer up his son Isaac. Every atom of space has been utilised with consummate skill. Abraham is not easily dissuaded by the angel; there is a hand-to-hand struggle, and a determined look on the face of the angel, who has actually grasped the blade of Abraham’s outstretched knife. We note the wonderful play of muscle in this speaking bit of marble. It is better sculpture of the human form than anything to be found in French churches of the twelfth century. It reminds us of the most perfect of Pisan sculpture, but it is of earlier date than any of the French or Pisan work. The moulding at the base of the shaft, like that of its fellows, is elliptic (oval), a sign, says Lopez Ferreiro, of the transition from the Roman-Byzantine style to the Gothic; the elaborate moulding of the square pedestal or plinth beneath is also a sure sign of transition, for Greek and Roman pedestals were plain blocks of stone. We remember that the Early French style had in many instances plinths ornamented with fluting, or otherwise enriched.

One of the marble columns was evidently replaced, some hundreds of years ago, by another of inferior marble, which has stood the test of time very badly; it is much worn, but its sculpture is very interesting. Here we see a real old tournament of the Middle Ages; two knights clad in full chain armour, tunic and helmets entirely chain, and the latter decorated with flowing plumes. The shields are splendid, and the anatomy of the fighting warriors worthy of Rubens. On this column we also discern some strange monsters such as we read of in “Geoffery the Knight” when we were children.

All the capitals of the Pórtico de Gloria are covered with rich sculpture; that above the seated figure of St. James is decorated with a representation of the Temptation in the Wilderness, to the north we see Satan tempting our Saviour to turn stone into bread, to the west we see Christ on the pinnacle of the temple, to the south is Satan showing Christ all the glories of the world, and holding in his hands a scroll with the words Haec omnia Tibi dabo, si cadens adoraveris me, and Christ holds His scroll with the words bade Satana; on the fourth and eastern side, facing the interior of the cathedral, we see angels ministering unto Christ.{120}

Lopez Ferreiro[158] has devoted a most interesting chapter to the execution of the work in the Pórtico de Gloria. He shows how Mateo, the architect, subordinated everything else to the one grand principle of unity; thus following the supreme law in artistic production. We do not see anywhere in Greek or Roman sculpture, as Viollet le Duc has pointed out, a tympanum covered with statues the attitudes and size of which are adapted to its shape. The façade of Notre Dame de Paris has a tympanum crowded with statues, but there the tympanum is divided into four distinct parts; that of Santiago is unbroken. But unity alone is not enough to constitute an aesthetic work of art; variety is also needed in order to exclude monotony. In the Pórtico de Gloria there are hardly two figures to be found in the same attitude. Let us look at the four-and-twenty elders. Each of the old men has his feet in a different attitude; he has his own way, too, of handling his musical instrument. Mateo had the art of making his statues look perfectly easy and natural even when represented in the most difficult postures. There is a look of spontaneity about the placement of their limbs. Ferreiro has noted the capricious manner in which the legs of the fifth old man are covered; we feel instinctively that he has only just this minute crossed them, and that a moment ago he had them in quite another position! We see the same variety in the flow or curl of the hair, in the shape and size of the beard. All bear witness to the zeal with which Mateo worked to produce a natural and lifelike effect, and to evade the least suspicion of convention or routine. We have seen how the artist of the Puerta de las Platerias attempted to do this, but in his day no one thought of attending to the position of a statue’s feet. In the façade in question all the feet are arranged with the most rigorous symmetry.

No human being can remain with comfort in any one position for more than a given time; for the sake of ease our posture is continually changing. Mateo must have studied every position possible to the human frame. But his genius shows itself still more distinctly in the heads of his statues,—each is a portrait taken from life, the features are all in harmony. As you contemplate them you feel that you can almost read the character of the person represented. With what diligence must this artist have sought out his models; how peasants and tradesmen and nobles must have posed for him in turn. In the Pórtico de Gloria we see the very{121} people who walked about the streets of Santiago while the work was being done.

Though the sculpture of the Middle Ages is in many respects inferior to that of the best period of ancient Greece (in actual form it is generally less perfect), it has in it a new element, it portrays, as Greek statuary never attempted to do, the intellectual element in the human being.[159] The artists of the Middle Ages did not consider only of the exterior; they tried to represent the thinking mind. Every one of Mateo’s statues has “a mind of its own.” As Lopez Ferreiro has put it, the statuary of the Greeks was the sister of poetry, that of the Middle Ages was the sister of psychology and philosophy.

The whole masterpiece of Mateo may be described as an attempt at the interpretation of one great thought, or rather of a series of thoughts “toute une ordre d’idées,” which “is engaging the attention of all humanity.” Lopez Ferreiro notes how daringly Mateo made his attempt to push his art into the road along which two centuries later it was carried by Italy’s most celebrated artists.

The statues of the Pórtico de Gloria are most of them engaged in animated conversation; each face wears an expression in accordance with the particular turn his conversation is taking, “yet each at the same time wears a look of repose, such as could only arise from a pure mind and a tranquil conscience.” The whole, the combined effect of this astonishing piece of work, is powerfully dramatic; a series of deeply interesting events is depicted; each statue is a human being whose entire mind is concentrated upon these events; on one face there is a look of wonder, on another a look of joy, on another a look of contentment. “The dramatic element,” says the above-mentioned writer, “is introduced in exactly the right proportion. In Christian artists of greater note than Mateo—even in Nicolas of Pisa, there is something earthly, frivolous, profane; but in Mateo all is serious, spiritual, without any loss of the human element. As we contemplate the Pórtico the figures almost seem to move, to sit, to talk. You seem to hear the murmur of their lips. The same discreet realism manifested in the heads is shown also in the limbs. The arms, the hands, and even the fingers seem to move with flexibility and delicacy.” This writer{122} goes on to point out that the heads of the apostles are rather large, and in accordance with the rule of the Greek monk Dionisius,[160] who laid it down as a law that the head must be as large as a tenth part of the whole statue. The heads of Mateo’s apostles are equal to one-seventh part of the entire height, but the position of these statues must be remembered; they are raised more than three yards from the ground, consequently the heads diminish in size and reach exactly the right proportions.

Didron has written much about the influence of the drama on iconography. He thinks that in the early Middle Ages as well as in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the art of statuary may have gained much from Mystery and other plays of the time which had been pressed into the cause of religion. The “Mirror of Human Salvation” was the framework of the Divine Comedy, and of all the Mystery plays. “When examining as to what were the influences at work that aroused Italian art ... from the death-sleep of Byzantine formalism, may we not,” he asks, “attribute much of the inspiration of the thirteenth and following centuries to the drama?” Mute and motionless stood the Christian drama, and its long lines of angels and saints and martyrs had for centuries looked out with their fixed gaze from the walls and domes of solemn basilicas, till at last a vivifying and invigorating influence was brought to bear upon them.[161] Some large churches in France, such as Chartres, Rheims, Paris, Amiens, are adorned with no fewer than three or four thousand stone statues. In the Greek Church statues of every kind are strictly forbidden. The interior of the Greek churches of Russia are often covered with fresco paintings, but never do we find a single statue. St. John Damascenus in the eighth century spoke in defence of images: “Images speak, they are neither mute nor lifeless blocks, like the idols of the pagans. Images open the heart and awake the intellect, and in a marvellous and indescribable manner engage us to imitate the person they represent.”[162] And Bishop Paulinus of Nola said: “A sculptured arch in the porch of a church, or an historical glass painting in the nave, presented the ignorant with a lesson, the believer with a sermon.” We are tempted to hope that the Catholic Church in Spain may one day clear away from its sacred altars all the miserable, tawdry, and draggled objects that are called images, and confine itself to the glorious work of its inspired artists in glass and stone.{123}

But to return to our Pórtico. The hang of the drapery, the pose of the limbs, have all been the subject of the minutest care and of the profoundest study. We do not here see garments flying, as though blown by a rough wind, as if “in a frenzy,” as Taine remarked when he looked at some of the statues in St. Peter’s at Rome. Every bit of drapery here falls naturally into place.

With the exception of the slender marble columns already described, the entire Pórtico de Gloria and its sculpture is of solid granite; but the granite of the sculptures was not intended to show. The whole was most delicately coloured, capitals and fusts as well as statues. Time has carried away most of the colouring, but there is still enough left to give us some idea of what it was once like. The effect must have defied description. Christ’s mantle was saffron, bordered with green and gold, the tunic beneath being also saffron coloured, and bordered with purple and gold. The four evangelists were also in yellow; the dresses of the angels varied, some were pink, some blue, some white. Spanish painters have admired the soft blending of the colours both in the faces and in the garments of these statues. When our English architect, the above-quoted Street, had succeeded in getting a special commission sent out from England to take a plaster cast of the Pórtico de Gloria for South Kensington[163] he certainly deserved the gratitude of the English public, but the people of Santiago complained that a little of its beautiful colouring was taken off in the process. This colouring was not Moorish, as some have suggested, but Byzantine. There is a great similarity between the colouring of ancient Byzantine frescoes and icons and that of this Pórtico; the flesh tints were brown almost to a chocolate shade. The face of Judith is flushed with quite a rosy tint, but that of one of the four-and-twenty elders, the one to the left of the keystone of the arch, is still almost a chocolate colour, and several of the others indicate a similar colouring. The capitals of the marble pillars still show traces of a warm, rich red. The art of colouring stone in such a manner that the colours will remain intact for centuries is quite lost. It is one of the many lost arts. Possibly the architects of the seventeenth century feared that continued exposure might lead to deterioration of the sculpture, and for that reason closed it in.

On the inner side of the lintel of the central arch of the Pórtico is an inscription, which is believed to have been placed{124} there by Maestro Mateo, the architect and sculptor to whom we owe this beautiful creation. It reads thus—

“Anno ab Incarnatione Domini, MCLXXXVIII, Era MCCXXVI, die kalendarum Apriles, super liminaria principalium portalium—Ecclesiae Beati Jacobi sunt collocata per Magistrum Mathaeum, qui a fundamentis ipsorum portalium gessit magisterium.”

(In the year of the Incarnation of our Lord 1188, era 1226, on the calends of April, the lintels of the principal portico of the Cathedral of the Blessed St. James were put up by Master Matthew, who superintended the said work from its foundations.)

Perhaps this date, of which none have doubted the correctness, is the most astonishing part of the whole thing.

A masterpiece like the Pórtico de Gloria, dating a century, or even half a century, later would cause less surprise, but how it comes about that such a finished and perfect chef d’œuvre could have been accomplished at so early a date and in such an out-of-the-way part of the civilised world—is a puzzle.[164] Frenchmen ply their pens with vigour to prove that Master Matthew was a native of la belle France. Spaniards are equally energetic in their assertions that he was a native of Spain, and some even go so far as to say that he must have been a native of Galicia. “There is as yet nothing to prove that Mateo was not a Gallegan,” writes Lopez Ferreiro. “He lived at Santiago, or at least in Galicia, from 1161 to 1217, to say the very least; and it is thought that he was born and educated in Galicia. He was a layman, with a wife and children.”—And as this writer is one of Spain’s greatest living historians as well as a famous archæologist, his opinion has weight. He tells us that from the end of the eleventh century there flourished in Santiago a school of artists for all branches of art—an institution which was the means of producing marvellous results. To begin with, it produced the cathedral itself, and at the same time it produced the most exquisite specimens of silver and copper workmanship. This school was enriched, in 1135, by Alfonso VII., with many privileges, which were also enjoyed by later generations of artists. There still exists a diploma given to{125} Mateo by Ferdinand, King of Leon, on 23rd February 1168. This king, on the occasion of a royal pilgrimage to the sepulchre of St. James, granted Mateo a pension of 4200 pesetas (or francs) a year. It seems that Mateo started the work at once, and took twenty years to accomplish it; during those twenty years the Gothic style of architecture had been slowly gaining ground. We see it in the elegant vaulting of the Pórtico and in its graceful groining.

The Historia Compostelana contains not a single allusion to the Pórtico de Gloria, which does not seem to have been even planned at the time that manuscript was written.{126}



Favourite subjects—Plain capitals in English cathedrals—The foliage—The trumpet pattern—Capitals in the gallery—New elements—The arcades at Vézelay—Original but not realistic—The zenith of ornamental sculpture—Lay schools—Art becomes a dead language—The abacas—Norman sculpture in England—The palace of Gelmirez—St. Joseph’s Day—The crypt church—Its form and architecture—Sculpture of its capitals—Stone flowers—Celtic dances—The Capilla de Gelmirez—Sculptured scenes from daily life—The Sala capitular

THE capital of every shaft introduced into the design of the Pórtico de Gloria is, as we have already remarked, exquisitely sculptured. We have tried to describe some of the more noticeable ones, but there are also interesting subjects depicted on many of the smaller and less prominent capitals. On the capital of a pillar attached to the eastern wall of the narthex, near the statue of Esther, we find little monsters, winged dragons with horses’ feet. Others again have exuberant foliage, amongst which there sometimes appears the profile of a beautiful female head. A favourite subject is a couple of harpies with women’s heads (a band across the forehead and flowing hair), the bodies are those of birds varying in size and type. On a capital opposite the southern or “Pagan” arch is depicted a poor unfortunate mortal with a tormenting monster on either side of him; one of these is engaged in pulling out his tongue with a long pair of tongs, and the other is trying to strangle him with a rope, one end of which he has strung round the victim’s neck. Though the theme of the Pórtico may not be the Last Judgment, it must, I think, be admitted that these creatures have a very infernal appearance. On another capital are depicted two hideous harpies with equine heads, and serpents’ tails which coil round their carrion-like feet. These horrid animals glare down upon the spectator with the most fiendish expression imaginable.

In some of our finest cathedrals the capitals are often very little carved, or not carved at all. At Winchester we

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find in the north transept (1079-93 A.D.) the so-called cushion capital, which Parker describes as a “plain cubicle mass with the lower angles rounded off, forming a sort of rude cushion shape.” There are plain capitals in the arcade of Canterbury, and in the crypt, but these last were evidently intended to be sculptured after they had been put into place, for some are finished and others are half-finished. At Westminster too we also find plain capitals, but it is evident that the artist who superintended the sculpture of Santiago Cathedral meant to have every one sculptured. As Lopez Ferreiro has remarked, it is very rare to find a church with such a variety of carved capitals. Counting those of the windows and side chapels, there are nearly a thousand, all completed with the most perfect work and finish. In the interior of the cathedral the capitals are almost all of the best granite, but they look like sculptured marble; some of the figures in them have eyes of jet. The foliage of many is as fine and delicate as lace work. “No epoch of architecture,” wrote Viollet le Duc, “has produced such a variety of capitals as the twelfth century.” The sculptors truly seem to have looked upon their work as a labour of love and devotion.

Lopez Ferreiro believes that the capitals of Santiago Cathedral were completed before the close of the eleventh century, and therefore before the epoch at which the French capitals attained to their fullest perfection.[165] Some of them certainly were, but I am a little sceptical about the best ones. Those which resemble the early capitals with rude volutes, such as one sees in the White Tower, London (1081 A.D.), might well date from the eleventh century, and those in the Puerta de los Platerias may be of the same date. But this question is worthy of more careful study than has yet been devoted to it. Some of the capitals of the Pórtico de Gloria are very Byzantine in their execution, as are those of the Puerta de los Platerias. Here we see interlacings, a sort of basket work ornamented with dots like pearl passementérie and the trumpet pattern, which are certainly indicative of the sculpture of the Eastern Empire. There is a great deal of this work in Ireland, and for a long time patriotic Irish archæologists clung to the belief that these twistings{128} and plaitings and spirals were of purely Celtic origin and typical of Celtic art,[166] but that idea is now exploded. “There is no doubt,” writes Miss Stoke,[167] “that in the history of Christian art in Ireland we see two currents meeting, one Byzantine the other Latin,” and she then points out that similar designs, “like regularly plaited twigs,” are to be found in the church of St. Clement in Rome, which dates from 650 A.D.; where these twigs are plaited together (a case rare in Ireland) they are intended as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, the Three in One, as the inscription Unitas—Trinitas found with it in France indicates.

To any one who is fond of beautiful sculpture a walk round the gallery which encircles the cathedral of Santiago is nothing short of a delight. The arches of windows through which we look down into the naves are supported by carved capitals of the most perfect workmanship; there are many hundreds of them, and there are not two alike.

Frenchmen claim that all this beautiful work was done under the supervision of monks from Cluny; if not, indeed, by them, they argue that the same class of finely sculptured foliage is to be found at Toulouse and elsewhere in Southern France. Yet, according to Viollet le Duc, it was after 1130 that the monks of Cluny began to turn to Nature for fresh ideas. They then sought for new elements, and these they found in the vegetation of their own fields, and it occurred to them that, instead of arranging canthus leaves stiffly and conventionally, like those on the friezes and capitals of Syria, each sculptor should be at liberty to gather such foliage as grew in his own neighbourhood, and arrange it as his own taste should dictate. It was towards 1160 that these monks completed their arcades at Vézelay, and displayed their capitals sculptured with an elegant suppleness that nothing has ever equalled. The general form of these capitals, like those at Santiago, was Roman, but the grouping and adjustment of the flowers of the fields are managed with such grace and skill that the cleverest of modern sculptors would find it hard to compete with them.

As at Vézelay, so at Santiago, there is such varied grouping of the foliage as could only have been arrived at by each individual sculptor drawing his inspiration from the tender sprays themselves and working out his own fancy. Towards the close of the twelfth century the mass of traditional

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ornamentation such as interlacings, and billets, began to disappear and their place was filled by local vegetation. There is plenty of this new decorative sculpture in the choir of Notre Dame de Paris, which was begun in 1163 and finished before 1190, the work of the lay-school, l’Isle de France. The sculptors went out into the fields to search for the leaves and buds that would best suit their purpose. Every man wished his block of stone to become a capital whose beauty distinguished it from all the rest.[168] The work of this period is wonderfully original, but it is far from being realistic.

The general composition of the Paris capitals resembles that of those of Santiago Cathedral, but is not nearly so beautiful. The foliage, too, that grew in the neighbourhood of Paris, and was adapted by the sculptors there, is quite different from the foliage of the Santiago capitals, which seem to have been copied from the cabbages which form the staple food of the Gallegan peasants. These cabbages shoot up with long thick stems more than a yard above ground before they spread out their long, curling leaves, and more nearly resemble wild bracken than English cabbages. The fact that the leaves on the Santiago capitals seem to be full of sap and lifelike, must likewise be due to the sculptor’s keen observation and study of the original plant as it grew in its native soil. Viollet le Duc says that it was in Notre Dame de Paris that this stone vegetation first unfolded its leaves, and that other sculptors of northern France took thence their ideas; but it was not till some years later that they learned to represent the leaves as they grew. It needed consummate art to form, out of many parts, one combined whole which should resemble an individual and real plant or animal; even the imaginary and fantastic animals that twelfth-century artists represented as creeping out from between the foliage looked real and lifelike. The zenith of ornamental sculpture, in the opinion of Viollet le Duc, was reached at that moment when Roman tradition had disappeared, and when the search after reality had not yet imposed its exigencies upon the sculptor. This was the most brilliant period of the French school, and it lasted for about twenty-five years, between 1199 and 1215. The new school spread its influence into every province of France and even into foreign countries, but at the same time the work of each province preserved a certain individuality of its own. In Bourgogne there was a tendency even to exaggerate nature.{130}

When the lay schools were formed, when art had come forth from the monasteries and taken its place in the family and in the workshop of the artisan, the members of each corporation were free to do as they pleased with their blocks of marble or stone, they had no written rules to follow; the father taught his son, and the master explained his method to his disciple or apprentice. It seems to have been their first care to break with the past, and to study nature in the woods and fields in search of fresh inspiration. “Alas,” cries Viollet le Duc, “that in Art progress should lead us to a zenith and then force us to descend!” Sculpture falls at last through her very zeal for reality.

The capitals of Santiago like those in France were sculptured before the mason lifted them to their place. Each workman was responsible for the work of his own capital, and we often find the name of the proud sculptor cut into the stone.

But how did such perfect sculpture spring up in this remote town of Galicia, contemporaneously with, if not earlier than, the best French work? “Pour former l’artiste,” says the writer we have been quoting, “il est besoin d’un public appréciateur, pénétrable au langage de l’art; pour former le public, il faut un art comprehensible, en harmonie âvec les idées du moment.” And what sort of a public had Santiago in those days. Was it not one of the most brilliant of the world’s intellectual centres? All this exquisite sculpture was produced during Galicia’s second Golden Age. In the Middle Ages there was a far stronger tie between the artist and the public than there is in our day. “Le moyen age n’aurait pas fait un si grand nombre de sculpteurs pour plaire a’ une coterie, l’art s’était democratisé autant qu’il pent l’être.” In our day art speaks only to the few, the chosen and the cultivated few, with money in their pockets. It is a dead language to four-fifths of the world, not because the people have rejected it, but because it has neglected the people.

One of the glories of the lay schools of the thirteenth century, remarks Viollet le Duc, is the way in which they helped to spread art among the people. From the moment that you begin to teach the people that art is only for a caste, a select few, you cannot continue to spread it abroad. You cannot command taste. Art is a tree which can only spread and grow when it is given fair play. “Le régime féodal n’avait ni Acadèmies ni conseils de batiments civils, ni comités protecteurs des Arts.” In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries

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there were no prizes, no medals to strive for, but art lived and flourished everywhere.

Many of the capitals in Santiago Cathedral are decorated with groups of animals, birds, harpies, dragons, in endless variety, while a few, especially those in the gallery above the apse, are true to the old Byzantine design of plaits and bands and dots; some again of the later style have pods full of peas or beans instead of foliage, and in others the foliage is curling daintily at the tip like ostrich feathers. The scalloped capital, the most common of all in England in the first half of the twelfth century, is not to be found in Santiago. The abacas is always square in Galicia; as far as I remember, it is also square in French Gothic capitals as well as in Norman, but in English Gothic it is generally round.[169] In England, too, there has been much discussion as to how the use of this sculpture was first introduced. Sir Gilbert Scott thought he could trace it from Byzantium through the south of France; and Parker attributes its introduction into England to the Crusaders in the latter half of the twelfth century, but Viollet le Duc scoffs at the idea. “Soldiers,” he says, “do not usually find a place for art in their knapsacks.” “We have seen,” writes Parker, “by the testimony of Gervase, that the chisel was not used in the “Glorious choir of Conrad” at Canterbury, which was built between 1096 and 1130, and an examination of the old work proves the exactness of the statement; all the sculptured ornament on the old work is shallow, and such as could well be executed with an axe, which is not a bad tool in the hands of a skilful workman, and is still commonly used in many parts of England and France.... The chisel is only required for deep-cutting, and especially under-cutting, and that we do not find on any buildings of ascertained date before 1120.” Parker speaks of some very rich Norman sculpture on the capitals of the little old church of Shobdon in Herefordshire, built about 1150 by Oliver de Merlemond: the founder went on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James of Compostella in Spain while this church was being built. Parker thinks he must have brought home with him some drawings, or a remembrance of what he had seen on his way through France, and applied this knowledge to the new building. He adds, “It would be a curious matter of research to ascertain where he found it.” It is much more likely, in my opinion, that he got his ideas from the sculpture of St. James, i.e. Santiago, though I do not remember seeing anything exactly like the illustration{132} given in Parker’s book. The sculpture of the Santiago[170] capitals bears close inspection, like those of St. Sernin, in France, but at the same time it is of a kind that looks well from a distance, which is not the case with those of St. Sernin.

Mateo did not erect the Pórtico de Gloria until after he had completed the so-called “Palace of Gelmirez” adjoining the cathedral, and also the little church which has been erroneously called “la Catedral Vieja” (the old cathedral). In both of these there is contemporary sculpture of great interest and merit. Underneath the principal entrance to the cathedral, and below the flight of steps by which the principal entrance is reached, there is another entrance in the western wall, that of the little church, or crypt, beneath the Pórtico de Gloria, which is now called the chapel of St. Joseph. An eighteenth-century circular arch, broken by a coat of arms, forms the head of the doorway, on either side of which, on pedestals, stand the figures of two knights in armour work of the fifteenth century. As soon as we have entered we perceive that the little church and the portico above are the work of the same architect, and, consequently, of the same period.

On St. Joseph’s Day this little church stands open from early morning till late at night, and on the Eve of St. Joseph’s Day it is also open; but throughout the rest of the year travellers invariably find it closed. Even now it is very seldom visited by travellers as in the days of Street, who discovered its existence by a mere accident.

On entering the door the visitor confronts a relief figure, somewhat under life size, of St. James the Less, the garments of which are highly coloured, red and blue. St. James holds in his hand a scroll on which his name is written. In front of the statue is a very ancient baptismal font with a thick stem. Sanchez calls this statue Byzantine, but some think it to be Mateo’s work. Opposite the entrance, at the end of a modern passage, about three yards in length, is a stout clustered pier (A) from which spring three arches, one to the north, one to the south, and one to the east; the first two give entrance as it were to twin naves leading to the high altar, the third arch joins the clustered pier (A) to another and yet more robust clustered pier (B), an elephantine one, in fact, which in its turn also throws out three arches to north, south, and east. A third and smaller clustered pier (C) is joined to the second (B) by the last mentioned arch. An aisle running round the third clustered pier forms a

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circular apse in which are the chief altar, and an altar to the Virgin and to St. James on either side.

The form of the little church is that of a Latin cross; but the three stout piers, A, B, and C, taking up so much room that, being planted in a line with one another in the centre, they prevent the church from having any central nave; they give it instead a couple of twin naves, and make it look like two churches. Street remarked with regard to this church that its arrangement was very peculiar. The fact of the matter is, that Mateo had to build strong and lasting foundations for his portico to rest on; and the crypt church had to be adapted to them as best it might. From the clustered pier (C) springs the arches which form a vaulting to the aisle which encircles it, tores spring out over the aisle like branches from a weeping ash. The inner side of the arches are decorated with sculpture from the hand of Mateo, as also are the capitals of the shafts which adorn the clustered piers. The capitals round the central pier (B) are marvellously beautiful, and those round the outer walls of the edifice are every one of them worthy of careful inspection. It is so dark that without good artificial light the work cannot be satisfactorily examined, and even with a good light a couple of hours are required to see all properly.

The vaulting of the inner sides of the arches has large rosettes to join the tores together, but the most remarkable of all the rosettes are those which line the inner side of the arches over the twin naves. Never have I seen such a variety of stone flowers in so small a space. The accompanying photograph taken by limelight will give my readers only a slight idea of these wonderful rows of flowers plucked from the stalks, but the pen here is helpless. We have nothing like this in England; our ball-flower, our four-leaved flower, our trefoil are hideous in comparison. The photograph, though it only shows a part of one wall, shows twelve flowers, every one different, every one perfected with scrupulous care.

Now let us turn to the capitals; the variety of foliage they represent is simply endless. They are remarkable for the energy, the vigour of their design. Here on a side capital is a man up in a vine, cutting down the grapes with a crescent-shaped sickle: there are the real vine-leaves of Galicia, and the sickle in the man’s hand is the very one still used by the Gallegan peasants. On another side of the same capital are two persons with large bunches of grapes at their feet. On another is a man grasping a wild beast by the throat; the{134} man’s head, which has gone, should form a corner of the capital. But perhaps the most interesting capital of all is that with the two maidens gracefully dancing with raised arms an old Spanish dance. Some have thought this represented the daughter of Herodias, and that subject has been depicted on a capital; there is one in the Toulouse Museum,[171] but others believe it to be a scene taken from the life of the day. That very kind of dancing still takes place on the village greens of Galicia.

In a niche over the chief altar is a very old stone image, supposed to have belonged to the original church built over the body of St. James. The two slender marble shafts to the left and right of the niche have capitals with Byzantine sculpture; their style is simple and elegant, and quite distinct from any of the other work. On either side of these plain shafts are a couple of shafts covered with carving in spiral bands; ugly modern capitals replace their original ones, but the pedestals are intact and worthy of note. Some think these four shafts are among the earliest sculptures in Galicia, and date from the end of the tenth or beginning of the eleventh century. The frontal of the altar is covered with a geometrical design, a kind of diaper pattern; some of its original red and gold colouring is still preserved. The design consists of a red braid with dots (pearls and a gold border arranged geometrically on a white background), and joined by stone rosettes with gold centres. It has been suggested that this altar is a sculptured sarcophagus adapted, but it is rather too deep for a sarcophagus.

The so-called Palace of Gelmirez was not built till the end of the twelfth century, or perhaps the beginning of the thirteenth, but the style of its architecture is the same as that of Mateo’s school. It is built on to the cathedral to the right of the western façade. We entered it, by special permit, by way of the modern archiepiscopal library, and descended to the capilla de Gelmirez. The banded imposts on which the arches and early Gothic vaulting of this chapel rest are ornamented with remarkable sculpture, quite different from any we have noticed in the cathedral. Musicians with various quaint instruments are represented as singing the praises of the Most High: angels, birds, and rosettes adorn the groined vaults. In the adjoining refectory, separated from the chapel by a huge pier, the sculptures represent scenes from the everyday life of Santiago in the twelfth century. Here a Gallegan lady is seated at dinner with a young girl{135} on either side of her: a servant stands close by with a dish of eatables in her hand. We see people carrying all manner of viands, bread, fruits, etc. As Sanchez has remarked, this must be the refectory, it could be nothing else with so many eatables about. All the faces wear a look of placid contentment, which centuries have not been able to obliterate. The musical instruments we see in the capilla are supposed to be representations of the ones that were used by the minstrels of the twelfth century. They are quite different from those of the four-and-twenty elders in the Pórtico de Gloria.

There has been some dispute as to the original plan of the archbishop’s palace, and an architect of my acquaintance is devoting a good deal of study to the subject. With him I went upstairs to look through the windows of the notary’s office at the now sealed up old windows of one of the original lateral façades. These windows are in the Romanesque style, very like those in the transept of Winchester Cathedral, which are also eleventh-century work, only that the latter have two windows under each arch. The arches here are double, the inner arch resting on slender shafts. It is a simple and at the same time a noble style of window. We then went down into the basement to look at the long vaulted room below the capilla—probably an old Sala Capitular—and numerous bits of stone ornament, archwayed passages, all dating from the eleventh century. It was down here that Gelmirez established his mint, by the special permission of Alfonso vi. (1107)[172] in order that money might be forthcoming to meet the expense of completing the cathedral.{136}



Ferdinand and Isabella—Levying a tribute—Foundation of the hospital—Molina’s description—The principal entrance—Iconographic decoration—Gargoyles—A mural painting—The railing—The four patios—The north-west cloister—The chapel—A graceful font—The sculptured altars—Lace-like canopies—The statues—The Flemish Gothic style—The sacristy—Historical chasubles—The belfry—A palace for royal visitors—Decadence of the hospital—The revenues—A twentieth-century staff—Twenty-six wards—The kitchen—Milk and eggs—The Sisters—The medical school—King Alfonso XIII. shows his appreciation—Röntgen rays—The best in Spain.

DURING the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, pilgrims still flocked in hundreds of thousands to the tomb of St. James in Galicia; and the king and queen, knowing how poor was the accommodation provided for pilgrims at Santiago, commanded that a commodious inn should be constructed close to the cathedral, where pious pilgrims might find shelter and the sick be nursed. It was just after their conquest of Granada that Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1492, decreed that an annual sum of money should be devoted as a thankoffering, one-third for commemoration services to be held at Santiago Cathedral, one-third for the building expenses of the cathedral, and one-third for the relief of the poor, who would be cared for in the hospital they had commanded to be built. The sum of money in question was to be raised by levying a tribute of a bushel of grain on every pair of oxen, horses, mules, or asses used in agriculture by the Moors or Christians.[173] The foundation of the hospital may be said to date from that year, so pregnant with consequences, in which Columbus discovered the New World, and in which Spain not only became for the first time in her history a single and united kingdom, but laid the foundations of her widespread empire to which historians have given the name of Greater Spain. It was not, however, till 1499 that Ferdinand and Isabella authorised the Dean of Santiago, Don Diego de Muros, to start the building of the hospital.[174]

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The work began in good earnest in the year 1501, and the building was ready to receive the first inmates within ten years from that date. At the time of its completion the Hospital Real was the finest establishment of its kind in the world, and it is still regarded as an important example of the Renaissance style of architecture.

Molina, writing in 1550, said, “I believe that the hospital is so well known in every part of the world, that all I can say about it will be readily credited. In the three large wards there are few days when there are less than two hundred sick people, especially in Jubilee years, and every patient is treated with as much care as if the hospital had only been erected for his particular benefit. This hospital is one of the great things of the earth. Apart from its sumptuousness and the regal grandeur of its architecture, it is a marvellous thing to feel its size, the multitude of its officials, their diligence, the zeal of the attendants, the cleanliness of the linen, the care taken about the cooking, the perfect order of the routine ... the assiduity of the doctors—in short, one may with reason regard it as a crowning glory of Christendom.”

The Hospital Real is, after the cathedral, the most interesting edifice in Santiago. Its front forms the northern side of the chief square of the town, the Plaza de Alfonso XII. The iconographic decoration of its principal entrance at once attracts the eye of every stranger who enters the square. Between the rectangular window and the two rows of statues over the entrance are inscribed the following words: “Magnus Fernandus et grandis Helisabeth: peregrinis: divi Jacobi construi: jussere: anno salutis: M: D: I: opus: inchoaturn: decennio: absolutum.” This entrance is an example of the most perfect style of the Renaissance in Spain. In the triangles formed by the principal arch are the busts, in bas-relief, of Ferdinand and Isabella, and in two straight rows above the arch are the twelve apostles, each distinguishable by his dress and other characteristic traits. On either side of the window above them are nude statues of Adam and Eve, with St. Catherine and St. John the Baptist to the left, and St. Elizabeth, Mary Magdalene, and Salomé, the mother of St. James the Greater, to the right. In the tympanum of the window are the arms of the hospital—the cross beneath a crown, and with a lion on either side. The other statues represent the Virgin and Child, St. John and St. Paul in the niches to the left, and Christ, St. James in pilgrim garb, and St. Peter to the right. Six winged angels hover above with various musical instruments. Two eagles,{138} resting on the graceful Ionic columns on either side of the window, support the escutcheon with their claws. The four pillars which adorn this entrance and the multitude of little statues all blend together with such exquisite proportion that the effect is extremely beautiful, even at a considerable distance. In the wall on either side are the arms of Castille and the Imperial Eagles, which carry our thoughts back to the days of Greater Spain.

But for this wonderful entrance the long low front of the hospital, with its little windows and slanting tile roof, might be taken any day for soldiers’ barracks, or even a prison. There are, however, sixteen remarkable stone gargoyles on the cornice beneath the roof, and the thirty-eight corbels or projecting stones supporting the balcony are curiously sculptured. The Churrigueresque decoration of the four large windows giving entrance to the balcony is eighteenth-century work.

We enter the building and find ourselves standing in a portico with our faces towards an altar enclosed behind a high iron railing. The altar is placed beneath a walled-up arch which formerly served as an entrance to the chapel. The arch itself is richly moulded, and ornamented in the plateresque style; it is without pilasters, its moulded archivolts descending to the base in a manner that is markedly Gothic.

A mural painting of “The Last Judgment” covers part of the wall, and two youthful portraits of Ferdinand and Isabella are placed on either side of the altar. The whole interior of this portico was once covered with frescoes, but a thick covering of whitewash has destroyed the greater part of them. The graceful railing of wrought iron which encloses the altar is the work of Master Guillen, the clever artist of whom we have already spoken; its design is Gothic. The bas-reliefs of the altar, divided into seven niches, are interesting, but the painting above is of no value. The framed placard suspended from the railing, which is seen in my photograph, is an announcement that certain indulgences will be granted to those of the faithful who visit the hospital chapel, and thither we will now repair.

On our way we will take a look at the four patios, or, rather, cloisters which the four quadrangles of the hospital enclose. These cloisters, as well as the chapel, were designed by Enrique Egas, the famous architect of the beautiful Colegio de Santa Cruz in Toledo which was completed in 1514. Villa-Amil, quoting Cean Bermúdez, calls Egas “one of the best{139} architects of Spain.”[175] The first one, to our left, is the south-western cloister, a precious jewel of the Renaissance style. We note its slender columns, each cut from a single block, its elegant pointed Gothic arches supporting the stone galleries, its coats of arms, its curiously sculptured corbels, and the wonderful and weird gargoyles springing forth as if alive from its cornices, each representing the head, shoulders, and two front feet of a different animal—a bear here, a fox there, and so on. And, last but not least, we admire the doorways, with their very original plateresque (conopiada) tracery, the most striking of these being the doorway at the foot of the steps leading to the Sala de San Louis, of which I was fortunate in securing a photograph. In the centre of this cloister is a fountain whose water flows through extraordinary gargoyles, representing fantastic animals, into the large basin below; some of these gargoyles have human faces. The capitals in this cloister are really plateresque in style, though their resemblance to those in the cathedral suggest that their sculptor must have had Mateo’s work in his mind’s eye. This is by far the most beautiful of the four cloisters.

The north-west cloister and the north-east cloister are both adorned with Doric columns, but in the case of the upper storey it is of later date and does not correspond with the lower. Both these cloisters have fountains enclosed in elegant Gothic miniature temples, templetes with arches, columns, and pinnacles. We passed on to the south-east cloister through a small passage with elegantly decorated doors: this one is separated from the last by the eastern transept of the chapel; it is more like the first cloister than the other two, with its fountain, its bronze statue, and its handsome granite basin, all of which attracted our attention. We noticed its pretty doorways leading to the kitchen and the dispensary, and the smaller doorway leading to the vestry, all of these were ornamented with plateresque tracery.

The chapel occupies the centre of the building, and is in the form of a Latin cross, with a shortened head, so often found in churches of the last decade of the fifteenth and in the early years of the sixteenth century; the shortened head is the sacristy. The most interesting portion of this chapel is its transept, which is separated from the nave by a{140} strikingly artistic railing of beaten iron which, like the one in the portico of the hospital, is the work of Master Guillen: on it we distinguish the Arms of Spain, the Imperial Eagle, and the scallop shell of St. James. Sanchez says of the transept: “It is in the Gothic style peculiar to the architecture of Galicia”; and then he complains bitterly of the barbaric coating of whitewash which covers the beautiful granite vaulting, the balustrades, and the finely sculptured columns. Spanish architects divide the Gothic style into three periods, and it is to the third or last of these that the architecture of this chapel belongs, while its ornamentation is plateresque. In all its lines and in all its component parts there exists the most perfect harmony and the most correct composition imaginable; it is consequently a very beautiful example of the transition epoch, in which the florid elements of the Gothic style mingled with those of the plateresque to form, as it were, a new style of architecture. In describing it thus I am not venturing to give a new and unauthorised opinion, I am simply repeating a truth that has been endorsed by every connoisseur who has had the privilege of visiting this beautiful little chapel.

Entering the chapel by the door from the first cloister we note a graceful font for consecrated water, very shallow, and supported by a slender pedestal—it is enriched with Gothic moulding. Ancient fonts were always large enough to allow for the immersion of infants; this one probably dates from the end of the fifteenth century, and its sculpture is of the same class as that of other parts of the chapel. The beaten iron candelabra is also good work, though gilded and silvered in a tasteless manner.

The beautifully sculptured and decorated altars at the four angles of the central square of the transept are considered to be the greatest glory of the hospital; their sculpture is in the Flemish Gothic style, and rivals even that of Toledo in its perfect grace and finish. So finely chiselled are the lace-like canopies of white stone which adorn the niches in which the statues are placed, that at first sight the traveller may be pardoned for mistaking them for stucco, though in reality they are carved from the same white Portuguese stone as that of which the new cathedral in Madrid is being constructed. To appreciate the work here we must have ample leisure at our disposal; we must look closely and spy out for ourselves the innumerable beauties, the sculptured idyls, the pictorial poems, the doves, fruits, and foliage that are interwoven with the pedestals on which the little statues

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stand, and introduced into the stone filigree which covers the spaces like a spider’s web. Here we see stone moulded as if it were soft wax or potter’s clay. Every statue here is in itself a perfect work of art, the drapery, the serene and often majestic expression on the beautiful faces, the restful pose of the limbs, all combine to fascinate the most satiated eye. The statues on the two northern altars which face to the south are, on the right, St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine Order, St. Maurus, of early French fame, and St. Francisco; on the left, St. Vincent and St. Lawrence. The statues on the other two altars facing east and west respectively are, on the right, St. Peter, St. John, St. James, and two anchorites, supposed to represent St. Anthony (the first anchorite) and St. Paul; and on the left, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Maria Salomé, mother of St. James, with St. Catherine and Santa Lucia.

Above the graceful Gothic arches over the transept there runs round it the elegant cornice decorated also in the Flemish Gothic style; the wooden galleries are modern, but the groined vaulting, not unlike that of our Tudor roofs, above the windows of coloured glass is very fine, and in keeping with the rest of the transept.

The modern altar in the centre of the transept is dedicated to the Virgin Mary; it has her statue and those of the four evangelists. Here also are kept the relics of St. Heliodorus, which were the gifts of Pope Pius viii. in 1839. There is another altar placed on a level with the dormitories (in 1828) in order that the sick might be able to hear the voice of the priest. Another altar in the Churrigueresque style, erected in the eastern arm of the transept at the beginning of the eighteenth century, has behind it some bad examples of the painting of that period. On the northern wall are some better paintings, representing St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Jerome, whose translation of the Bible is still the only one authorised by the Catholic Church, and St. Augustine of Hippo. Above the door of the sacristy is a painting that represents the Father Eternal.

The sacristy, though its walls and vaulting are still disfigured by whitewash, is worthy of a visit, for it, too, is a good example of the later Gothic style. Happily, during the year 1507 some of the whitewash which covered its stone work was removed at the earnest request of a local archæologist. It is left in an undeservedly neglected condition, and contains much rubbish, out of which a very old stone statue of St. James has recently been extracted; the rescued figure now{142} stands in a niche in the wall. This sacristy also has a curious painted glass window on which St. James is represented with very good colouring; he wears a green tunic, a pink robe, and there is a rich blue background; his hair and beard are white, and in his hand he carries his pilgrim’s staff; the face is very good work. The sacristan brought forth some interesting and historical chasubles, and unfolded them that we might examine their designs. They were of rich velvet embroidered with silver and gold thread, and dated, some from the beginning of the sixteenth, and some from the seventeenth century. On one of them was St. James with pilgrim garb, hat, shells, and staff. The soft green and delicate turquoise blues of the velvets were very beautiful. The various kinds of architecture introduced into the embroidery gave us a clue to the period of each. The walnut chests in which these priestly garments and other valuables are kept are both old; one bears the date 1606, the other 1680.

Above the roof of the transept rises the low belfry decorated with four chaste Gothic pinnacles and a handsome cornice. The bells hang beneath them, and are reached by a spiral stone stairway.

It appears that, annexed to the hospital, there was, in 1521, an accessory building, intended for the accommodation of royalty, and called palacio de fuera, or the outside palace. Juan Nuño, a scribe, wrote of it (in 1554) that Pedro de Leon, looking at it with his own eyes and measuring it with his own feet, found it to have a patio forty-seven feet square surrounded by corridors, large reception-rooms with fireplaces, and twenty-six rooms in all.

The decadence of this magnificent hospital dates from Napoleon’s invasion of Spain at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The hospital lost its rich revenues when the Peninsula was overrun by its enemies, and from being a national, it sank to the position of a provincial hospital. It was as recently as 29th July 1880 that the nuns of the Convent of St. Vincent de Paul took up their residence within its walls and became its nursing staff. The governor of the province, the archbishop, and many of the neighbouring prelates took part in the ceremony of their installation, and the event was a memorable one for the people of Galicia. Ever since then those gentle, self-forgetting, and self-sacrificing Sisters have shown themselves the guardian angels of the sick and the needy, as well as of the helpless foundlings who are reared within those charitable walls.

A hospital, with practically no revenues and built at the

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beginning of the sixteenth century, cannot be expected to meet with all the requirements of a twentieth-century medical staff, but its bright and busy interior presents nevertheless a pleasing sight to the visitor who does not go too closely into details. The “Belen Ward,” in which I spent a pleasant afternoon chatting with nurses and patients, is a long, cheerful room with four big windows on either side and another large window at the end facing the door, from which there is a glorious view of the neighbouring hills and valleys. The buxom Sister in charge, in a spreading white cap, was preparing chocolate for the patients. When ready it was handed round to them in coffee-cups; some dipped bread into it, while others took it with a spoon, as it was too thick to drink straight off. Each bed had a neat curtain on a rail to screen it from the rest. The floors were of stone; by each bed there was a piece of plank for the invalid to stand on, and all who required them had hot-water bottles for their feet. There are twenty-six wards in all; the largest is the “Santiago Ward” at the top of the central portion of the building; it contains twenty-five beds, all far apart so that medical students can get near enough to watch the operations. The Sister told me that the upper wards being near the roof got very hot in summer, but that the lower ones were always deliciously cool and fresh.

The hospital kitchen is also a sight worthy of inspection. One hundred and eight litres of milk enter its doors daily, with some eighty kilos of beef, three hundred and eighty eggs, and three hundred and fifty-two kilos of bread, besides chickens. There is not a chair in this lofty kitchen, for no one there has time to think of sitting down even for a minute; a man-cook presides over a large stove in the centre, and four or five Sisters move briskly round it. One thousand eggs were brought to the outer kitchen while we were there; they had come from the neighbouring villages, neatly packed in layers with straw. The Sisters rise at four o’clock even in winter, and those who are not on night duty retire at nine. I was struck with their peaceful contented faces, and their gentle and refined manners. The Gallegan poor are indeed fortunate to have such women as these to care for them.

The hospital is in close connection with the Medical School of the University, and has some clever surgeons among its staff, whose successful operations have earned them a good deal of fame. Röntgen rays have been installed there since 1901, the electricity being supplied from a factory on the river Tambre, fourteen kilometres from Santiago. In 1903,{144} in token of his appreciation of the work done by Dr. Miguel Gil Casares, King Alfonso XIII. made a handsome contribution towards the expenses of this department of the hospital, and the Gabinete de Radiologia has recently been fitted up with the latest improvements, including the apparatus of Dr. Albeis, and is now considered to be the best of its class in Spain.

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Peculiar architecture—An expedition to Sar—The river Sar—Eight square pillars—The first impulse—Seven and a half centuries—The present Gothic vaulting—A feat of architectural skill—The wooden floor—Odd ideas—Foreign admirals visit Sar—Archbishop Bernard—Opening his tomb—The inscription—The original cloister—Rebuilding the monastery—A hospital for canons

AMONGST some photographs that were offered me for sale on the day after my arrival in Santiago I noticed one, the interior of a church, of which the perspective seemed to be quite wrong. “The man who took this one cannot be a good photographer,” I remarked. “No photographer who understood his business could take such a picture as that.”

“Excuse me,” replied the salesman, smiling. “It is the fault of the building, or rather, it is the peculiarity of the architecture; the photographer did his work right enough.” Then, seeing my astonishment, he added, “I see you are quite a stranger here. You have not even heard of our Santa Maria la Real de Sar, which is one of the wonders of Galicia, nay, of the whole world. It is like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, only much more remarkable. It was built crooked on purpose, and the greatest architects in Spain are unable to explain how it was done. It is the only example of its kind in the history of architecture.”

“I must go and see it,” I replied, greatly puzzled. “Is it far from the cathedral?”

“Oh yes; it’s down in the valley to the south-east of the town,” replied my informant. “You know Santiago is on a hill. It’s a steep road down—too steep for a carriage—so you will have to go on foot.”

Not many days after the above conversation I found myself, one sunny afternoon, the 23rd of January, descending the hill in question with a young Spanish boy as my guide, the son of my hostess, who, with all the other school children of Spain, had been given a holiday in honour of King Alfonso’s birthday.{146}

On the outskirts of the town we passed, on the left, the entrance to an immense barrack-like convent for women, all of granite, and saw another no less sombre and of equally imposing dimensions at a little distance and quite outside the town.

The narrow street by which we descended was abominably paved, and my ankles were twisted unmercifully. The houses on either side grew poorer and more dilapidated at every step; they were mostly whitewashed, with rotten doors, which were cut in half, so that the lower half could be kept shut,—a precaution against the toddling children, long-legged pigs, and poultry which swarmed in every direction. We passed an old woman seated in the midst of a crowd of hens who were pecking corn from her outstretched hand. Out of the next house ran a pig followed by a tiny girl of about six, with a stick in her hand to fetch it back. A woman now met us with a couple of great hams balanced on her head, one on top of the other; and a little farther on we passed a young mother teaching her baby girl, who could only just walk, to carry a little bundle on her head. The child screamed every time it felt the weight upon its little cranium, but its mother persisted with the lesson.

At the foot of the hill an old bridge crossed the river Sar, and a little below it women were busy washing their linen in the clear stream. I stopped to photograph them as I passed. On the other side of the valley the sloping fields were green as in summer.

At last we found ourselves approaching the famous Colegiata de Sar, a little old church in a green field formed by a bend in the river. The church itself was surrounded by modern buildings, and looked remarkably insignificant in consideration of the fact that it had recently been proclaimed a “National Monument.” Its outer walls were almost hidden by elliptical arches or arched buttresses, but its fine Romanesque apse was still unenclosed, though the windows had been blocked up. To enter the lateral door on the north side we had to pass through the parish cemetery.

The church of Santa Maria de Sar is rectangular in form and the walls and windows are Romanesque, while most of the present vaulting, added in the fifteenth century, is Gothic. There are eight square piers, four on either side of the central nave, each ornamented with elegant Byzantine shafts, supporting the toral arches which divide the church into three vaulted naves; at the end of each nave is an apse. “As we enter the church, our first impulse,” says Sanchez, “is to

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draw back precipitately. The pillars appear to be bulging, the arches are about to crash to the ground, the beautiful columns are reeling upon their bases, the walls are tottering and about to crumble, and the roof is just going to fall with a crash. Is it an earthquake, or are we seized by sudden giddiness?” Neither the one nor the other; the whole thing is an illusion—a complete illusion. And when the traveller has overcome his first surprise, he is struck with wonder at this marvellous feat of architecture, and his thoughts are carried to Pisa or to Bologna.

“But are you sure that these slanting walls and their sloping columns have always been awry like this?” we ask.

“Yes,” reply the archæologists and the architects who have visited Sar during the nineteenth century, including such authorities as Lopez Ferreiro and Fernandez Sanchez. “For seven and a half centuries this building has stood thus. Thirty generations of men have come to gaze at it, and we still marvel at the temerity of the man who designed it. If,” they say, “this had all been the effect of sinking ground and not the result of calculation, how could the church have remained thus intact? Would it not in that case have fallen in ruins long ago?”

The arches outside prove nothing, for they do not date farther back than the middle of the seventeenth century. If this leaning had been the result of sinking foundations, the vaulting would have cracked, and the pillars would have been broken to pieces. But the present Gothic vaulting is not so old as the walls; it was added in 1485-1504, when Gomez Gonzalez was its prior, as the inscription and coat of arms near the keystone of the arch next to the Capilla Mayor testify. Is it likely that any architect would have added such vaulting had the walls really been falling? Besides, in none of the manuscripts preserved for so many centuries in the archives of the Colegiata is there any mention of this extraordinary inclination nor of any catastrophe connected with it. This silence favours the belief that the whole thing is intentional, and a feat of architectural skill. Then, too, if the sinking had been accidental, the inclination of the walls and pillars would have been inwards, not, as is the case, outwards. So much for the accepted theory.

The word “bandy-legged” is not, admittedly, an architectural term, yet it is the most appropriate epithet I can find to bring before my readers the peculiar inward inclination of the piers and walls of this church. The man who fetched{148} the keys and showed me round may have been an ignorant fellow, but he at least saw no mystery about the structure of his parish church: he pointed out to me that the river Sar not only ran very close to the edifice, but filtered into the ground beneath it. The wooden floor which I beheld was six feet higher than the original floor; it had been raised on account of the water, and completely hid the bases of the piers. Had the whole depth of the pillars been visible, their inclination, or, rather, the bow in their legs, would have been much more striking even than it is at present. “The foundations could be drained,” said the man, “but it would cost lots of money”; and so saying, he opened a trap door in the central nave and let me look down. It was like the dungeon floor in the Doge’s Palace at Venice. “You see, with all that water, it’s quite natural that the building should get shunted a bit,” he continued.

I discussed all this on my return with one of the local archæologists of a younger generation than those I have quoted. “I have seen,” said he, “documents preserved in the archives of the Colegiata which speak of the falling-in of the original roof, and of its being replaced by the present one. For eight years I too believed this church to be an architectural marvel. I imbibed with enthusiasm all the odd ideas about it, but after a time my enthusiasm began to cool and my certainty to waver, and then, after a long and gradual process, my mind became free of all belief about the matter, and was at last able to think for itself. I thought, and thought, and thought, till at length I determined to go and make a fresh and careful examination of the whole church stone for stone, and I reasoned thus: ‘If it was originally intended that the walls and pillars should slant as they do now, surely the blocks of stone would have been made to slant too; but if, on the contrary, it was intended to stand straight in the ordinary way, the blocks of stone would not have been made to slant.’ I then examined the stones, and finding that there was not the least suspicion of a slant in any of them, came to the conclusion that the inclination of the church must have taken place since its construction, and must be due to natural causes. Then, too, the fact that the original roof fell in, indicated some bulging; and I finally came to the conclusion arrived at by your guide, that the water underneath might account for a great deal.”

Every architect who visits Santiago, every engineer hurries out to see the Colegiata de Sar, thinking that he perhaps might be able to solve the mystery. Foreign{149} admirals, when they bring their fleets to the neighbouring harbour of Villagarcia, hasten to pay a visit to Sar, not because they have a predilection for old churches, but because they have heard tell of its extraordinary architectural peculiarity.

This Colegiata was founded by Muñio, Bishop of Mondoñedo, one of the authors of the Historia Compostelana, who in his old age wished to retire with a few aged companions (canons of the cathedral) to some peaceful spot where he might end his days in prayer and meditation. He built a church and hermitages for himself and his companions, and lived there quietly for some years; then, when he felt death approaching, he handed the whole property over to Archbishop Gelmirez, that it might be made into an Augustine monastery. The whole story may be read in the ancient documents still preserved. The letter signed by Diego Gelmirez on September 1, Era 1174 (1137), and confirmed by Alfonso VII., is one of the most interesting of the diplomatic documents contained in the rich archives of the monastery. When in 1235, a century later, Archbishop Bernard renounced his mitre, he retired to end his days in the monastery of Sar, where his roughly hewn sarcophagus and his recumbent stone statue are still to be seen; the traveller will find it by the wall between the right apse and the door of the sacristy. The statue has a long beard,[176] which is rather unusual, a mitre, a long staff decorated with scallop-shells, with a tau handle. In 1711 this sarcophagus was opened by order of Archbishop Monroy, and the body was found well preserved and the garment on it in good condition, according to Zepedano, whom Villa-Amil quotes as a reliable authority. On the outer side of the sarcophagus are carved the following leonine verses, in two lines, one above the other:—

“Transit ab hoc vita Bernaldus Metropolita
Post hoc vile solum scandire posse polum.”[177]

Bernard died on November 20, 1240, as we learn from an inscription in five lines on the head of the sarcophagus (the date of the era is given). Such was the odour of sanctity in which he died that when the sarcophagus was opened several of his teeth were extracted as relics, also part of his staff and some fragments of his dress. Villa-Amil has{150} carefully examined these last and compared them with others of the same epoch preserved in the Cluny Museum. He concludes that the material of one of St. Bernard’s garments was Moorish in design and texture.

At the other end of the church is another granite tomb, that of Don Gomez Gonzalez, the prior in whose day the greater part of the present vaulting was added. The body of his successor and cousin, Jacome Alvarez, lies between two of the columns that support the eastern vaults, in a sarcophagus which Alvarez had prepared for himself during his lifetime and mentioned in his will. Sanchez gives the whole clause in his description of the Colegiata. There are also many interesting inscriptions on the old pavement stones of the aisles, now mostly covered with water.

Part of the original cloister of the monastery is still standing, the northern front. Nine delicate and richly sculptured Romanesque arches and two keystones of the vaulting are still in their place; they rest upon piers ornamented with pairs of slender columns whose capitals are decorated with sculptured foliage, very full and natural, and every one different. The bases of the columns rest upon plinths. This remnant of the cloister is considered to be one of the most perfect bits of mediæval architecture in Galicia. The rest of it is modern, and dates from about the end of the eighteenth century. In the north-east angle is a fine granite sarcophagus of another prior, whose recumbent statue in full sacerdotal robes has both hands holding a book upon his breast; it dates from the year 1368.

The monastery, which was entirely rebuilt in the eighteenth century, is now the home of the parish priest, as the church is now the parish church of Sar. The Churrigueresque belfry was put up when the original façade of the church was spoiled by the addition of the elliptical arches. My guide pointed out to me two slender columns, evidently part of the old cloister, which are now placed on either side of the rectory door. He also showed me, in the church, an old wooden bench, eaten with age, with the Arms of the Inquisition stamped upon it, a cross with a palm leaf on its right and a sword on its left.

A hospital, chiefly for canons afflicted with elephantiasis, Hospital de San Lazaro, was founded in connection with this monastery in 1149, and had dwelling-houses attached to it, sustentari possint elefantiosi canonici.[178] The prior of Sar was expected to take the inmates of this hospital under{151} his spiritual care. There is in Santiago to this day a special hospital for that class of disease, and it attracts patients from all parts of the province. I have heard it remarked that on this account visitors should be careful in their selection of inns and boarding-houses.{152}



Sir John Moore—The province of Coruña—The town of Coruña—By sea to Coruña—Our steamer—The other passengers—A dangerous harbour—Fear of stowaways—Glass-covered galleries—Beggars—The Customs—No fireplaces—Our drive to the ramparts—The Lion and the Unicorn—A British hero—Borrow and the tomb of Sir John Moore—The gardens of San Carlos—Moore’s lack of confidence in himself—His reputation as a general—Wellington’s opinion of him—“The Burial of Sir John Moore”—Situation of Coruña—The cemetery—The tower of Hercules—Originally erected by Phœnicians—Its outer staircase—Sir Francis Drake—A Spanish heroine—In honour of Maria Pita—The chief industry—An ice factory—Sardines—Corpulence of Spanish ladies—Chocolate factories—How the poor live—A home for the aged—Tobacco factories—The streets of Coruña—A fashionable summer resort—One of the best harbours in Europe

WHO has not heard of Coruña, and the “Burial of Sir John Moore”?

The province of Coruña—or La Coruña, as it is usually called—covers 7902 square kilometres, and its population in the year 1905 amounted to 683,915 souls. Coruña is the dampest province in the whole of Spain, and it has more misty days in the year than any other part; but, on the other hand, it is never troubled with those dry hot winds that cross to Spain from Africa: it is decidedly healthy, and its women and children have very beautiful complexions.

The town of Coruña, with its 50,000 inhabitants, is situated on a diminutive peninsula at the point of the angle which forms the north-west corner of Spain, and the distance between it and Madrid is 830 kilometres. Coruña is one of the oldest towns in Spain. Orosius wrote about it in the fifth century, calling it Brigantia. He related that it had a very high tower built for looking out over the sea as far as Britain.[179] It was to Coruña that Julius Cæsar brought his fleet from Cadiz, and it was the natives of Coruña who were so terribly frightened at the sight of that fleet, having never seen anything like it before. The name of Brigantia is derived from the Celtic word Briga, which we have already discussed in these pages.{153}

Both English and German passenger steamers constantly touch at the ports of Coruña and Vigo on their way to Lisbon and South America, and the sea route to Galicia is by far the shortest and quickest for English travellers.

We left Southampton just before midnight on January 10, boarding the Hamburg-American liner of 11,000 tons, the König Fredrick August, with the aid of a steam tender. The night was pitchy dark, and the only lights visible after we had left the shore were those that shone from the deck and port-holes of the König Fredrick August. Many of the best boats running between Europe and South America are German, and there is no doubt that Germany has begun to take, during recent years, a very lively interest in the development of Argentina and her sister Republics. Germans are wresting from the hands of enervated and self-satisfied Englishmen the trade of which we once thought we had the monopoly by divine right, and it is chiefly by German vessels that Spaniards are emigrating in shoals from their native land to Buenos Ayres, to Uruguay, and to Chili. I do not think I entered a single town in Galicia upon the walls of which I did not see placards denoting the speedy departure of some German liner from Europe to South America.

All the passengers we found on board the König Fredrick August were bound for Buenos Ayres or the neighbouring States. We alone were bound for Spain. Ours was a journey of two,[180] theirs of twenty-two, days. We were the only English; every one else was either German or Spanish South American. Here was a favourable opportunity of comparing Teuton and Latin types. As we paced the deck in brilliant sunshine the following day, I noticed that the Spanish were decidedly short and slight of stature, with sallow, almost bilious complexions, black hair, and large and brilliant dark eyes; while the Germans were tall and thick-set, with florid complexions, light sandy hair, and blue eyes. The cooking on board was quite German, so we subsisted for those two days principally upon apples and grapes, both being abundant and excellent in quality. A German band performed lively airs during dinner each evening, and enabled us to forget somewhat the motion of the vessel. Our cheerful and airy cabin was fitted up regardless of expense with every possible convenience, including an air-fan, a telephone, and an electric hair-curling apparatus; and, in addition, an amiable stewardess flew to execute our every wish. The dreadful Bay of Biscay behaved like a lamb, and the vessel{154} carried us from Southampton to Coruña as steadily as if she had run on rails. Yet, though the sun was shining and the weather calm, we could see great foaming waves dash steeple-high against the rocks of Brest as we passed well out to sea. Only a few days before there had blown a terrible gale in that very corner of the Bay, and a fishing smack had been wrecked near San Sebastian. We slept both nights with our port-holes open, but repented of this when, at about 10 a.m. on the second morning, a great wave washed in upon us, flooding the floor and drenching all our belongings, including the clothes in which we were to land. Pails of water were taken up from the floor by an angry steward after our soaking carpet had been removed, and we had to remain in our berths till lunch time, when our apparel was brought back to us from the drying-room. Traces of rust on our keys and on the fittings of our travelling-bags, which were filled with water when the wave entered, still remind us that sleeping with open port-holes in the Bay of Biscay is a dangerous pleasure.

At 3 p.m. on January 12 we steamed into the horseshoe harbour of Coruña, our band playing a lively march. To our right we passed the majestic lighthouse known as the Pillar of Hercules, a sight to rivet every eye; and there before us was the town upon whose ramparts the brave Sir John Moore was buried by his comrades.

Coruña is a dangerous harbour to enter, even in calm weather, on account of its islands and its many rocks. The whole coast as far as Vigo is treacherous and unfriendly; it has, in fact, so bad a name that it is called the “Coast of Death.” Even in calm weather waves dash with fury against the jagged reefs, and the surf rises to such a height that it may easily be mistaken for whales spouting. I put a question or two to the sailors who stood amongst the passengers with eyes fixed upon the harbour, but they told me they knew no more than I did about the coast, as neither they nor any of their line of steamers had ever entered that harbour before; till now they had always made straight for Vigo. Even the captain, they added, had never seen Coruña till that day! A pilot had come on board to take us to a spot where we could anchor, and a couple of Spanish soldiers, who had come with the doctor, now took their places on either side of the lowered gangway to examine the papers of all who left the ship or came on board. Little boats laden with fruit and vegetables soon approached us from the shore, to the great amusement of a fat German who was looking

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over the side. “They evidently think,” he remarked, “that we have nothing to eat on board.”

“Set a watch all round the ship,” cried the blue-eyed captain to the first mate. “We must be sure that no stowaways creep on board.” And as the mate went aft to carry out the captain’s instructions, we descended the ladder and took our places in the tender, which rose and fell with the dancing water.

All the houses that face the harbour of Coruña are entirely fronted with glass-covered galleries or verandahs, which present a novel appearance to the unaccustomed eye. The town looked like a line of conservatories, and I remembered the proverb about people who dwell in glass houses, and wondered whether it had originated in Coruña. These glass fronts are sun traps; they take the place of fireplaces in cold weather. The bright, genial Spanish sun shines through the glass and fills the rooms with pleasant warmth even on the coldest days, when the ground outside is covered with frost. There glass is the only heating apparatus with which the houses of Galicia are supplied.

Upon landing we were immediately surrounded by a crowd of miserable-looking beggars of all ages and descriptions. Most of the children squinted, and many were blind in one eye; several were blind in both. Many were terribly maimed, and had difficulty in following us upon their remaining limbs—but follow us they would and did, some on all fours, till we drove off to an hotel and left them behind. It was some time, however, before we could drive off, as we had the misfortune to arrive at four o’clock on a Saturday afternoon. The Custom-House officer had gone off for his week-end, and we were gravely informed by the assistant that we must leave all our luggage on the quay, and return to have it examined on the following Monday morning, when the head Custom-House official would attend in person. “What!” we cried, “may we not at least take a valise to the hotel with our night apparel?” “No, you can take nothing till Monday,” was the stolid reply. At this we became desperate, and assured the official that it would be an unheard-of thing to force English people to sleep for two nights in their travelling clothes simply because they had landed on Saturday. For a long time they continued to shake their heads; but finding at last that we were quite determined not to budge without the valise, they reluctantly handed it into our cab, and we drove off to an hotel.

Our room at Hotel Francia had the usual glass-fronted{156} verandah, the glass consisting of small panes let into a wooded framework which was painted white. Our host told us that if we kept the verandah windows open when the sun shone, closing them about four o’clock, we should find the room as warm in the evening as if we had a fire. To a certain extent this was correct; but on one occasion we forgot to shut the windows at sunset, and all the warmth that the glass had gathered during the day fled the way it had come, and in the evening the atmosphere of our room was that of a refrigerator. From that verandah we took our first survey of the Coruña thoroughfares. Cabs, whose tops consisted of canvas awnings, passed continually below us, and donkeys were so numerous as beasts of burden that they gave the place quite an Eastern touch. The trams and most of the carts were drawn by mules, and nearly every woman carried some burden on her head.

Our first drive was to the ramparts, to visit the tomb of England’s hero, Sir John Moore. It was the 14th of January, a beautiful day, with such hot and brilliant sunshine that the ladies were using parasols as freely as if it were July. There had been a touch of frost in the night, but as we drove through the public gardens, named after Admiral Mendez Nuñez, with their waving palm trees and camellias full of handsome white and red blossom, there was little to remind us of winter. The clear blue sky was reflected in the sea, and the view of the rocky coast was very fine as our road mounted behind the ramparts of the old town. A glaring British Lion and Unicorn decorated the stone gateway leading to the Gardens of San Carlos, which covered the top of the batteries. I wished them away, for their appearance in such a spot bordered on the aggressive, and jarred somewhat. Modesty becomes the great as well as the brave. And, after all, it was the Spaniards who collected the money for Moore’s monument.

We now alighted from our awning-covered vehicle and entered. There, straight before us in the centre of the gardens, was the tomb we had come to see, a marble sarcophagus, on which we read the following inscription:—

“In memory of General Sir John Moore, who fell at the battle of Elvina while covering the embarkation of the British troops, 16th January 1809.”

The marble tomb stood on a square plot surrounded by a five-foot granite wall with a granite vase at each corner filled with pink cyclamen; the wall was surrounded by green grass, and the grass, in its turn, was bordered by sunflowers.{157}

In the grass at the four corners grew four palm trees. The rest of the gardens consisted of winding paths between flower beds bordered with box. The whole was enclosed between the rampart walls, which were partially hidden by tall cacti covered with white blossom which had the appearance of rosebuds.

When Borrow visited Coruña in 1836 he found the tomb of Sir John Moore on the spot where he was buried by his soldiers “at dead of night,” on a small battery of the old town, whose wall was washed by the waters of the Bay. “It is a sweet spot,” he wrote, “and the prospect which opens before it is extensive. The battery itself may be about eighty yards square. In the centre of the battery stands the tomb of Moore, built by the chivalrous French in commemoration of the fall of their heroic antagonist. It is oblong and surrounded by a slab, and on either side bears one of the simple and sublime epitaphs for which our rivals are celebrated, and which stands in such powerful contrast with the bloated and bombastic inscriptions which deform the walls of Westminster Abbey—


... close to each corner (of the granite wall) rises from the earth the breach of an immense brass cannon, intended to keep the wall compact and close. These outer erections are, however, not the work of the French, but of the English Government.”[181]

The Gardens of San Carlos are a favourite resort of the Coruña townspeople. The photographer whom I commissioned the following day to take a photograph of the tomb informed me that the gardens stood on the most ancient bit of Coruña, and that all the new part of the town was built upon land that had been retrieved from the sea in comparatively recent times. “Yes, there lies the hero almost within sight of the glorious hill where he turned upon{158} his pursuers like a lion at bay. Many acquire immortality without seeking it, and die before its first ray has gilded their name: of these was Moore. The harassed general, flying through Castile with his dispirited troops before a fierce and terrible enemy, little dreamed that he was on the point of obtaining that for which many a better and greater, though certainly not braver, man had sighed in vain. His very misfortunes were the means which secured him immortal fame: his disastrous rout, his bloody death, and, finally, his tomb on a foreign strand, far from kin and friends. There is scarcely a Spaniard but has heard of his tomb, and speaks of it with a strange kind of awe. Immense treasures are said to have been buried with the heretic general, though for what purpose no one pretends to guess. Yes, even in Spain immortality has already crowned the head of Moore—Spain, the land of oblivion, where the Guadalete flows.”[182]

“Never,” writes Maxwell,[183] “was the ordeal to which an unfortunate commander was subjected so gently exercised—no man obtained a larger share of sympathy from his countrymen, and none deserved it better. Misfortunes and mistakes were half forgotten—and the failure of Moore’s campaign was attributed to that evil influence exercised by individuals at home and on the Peninsula by whom he was misguided in the commencement and abandoned in the end. On the living, popular disapprobation descended with unsparing severity, while the faults of the departed soldier seemed buried in his warrior grave.... To claim equality as a commander for Moore with Wellington, Napoleon, and Soult” (it was in defending himself against Soult that Moore fell) “no circumstances will warrant. Sir John was a first-rate officer—but he never could have been a great commander. He was an able tactician—understood thoroughly the economy of an army—handled troops well—had a sound discretion and a clear head—but a constitutional defect in some degree neutralised these admirable qualities. Moore lacked confidence in himself—he was haunted by a fear of responsibility—and a constant dread of doing that which was wrong, of running himself and his troops into difficulties from which they might not be able to extricate themselves.... Sir John Moore had earned the highest reputation as a general of division; he was aware of

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this, and perhaps felt no inclination to risk it; at all events, he was clearly incapable of despising partial obstacles in the pursuit of some great ultimate advantage.” The Italics are my own.

Wellington said of Moore: “I can see but one error; when he advanced to Sahagun, he should have considered it a movement of retreat, and sent officers to the rear to mark and prepare the halting-places for every brigade.” Napoleon asserted that to the talents and firmness of their leader the deliverance of the British army was to be ascribed, and that, if he committed a few trifling errors, they were to be attributed to the peculiarity of his situation. A brother officer said of Moore: “The British army has produced some able men, and many in point of military talent were and are quite his equals; but it cannot, and perhaps never could, boast of one more beloved, not by his personal friends alone, but by every individual that served under him.” And after all it is only just that Moore should receive honour from Spain and from the people of Coruña, for the first purpose of his presence in the Peninsula was to aid the Spaniards in regaining their soil from the great invader—Napoleon. Local writers speak to-day of Moore as one who met with his death while defending Coruña,[184] and the townsfolk delight to stroll with their little ones around the hero’s tomb on cool, fresh summer evenings.

There was one thing that puzzled me as I stood beside Sir John Moore’s tomb. How could those wonderful lines on his burial, every one of which throbs with personal feeling, reality, and detail, have been composed years after the event by a young Irish clergyman, who had never left the British Isles? But it was not till just as this chapter was going to the press that I could find any possible solution to the problem. At last light is thrown upon the subject by Mr. R. C. Newick. “There is no poem in the English language,” he writes, “more often quoted in speech or printed in books, no poem about whose authorship there has been more controversy, none which grips more firmly both the mind of a child and the intellect of a cultivated scholar, than the immortal threnody, ‘The Burial of Sir John Moore.’ ” But who wrote it? Was its author the Rev. Charles Wolfe, as the text-books of English literature inform us? No, it appears to have been composed by a soldier who was present at Coruña, and an eye-witness of all that is related in the poem. Mr. Newick{160} claims to have discovered a book which tells us all about the composition of the poem—namely, the Memoirs of Sergeant Paul Swanston, published by B. D. Cousins, 18 Duke Street, Lincoln’s Inn, with no date, but about 1850.

I will take the liberty of quoting the poem as it stands in Mr. Newick’s pamphlet (from the original MS. of the Author, as given to his friend Swanston in February 1809):—

“Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corpse to the ramparts we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot,
O’er the grave where our hero was buried.
We buried him darkly; at dead of night,
The sods with our bayonets turning,
By the twinkling of the pale starlight,
And the lantern dimly burning.
No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Nor in sheet nor in shroud we wound him;
But he lay—like a warrior taking his rest—
With his martial cloak around him!
Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face of the dead,
And we bitterly thought of the morrow.
We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed
And smoothed down his lonely pillow,
How the foe and the stranger would tread o’er his head,
And we far away on the billow!
Lightly they’ll talk of the spirit that’s gone,
And o’er his cold ashes upbraid him;
But nothing he’ll reck, if they let him sleep on,
In the grave where a Briton has laid him.
But half of our heavy task was done,
When the clock toll’d the hour for retiring,
And we heard by the outpost signal gun
That the foe was sullenly firing.
Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
From the field of his fame, fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, we raised not a stone,
But we left him—alone with his glory.”[185]


The town of Coruña is built, as we have seen, on a peninsula, upon whose rocky sea-washed point there stands the famous Tower of Hercules, a monument of remote antiquity with modern restorations. After bidding adieu to the tomb of Sir John Moore, we told our coachman to drive us to this lighthouse, whose majestic proportions had aroused our admiration as our steamer entered the Coruña harbour. On the way thither we visited the Campo Santo, a large cemetery, with many handsome marble monuments. There was a high white wall round the cemetery, and inside it were some tall and leafy eucalyptus trees; on the outer side of the wall there were geranium hedges, six and seven feet high, and in full flower. A priest was standing at the entrance to the cemetery, and seeing that we were foreigners, he kindly volunteered a few explanatory remarks. “Those niches in the catacombs which you see lining the cemetery wall,” he observed, “are the graves of rich people, whose friends can afford to pay a considerable sum for the privilege; the graves you see in the centre, under the grass, are those of poor people, who could not pay for more than the plain ground.” The cemetery was a very large one; it covered the whole hillside and stretched right down to the sea, which formed an azure background to the gleaming white marble. The descending path had handsome monuments on either side of it, all bearing the letters R.I.P.; they were separated from one another by handsome palm trees.

“These monuments were all sculptured in Italy,” explained the priest, “where Carrara marble and sculpture are comparatively cheap: it is easy to bring them here by sea from Genoa.” One of the pantheons was like a chapel. We looked through its glass doors, protected by a strong iron gateway, and saw an altar with four high candles, flowers, and crucifix at the farther end; each candle had a big black ribbon bow with long ends hanging down; in front of the altar were two prie-dieu chairs, which had the appearance of being in constant use. To our left as we had entered we had noticed a round edifice lighted with high oval windows. The priest told us this was the mortuary, that all unclaimed corpses were brought here and laid on the marble slab in the centre, and that this was the spot where inquests were held. A little below, there was a sort of inner cemetery where—so said the priest—all the children who died under seven years of age were buried. We read the inscriptions over several of these little graves, and noticed that nearly all had the words “ascended into heaven on——” and then followed{162} the date.[186] And we were reminded of the fact that “early death is held in Spain to be rather a matter of congratulation than of grief.”[187]

We now returned to our carriage, and drove to the Tower of Hercules. Between the rocks that ran into the sea and were at every moment being covered by its white foam and the great square tower, were stretches of green cornfields, which, to our surprise, were covered with waving oats ready for cutting, and actually being cut before our very eyes by peasant women with small prehistoric crescent-shaped hand sickles—another sight strange to English eyes in the middle of January! But a cold wind was blowing from the sea, and we were glad that the hot sunshine had not tempted us to leave our warm wraps at home: we now drew them well round us, and proceeded on foot to examine the tower. To walk round its square base, I had to take eighty good steps. The original construction of this tower is attributed to the Phœnicians, who have been called the first civilisers of Spain, and who also erected a Tower of Hercules in the neighbourhood of Cadiz. The material of which this tower is built consists of small stones about a foot square, cemented together with pebbles in the gaps. It has three storeys, and the roof is of the same material as the vaults. The storeys, connected with one another by a wooden stair, are said to date from the time of Captain-General Uceda. On the stones is the following inscription:[188]

.  .  .  .  .  S XDDVO

In olden days the tower was surrounded on the outside by a wide spiral stair supported at each corner by a stone pillar. On November 17, 1684, the English, Dutch, and Flemish consuls pointed out to the Captain-General, the Duke of Uceda, the great convenience that would result were he to turn the Tower of Hercules into a lighthouse. The three consuls stated further that all the expenses could be easily defrayed if a small contribution were levied on each vessel that entered the harbour during the space of ten years. The outer staircase must have ceased to exist before the year 1549, since at that date the monk Francisco Molina of Malaga stated in his{163} History of Galicia that it had been taken down, he did not know by whom. Molina also stated that this tower was so famous that few authors omitted to mention it. “Some say,” he added, “that it once had a great mirror in which could be seen the ships at sea, no matter how far away they might be sailing,” but he explains that all this was a fable, and that what the tower really had was “a light, which it ought to have still, to guide the ships that would enter the port by night. This tower,” he continues, “is close to the town, on the seashore: it is of such great height and of such antiquity that it is truly a marvel, and its winding stone stair, which once formed part of the tower, was the most remarkable thing about it; a cart drawn by two oxen could mount to the top.” This last sentence gives one the idea that there must have been ramps, not steps. As for the mirror mentioned above, it may perhaps have been a metal camera obscura something after the style of that to be seen in our day in the Observatory on Clifton Downs.

Florez looked upon the story of the mirror as a fable, and thought it must have originated from the fact that Orosius speaks of a very lofty lighthouse in Galicia called a Specula. Florez also states that the present tower cannot be traced farther back than to the Romans; moreover, the material of which it is built is the same as that of other Roman structures. The historical notices of this tower differ so much from one another that the exact truth regarding its erection seems unobtainable, but the most trustworthy reference is thought to be the one which indicates that it was the work of the Emperor Trajan, because no geographer before his date makes mention of the existence of such a colossal monument. The following inscription has been found on one of the rocks which form its foundations:—

AF  .  .  .  .  SIS

Sir John Moore is not the only Englishman with whose name Coruña is closely connected in the minds of the Spaniards. In the year 1589, Sir Francis Drake came with sixty ships, landed English troops at Coruña, and took possession of the{164} convent of Santo Domingo, which was situated on the highest point in the town. He fortified the building, manned it with English soldiers, and built batteries around it, intending to subdue the town; but all his attempts to do so were frustrated by the courage and patriotism of a woman—Maria Pita. Drake was eventually compelled to retire with a loss of fifteen thousand men, but he set fire to the convent before evacuating it, and it was burned to the ground. Ever since that time Coruña has celebrated yearly, in the month of August, a popular festival of a religious character which is called Fiestas de Maria Pita.

Maria Pita, sometimes called Maria Fernandez de Pita, was a poor woman from the street, who, seizing the sword of a dead soldier, gathered the people of Coruña together and inspired them with courage to resist Drake. In fact, it was she who, sword in hand, led the attack which forced Drake and the troops under General Henry Noris to abandon their position and quit the town. In her honour the chief square in Coruña is called Plaza de Maria Pita. Every year the best preacher obtainable is invited to preach a carefully prepared sermon to the people of Coruña in the church of St. George (the largest church in the town) on the subject of Maria Pita’s victory over Sir Francis Drake. There is not a child in the province who has not heard of the courage and dauntless bravery of Maria Pita. She is one of Spain’s heroines. Five years after Drake’s departure, in the reign of Philip II., a new convent was begun upon the site of the one that had been destroyed. It was completed in the reign of Philip III. It is dedicated to the Virgin of the Rosary, the patron saint of the town.[189]

Fishing is the most important industry in Coruña, and excellent ice factories recently planted in the neighbourhood have given the trade a wonderful impetus. Formerly, for want of ice to keep the fish cool, a great deal was spoiled, and it was almost impossible to make use of the fish caught, or to send it to any great distance, in a country where the sun is so powerful. But now ice factories supply the fishing-smacks with ice, and they can go out and fish four days consecutively, the ice they take with them keeping the fish cool and fresh. Ice is also used in great quantities for packing the fish destined for Madrid, where the demand is still greater than the supply. Every evening a special fish train leaves Coruña at 6 p.m. for Madrid. There is tremendous bustle and excitement among the fisher-folk{165} before the train starts. We stood on the wharf one afternoon and watched the smacks come in, their decks piled high with silvery sardines. Women and children helped to carry the sardines up the gangway in baskets balanced on their heads, and, depositing them in the warehouse, proceeded to wash them in the running water and place them with lightning speed in the wooden boxes ready to receive them. The sardines were thrown into the boxes in handfuls, spread out, and sprinkled with salt, till the boxes were almost full, and then a carefully assorted row was laid on top. Each basket that was filled with sardines from the newly arrived boat was so heavy that it took four persons to lift it on to a woman’s head! Since the latest appliances for the production of ice have reached Coruña, that commodity has become cheap and plentiful, and consequently the price that the inhabitants have to pay for fish for their own tables has risen tremendously. Before there was ice available for packing fish and preserving it, sardines were so cheap that they were almost given away, and the poor made them their principal food. They are now a delicacy which the very poor cannot afford to buy.

We visited an important ice factory, and watched the ice being made with the help of liquid ammonia. By expansion of the liquid the necessary cold is produced, the ammonia is pumped into the congealer and then compressed and cooled by water, after which it again becomes liquid; and so the process is repeated. Sea water is pumped into the factory at the rate of fourteen tons an hour, by means of electricity. We saw the pipe running along the beach; it was two hundred yards long. The water enters the pipe at a depth of seven yards below the surface. As I have said, we watched the ice being made. Fresh water filled great tin moulds; these were then let down into a tank containing salt water rendered very cold by means of pipes beneath, filled with the ammonia which had been expanded from its liquid state into gas. The degree of cold which is sufficient to freeze fresh water does not freeze salt water, so only the water in the moulds was turned to ice. When the water in the moulds had become ice, they were raised out of the salt water and tipped up so that the ice blocks could slide out; each block weighed twenty kilos. That the blocks might slip out easily, the moulds were dipped for an instant into hot water. If the heat is too great, the ice sticks; but if it is exactly the right temperature, the ice blocks slip out easily, like puddings out of a pudding mould. The blocks of ice are kept in an{166} ice-house with pipes of ammonia running over the ceiling to keep the temperature at freezing-point. The windows of the ice-house were made of prisms, like bottles filled with air; they let the light of the sun enter, but not its heat.

The sardines are caught in draughts.[190] They shun very cold water, and are most plentiful on the Galician coast at periods when the Gulf Stream flows nearest to the shore. Fishermen can tell when the sardines are coming. As many as four hundred deal boxes (as large as petroleum cases) are sent to Madrid every day from one factory during the sardine season. The packing is almost all done by women. The women work with far more energy than the men. This fact was pointed out to me by the manager of the principal factory, and I saw for myself that it was correct. Strange to say, it is only among the poorer classes that the women of Galicia are remarkable for their energy.

“Our ladies are too fat, because life is too easy; they have not enough work either for mind or body,” said a Spanish gentleman. “Even our men are lazy,” he added. “In Spain a man waits to inherit his father’s worldly goods, and as long as his father lives he remains the son, and nothing else; he only gets responsibility and independence at his father’s death. In England, on the contrary, a father gives his son responsibility, educates him, and then expects him to make a position for himself.”

Coruña has not so many chocolate factories as formerly. When Cuba belonged to Spain, the Cubans exported large quantities of cocoa nibs to the mother country, but, since the war, that branch of commerce has been interfered with to such an extent that many manufacturers have left Spain to settle in Cuba and start factories over there instead, so that Coruña has lost much of her chocolate-making industry. I visited a Coruña chocolate factory and saw cocoa nibs put into a machine and ground to powder; in another machine the powder was being mixed with cane sugar; and in a third the blocks of chocolate, weighing a hundredweight, were being cut up into half-pound strips; a fourth machine kept the little tin moulds into which the melted chocolate was poured continuously shaking, so that the chocolate might not stick. In the next department we watched a number of women rolling up chocolate cigarettes in silver paper.

The poor of Coruña subsist chiefly upon vegetables. I devoted some of my time to visiting them, that I might get a correct idea of their circumstances and the kind of life they{167} led. One woman who earned her daily bread as a charwoman took me up to her room on the fourth storey of a house that appeared to be built almost entirely of wood. The room, which she shared with her little daughter, contained two beds, a table, and a chair. It had neither windows nor fireplace—in fact, no opening of any kind but the door, and was so dark even with the door open that she had to light a candle in order to show me the size of the room and the prints and photographs with which the walls were adorned. For this abode the woman paid three pesetas (half a crown) a month. There were several such rooms on the same floor, tenanted in a similar manner, and a general kitchen with charcoal cooking hearth was at the service of all. These poor people take a cup of coffee or chocolate for their early breakfast, and their dinner consists of a bread-and-vegetable soup, called Gallegan broth (kaldo Gallego), which is famed all over Spain, and a sardine, or other fish, on the days that they can afford it. More coffee is drunk than chocolate; they find that it is a greater stimulant. The best chocolate in Coruña costs four pesetas (three shillings and fourpence) a pound, but that used by the poor costs them only one peseta (tenpence) a pound. On leaving the house, I asked the poor woman if she was not afraid of the house taking fire, seeing that it was all of wood and that they used candles so constantly. “Oh no,” she replied, smiling; “I have never heard of a house in Coruña being burnt, and I have lived here all my life.” Coming out of the door, I met a woman with a market gardener’s heavy basket on her head filled with cabbages and potatoes; in her arms she carried a little baby.

My next visit was to a large building which served as a home for the aged poor, and was managed entirely by Hermanitas de Caridad, “Little Sisters of Charity.” All was spotlessly clean. A Sister showed us round. Each dormitory contained some twenty beds, with red coverlets and snowy sheets and pillows; one could hardly believe they had ever been slept in. There was a lavatory with six washing-stands attached to each dormitory. The old men lived quite apart from the old women. We found one old lady in a bed that she had never left for seven years; she appeared well cared for, and quite comfortable. The building is modern, having only been completed fifteen years ago. It stands in its own grounds, where it has its own laundry and drying-ground. In the garden there is a pleasant summer-house, where the old people can sit almost every fine day in the year.

As is usual in such institutions, no servants were kept; the Sisters did everything, with the help of the sturdiest of the{168} inmates, who were employed in scrubbing the floors, etc. The linen closets, with their tastefully folded linen, were a sight to see; glass cupboards full of linen reached to the ceiling and covered the walls. The air in all the apartments and corridors was fresh and pure, and the sun shone in at the windows, from which there was a pleasant view of the seashore. On the upper storey were a number of rooms destined for single or widow ladies who had no homes of their own, and were glad to have a cheap and quiet retreat. I saw one of them standing at her door as we passed along the corridor; she was in negligé attire, and was evidently surprised to see visitors. We bowed, and seeing her inclined, entered into conversation with her. She was a woman about fifty-five years of age, with powdered cheeks and grey hair frizzed over her forehead. My charwoman-guide then pulling me aside, informed me in an excited whisper that the lady was the Contessa de P. “I have worked for her as cook,” she added, “and I can assure you she smokes like a man.” The Sister who stood by, a nun, with black hood and white bib, overheard the last words, and said severely, “She does not smoke here.” The wide glass-covered verandah was brilliant with the January sunshine: here the inmates could take the sun, as they say, and can truly say, in Spain. The chapel, which we inspected next, had a gallery for the nuns, with fretwork-covered windows looking down upon the pauper congregation. When there is a great function, all the chairs are taken away, and the people stand. There was also a neat dispensary, and an infirmary. The dining-rooms were cheerful and spacious, with marble-topped tables. The kitchen was a fine, airy room, with a great stove in the centre. In all the public institutions that I visited in Galicia the stove invariably stood in the middle of the room, thus making it possible for a number of persons to stand round it and cook without interfering with one another. The house is in the hands of twenty Sisters, under a Mother Superior. In my conversation with the lady boarder I learned that the poor there are always discontented, and never cease to long for their liberty and for the old life of begging at the street corners—where they had neither shelter nor warm clothing nor food to eat. I really thought, after seeing them huddled together in groups in the great, cheerful, but monotonous rooms, that while I had a spark of vitality and endurance left in me I should feel as they did, and prefer the life of the street with all its risks and privations to that deathly sameness. Monotony is a slow and sure poison; it can undermine even the constitution of a pauper. As for the poor of Coruña, they{169} are chiefly fisher-folk, and the coast being, as I have said, the most dangerous in Spain, cases of drowning occur with painful frequency, so that the industry is a very precarious one, and the number of the destitute is continually increasing. Corpses of fishermen are constantly being washed ashore, and there is nearly always a body lying in the mortuary to be identified.

There are only eleven tobacco factories in Spain. These are most of them palatial; they all belong to the Government. The one at Coruña, like the rest, is managed for the Government by a private Company, which is allowed to appropriate 10 per cent. of the net profits. It was once a very large factory, with six thousand women workers, mostly the wives, widows, and daughters of fishermen, or men who have emigrated to South America.[191] On the occasion of my visit, I found three thousand women at work. Besides these, there were forty men employed in carrying the heavy cases to the warehouse. The tobacco was supplied from various places, chiefly from Kentucky, Mexico, Brazil, St. Domingo, Cuba, and the Philippine Islands. In Ford’s day, an enormous amount of tobacco was smuggled into Spain from Gibraltar, but that is not the case now.

Common cigars sell at about three a penny. Some of the workers have very nimble fingers, and can prepare nine bundles, of forty cigars each, in a day, while the slowest workers only manage about five bundles. They begin work at 7 a.m., and continue till 8 p.m., bringing their dinner with them, and leaving it in a neighbouring house, where it can be warmed up if they wish. The women with whom it is left bring it in baskets to the workers, who eat it where they sit, without leaving their seats. In the factory at Seville they have a separate dining-room, but none is provided at Coruña. Every fortnight the women are paid according to the quality and quantity of the work they have done. We walked among them as they worked, sixteen at a table, with coloured handkerchiefs over their heads and tied tightly under the chin, with a three-cornered shawl crossed over the breast.

The manager told me that the work was not unhealthy, because it was all done by hand, and there was none of that fine powdery dust which is so injurious to the health of workers in factories run by machinery. At the entrance of each workshop we saw a candle burning in front of a crucifix.

It has been reckoned that every adult male inhabitant of Madrid smokes on the average twenty pesetas’ (sixteen shillings) worth of tobacco in a year; but in Barcelona each man smokes{170} nineteen pesetas’ worth. The smallest quantity is consumed in the Balearic Islands, where the tobacco consumed by each male values three pesetas and a half. The richer the town, the better the quality of the tobacco consumed. The wood for making the cases in which the cigars are packed is of a special kind, and is sent for the purpose from Cuba. The best cigars manufactured at Coruña are the Farios. Pipes are seldom used, except by a few sailors.

The streets of Coruña have much that is Oriental about them. Men walk about carrying skins of water, just as they do in the East. I found a woman cook with all her cooking apparatus neatly arranged around her at the street corner, and cooking away as unconcernedly as if in her own kitchen. I asked of the people standing near what she was cooking, and learned that she was making cakes for the approaching Carnival. We saw that the men were riding on Moorish saddles; these have been in use in Spain ever since the Moors introduced them. We also saw many sacks of pine cones that had been brought in from the villages to be sold as fuel for kitchen fires. People store their cellars with them as we should store ours with coal.

Many of the houses in Coruña are built with an air shaft in their centre; this has a glass top, and the light that descends the shaft lights four rooms on each landing. Those on the third floor get a fair amount of light, but those on the first fare badly. This is certainly a degree better than having no daylight except that which can penetrate into the room from an open door, as is often the case in Spanish houses.

Coruña is a fashionable seaside resort in summer; its hillsides are dotted with villas belonging to the wealthy of Madrid and other big towns. Three bull-fights take place there every year, and an occasional carousal is held in the bull ring. Families who have not a villa of their own hire flats for the season. There is no hotel life, and what hotels the town has are only suited to meet the requirements of business men and commercial travellers. Donkey picnics are a favourite amusement with summer visitors, and delightful excursions are made upon pack-saddle into the wooded valleys and the picturesque hills with which the town is surrounded on all sides, except where the sea washes its shores.

Like our Oxford, Coruña can boast of having afforded a refuge to the National Assembly of her country, when it was forced to leave the capital. In July 1706, when Madrid was crowded with English and German soldiers who threatened to burn her to the ground, and the Court and the Royal Family{171} had established themselves at Burgos, a Junta del Reino was called to discuss the calamitous state of the country, and that Assembly was held in Coruña. Letters were sent on that occasion to Santiago, Lugo, and Tuy, asking the citizens to supply forage for the new battalions that were to be formed in Galicia, and it was mainly through the bravery of Gallegan soldiers that the invaders were driven out of the land.[192]

Coruña has one of the best harbours in Europe, and since the remotest times this town has been considered one of the principal strongholds of the Peninsula; its present fortifications are, it is true, very antiquated, but there are projects on foot for once more converting it into a stronghold of the first order. The town was fortified for the first time in the reign of Henry III., but it was not till 1602 that the work of strengthening it was seriously undertaken. The key to the port is the fort of San Anton, on a small and rocky island which we passed at the mouth of the harbour; but this fort, which was built in 1779, is now little more than a ruin.

The most interesting church in Coruña is that of the Colegiata de Santa Maria del Campo. It is a very small Gothic edifice with three naves. An inscription on a column near the right pulpit bears the date Era 1340, which is equivalent to the year 1302. The parish church of St. James (Santiago) is also Gothic, but does not date farther back than the sixteenth century. The largest church in the town is that of St. George; the original one was rebuilt after Sir Francis Drake’s visit, but the present one is the conventual church of the suppressed convent of St. Augustine.

Coruña possesses a good Public Library, containing four thousand volumes, with rooms devoted to Physical Science, Chemistry, and Natural History. There is also a Meteorological Observatory, where candidates for the post of pilot are examined.{172}



An Agricultural Syndicate—The only flourishing industry—The flower of Galicia’s youth—Monopolisation and subdivision of the land—The lesser evil—The Argentine Republic—Free passages to Chili and Valparaiso—Every peasant a proprietor—Socialism rare in Galicia—Causes of Spanish indolence—Bad government—Railways before roads—Nomadic instinct derived from Celtic ancestors—Reputed stupidity of Gallegans—A story—Fields worked by women—Usury—Need of wholesome literature—The potato disease—Cattle breeding—Mules—The long rains encourage idleness—Demand for factories—No wine-making industry—Failde suggests a solution to the problem of emigration

DURING my stay in Coruña I read an article in one of the local papers[193] on a new Agricultural Syndicate that was being formed there with the object of improving the methods of agriculture employed by the peasants, and of teaching the ignorant how to get more profit out of their soil; in short, with the object of making the people happier and more prosperous upon their own little farms, and putting an end to “the bleeding of that terrible wound that is exhausting Galicia”—emigration. The writer of the article pointed out that the priests did no good by going round to the villages and telling the people to work harder; what was wanted was education, a practical training, and an intelligent appreciation of the possibilities of their wonderfully fertile soil.

Week after week I read in the papers and heard on all sides that young men were emigrating in numbers to South America from every part of the province. Local writers alluded bitterly to this emigration as “the only flourishing industry in the province.”

But emigration is not a new, if it is a flourishing industry. Galicia has been steadily drained of the flower of its youth for many a long year. In 1885, Señor Ricardo Mella y Cea quoted statistics to the effect that twenty thousand Gallegans emigrated annually to South America, and that of these no less than three-fourths emigrated clandestinely, because their{173} age subjected them otherwise to compulsory military service. In those days Gallegans were also emigrating to other parts of Spain, and to Portugal as well. Señor Mella y Cea attributed this emigration, in the first place, to an excess of population, and to an excessive taxation of the land owned by the peasants. Many emigrated to escape conscription. Others who would gladly buy a strip of land and settle down at home were met by insurmountable difficulties. It was then, as it is now, almost impossible to buy small plots of land in Galicia; monopolisation and subdivision of the plots were ruining all but the wealthy.

Twenty-two years have passed since Señor Mella y Cea took up his pen on behalf of the peasants of Galicia, but their condition can hardly be said to have improved. Heavy taxes still ruin those who are powerless to pay them. State loans to agriculturists are as yet unknown, and co-operative credit societies are only a dream of the future. Capital is monopolised by the few, and in the absence of credit banks the production of the soil is checked. The difficulty is, as Prudhon pointed out, to know how to enable the greatest possible number of people to produce and consume the greatest possible amount. Señor Mella y Cea did not think that emigration could be truly beneficial to any country in the long run, because, by its very existence, it reveals a state of things that is not satisfactory; it reveals, but it in no way helps to correct or remedy, what is wrong. Many emigrate because they find themselves forced to choose between death and emigration. And who has a right to decide for such people which of the two evils they shall choose?

Every man has a perfect right to abandon the country in which his means of existence cannot be guaranteed. Emigration is, after all, a lesser evil than starvation; but, alas! it is not as a rule the most necessitous who emigrate, but the most energetic, the most ambitious, the most capable. We have only to turn our eyes in the direction of Ireland to see this truth exemplified. Norway is another country that complains bitterly of the emigration of her most stalwart sons.[194] The man who is worth his salt does not leave without regret, without sorrow, the land of his birth; nearly all who go cherish the hope that they may some day return. It is not en masse, like the Tartars described by De Quincey, but drop by drop, that the country’s life-blood ebbs away. “Emigration is a poison which prolongs our life upon the borders{174} of the tomb.” No, it can never be favourable to Galicia, it can never be anything better than a harmful alternative. “At any rate,” wrote the above-quoted writer, “if Gallegans must emigrate, let them choose South America—a country where men are wanted, where there is room for all. When they emigrated to other parts of Spain, they only took the bread from other mouths to put it in their own. South America is the land of the future; it will leave Europe behind as surely as Europe did Asia.”

And truly the economical progress that has been made during recent years by the Argentine Republic alone is more than surprising. Prodigious progress has been made in that country,[195] which, with its two inhabitants to the square mile, occupies the first rank among all the South American nations as regards its economic activity. The greater part of the Republic is situated within the temperate zone à l’extrémeté méridional de l’Amérique du Sud. It is divided into fourteen provinces and ten territories, an extent of 2,950,520 square kilometres, with a total population of 5,672,191. With the same density as that with which Germany is populated, the Argentine Republic could accommodate three hundred million inhabitants. The emigrants thither in

1857 = 4,951;
1905 = 221,622.

The cultivable lands can be cultivated as soon as the emigrants take possession of them. There are 104,300,000 hectares available. Railways are in course of construction. Wool and frozen mutton are two of the principal exports.

Of every twenty-five Gallegans who emigrate to South America, twenty are usually simple villagers from mountain villages, and the remaining five are young men from the towns who have received a fairly good education. The twenty villagers will live in South America as simply as they have been accustomed to live from their childhood, earning, let us say, five pesetas a day; they will put by four, and live on one, and at the end of each year they invest the little sum which has accrued, and it brings them in some fifty per cent.: thus, after a few years, they find themselves in comfortable circumstances, and soon they are comparatively rich men. But the five town-bred youths, on the contrary, having been accustomed to more expensive living and better clothes at home, continue to require the same luxuries abroad: they{175} find themselves compelled to use up every penny of the five pesetas they earn in a day, and, having nothing to put by, they do not grow rich. The twenty villagers are quite content with vegetable soups, maize bread, no beverage but water, and simple pleasures that cost them nothing, but the five town-bred men would be miserable on such fare.

Land is given to the emigrants on their arrival, and all the necessary implements are supplied to them by Government on a five years’ hire system. The soil is so rich that no manuring is wanted, and it can be sown fourteen years in succession without need of rest. The Government of Chili is so desirous of increasing its industrial and agricultural population, that it gives the peasants of Galicia their passages free to Valparaiso, and in order to get the people to go it employs agents to talk to them and persuade them to embark. The agents get a commission on every passenger they book. Formerly it was only the men who emigrated, but now it is becoming quite a common thing for their wives and children to accompany them.

One morning I took a walk outside the town of Santiago beside a stream where several women were washing clothes at a public wash-shelter, with stone slabs along the banks, on which to rub their clothes. They were on their knees, and with sleeves up above the elbow, energetically kneading away at the linen they had brought with them. I stood beside them, silently listening to their conversation.

First Woman: “Yes, he went to Buenos Ayres.”

Second Woman: “How did he like it?”

First Woman: “Oh, he found that if you wanted to eat you had to work, just the same as here.”

Second Woman: “Clearly.”

First Woman: “And he felt dreadfully lonely so far away from all his people. Yes, he found that what was bad here is bad there, and so he made up his mind to come back here again.”

Second Woman: “Of course.”

First Woman: “Of course.”

Among five thousand Gallegan peasants it would be difficult to find one who was not a proprietor—who did not own a little cottage and a little plot of ground. One result of this is that Socialists are also extremely rare in Galicia. In Andalusia, on the contrary, the land is all owned by a few rich landlords, and that province consequently swarms with Socialists. Many Italians also emigrate to South America, and there are spots there where the population is{176} an equal mixture of Italians and Spaniards. This is particularly the case in Ecuador, where the mixture of the two peoples has already produced a new dialect, and the inhabitants are unconscious that the words they use are drawn from two languages. As I have said, in every town I visited in Galicia, without an exception, I saw notices on the street walls tempting the people to emigrate. During a drive from Noya to Santiago we passed on the road more than two hundred youths who had come down from the mountain villages to seek for work; each carried a hoe across his shoulder, and on it was slung a handkerchief containing his worldly goods. Here and there we saw a young man resting beneath some shady tree, a sort of Dick Whittington who, if he does not find work in Galicia, will emigrate, make a fortune, and perhaps return to buy ground and settle in Galicia, and become eventually a public benefactor to his native land. But, as a poor woman in the neighbourhood of Pontevedra told me, though they do make money quicker in South America than in Galicia, a large proportion of them suffer from the change of climate, and, what is more, they too often acquire the expensive habits and extravagant ways which counterbalance other advantages. “Many who have come back,” the woman told me, “say that, after all, there is no country in the world like Spain, for health and good climate and productiveness of the soil.”

Although the climate and soil of Galicia are the best in Spain, it is mainly from Galicia that the emigration takes place. A small proportion of Spaniards from south of the Peninsula emigrate annually to Morocco, where most of them keep the idle habits of their old home, standing about at street corners from morning to night. Some travellers attribute the innate laziness of the Spaniards to the effect of their brilliant sunshine. Even the energetic Borrow, when he was in Seville, wrote: “I lived in the greatest retirement during the whole time that I passed at Seville, spending the greater part of each day in study, or in that half-dreaming state of inactivity which is the natural effect of the influence of a warm climate.”

It has sometimes been stated that the Spaniard is too proud a fellow to work hard in his own country among his own people, but that once he finds himself in a new country in the midst of strangers he will work as well as any fellow in the world. However that may be, it is undoubtedly a fact that the Gallegan wakes up wonderfully in South America, and when he returns home in comfortable circumstances{177} he is loud in his expressions of dissatisfaction at the stagnation and lack of progress so patent in Galicia. Ford, writing in the fifties of the nineteenth century, said, with regard to emigration: “They have ascribed the depopulation of Estremadura (the province to the south of Galicia) to the swarm of colonist adventurers and emigrants who departed from this province of Cortes and Pizarro to seek for fortune in the new world of gold and silver; and have attributed the similar want of inhabitants in Andalusia to the similar outpourings from Cadiz which, with Seville, engrossed the traffic of the Americas. But colonisation never thins a vigorous, well-conditioned mother-state—witness the rapid and daily increase of population in our own island, which, like Tyre of old, is ever sending forth her outpouring myriads.... The real permanent and standing cause of Spain’s thinly peopled state, want of cultivation, and abomination of desolation, is bad government, civil and religious.... But Spain, if the anecdote her children love to tell be true, will never be able to remove the incubus of this fertile origin of every evil. When Ferdinand III., captured Seville and died, being a saint he escaped purgatory, and Santiago (St. James) presented him to the Virgin, who forthwith desired him to ask any favours for his beloved Spain. The monarch petitioned for oil, wine, and corn—conceded;—for sunny skies, brave men, and pretty women—allowed;—for cigars, relics, garlic, and bulls—by all means;—for a good government;—‘Nay, nay,’ said the Virgin, ‘that never can be granted; for, were it bestowed, not an angel would remain a day longer in heaven.’ ”

Galicia is a province where railways have preceded roads, and where automobiles have preceded railways. There are towns in Galicia that are decaying for want of roads by which they can carry on commerce with their neighbours. All the water used in Coruña has to be carried by women from the fountains, and the town waterworks are only now in course of construction.

Aguiar speaks of the strong nomadic instinct of the ancient Celts as being inherited by the Gallegan people—and certainly the Irish Celts are addicted to emigration. As regards education—of the various provinces in Spain, Galicia can boast of having the best educated lower classes. Recently, when soldiers were being levied for the Spanish army, it was found that ninety per cent. of the Gallegans could read, that five per cent. could read but not write, and five could do neither; whereas in Castille, fifty per cent. could read and write, and{178} fifty could do neither; and in Andalusia only ten per cent. could read and write, while ninety could do neither.

Yet almost every writer on Galicia from Strabo onward speaks of the stupidity of its inhabitants! Yes, the idea that the Gallegans are a stupid people is quite classic. “The Romans,” says Señor Eladio Oviedo, “thought them stupid because they would not submit, and were the stubbornest of all the barbarians that Rome attempted to conquer. Even Lope de Vega repeated this classic error—and we have it direct from the classic writers of the sixteenth century.” Aguiar indignantly refutes the belief, which was very widespread all over Spain in his day. He is indignant with Morales for saying that one reason why the body of St. James was lost for seven hundred years was the crass stupidity of the Gallegans—calling it an atrocious insult, and remarking that the page in question ought to be publicly burned.

Aguiar relates the following story which was current all over Spain in 1836, as an example of Gallegan dulness. “A sick man died, and the doctor who had been attending him having pronounced him to be dead, he was carried by his comrades in an open coffin to the cemetery. On the way the corpse moved and showed unmistakable signs of life, then, to the astonishment of the coffin bearers, sat up and cried, ‘Good heavens, where on earth are you taking me?’

“ ‘To the cemetery,’ replied his friends.

“ ‘But if I am not dead?’ cried the poor fellow.

“ ‘You must be dead, because the doctor says so,’ was the reply, and on went the procession.”

There appeared in the year 1902 a little book on the subject of Gallegan emigration by Señor Valdes Failde, with a preface by Don Antonio Cerviño, a Canon of Tuy, whose acquaintance I made during my stay in that town. Both these gentlemen are confident that the emigration which is going on is seriously debilitating the country, and if not checked will be disastrous for the State. “Galicia,” says Cerviño, “is losing every year the healthiest and most robust of her children.”

The sad spectacle which so many of the Gallegan villages offer to those who see below the surface, and have an eye to the future, is indeed a sad one. The fields are worked by women, the carts are driven by women, the seed is sown by women,—everything, in short, is done by women. But where are the men? They have gone to seek their fortunes on the other side of the Atlantic. Some say it is a spirit of adventure inherent in their Celtic blood which carries the men away;{179} others, we have seen, put it down to the density of the population. But if you ask the women, they will tell you, as they told me, that it is the multitude of taxes.

Certainly all these things have to do with the increase of emigration, but there are other causes which must also receive our consideration. The people do not know how to deal with what they have, they are wofully ignorant of the most elementary rules of agriculture, and they have no one to teach them. If Galicia were a province of Japan, it would soon have a thriving agricultural college in its midst, and the men, however poor, would have a chance of learning what they need so much to know. There would be a free library from which books could be borrowed by all who could read, and fresh hope and energy would stir the people’s minds.

Señor Failde complains of the absolute disunion of agriculture from the home industries, of the evil effect of usury, of the immorality of the people, and of the excessive division of territorial property. He suggests that usury might be suppressed by law, and urges that the taxes on food stuffs should be removed. He also wishes to see those heartless agents, who, to fill their own pockets, tempt the people to emigrate prosecuted and punished. Further, he would like to see wholesome literature that would show the people the evils of emigration widely distributed among them. This writer says that density of population is not one of the causes of Gallegan emigration, for the population of Galicia is not dense: this he proceeds to prove by statistics. Finally he tells us that we shall find in a volume of poems by Rosalia Castro, called Follas Novas, a masterly study of the principal causes of Gallegan emigration.

The potato disease in 1845 led to the emigration of a million Irish to the United States within the space of five years. Potatoes are also a staple food in Galicia. Yet when they were first introduced, the people, in their ignorance, refused point blank to grow them. There is hardly a family in Galicia, however poor, that does not possess at least one cow. When the animal begins to grow old they fatten it with maize and potatoes, and sell it to the butcher. The extreme humidity of the climate produces such abundant pasture that the keep of cattle amounts to very little. The people of Galicia have been cattle breeders from time immemorial,—in fact, this was until the last century the popular industry of the province, and many hundred head of cattle were annually exported from Coruña to London. The Count of Campomanes, in a lecture on the subject in the thirties of last century,{180} spoke of the Gallegans as model cattle breeders.[196] Why has this industry died out? Failde attributes its decline to the fact that the United States now export such fabulous quantities of fresh, salted, and tinned meat into Great Britain, and sell them at the lowest possible prices, that British industries of that class are no longer a paying concern. It is more than probable that if the British Government were to put a small tax on all American imports of that nature, England would again preserve her own beef, and be glad once more to trade in live cattle with Galicia. Why should Chicago workmen pickle beef for English tables, while Englishmen parade our streets for want of employment, and Gallegan cattle breeders emigrate to South America to evade starvation? Portugal has recently put a prohibitive tax of fourteen pesetas per head on all cattle imported into that country from Spain, and a period of renewed depression has resulted in Galicia, for even half that sum would exclude the poor Gallegan peasants from the market.

In central Galicia it is customary for all the peasants to breed mules. At the age of a year and a half they used, formerly, to sell the female for about 12,000 reals, and the male for half that price. But mules are now being introduced from France, and they are also being extensively bred in Andalusia and Estremadura, so that this industry has been killed in Galicia.

The long rains of this most rainy province impose long hours of idleness on peasant labourers, and Señor Failde suggests that these hours might be usefully and beneficially employed in factories, but there are none: there are practically no factories in Galicia beyond a few small ones for salting fish and tanning leather. The land being divided into very small holdings, numerous families are out of work half the year, and the products of their other half-year’s work stagnates for want of proper roads and means of transport to favourable markets. Many of the peasants actually feed their pigs with milk, when they might be making butter to rival that of Holland, Switzerland, or Denmark!

Galicia is a province peculiarly adapted to the cultivation of the vine, but each peasant makes his own wine from his own grapes, and there is no wine-making industry. Beetroot grows there to perfection, but there are no sugar factories. Salmon trout are so plentiful in many parts that they are almost given away, and cartloads of sardines are used by the peasants as manure for their fields.{181}

A close union of agriculture and industrial labour would, in the opinion of Señor Failde, form a solution to the whole problem of Gallegan emigration. This is not a new suggestion; Le Play put it forward long ago in his study of the working classes of Europe.

Señor Failde has a sorry tale to unfold as to the immorality of Gallegan peasants, but I have heard equally serious allegations brought against the Presbyterian crofters of western Scotland by people dwelling among them. Illegitimate births are, we hear, on the increase in Galicia. Señor Failde assures us that quite fifty per cent of the young men who emigrate from Galicia to South America are illegitimate children, and youths who go to hide their dishonour beyond the sea. The village festivals and country fairs are centres of corruption, however poetically they may present themselves to foreigners.

Usury is almost as rampant among the Gallegans as it is among the peasants of Russia, and it hides itself under the most varied forms. Not only does this evil despoil the poor at home, it even accompanies them in their emigration, for the very agents who make a living out of enticing the wretched fellows to embark are usurers of the worst kind; their agents make special efforts to persuade those who are liable to military service to escape the duty that their country imposes upon them, because they know that for every man persuaded to emigrate they will be well remunerated.{182}



A sweet singer—A drop of Galicia’s life-blood—Rosalia’s lyrics—Home-sickness—Cantares GallegasFollas Novas—The ancient Britons—A star of the first magnitude—The outpourings of a poetic soul—A harp of two strings—Why the poetry of Galicia cannot be translated—Rosalia’s remains transferred to Santo Domingo—The procession—The poetry of Galicia

GALICIA has had many sweet singers since the “days of Macìas, the poet of true love, but none have poured forth a more moving or a more plaintive song than Rosalia Castro. This poetess loved her beautiful Galicia with a passionate love that could not be surpassed. Her tender woman’s heart ached with the pain of her country’s ever-bleeding wound, and she realised only too well that every bright and promising youth who left those shores to seek his fortune in a distant land represented a drop of Galicia’s life-blood. She wept for the old people whose children were torn from them in the first bloom of their manhood; she sorrowed for the lonely young wife left behind, and for the helpless babe that never knew its father; tears filled her eyes at the sight of those luxuriant hills and valleys with no peasants to cultivate their rich and fertile soil—

“Now this one goes, then that one,
And all, all will go;
Galicia is left without a man
Her fruitful fields to plough.
Her little ones are orphans,
Her valleys desolate;
Her mothers mourn their children gone,
Her fathers emigrate.
True hearts are worn with waiting
Through long and weary years;
Widow and wife together weep,
And none can dry their tears.”

A strain of exalted sadness runs through all the poetry of Rosalia Castro, and its nature is essentially elegiac.{183} Rosalia suffers with those who are afflicted, and speaks for those who are dumb. Rich and poor alike repeat her verses to express their deepest and most tender thoughts; there is not a Gallegan who does not quote her, not a peasant girl who does not love her name. All Galicia’s sorrows find an echo in her poems, and her sorrow of sorrows, the pain of parting, the anguish of absence, the throb of home-sickness—the sorrow of emigration, is felt in almost every line.[197]

Rosalia’s lyrics are sweet and simple idyls of Galicia’s pastoral life. As we read them we wander among the green valleys and beside the clear waters of her myriad brooks; we hear the singing of the wooden cart wheels in the country lanes, and feel the humidity of the mist-laden air. We rejoice with her in the warm spring sunshine, and when the summer comes we share with her the aroma of the abundant fruits and flowers; we hear the peasant boy singing to the accompaniment of his beloved gaita; we watch the white sails of the boats as they glide upon the calm blue surface of her glorious rias; we see the ocean foam dash mountain high against her rocky coast, and through all we feel the throbbing presence of Galicia’s pain and sorrow.

The beautiful hills and valleys of Galicia inspire her children with such a wild and passionate love of home as I have never met with elsewhere. Emigrants from all countries suffer more or less from home-sickness, but it is only the emigrants of Galicia who die of it. Yes, many and many a Gallegan peasant has died of sadness because he could not return to his native land. This home-sickness is a real malady, it has a special name in the Gallegan language; it is called morriña.[198] It is not surprising, then, that Galicia’s sons far away in Cuba should have collected money to raise a monument to the memory of a poetess who expressed their woes with such idyllic sweetness, and in the melodious dialect of their dear native province that they had learned as children at their mother’s knee. And this fervent appreciation of the poetess is no mere local cult; it goes wherever a Gallegan goes, it accompanies the emigrants as they embark for other shores, and the name of Rosalia Castro is honoured wherever Gallegans are to be found.

Rosalia Castro was brought up at Padron, and it was there that she breathed her last; a tablet on the house that she lived in bears the date of her death, 15th July 1885. Her earliest work, and perhaps her best, was a small volume of{184} popular poems entitled Cantares Gallegas: she also wrote a book entitled As Viudas d’os vivos e as viudas d’os mortos (“The Widows of the Living and the Widows of the Dead”). Rosalia began to write poetry at the age of eleven. At the age of twenty she was married to Señor Murguia. Her death occurred in her forty-eighth year. She published several novels, and wrote a great deal more poetry than was ever published, but before her death she expressed a wish that all her unpublished writings might be burned—and her friends respected this wish.

Follas Novas is perhaps her most popular volume; it consists of a collection of short lyrics. I tried hard to buy a copy, but it has long been out of print, and was not to be had even in Madrid. Failde[199] relates that a man who possessed a copy, being asked to sell it, replied that he would not part with it for its weight in gold. The only one of Rosalia’s books which reached a second edition is her first, Cantares Gallegas, but that, too, is now out of print. Both of these volumes were, however, lent to me during my stay in Galicia, and from them I copied a few of the lyrics that pleased me most.

So well are the Cantares known in Galicia, that every one of them has become a part of the folklore of the province. “We hear them sung,” writes Failde, “in the most lonely villages on the most distant heights, and in the largest towns.” Yet Rosalia was not Galicia’s only poetess; contemporary with her were Sofia Casanova, who is still living, Narcisa Perez de Reoyo, “whose life was that of a flower,” Avelina Valladares, and Filomena Dato Muruáis, whose acquaintance I had the pleasure of making during my visit to Orense.

Failde speaks of Rosalia as “an Æolian harp made of Celtic oak,” and “Galicia’s nightingale,” and he tells us in his little biography of the poetess that she was a model daughter, wife, and mother. She came of an old and noble Gallegan family, a family that had already produced many poets. Rosalia was born at Santiago on 21st February 1837. She was always “very delicate,” and the greater part of her life was a martyrdom through ill-health. In some of her poems she complains of the damp and cold of the long Santiago winters.

Rosalia’s poems are not in sympathy with the socialistic agrarianism that is spreading so fast in Andalusia; she liked to think that there was not a family in Galicia, however poor, that did not possess its own home and its own bit of land.

“Miña cariña, meu lar,”


were words breathed from her very soul, and we English can translate them by our own equivalent—

“Home, sweet, sweet home.”

Thierry said of the Ancient Britons that they lived upon poetry, and their poets had but one theme, the destiny of their country, its sorrows and its hopes. The Gallegans come of the same Celtic stock, and their love of poetry and their passion for home are quite as intense. “A Gallegan sticks to his native land,” says Failde, “like meat to the bone.”

Rosalia’s poetry, though full of majestic sadness, is by no means pessimistic; she is full of Christian resignation, but she is not devoid of Christian hope. “Rosalia,” wrote Emilio Castelar, “by her Gallegan lyrics has become a star of the first magnitude in the vast horizon of Spanish art.” There is nothing more tender or more full of feeling to be found in Spanish poetry than her lyric, “Padron, Padron.” One of the most striking characteristics of this poetess was her insight into the relationship between the exterior and the interior world. To her the earthly horizon was an emblem of the horizon that spreads before the human mind, the light of the stars spoke to her of the light of the eyes; a shower of rain reminded her of human tears, electricity in the clouds brought to her poetic mind the electric current of human sympathy. Nature spoke to her, and she listened. There is no effort about her verses; they are the outpourings of a poetic soul, candid and pure and simple and sparkling as the limpid waters of her native streams. “I have only had a village education,” she says naïvely in one of her prefaces, and in another she says, “We women are like a harp with only two strings, imagination and sentiment”;[200] and she adds that if a woman touches science she impregnates it with her innate debility.(!!) Rosalia writes because she cannot help writing; she is like a musical instrument that sounds because the strings are touched.

“Aimer, prier, chanter, voilá’ toute sa vie ...”

As de Voguë said of the Russian poets, “Les poetes Russes no sont et ne seront jamais traduits,” so it is with the poetry of Galicia. Both the Russian and the Gallegan are full of sweet and tender and untranslatable diminutives infinitely musical and vividly expressive.[201] When we try to interpret{186} them into a foreign tongue their music dies and their soul evaporates, leaving nothing behind but a dry husk of words.

Here is one of Rosalia’s shorter lyrics:

“Un-ha vez tiven un cravo
Cravande ne corazon
Y eu non m’acordo ẍa s’era aquel cravo,
D’ouro, de ferro, ou d’amor
Soyo sei que me fiẍo un mal tan fondo,
Que tanto m’atormentou
Qu’ eu dia e noite sin cesar choraba
Cal chorou Madanela n’a pasion.
—Señor, que todo o’ podedes,
Pedinele un-ha vez á Dios,
Daime valor par’ arrincar d’ un golpe
Cravo de tal condicion
E doumo Dios e arrinqueino,
Mais ... quen pensara?... Despois
Ẍ non sentin mais tormentos
Nis soupen soupen qu’ era dolor
Soupen sô, que non sei que me faltaba
En donde o cravo faltou,
E seica, seica tivan soidades
D’aquela pena.... Bon Dios!
Este barro mortal qu envolve o esprito
Que-o entendera, Señor?”

I have translated it as literally as possible for those of my readers who may not be able to read the original—

“A nail had once been driven
Into my very heart;
But whether of gold, or iron, or love?—
I only remember its smart.
I only know the anguish
And the torment that it gave:
All day, all night, it made me weep,
Like Mary at the grave.
‘My God!’ I cried, ‘give courage
That I may tear away
That cruel nail.’ My prayer was heard,
I tore it out that day.
But oh, who will believe me?
I did not know ’twas pain;
I felt an aching, aching void,
And a longing to have it again!
What? Was I really yearning
For the anguish I had lost?
Good God! Who understands it—
Our spirit’s mortal crust!”


On 25th May 1891, the earthly remains of Rosalia Castro were transferred to the church of Santo Domingo, “the Gallegan Pantheon.” The whole town of Santiago took part in the ceremony, and a procession followed the bier,—a procession in which all the societies, the university, the colleges, the professors, the students, the employers of the telegraph, of the banks,—in fact everybody took part. Long rows of children bearing lighted candles preceded the hearse, which was followed by men bearing the standards of Galicia; Cuba was also represented.

All the shops were shut, and the whole town presented an appearance of mourning. The townspeople walked two and two in perfect silence from the station outside the town to the entrance of the church, drawing up before the steps of the university, where a local orator gave a short address, upon the close of which a student recited one of Rosalia’s poems to the listening multitude. Then the students showered a rain of laurel wreaths upon the coffin, while the musicians played Shadello’s “Pieta Signor,” and tears flowed on every side.

As the procession arrived at the church of Santo Domingo, an unusual spectacle presented itself. The students of the university awaited with lighted torches the arrival of the bier, and carried it into the church upon their own shoulders. “I never saw anything more touching,” writes Failde, “than the sight of so many young faces streaming with tears, and I do not know whether those tears flowed more for their poetess or for their country.”

“Lugar mais hermoso
No mundo n’ hachara
Qu’ aquel de Galicia
Galicia encantada.”

It has been said that only those regions which have a peculiar and individual vitality can produce a literature of their own. The very fact that Galicia possessed—in the early Middle Ages—both prose and poetry composed and written in her particular dialect is a sign in itself that she was once full of life and energy. As we have seen in a previous chapter, the language of Galicia has justly been called the mother of Portuguese. “Great is the excellence of the Gallegan tongue,” wrote the Marquis of Figueroa,[202] “not only because it adapts itself so easily to poetic expression, but also on account of its great and noble past.” Galicia{188} is rich in legends, which, to the ignorant peasants, are gospel truths; she is rich in historic ruins; in every town the escutcheons on her houses tell of noble families that flourished in her midst. Once one of the most important and influential parts of the kingdom, she gave her language to the court, and it was through Galicia that the poetry of Provence passed into Castille and Portugal.[203] But after the fifteenth century, when her autonomy had been taken from her, and when she had sunk to the level of an abandoned and almost forgotten province, there was no vitality left in her, and the stream of her literature was dried. Her political decadence had brought with it literary decay. Her best families left her to settle in Madrid and the rising towns of Spain, and the interests of the province paled before those of the capital and the Court. Even her poets abandoned the language of Galicia in favour of that of Castille.[204]

For several centuries the poetry of Galicia lay as dead; there was practically no sign of life, and even her glorious past seemed to have sunk into oblivion. People even wondered, in the early years of the nineteenth century, how it could ever have come about that the trovadors of the Middle Ages should have chosen her archaic dialect for their medium. But there was a sudden and wonderful change a few years later. Galicia woke out of her long sleep; she had found a poetess in Rosalia Castro.

Rosalia’s sensitive and poetic mind was admirably adapted to interpret the beauties of Galicia; “her refined faculties surprise, by means of the secrets of language, the secrets of the soul.” Sometimes her verses are full of tender melancholy, at others they are penetrated with gentle irony, and now and again they reflect the innocent hilarity of childhood. As one of Rosalia’s own countrywomen has said, “If her tears are softened by smiles, her smiles in their turn are tempered by tears, and the one and the other are mingled to the sound of the gaita.”[205]

By virtue of her selection and her delicate talent, Rosalia purged the Gallegan tongue of certain prosaic vulgarities which her precursor, the Cura de Fruime, and one or two of that poet’s contemporaries, had allowed to creep into it, and so her name has come to stand as a symbol of the{189} renaissance of Galicia’s poetry, and she will always be regarded as the first poet to open a new era in the annals of her native province.[206] So far no other Gallegan poet of the nineteenth or twentieth centuries has approached Rosalia in individuality. Clear and distinct her poetic personality stands out from amongst all the rest; she has given the impulse, and others are already following in the path her genius has so clearly indicated, and a literary movement has been set on foot which may possibly terminate in a third Golden Age for Galicia.

Is it necessary for the complete nationalisation of France that the language of Provence should die? Is it indispensable for the welfare of Belgium that the Flemish tongue should disappear? Must Great Britain drive her Welshmen to Patagonia if she hears them speak the language of their fathers? No; a thousand times, no. It is base and cowardly to fear a language. Rather, it is the bounden duty of Civilisation to do all in her power to preserve every tongue which has produced a literature. If we destroy individuality, we weaken nationality at the same time. It was during the war with Napoleon that the Gallegan spirit began to awake once more. Local writers made great efforts in the year 1808 to arouse the dormant patriotism of their province;[207] it was in 1813 that a native of Galicia living in London published a pamphlet, “Os rogos d’un Gallago,” addressed to his Gallegan compatriots with the intention of stirring them to action. When Ferdinand came to the throne the awakening country fell back into its former apathy, and progress was once more at a standstill. When Maria Christina succeeded Ferdinand, the dry bones again began to stir; and more books appeared in the Gallegan dialect, but matters moved very slowly. It was not till the year 1863 that Rosalia Castro published her first volume of poetry, Cantares Gallegas.{190}



A walled city—Beautiful views—A Casa de Huespedes—Chocolate—Partridges and trout—Bearing the cold—Rainy months—Damp in the air—The university—The medical college—The modern university building—Treasures of the library—The most ancient writing preserved in Spain—The reading-room—The natural history museum—Government of the university—Pharmacy—Cases of accidental poisoning—Unruly students—Capilla de las Animas—The Alameda—Santa Susana—The finest view of Santiago—A church of refuge—San Felix de Solovio—The Plaza de Alonso XII.—The Pepys of Galicia—A bull fight—Fountains—Water-carriers—A Gallegan wedding—The Carnival—A superfluity of chimneys—The nuns of San Payo—The Convent of Santa Clara—A private museum—Señor Cicerons’ collection of coins—His valuable torques—The use of torques—The Dublin collection—Prehistoric gold jewellery—Iberian inscriptions

THE name of Santiago has been given to one of the judicial departments of the province of Coruña, which contains ninety-nine parishes, with a total population of nearly eighty-two thousand souls. The town of Santiago de Compostela has a population of about twenty-five thousand, just about half that of Coruña; it is still the seat of an archbishopric and a university town; it has never been without an archbishop since the year 1120. In the Middle Ages Santiago was a walled city, but the walls have almost entirely disappeared, and the houses now cover the hill and even spread down its steep slopes into the surrounding valley. As we have seen, the hill on which Santiago stands was covered with pine trees until the discovery of the Apostle’s tomb in the ninth century, and the cathedral, built upon the spot where the tomb was found, is practically the centre and heart of the town, which, as far as its situation is concerned, might well be called the Perugia of Spain. All round it are beautiful valleys, covered, summer and winter alike, with verdant green; and encircling the valleys are picturesque mountains, spurs of the Pyrenees, between whose peaks other vistas open out, so that on clear days the eye can travel as far as it will, over hill and dale, for many a mile. Like Perugia, Santiago has beautiful views on every side, and its air is mountain air. Here automobiles have preceded railways, just as in Siberia{191} railways have preceded roads. There is no railway between Coruña and Santiago, and until 1906 the only means of transport were hired carriages and a coach drawn by six horses. The coach does the journey in seven hours, but now there is a regular service of motor cars which take you there in less than four hours. The road, which passes through the little town of Ordenes, is good, and the scenery fine; it is practically uphill all the way, for Coruña is on the sea-level, while Santiago is perched on a hill at a height of 500 feet, and surrounded by mountains. In winter Santiago is many degrees colder than Coruña, while in summer it is very much cooler. Although the days of pilgrimages to the sepulchre of St. James are practically over, the hotels and boarding-houses are always full of Spanish travellers during the summer months.

We stayed at a Casa de Huespedes which was famed for its liberal table and good cooking, and where some forty students from the university and a number of commercial travellers sat down to dinner every day. The mistress of the house superintended the cooking, while the master himself waited on the guests. Every one was well cared for, and all were satisfied. I never heard a complaint during the three months that I was there. I am sorry to say that the good lady died a short time after our departure, at the early age of forty-two. For breakfast most of the guests took a small cup of boiling-hot chocolate, so thick that a spoon would stand up in it, and into this they dipped their bread or biscuit, finishing up with a glass of cold milk, which was always served with chocolate. A popular proverb referring to Santiago, says, “Where there are many canons, there is the best chocolate.” And Santiago is indeed famous for its chocolate.

During the months of January and February we dined and supped, at least five days out of seven, upon plump partridges and delicately flavoured trout. Both were cooked in oil, and the fish was invariably served after the meat, according to the Spanish custom. Local red wine was liberally supplied with every meal, and olla podrida took the place of the partridges on Fridays. Butter we never saw, except on one occasion when we had asked for that luxury. We took care not to repeat the request.

There are no fireplaces in the houses of Santiago. Sometimes, when snow was falling and it was freezing hard, the students would gather round a charcoal brazier while waiting for their dinner, but most of us, fearing the headachy effects{192} of charcoal fumes, kept away from them, contenting ourselves with foot warmers and double clothing. The amount of clothing one can bear in a stone house without a fire in the middle of January is wonderful. One lady told me she seldom went out in cold weather on account of the weight of her clothes. Spaniards bear cold very well, and I think they must be healthier than people who sit all the winter in heated rooms. The men are great smokers, and, as Ford remarked, more smoke issues from labial than from house chimneys.

January and February are rainy months as a rule, and as there is not much sun, the washerwomen do as little laundry work as possible till March, when they can spread their linen on the green hillsides and get it bleached to a spotless white by the strong sunshine. In early spring, mountain mists cover the town for days together, and at such times it is useless to hang anything out to dry, for the water refuses to evaporate. I tried for four days in succession to dry a hand towel, and found it damper on the fourth day than on the first, in spite of the fact that the sun shone brightly each day.

Santiago University draws students from all parts of Spain, but mostly from Galicia and the neighbouring provinces. The youths who come from Andalusia do little work and much talking. I found their gaiety quite entertaining, but a cynical Gallegan informed me that if you cut out their tongues there would be nothing left! The Basque students are very quiet, sober, and plodding, and their general character is much more reliable than that of the southerners: they are the Scotch of Spain.

The present University was founded in 1582 by Archbishop Fonseca, but, before that date, the town possessed several important colleges, chiefly for the study of theology and letters, and these institutions produced many noted men. Murguia reminds us that the two Bernardos and Don Pedro Muñez, named the nigromantico for his great learning, were all educated at the Colegiata de Sar, and that the Estudio Viejo was the real beginning of the University; it lacked only the Law Faculty. There are only three other universities in Spain that have a Faculty for Pharmacy, namely, Barcelona, Granada, and Madrid. The Faculties of Law and Medicine were not established at Santiago till the year 1648. In 1772, in consequence of reforms introduced in the reign of Charles III., the number of professors was raised to thirty-three, but this university has passed through many vicissitudes. Sanchez tells a woful tale of colleges opened and colleges closed.{193} “A few years ago,” he wrote, in 1885, “we had six Theological Faculties at Compostela, besides Philosophy, Letters, Sciences, Law, Medicine, and Pharmacy, but now, in spite of an imperative need for a fully-equipped centre of learning, our Faculties are reduced to three.”

The priests’ colleges wished at first to have the university under their control, but the lay professors objected, and there was a good deal of dispute, until at length the university shook itself free from the Church in 1769; its professors at that period were world-famed. Bedoza lectured there on Anatomy and Lorenzo Montes on Medicine.[208]

The Medical College of Fonseca, with its interesting Renaissance façade, was founded by Archbishop Fonseca in 1544, above the foundations of the house in which he was born. Its elegant Renaissance façade consists of two storeys with four handsome fluted columns; between the columns are Gothic statues, resting on brackets, and templetes (miniature temples). Between the lower and upper columns are six beautifully sculptured Gothic statues in arched niches, and beneath the central window of the upper storey is an escutcheon with the armorial bearings of the Fonseca family. The two lowest statues on either side of the entrance represent the Virgin and Child, and St. Maurus the hermit. Sanchez tells us that until about the middle of the nineteenth century a lamp burned in front of the former, and poor pilgrims were wont to deposit before the two statues ears of corn and other simple offerings. Passing through the doorway we find ourselves in a square vestibule with richly ribbed Gothic vaulting; the door to our right leads to a pretty little college chapel, with lofty Gothic vaulting. The reredos behind the chief altar has its niches filled with sculptured statues, all of unpainted chestnut wood. It is a beautiful old college, with a very fine cloister much after the style of our Oxford and Cambridge colleges of the same date, but which has now, like the whole interior, a dirty, abandoned appearance. A long inscription, stating by whom and when the college was built, runs round the cornice between the two storeys of the cloister; it begins on the western side, and concludes with the following hexameters:—

“Nunc magis atque magis Gallæcia fulget alumno,
Qui dedit hunc patriæ tantum generosus honorem.
Sanctius ipse Lupus propria de stirpe creatus,{194}
Ut musis gratum faceret, tenebrasque fulgaret,
Omnibus hoc breviter complevit amabile munus,
Quo populus merito, proceres et concio tota
Innumeras tanto grates pro lumine reddunt.”

For many years the spacious dining-hall, with the handsome carved ceiling, was used as a dissecting-room, but now that branch of study is carried on elsewhere, and the medical students do most of their work at the Hospital Real. Yet in spite of the absolutely neglected appearance of this college, the porter informed me that three hundred students work there every day. Over the general staircase there is a ceiling covered with mudijar work (stalactite woodwork), the only example of its kind in Santiago. Behind the building are some picturesque but neglected Botanical Gardens for the use of the students.

The modern university building, which was designed by José Machado, is entirely of granite, and looks very important with its sculptured pediment supported by four Ionic columns, and its triple flight of steps. It has three storeys and a handsome marble staircase, and a central patio in which there stands a great two-faced clock, on a pedestal so tall that it can only be reached by a long ladder, and is therefore seldom wound up and not to be trusted. On the ground floor there are six spacious and well-lighted lecture halls, but the finest thing in the University is its splendid Library of more than seventy thousand printed volumes and some six hundred manuscripts, many of them “the sweepings of convents.” The books are arranged in cases, with wire in place of glass, round a spacious reading-room that will accommodate a hundred readers. Over the entrance is written—

“Deum domus alma silescit.”

In glass cases, placed in the centre of the reading-room, are some highly-prized literary treasures; among which I saw a beautifully preserved Commentary on Dante’s Inferno, by Landino, published at Florence, and bearing the date 1485; also an illustrated volume published by Schectel and Hartmann at Nuremberg in 1493, and other fine specimens of early printing. I also saw and handled an illuminated Diurno or Book of Daily Prayer that had belonged to Ferdinand I., and bore the date 1055; in it I saw a miniature in which the copyist is presenting the book to the king and queen; all the capitals are illuminated, and all different. There is also some eleventh century musical notation in it,{195} the notes are represented by dots (pentagrammic) over the words, and without any lines. The book itself tells us that it was written by Pedro and painted by Fructuoso. In the opinion of M. Macìus Férotin,[209] this Diurno is the most precious document in the university of Compostela; its chronology, written in gold letters, fixes the chronology of the last three kings of Leon. Férotin thinks that the lines in honour of King Bermudo III. were dictated by the queen herself. Bermudo died in battle. Sanchez believed this treasure to have been among the “sweepings” of the monastery of San Martin Pinario. A beautifully bound volume of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, with an exquisitely stamped leather cover, was also shown to me. In another case I found what is said to be one of the oldest, if not the very oldest, specimens of handwriting in Spain—a bit of brown parchment about eight inches long and four deep, representing a bill of sale of a little village called Nogueira, near Lalin. The date on it is Era 826 (A.D. 788), and the language used is Latin: it is from the great monastery of Carboeiro, in the province of Pontevedra. Another document was shown to me bearing the date 1504, it was the last will and testament of Don Alfonso de Fonseca, the founder of the university. Another parchment bore the seal of Alfonso VII.; this was a charter conferring certain privileges on a monastery. There were also two manuscript Bibles of the fifteenth century, written and illuminated by monks of the neighbouring convents; the text was in Latin, the pages were like silk, and the colours wonderfully preserved.

The librarian, Señor B——, took me into his private room, adjoining the Library, to see the flag that was carried by the Santiago students, who, to the number of twelve thousand, formed themselves together into a volunteer battalion, and fell defending Galicia against the troops of Napoleon in 1808. The student chosen by his companions as their leader, Don José Ramon Rodil, became in later years both Minister of War and President of the Ministerial Council. In honour of his services, his country raised him to the rank of a marquis. Aguiar, writing in 1836, waxed eloquent over the heroes of Santiago university. “The University of Santiago,” he wrote, “has given us three Ministers for our Government, and four Generals for our Army, all from its battalion of student cadets who immortalised themselves in the defence of our country.” On another wall was the portrait of Don{196} Diego de Muros, and that of Filippo de Castro, a famous Gallegan sculptor of whom we shall have occasion to speak again later on. There was also a portrait of Emmanuel Bonaventuræ Figueroa, who founded the Library, and left estates the revenues of which were to be employed in starting all his descendants in life: if men, they are entitled to a university education or a share in some business; if women, to a dowry! What a fine old fellow he must have been. I hear that his estates have increased in value, and the librarian told me that quite poor people keep unexpectedly turning up and claiming relationship—even a nephew seven times removed can claim his share. Another portrait was that of Archbishop Fonseca, whose Will I had seen in the glass case.

The Reading Room is divided into two by a passage, and one half of it is reserved for distinguished readers who might not care to sit among the general public; the other is open to the students and to the public during the hours of daylight. The books round the walls are all arranged according to their size, in order to economise space; each volume is numbered, and by means of a corresponding card it may be easily found by the attendant. The method is similar to that adopted by our Geographical Society, boxes of cards taking the place of catalogue volumes. A subject catalogue is in course of preparation, and Señor B—— is determined that no pains shall be spared to make the Library one of the most perfect of its kind. Underneath the Reading Room is another room of the same size, also lined with books; its ceiling and bookcases are decorated with the white-and-gold Louis XVI. decorations that once adorned the monastic library of San Martin Pinario, and many of its most precious volumes have come from the same place; others were bequeathed by private collectors.

Every department of this university is being energetically overhauled and rearranged, so that it may be quite up to date, but a melancholy mistake made by the architect in planning the Natural History Museum cannot, unfortunately, be rectified. Wishing to give plenty of room for the cases containing stuffed animals, birds, and such like, he built it in a square, with an open space reaching from the ground floor to the roof of the building, and covered the walls with glass cases which could be reached by two spiral iron staircases, and a gallery running round on a level with each floor. The result is that the glass cases not immediately on a level with the galleries are utterly useless, for they cannot be reached without the help of a long ladder and a climb to{197} a dizzy height! The student who could study specimens under these difficulties must be endowed with considerable nerve. To walk round the top gallery and look down was enough to make me feel giddy. I found Professor Varela, a naturalist newly arrived from Madrid, busy rearranging the specimens. He was a comparative stranger to Galicia, and had a hard task before him. I pitied him for having such a stupidly constructed museum, and wondered how he would eventually utilise all those inaccessible glass cases. Professor Varela showed me a valuable collection of the many kinds of wood to be found in Galicia, but lamented over the ridiculous mistake that had been made in polishing and varnishing each block, instead of leaving them in their natural state. He also attracted my attention to an interesting collection of skulls from Mindanao, the largest of the Philippine Islands, which he was engaged in measuring. He had already discovered that they belonged to two distinct races: his measuring instrument was a simple compass, which he preferred to any of the recent inventions. He spoke of the wonderful influence that climate has upon the shape of the human skull, and of the short time it had taken for the skulls of Anglo-Saxons of North America to become quite different from that of the Anglo-Saxons in Britain. Professor Varela hopes eventually to devote a large section of his museum to local specimens.

The University of Santiago is under the management of a Rector and a General Secretary, assisted by thirty-eight professors and from forty to fifty assistant professors, all of whom have taken their Doctor’s degree at Madrid. In all the larger town there are Institutos or Grammar Schools, which take boys at the age of ten and prepare them for the university, which they enter at the age of seventeen. The official course lasts six years, but it is not obligatory. Those who pass the examination at the end of their six years become Licenciados, they then have to put in a year at the Madrid university if they wish to obtain their Doctor’s degree. The Academic year begins about October 9th, and ends about May 20th, this is called the Calendario. The vacations, including Sundays, Feast Days, and local Holidays, cover seventy days of the year. The Law Faculty has its own library of legal literature quite separate from the general library.

As I have said, Santiago is one of the four Spanish universities which have a Faculty for pharmacy. In Spain, all chemists, until 1907, had to be university men, and no{198} man, however thoroughly he might have studied his subject, was allowed to open a chemist’s shop and dispense medicines if he had not passed through the university. This arrangement had deplorable results, for chemists’ assistants and druggists who wished to open chemists’ shops on their own account took to bribing university men to allow their names to be put up above the shops. In such cases, if any one was accidentally poisoned through a mistake on the part of the dispenser, the university chemist whose name was over the shop had to bear all the responsibility. At length the Spanish public became alarmed at the idea that the men who dispensed for them would get off scot-free no matter how many people they poisoned, and as the result of a general agitation the Government issued a proclamation on 7th April 1907, that, in future, chemists’ assistants who had practised for a certain period, I think three years, should be eligible as candidates for a chemists’ diploma. This reform was a most necessary and rational one, and all the university chemists rejoiced that they would no longer be liable when their assistants poisoned their customers by mistake; but the silly young students looked at the matter from a different standpoint. Longing to find an excuse for a riot, they persuaded themselves that by allowing chemists’ assistants to gain diplomas without having passed through the university the Government had grievously insulted that venerable institution. Accordingly, at eleven o’clock in the morning they poured forth into the streets of Santiago in unruly crowds, hooting and shouting and leaping in the air. Drawn to my window by their hissing and hooting, I saw some two hundred of them pass down the street in the wildest state of excitement, while the townspeople watched them from their balconies and smiled at their folly.

Besides the important edifices to which I have devoted several of my earlier chapters, Santiago possesses a good many interesting churches, and is rich in convents for women, which also deserve a brief notice. The Capilla de Las Animas is a church dedicated to prayer for souls passing through purgatory; it was built towards the end of the eighteenth century, and is in the Greco-Roman style. Four tall Doric columns support its pediment, which is crowned with a cross and a statue of an adoring angel on either side. But the most striking thing about this façade is the alto-relief group of souls wrapt in purgatorial flames above the entrance. The interior of this church is lined with remarkable alto-relief, life-size, brightly painted wooden figures in{199} groups, representing the principal scenes connected with the Crucifixion. They are the work of Prado, a Gallegan sculptor. This church has always had immense attractions for pilgrims, both rich and poor. More masses are said there than in any church in the town except the Cathedral; they begin at five in winter and at four in summer. Close to the church is the Plaza de Cervantes, with a bust of the author of Don Quixote on a column above a fountain from which hundreds of women and girls come to fill their buckets every morning. To the east is the little church of San Benito, now considered to be the oldest in Santiago, which has recently been restored under the auspices of a clever archæologist.

Santiago has a pleasant Alameda lined with four rows of camellias and many fine trees. Here a band plays on fine afternoons, and here the ladies of the town, who seldom appear in the streets before four in the afternoon, may be seen sauntering under enormous hats. I had been three weeks in Santiago before I saw a woman in a hat, for the ladies who go to early Mass always appeared in black mantillas, and the poor women wore handkerchiefs. The Alameda winds round a hill planted with oak trees, in the centre of which stands a tiny church, Santa Susana. The original edifice was built by Gelmirez in 1105, and bore the name of Santo Sepulcro until the remains of Santa Susana were brought to Santiago from Braga three years later. Santa Susana is one of the patron saints of Santiago. Sanchez states that the present portico of the church is the one built by Gelmirez, and that some of the arches also date from his day; but as it was always closed when I tried to enter it I can give no opinion. The finest view obtainable of Santiago and its Cathedral is from this Alameda, and no visitor should miss it.

Another little church that interested me was that of Santa Maria Salomé, in the Rua Nueva, named after the Mother of St. James the Greater. As Sanchez has remarked, “its portico attracts the attention of intelligent persons”; it is a quaint, Romanesque portico, of which the central arch is Gothic, covering a part of the footway and forming a useful shelter to foot passengers on a rainy day. The arch above the entrance to the church is semicircular, and supported on two columns with richly sculptured capitals. The statue of the Virgin seated on a throne, with a crown on her head and the Child Jesus in her arms, is also worthy of attention. Just above it is a row of remarkable corbels. On either side of the entrance there are two quaint statues, one is the angel{200} Gabriel, and the other the Virgin receiving his message. In one of the triangles of the arch is the inscription Iglesia reservada para refugio. At one time all the churches of Santiago were churches of refuge, but in the eighteenth century an outcry was raised because they harboured too many criminals, and the result was that eventually only the church of Maria Salomé was allowed to be used as a refuge. In the present day the whole custom has been quite done away with. The church dates from the twelfth, and its portico from the end of the fifteenth century.

Another small church of considerable antiquity is that of San Felix de Solovio, or, as the Gallegans call it, San Fins de Lovio. Sanchez thought this edifice older than San Benito; in fact he speaks of it as the oldest church in Santiago. The truth is that it was built on the ruins of an older church of the same name, which had been reduced to ashes by Almanzor and his followers. The present edifice has a graceful entrance, with four Byzantine columns supporting its two arches, the interior of which is in the shape of a horse-shoe, while the outer one is semicircular and decorated with diminutive arches also of the horse-shoe form; the whole being a curious mixture of the Romanesque and the Arabic styles. In the church, in a niche in the southern nave, is a sculptured group representing the Adoration of the Magi, which, like the entrance, dates from the twelfth century; it is quite Byzantine. The whole building underwent restoration at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

I have already alluded to the fine Square called Plaza de Alonso XII., of which the façade of the Hospital Real and the Churrigueresque façade of the cathedral form two sides. Its other two sides are formed by the handsome Consistorio, which faces the Cathedral, and the façade of the Colegio de San Jerónimo. This last-named building dates from the first or second decade of the sixteenth century, and its striking façade is a mixture of the Romanesque and the Græco-Roman styles. At present the principal entrance is in the Calle del Franco, not far from that of the adjoining Colegio de Fonseca, and it is used as a normal school for boys, but it was formerly a college for poor students. An inscription on the southern wall of the Doric cloister tells us that in the year 1652 the ancient college of San Gerónimo (St. Jerome) was moved to this building. That was at the time when the monks of San Martin Pinario were buying up the buildings round their monastery in order that the latter might be enlarged.{201}

When Philip II. was negotiating with England for the hand of our Queen Mary, he awaited in Santiago the return of his ambassadors, and was entertained at the Hospital Real in the suite of rooms set apart for the reception of royalty. A curious account of Philip’s visit has just come to light in the pages of a diary kept by a village priest of that period. The document was accidentally discovered in a country rectory and handed to Dr. Eladio Oviedo, who, it is to be hoped, will shortly publish it, with valuable annotations. The writer, Amaro Gonzalez, was a cura of Carril, in Galicia, and his entries in his diary remind us of those of Pepys. “In the year of our Lord fifteen hundred and fifty-four,” he writes, “on the twenty-second of June, King Philip entered the city of Santiago....” and he goes on to tell how on the following day the whole company attended Mass in the Cathedral, and how, after dinner, they were entertained by a bull fight in the Plaza de Alonso XII., the King watching from one of the lower windows of the Hospital. Three days later the Royal party embarked at Coruña and set sail for England with a great fleet.[210] In an earlier entry he tells how “a corsair coming from England, under the command of Drake, did much damage,” which he says he cannot attempt to describe. “Drake came with seventy ships, I believe he wants to intercept the king’s ships that are coming with gold from America.” And later on he writes: “An Armada is being fitted out against Lutheran England and against that Lutheran —— Isabel” (our good Queen Bess!). The word he uses is too insulting to be translated. In another place he describes a very hard winter, followed by a remarkably cold summer, “so cold that in the hottest days of the year it was too cold to walk to church.” He adds naïvely that all the things he writes about happened in his own days, and, as it were, before his very eyes, and that he writes them down because (unlike Pepys) he thinks their perusal will give pleasure to those who come after him, and he begs the Rectors who succeed him to continue the diary, “because, as wise men have pointed out, written records keep the memory of the past fresh before us, and connect the days that are gone with the actual present.” In the year 1586 he records the arrival at the little town of Rianjo of an Irish bishop, “a man of about forty-five years of age, good looking,{202} and very devout, he came, on behalf of the Archbishop, to confirm and visit in his name, because the Archbishop of Santiago, Don Alonso Velazquez, had renounced his office on account of illness. The bishop confirmed many in these parts, both young and old; his name was Don Tomas (Thomas), he had fled from his Irish bishopric, in company with many others, through fear of the Lutherans.”

Santiago is particularly rich in fountains; we might almost say there is one at the end of every street, and as there is no other water supply, all the water used in the houses has to be fetched in buckets on the heads of women employed for the purpose. My hostess, having a large household, kept a servant whose whole duty consisted in fetching water from the fountain; during the winter she fetched about fifty buckets a day, but in hot summer weather she often fetches as many as seventy. The grace and ease with which these handsome girls balanced their buckets upon their heads, without the aid of their hands, called forth my unceasing admiration throughout my stay in Galicia. I never tired of watching them as they passed along the narrow, uneven, and badly paved streets, with their rapid and swinging gait; it was an art they had learned in their babyhood. Women going and coming from the market make use of their heads, where their husbands and brothers would of their shoulders. If a girl has the smallest parcel to carry, up it goes to her head, and her hands are left free. It would be difficult for me to say what movables I have not seen upon the head of a Gallegan woman. I have seen there every object imaginable, from a table to a child’s coffin. When a fire breaks out in a Gallegan town, the women water-carriers are among the first on the scene. There was a fire at Pontevedra a few days before my arrival there, and it was entirely due to the energy and spirit of the water-carriers that half of the burning house was saved, and the fire prevented from spreading; these girls, as my friends who looked on afterwards related to me, not only fetched water in their buckets, but poured it on the flames like veritable firemen.

In February a party of well-to-do Gallegan peasants came to stay for a few days at our Casa de Huespedes, in order that a wedding, which was to take place between their two families, might be celebrated in the Cathedral. The wedding took place on a Sunday, and I gladly accepted an invitation to be present at the ceremony. The whole party walked to the church, the streets in that part being too narrow for carriages. The bride, who wore her hair in a simple plait{203} down her back, as is customary in Galicia, was neatly dressed in black, with a simple blue silk handkerchief over her head; her sisters wore coloured dresses and blue handkerchiefs. It is the custom throughout Spain for women of the better classes to wear black on most important occasions, secular as well as religious, but among the upper classes a bride is usually dressed in white as in other European countries. The bridegroom had on a neat black suit and brown shoes. It was a very simple ceremony, performed in a small side chapel. When the priest had asked the consent, first of the woman and then of the man, the couple exchanged rings. As the bridegroom handed his ring to the bride the priest passed him a tray on which were piled thirteen[211] silver dollars, and motioned to him to hand that also to the bride. The priest then told the bride to wrap the coins in her handkerchief and put them in her pocket, which she did. The whole service was much shorter than it is with us. After it was over the wedding party joined in the Mass which was being said in one of the larger chapels, and then returned to partake of the wedding breakfast.

During the carnival a band of musicians paraded the town in garments of many colours, decked out with streaming ribbons; and in spite of pelting rain a large crowd of men, women, and children followed them, mostly under umbrellas. People came in from all the neighbouring villages, and among them were peasants wearing straw hats and capes, capas de junco, which I have described elsewhere as very like those that are worn by Japanese peasants who work during rainy weather in the rice-fields.

My windows looked out upon the high and sombre wall which enclosed the women’s convent of San Payo. Curious to see beyond that wall, I ascended into the attics and looked down upon it from the highest window in the house, but even then I could see nothing but the garden wall, a foot and a half in breadth. San Payo was originally a monastery founded by King Castro on the occasion of his pilgrimage to the tomb of St. James in 813, and dedicated to St. Peter. As it faced the altar of the cathedral it received the name of San Pedro de Autealtares. Its first inmates were the holy Abbot Ildefrede and his monks, to whom had been entrusted the care of the Apostle’s sepulchre. St. Pedro de Mozonzo was its Abbot between 974 and 988, and for several centuries after that its{204} abbots and monks were honoured and respected all over Galicia. The present building dates from the last years of the seventeenth century; its church was consecrated in the year 1707. Sanchez devotes pages to a description of the interior of this edifice, and of the marble ara supposed to have stood upon the original sepulchre of St. James, but the convent itself, which now encloses women, interested me far more. From the attic window I had noted its superfluity of chimneys, and I afterwards learned that when the building became a nunnery it was inhabited by nuns from rich families, and that each had her own servant and her own kitchen, until the archbishop, looking into the matter, decided that one kitchen ought to be enough for them all, and that the nuns ought to wait upon themselves. I was allowed to enter the great door, and ascend the broad flight of steps to the wooden window where visitors are allowed on certain days to speak with, but not to see, the nuns, and on the landing I met the priest whose duty it was to minister to their spiritual wants. After a little conversation, I asked him how the nuns who had grown old in the convent managed without servants. He smiled at my question, and replied that the younger nuns waited on the older ones and did the housework for them. “But,” I persisted, “they must all grow old in time?” To which he answered that new ones were continually entering the convent and taking the place of the old ones. Only three men ever enter those doors, the priest, the sacristan of the conventual church, and the carpenter who nails the dead nuns into their coffins and carries them out. There is a legend among the townspeople to the effect that, a long time ago, one of the more youthful of the nuns, getting heartily tired of her life of seclusion within those gloomy walls, let herself down, by a rope made of twisted sheets, from one of the windows into the Quintana, or what is now the Plaza de los Literarios, intending to escape with a lover who had won her heart before she had taken the veil; but she inadvertently hung herself, and remained suspended till her corpse was discovered the following day. I often thought of that story when I looked up at those high, prison-like windows, and also of the report that there must be rats in the disused kitchens “as large as men.” At six o’clock every evening I used to hear the bells of St. Payo (or Pelayo) summoning the nuns to Mass, and so close they sounded it seemed almost as if they were pealing for me as well.

Santiago is rich in fortress-like convents for women. On the road to Coruña, in a street of the same name, is situated{205} the convent of Santa Clara, founded in 1260 by Queen Violante, the wife of Alfonso el Sabio (the royal trovador), but its present construction only dates from the latter years of the sixteenth century, and the façade of its church is the work of the eighteenth century, and extremely ugly. In this church there is an elegant Gothic pulpit, which attracts the attention of visitors, and the tomb of the Abbess Isabel of Granada, who is reputed to have been a granddaughter of the Moorish warrior Boabdil, the last Mohammedan king of Granada. There is another theory to the effect that she was a granddaughter of Abul Hasan Ali, whose son Naser (her father) entered the Catholic Church, and received the baptismal name of Juan de Granada.

Opposite the convent of Santa Clara is the convent of (barefooted) Carmelite Nuns, established in the eighteenth century; it has a large church called La Virgen del Carmen. Close by is the Hospital de San Roque, established in 1577 for the treatment of venereal diseases; it has attached to it a modern penitentiary. The hospital was rebuilt in 1818 with funds bequeathed for the purpose by a wealthy merchant of Villagarcia. Patients come to this hospital from all parts of the province.

Santiago possesses a very small Archæological Museum in the Sociedad Economica, or School of Art, which is a modern building in the street of San Clements, facing the Alameda. Here are stored some old statues thought to have once decorated the original façades of the cathedral, one of which represents King David, and is brightly coloured. Here also is preserved the great statue of Minerva, which once stood above the columns of the university façade.

Remembering the valuable and interesting private museums I had discovered in some of the remotest of the Russian towns, I inquired if there were no private collections in Santiago. “Yes, we have one,” was the reply, “it is in the house of Señor Ricardo Blanco Ciceron”; and through the kindness of Señor Cabeza Leon I soon received an invitation from Señor Ciceron to inspect the treasures which he had gathered together during some forty years. Señor Ciceron is a wealthy Santiago merchant, his comfortable house is filled with antique furniture and other objêts d’art, but besides these he has a couple of rooms filled with curios of every description and of every period of Galicia’s history. Here I saw some fine specimens of Roman mosaic, Roman pottery, and Roman metal work. I was struck with a beautifully preserved glass vase, which had been discovered in a brick-tomb three feet{206} beneath the surface of the ground, by railway navvies, near Astorga. But the real value of this museum lies in the collections of ancient coins, and the collection of torques. Among the coins I saw a great many Phœnician, and a still larger number of Visigothic coins (very small, and as thin as wafers). Numismatologists tell us it is an ascertained fact that the Carthaginians did not begin to mint for themselves until three or four years later than their Greek neighbours.[212] Dr. Macdonald remarks that among the ancients themselves there was a difference of opinion as to where the first coins were struck. Herodotus thought that the Lydians were the first people to strike and use gold and silver coins. There seems to be no proof that they were in circulation earlier than 700 B.C.[213] Before the introduction of a metallic standard the universal unit of value was the ox, and it is the opinion of some students that when the primitive system of currency was superseded by a metallic one, a picture of the article that had formerly served as money was very naturally impressed upon the coins. There have been found in Galicia a number of coins with an ox or other animal represented.

Among the Celtiberic coins I noticed one on which was depicted a man on a galloping horse; on its reverse was the head of a man wearing a helmet. There were also a goodly number of Roman coins from the time of Augustus to that of Nero. All these had been coined at Rome, but we have already seen that several of the Roman colonies in Galicia were permitted to strike their own money until about the middle of the first century A.D., when the privilege was withdrawn both from Gaul and Spain.

It seems very probable that long before coins were current in Galicia the natives used their jewellery as money. Señor Ciceron is the happy possessor of the finest collection of golden torques in existence, and every one of these was dug up in Galicia. Their great weight, and the purity of their metal, indicate that they were used for more purposes than that of ornament alone.

There are eleven torques in Señor Ciceron’s unique collection, and eight of them are of gold. That gentleman assured me that he might have had many more had the little shepherd boys who stumble across them in the neighbouring hills better understood their value. Some think that these torques{207} date from the days of the ancient Iberians, and that they were worn as necklaces by the chiefs of tribes. But their great weight and their enormous size make me somewhat doubtful of this theory. Some of them have been pronounced by Señor Villa-Amil to be very like the Gallo-Roman specimens in the Louvre collection. Those in the Dublin Museum are much thinner, and altogether less massive. The two in the Kunsthistorisches Museum at Vienna are yoke-shaped, they are laid one inside the other; both are silver bordered. It is curious that the ancient Irish should have had torques of gold so similar to those that are now being found in Galicia. Joyce tells us that in a legend in the Book of Leinster, Credrie, the great artificer, was drowned while bringing golden ore from Spain; and a poem in the same book speaks of “torques of gold from foreign lands.”

Geraldus reported in the thirteenth century that the Irish were too idle to work their own gold mines. “Even gold, of which they require large quantities, and which they desire so eagerly as to indicate their Spanish origin, is brought hither by merchants.”[214] Torcs or Muntorcs (necktorcs) seem to have been much in vogue with the ancient Irish; they were often mentioned in their literature. Joyce describes them thus: “The torque was formed of a single square or triangular bar of gold, from which the metal had been hollowed out along the flat sides, so as to leave four or three ribbons along the corners, after which it was twisted into a spiral shape, something like a screw with four or three threads. There is one in the museum only half made, having three leaves or ribbons the whole length untwisted....” This writer says of those in the Dublin Museum, that some are barely the size of the neck, others so large that when worn they extended over the breast almost to the shoulders, and he reminds his readers that the Dying Gladiator has a torque round his neck (a fact first noticed, he says, by Robert Ball, LL.D.).

In various documents of the Middle Ages, preserved in the archives of Santiago, mention is made of certain gifts made by Royal personages to the Cathedral under the name of limace or lunace. These objects were usually of gold, and of great value; sometimes they were studded with pearls and{208} precious stones.[215] Señor Villa-Amil pointed this out to me when I was in Madrid in the spring of 1907, and said that possibly these objects, of which all trace seems to have disappeared, were nothing more nor less than torques. Now I find that besides their torques the Irish had golden crescents, or neck-circlets, which they called munices, and Mr. Joyce says that the word seems to have applied to almost every kind of neck ornament; he describes three main types, and gives illustrations of them, adding that Sir W. Wilde thought some of them must have been diadems, to be worn on the head. The definition of the word torque given by Chambers is “a necklace of metal rings interlaced,” and there is no doubt that the word is derived from the Latin torqueo, to twist. Some of those in Señor Ciceron’s collection are like thick cord twisted into a rope, but others are not twisted at all. Señor Villa-Amil has recently been engaged in writing a very full and learned description of all the torque collections in Spain, and he begins with the remark that Señor Ciceron’s collection, taken together with those of the late Señor Arteago, his own, and those of the Archæological and Historical Museums of Madrid, would form the finest collection of torques in the world. Many of the objects labelled as torques in the museums are not torques. Señor Villa-Amil has seen eight gold ones in the museum at Toulouse, but not one of them can be compared to those he has mentioned; they look more like work of Louis XIV.’s time.

Besides his torques, Señor Ciceron has a most valuable collection of prehistoric gold jewellery, amongst which I saw a deep neckband of solid gold, some gold beads on a gold thread, a spiral ring, and a wide bracelet which has no join in it, and must have been hammered out of a solid lump of the precious metal; experts who have examined it say that is the only way in which it could have been made. Another curious object was a necklace formed of hand-made gold fillets, which Señor Ciceron had bought of some peasants who had found it in the sand of the River Sil, which has been known to contain grains of gold since the days of Strabo. Señor Ciceron informed me that he had recently received letters both from England and America asking if he would{209} be willing to sell his unique collection, and although he had no intention of parting with his treasures at the time of my visit, I think it is more than likely that the torques, at least, will eventually find their way to the United States.

Amongst other things I saw in this museum were some gold signet rings with Iberian characters, two very ancient bronze statues, a Mercury; a Hercules excavated in Galicia; and about twenty sharp bronze hatchets; also a number of stone arrow-heads. Every age is represented in that little museum. I was shown Greek crosses; Byzantine pictures; some Limoges vessels (enamelled) of the sixteenth century; a splendid collection of French Imperial medals, and a watch made entirely of wood, from Lugo.

After we had seen everything indoors, Señor Ciceron took me out into his garden to see some statues that had formed part of one of the original façades of the Cathedral. He had saved them from some rubbish heap, and used them to ornament his garden wall.

Note.—I have been obliged, from lack of space, to omit two chapters describing the monasteries of San Martin Pinario, San Lorenzo, San Francisco, and Santo Domingo—four remarkable relics of the Middle Ages which no visitor to Santiago should fail to see.—Author.




The pig market—Pigs in every family—Laws relating to pigs and goats—Poultry—Oxen—The ancient plough—Gallegan carts—The music of the cartwheels—Excellent milk—No dairy farms—Horses—Wolves—Foxes—Bears—Hares—Rabbits—Owls and bats—Musk-rats—Wild cats—Partridges—Pheasants—Pigeons—Facts about sardines—Neither a mackerel nor a herring—Dried cod—Trade between Norway and Spain—A heated controversy—The Lamprey—The turbot—The oyster—Eels—Cod—Salmon—Red mullet—Trout

ONE of the most entertaining sights in Santiago is its weekly pig market in the Alameda. Every Thursday morning, women and boys may be seen wending their way thither, each with a young pig in their arms, or—if it is too big to carry—on a string. Every pig so conveyed is a member of some peasant family; it has grown up amongst the children, and often slept in the same room. By eleven o’clock most of the pigs have arrived, and the space allotted to them presents a lively spectacle: a fearful squeaking and squealing prevails. Proud mother pigs stand surrounded by enormous litters. I photographed a group of thirty little squeakers, all wedged tightly together back to back, and then measured a parent pig with my umbrella. Gallegan pigs are not well bred; their legs are far too long, the backs of several were exactly the height of my umbrella, they were like plants that had run to seed, not fat and round like the English commodity. The Gallegan pig is a melancholy example of the crass ignorance of the peasants; they invariably kill off those that would make the best breeders, and vice versa. English pigs have, however, been occasionally imported. On the road to Coruña I once pointed to a group of pigs, and asked the woman to whom they belonged what she called them. “Cerdos,” she replied; “but in your country you call them Chinas.” She knew something about English pigs, and the word she had got hold of was our word “Chine,” and corresponded to “porker.” On another occasion I happened to make a{211} remark to the municipal architect on Santiago’s wealth of pigs.

“This abundance of pigs is a peculiarity of Santiago,” was the reply. “You will find it nowhere else; they live amongst us, even in our best streets; there are two pigs living now in a family on the second floor in the principal street in the town close to our finest shops; a thin partition is all that separates them at night from the children’s bedroom. Our streets are full of pigs; it is dreadful.”

On my mentioning the matter to my hostess, she replied, “Yes, it is quite true; but we have other animals besides pigs—on the second floor of the house you can see from your window there are two young goats being brought up as members of the family.”

But pigs and goats must have been plentiful in the town of Orense as far back as the first decade of the sixteenth century, for one of that city’s most erudite archæologists tells us that among the By-Laws of Orense in the year 1509 he has found the following:—

“That pigs shall not walk in the streets, and that those which are found doing so shall be given to the poor, and their owners be fined.

“That no one shall keep a female pig in his house, nor in the city. That no one shall feed any pig in the streets, and that any one may put to death on the spot persons so doing.

“That no person shall keep sheep or goats in the city. Persons found guilty shall be exposed to the vengeance of the public in the picota or pelouryno of the city.”[216]

The churches of villages and small towns are carefully surrounded by walls or fences, enclosing sometimes a churchyard and sometimes merely a small plot of grass; and, in order that the pigs of the neighbourhood may not enter that enclosed space by the gate, a trench is kept open in front of the gate, a kind of diminutive moat about five feet in depth. On first noticing this arrangement I put it down to quite another cause, and thought that the “drains were up,” but after a time I began to consider the phenomenon more closely, as it seemed incredible that “drains” could explain the presence of so many open trenches. “It is a custom peculiar to Galicia,” explained a lady resident, “because of the pigs.” A pig would never jump a trench.

My readers will not be surprised to learn that bacon is an important staple of food in Galicia. The national broth,{212} Caldo Gallego, as known to the well-to-do, could hardly be made without it, neither could the olla podrida.

“No hay olla sin tocino
Ni sermon sin Augustino.”[217]

“In Spain,” says Ford, “pigs are more numerous even than asses, since they pervade the province.” In parts of Galicia, as in the adjoining province of Extremadura, pigs are fattened upon mast and acorns, which are larger than those of English oaks, but in many districts they live upon chestnuts, which give a very fine flavour to the bacon. “The acorns,” says Ford, “formed the original diet of the aboriginal Iberian, as well as of his pigs; when dry, the acorns were ground, say the classical authors, into bread, and when fresh, they were served up as the second course. Ladies of high rank constantly ate acorns at the opera and elsewhere; they were the presents sent by Sancho Panza’s wife to the Duchess, and formed the text on which Don Quixote preached so eloquently to the goat-herds, on the joys and innocence of the golden age and pastoral happiness.”

Poultry and pigs grow up together in the villages. Eggs were sold at the rate of fivepence a dozen in Santiago a few years ago, but in the last decade their price and that of chickens has doubled. The villagers send all their chickens, and everything else they have to sell, to Santiago for the festival of St. James in July, when the town overflows with visitors; and as the supply is greater than the demand, living there becomes very cheap.

The gentle-eyed, long-horned oxen, which take the place of cart-horses, are another feature both of town and country life in Galicia. In northern Italy, in the month of November, I have often counted as many as fourteen and even fifteen pairs of oxen in front of one plough; that is a sight not met with in Galicia, where I have never seen two pairs of oxen pulling the same plough; but in Italy they have modern ploughs, whereas here the plough of Virgil’s day is still in use. It is the identical plough that we see sculptured on Etruscan tombs, and on the Celtiberic coins. The ancients used them also as weapons: Pausanius fought with a plough at Marathon. Hesiod mentions in his Works and Days the ἀροτρον αὐτογυον, which was a stout piece bent like a hook, with beams and share beams all in one piece. When driving along the country roads of Galicia, we used to meet many a ploughman wending homeward his weary way and{213} carrying his plough upon his shoulder, while his oxen walked on either side; and I have often seen a couple of stalwart women engaged in tilling a field, one holding the end of the long handle of the plough, and the other in front guiding the oxen. Why has the modern plough not been long since introduced into this corner of Spain?[218] Are the Gallegan peasants as inimical to improvements in the plough as our Lancashire weavers were to the spinning jenny? By no means: the answer is to be found in their ignorance and poverty.

The carts used by the peasants are almost as archaic as the ploughs; their shape is that of a small boat, and their walnut wheels make a strange screaming sound as they turn on their walnut axles, which can be heard at a considerable distance. There is a special word to denote this sound in the Gallegan language (v. chirriar; n. chirrio). I examined the axles of several, and found them twice the thickness of a man’s wrist and as smooth as satin. This “singing” of the cartwheels is not allowed in the towns, so the peasants soap the axles when they come into the streets; but the louder their carts sing in the fields and on the country roads the better pleased are they, for they believe that the oxen like the sound and will not work well without it. They also find it convenient in narrow lanes where there is not room for two carts to pass each other, because it warns them in good time that they are approaching each other, and that one must halt or turn back. They say, too, that in olden days, when the mountains abounded in wolves and bears, the singing cartwheels frightened and kept them from attacking the oxen and their drivers. Not only the peasants, but everybody likes to hear the cartwheels in the quiet summer evenings; it is like the sound of the scythe in England, and its associations are much the same. Rosalia Castro speaks of it as one of the things she missed when she went to live in Castille:

“Chirrar d’ os carros d’ a Ponte,
Tristes campanas d’ Herbon,
Cando vos ozo partidesme
As cordas d’ a corazon.”

The long horns of the oxen often carried my thoughts to the Highlands of Scotland. The horns of a couple of them as they stood yoked to a cart in one of the narrow streets{214} of Santiago would span the entire thoroughfare, but they never frightened even the smallest child, and their large, gentle eyes more than counteracted the ferocious appearance of their horns. They are very strong, and draw loads that would break the back of many an English cart-horse. In Coruña I saw them drawing a couple of huge iron pipes many yards in length. Seoane,[219] writing on the bulls of Galicia, says that these animals were found wild in Central Europe up to the sixteenth century, and that the Spaniards imported them into South America, and thus brought into existence the immense herds now to be found between the Andes and the Atlantic coast, and called toros cimarrones.

The milk of Gallegan cows is excellent, and nothing but their ignorance prevents the peasants from becoming prosperous dairy farmers. As we have seen, the breeding of herds of cattle was one of the chief industries of Galicia in the eighteenth century, and an authority on the subject has assured me that there is no reason why the finest cattle in the world should not be produced there. Nature has furnished an abundance of pure water and an unusually exuberant vegetation, but so great is the ignorance of the peasants that they actually employ their oxen to draw the plough before selling them for butcher’s meat. This is why the beef is so tough.

The horses of Galicia are sorry creatures; they are still in their primitive state, and have not improved since the days of the Celts. The typical village horse is badly proportioned, ugly, and absolutely untrained; its gait is awkward, and, in fact, it is a mere apology for a horse. Herds of wild horses frequent the mountainous districts; the males defend the females from the attacks of wild animals, and they breed their young without any assistance from man—a proof, as Seoane has observed, that the climate of Galicia is favourable to horse-breeding. And, going back to classical times, we find that Pliny has a good deal to say in favour of the horses of Galicia and Asturias. He says they were much in demand for their powers of resistance and their velocity, adding, “Their ardour gives them wings to devour space.” He also speaks highly of their pleasing and gentle trot. Silicus Italicus mentions the remarkable fecundity of the mares, but Justin is less enthusiastic.[220] Mules and even asses are preferred by the lower classes all over Spain to horses—they require{215} less attention and are more surefooted. “The mule,” says Ford, “performs in Spain the functions of the camel in the East.” I have spoken in a former chapter of the way in which the breeding of Gallegan mules has decreased of late years in Galicia, owing to the free importation of French mules.

Goats are plentiful but poor. I have seen a poor woman come into Santiago with a couple of live kids tucked under one arm and offer them for sale to every person she met. On market days in the spring-time there are always plenty of women with kids to sell. Mountain goats are rare in Galicia. Deer are also rare.

Wolves were, till quite recently, found all over Galicia, and the peasants were mortally afraid of them; they live in the mountains, chiefly of Lugo, Orense, and Tuy; the peasants declare that many of their dogs are of a mixed parentage, the fathers being wolves, and the mothers dogs. A wolf never attacks a man unless driven by hunger or in self-defence. The Gallegan wolves attack the flocks, but seldom come off as victors when they attack the bulls, on account of the latters’ splendid horns. In 1861, Seoane wrote that wolves came into the Gallegan villages in the middle of the day to steal chickens, that a case had occurred of a wolf seizing and carrying off a child that was playing before a cottage door, and that the combined efforts of all the villagers were powerless to save the child.

Foxes are very common. When a fox is caught by a peasant, he takes it to the town officials and receives a reward; he is allowed to keep its tail and ears.[221] The wild boar is scarce in Galicia—so is the jackal.

Bears are disappearing from the mountains both of Asturias and Galicia, but they are still to be found in certain wild districts; the urrus pyraenaicus (Linn.) is still to be met with in Galicia, one was caught a few miles from Santiago in the year 1848. The bear skins of Galicia are, however, very inferior to those of the Alps.

Hares are plentiful in the lower slopes of the mountains, and in the valleys. Great virtue was attributed to the skin of the hare in antiquity. The Emperor Heliogabulus never sat, we are told, on any seat that was not covered with one. The Gallegans use them for making hats; the peasants catch them with traps made of large stones placed in front of their holes.

Rabbits are also very plentiful,—in fact, there are, as usual,{216} too many. Spanish naturalists believe that the rabbit originated in Spain and passed thence to the rest of Europe. They are not found in Sweden or in any very cold countries. In Pontevedra and Orense rabbits do a great deal of harm. The Gallegan word for them is coello, or cocullo. Pliny says that rabbits did so much harm in the Balearic Islands in the time of Augustus, that the inhabitants petitioned the Emperor to send soldiers to assist them in driving them off, and thus prevent a famine.

Owls and bats are plentiful, they frequent the vaults of the churches. The owls, rhinolophus, do not build nests, but make use of holes in walls; they are called lechuzas or sucklings, because they come out at night and suck the oil out of the lamps. In the neighbourhood of Santiago Cathedral they are especially troublesome. Moles are plentiful in every part, and prove themselves great enemies to agriculture, perhaps the greatest that the Gallegan peasants have to contend with: the ancients made hats of their skin, but no use is made of them here. The musk-rat, musaraña (fetid shrew-mouse), Ginera sorex, is also found in these parts; it has glands along the outside of its stomach, under its fur, which give out a strong odour of musk. Seoane says these are the smallest mammals known; some think them poisonous; there are many fables about them. The Spanish word for musk is almizcle; it is derived from the Arabic.

The common musk-rat, sorex araneus (Linn.), abounds in all parts of Galicia; and the peasants have an invincible horror of it; they declare that it is poisonous, and that it bites their cattle and kills them, though in reality it is much too timid. Cats kill them, but never eat them on account of their smell. The water rat, sorex fodum, is plentiful on the banks of rivers and lakes; its claws are not joined by any membrane. Hedgehogs are also numerous; the peasants erroneously believe that they climb apple and chestnut trees to get the fruit and nuts. Pliny also had this notion. Hedgehogs swim well, however, if they do not climb; snakes have a great horror of them. Pliny says that the ancients used their skins and bristles for carding wool.

Martin Sarmiento says there is a species of cat in Galicia, which, on account of its size and the colouring of its skin, is called by the peasants tigre gallego. Seoane thinks this must be the common lynx, which is found in these parts, but very seldom. The wild cat is also rare; it hunts partridges.

Partridges are extremely plentiful all round Santiago,{217} and during certain months of the year they form quite a pièce de résistance in the daily menu.

Pheasants are said to have been found in the wood of Cebrero in the province of Lugo, but they have not, as far as I can ascertain, been seen in any other part of Galicia. Pigeons are plentiful everywhere, and the round pigeon-house and dovecots which the Gallegans build for them are both characteristic and picturesque. The pigeon is not considered sacred in Spain, as is the case in Russia; among the Gallegans this bird is quite an ordinary article of food.

But it is for her abundant supply and large variety of both river and salt water fish that Galicia is especially famed. I have already described my visit to the fishermen’s wharf at Coruña, and the way in which ice is specially manufactured to preserve the fish that has to travel to Madrid and other distant towns. The most typical fish of Galicia is the sardine. More than a hundred years ago, on the occasion of the erection of a lighthouse on the coast for the benefit of fishermen, Señor Joseph Cornide[222] published a monograph on the sardine; in 1788 he published a larger work, embracing an account of all the fish caught on the coast of Galicia. The reader must bear in mind that Galicia is bounded on two sides by the sea, and that not only is her coast-line very extensive in proportion to her size, but there are also her wide lochs or rias which run to a considerable distance inland, and meet the rivers that flow down from the mountain outposts of the Pyrenees. The chief capes to north and west are Cape Finisterre and Cape Ortegal.

The sardine, erroneously termed arengus minor (smaller herring), is, as we have seen, the chief source of wealth to the fishermen. Shoals of this fish enter the rias every year from the month of July onward; it resembles more closely the North Sea herring than any other fish, but it is quite distinct. Linnæus classed it amongst the mackerel family. The weeds and other substances that the rivers wash down from the mountains into the rias are just the food that sardines require, and as the mouths of the ria are very wide, and at the same time sheltered from the Atlantic winds, they prove a favourable shelter for these little fish, who, unable to thrive where there is wind and severe cold, come southwards every year in the months of December and January; in stormy weather they leave the surface and cling to the bottom for protection. The Gallegans use cod’s roe as a bait with which to attract them.{218}

There are two sizes of sardines caught on this coast; the smaller ones look very like anchovies, and are called parrochas by the Gallegan fishermen, but if the two are carefully compared it will be found that the anchovy is narrower and has a more pointed head than the sardine; it is covered, moreover, with irregular black spots, and the head, if eaten, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. The anchovy is frequently eaten raw, and it is also preserved in oil like the sardine.

One result of the increased facilities for exporting fish to other parts of Spain has been a rise in the price of sardines. Whereas they could formerly be bought in Santiago at the rate of a hundred for a penny, they now sell at about a penny a dozen. In 1835, Aquiar wrote that fish was selling by its bulk and not by its weight; and even now, cartloads of sardines are used by the ignorant peasants as manure for their fields.

The Spaniards as a nation consume an enormous amount of dried and salted cod: it is a staple food on fast days. This, then, is another industry in which the Gallegans might make fortunes, but at present even Galicia, where cod is so plentiful, gets her dried cod, bacalao, from Norway. Two millions of dried cod are annually imported to the north coast of Spain; and a Norwegian Consul, who was stationed at Bilbao for several years, tells me that a shipload of Norwegian cod unloads at Bilbao every week. I see that Señor A. Florez has been lecturing in Madrid on the enormous imports from Norway to Spain and their effect upon the latter country.

Señor Francisco Ribas has found in the library of the Marquis de Mos at Tuy a most interesting manuscript book dating from the reign of Carlos III. (eighteenth century), and describing a heated controversy that went on between the Gallegan fishermen and some Catalonians, who had come to Galicia to start fishing industries there and were using a new kind of net, xeito, with which far more fish could be caught than was possible with the antiquated ones used by the natives. In this book there was a copy of the memorial that was sent to the King in the name of all the fishermen on the Gallegan coast, entreating His Majesty to put a stop to the use of the new net, as it was calculated to kill the spawn and ultimately ruin the trade. The Government gathered the opinion of experts on the subject, and came to the conclusion that the fears of the Gallegan fishermen were groundless; so it ended in the universal adoption of the net. I hear that a similar objection was recently raised to the introduction of English and French trawling nets.{219}

Among the various kinds of fish that are caught on the Gallegan coast, the lamprey is especially worthy of mention. The name lamprea, signifying “rock licker,” Latin, lambo, to stick, and petra, a rock, has been given to this fish because it has a habit of attaching itself to rocks and stones by its mouth; it is a cartilaginous fish, and somewhat resembles the eel; its flesh is very indigestible, but the flavour is considered by gourmets to be exquisite. And we all learned at school how our King Henry loved that flavour, not wisely but too well. Spaniards cook them in their own blood, with the addition of a little wine and oil. The best in Galicia come from the neighbourhood of Tuy, Noya, and Padron, but very fine ones are also to be found in many other parts in the months of June and July. Lampreys were regularly sent to Rome from Galicia in the days when Spain was a Roman province; they were a delicacy that was much appreciated by the wealthy patricians, and indeed they are still considered as such even in Galicia. While I was at Santiago, four lampreys caught near Padron were sold in the fishmarket one Sunday morning for ten dollars; they are becoming much more rare than formerly; their skins are exceedingly ugly to look at; they abound in the Bay of Biscay, and from thence enter the wide rias and rivers of Galicia. There is also a river lamprey, a foot long; this fish has remarkably strong teeth; on its tongue are two rows of objects that resemble teeth, and it moves its tongue backwards and forwards like the sucker of a pump when imbibing other fish as food.

The turbot is fairly plentiful. Oysters from Carril, which are the largest, sell in Santiago at the rate of twenty shillings per hundred, while smaller ones may be had for about seven shillings per hundred, and a very small kind called morunchos may be had at three shillings per hundred. My hostess informed me that she liked these last best of all, and that they were muy ricititos (very rich little things). Molina, writing in the middle of the sixteenth century, speaks of Carril as famous for its oysters. “They fill ships with them,” he writes, “and supply all Castille, and the greater part of Spain. The oyster,” he adds naïvely, “is an article which is prized wherever it is sent.” Oysters abound in all the rias of Vigo, Arosa, and Ferrol. Cornide reminds us that the ancients prized those caught on the coast of Britain above all others. Apacius, the celebrated glutton, possessed the art of keeping them a very long time, and when Trajan was in Persia he was supplied with oysters from Italy; they{220} appear to have been kept in barrels, as in our day, so closely packed that the shells could not open. The Spaniards considered them more wholesome when eaten raw, but they constantly fry them in oil, and serve them up in a “James” shell.

I have written at length in another chapter about the famous scallop shells, pecten veneris, called vieira in Galicia, and worn by pilgrims returning from the sepulchre of St. James, and put up over the doors of the inns at which they lodged in Santiago. Scallops are not too sacred to be eaten even in Galicia, and, but for their strong fishy smell, they would make a fair substitute for oysters.

Eels are very plentiful in all the Gallegan rivers, and, above all, in the Miño; they are bred in the fresh water and go down to the sea when full grown. The monks of Sobrado had an artificial lake, the eels of which were greatly prized. Conger-eels are also abundant; the black ones are the most esteemed. A tradition says there are some so large that a man could not carry them on his shoulders, but would have to employ a cart. Cornide says that the largest ever found in Galicia did not weigh more than 100 lbs.

The common cod, merluza, which on the Mediterranean coast is called merlan, is one of the most voracious and destructive of fishes, and, as the Gallegans have discovered, it has a special predilection for sardines, which it devours greedily. A certain amount of cod is dried on this coast and taken into the interior; but the industry is anything but brisk. Soles, lenguado, which the French call sea-partridges, perdrix de mer, are very common, especially where the rias have a sandy bottom.

Salmon, salmo salar, are plentiful in the most northern rias, and found throughout Galicia; they are best in hot weather, at which time they are less prized in other parts. They were unknown to the Greeks, according to Cornide, so have no Greek name. These fish enter the rivers of Galicia from the month of January, lay their eggs in the sandy places, and return to the sea until the next season, when they repeat the journey. The Gallegans seldom catch more than can be disposed of while fresh, but now and again there is an unusually large supply, and then they are sold for next to nothing. Cornide tells of a priest who salted a hundred and fifty salmon in one season.

A red mullet, Lat. mullus barbatus, is plentiful in the rias, but it often tastes of the mud on which it feeds, and is not so choice as that found in the rivers. Pliny and other{221} classic writers thought that people who ate too heartily of this fish injured their sight and nerves: Gallegans call it salmonete, and are very fond of it. I have several times seen it baked in pastry, like jam in an open tart. Trout, truchas, are, as we have seen, remarkably plentiful and cheap in spring; they abound in all the rivers, and would furnish plenty of sport for British anglers.{222}



An emporium of Phœnician trade—From Padron to London—Iria Flavia—Landing of St. James—Drive from Santiago to Padron—A sacred mountain—La Virgen de la Esclavitud—Santa Maria de Iria—A Byzantine statue—The rock beneath the altar—Where St. James preached—The monastery of Herbon—Statue of St. Francis of Assisi—Cæsar’s bridge—The Ulla mentioned by Ptolemy—An interesting conversation—The house where Rosalia Castro died—Changing scenery—The towers of Augustus—A village festival

VERY few of the pilgrims who journeyed to Santiago de Compostela during the Middle Ages failed to include in their pilgrimage a visit to Padron. There is an ancient refrain which says—

“Quien va á Santiago
E non va al Padrón
O faz romeriá ó non.”

Padron, Iria Flavia, is a town with a long history. Not only can she boast of having been a flourishing Roman settlement in the days of Augustus, but she is believed by Spanish archæologists to have been the site of one of the great emporiums of Phœnician trade.[223] The town is situated on the right bank of the river Ulla and on the left bank of the river Sar, nineteen kilometres from Santiago and sixteen from the sea, with which it is connected by a ria (loch). In 1836, Borrow found it a flourishing little port, with rather an extensive commerce, “some of its tiny barks occasionally finding their way across the Bay of Biscay, and even as far as the Thames and London.” A story was in circulation that some twenty years before Borrow’s visit, certain Padron fishermen, who had found their way to England, had been converted to Protestantism during their stay there, and not only brought Bibles back with them, but actually began to speak with irreverence of the bones of St. James, with a result that a commission was despatched to punish them and burn their{223} books. We often speak of separation caused by the sea, but in reality it has always been a far closer link than land.

The Roman name for Padron was Iria Flavia, and it belonged to the Convento Lucense; it was raised to the rank of a municipal town by the Emperor Vespasian in the year 69. Flavia was Vespasian’s family name; it occurs a number of times in Galicia. Iria is mentioned in the Itinerary of the Emperor Antoninus, and Ptolemy also speaks of it; there is also a reference to this town in the Ravenate, the anonymous manuscript of Ravenna. Pliny mentions a river and a town of the name of Iria in Italy.[224] Several interesting Roman inscriptions have been found in the neighbourhood of Padron; there is one which tells that a senator of Iria died at the age of fifty.[225] A stone with an inscription to the Emperor Gratian (375-379) has also been discovered, and another bearing the name of Sulpicius Severus.[226] Coins of the reigns of Augustus and Constantine have recently been turned up with the soil; it is more than probable that extremely interesting excavations might be made there.[227]

Iria was, without doubt, one of the most flourishing and important of the towns which existed before the days of Christianity in the territory which we now call Galicia. One of Spain’s most noted archæologists—Fita—thought that the so-called castro de la Rocha, or rock fortress, where St. James is supposed to have resided, was in the old capitol of Iria, and therefore the most suitable spot for the commencement of excavations. Villa-Amil points out that the tradition of St. James’s having preached from the Rocha de Padron is a very old one. Castella Ferrar thought that the original cathedral of Iria had stood within this castro, and believed that he had discovered some of the ruins of its eastern wall; and others have thought that this was the site of the episcopal palaces of the diocese. There are numerous references to la Rocha Blanca del Padron in historical documents of the Middle Ages. All that remains of it to-day is a trench eight or nine yards long enclosing a circle of about fifty yards in diameter, most of which is now planted with potatoes and other garden produce.

We have seen in a preceding chapter how popular is the belief that the boat which brought the body of St. James{224} from Joppa to Spain landed it at Padron. To this event is attributed the fact that one of the first bishoprics in Galicia was founded at Iria. The arms of Padron are a boat, with the body of the Apostle, and two disciples, one at the prow and the other at the stern.

It takes about an hour to go by train from Santiago to Padron, but we preferred to drive, as the road is excellent and the scenery delightful. It was the last week in March, and many of the trees were still in bud, but the furze (ulex europæus), which covered great stretches of the undulating country through which we passed, was a mass of brilliant yellow blossom; there were as yet no leaves upon the oak trees, but they did not look bare, for ivy covered their stems, and ferns luxuriated among their gnarled branches, while fresh green fronds spread out in all directions, with as much grace as if they had been specially arranged by the hand of an artist; even the tallest trees were decorated in this way, and the crannies in which the ferns nestled were often eight or ten yards above the ground.

The fields were a beautiful green, some pale with waving maize almost ready to be harvested, others covered with fresh grass or young potatoes. In many a plot of green we passed a peasant woman in charge of two or three cows, all attached to a rope which she held in her hand. As we passed the villages we noted behind every house a quaint Gallegan maize barn (Gal. horreo), raised on four or six stone pedestals, and built like a diminutive stone house with a gabled roof. The trellis porch of almost every cottage was covered with a vine, and vine-covered verandahs hid most of the lower walls; the vine leaves had not begun to appear, but their knotted and spreading branches were very picturesque. Spring flowers were peeping from the banks beneath the hedges, and we descended several times from our carriage to gather flowers we had never seen in England, and of which we did not know the names. Ever and anon we passed groves of chestnut and walnut trees, and apple orchards not yet in blossom, while behind them rose green hills alternating with rocky mountain crags, which had for their background the blue outlines of more distant mountains. The highest peak that we could see on this journey was the Pico Sacro,[228] whose pointed cone looks at a little distance somewhat the shape of Fugiama; the view from its summit amply rewards the climb. Some think that the name Monte Sacro or Pico Sacro is of earlier date than the introduction of Christianity{225} into Galicia, and as this mountain has numerous dolmens and other prehistoric ruins on its slopes, it has been suggested that the Celts may have once made it a centre of their religious worship: even in our own day the peasants have many superstitious notions connected with it. Lopez Ferreiro wrote in 1868 that sick people used to take an offering of bread up to one of its high ridges, and leave it there after calling on the mountain to cure them with the following words:—

“Picosagro, Picosagro,
Saname este mal que eu trago.”

Molina, quoting Justin, says that the ancients considered it unlawful to touch this mountain with iron, and they had a tradition that great sheets of gold were found upon its surface; these were supposed to result from the fact that the mountain was constantly struck by lightning, which turned everything it touched into gold. Molina attributes another name that this mountain went by—Mons acer—to the violent tempests which raged around its cone, and which, he adds, “make the fortress that is built upon it quite uninhabitable.” Old documents bear witness to the fact that there was, in the eleventh century, a monastery upon one of its slopes, and that its church was called San Sebastian del Pico Sacro; on its summit there are still the ruins of a strong fortress built there by Archbishop Alonso Fonseca (1463-1506).[229]

The nearest mountain to Padron is green to its summit even in winter; while I was there some ladies climbed to the top in a little less than three hours. Below stretches the valley of the Ulla, one of the most fertile valleys in the province. Everything seems to thrive there,—flax, maize, wheat, the walnut, the filbert and the chestnut, the orange, the lemon, and almost every kind of European fruit tree; bamboos are also grown there; the trellis-work over which the vines are trained is mostly made of them, but the two things that are chiefly grown there are onions and flax. A great deal of linen is spun by the poor women of Padron, but all by hand, not by machinery.

About half-way between Santiago and Padron we stopped to look at a church which faced the road, the church of La Virgen de la Esclavitude. We found its inner walls covered with pictures, or rather glaring daubs, representing sick people in bed. The bedsteads were of all kinds, wooden beds, iron beds, and children’s cots; all these were thank-offerings brought by people who had been cured in answer{226} to prayer. One picture, representing a sick man in bed, had a prancing horse standing by the bed, because, I was told, the invalid had recovered after making the church a present of a horse; beside another bed three nuns were praying. People make pilgrimages to this church in such crowds that special trains have to be run for them.

As we approached the town we passed comfortable-looking houses on both sides of the road with gardens attached. In the gardens we noted fine rhododendrons and tulip trees covered with blossom; the cherry and apple trees were also in blossom. Padron, lying much lower and being much more sheltered than Santiago, is nearly a month ahead in spring-time. We saw orange trees with oranges that looked ripe enough to pick.

At length we reached a church with pyramidal towers like the one over the treasury of Santiago Cathedral; this was the Colegiata de Iria, Santa Maria de Iria. From the earliest days of Christianity in Galicia this church, or the one that preceded it on this spot, has been the seat of a bishopric; it numbers the names of many illustrious men among its bishops. It was a bishop of Iria, Teodomiro, who discovered the sepulchre of St. James. In the days of Miro, King of the Sueves (569-583), there was a bishop here with the name of Andrew, who played a conspicuous part in the church councils of Lugo and Braga.[230] The principal entrance of this edifice, which is Romanesque, does not date further back than the thirteenth century, and the rest of the building (all but the sarcophagi in the capilla major and the towers) is work of the eighteenth century. There was formerly a bishop’s palace attached, but not a trace of it now remains. Twenty-eight bishops who fled here for refuge at the time of the Mohammedan invasion are buried inside the church. On the chief altar there is a very old Byzantine statue of the Virgin, in stone. An archbishop of Santiago, Rodrigo de Luna, was also buried here (1450-1460); his sarcophagus is opposite that containing a bishop of Orense, which is much more ancient.

Beneath the chief altar of the church is preserved the rock to which the disciples are supposed to have fastened their boat when they brought St. James’s body from Joppa. On the rock are some letters of a Roman inscription to which various archæologists have devoted much time and thought.{227} Pilgrims to Santiago hold this boulder in great veneration, and feel it their bounden duty to visit it; the name for it is el pedron, the big rock, and some derive the name of the town from it, though it is more likely that Padron is from el padron, i.e. St. James the Apostle. Close to the church is the bank of the river to which the disciples moored their boat; it is still called Barca in memory of that event.

Rising from the slope of the mountain on the opposite side of the river is a hillock, or ridge, on which stands a little chapel to mark the spot where St. James is supposed to have dwelt during his sojourn in Iria; below the altar is a spring of delicious pure water: Morales remarked he had not tasted better water in all Galicia; its flow never ceases summer or winter. The townsfolk informed me that St. James preached to the people of Iria from this spot. Sanchez relates that in 1484 the traveller Nicolas Popiélovo came here to see the spring; and he gives his readers the traveller’s own words about his visit. A little higher up the mountain, which is called Monte San Gregorio, is the actual boulder upon which St. James stood when he preached. There is an opening here between two pieces of rock through which a thin person can manage to pass, and the Portuguese, who come here in great numbers, believe that good fortune will befall those who can get through, consequently it sometimes happens that fat persons also try to get through, but get stuck in the middle and find it difficult to extricate themselves. There are many legends connected with this rock, one of which is that it opened on several occasions to receive and shelter St. James when he was chased by the pagans. Another rock a little farther on is known as the Altar of St. James, and he is there supposed to have offered up bloodless sacrifices; and yet another rock is shown as St. James’s couch. The view of Padron from here is very beautiful among its fields and gardens, and with its two rivers, the Sar and the Ulla.[231] The highest building in the town is an old Carmelite nunnery, now inhabited by Dominican friars.

To the south-east of Padron, at a distance of about a mile, is situated the Convento de San Antonio de Herbon, a Franciscan monastery founded in the end of the fourteenth century by Gonzolo Mariño, a relative of the first Count of Altamira. Among its monks may be reckoned the famous trovador poet, Rodriquez de Padron, who retired thither in his old age and adopted the conventual garb. When the monks were all expelled, this monastery became for a time{228} an ecclesiastical seminary. In the church there is a beautifully carved wood statue of St. Francis of Assisi, which some think to be the work of Adolfo Cano; there is wonderful character in the face, and for that alone its celebrity would be deserved.

Opposite the monastery and on the other side of the river are the remains of an ancient fortress, whose walls are two yards and a half wide. Sanchez calls it Castro Valute, and states that an ara was found there in which there was a cavity to receive the blood of victims sacrificed.[232]

We drove on beyond Padron for about a couple of miles, crossing the bridge over the Ulla near the village of Cesures, which in the Historio Compostellana is called Cesuris. Some think that this fine old Roman bridge is from the time of Octavius Augustus, and that it was called, in his honour, Cæsar’s Bridge, and they believe this to be the origin of the present name. The Ulla is an historic river. It is mentioned by Ptolemy, and by Pomponius Mela, and its name occurs in numerous Gallegan documents of the Middle Ages, for on its waters were borne the ships that brought both Moorish and Norman invaders into Galicia, invaders against whom the fighting archbishops defended their people most courageously.

About two miles beyond Cesuris there stands on a ridge in the slope of a green hill a quaint little church belonging to a little village called Janza. I particularly wished to see it, because I had heard archæologists say that on account of its elegant simplicity and beautiful proportions it was thought to be the work of Mateo, the architect of the Pórtico de Gloria, or at least that of one of his pupils. I got out of the carriage, and, meeting the village priest’s maid-of-all-work, asked her to show me the easiest path by which I could ascend to the church. As we went along, my guide, who had dropped her boots over the hedge into a field, and was proceeding barefoot, informed me that, as the priest’s servant she had a great many duties, one being to fetch all the water required for household purposes from a neighbouring spring. It was a beautiful day, and the air and scenery resembled that of some of the finer parts of the Yorkshire moors.

“How exhilarating it is here,” I remarked.

“Yes, you are right,” replied the maid. “It’s very beautiful. A Padre who came here a few weeks ago preached us a sermon about it, and said that, for any one whose heart was right with God, there could not be a more beautiful or a

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more healthful spot than this. But why have you come so far to see such a poor little church as ours? And where have you come from?”

“I have come from England,” I replied.

“Have they any religion in England?” she asked.

“Oh yes,” I answered; “we have both religion and churches.”

“But do they worship God there—and confess?”


“Then it must be in France where they have no religion!” she cried.

“Why do you think that?” I asked.

“Because they have turned all their monks and nuns out of the country, and now they have no church and no religion.”

“But the churches are there still,” said I.

“I know all about it,” she replied. “Some of the nuns they turned out came to live in a palacio near here for a time. Now they have a home in Madrid.”

“And some of the nuns came to England,” said I.

“And did the English give them shelter?” she asked eagerly.


“Ah, of course, and so they should. Poor things! Poor things! How dreadful to turn them out like that!”

Entering the tiny church, I found that its granite walls were painted, and, worse still, the sculpture of its granite capitals was decked out in glaring colours. To paint stone in this way was a fashion peculiar to the eighteenth century. At one time the Cathedral of Santiago was thus painted over. It is only since 1840 that the colour has been removed; we still see red and white stripes where the blocks of granite are joined.

As I was returning to the carriage, some children presented us with some branches covered with cherry-blossom which they had picked from their garden in their wish to please us; they were indignant when we offered them silver in return.

Returning to Padron, we lunched at the little inn, and found a salad made of red peppers particularly cool and refreshing after rather a hot drive. Then we went to see the pretty spot on the river-bank where the market is held, and the house where Rosalia Castro died, with its tablet to her memory. Padron seemed to me an ideal place for a poet to live and die in; its beauties are so varied, its outlines so delicate, and the blue haze upon its surrounding hills so romantic. One great charm about this miniature beauty{230} is, that at every few steps, whether you walk or drive, the scene changes; nothing is so big as to appear unchanged when the observer has moved on. In the great valleys of Switzerland and the Tyrol you may walk long distances without getting any perceptible change in the picture, but in Galicia, and especially in places like Padron, the scenery may almost be termed kaleidoscopic—only that the employment of such a word suggests suddenness, and there is nothing sudden here—it is a gradual melting process, where no beauty is so large and coarse as to obstruct another or become monotonous. Macìas, the Poet of True Love, was born near Padron, and Juan Rodriquez was born at Herbon: we have already seen that it was in the monastery there that this trovador chose to end his days. Rodriquez wrote, El Siervo Libre de Amor, “The Free Slave of Love.” He flourished in the first quarter of the fifteenth century. He is sometimes called Rodriquez de la Camara.[233]

On the bank of the river near the monastery where Rodriquez breathed his last is the summer residence of the Archbishop of Santiago, standing in a beautiful garden with luxuriant trees. On one side of the house is a tall cypress and on the other a still taller palm. Near Padron, but seen better from the train than from the road, are the picturesque ruins of two ancient towers, the Torres de Oeste (a corruption of Turres Augusti).[234] Molina[235] said they were among the greatest antiquities of Spain, that there were five of them close to the river at sea level and very strongly built, and from them a great chain used to be thrown across the river to guard the water passage from the sea by way of the ria (loch). These towers are close to the spot where the Sar flows into the Ulla.

The sun was setting as we drove back to Santiago, and we saw it reflected like brilliant fires in the cottage windows; when it had quite set and the road was getting dark, we passed through a village where the people were all dressed in their best, and lined the road on both sides; the women and girls were on the right and sat on the bank four rows deep, all dressed in their gayest attire with coloured handkerchiefs on their heads. The men on the other side formed a dark lined crowd round a party of musicians who were about to strike up for a dance. As we approached Santiago we saw rockets and other fireworks that were being let off in honour of St. Joseph’s Day.{231}



Situation of Noya—Antiquity of the town—The coach drive from Santiago—Singing cartwheels—Where the golden torques were found—Copper and iron—Mountain valleys—Waterfalls—Paper mills—A ruined monastery—Nearing Noya—A peep at the sea—A village green—The oldest church—Noya merchants of the fourteenth century—The Sunday before Easter—My visit to a nun—The church of San Martin—The interior—The castellated apse—The rose window—Imitation of the Pórtico de Gloria—The wooden roof—Strange brackets or corbels—Lamperez—An alderman of Noya—An old house—The old wall—The Franciscan monastery—The Noya magistrate—An old family mansion—Drives in the neighbourhood—Puente de Alonso III.—The Tambre—Fruit blossoms—Flowers—Examining the cartwheels—Inside a granite cottage—A cross by the roadside—The Ria—Greek colonies—Roman inscriptions—Our drive to Portosino—A famous trovador—English ships—Muros—A good port—Greek type of beauty preserved—A Greek costume—Visit to a dolmen—Pena de Oro—Gallegan peasants and the Moors—Another granite cottage—A Grenadier in the Engineers—A square apse—Noya pilgrims—A leper chapel—Scene from our balcony—Maunday Thursday—Good Friday—Fetching home the candlesticks—A Good Friday dinner—A lady resident—Market baskets in church—Thirteenth century houses—José Ferreiro—Galicia’s first vocabulary—Bull fights at Noya—Two kinds of homesickness—The music of the gaita

NOYA is a town of nearly five thousand inhabitants, but the hills and valleys by which it is surrounded are so thickly dotted with villages that on market days and feast days, when the people flock in by every road, there is a great deal more life in it than the above statistics would lead a visitor to expect. Noya is almost a seaside town, for it lies on the banks of a magnificent ria, an inlet of the Atlantic, and so close to the ocean that the rocky coast can be distinguished by the naked eye. The river Tambre, which has its rise in the centre of Galicia, flows into the ria to the north of the town, and the river Trava on the west, so that Noya is bounded on three sides by water. High green hills slope away from the water and shelter the town from cold and wind. It is a lovely and romantic situation.

“Noya,” writes Molina,[236] “is a pretty town, and one of the oldest in Galicia, and it has inhabitants of noble blood.{232} Here they make many and good ships, both great and small, because the district abounds in timber. Noya has the best sardines in the realm, so that people wanting sardines ask especially for those of Noya.”

Pliny mentions this town under the name of Noela, and Florez heard that there was a stone in the bridge over the Tambre which had the word “Noela” inscribed upon it. According to popular tradition, the town was founded by Noah, or by one of his daughters, and received its name from that patriarch. However that may be, the arms of Noya, which may be seen over the door of the little hospital, and which are printed at the head of municipal letter paper, are Noah’s ark and a dove.[237] Both Pliny and Pomponius Mela speak of all the coast of Galicia between the Duero and Cape Finisterre as Celtic, and the dolmens with which the neighbourhood of Noya abounds are another indication that this part of Galicia was inhabited by Celts.

It was a glorious day, the 23rd of March, that we chose for our journey from Santiago to Noya, and so hot that we were glad to leave off some of our winter clothing. There is no railway to Noya, but a coach goes there twice every day, and the journey takes a little over five hours. Our coach started at two p.m.; the inside was like a box that would hold six people, three on each side, with an upper storey covered with a double or telescopic hood, which was filled with “second-class” passengers. The Easter holidays began that day, so most of our fellow-passengers were students from the University going home for Easter. They were sprightly young fellows, with bright faces and strong limbs; it was a pleasure to see them get out and walk up the hills. One of them picked a lovely bunch of violets and handed them in to us at the coach window. From the very start the scenery was beautiful; we were out among the giant hills and fertile valleys in a few minutes, there being no ugly suburbs to pass through. Noya lies, as we have seen, upon the sea level, but the road thither from Santiago runs first down into a valley and then up, up, up to the ridge of a very high hill, much higher than Santiago. Here the air grew rare and bracing, and the scenery was like that between Pitlochrie and Braemar. We passed innumerable castros and tumuli, and saw far off on the summit of a conical hill, which commanded the surrounding valleys for many miles, the fine old castle of Altamira. The family of Altamira is one of the oldest, and still one of the greatest{233} in Spain; but I hear that they are letting that fine old castle crumble to ruin! Many a peasant with his bullock cart met us on the road, and we always knew of a cart’s approach by the distant sound of musical cartwheels, and once or twice, when three carts joined in the chorus, the “singing” became very loud; I felt inclined to put my fingers in my ears. A fellow-passenger remarked that the oxen needed some such sound to cheer them on their way, and that the children always sing to their oxen when leading them in the fields, because it makes them work better. A little farther on, as we were passing close to a castro, another passenger explained that it was to these vantage points that the Celts are supposed to have fled at the approach of an enemy. It is in such places as these that the golden torques are found. Many Roman coins have been found in these castros, a fact which has led to the belief that the Romans in their turn employed them as camps.

From a passenger on the return journey I learned that some of these hills were rich in copper and iron, which ought to be worked, and would be, but for the fact that Spaniards prefer to keep their money in paper under lock and key! My informant, who was an elderly resident of Noya, said that he had himself discovered in his youth the remains of an ancient tin mine, and had made many vain attempts to interest capitalists and resuscitate the industry. Not far from Noya there are some iron mines, but they belong to Englishmen; they are called Minas de Vilacoba, and almost as many women are employed there as men.

Many of the mountain valleys were full of oak trees, while others were covered with waving rye (secale cereale), wheat, and other cereals. The highest part of the road lay for about a mile and a half between green hills mostly covered with furze and without any trees, but when we began to descend the landscape changed; in place of the Scotch Highlands we seemed to have arrived at the pine-crested rocks of Norway. The pines looked like Christmas trees covered with tall brown candles; these “candles” were some of them a foot and a half long, and in the sun they looked a rich reddish bronze. Waterfalls foamed between the mossy crags and boulders, and picturesque bridges spanned the mountain streams. One bridge, consisting of a single semicircular arch over a small stream, was clearly a relic of Roman days. We passed, half hidden by the trees, some four or five paper mills worked by the gushing water.

At last dwelling-houses came in sight, white-washed{234} granite cottages roofed with red tiles; they were nearly square, with about four rooms to each. The road now descended rapidly, and we passed to our right a picturesque dell surrounded on three sides by a noisy waterfall, in which stood an old monastery and its church, San Justo de los Tojosutos, so named because the slope upon which the dell is situated is covered with tall furze (tojo). The little church, whose spire rises up to a level with the sides of the dell, dates from the twelfth century. We could see part of the beautiful arcade of the ruined cloister from the coach as we passed. No monks have lived there since its monastic inmates were turned out, but I was told that this little cloister was once used as a place of banishment for monks of Osera who had broken the monastic rules. The modern building adjoining is the house of the village priest. All the pasture land on the hills round the dell and the two neighbouring valleys, right down to the bank of the Tambre, once belonged to the monks, and they had a right to all the fish caught in that part of the river, which, by the way, was particularly rich in lampreys. People say that the kindness and generosity of the monks towards the poor did much to encourage idleness and increase the number of paupers.

We were at last nearing Noya; women were at work in the fields; they wore very short skirts, hardly below the knees, and wide-brimmed yellow straw hats with a band of black ribbon round the low crown; the men also wore this kind of hat, the manufacture of which is the special industry of one of the Noya villages. A young peasant woman met us as she was leading her oxen home. She was as upright as a young pine; perhaps her queenly bearing was a result of carrying burdens on her head, and certainly Gallegan women do hold themselves remarkably well. At a bend in the road we caught sight of the sea for a moment in the direction of Cape Finisterre. The scenery remained beautiful and rugged till we had reached the bottom of the wide valley in which Noya lies. In front of one of the cottages we saw a quaint sight,—a cottager was mounted on a ladder with a mortar trowel in his hand doing something to the roof, while beneath him, motionless as a statue, stood a tall woman supporting on her broad-brimmed hat the board from which the man helped himself to mortar. Here was another use to which the head of a Gallegan woman could be put.

The coach drew up in a sort of village green, near a fountain, and in front was the public walk, or Alameda. The first thing that attracts a stranger’s attention is a bust of Noya’s

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famous sculptor, Filipe de Castro,[238] which is placed on the top of a tall pedestal and forms a sort of landmark for visitors. The houses of Noya are built of granite; I noticed that some of them had not only tiled roofs but also tiled walls. “To keep the wet out,” I was told.

The first church we visited was that of Santa Maria a Nova, which is the oldest church in Noya, and dates from the year 1327. Its cemetery contains many interesting horizontal gravestones, on which are cut the insignia of the office of the persons buried beneath them. On one we found a stone-mason’s hammer.

On the outer side of the right wall are three sarcophagi in arched recesses. The inscription on one is Era MCCC, which is equivalent to A.D. 1272; these are thought to have belonged to an earlier church, for the present one was completely rebuilt in the fourteenth century. I noticed one sarcophagus that rested on two stone lions, and had represented on its sides a bridge, and fish swimming beneath the name of the person buried there. In front of the church, in the little graveyard, is a sarcophagus with the recumbent effigy of a warrior with his sword by his side; he wears a tall fur-brimmed hat and a kind of kilt which is a curious example of the costume of his day.

Over the window beneath the three-arched portico of the church is a coloured statue of the Virgin, and the Adoration of the Magi, into which the archbishop Berigel, who built the church, is introduced. One of the kings is represented as an Ethiopian with black skin and rolling eyes; two angels are waving incense; their garments are bordered with gold, and the whole group is very Byzantine. To the right of the entrance is a dedicatory inscription and the name of the archbishop who built the church.

Inside the church there are two other sarcophagi with the effigies of rich Noya merchants and inscriptions with their names and dates.

The Sunday before Easter is a solemn day in Spain, and although the market in the morning was not interfered with, Noya dressed itself in sombre hues in the afternoon, and a solemn procession passed with music beneath our balcony at 4 p.m. We looked out and saw four men supporting on their shoulders a platform on which was a chair and the seated figure of a naked Christ, life size, and wearing a crown of thorns from which drops of blood were represented as streaming.{236} Over the shoulders of this ghastly figure was a crimson velvet mantle bordered with gold; the hands were tied together with a cord. Another platform followed bearing a standing figure of the Virgin, also life size; her skirt was of plum-coloured velvet, and the velvet shawl which covered her head and shoulders was of violet bordered with gold. A great crowd of people followed, all very silent and subdued. Many of the women wore black or grey handkerchiefs over their heads.

The next day I called at the convent of the Trinitarian nuns to take a message to one of the inmates from her married sister in Santiago. The outer walls of this convent were a yard wide; opening into the dark porch was a large window with a revolving wooden shutter, concave in shape, like half a barrel. Through this opaque window I had to announce my name and the object of my visit to an invisible nun who had answered the bell by calling to me from the other side of the barrel. She began every sentence she uttered with “Ave Maria,” and then went to ask the Mother Superior if I might speak with the nun for whom my message was intended. When she came back she tapped the wood several times to let me know she was there, and then informed me with more “Ave Marias” that if I would came again after Easter I might perhaps speak with the nun, but not before. It ended in my having to return to Santiago without giving my message. I discovered afterwards that though these nuns appeared to be terribly shut in, they have, stretching far behind their convent, a beautiful garden, which they tended themselves with great industry. They also have a school for girls, where a speciality is made of fine needlework and embroidery.

The largest and the most important church in Noya is that of San Martin, which dates from the year 1434, and was built by Archbishop Lopez de Mendoza. This edifice has been singled out by Señor Lamperez as a fine and typical example of Galicia’s popular style of architecture, a style which, dominated by laws dictated by local common sense, abandoned the exotic styles which had preceded it, and boldly adopted both the traditions and the materials that were to be found on the spot. This popular architecture was divided into two branches, under the first of which may be classed the parish churches, and under the second those attached to the monasteries—the conventual churches;[239] these are two distinct types, but they have one characteristic in common, namely, the wooden roof, the kind best suited to the conditions

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of the country. A wide nave covered with a roof of wood offered no difficulties as to equilibrium; we find it in some of the ancient architecture of Syria; and in the Middle Ages it was introduced, as Lamperez reminds us, both in the churches of Languedoc and in those of Catalonia and Valencia. Galicia was very slow to adopt the Gothic style; she clung to the older ones, the Byzantine and the Romanesque, long after these had been completely abandoned in other parts of Spain, and the consequence is that she does not possess a single edifice that may be termed a good example of the Gothic style. There is no province, however, in which the travellers will find a more favourable opportunity of studying the period of Transition.

Outwardly the church of San Martin appears to be of a very much earlier date than that which is inscribed upon the lintel of the principal entrance. It has a heavy, square, fortress-like look, and its lofty apse is castellated, evidently with a view to its adaptability as a fort in times of warfare. Here again we see how circumstances—the imminent possibility of Noya having to defend herself against insurgents, had a greater effect on the mind of the architect than any consideration as to what the laws of the pure Gothic might demand. Noya was perhaps the most important town in the feudal territory of the fighting archbishops of Santiago, and being a centre of considerable mercantile wealth, she was only too likely to invite attack, which might come either from the sea or the land.

The rose window of the façade, decorated with trumpet-blowing angels, is Gothic, but the arch of the entrance beneath it is Romanesque. The idea which dominates the sculpture of this entrance is evidently taken from that of the Pórtico de Gloria at Santiago; here we have elders, though fewer in number, with musical instruments, strange monsters supporting the pillars, and finally the twelve apostles.[240] The faces, however, are all quite original and remarkably lifelike; it has been suggested that the sculptor chose as his models the rugged and weather-beaten faces of contemporary Noya fishermen. St. James wears his usual pilgrim’s cap with shells on it. All the faces wear a happy look, and are almost smiling; the salt sea breezes have probably worn off much of their original expressiveness, but there is enough left to make them very interesting.{238}

The plan of San Martin de Noya, like that of Santa Maria a Nova, is one nave with wide parallel arches, and a wooden roof; its style is supposed to be Gothic, but, as Lamperez remarks, it is full of romantismos, that is, features which are distinctly Romanesque; the only part that is vaulted is the castellated apse. A wooden roof was naturally the easiest and cheapest in a district where timber was so remarkably abundant as at Noya, and when shipbuilding was the most thriving industry.

A real peculiarity of this church, and one which I do not remember noticing in any other Gallegan architecture, is the great stone corbels or brackets which, like gargoyles, form the sides of the church both inside and out. The outer ones were built either with the object of facilitating the erection of a parapet or tribune from which processions and other spectacles could be witnessed, or intended to be used like tent poles, and covered with awning when cases were tried or fairs were held there; the latter seems to me to have been their most probable use: some of the largest churches in Holland are still surrounded by shops and booths in this manner; the brackets in the interior support wooden-floored galleries in the nave, and are the most striking part of its ornamentation. Each is composed of two long stones; in the end of each stone there is sculptured an arch which forms the end of a deep niche filled with the head and torso of a statue with its hands upon its breast as if in the act of adoration; in some, the upper statue is that of a bearded man and the lower that of a woman; others appear to represent monks. Both when taken as a whole and in detail these Noya corbels represent an important point as regards the study of ornamental sculpture in Galicia.

The Gothic apse, which is semi-dodecagonal, has narrow lancet windows, and between the windows there are lofty buttresses. In the interior of the church, to right and left of the apse, there are pillars supporting arch stones without arches; whether this should be taken as a sign that the church was originally intended to have three naves, or not, is uncertain. In the opinion of Lamperez, San Martin de Noya does not give the impression of being an edifice in the construction of which the architects changed their original plan; it indicates rather that it was executed rapidly and upon one plan; “it is an example of the archaism of the Gallegan style, and of the persistence with which the Cathedral of Santiago was imitated throughout the province.”

An interesting sarcophagus has recently been discovered

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in an old chapel on the left side of the church; it has upon it the recumbent effigy of a Noya alderman. The inscription is carved upon his stone pillow in such a manner that at a short distance it looks like embroidery; he holds a dagger in his hand, and wears a kilted skirt and a tall hat, and dates, in all probability, from the fourteenth century. The coloured glass in the rose window is modern, but its mellowing effect on the light that streams through it is very pleasing.

Almost facing the apse of this church is an interesting old house which is supposed to date from the end of the fifteenth or beginning of the sixteenth century; its first floor rests upon a porch, or rather a colonnade, with four Gothic arches; the windows are very small, and the walls massive. This house is thought to have belonged to one of Noya’s wealthy merchant families; part of it is now used as an hotel; the balcony is modern. There are several other houses in Noya that are very similar to this one, and equally old, for Noya too had her own nobility and her days of splendour. The house opposite the façade of San Martin is an old one, and behind it are to be seen the ruins of what was formerly the summer residence of the archbishops of Santiago; there still remains a wall with a Gothic window, and a little while ago there was an arch still standing. In this courtyard a rebel was publicly executed by order of the archbishop, in the fourteenth century.

Many parts of the old wall which surrounded the town in medieval days are still standing; the fisherwomen mend their nets upon it. At one time the water of the ria washed against its many gates, but now it does not come farther than the bridge with six arches. Ships and small boats float up towards the town with the tide, and are left stranded at low water. A little way up the river Trava, which skirts the southern side of the town, is a picturesque flour mill, on the road to which stands the quaint little hospital with the Noya arms above its entrance.

The Franciscan monastery, already partially in ruins, is now used as the town prison. I went up its broad old stairs, walked round its cloister to admire its graceful arcades (later Gothic), and saw, in what had been perhaps the refectory or the library of the monks, one solitary prisoner; the floors were composed of rotting rafters that threatened to give way as we walked, though I was assured by the gentleman who acted as my guide, that they were entirely of chestnut wood, and very strong. The windows looked out on a beautiful garden shut in on three sides by verdant hills.{240}

The Noya magistrate, when I was speaking about the prison, informed me that there were only seventy cases of crime in Noya in the whole of the preceding year, and none of them grave. “The man you saw in the prison,” he added, “is of feeble mind, and as soon as room in an asylum can be found he is to be removed thither.”

Near the monastery there is a fine old family mansion belonging to the Varela family, containing some quaint furniture, pictures, and clocks; it stands in a beautiful garden with fountains and arbours, and is full of flowering trees, giant magnolias with spreading branches, and camellias of every colour; I saw there many semi-tropical shrubs of which I did not know the names.

There are some charming drives in the neighbourhood of Noya. Our first was to the Puente de Alonso III. (Bridge of Alonso III.), a fine old bridge which crosses the Tambre about two miles from the point at which its mountain waters mingle with the brine of the ria. It was the 25th of March, and the fruit trees, which covered many of the valleys and half hid the villages with their pink and white blossoms, were a sight worth coming a long way to see. Green hills, their summits now bleak and bare like the Scotch moors, now covered with furze still yellow with bloom, sloped upwards in the distance on the farther side of the majestic river, and as we drove inland along its bank we could see, on looking behind us, the graceful curves and rugged peaks of the last outposts of the Pyrenees rising above the waters of the Atlantic Ocean on either side of the shining ria. One of these giant gates of the Atlantic, the one to the north, is called Monte Barganzos; we could see the ria coming inland to meet the Tambre just as the Arctic waters flow down to fill the lochs that separate the island of Skye from the western coast of Scotland. The Tambre flows with great force when swollen by the affluence of other mountain streams; it is twenty Spanish leagues in length, and winds in and out among the mountains like the letter S. Some of the slopes on either side of the river were carpeted with a brilliant green, others were covered with pine woods, while others again had groves of oak trees, whose bare branches were interspersed with the blossom of the cherry and the apple. There were villages everywhere, very small ones, often with only half a dozen houses in each. Now and again the hillside was a mass of white blossom like freshly fallen snow; and after we had driven about two miles the town of Noya itself could hardly be seen for its profusion of encircling blossom. Rye and{241} wheat stood high in many of the fields; it was to be harvested in May, when maize would immediately be sown in its place, to be cut in its turn in October. Green peas filled some of the plots, and were already in flower; they too were to be ready in May, and some were already in pod. Other plots were heaped with vegetable manure, and about to be sown with maize. Our road then ran close to the water, which was fringed with overhanging willows, and here and there a tall eucalyptus, an orange, or a lemon. There were lemon trees in all the village gardens. The oranges of Noya are quite passable, though not so luscious as those of Southern Spain. Fine “lords and ladies” peeped from under the hedges, and in the more shady nooks there were a few ferns and hyacinths. The pine trees here too were covered with “brown fingers,” and below each finger we could see a cone.

Our carriage stopped near a picturesque village, through which lay our path leading to the Bridge of Alonso III. In a shed as we passed I saw some carts of the “singing wheel” kind, and took the opportunity to study their make; the walnut wood axles, as smooth as satin, were as thick as a man’s thigh, the wheels were solid disks of oak with iron-bound edges.

We entered one of the cottages; it was built with great solid blocks of granite, and had walls three-quarters of a yard thick; such cottages last for generations. They are deliciously cool in summer and warm in winter, for each has a great oven built into the wall and forming an excrescence on the outside, not unlike the mud ovens of Central Asia. Here the bread is baked; while near it, hanging from a hinge on the wall like a picture, is the escaño, or wooden dining-table; it takes up no room, and is on the principle of the seats in the corridors of trains, and never in the way; two hooks in the ceiling, a couple of yards apart, support two loops of cord, and in these loops rests a long pole; on the pole hang the clothes of the family. This too is on the same principle as the wardrobes of Turkestan; they, like the table, can be got out of the way in a moment when their room is required. A small baby boy in a quaint wooden cradle delighted us with its beautiful brown eyes, and its little sister standing near also had magnificent eyes. Opposite the kitchen, across the narrow passage, we opened another door, expecting to see another dwelling room, but behold, it was a cattle stall, dark, with no windows, and containing one solitary cow, who looked at us with great surprise. The baby’s mother informed us that the cows were always kept in the houses, and that only the bullocks were out ploughing.

The interior of the next cottage was shown to us by its{242} owner, an old woman wearing a yellow straw hat with a black ribbon band round the low crown, crossed in two short ends at the back; in a shed outside we saw piles of freshly mown hay full of daisies, and aromatic with field herbs. Fowls were running about in the kitchen, which also did duty as a hen-coop. We noticed a crucifix on a shelf in the bedroom. As we came out again into the lane, a long-legged pig met us at a gallop, and a man trotted briskly past on a mule.

To our right, just before we reached the bridge, we came to a tall sculptured stone cross raised upon four steps of stone; this cross dates from the fifteenth century. The sculpture is well preserved; on the lower part are the figures of three monks, each looking in a different direction; they wear the garb of “Benedictine,” “Dominican,” and “Franciscan” respectively. Galicia is full of such crosses, as England was once. In the Middle Ages a stone crucifix often stood in the place of an oratory. In many districts scarcely yet cleared from the forest a cross raised in the middle of a field was enough to satisfy the devotion of the Anglo-Saxon thane,[241] his ploughmen and shepherds; they gathered round it for public and daily prayer in places where churches were scarce.

Laurel bushes in full flower and with a very small leaf adorned the bank, and sprang from crevices in the bulwarks of the bridge. This bridge had, originally, pointed Gothic arches built in the fifteenth century, but when it was restored in the nineteenth the new arches were made semicircular. In my photograph the old pointed arches are clearly distinguishable among the others;[242] half way across we looked down over the parapet upon an old apple tree that sprang out of the brickwork of the breakwaters which were built on the eastern side, like the pointed prows of ships, to cut the force of the torrent-fed river; on the western side the breakwaters were square, and washed only by the gentle sea-tides of the ria. Ascending the farther bank after we had crossed the bridge, we came to a large village, the very one that Professor Dogson of Oxford walked out to from Noya, that he might gather and examine the names of the villagers with a view to proving their Basque origin.[243] A little higher up on{243} the slope of the hill is a village named Argalo, after a king of the Greeks, the fifth king of Lacedemonia, about 1400 B.C., and founded by Greek settlers at a little later date.[244] Aguiar asserts that in no part of the Peninsula are there more traces of Greek colonies than in Portugal and Galicia. There are thousands of Greek names still to be found in Galicia, names of towns, mountains, and rivers, such as Agra, Melante, Berroea, Berta, Boea, Bura, Camara, Cardia, Cella, Cora, Naron, Samos, Lais, Pindo, and Caspindo. The Gallegan name for maize bread is broa, which is also a Greek word. Two of the three generals who confronted the Romans in the north of Spain were Leucon and Megara. The custom of wrestling naked on festive occasions was derived by the Gallegan villagers from Greek colonists, and preserved up to the middle of the nineteenth century.

As we were returning to Noya, we passed on the road a woman carrying a large sack of flour on her head; her boots were tied together and slung above the sack, and she was walking barefoot. At a distance of about an eighth of a mile from Noya we again alighted from our conveyance, and ascended a short way up a hill to a tiny village hidden among the trees, to look at a stone with a Roman inscription which the villagers had discovered a few days previously. In the yard of one of the cottagers, built with slabs of ancient stone, we found the writing we had come to see; the woman who owned the cottage was quite aware that her find was likely to be valued by the local archæologists, and she was determined only to part with it to the highest bidder, so we contented ourselves with a photograph. The letters of the inscription are very clear where not broken away, as may be seen from the photograph.

NA   .  .  .   M

(To the gods, to Moso, his mother Florina, etc.)

The stone had formed part of one of the cottage walls; in a heap of rubbish we discovered part of a stone column about three-quarters of a foot in diameter, also the Doric base of a very much larger column turned upside down among a pile of stones. The friend who acted as my guide had{244} found some interesting fragments of Roman pottery there a few years before, and was convinced that it was the site of an important Roman settlement. This gentleman presented me afterwards with a photograph of another Græco-Latin stone of the first or second century, found in that neighbourhood, on which, beneath a curious figure standing under a crescent, were the letters—


The last line is the usual Voto Solute timens Numini posuit.

On 27th March we drove along the bridge over the river Trava, and skirted the southern shore of the ria by a road cut in the slope of a hill, a good road only finished in 1900. Almost all the roads round Noya are quite new; until some twelve years ago travellers had no choice but to ride or go on foot. Every step of this drive was beautiful; the day was fine, and the ria looked like a Swiss lake beneath us,—it might have been Lake Como, with its mountain scenery on either side. On our left was Monte Barbanzos, looking far more like a range of peaks than one single mountain—its base spreads over five Spanish leagues. This mountain is partly covered with furze and partly with grass; it has no trees, but the mountains on the opposite side of the ria are mostly covered with pines, which stood out in a fringe against the sunlit sky as we retraced our steps to Noya. The shore below us formed numerous little bays and inlets with beaches of silvery sand, perfect for summer bathing. Here the ancient Iberians are thought to have dwelt before the arrival of the Celts; the latter were a continental people, but the Iberians loved to dwell by the sea. An archæologist who has explored this part tells me that the names here are very like those of Italy (which land was also partly peopled by Iberians). A little farther on we passed the spot where a famous trovador of the thirteenth century is said to have lived—he was one of those whose erotic verses are preserved in the Vatican collection. At last we reached a particularly snug little bay which still retains the name given it by the Romans—Portosino, Portus Sinus. From here the telegraph wire ran through the pine trees to Son. On a little neck of land which forms the bay of Portosino we visited a factory for tinning sardines; boats belonging to it bring the fish to a little landing-place two yards from the factory door. Behind the factory was a{245} garden, a regular old English garden—but for its tropical fruits—with a straight path down the centre hedged by shrubs, and bushes of stocks, red and pink, in full bloom; between the garden and the house of the owners of the factory there was the typical Gallegan wash-tank, with sloping stone sides on which to rub the clothes; here a woman with bare feet was washing linen in the running water, which entered the tank on one side and left it on the other; trees sheltered the tank, and beyond was an arbour over which there climbed a variety of cacti with red flowers and finger-like leaves of dark green. In the garden I noted fig trees as broad and sturdy as an oak; there were also lemon trees laden with ripe lemons; we had passed a grove of orange trees a few minutes before, some of which were in blossom. A huge pear tree, white with blossoms, overhung a good piece of the garden, and near it was a Nispera Japonica (Japanese Medlar), with its fruit already the size of green cherries.

We plucked branches of blossoming black thorn from the hedges which lined the road, and then alighted beside a pine wood to gather a remarkable plant which local fishermen employ to poison trout; it is in no way injurious to the fish for eating purposes, and saves the trouble of waiting for a bite!

Near Portosino, but on the opposite side of the ria, there are twelve boat-building establishments; boats of all sizes are built there, some large enough to cross the ocean, but only sailing boats. They supply the whole coast with fishing boats, and the pine woods upon the neighbouring hills supply them with timber. But Noya’s most important activity is the exportation of pines to Cardiff.

Sometimes English ships come into the ria; and when our fleet is stationed at Villagarcia the officers visit the neighbourhood of Finisterre and enjoy some good sport. Borrow wrote, “Certainly in the whole world there is no bolder coast than the Gallegan shore, from the debouchement of the Miño to Cape Finisterre.” Opposite Portosino to the north of the ria we could discern the port of Muros, a town that has so long been famed for its beautiful women.

Muros is the name given to a juridical division of the province of Coruña, which comprises twenty-nine parishes and some forty thousand souls. The town of Muros, nestling in a fold of Mount Costina, has about three thousand inhabitants, who are chiefly engaged in fishing and sardine packing; it is divided into two parts, called respectively Gesta and Cerca.{246} In the central square, or Plaza de los Toros, there is a tall Gothic clock tower which has been so much repaired that very little of its antiquity remains. The church, Santa Maria del Campo, was founded in 1504 by Diego Minguez. The port of Muros is a very good one, sheltered on three sides by lofty mountains, and opening into the Ria de Noya; it admits ships of every size and kind, and has a good beach for sea-bathing, and a mild temperature.[245] English sailing ships called at Muros long before they discovered Vigo, and the seafaring folk of Muros have visited for centuries the coasts of Scotland and England; they are energetic, and make a good deal of money. I had fully intended to visit Muros from Noya, but was obliged to abandon the project on account of the uncertainty of the journey. It takes five hours to cross the ria in fine weather, but if the weather is stormy one may be kept a prisoner at Muros for days together, and I could not risk so much time.

Muros is believed to have been founded by Greek colonists long before the Christian era, and the classic beauty of its women is attributed to the fact that the town never, till quite lately, had much intercourse with other places, and that the purity of the Greek type was thus handed down from one generation to another. My hostess in Santiago had talked much of Muros and its beautiful women; she described them as mostly fair-complexioned with very dark eyes, pearly teeth, and black hair, the latter so thick that when worn in a plait “you could not get your fingers round it, and so long that it reached to the feet.” “People turn in the street to look at a Muros woman,” she added; “their beauty is so striking.” These women have a dress of their own, loose and flowing; they never cover their heads with either hat or handkerchief, though if the weather is very cold they will draw their shawls up over their heads.

Our third drive took us up the side of a hill called Pena de Oro (Rock of Gold), and bearing that name as far back as the fourteenth century, as a recently discovered document testifies. Part way up the slope we passed a charming villa and garden belonging to a Santiago family, that of Don Pedro de Pais. A woman working there kindly came on with us as our guide to a dolmen (cromlech) which we wished to visit. It was at this point I took a photograph of Noya from the carriage. But no photograph could do justice to its delicate framework of cherry and apple blossoms, which literally smothered its innumerable villages, and joined them all in{247} one pink-and-white mass. It has been predicted that these villages will ere long form part and parcel of Noya, for the spaces between them are filling up rapidly.

The dolmen was situated on the flat top of a high hill far from all human habitation, and shut in by pines and the slopes of yet higher hills. It was a rough scramble up steep goat paths winding among stones and furze. We found seven Druidical-looking stones placed in a small circle round what had once been a grave. Sr. Barros Sevelo opened the grave some thirty years ago, and describes the various implements, ashes, torques, and urns, that he found there, in his book on the antiquities of Galicia. The stones lean against one another like the leaves of a tulip; there was once a great slab across the top. The peasants of the neighbourhood call this dolmen Casa dá Moura, and implicitly believe it to be a Moorish ruin, for the Moors are the only strangers they have ever heard of; they attribute everything that is old to them, including the Latin inscriptions! The hill on which the dolmen stands is called Monte Paraino. From it we had an extensive view of the valley through which our road passed, and of the villages on the farther slope. Among them we noted a large white house, the residence of a former Rector of Santiago University, Señor Romero Blanco, who enjoys considerable repute in the world of medicine.

As we were descending the hill to rejoin our conveyance, we entered a cottage and had a chat with its owners. On my expressing a wish to see the rooms, the woman took me by the hand and led me through a passage and up stairs so dark that we had to strike a light to see the steps. In a room on the upper floor there was a bed covered with a neat counterpane. “This room belongs to my nephew who has gone to America,” she said, with a touch of sadness in her voice. “We have only had one letter from him since he arrived there, and that came a month ago.”[246] The cottage, built of granite slabs, had hardly any windows; most of the rooms were low and dark, and we were in danger of knocking our heads against the rafters. The old man looked very hale and hearty; quite fit for another ten years of active life.

“How old do you think me?” he asked, and then he added: “I am eighty-six; I was born in 1821. In my younger days I was a grenadier in the Engineers; I have served in almost every part of Spain.”

When we emerged to the sunlight I looked at him more{248} closely. He was a tall, well built fellow with a fine military bearing, and had features that would have done credit to a general.

A couple of miles farther on we came to a little church (upon our right), which dated from the twelfth century, and had a Romanesque entrance not unlike that of Santa Maria de Sar, a semicircular arch resting upon columns with sculptured capitals—only much rougher in its workmanship; the apse was eighteenth-century work, square in form and much higher than the nave. The apses were lower than the nave until the fifteenth century, and often circular in form. This church was constructed entirely of granite; the statues which once stood in its niches are now placed in the wall of the apse; the churchyard was full of horizontal tombstones. On festal occasions a procession of peasants passes over them with as little concern as if they were paving stones. The Gallegans have none of our superstitious horror of graves and coffins, but like to have the remains of their departed always near them.

We drove on till we had almost reached a hill called San Mamed, rising from the slope of Monte Confurco, among the granite boulders of which there has stood a little chapel of some description ever since the fourth century; this was probably the site of a hermit’s cell in the days of San Fructuoso. On certain days in the year, and especially on 10th August, the people of Noya make excursions to this hill. Some of the boulders are so big that a man can stand upright beneath their projecting sides. The excursions or romerias are a kind of religious picnic, from which both spiritual and physical blessings are expected to result. So great is the faith in San Mamed, that delicate women walk the whole way from Noya, often taking quite young children with them; although they are ready to drop with fatigue, they persevere for the sake of ultimate good. A curious hollow in one of the great boulders is called the bed of San Mamed, and people suffering from various internal complaints think they will be cured if they stretch themselves upon the saint’s bed.

The moon shone full upon our road as we drove back along the pine-skirted road, and lit up the faces of the young peasant women who passed us with baskets of fish upon their heads, and sang as they walked, “Tralala, tralala.”

The little white-washed leper chapel which stands on a green slope separated from the town by the river Trava belonged once to a leper hospital. The people still take their offerings to that chapel on the day of St. Lazarus, whereupon{249} the priests sell the offerings received and give the proceeds to the poor.

The next morning I witnessed an interesting scene from our balcony. A bullock cart drew up in front of the little hotel—the cart was practically nothing more than a raft; upon it stood two fine sturdy peasant women, and on either side of it there walked two more whose appearance was equally muscular; two of them wore the typical flat-brimmed straw hat with a pious-looking black ribbon round the crown, the others had handkerchiefs tied over their heads. One of the bullocks has got something into its hoof, and the women try to get hold of its leg, but it kicks violently every time they approach. At last one of them succeeds in getting a rope round the refractory leg, takes hold of it, and turns up the hoof, while a rapidly increasing crowd looks on. The woman now borrowed a knife from a bystander, and proceeded to pick the furze or thorn out of the hoof; meanwhile another of the women fetched a cup of alcohol from a shop and a box of matches; she poured the alcohol into the cavity of the upturned hoof and set a light to it; the hoof was now in a blaze, and the bullock kicked and struggled with all its might, but the women held on to the hoof till the fire had burned away the obstruction, then they let it go and proceeded to load the cart with sacks full of something heavy. They worked away exactly as if they were four strong field labourers; not a man in the crowd attempted to give them the slightest assistance, nor did they seem to require any. These women labourers are most conscientious in their work, and it is very rarely that a woman gives way to drink. They are extremely self-denying, and in those families where there is still a man left, the wife “gives the chicken to the husband and contents herself with the broth.” When the husbands and sons have emigrated, the wives and daughters cheerfully take upon themselves all the agricultural labour, in addition to the care of the children and the home. Yet, in spite of it all, their cottages are remarkably clean and comfortable.

On Maundy Thursday we had a “fast” dinner, the courses of which were—prawns; a mash of chick-peas and eggs; cockles served in scallop shells; turbot; lampreys and green peas; and lastly, salmonete baked in a pie. In the afternoon a procession passed beneath our balcony; four men carried a platform on which stood a life-size figure of Christ sinking beneath the weight of His cross; He wore a purple mantle bordered with gold; two Roman soldiers, half-clad, were on either side. Six priests and a crowd of men, including the{250} musicians, preceded, and a crowd of women and children followed; nearly all the women had white handkerchiefs over their heads.

On Good Friday, as soon as it was dark, children began to run about the streets with lighted candles, and by 9 p.m. every window was illuminated, and another procession passed beneath our balcony. In this procession they had the Virgin robed in black, and going to seek her Son; a very doleful march was played by the musicians, the silent crowd preceding, each person with a lighted candle.

On the Saturday before Easter all the bells of the town began to peal at 10.30 a.m., and in answer to my question as to why they did not wait till Easter morning, I received the reply that on Sunday morning the ringing would interfere with the church services. In the afternoon I went to the church of San Martin, and saw the people come and fetch away the candles they had placed before the altar; each candlestick (there were some four hundred) had a piece of paper round it with the name of its owner. “How do you each find your own candle again so quickly?” I asked of one.

“Each person recognises their own candlestick,” was the answer. All through the week little boys were going about with noisy wooden rattles which sounded exactly like frogs croaking, and tried our nerves terribly. On Wednesday evening they took the rattles to church, and croaked in the dark before the candles were lit. This was supposed to represent the cries of the Jewish rabble before the Crucifixion, but the distracting noise continued in Noya for several days. The first time I heard the rattle I innocently asked the landlord’s daughter to give the boy a silver coin and ask him to move on to another street. “It’s no use,” she replied,—“that noise will grow much worse, and it will continue several days; it is part of the festival.” The Wednesday evening service in which the rattles take a special part is that of Las tenieblas; in fact, this name applies to all the matins during the last three days of Holy Week, and the rattle, carraca, is meant to take the place of bells.

The dinner menu on Good Friday was as follows:—Lobster; bread soup; turbot; baked cockle tart; omelets; coffee.

As we stood on the balcony watching for one of the processions, a lady resident at Noya turned to me, and said wistfully—

“I feel sure you will be baptized before you leave Noya, and become a Christian.”

“But are not Protestants Christians too?” I asked.{251}

“Oh, but you will be baptized, and all Noya will run to see. Your face tells me that you will be baptized. What is your name?”


“Ah! they say the devil spins round three times every time he hears that name.”

On Easter Sunday we were present at the ten o’clock Mass, and saw the village women walk coolly into the middle of the church with their great market baskets on their heads; then each in turn lifted her basket off her head and placed it by her side till the service was over, when she again lifted it to the top of her head and marched out. To the English mind this close combination of Sabbath and market-day is at first somewhat repugnant, but surely if our religion is worth anything it must have a better influence over us when it is part of our daily life than when it is kept quite separate, like a Sunday-go-to-meeting bonnet! Yes, it was both Easter Sunday and market-day; as we came out of church we were immediately confronted by innumerable booths, stalls, and tables covered with village merchandise,—oranges grown in the vicinity, the local wide-brimmed straw hats, baskets of eggs, rows of coffins—large ones painted black, small ones white—village cheeses and young vegetables, small piles of maize, millet, chick-peas, hand-woven cloth, and tin kitchen utensils. I asked the price of the straw hats; they were about tenpence halfpenny each, and came from the village of San Cosmo. Small onions were twisted into a regular braid and sold by length, and “Spanish” onions, cebollas, were also plentiful.

On another occasion we wandered through some of the older streets; there was one, very narrow, the calle de la Condessa, with thirteenth-century houses on both sides; they had Gothic windows and Gothic colonnades, and the outer walls were ornamented with an artistic device peculiar to Roman architecture, entabtamento (entablature). In a more modern street we found a tablet on the house in which one of Noya’s heroes was born,—“Luis Cradaso Rey, born in 1844, commanded the Spanish fleet in the Philippines; he died on board his flagship, the Reina Cristina, in 1898.” I have already mentioned the bust of Felipe de Castro in the Alameda, but Noya was also the birthplace of Galicia’s other great sculptor, José Ferreiro. Friar Luis Rodriquez was another of her famous men; he was a monk of the Franciscan monastery (which is now a prison) and the first person to publish a vocabulary of the Gallegan language.

There is no public square in Noya, and there is no bull-ring{252}, but Noya has her bull-fights four times a year, as regularly as the seasons. On these occasions a street serves the purpose of a ring; the two ends are blocked by tribunes filled with spectators, and the balconies of the houses on both sides overflow with ladies and gentlemen. A Noya bull-fight is conducted in this way:—The men rush at the bull—which is practically a tame one from the neighbouring hills—and try to aggravate it; at length they succeed, and it plunges at them, whereupon they turn their backs and flee before it in a crowd, falling at last in a heap, one on top of another, those who come last and fall on top getting their clothes rent by the horns of the bull, to the immense gratification of the spectators; it ends in the bull becoming the matador and the men playing the part usually assigned to the bull. There is a poetical description of one of these performances, by Enrique Labarta Posé. We are told, in running verse, how the town was placarded with “A Grand Bull-fight,” and how the inhabitants gathered from far and near on a sweltering August day—the feast day of Noya’s patron saint, San Bartolomé. When the company had assembled—all the children, all the young people and all the old ones—the president rose and waved a handkerchief, as the signal that the performance should now begin. Music burst forth, a door opened, and—a bull appeared; but such a quiet, gentle creature! he actually walked along as if he were going to pay a call—to chat with a fellow-bull in the neighbouring field. The men now rushed at the poor creature; one pulled its tail, another beat its back, another ran a stick into its side till the president felt so sorry for it that he gave the signal for its withdrawal. Another bull then appeared. The men simply threw themselves upon it, and the bull bore their onslaught with the serenity of a martyr at the stake! and without moving a hair. Again the president’s heart was touched; he signalled, and the victim was allowed to go. A third bull now came forth to the sound of more music, and a similar scene was enacted. At last some one roused the president, who had dozed away in his chair, and that gentleman now brought the performance to a close amid the ringing cheers of a delighted audience.

All the students who had come to Noya for Easter returned to Santiago by coach on Sunday, to be ready for work on Easter Monday, which is not Bank Holiday in Galicia.

We returned by the first coach on Monday, and found the scenery of the journey even more beautiful than when we had come. It was as we were nearing Santiago that we saw{253} three hundred young men who had come down from the mountains to search for work, and to emigrate if none could be found. I understood now how it came about that the Gallegan emigrants sometimes died of home-sickness, for I had experienced something of the inexpressible charm of their beautiful country, their hills and valleys always green, and their perennial streams that are never parched, and I could understand something of what it must be to these poor fellows to be separated from such a home by thousands and thousands of miles in a land where all nature was so different. South America, with its wide prairies under a merciless sun, its wild and savage mountains where one may travel for days together without finding a sign of human life, is very different from populous Galicia with its gentle, smiling scenery, its mountains whose slopes are veritable gardens, its innumerable springs, its rias and its rivers, its vines and its orchards. Every step of land visible from Noya is cultivated, every peasant is a proprietor. Yes, I had begun to understand the devotion of the Gallegans to their beautiful native land. Who would not love passionately so sweet a birthplace? Even the Russian loves his steppe, where the scene never changes for thousands of miles. In Galicia, every nook, every crag, every peak, every valley has a distinctive character that is all its own, with its own peculiar beauty. Galicia’s cottage homes are of granite, they last for many generations; even the Russian exile loves his home, though his isba of wood will not last twenty years. Shall not the Gallegan regret Galicia, where there is so much that his memory can cling to? There are two kinds of home-sickness to which the Gallegan emigrants are subject,—saudades, a milder form, and morrina, already mentioned; they die of the latter, but the former is not fatal, and the sound of their beloved musical instrument, the gaita, or bagpipe, has been known to revive their spirits and give them the power to throw it off.{254}



Villagarcia—Site of King Alfonso’s new palace—Pontevedra—A magnificent stone bridge—The fishermen’s guild—The fishermen’s church—The façade—The interior—The architect of Santa Maria la Grande—Morales—Santo Domingo—Beautiful ruins—A romantic museum—Sepulchral effigies—Ambassadors to Tamerlane—Roman milestones—Escutcheons—The contents of the museum—Iberian, Celtic, and Sueve antiquities—Stonemasons’ marks—The founder of the Pontevedra Archæological Society—The Conventual Church of San Francisco—The legendary Chariño—Museum in the Municipal Buildings—Mediæval keys—The archives of Pontevedra—Drive to Marin—English Protestant missionaries—The river Lerez—Santa Clara—Drive to the village of Combarro—Pedro Sarmiento—The house in which he was born—Las Sarmientas—Heavy taxes—San Juan de Poyo—Santa Tramunda—The Jewish quarter—Mansion of the Sotomayor family—The Castillo de Mos—A mediæval castle—A beautiful drive—Passing through a battlefield—Vines trained over granite—Entering the castle grounds—The little theatre—The old keep—Gothic staircase—Dungeons—The chapel—The parapet—The turret—The reception rooms—An authoress—Three periods of architecture—Very old chestnut trees—Prehistoric rock drawings—Cup marks—Half an hour’s walk from Pontevedra

WE spent another week in Santiago after our return from Noya, and then proceeded by train to Pontevedra, the chief town of the province of that name.[247] Two of the stations we passed on the way were Padron and Villagarcia. It was at Villagarcia that a British fleet lay for several weeks in the spring of 1907, as I found to my cost, for the officers had been before me and had bought up all the best photographs available in several of the neighbouring towns. Villagarcia is beautifully situated on the eastern bank of the Ria de Arosa, nineteen kilometres from the town of Pontevedra, and is called la Perla de Arosa (the Pearl of Arosa). It has a population of about seven thousand. The sea-bathing here is excellent, and there are delightful walks in the vicinity; but the fact that King Alfonso has selected it as the site of his new summer palace is perhaps the best proof we can give of its healthful beauty and charm.

Pontevedra, surrounded by hills on three sides, is situated{255} on a small peninsular formed by the rivers Lerez, Alba, and Tomeya, just before they empty themselves into the sea. During the Middle Ages the town was surrounded by a rampart with bastions and castellated towers at regular intervals. A little to the north on the road to Santiago there is a magnificent stone bridge over the river Lerez, with twelve arches; it was built upon the site of an older bridge in 1765, and is also called Puente del Burgo. There are many old houses in the town, with the escutcheons of influential families still upon their walls.

Pontevedra too has her ancient history: she claims, on the authority of Strabo, to have been founded by the Greeks, who came over with Teucer, and to have been called Los Helenos in consequence. Strabo got this information from Asclepeades Merleanus (the Grammarian of Andalusia).[248] It is not known when the name was changed, but there seems no doubt that it must have been about the time of the advent of the Romans, and that Pontevedra is derived from Pons vetus. Roman milestones discovered during the last hundred and fifty years prove by their inscriptions that at least one of the Roman military roads passed this way.[249]

During the Middle Ages Pontevedra was a town of considerable maritime importance; Molina calls it “the largest town in Galicia,” with a fishing trade of seldom less than eighty thousand ducats annually, and says, “it trades with Valencia, Andalusia, Sicily, and places even more distant; more than a hundred vessels laden with sardines leave its port every year.” All the activity and all the wealth of this town was connected with the sea; its merchant fishermen formed among themselves a sort of fishing guild, and, like the Hanseatic League, kept all the maritime commerce in their own hands, including that of all the towns on the Ria de Arosa, as well as Marin and Vigo. Pontevedra was the only port for loading and unloading vessels all along the coast from Bayona to Los Trangueiros; she also, along with Noya, had a monopoly of the preparation of fish oil, conceded to them by Fernando in 1238. On one occasion, when twelve or thirteen Pontevedrans had been carried off by Turkish pirates, the Archbishop of Santiago, Don Gaspar Avalos, granted these merchants a very curious privilege, namely, that they might fish on Sundays, provided that they would spend the money so made in ransoming the captives.

The fishers’ league, or guild, was called Gremio de la Cofradia{256} del Cuerpo Santo, and the merchant fishermen called themselves Mareantes: they had their own ordinances, laws, and regulations, and, being an extremely powerful and wealthy body, they had control of all municipal affairs, and always came off best in any dispute with their neighbours. In gratitude to Heaven for the prosperity which they enjoyed, these merchant fishers subscribed money to build a church worthy of their town, and the result was the beautiful edifice of Santa Maria la Grande. The money was not subscribed all at once in a lump sum, but different parts of the church were built at the expense of the various donors. In the façade to the right of the principal entrance is an inscription giving the name of a Mareante—Bartolamé Trigo—and stating exactly what part of the wall had been paid for out of his pocket. Now, two Bartolames figure in the local documents of the fifteenth century, one young and one old, so that, in spite of all his care, we cannot be sure whether this donor was the son or the father. Inside the church there are many more such inscriptions on the walls and on the pillars. Sometimes the wife’s name figures beside that of the husband, as for instance in the oldest of the side chapels, where we find an inscription giving the names of Juan de Barbeito and his wife Taresa, and stating that they were the founders of the chapel; it is the oldest of all the inscriptions. Here is one from the right wall beneath the choir[250]

R  :  DUAS  :  BRACAS  :  DE

Juan de Celis was an influential Mareante of the early days of the sixteenth century. But my readers must not think that the church, because each paid for his own bit of work, was like a patchwork quilt, with work of all shapes and sizes. It is, on the contrary, a remarkably beautiful edifice, and the only patchwork about it results from a fusion of several styles of architecture. Here we find, it is true, the Gothic merging into the Renaissance style, but the fusion is brought about with consummate skill, and, in the opinion of those most competent to judge, the architect could not have succeeded better; he had to keep in touch with the art of the thirteenth century, and at the same time to introduce

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the later element of the neo-Græco-Roman or plateresque. The result is a harmonious combination which deserves the highest praise. The nearest English equivalent to the predominating style is what we call “Tudor.”

The façade, which is in the Renaissance style, is considered to be the finest part of Santa Maria, and “the jewel of Pontevedra”;[251] it is divided into five sections or storeys, in three of which there are six columns with statues between; above each statue is the shell of St. James. Over the chief entrance is a beautiful relief representing the Assumption of the Virgin—eight Apostles clustering round the couch (a four-poster) of the dying Virgin; the faces are very fine. All the columns are covered with elaborate alto-relief in the grotesque style of the Renaissance. The church is built upon an eminence, and the ground, sloping sharply away from the façade, is covered with three handsome flights of steps; it is thus impossible, unfortunately, to get a good near view of the façade, for every step you take away from it brings you a step lower and makes the point of view less favourable. Above the stone wall which encloses the church on either side of the steps there is a remarkably fine iron railing. The bell-tower is eighteenth-century work, all except the lower storey, which is of the same date as the church. The real date of the façade is 1546, for Señor Casto Sampedro has discovered (in 1907) the deed of contract for its erection; the date of the vaulting of the naves is 1559, the chapels are of various dates. In former days there was a gate of the town between castellated walls facing the church; the present flight of steps is modern. In a book of the sixteenth century, entitled “Chronicles of England and France,”[252] in the possession of the British Consul at Villagarcia, there is a picture of the fortified town of Pontevedra with its battlements and towers; a very small portion of the castellated wall still remains near the Convent of Santa Clara.

All round the outer walls there is a fringe of plateresque stone lace which is very effective. One corner of the church, added later, forms a modern chapel, dedicated to El Cristo del buen viage (the Christ of the good journey). I looked in at the window, and saw an altar with a crucifix and a great many artificial flowers; in front of the window was a railing and a slit for coppers. This chapel, though modern, has its interests, and good Catholics about to take a journey drop a copper in the slot for good luck.{258}

The richly decorated interior of Santa Maria is most graceful; fan ribs radiate from the sculptured capitals of the tall clustered piers, and, interlacing, spread themselves over the vaulting in a geometrical network, while stone filigree fringes the central arch. The two side naves are divided from the central nave by pointed Gothic arches; each nave is covered with three separate vaults; at the head of the principal nave there is an apse of the same width, while on either side of the apse, at the head of each side nave there is a small chapel. All the vaulting is of one height. There was till quite recently a most gorgeous iconographic seventeenth-century retablo behind the chief altar, but, having become rotten and dangerous, it has now been removed in fragments to the local museum. The entire inner wall of the façade is entirely covered by a series of scenes from the Old and New Testament, sculptured in bas-relief upon the granite blocks—it is so dark in that part of the church that without the aid of a candle the work is hardly visible; one or two of the Biblical scenes are difficult to identify. I do not remember seeing anything like them in any other church; it is a superfluity of sculpture, a kind of inner façade, contrafachada. It is composed of nine divisions in three compartments. Among the scenes represented are: the creation of Eve, Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise, and the death of Abel. The chief interest in these is the treatment of details—the houses, mills, and bridges in the background, all have interest for the antiquarian.

Upon the site where Santa Maria la Grande now stands there once stood a church built in the ninth century; this is proved by existing documents, and it is also known that the name of that church was also Santa Maria la Grande; it stood on the highest spot in the town, and was in all probability the site of a Roman temple; this eminence dominates both the sea and the ria.

With regard to the name of the architect of Santa Maria la Grande there has been a good deal of doubt; he seems to have been more modest than the Mareantes who contributed the funds. Señor Villa-Amil thought that he had discovered both the date and the name of the architect when he found in a manuscript the statement that on 10th July 1517, Juan de los Cuelos, maestro de la obra de la iglesia de Santa-maria la Grande ortogó, etc. Murguia stated that the architect was a Portuguese,—Pedro Gonzalez,—but a local archæologist, Señor Casto Sampedro, has now proved both these statements to be erroneous, for, while reading through some ancient documents preserved in the notarial archives of the town, in the{259} spring of 1907, he suddenly lighted upon the real name of the sculptor of the façade, Cornelius de Holanda.[253]

Morales, who visited Pontevedra in the reign of Philip II. (in 1572), spoke of this church as Santa Maria de los Pescadores (the fishermen’s church), and said “they have spent more than twenty thousand ducats on it, and intend to spend another twenty thousand, the sum still needed to complete the work.” There are several pictures in the church, which, though of little value as paintings, have still an archæological interest, and there are some old chalices in the sacristy. In the principal nave there is a graceful font, very shallow, with an inscription round the brim and a sculptured pedestal.

On our way to Santa Maria la Grande, we had passed the ivy-covered ruins of a beautiful Gothic abbey; the sky was visible through the lancet windows of its graceful apses, and its crumbling walls seemed to speak to us from another world. This was all that remained of the Conventual Church of Santo Domingo.

I have heard this ruin spoken of by archæologists as the sole specimen of purely Gothic architecture in the whole of Galicia; every other church in the province seems to have borrowed something from the style of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. In 1880, Fita urged that the ruins of Santa Domingo at Pontevedra should be carefully guarded, and preserved as a national monument, but to-day the practical citizens of Pontevedra are complaining of the space taken up by its walls, and suggesting that it be cleared away to make room for some useful modern building!

In a history of the Order of San Domingo, published in 1613,[254] it is stated that there is no document in existence which gives the date of the foundation of Santo Domingo of Pontevedra, but that the site for it was purchased in Era 1321 (1283 A.D.) from a lady, Donna Sancha Roca Helda, and it is certain that the edifice was standing in the beginning of the fourteenth century. All that remains of it to-day is a little bit of the transept and its five polygonal apses—one large one with two small ones on either side; all five have fan vaulting and double lancet windows. The ornamentation of the columns is iconographic: on one of the capitals is sculptured a fight between warriors and a dog; on another, monster birds with long twisted necks attacking one another with their beaks. The inner walls show traces of having been once{260} covered with frescoes representing the Resurrection and the Life of Santo Domingo, of which some still remain. “It is the number of the apses,” writes Villa-Amil, “which constitutes the singularity of this church, for it is the only one of all the conventual churches built in Galicia during the Middle Ages which has that number, all the others (and here he mentions ten) have only three. Otherwise there is nothing remarkable about it.” The door which opened between the church and the sacristy is still there; it is Gothic, with an archivolt decorated with fluted mouldings, leaves, and twisted fillets; the statues which adorned it are gone. In the largest apse there is still preserved the original altar table of one solid piece of stone.

Santo Domingo, now an archæological museum, was once the principal necropolis, the Westminster Abbey, of the province of Pontevedra. As far back as the close of the fourteenth century, illustrious men left money to it in their wills, and the command that they should be interred within its precincts. The sepulchral effigies of Don Payo Gomez de Sotomayor and his wife the Infanta de Hungria, Donna Juana, are still there in their Gothic niches. Don Payo is coated with mail, his head is covered by a helmet, and his sword is by his side. The family of Sotomayor is one of the oldest in Spain, and the chapel in which their effigies lie was founded by them. Payo Gomez de Sotomayor was one of the two ambassadors sent by King Enrique III. of Castille to the court of Tamerlane in 1402; the other was Hernan Sanchez Palazuelos: they helped Tamerlane in his fight against the Turks. Tamerlane loaded them with presents, and also presented them with two beautiful captives (one of whom was said to be a member of the royal family of Hungary), whom they eventually married. Donna Juana, whose effigy is in Santo Domingo, was the captive who became the wife of Payo Gomez. On her tomb is an escutcheon in which the arms of the Sotomayors are united to those of the house of Hungary. Close by there is also the effigy of Don Suero Gomez de Sotomayor, the son of the ambassador to Persia.[255]

The ruins of Santo Domingo rise in the midst of a modern town; on two sides they overlook the street, and on a third side a huge grammar school for boys is being erected. The plot on which the ruins stands is shut in with a railing, and has been turned to the best possible use, for it now serves as an Open-air Archæological Museum. Rows of Roman

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mile-stones decorate one of its paths, and a row of ancient coats of arms lines another, while the wall behind them is a mass of ivy, laden when we were there with heavy black berries, that hang like bunches of grapes between the escutcheons. Cannon balls, a cannon that was thrown overboard by the sailors of a Spanish gallion when pressed by the Dutch in 1702, and an old iron anchor sixteen feet long with a ring at one end, were the first objects that attracted my attention; near them was an old stone cross (taken from the old church of San Bartolomé) some twenty-five feet high, and the horizontal tombstone of one of the monks of Santo Domingo which had been found in an old cemetery belonging to the monastery. There was also an old altar covered with tessellated work, and on it a curious statue of St. John the Baptist dating from the fourteenth century. St. John holds a plate on which there is a lamb sculptured, and the front of his tunic terminates with a human hand (very clear in the photograph). The frontal of an altar taken from the church of la Virgen del Camino, and dating from the fifteenth century, had a curiously sculptured representation of the Descent from the Cross; Mary is taking the body of Christ in her arms, two disciples support the head, another supports the knees; the Christ has a long drooping moustache which reaches almost to His waist, and the monk who supports the head has a similar moustache, only a shorter one. We also noted several horizontal tombstones, with emblems upon them indicating the class of work in which the respective persons buried beneath had been engaged.

One half of this museum is reserved for Roman, and the other for Iberian, Celtic, and Sueve antiquities. In the latter I saw several stones that were thought to belong to the period of the Sueves; there were also some rough boulders with strange markings on them thought to be Iberian writing. Near a bed of purple and white irises was a fine stone fountain that formerly stood in the principal square of the town, also a circular font covered with sculpture. The inscriptions on the Roman milestones are dedicated to Trajan, to Hadrian, to Constantine the Great, and other emperors. There are with them a number of aras, capitals, and funereal inscriptions; belonging to a later date there are Byzantine statues, hand-mills, sarcophagi, and numerous objects of antiquity. These are all scattered among the flower-beds, and the whole is like a rock-garden rather than a museum. The ivy-draped walls of the Church of Santo Domingo are covered on the inside with lapidary{262} signs—stonemasons’ marks—I counted some eighty-five of them.

The founding of this most unique and fascinating Museum in 1896 was due to the suggestion and energy of Señor Casto Sampedro, who has not only devoted endless time to its arrangement, but has published with the minutest care, in the local Archæological Journal, all the inscriptions it contains as well as those from the local churches. Señor Sampedro is a lawyer by profession, but his office is a veritable curiosity-shop, filled with antiques of every class and description: he is also an epigraphist, highly skilled in deciphering ancient documents. When a manuscript gives him any trouble, he pins it on his office wall, and looks at it at intervals during his work, sometimes for days together, before the correct meaning occurs to him. Señor Castro was also the founder of the Pontevedra Archæological Society.

We next visited the church of the Franciscan monastery. This edifice is built in the shape of a Latin cross, with one very wide nave and a wide transept; at the head of the nave are three Gothic apses, a large one the width of the nave, and a smaller one on either side. The apses have recently been restored, and the lancet windows which had been bricked up are now filled with coloured glass from the manufactory at Leon. The transept was begun in the fifteenth century, but the rest of the church, with the exception of the chapels, dates from the middle of the thirteenth. The apses have fan vaults, and are of the first period of Gothic art, very similar to those of Santo Domingo. The side chapels are filled with the sumptuous tombs of wealthy families of the vicinity. The table of the chief altar is a great stone slab, seventeen feet long and three wide; it is thought to date from the foundation of the edifice. On one of the lateral altars I noted a black-faced statue of St. Benedict of Palermo. Two pairs of sarcophagi at the foot of the steps leading to the chief altar had the recumbent effigies of two interesting couples; their length is about seven feet. One on the right is thought to be a famous admiral of the fourteenth century, the legendary Chariño. The feet of all these effigies are crossed, their heads rest upon stone pillows, while the top of each sarcophagus represents a couch. The inscription on the tomb thought to be that of Chariño has been the subject of considerable discussion in books and pamphlets. Payo Gomez Chariño was the admiral who, at the head of a fleet composed of twenty-seven ships from Pontevedra and thirteen from Noya, broke and burned the famous bridge over the Guadalquivir

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near Seville, Puente de Triana, which, being the key to the Moorish dominion of that part of the country, enabled Ferdinand III., to take the city.

Besides the Open-air Museum of Santo Domingo, there are also a couple of rooms devoted to antiquities in the handsome new municipal buildings overlooking the Alameda, but the keys are not always forthcoming for visitors, and I only visited one of them; it contained a collection of coins, some bronze agricultural instruments, a few arrow-heads, and a few Roman amphoras, and round the walls were a series of pictures to show what Pontevedra looked like before the English destroyed its battlemented walls and towers. In a bookcase I saw among other books an old copy of Pliny’s History. There was also a collection of ancient keys, and another of fifteenth-century bells. In a glass case there were some medals, among which was the square medal worn by the Inquisitors. The room to which I could not get the key contains the pieces of the seventeenth-century retablo that was removed from Santa Maria la Grande, and many interesting pieces of old furniture.

The archives of Pontevedra were very rich in historical documents relating to the past history of the town and province, but about three years ago the authorities of Madrid took it upon themselves to send some one to fetch them bodily to the capital, where they now lie in piles unread and uncared for, while local archæologists, who for the love of their town would willingly devote to them the most painstaking study, are left behind to lament the departure of a precious mental pabulum. What Madrid can gain by thus robbing the smaller towns of their archæological treasures, and damping the ardour of local enthusiasts, I fail to see. This is not the way to educate the people and make them value all that is connected with their past. No wonder that the citizens of Pontevedra should look upon the ruins of Santo Domingo as an eyesore; why should they do otherwise when they feel that if it had any value it would be carted to Madrid!

In the public gardens the azalias were covered with white blossom, and in the private gardens between the houses the wisteria was also resplendent, so too were camellias and oranges. One of the finest houses, standing in its own grounds, was that of Admiral Mendez Nuñez; it is here that our English admirals who come with the fleet are usually entertained.

One of the most charming drives in the vicinity of Pontevedra is to Marin, a little fishing town which lies upon a{264} crescent-shaped bay on the south-east coast of the ria; there is also a steam tramcar route, but it is far pleasanter to drive. Marin is a diminutive port, it has a little wharf, and is so safe and commodious that ships, all except the largest, can enter it in the most stormy weather, and its bottom affords splendid anchorage. As our carriage left the town behind us, we caught a fine view of the bridge over the Lerez, and the bull-ring near it. To our left we passed the handsome summer residence and grounds of the Marquis de Monfero Rios: here an orange grove had recently been planted, and some of the trees were laden with golden fruit; beside them was an avenue of tall pines which led up to the principal entrance of the villa. Hyacinths, nemopholi, and drooping narcissi covered the banks beneath the hedges that bordered our road as we proceeded, and behind them in the gardens were wisterias again, and camellias, and white roses creeping in profusion over the walls; but the principal feature of the whole drive was the vines; they showed as yet no signs of leaves, yet their dark knotted branches looked as if they had plenty of life in them, for tendrils were shooting all over the frames. These vines were not trained like hops on sticks, as they are in the Crimea, nor on trellis-work like those of the Austrian Tyrol, but rested upon bamboo canes from eight to twelve feet long, especially cultivated for that purpose; the cottages had bamboo brackets swinging out over their doors and lower windows to form supports for the vine branches; these make a deliciously cool covering in hot weather. The hills did not slope down to the water, but descended in terraces cut like steps; there were steps of vines, steps of corn, steps of grass, and steps of green peas; but always steps, never patches. At Marin we were kindly welcomed by some English Protestant missionaries, who do what they can to improve the condition of the poor fisherfolk; they have recently built a tasteful little chapel near their dwelling: the priests do not favour their presence, but the same liberty is accorded to them as is accorded to Mohammedans in England. At Marin numbers of fisherwomen are occupied in gathering cockles and other shell-fish on the shore; cartloads of cockles are taken up to the mountain villages, where the peasants live on them for days together. I constantly found groups of cottage children picking cockles out of their shells and making of them their mid-day repast.

An excursion by boat upon the river Lerez was planned for us, but had to be abandoned on account of the rain; this is one of the most beautiful excursions that tourists can take{265} from Pontevedra; the banks of the Lerez are thickly wooded, and are one mass of flowers and ferns in April and May.

The convent of Santa Clara is surrounded by lofty and forbidding walls; part of it is very old and part quite modern. Tradition says that the original building was a centre for the Knights Templars, whose duty it was to protect pilgrims and travellers on their journeys through the wilder parts of the country: it is said that this accounts for the fact that there is no escutcheon of the Order of Santa Clara upon the walls. The apse of the conventual church is Gothic, and resembles, with its lancet windows, those of Santo Domingo and San Francisco: the nuns are not allowed to leave their convent on any pretext whatsoever—they are cloistered for life; they do not even enter the body of their church, but worship in a gallery behind a wooden trellis, like the Jewesses in the synagogues of Bokhara.

Our next drive was across the bridge to the village of Combarro, and then on to the monastery of San Juan de Poyo Grande, to hear the monks sing the Salve Regina at their Saturday afternoon Mass. As we were just reaching the bridge, we got out of our carriage to look at the little house in which Pedro Sarmiento is said to have been born. Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa was a celebrated navigator of the sixteenth century. Sir Clements Markham tells us that Sarmiento’s writings on the Straits of Magellan are admirable work, and well known to English naval surveyors.[256] It seems that Sarmiento left Pontevedra at the age of eighteen, and devoted seven years of his life to studying the Incas. The Inquisition found him guilty of possessing mysterious and magic rings, and although his confessor had authorised his collecting them, he was condemned to say Mass, on his knees and nearly naked, in the Cathedral of Lima. While this sentence was being carried out, he was shut up in the convent of Santo Domingo without a single book, fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, and reciting seven psalms a day. At length his case was brought before the Pope, who somewhat softened the severity of his punishment. He eventually returned to Spain, equipped a large fleet and sailed forth, to be caught by three English ships and tortured to confess that he carried precious metal. The English took him to Plymouth; he travelled thence to Windsor, where he was kindly{266} treated by Queen Elizabeth, till his enemies got up some scandals about him, whereupon Elizabeth sent him on a diplomatic mission to Flanders and afterwards on another to Spain. He was taken prisoner, while asleep at Burgos, by Viscount de Bearny, and put in prison; thence he was ransomed by the king for six thousand escudos, and four horses. Such was the early history of the eminent navigator. He wrote many books, including a Treatise on Navigation, Information concerning the Stars, and a Treatise on Fortification.

The little house in which Pedro Sarmiento passed his childish days[257] is nothing but a white-washed granite cottage with the usual red-tiled roof. The last relic of the Sarmiento family is still there in the shape of two old maiden ladies, whom the townsfolk call Las Sarmientas. They have sold most of the original house, and only kept one little end of it for themselves to live in. No one who had studied the massive build of the granite cottages of Galicia would feel any surprise that one of them should last for nearly five centuries; they are as solid and firm as the rock from which their blocks are hewn.

About two kilometres distant from Pontevedra is the quaint little village of Combarro, with about four hundred inhabitants; it is thought to be very ancient and to have derived its name from the Greek word χαμπτο. We left our carriage to scramble up and down its steep, narrow, and stony streets, with its houses of granite and its balconies of wood, and its red-tiled roofs. Some of the balconies were painted green, others blue, while most of the walls were covered with whitewash. We were invited to visit the inhabitants of several of the houses, and found all very poor. The village covers a steep hillside sloping down to the water, and most of the people are fisherfolk.

At the door of one of the houses there suddenly appeared a woman of about forty-five years of age. I could see threads of silver in her thick black hair, but her face (though it had a wrinkle or two) was still beautiful. She addressed us in tones of the most passionate fervour; she wrung her hands, she lifted them to heaven, she swayed her body like a reed swayed by the wind, and at length burst into a flood of tears. “What is all this?” I asked of the friend who was with me, for the woman spoke in the Gallegan dialect, and so fast that I could catch very few of her words.

“She is telling us of all the hardships that she and her neighbours have to bear,” replied my friend. “She says they are all being ruined by the heavy taxes that the Government

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is imposing on all the produce of their industry, and the heavy rents demanded by the landlords.

“ ‘We live from hand to mouth,’ she cried; ‘and everything we earn with the sweat of our brow is swallowed up in discharging our liabilities, in paying our rates, our rent, and our taxes. We cannot even buy bread for our children because of the oppression of the rich—because we have no money. There is plenty of money in the land, and plenty of food, but it does not come our way; we are being ground down and killed by the heavy and unjust taxes, and there is nothing to encourage us to work, and no hope for the future. Oh, it is dreadful, dreadful!’ ”

Leaving Combarro, we now mounted the hill on which stood the church and Benedictine monastery of San Juan de Poyo; the church with its two naves and its two towers dates only from the eighteenth century, but the cloister with its arcade dates from the sixteenth. Here we saw the stone sarcophagus of Santa Tramunda which had recently been discovered in the neighbouring hermitage of San Martin. On the lid of the sarcophagus was an ancient form of the cross, rarely seen after the sixth century; behind the sarcophagus was a full size painting of Santa Tramunda, with her name and the date 1792. There is a tradition that she was captured by Mohammedans, but, escaping from their clutches, was miraculously enabled to walk home over the sea, without being drowned. The monks who now inhabit the cloister are a begging Order, de la Merced, founded by San Pedro Nolasco for the ransoming of captives; they have not been there long. At the appointed hour they gathered before the altar and sang with candles in their hands; they were all dressed in white with black leather girdles, and the whole performance was interesting. At the close they filed out at the doors to right and left of the altar. These monks have restored the church with their own private funds; it is a handsome granite edifice. The two Padres from Solesme, sent by the Pope Leo X. to instruct the monks of Spain in the art of singing Gregorian music, had just left San Poyo, and so it was with special interest that we listened to their rendering of the hymn composed by their founder, San Pedro Nolasco. There is still a handsome carved wood choir in the back of the church; the cloister too, with its groined vaulting, is well worth inspection.

In front of the church there is a terrace commanding an exquisite view over the Ria de Pontevedra, with the island of Tumbo in the distance, and Marin away on the opposite side of the water.{268}

In the old days, before the Jews were expelled from Spain, Pontevedra had, like other towns, its Jewish quarter—it was called Lampas dos Judeus (lampas, burying-place). At the end of the street was a space called Picota d’os Judeus, where Jewish delinquents were publicly punished; Christians were castigated on the spot now covered by the Capilla de la Peregrina, an edifice of the eighteenth century. Several of the houses that were inhabited by wealthy Jews are still standing. Those Jews who remained in Spain became Christians. Señor Sampedro told me he had talked with an old man of ninety, who said he remembered seeing on the wall of the old church a list of the Jewish families into which the Christians were not allowed to marry.

The old town mansion of the Sotomayor family is still preserved in Pontevedra, and their castle, the Castillo de Mos, is the only remaining example of a mediæval castle in Galicia: the latter is now the summer residence of the Marquis de la Viga de Armijo. We drove to it from Pontevedra in about two and a half hours, through beautiful and historic country. The bridge, Puente de San Payo, by which we crossed the river Verdugo, has given its name to the battlefield where Marshal Ney, at the head of seven thousand French troops, was utterly routed on 7th June 1809, by a force composed of rude undisciplined Gallegan peasants under the command of Noroña, and backed by some English marines. The peasants fought with anything that could be used as a weapon; in place of guns, they made rough catapults out of the trunks of oak trees, and formed a kind of battery under the direction of Colonel M’Kinley. Children still find skulls in this battlefield and in the surrounding country, and bring them in to Pontevedra as curios.

The vines that we passed on the drive were trained, not over bamboos, but over rough granite columns, often nearly six feet in height; the hills were terraced with verdant steps as before, and there was an absence of all flatness and monotony; even the hedges round the gardens had changed to granite, so plentiful was that material. The people find it easier and cheaper to wall their fields and gardens with blocks of granite than to plant hedges. We passed stretches of land covered with the canary-coloured blossom of cabbages, others brilliant with some purple flower, others, again, with tall green grass mingled with hyacinths. On all sides the horizon was bounded by distant mountain peaks of a hazy blue, and the eye was free to travel unhindered over many a mile of cultivated hills and valleys. Here and there amongst the granite hedges would be a real English hedge of blackberries with{269} familiar wild flowers in the grass below. The kilometres were marked by the quaintest of pointed milestones, which looked as if their proper place was a cemetery. In some of the ploughed patches, women with red handkerchiefs over their heads, and legs bare nearly to the knee, were busy sowing seed in the freshly ploughed furrows. The cottages were all of sparkling granite, and as solid in their build as if they had been cathedrals; in many a cottage garden we saw a lemon tree full of yellow fruit; presently we crossed the railway line, and near it a plantation of bamboos. Then a granite quarry came in view; a second time we crossed the railway and then came the river, its banks blazing with mica dust. Then came a village with a granite church and a schoolhouse; the road itself has been hewn out of granite rocks; boulders covered with moss and with ferns in their crannies formed the sides of the road; now we had reached the top of a hill covered with chestnut trees, whose bright green foliage was lit up by the powerful sun, and from this point of vantage we looked across an exquisite valley that lay on our right. Women were busy turning up the clods with antiquated implements which appear to date from the days of Noah. One woman had hung her giant umbrella in the branches of a neighbouring tree, and another had stuck hers in the field. It is no unusual sight in Galicia to find umbrellas apparently growing among the cereals, for every peasant takes his “gamp” with him to his daily labour, and has to leave it somewhere while he works. All at once we catch sight of a castellated wall on a distant hill; this is our first view of the castle we have come to see. Our road now skirts the wide luxuriant valley, and the castle towers upon one of the highest of the peaks that command it. Terrace after terrace of cultivated land slopes down to the bottom of the valley. Shrubs of white broom wave over our road, and banks of primroses come into sight; then we see a signboard with the words el Castello de Mos. Pine-covered hills are now surrounding us, and our road ascends the one that is crowned by the castle; our way is now bordered on both sides with high bracken and other ferns, and the air is fragrant with the scent of the pine. Tall eucalyptus trees mingle with the pines near the road, and we see the bark peeling off their mastlike stems and lying in sheaths across the road. Another signpost comes in view upon which are two fingers; one points out the road to Redondela, and the other shows us the direction of the nearest railway station, that of Arcade.

At length we enter the grounds of the castle, not by the principal entrance, which looks as if it were seldom used, but{270} by a side gate. Inside the grounds the first thing we notice is a small building opposite the castle, with the word Teatro over the door, and a bust in a niche on either side. The gardener who acted as our guide invited us to enter the little playhouse, and explained to us that the plays performed in the theatre were got up and acted by the family and their guests. The family comes there in the beginning of August and stays till 1st October. The present master is a widower with no children, but nephews and nieces help to make the place merry, and there are always plenty of guests. Special seats are reserved for the family and their guests, and the rest of the little theatre is filled by servants and retainers.

The castle stands, as we have seen, upon the top of a pine-covered hill; it is surrounded by a thick wall and parapet enclosing a green sward, and beyond that are the beautiful park-like grounds. The entrance to the castle is by way of its oldest part, an old keep dating from the fourteenth century commanding the chief entrance. There are loopholes or crenelles, through which arrows and other missiles could be discharged at assailants, from a bulging wall behind which there is room for several men to conceal themselves, and there are more of these holes in the passage. The pretty Gothic staircase, pointed arches, and stone balustrade are quite modern, but as nearly as possible a copy of the original. At the top of the stairs is the chapel, and below the chapel is the family crypt containing the tomb of the wife of the present marquis, who died some seventeen years ago. The carving on the door represents St. Peter and St. Paul and is very good work. Over the altar there is a picture, said to be a copy of the famous “San Antonio” of Murillo at Seville; the saint is kneeling before the Child, which has Its left hand resting upon his head. There is also some modern sculpture in memory of Don Diego de Sotomayor, the builder, in 1543, of the walls and fortifications which enclose the castle. Don Diego lies in full armour, and the inscription tells us that this tomb was erected (in 1870) by his descendant, “Don Antonio Aguilar y Torrea, Marques de la Vega de Armijo y de Mos Conde de la Bobadilla, Visconde del Pegullal.” On the wall at the top of the stairs are some magnificent antlers of deer killed by the father of the present king of Spain, when he was a guest at the castle for the third time in 1882. The rooms of the old keep have walls nearly three yards thick, and the openings for the windows are like passages. Beneath the Sala de Armas is a dark dungeon—a black hole—to which there was originally no other entrance but the trapdoor in the floor;{271} there is now a door to it from below, and it does duty as a wine cellar; but it has had its victims, and the story goes that a bishop was once confined there. On the wall of the Sala de Armas there is a medallion of Alfonso II., and a curious genealogical tree of the Sotomayor family, which grows downwards and begins at the top with Froila Fernandez, Conde de los patremonios de Galicia. The present marquis is in his eighty-fourth year; as he leaves no descendants, the estate will go to the left branch.

We ascended to the castellated parapet at the top of the keep to enjoy the exquisite panorama of the wide village-dotted valley and the surrounding peaks; there was the river Verdugo, and yonder, the waterfall which supplies Vigo with electric light; in the distance we could see the village of Puente Caldelas; all the pine woods and the meadows in the vicinity of the castle are part of the Sotomayor estate. Opposite the Castle Mos on a cone-shaped hill, a little loftier, if anything, we could see ruined walls and a chapel. This was the peak called la Peneda, and the chapel of la Virgen de la Peneda; the walls are a remnant of fortifications placed there by a fighting Archbishop of Santiago to whom all the valley was subject, that he might keep an eye on the movements of the unruly Sotomayors.

The turret is filled now with small bedrooms for visitors, and huge wardrobes stand in the passages, while in every bedroom there is a commodious zinc bath. The reception-room, the ceiling of which is handsomely carved, is draped with fine old tapestries, but those on the walls of the dining-room are modern. Good old-fashioned stone chimneys and wide hearths give the whole place an air of comfort; there is a billiard-room with French windows opening into a stone balcony on two sides of it, and from here we see three old cannon still perched upon the outer walls; they are ornaments now, and covered with verdigris, but there was a day when they had their use. In the billiard-room we found a little book describing the castle, written by a niece of the present marquis, la Marquesa de Ayerbe;[258] she has published several other works. The marquesa began her book with a quotation from Taine,[259] about the kings and knights of the Middle Ages being one and all warriors by profession, and who, in order to be always ready, had their horses standing in their bedrooms while they slept. Then came a verse by Molina, in which he{272} enumerates the great families of Galicia, including that of Sotomayor. “The reason that Sotomayor arrives so far on in the list is,” explains the marquesa, “because Molina, to be quite impartial, took the families alphabetically—there is no question of precedence.” The authoress tells us she was herself born, baptized, and married in the castle, so that she has spent nearly every summer of her life there, and that she is a true native of beautiful Galicia, which she passionately loves. She reminds her readers of Taine’s remark that in the days of the Moors in Spain all the eminent medical men, surgeons, artists, and men of brains and talent, generally were either Moors or Jews, and that they exercised a beneficial influence upon the country by importing civilisation from the East. She also gives an interesting quotation from the will of a Sotomayor, which is still in existence and bears the date 1468, and another from one dated 1472; she states further that the fort on a neighbouring peak is called Castrican or Castrizan, and that the chapel there is dedicated to Nuestra Señoro de los Nieves. Perhaps the Sotomayor of the Middle Ages who has left the most vivid traditions in the minds of the people is Don Pedro, nicknamed Madruga, of whose doings the cottagers in the valley below have many strange legends.

There are three distinct periods exemplified in the architecture of Castillo Mos: first, the old keep, with its massive walls, which forms the kernel of the building; second, the outer walls and fortifications built by Don Diego in the sixteenth century; and, lastly, the modern work done in the lifetime of the present marquis, who has succeeded in turning an abandoned ruin into one of the most beautiful and romantic of all the summer residences I have ever seen. The grounds are delicious with their fine old chestnuts hoary with age, their waterfalls, lawns, and flower-beds, while the keep over the entrance in the outer wall is now used as the library, and its walls are covered with bookshelves. The grass plot between the castle and the wall has many orange trees, and I saw fine large oranges lying about on the grass that no one had thought it worth their while to touch, because they were of the bitter kind, only good for preserving! and almost hidden among the long grass was a deep granite well approached by a winding stone stair covered with ferns and moss. The chain bridge over the remains of the old moat, the fine old trees, the bronze bust of the celebrated painter Castro Placentia (who painted the “San Antonio” in the chapel), sculptured by Mariano Bellini at Rome in 1891. A stream of pure water gushes from the hillside and flows near the shady old chestnut trees

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whose huge moss-covered trunks must be at least two hundred years old. Here and there the ground was thickly carpeted with camellia blossoms. In hot weather the family dines out of doors in the shade, at a table consisting of one solid piece of wood, brought from America, and which must have been sawn from the trunk of a tree at least twelve feet in diameter.

It was two o’clock when we returned to our conveyance, and as we had brought our lunch with us, we ate it in the carriage, and were thus able to avoid a break in our homeward journey. At 4 p.m. we were once more in our comfortable hotel in Pontevedra, after a delightful excursion, which we would not have missed for a great deal.

My next outing was on foot, and of quite a different kind, my object being to look with my own eyes upon some of the wonderful prehistoric rock-drawings that have quite recently been discovered in the vicinity, and to compare them with the hemispheric or “cup and ball” drawings that have been discovered in various parts of Scotland and Ireland. These cup marks were for a long time considered to be merely a primitive form of ornamentation, without any further significance, but, according to the latest theory, they are a very ancient form of writing, while the accompanying circles are thought by some to represent the religious belief of the writers. Mr. Rivett Carnac tells us that it has been suggested that these writings are ideographic and belong to a period when the materials for record were limited to stone—long before the discovery of an alphabetical system,[260] and before the discovery of metal. In the Ethnographical Museum at Berlin I have seen some fine specimens of Peruvian writing by means of knotted cord—a method that was used in China in the very earliest days of that country’s history. “This system,” says Mr. Rivett Carnac, “was ideographic, just as the knot in the pocket-handkerchief is ideographic.” It seems not at all unlikely that our distant ancestors may have understood the meaning of these cup marks, just as the Chinese and Peruvians understood the knots upon their string.

Cup marks are to be found in many varieties in almost every part of the world, the most frequent being concentric circles with a central cup or dot, and this is the kind that I found upon some flat granite boulders on a rocky slope near a pine wood about half an hour’s walk from Pontevedra.

These cup marks had been discovered by Señor E. Campo only a few months previous to my arrival, and as yet their{274} existence is hardly known outside Pontevedra. Señor E. Campo, who is a member of the Pontevedra Archæological Society, lost no time in making drawings of this prehistoric writing for his Society; it was this gentleman who kindly conducted me to one of the spots where the writing is to be seen, and it was he who provided me with the drawings that I now place before my readers. Those who have studied the subject will notice at once the remarkable similarity that exists between this writing and the examples found on rocks in India, in various parts of Great Britain, in the Isle of Man, and in Denmark. It seems incredible that such a similarity of design could possibly have arisen without there having been at some time or other a close connection between the peoples amongst whom they originated. Professor Nilsson has attributed the circles and symbols found on rocks in Scandinavia to a Phœnician origin—but how comes it, in that case, that there are no such carvings amongst genuine Phœnician remains?

Humboldt considered the signs which he found upon rocks in South America to be, not symbols, but merely “the fruits of the idleness of hunting nations.”[261]

It is quite true that cup marks have been found in Cornwall and in various places on the East Coast of Scotland, but this is no proof that they were the work of Phœnicians, even if we take it for granted that these people came to Cornwall for tin, and that they traded with the tribes dwelling on the eastern shores of Scotland. Some writers have suggested that these cups and dots represent primitive maps, others have taken them to be sundials, and others, bolder still, have recognised them to be gambling-tables! It has also been thought that they were symbolic enumerations of families or tribes, emblems of philosophical views, or possibly stone tables for Druidical sacrifice.[262] It is only during the last fifty years that the attention of archæologists has been drawn to these widely diffused examples of archaic writing, and until a few months ago it was not known that Spain too could furnish examples.

In the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquarians of Scotland for the year 1899, we are told that in Kirkcudbrightshire alone there are not less than forty-nine separate surfaces on which cup and ring markings are found; these surfaces vary in size, direction of slope, texture, and position to such a degree “that no safe conclusions can be drawn as to the

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meaning or use of these mysterious incised markings, occurring, as they do, not only on solid rock ... but upon thin slabs ... on boulders, and even at the very apex of a piece of rock ... and also on stones within a cairn.... At the present date Inverness heads the list with one hundred and twenty sites; Kirkcudbrightshire is second with fifty-four, and Nairn and Perth have forty-six each.”[263]

Many of the drawings above alluded to are almost exactly like those I brought with me from Pontevedra. They look as if they must have been the work of one and the same race. As they are nearly always found close to the sea, it looks as if they must have been done by a seafaring people.{276}



Southey at Redondela—Sacked by the English—The most modern town in Galicia—The finest climate in Spain—Submarine cables—Vigo’s harbour—Vicus Spacorum—Bayona—Tuy—Early history—The Miño—The International Bridge—Occupied by the French—Learned bishops—The oldest cathedral in Galicia—A puzzling inscription—Quaint sculpture—Santo Domingo—The Cathedral—Its history—The portico—The interior—A rectangular apse—The cloister—San Telmo—The Portuguese frontier—Passports—Education in Portugal

THE prettiest spot through which we passed on our railway journey from Pontevedra to Vigo was Redondela, whose picturesque houses scattered among the green hills and fringing the Ria de Vigo, with a tiny harbour all to themselves, were a delight to the eye as we looked down upon them from the train windows. Macaulay mentions Redondela, and alludes to the fact that it was sacked by the English in 1715. Southey was charmed with it when he passed through on his way from Coruña to Lisbon, and he took the trouble to translate into English verse a long legend about one of its ancient towers,[264] telling how a lover jumps into the sea in his despairing frenzy. It was Southey, too, who wrote—

“Spain! still my mind delights to picture forth
Thy scenes that I shall see no more, for there
Most pleasant were my wanderings. Memory’s eye
Still loves to trace the gentle Miño’s course,
And catch its winding waters gleaming bright
Amid the broken distance.
... Galicia’s giant rocks
And mountains clustered with the fruitful pines,
Whose heads, dark foliaged when all else was dim,
Rose o’er the distant eminence distinct,
Cresting the evening sky.”

Redondela, once an important town, is now little more than a collection of scattered villages, whose inhabitants are chiefly engaged in oyster fishing. At high tide the{277} waters of the Ria de Vigo come right into the town by way of a little river that passes through it under a pretty bridge, which separates Redondela from its neighbour, Villavieja. Out in the blue waters of the Ria we could see the famous little Hospital of San Simon floating like a shell upon the surface.

Our train hugged the shore of the Ria, winding and curving with the water’s edge till we came into the station of Vigo. Vigo is the most modern town in Galicia; it owes its rapid development to its geographical situation and to its bay and harbour, famed for being among the finest in the world. Some forty years ago Vigo was a tiny village, known as Vigo de Cangas. Cangas, situated on the opposite bank of the Ria, is still nothing but a village with a few scattered houses, and it seems incredible that Vigo was, so short a time ago, one of its dependent hamlets. Vigo is built upon the sloping side of a hill, from the top of which mountains may be seen on every side except where the Ria bounds it on the west. Between the various mountain peaks may be seen fertile valleys of all shapes and sizes, and separated from one another by mountain ridges covered with oaks and pines.

The climate of Vigo is reputed to be the finest in Spain; its soil produces almost every kind of vegetable and fruit in the greatest abundance, and much earlier than they can be grown in other parts of Galicia. The principal industry of the town is fishing, in connection with which there are numerous factories for salting and preserving fish. Other industries are paper-making, the refining of petroleum, and tanning. The building of fishing-boats also constitutes an important industry.

Vigo is a port of the first rank; it has three submarine cables, and is a naval station for the British fleets. There are some forty-five young Englishmen employed at Vigo in connection with the cables laid by the British Government. I am told that a number of them have become Roman Catholics in order to be able to marry Spanish ladies. The English at Vigo publish a newspaper in their native tongue for circulation amongst themselves. At present Coruña can boast of having greater commercial importance than Vigo, but from its more favourable situation Vigo is bound in time to take the lead.

At the mouth of Vigo harbour, about ten (Spanish) miles from the anchoring-ground, lie the group of islands known as the Cies, formerly called Cecas, or Siccas. Humboldt once visited them, and it was he who first suggested that they{278} might possibly be the “fabulous” or long-lost Cassiterides.[265]

The Ria de Vigo, whose waters are part of the Atlantic Ocean, forms, as we have seen, one of the finest and safest harbours in the world; many consider it the best in Europe. The depth of the Ria varies from 90 to 150 feet; it is sheltered from all winds, and so large that the fleets of many nations could anchor there at one and the same time.

Several of the streets of Vigo are lined with handsome blocks of white granite buildings, after the style of those in Berlin, but handsomer, because those of Berlin are only stucco. There are no ancient churches or other sights of archæological interest to be seen at Vigo, and the chief business of the traveller—after he has looked down upon the valley where the French army capitulated on March 28, 1809—is to take the beautiful drive along the shore of the Ria to Bayona, where there is an old church, the Colegiata de Santa Maria, which once belonged to the Knights Templars, and an interesting old Franciscan convent dating from the eleventh century.

It is thought that Vigo stands upon the ancient site of Vicus Spacorum, but whether this supposition be correct or not, it is an accepted fact that Bayona is a far more ancient settlement. Molina wrote that Bayona was formerly called Voyana, from the fact of its having the figure of an ox on its coat of arms. There is also a legend that a Roman prefect named Catilius Severus retired thither after his power had been taken from him. Pliny thought the ancient name of Bayona was Abobrica, and Vosius speaks of it as Lambriaca.

From Vigo we went by train to Tuy. Tuy is a mediæval, walled city rising in the midst of a fertile valley through which the river Miño flows, dividing the two kingdoms of Portugal and Spain. The old walls have almost disappeared, and the houses of Tuy now spread far beyond them, making altogether a population of some five thousand three hundred inhabitants. At the top of the conical hill which the city covers, stands the Cathedral, looking more like a castle than a church, with its castellated walls and its fortress towers.

Tuy is said to have been founded by Greek colonists, and to have derived its name from Tyde, i.e. Diomedes, king of Ætolea (not of Thrace), whose parents were Tydea and Delphyla.{279}[266] Morales thought he recognised as part of a Greek pillar a piece of stone fifteen feet in diameter which he discovered in a garden at Tuy. The same writer also alludes to the wrestling matches still kept up by the inhabitants of this town. He remarks that they wrestled in his day with such violence, and squeezed each other so violently in the contest, that their very lives were in jeopardy.

When the Romans took possession of Tuy, they moved the town from the hill to the valley, thinking that once on lower ground it would require less supervision. It was King Ferdinand II. who brought the town back to its original hill and made it a walled city.

The river Miño brings Tuy a rich supply of fish, amongst which are fine salmon, lampreys, and trout. The vines of Tuy make a better wine than those of Ribadavia, and every kind of fruit grows in its fertile valley. From the north-west there flows into the Miño, close to the town, a little river the sands of which contain gold, and for this reason it has received the name of Ouro. Opposite to the Ouro another river joins the Miño; this is called Molinos, because of its many flour-mills. The land in this neighbourhood fetches a very high price, on account of its remarkable fertility. The soil is sandy, and every hillock is fringed with pine trees.

The railway station of Tuy is on the line that runs from Orense to Vigo, and the town itself is nearly two miles from the station. By a branch line across the Miño the Gallegan railway is connected with that of Northern Portugal. The junction is effected by means of a very fine international bridge over the river, which is known as the Puente Internacional. On the southern bank of the Miño there rises another hill city confronting Tuy, the Portuguese fortress of Valença.

Although the antiquity of Tuy is traced back to the days of Troy and Diomedes, and although we know that the Romans struggled desperately before they could master it, there is very little mention of Tuy in the history of their times. In the days of the Goths, King Witiza is said to have established himself there and to have raised the town to a position of great opulence. During the Middle Ages, after it had been attacked both by Moors and Norman pirates, Doña Teresa, a natural daughter of Alfonso VI., who was mistress of Portugal in 1220, claimed Tuy as part of her dowry; but her sister, Doña Urraca, appeared on the spot with a powerful army and{280} forced her to evacuate it and retire across the Miño. From that time on throughout the Middle Ages, the two cities of Tuy and Valença scowled at one another across the water—the sentinels of two clashing powers. Later on, during the War of Independence, French troops occupied the citadel of Tuy, and the town was blockaded by the Spaniards in 1809. The French General Martinière made a successful sally, and the Spanish forces were driven back at first; but on April 16, 1809, the French were forced to evacuate the fortress.

Tuy was one of the seven provinces into which the ancient kingdom of Galicia was divided. In 1833, when a new division of Spanish territory took place, Tuy became part of the province of Pontevedra. As a diocese Tuy is now a suffragan of the Archbishopric of Santiago.

Molina (writing in the sixteenth century) stated that “Tuy has always been famous for the erudition of its bishops.” There was a grand council of bishops held in the Cathedral of San Bartolomé at Tuy in the days of Archbishop Gelmirez, about 1122.[267] Whether the existing church of San Bartolomé is the actual one in which that council was held, is not known, but at any rate we know that this edifice is the oldest church in Tuy, and, what is more, it is the oldest cathedral in the whole of Galicia. The present Cathedral of Tuy, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, crowns the summit of the mediæval citadel; but San Bartolomé is situated lower down in the plain, and dates from the time when Tuy was in the valley. San Bartolomé has three naves, each of the two lateral ones being separated from the central nave by four rectangular piers supporting vaulted arches. At the end of each nave is a chapel. The apse chapels are covered with half-barrel vaulting. The ornamentation is very plain, and shows, in the opinion of Casanova, distinct traces of Oriental and Norman influence. The bases of the columns are decorated with deep semicircular concave mouldings and plinths resting upon the feet of monsters. The capitals are sculptured with classic leaves interwoven with living forms, human and grotesque, with birds and animals, singly and in groups. Above the abacus there is in many parts the ornamentation known as the chess pattern, and here and there on the imposts we find the billet ornament, or moulding in notches, of which we have a specimen in Lincoln Cathedral. Villa-Amil considers the chess-pattern ornamentation in this church to be one of the most definite signs of its antiquity, and at the same time he points out the close resemblance in form, dimensions, and{281} ornamentation which this edifice bears to the Cathedral of Mondoñedo, which dates from the eleventh century.

This church has on the exterior of its northern wall an inscription which has been the occasion of much controversy among archæologists and epigraphists. No one has been able to decipher it, but Señor Manuel Lago of Lugo has suggested that the characters may be Oriental, and written, like Chinese, from right to left.

Here are drawings showing the sculpture of some of the capitals, for which I am indebted to Señor Villa-Amil. On one capital is depicted a dinner party. Three of the guests are standing with their hands upon the table as if about to begin the repast: one of them is a woman. On the table may be seen a large dish, in front of the woman, and a smaller one in front of each of the men: a knife with a wooden or bone handle is also distinctly visible beside one of the plates. A soldier, or sentinel, stands to the right of the table, and confronting a man in the garb of a monk who appears to have just arrived upon the scene, lays the blade of his sword upon the newcomer’s shoulder in a most threatening manner, as if to warn him that he interrupts the banquet at his peril. The whole grouping of this piece of sculpture is most dramatic and lifelike. The work probably dates from the tenth century, if not farther back still. Visitors who wish to see the most interesting capitals must hunt for them, often in the darkest corners, and with the aid of a candle.

In the sacristy there has lately been discovered some old columns which date from the ninth century, and here too the sculpture on the capitals is very curious.

Another church worth examination is that of Santo Domingo. This building was consecrated by Bishop Sarmiento in 1534,[268] but the Gothic vaulting was only completed in 1730. A large part of the expense of its completion was borne by the Sotomayor family, two of whom became bishops of Tuy. The church is in the form of a Latin cross with very short arms, and only one wide nave terminating with a hectagonal apse and two small circular chapels to right and left. The Pointed Gothic arches of the nave rest upon Græco-Roman pillars supported by exterior buttresses. The central arch leading to the apse is also Pointed Gothic, and rests upon Gothic pillars. The vaulting of the transept is cylindrical, but the rest of the vaulting is Gothic.[269] The Gothic apse,{282} which reminds us strongly of that of Santo Domingo at Pontevedra, was formerly lighted by three long and narrow lancet windows, and the smaller apses had each two such windows, but the bad taste of the eighteenth century led to their being all bricked in, in order that a hideous reredos might be placed behind the altar. There are two entrances to this church, the chief one at the end of the nave, and another, called the Door of the Rosary, at the end of the south arm of the transept. This last is pure Romanesque, and possibly the oldest part of the edifice; it has an archivolt composed of two pointed arches which rest upon two pairs of shafts. The capitals are curiously sculptured: on one I could distinguish faces of angels and long-necked swans, on another was a monkey with a long tail twisted round some small object. On the tympanum, within a border of horseshoe arches, there is a very old group representing the Adoration of the Magi, the figures of which have been sadly mutilated. Enclosing the tympanum is an arch decorated with various images of a symbolic nature. The Eternal Father is represented by a hand stretched out from clouds in the act of benediction.

We now come to the Cathedral, which is the principal object of interest in Tuy. King Ferdinand of Leon conquered Tuy and took it from Alfonso of Portugal in 1170, and as he made a handsome donation in 1180 to its bishop for the building of a Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it is thought that this was the date at which the foundations were laid.[270] The Cathedral was consecrated in 1124, and at the same time opened for public worship. The original plan of the building was in the form of a Latin cross with very short arms, and with three naves in the transept as well as in the body of the church.

The western façade is very fine, but the episcopal palace which has been built to the right of the portico detracts greatly from the beauty of its perspective. The chief façade, with its high flight of steps and its two massive and castellated towers, has an exterior portico, also castellated and supported on four pillars. This is the only portico of its kind in Galicia, for those of Santiago and Orense are interior porticos, and that of Lugo is merely an additional piece built into the original Romanesque doorway. The interior of the Tuy portico is square and covered with Gothic vaulting. The entrance door is flanked on either side by four columns and as many statues: each statue stands upon the back of some animal, except one, which rests upon the shoulders of a man;

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three have their feet upon monkeys; between each pair of statues there is also a column. This class of decoration is anterior to the use of niches; it is also to be seen in the northern portico of Chartres.[271] The decoration of the lintel is divided into three subjects, the central relief representing the death of the Virgin. The tympanum is covered with a sculptured group representing the Adoration of the Magi.

As we enter the building we are struck with its beautiful and airy proportions; above the side naves are galleries covered with arches quite separate from, and below, the Gothic vaulting. Graceful arcades decorate the whole interior, but unfortunately the view is spoiled by modern brick walls and pillars added towards the end of the eighteenth century. The choir, too, is in the centre of the chief nave—a mistake, unfortunately, so common in Spain, and, as I have before had occasion to observe, quite spoils the perspective; this choir was constructed in 1700 at the expense of Bishop Gomez de la Torre. The capitals on which the arches of the nave rest are finely sculptured, but many of them are too high up to be examined without a visit to the galleries—which, however, is quite worth while, for it is from the galleries that the finest view of the elegant triforium, of French design, can be obtained.

But the great feature of this edifice is the fact that it is a fortified cathedral, and is at one and the same time a monument of war as well as of religion; its granite towers with their castellated parapets and loopholes dominate not only the city, but the country round, for miles. I went up to the top parapet, and found that the walls of the tower were a yard thick. From the parapet I looked down upon the old Cathedral Church of San Bartolomé in the plain below, and upon Santo Domingo, which lay between. The bell in the clock tower was cracked by lightning in December 1793. The clock tower is older than any other part of the Cathedral. It was once a royal tower, and was given by the Emperor Alonso VII.

In the Sala Capitula we saw many interesting parchments with curious seals, dating from the eleventh and twelfth centuries; these were only discovered by accident in February 1907 by the Archivero José Martinez Novas; many of these were the deeds by which the various kings conferred their donations upon the Cathedral, and most of them had seals of lead or wax. Here we were shown a number of Papal Bulls—one of Paul II., others of Eugenius IV., Leo X., Julius VI., and Benedict XIV. respectively. Many of the parchments shown us were of the second half of the tenth{284} century. These newly discovered trophies must have been hidden away by the priests at the time of the French invasion. The lower part of the old tower is now covered by fifteenth-century work, but the Romanesque arch of one of its upper doorways is still visible in the wall.

This Cathedral is the only church of any importance in the whole of Galicia which has a rectangular apse, the usual forms being semicircular or polygonal. In England the practice of making the east end of churches square began early in the Norman period; we have them, for instance, in Winchester and Salisbury, but they were rare in France and Spain until towards the close of the Gothic period. The only example I know of in Galicia is that of the Colegiata at Bayona.

In its general form and structure of the naves and transept the Cathedral of Tuy bears rather a close resemblance to that of Santiago de Compostela. But the cylindrical vaulting of the nave and transept is quite Latino-Romanesque, without any indication of Byzantine influence. The ribbed ornamentation of the vaulting is somewhat after the style of the German Gothic, in the opinion of Señor Casanova, and the triforium as seen from the pavement of the central nave is not unlike those of the churches of Southern France.

The Cathedral cloister has some very old arcades with sculptured capitals, but the upper storey is modern and in bad taste. Behind the Cathedral is the Capilla de la Misericordia, one of the oldest in Tuy; it is built upon the solid rock. Close by is a little modern chapel dedicated to San Telmo, the patron saint of Spanish fishermen, whose birthplace was Tuy. The great naval school at Seville is dedicated to this saint, who, according to tradition, has been known to appear to sailors in distress in the form of a bright light and lead them safely to a haven.[272] One of the Cathedral chapels is also dedicated to San Telmo, and was built in 1577 by Bishop Diego de Torquemada.

The principal drive in the neighbourhood of Tuy is to the Portuguese frontier town of Valença, on the opposite side of the Miño. We started at 2 p.m., on a fine afternoon in the end of April, and enjoyed crossing the handsome bridge which joins Portugal to Spain above the blue waters of the largest river in Galicia. Portuguese sentinels in blue uniform greeted us on the farther bank, and questioned us in the language of their country as to our object, but they did not ask for passports. At the post office in Valença we posted Portuguese post-cards to various friends in memory of our afternoon visit

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to Portugal, and while we were writing them a group of respectably-dressed boys between the ages of twelve and sixteen gathered round us and watched us as we wrote. On my laughingly remonstrating with the postmaster, he replied, “You need not mind the boys; not one of them knows how to read.” So much for education in Portugal in the twentieth century!{286}



Our last view of Tuy Cathedral—Scenery between Tuy and Orense—Ribadavia—Boundaries of Orense—Crossing the Miño—The Puente Mayor—The hot springs—Their usefulness—The Cathedral of Orense—Its Pórtico de Gloria—The wonderful crucifix—The cloister—Santa Eufemia—Fight for her body—The oxen decide—Cardinal Quevado—Sculpture brought from Italy—Wood-carving—Spanish enamels—A silver crucifix—The reredos—The Orense Museum—Stone sarcophagi—Roman mosaics—A strange musical instrument—The Gallegan bagpipe—Orense and the Sueves—The Monastery of San Francisco—La Trinidad—Allariz—An interesting church—Convent of Santa Clara—Allariz mentioned by Ptolemy—Strongly fortified—Aquasantas—The parish church—San Pedro de la MezquitaJunquera de AmbiaEl Mosteiro

WE rose early on a glorious April morning to catch the first train to Orense. The sun shone brilliantly, and the outline of the blue-grey hills with which Tuy is surrounded stood out clear and distinct. On some of these peaks there are still the ruins of fortifications raised by the ancient Celts when they fled from the Romans in the valley. As the railway omnibus was taking us through the pine woods to the station, we caught, at a bend in the road, a view of the Cathedral of Tuy. “What ancient castle is that?” I inquired of a fellow-passenger. “It is the Cathedral,” he replied, smiling. This was the second time that I had mistaken that edifice for a mediæval stronghold.

The line from Tuy to Orense runs through scenery more beautiful than that of the Austrian Tyrol. For a long time the winding Miño is visible close beneath the train windows, as it makes its way through the verdant valley, banked by mossy boulders and clumps of pine or chestnut trees, and now and again rushing through narrow ravines. The first station we passed was that of Salvatierra, near which towered a mediæval fortress almost hidden by ivy, while, dotted about, were some little houses painted red. Terraces of vines now covered the sloping hills; every now and again we were in the thick of a pine wood. The station in the pine wood was Nerves: between it and Arbo the Miño’s bed grew{287} very narrow and stony, and the waters foamed as they forced their way between the boulders; then they whirled round in an eddy, and the next minute we were looking at a sparkling waterfall, below which a peasant sat fishing with a very long line. At Pousa, the next station, we compared the architecture of the houses on the Portuguese side of the water with that of the Spanish houses on the opposite bank: the Portuguese houses were larger and more commodious in appearance. Steep mountains walled us in as we neared the station of Freira, and our train described a curve or loop worthy of the Canadian Rockies. After the next station, Filgueira, the river burst from its granite ravine and fled round the circular base of a conical mountain.

We had now reached Ribadavia, and the country on all sides was covered with vine terraces. Ribadavia, hardly more than a large village in the district of Ribadavia, in the province of Orense, was once an important town. Garcia, king of Galicia, the son of Ferdinand the Great, had his Court at Ribadavia, and his palace stood on the spot now occupied by a Dominican convent. There are two churches at Ribadavia that are well worth a visit—the conventual Church of Santo Domingo, and the Church of Santiago. The former is a good specimen of Gallegan architecture, with its wooden roof and its whitewashed granite walls and arches; the latter has an interesting Romanesque window.

Orense, it will be remembered, is one of the four provinces into which modern Galicia is divided. It is bounded on the north by the provinces of Pontevedra and Lugo, on the south by Portugal, on the east by Zamora and Leon, and on the west by Pontevedra and Portugal. Its most important rivers are the Miño, the Sil, the Limia, and the Bibey. The chief town, Orense, is situated in an extensive and luxuriant valley which lies in the midst of mountains, many of them having summits of bare rock devoid of all vegetation. Orense is a clean, bright little town, with more movement in its streets than is usual in Gallegan towns; it is in closer connection with Madrid than the others, and has not that mediæval look so characteristic of the province.

The river Miño lies between the railway station and the town, and is crossed by an exceedingly fine bridge, which is acknowledged to be one of the sights of Orense. Molina wrote of it that its principal arch was so high and of such a width that the Miño could flow beneath the central arch alone—even after its waters had been swollen by the reception of its many effluents—without touching the other arches.{288} This bridge, the Puente Mayor, had originally nine arches, but several of them disappeared at the time of its renovation. Until about 1830, a mediæval fortress was still standing by the bridge, but it had to be removed on account of its ruinous condition. This bridge is the highest in Spain, as well as one of the finest.

Our first walk in Orense was to Las Burgas, the hot springs, which have been known and appreciated by the inhabitants of Orense ever since the days of the Romans. These springs have never been known to decrease or to increase: the flow of their waters is always the same both in summer and winter. Their water keeps hot longer than is the case with boiled water. The water of one of the springs is hotter than that of the other; it can be drunk cold, it has neither colour, taste, nor smell; the water of the other is sulphurous. Descending a flight of stone steps, I found the water of the first spring flowing through a granite wall beneath an arch decorated with sculpture into a stone basin; a small space round it was paved with granite and enclosed with a railing, in front of which there was a small public garden laid out with paths between its flower-beds. The water which overflowed from the basin ran into a large tank, and here a group of women were engaged in washing linen. The sight that met my eyes in the neighbourhood of the second spring was less pleasing; here women were busy scalding and skinning poultry at one tank, while at another they were cooking meat in the seething water. There are butchers’ shops close by, and their meat is carried down to the springs to be washed and cleaned before being exposed for sale. I noticed that the women who were employed in skinning and cleaning the carcases were standing with their bare feet ankle deep in bloody water, on which there floated the usual refuse of a butcher’s shop. The place might easily have been mistaken for a slaughter-house. My guide informed me that on the occasion of a visit paid to the springs last year by the present King of Spain, the whole place was cleaned up and carefully prepared for the Royal visit.

Molina has something to say about the hot springs at Orense: “In the middle of Orense, hot springs bubble up with as great a noise of boiling as if they were heated from below by a great furnace. The water is so hot that you cannot put your finger into it even for a minute: you can cook fish in it. The women wash their linen there, and make every use of the hot water that they would make of it in their own houses.” The ground is so warm round these springs that

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frost and snow are never seen near them even when all the rest of the town is covered with a white carpet.

The Cathedral of Orense, dedicated to St. Martin of Tours, stands on the spot where Carriarico, King of the Sueves, erected a church in the ninth century. The present edifice was erected by Bishop Lorenzo in the first half of the thirteenth century. Since then it has undergone restoration at various periods, with the result that the form of its exterior is somewhat irregular. It is in the Gothic style, and its naves, transept, and apse are remarkable for their elegant simplicity. The lantern tower was restored as recently as the close of the nineteenth century. A narrow street, the Calle de las Tiendas, now runs in front of the principal entrance, which once had a fine flight of steps leading up to it. Like so many of the churches in Galicia, this Cathedral was planned and begun in the Romanesque style, though it was eventually finished in the Gothic. The lantern is notable, as Lamperez has pointed out, as an example of the amalgamation of the Mohammedan system of vaulting—without a keystone—and the Christian with one.

Like the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, that of Orense also possesses a Pórtico de Gloria, but this is, alas! nothing but a poor imitation of Mateo’s masterpiece, executed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; and to one who has carefully studied Mateo’s work the copy at Orense seems nothing but a painful caricature. The people of Orense call it El Paraiso. The cloister was begun in the fifteenth century, and, judging from the small part of it still intact, it must have been a beautiful example of Gothic work. A Romanesque gate led to the cloister; the few of its capitals remaining show some interesting sculpture.

We entered the Cathedral by the north door, after admiring the toral archivolt and triple columns of the door leading to the Capilla de San Juan, with its statues of St. Peter and St. Paul. The first sight that attracted our attention was the handsome sarcophagus, covered with stone relief, of Bishop Vasco Perez Marino, who, according to one account, brought the crucifix, which Orense counts as one of her greatest treasures, from Cape Finisterre, somewhere between 1333 and 1343. The crucifix itself, we found in a chapel on the opposite side of the transept nave. Villa-Amil says this could hardly be the Finisterre Christ, because there exists documentary evidence that during the sixteenth century both the Christs were objects of adoration at the same time. Molina describes them both, and says that the Christ at Orense is one of those{290} that were made by Nicodemus. (There are two others in Spain, one at Burgos and another at Arenas.) Bishop Juan Muñoz de la Cueva wrote of this crucifix in 1727 that the sight of it filled the hardest of sinners with confusion and contrition, and attracted the devotion even of foreign kings and pilgrims. Its hair, which is black and long, and its nails, are said to be human. I remember seeing the Christ at Burgos laid out on the pavement in the nave of the Cathedral on Good Friday that the faithful might kneel before it and kiss its feet, and I was informed at the time that it was covered with human skin. The figure of Christ in both cases is life-size. Villa-Amil believes that the Christ at Orense is of a later date by two centuries than Bishop Marino, and he adds that in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the worship of crucifixes was particularly fervid. The Popes granted special Indulgences to pilgrims who visited the Orense Christ, and as Orense was a halting-place for pilgrims to St. James, it was visited by most of the foreigners who came on that pilgrimage. The Christ is made of wood, and tightly covered by several layers of flesh-coloured cloth, which looks like human skin; the feet and arms are so constructed as to be easily moved. Pilgrims stick their fingers into the body, and are amazed to find that an impression is made just as would be the case with a human body. Señor Benito F. Alonso, who is a native of Orense, has carefully examined this Christ, and gives his readers a practical explanation of all that for so long appeared so miraculous with regard to it.[273]

We next visited the cloister next to the Sala Capitular, and here our attention was drawn to some very quaint sculpture upon the old capitals: on one of them was the figure of a horse, and on others there were Biblical groups which must be among the earliest work in the Cathedral.

The ashes of one of Orense’s first martyrs, Santa Eufemia, are preserved in this Cathedral. Santa Eufemia, according to historical accounts, suffered martyrdom near the walls of an ancient city called Obobriga (which some writers have tried to identify with Tuy) about the middle of the second century of the Christian Era, in the reign of Antoninus Pius.[274] Tradition relates that a young shepherdess, guarding her sheep upon a mountain slope on the confines of Portugal and Galicia, saw one day a hand stretched out from between

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the boulders, and on one of its fingers was a golden ring. The girl put out her hand and took the ring. From that moment her power of speech was gone and she was perfectly dumb. She returned in terror to her home, and by signs explained to her father what had taken place. Her father took the ring from her, and, hastening to the spot where the hand had appeared, found it still there and replaced the ring. As he did so a voice said to him, “Here is the body of Santa Eufemia. See that it is removed and placed with honour in the Church of Santa Marina.” The command was carried out, and from the year 1090 till the time of Bishop Sequin (1164) the ashes of the saint rested in the little chapel on the Portuguese border. It was only with great difficulty that the bishop was able to translate them to the Cathedral of Orense. The coffin was placed upon a cart, but just as it was about to proceed to Orense the Portuguese of the neighbouring villages came in great crowds, and threatened to use force if the body was not carried back to their own Cathedral at Braga. Bishop Sequin and the Bishop of Braga were friends, having both been educated at the monastery of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, and they did their best to bring the dispute to an amicable end, but the feelings of the Portuguese were so violent that the only resource open to the bishops was to harness a couple of untamed oxen to the cart and let the animals decide for themselves whether the saint should be carried to Orense or to Braga. The oxen at once started off in the direction of Orense, followed by a large concourse of the clergy, who chanted psalms and prayed at every halt upon the road. When the procession had reached Sejalvo, just outside Orense, the oxen stood still and refused to move another step, whereupon the priests, followed by all the dignitaries and aristocracy of the town, carried the coffin upon their shoulders to the Cathedral, where it was deposited to the sound of solemn music.

At the spot where the oxen stopped, Bishop Sequin erected a small chapel—right in the middle of the road—and placed beside it a stone cross with the effigy of Santa Eufemia, which was still standing in the eighteenth century. The pedestal of the cross and the inscription dating from the twelfth century are still there.

On the altar opposite the door of the sacristy we found three beautiful thirteenth-century pictures in silver relief, representing scenes in the history of Santa Eufemia.[275] To see these properly we were obliged to have a candle. In the first, the young martyr stands trembling before her pagan{292} persecutors, while an angel appears in the clouds above to support her in her resistance to their evil designs. In the second picture—to the right—the victim is being tortured, and in the third—to the left—is the scene in which the little shepherdess indicates to her father by signs that she has seen the hand and been struck dumb. All the faces are beautifully done, and most lifelike, and the ornamentation round the pictures is very tasteful.

Another work of art is the marble sculpture above the recumbent effigy of Pedro Quevado y Quintano, who was Bishop of Orense from 1776 to 1818. He was one of the most beloved of all Orense’s prelates. When Napoleon summoned an illegal Assembly at Bayona, Quevado was one of those who refused to appear, and he protested strongly against the abdication of the Spanish Sovereign. Grandmaison has described how, when more than three hundred exiled French priests took refuge in the Peninsula, Quevado received them as a brother, and placed his bishop’s palace at their disposal. When Napoleon placed his brother Joseph (Pepe Botella) on the throne of Spain, Quevado was deprived of all his emoluments as a punishment for his patriotism. Pope Pius VII. made Quevado a cardinal in recognition of the noble generosity with which this bishop had helped the people of Orense from his own purse in their time of great need. Orense celebrated his investiture with five days of festivity, during which the town was illuminated and every kind of public amusement was indulged in.

The marble sculpture which decorates his tomb was executed in Italy: it consists of two medallions with two relief figures, one representing Strength—Hercules, who is wrapped in the skin of the lion Nemius, and has just torn from its place a massive pillar. The other represents Charity—an old woman—caring for two destitute children.

The most beautiful tomb in the Cathedral, however, is not that of Quevado, but that of some unknown person. It is richly decorated with statues, the central one representing King David with his harp and crown. All the statutes have pointed shoes showing beneath their long robes.

Besides the famous Christ of which we have spoken above, this Cathedral possesses another large crucifix, a figure of Christ, also life-size. It is of Byzantine workmanship, and the figure is nailed to the cross with four nails, as was customary between the seventh and twelfth centuries.[276] The head wears

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a Gothic crown, and a damask tunic covers the body to the knees.

Another treasure of this Cathedral is the beautiful wood-carving of the choir, which was long believed to be the work of Francisco Moure, a native of Orense, who is known to have executed the fine carving of the altar in the Jesuit monastery of Monforte and the choir at Logo. But just before my arrival at Orense a local archæologist, Señor Eugenio Alvarez, discovered in the archives of the Cathedral a document proving that the choir at Orense was the work of a foreigner—an Italian named Juan de Angeles—in the sixteenth century.

I heard from a reliable source that there were some exquisite specimens of enamel work in the treasury, but did not have an opportunity of inspecting them. It is very rarely that they are shown to visitors.

In a cupboard lined with velvet in the sacristy is preserved a beautiful crucifix of silver filigree work. The hair and clothes of the Christ are of gold. Sad to say, a native of Orense, who made a fortune in South America, has recently spent a hundred and twenty-five thousand pesetas in having this beautiful work spoiled, i.e., modernised and decked out with coloured stones; its original date is unknown, but it is thought to be the work of the silversmiths of Santiago.

The reredos on the chief altar is also worth inspection, it is thought to be the work of a Fleming; each niche containing a statue is decorated with golden lace. It is the only reredos of its kind in Spain. Every statue in it is said to be worth ten thousand (Spanish) dollars.

We next visited the Orense Museum. Here we found a stone bearing an inscription relating to the Burgas, or Hot Springs, which had once been erected near them by the Romans; the inscription was in honour of the nymphs who were supposed to haunt the springs. Here also we found several interesting stone sarcophagi; one was that of a converted Jew of Monforte who spent a great deal of money on the churches; his name was Gaibor, and he flourished in the eighteenth century. Here, too, were specimens of good Roman mosaic, taken from the Roman baths in the neighbourhood; some Byzantine capitals; a sarcophagus bearing an inscription in the Gallegan dialect, from the fourteenth century; a sarcophagus of the fifth century without a cover; a bronze cross of the fifth century; some Roman pens; some Roman amphoras; bronze hatchets found in the bed of the Miño; and a number of arrow-heads, some of green serpentine, others of stone. Among the documents were some Papal Bulls and other parchments in a{294} glass case. One of the things that interested me most was a musical instrument of mediæval structure; it had a handle like a barrel organ, but its strings and screws were like those of a violin. I am told that this strange kind of instrument is still in use among the blind musicians of Galicia; and there are two of them represented in the Orense Pórtico de Gloria, two of the four-and-twenty elders are playing them by turning the handle. In this museum we also found a good specimen of the Gallegan bagpipe, or gaita. It was here that Señor Macìas showed me a recently completed plan of the old Roman road that passed through Orense from Braga to Astorga, at which he and several other archæologists had been working for some time. The walls of the museum are hung with old paintings, some of them being portraits of the family of San Rosendo, brought from the monastery of Celanova. But perhaps the most treasured object of all is the stone with the Roman inscription which Señor Macìas and his friends had such difficulty in removing from the site of the ancient Civitas Limicorum.

The name of Orense is derived from the Latin word Aurea, “golden,” and was the name given to the town by the Romans. As we have seen elsewhere, the great pride of Orense is the fact that the Sueve kings Carriarico and Teodomiro abjured Arianism within her walls after hearing of the miracles of St. Martin of Tours, and through the preaching of St. Martin of Dumio, after there had been more than a hundred years of strife between that heresy and the Catholic Faith, a strife which brought with it all the evils of a civil war. Six centuries later the monastery of the Franciscan Order was established within the walls of the city. Soon after its completion, in a quarrel between Bishop Yanez de Noboa and the monks, a man who had killed a member of the Noboa family in the street took refuge with the monks, and as they refused to deliver him up, the citizens burned their monastery to the ground. A few years later a new monastery was begun on the site where it now stands, on a hill just above the town, to the east of the Cathedral; this was finished about the middle of the fourteenth century. It is now used as a barracks for an infantry regiment, but its architecture is well preserved and quite worth a visit; it has a beautiful fourteenth-century Gothic cloister with graceful arcades resting on double shafts, every capital having different sculpture. The façade of the church has a fine Gothic door with three columns on either side, and some quaint sculpture on their capitals. This church has one nave and three apse chapels; its form

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is that of a Latin cross; the roofing of the nave is of wood, while the transept and apses are covered with Gothic vaulting. The four arches of the transept form curvilineal triangles, as if originally intended to support a cupola or lantern. The apses, which resemble those of Santo Domingo of Pontevedra, are connected by doors of communication in their walls; they are lighted by very narrow and long lancet windows. Some say that the sculptured figures on the capitals in this church are intended to represent the struggles that took place between Bishop Yanez de Noboa and the monks, but this is not correct; they merely represent the monsters, birds, and foliage so much affected in that period. The church contains some interesting tombs.

Another old church at Orense is La Trinidad, founded in the middle of the twelfth century by Juan de Lares; it has two circular towers flanking its façade, they probably did duty during the Middle Ages as fortified watch-towers, for they have the appearance of bastions. The wall of the Gothic apse seems also to have been castellated. This church must have been standing when our Duke of Lancaster—who had married a daughter of Peter the Cruel—invaded Galicia to claim the lands that his wife inherited from her father. The Duke took Ribadavia in 1386, and then marched upon Orense, which he assaulted and sacked.

In several of the small towns within a short drive of Orense there are interesting monuments of mediæval architecture. One drive well worth taking is to Allariz, where the Church of Santiago has many points worthy of study, such as its quaint circular apse with a tiled roof and Romanesque windows, and its square stone tower, also with a tiled roof. At Allariz there is also the convent of Santa Clara, with its sumptuous church and five altars, one of which is of the Corinthian order and as lofty as the church. On the arch above the closed door there is an inscription with the date “Era 1324.” The nuns of this convent have among their treasures a beautiful crystal cross of mediæval workmanship, with an ivory image of the Virgin, which alone is worth going to Allariz to see. Near the Church of St. Stephen, at Allariz, there is a spot called el campo de la Mina, which was used as a Jewish burial-ground until the sixteenth century; some old tombstones bearing Hebrew inscriptions have recently been found there. Huerta thought that Allariz was the ancient town of Arraduca mentioned by Ptolemy. The historian Gandara stated that the remains of King Witiza were discovered at Allariz in 1663, but no other writer has confirmed this statement. It is{296} certain, however, that Allariz was one of the most strongly-fortified towns in Galicia during the Middle Ages, and it is one of the oldest Fueros in the province. It can also boast of the fact that the great poligraphist Feijoó received his early education within its walls.

Another pleasant drive is to Aquasantas, where there is an interesting parish church, built of granite, with three naves, the central nave being supported by pillars 30 feet high. In the side nave to the right is the tomb of Santa Marina the martyr: there is a high square tower with a clock. This church once belonged to the Knights Templars.

Not far from Aquasantas there is the Church of San Pedro del Mezquita, and thirty kilometres distant from Orense there is the parish church of Junquera de Ambia, now a small village, but once an important Roman settlement close to the military road that connected Braga with Astorga. A milestone bearing the name of Hadrian was excavated there towards the close of the nineteenth century, it belonged to the year 133 A.D., and its inscription stated that the distance to Braga was seventy-four miles.[277] The present church dates from the year 1164, as we are told by an inscription on the tympanum of its doorway. Molina states that the ancient family of Ambia owned the whole of Junquera de Ambia, and much more land besides, and that one of them, having no heir to succeed him, built a fine church on his own estate: in the sixteenth century this edifice was turned into a Colegiata, but it is now a parish church in the diocese of Orense; it has a fine tower in the Romanesque style. The chief entrance is a good example of the same style at its best period; it has three archivolts with toral moulding.

At El Monteiro there is also a church with an interesting apse, or rather three circular apses with Romanesque windows.

There is also a remarkably fine church at Monterrey about fifty-five kilometers from Orense. This town was peopled by Alfonso VIII. of Castile in 1150, and called Monterrey because of its mountainous position. In its vicinity there are some rich tin mines. It is at Monterrey that there is a fine old square tower, the Torre del Homenaje (the bell at the top is modern), and in the church above alluded to there is a mediæval reredos of sculptured stone.[278]

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Monforte—The Jesuit College—A picture by Greco—Cloister planned by Herrera—Relics in the convent of Santa Clara—Doña Catalina—The modern town—Like a spider’s web—The Province of Lugo—The town of Lugo—The Roman wall—Towers and windows—A Celtic town—Derivation of the name—The Sueves at Lugo—The seat of a Metropolitan—Struggles between the clergy and the nobles—Lugo’s great privilege—The continual exposition of the Host—Early references to this privilege—The Archives of Lugo—Molina—Lugo Cathedral—Its peculiarities—Our Lady of the Large Eyes—The lateral façade—Wood-carving of the choir—Sarcophagus of Froila—The chapel of Our Lady with the Large Eyes—The convent of San Francisco—Peculiarity of its apses—Frescoes—The cloister—Borrow on Lugo Cathedral—Santo Domingo—Traces of the Roman occupation—Rain in Lugo—A great Roman Catholic gathering—From our hotel windows—A funeral procession—St. James on horseback—Mondoñedo

MONFORTE, or, to give it its full name, Monforte de Lemus, in the province of Lugo, was our next halting-place after we left Orense. The population of Orense is under five thousand, and there is, besides the Jesuit College, nothing in the modern town to recommend it to the visitor’s attention beyond the fact that it gives its name to an important railway junction, by which communication is carried from Galicia to Madrid and the rest of Spain. We decided, however, to spend one night there that we might have time to visit the fourteenth-century tower with dungeons below it that crowns the mediæval citadel, the remnant of the palace of the Counts of Lemos, and the neighbouring Benedictine convent with its handsome church of San Vicente del Pino, bearing the date 1539.

Two professors conducted us through the various public apartments of the Jesuit College. They showed us with pride a painting of St. Francis of Assisi by Greco[279] (and bearing his signature), which is said to be finer than the one that is so highly prized in the Madrid Gallery. St. Francis wears a grey robe and cowl, and holds a skull in his hand, and another monk with hands clasped is looking up to his face as he listens{298} to his words. We next visited the church; there our attention was drawn to the famous reredos of carved wood, said to be the work of the great Gallegan wood-carver Francisco Moure. Every niche is filled with an exquisitely carved group representing some well-known Biblical scene. Moure died before this work was completed, and it was finished by his son. Among their many precious relics the Jesuits were particularly anxious that we should note the skull of the second Pope, and other valuable relics. They then took us to see their fine cloister, which dates from the year 1600, and was planned by Herrera, the architect of the Escurial. The whole college is well built, and stands in extensive grounds; its façade is imposing, especially from the train windows. This college was intended by its founder to draw students from all parts of Spain, and to be one of the principal centres of learning in the country.

We were now conducted to the neighbouring convent of Santa Clara, and our guide requested the nuns to show the remarkable collection of relics which they were known to possess. But these ladies, who interviewed us from behind a double grating of iron bars, refused point-blank to allow the eyes of the uninitiated to rest even for a moment on their sacred treasures. “Here is a little book,” said the Lady Superior, “in which you will find a list of our relics,” and she handed it to me through the thick bars that separated her and her companions from the outside world. I brought the book away with me, and read in it later that the convent in question had been founded by Señora Doña Catalina de Sandoval y Roja, of whom the convent possessed a full-length portrait. She was the wife of Don Pedro Fernandez de Castro, seventh Count of Lemos.[280] This pious dame exerted her every effort to endow her convent with a fine collection of relics. She was by birth a Neapolitan princess, and Pope Paul V. granted her a Bull allowing all the “archbishops, bishops and abbots of the Kingdom of Naples to give to her new convent any relics they might have in their churches.” On receipt of the Bull, Doña Catalina’s husband had lost no time in sending letters to all the church dignitaries of Naples to notify them that they might now send what relics they liked to Monforte. Four trusty Capuchin monks bore the letters to Italy, and returned laden with relics, which they handed over to Doña Catalina, with the letters in which the archbishops and bishops replied to Count Pedro. Some of these{299} divines excused themselves, saying that their relics were so small that they were not worth sending, but others sent a great many from their rich collections. All the relics that were thus accumulated were deposited, with the letters that accompanied them, in the convent of Santa Clara, in August 1703.

Looking through the list of relics given in the book, I noted that there were among them,—several pieces of the true Cross, in golden cases; a nail from the Cross in a crystal case; a thorn from the Crown of Thorns; a little piece of the sheet in which the body of Christ was wrapped; a little piece of the Virgin’s veil; a bone from the body of St. Paul; a fragment of the column to which Christ was bound; a bit of cloth stained with the blood of John the Baptist; a drop of milk from the Virgin’s breast; a tooth of St. Catherine, and a drop of milk (that was drawn from her breast by the knife of her executioner); a bone from the body of Pope Gregory; the heads of six of the eleven thousand virgins (English maidens) who fled from Cornwall with St. Ursula. There was a long list of other heads, or rather skulls, of saints, and this was followed by a long list of bodies, some complete, some incomplete; then came a still longer list of bones, arm bones, shin bones, and every other kind of bone. I could not help feeling, as I turned over page after page, that the nuns of Santa Clara were wise after all in refusing to expose their museum of human remains to the curiosity of passing strangers.

The modern part of Monforte, on the plain beneath the citadel, with its wide streets lined with black poplars and its clay-built houses, is much more like a Castillian than a Gallegan town; in fact, to my eyes, so long accustomed to narrow streets and the granite houses of Galicia, Monforte presented a strange and novel contrast. Monforte is built out round its citadel like a spider’s web. I do not know any town except Carlsruhe to which I can compare it.

The province of Lugo, the fourth and last division of Galicia with which we have to deal, lies to the north of Orense, and is itself bounded on the north by the Bay of Biscay, with a coast-line of sixty Spanish miles. The province of Lugo is very mountainous, but in its centre there are fertile plains and valleys watered by innumerable rivers and streams; the most important of which is our old acquaintance the river Miño, which has its source in a spring near the town of Lugo. The Ulla and the Eo also have their rise in this province, the latter being the natural boundary between Lugo and Oviedo.{300}

Lugo, the chief town of the province of Lugo, was our next stopping place after Monforte. The railway station is on the plain, but Lugo stands upon a hill, and is still surrounded by an ancient wall which dates from the days of the Romans. This wall, with its many bastions and semicircular towers built of massive granite, must have been a fine sight during the Middle Ages, for it is still one of the finest ruins of its kind in the whole of the Peninsula. Molina wrote in the sixteenth century that the walls of Lugo were one of the marvels of Spain, and so wide that two carriages could drive abreast round their entire circuit, and crowned by so many towers that there was one at every eighth step. He adds that when Lugo was at the height of her splendour each of these towers contained living-rooms, and was inhabited by a watchman whose duty it was to guard the town. “Even now,” he continues, “each tower has still many windows, and pieces of the old window-panes are often picked up near them; the glass was very thick and white.” Molina also speaks of some ancient Roman baths which were mentioned by Pliny, and which he considers to be the oldest baths in Spain—more than a thousand years old. “How strange,” he remarks, “that though the springs are only forty steps distant from the river Miño, their water is quite hot; such a difference of temperature within such a small space is marvellous.”

Like Monforte, Lugo is built upon a hill rising in the midst of a plain. The ancient Romans made this town the centre of their administration of Galicia; they kept two cohorts of the Seventh Legion stationed here, and it was an important point of defence against the attacks of unsubdued native tribes. Within the walls there are to-day twenty-nine streets and several fine squares, but the town spreads far beyond the walls, and there are quite as many inhabitants dwelling outside. In the days of the Romans, Lugo was known as Augusta Lucus. Tradition tells us that the Romans found a Celtic town there, and although we have as yet no actual proof of this, we know for a certainty that the ancient Celts had a god called Lugus or Lug (gen. Loga). Jubainville thinks that the name of Louth in Ireland is derived from Lugus. This deity was supposed to be a god with a human form; the same authority cites five continental towns thought to have derived their names from the same source, but he does not seem to have noticed that of Lugo in Galicia.[281]

Such was the importance of Lugo under the Romans in the time of Pliny, that more than a hundred and sixty-six free{301} persons are said to have come to Lugo to act as judges in public causes. When the Sueves made themselves masters of Galicia in the fourth and fifth centuries, they made Lugo the centre of their government, and their kings held their Court there. During the days of the Goths the town lost its former greatness, and was reduced till its only importance was that which it gained from being the seat of a Catholic bishopric. During the Arab invasion even the churches of Lugo suffered destruction, the inhabitants were scattered, and her bishop was taken prisoner; but in 740 King Alfonso I. came to Lugo and began restorations. After the death of this king, Bishop Odoario continued the work that had been begun.

During the sixth century Lugo was for some time the seat of a Metropolitan. At a Church Council held at Braga in 572, Nitigisco, the bishop, signed himself Metropolitan of Lugo. Several important Church Councils were also held at Lugo. In the days of her Metropolitan importance, Lugo had no less than fourteen churches under her sway, and these comprised a very large territory. Her power and influence were great; she watched over the public peace, she helped the cities when they were attacked by outside foes, and encouraged them to strengthen their bulwarks; her powers over the interests of the citizen were almost regal for more than a century, though the people were never unanimous in their approval of so much power being vested in the Church, and the nobles were continually struggling to throw off the yoke of the Mitre.[282]

When and how Lugo lost the dignity of being a Metropolitan See is not known, but it was some time between 1095 and 1113, during the Pontificate of Calixtus II. Another honour which was conceded to this town in the remote past, and which she still retains, was the remarkable privilege of exposing continually the Sacrament of the Eucharist upon the chief altar of her Cathedral. The exact origin of this privilege has been sought in vain, but those who have looked into the matter most carefully are of the opinion that it probably dates from the Council of Lugo held in 569, and that it was established as a protest against the heresy of Priscillian, which threatened at that time to dominate Galicia. Acuña, in his Historiæ Eclesiastica de los Arzobispos de Braga, has the following passage: “Por que na mesma Cidade em algum destes dous Concileos se decretou é estableceu à verdadeira prescença de Chisto Noso Deus neste Divinissimo è Altisimo Sacramento à quem os hereges d’aquelle tempo tanto contradiziao.”[283] An{302} early reference to the exposition of the Sacrament at Lugo occurs in a document bearing the date 1130, which states that the Divine Mysteries were celebrated nocturnæ diurnis temporibus in the Cathedral at Lugo. And in 1621 the Bishop of Lugo wrote to Pope Gregory XV. that they had had “on the chief altar of the Cathedral the most holy Sacrament ever since the time of the condemnation of the heretics.”

From other ancient documents it is known that the Host was exposed in a crystal box, and in such a manner that it could be seen by every one who entered the cathedral. Large sums of money were contributed from time to time by the kings and princes of Galicia in connection with this privilege. A Count of Lemos gave, in 1672, a donation of seventy pounds weight of gold. In March 1669 a decree was passed that the Kingdom of Galicia should contribute 1500 ducats annually, and in later years the State assigned an annual payment of 15,000 pesetas towards the expenses of this privilege to Lugo. There still exists in the archives of Lugo a document bearing the date 1734, in which the King of Spain conceded an annual payment of 400 pesetas from the Kingdom of New Spain towards the veneration of the Holy Sacrament of the Cathedral of Lugo. The most recent event in this connection occurred in 1897, when on 18th June the Pope granted to the Lugo clergy the privilege of celebrating the Holy Sacrament every Thursday throughout the year, except the Thursdays which should fall upon Feast Days.

Until quite recently the glass case containing the consecrated bread of the Eucharist stood upon a curious altar stone—an Obsidian stone said to have been brought from South America; the stone is now kept in the sacristy. On examination of it, I found that it had the appearance of a small block of black marble, but was in reality a block of volcanic glass; it reflected my face like a mirror.

In 1772 the Archbishop of Saragossa presented Lugo with an exquisitely worked casket studded with precious stones, and in this the Sacrament was manifested until a thief got into the Cathedral and stole it on 8th December 1854. Another casket was thereupon provided by public subscription; it was the work of the famous artist Ramirez de Arellano, and has been in use since 3rd May 1859. It is a very beautiful piece of work in the plateresque style, representing Faith triumphant over Heresy, containing a chalice covered with diamonds, emeralds, and other precious stones, amongst which there are no less than fifteen hundred specimens of the topaz.{303}

Molina mentions a possible connection between the continual exposition of the Sacrament at Lugo and the suppression of Arianism, but he adds that he has heard of a more likely explanation, namely, that at one time all the cathedrals in Spain shared the privilege of Lugo, but that after the invasion of the Moors Lugo was the only privileged cathedral, because she alone had not been desecrated by the common enemy. In another place Molina describes the arms of Galicia as “a chalice containing the Host, because Galicia alone was not conquered by the Moors.”

Lugo Cathedral was begun in 1129 in accordance with a plan prepared by Raimundo de Monforte, whose son succeeded him in the superintendence of the work. According to the best authorities, the Cathedral is, in the main, a copy of that of Santiago de Compostela, but a copy on a much simpler scale. As Lamperez points out, its low naves do not run into the naves of the transept, and the latter has barrel vaultings. The whole architecture of this edifice shows a vacillation, a wavering of conception which has produced a strange mixture of style,—bordering on originality; this very result is in itself a curious study. Here we see all the changes of style that occurred between the beginning of the twelfth and the middle of the nineteenth century. Villa-Amil calls it a compendium of the history of architecture.[284] In the arms of the transept we have the Romanesque style, and it is also seen in the vaulting of the lateral naves: in the rest of the naves we have a fine example of the Transition, and in the head of the church we have an important example of the Gothic style as it was interpreted in Galicia—the Gallegan Gothic. The Capilla del Pilar and the lateral portico furnish us with good examples of the plateresque style, so also do the two large retablos at the ends of the transept. The upper portion of the lower is Græco-Roman, of the earliest period of its restoration; while the sacristy and the wood-carving of the choir stalls are in the decadent taste of Philip IV.’s day. The Chapel of Our Lady of the Large Eyes is a sumptuous example of the Borrominesque, and the principal façade exhibits an interesting example of the bad taste of the second period of the Restoration. The whole is a remarkably harmonious mixture of all the mediæval styles, but the transept is too narrow and too dark. Although that part of the town which is within the walls is mostly on the same level, the Cathedral stands in a slight hollow, so that its domination of the eminence on which the town is built is less complete than it should have been. Instead of standing{304} out like our York Cathedral, it seems to be oppressed and choked by the surrounding streets and houses.

The lateral façade possesses considerable architectural interest; it has a Gothic portico, the vaulting of which is richly ribbed. The double doors are within a Romanesque archway, over which there hangs, like a medallion, an archaic statue of Christ, quite Byzantine in the position of the feet, and with a stone halo veseca piscis, and a crown and a cruciform nimbus. This statue reminds me strongly of the figure of King David to be seen in the Puerta de las Platerias at Santiago. The lintel of the door is composed of two semicircular arches, with a Latin inscription on the pendant.

The beautiful wood-carving of the choir stalls is by Francisco Moure of Orense, the artist of the famous reredos in the Jesuit College at Monforte. Risco speaks of these stalls in “España Sagrada” as the most beautifully carved stalls in the kingdom; they are famous for the good taste displayed in their design, as well as for the actual beauty of their execution. Cean Bermúdez was another who praised them exceedingly. Villa-Amil tells us that their cost was five thousand ducats.

Until the fourteenth century none but bishops were interred within this Cathedral; even the greatest nobles had to lie in the cemetery. The most interesting bit of sculpture within the edifice is the marble sarcophagus of Froila, which was moved from its original place in the Capilla del Pilar about thirty years ago; it has a prismatic cover with a triangular base, and its ornamentation is funicular. On its front is a curious piece of bas-relief, representing a naked corpse suspended in a grave-cloth held by two angels, while the Eternal Father is represented in the clouds above touching the body with His right hand and giving it His blessing. At the head of the sarcophagus, on the cover, there is a quaint figure of a seated monk engaged in reading.

In the lateral naves there are some elegant Romanesque windows (now closed up), and the capitals beneath the arches are adorned with interesting sculpture; here the chess pattern ornamentation is very much in evidence.

In a handsome eighteenth-century chapel adorned with stone arabesques and crowned with a cupola, built in the year 1726, is to be seen the curious stone statue known as “the Virgin with the Large Eyes”—Virgen de los Ojos Grandes—which St. James is said to have left at Lugo when he founded the original Cathedral. It is supposed to be the oldest image in Spain after that of the Virgen del Pilar, at Saragossa.{305} The Virgin holds a Child in her arms. I did not think her eyes unnaturally large. Villa-Amil says that it takes fourteen men to move this statue: it now stands upon an elaborate Churrigueresque throne. The Virgin’s crown sparkles with precious stones; it is a comparatively new one, and was placed upon her head by the Bishop of Lugo about three years ago.

The Convent of San Francisco, at Lugo, is said to have been founded by St. Francis of Assisi when he was returning home after his pilgrimage to the sepulchre of St. James. The cloister of the present building bears the date 1452, and an inscription on the arch which separates the central nave from the right arm of the transept tells us that the church was not completed earlier than 1510. The plan of the church is a Latin cross, or, as Villa-Amil calls it, a tau, for the cross has practically no head, only a poligonal apse with two smaller apses, one on either side. This kind of apse is rather rare. Street compared them to those of the Frari in Venice, and wrote of them as follows: “These apses are remarkable for having an angle in the centre, whilst their windows have a bar of tracery across them, transom fashion, at mid height. It is certainly a very curious coincidence that in both these particulars it resembles closely the fine church of the Frari at Venice.” Villa-Amil reminds us, however, that the apses of Santo Domingo at Ribadavia have the same angle. All three apses are covered with fan-shaped vaulting, the ribs of which rest upon side columns. The interior of this church was originally decorated with frescoes, and the remains of them are still to be seen: as frescoes are very rare in Spain, they are rather noteworthy. In each of the apses there are two curious sepulchral arches; these are both Gothic. The statues of several of them have been destroyed, but there are still three effigies of knights in full armour.

With regard to the cloister of this monastery, Villa-Amil declares that it has not its equal either in Spain or anywhere else. It is a strange mixture of the Gothic and Romanesque styles, but the latter predominates throughout. The nearest approach to it in Galicia is the cloister of Tojosutos, near Noya.[285] It is indeed sad to think of the way in which this interesting monastery has been neglected, and to note the state of dilapidation into which it has been allowed to fall. The fact is that the town of Lugo seems to have got left behind in the race for civilisation and improvement; she has fallen out of the beaten track, and life and energy have{306} gone from her. Even her beautiful Cathedral gives the visitor an impression of neglect, if not of decay; and this may in some way account for the erroneous impression that George Borrow received of it. “The Cathedral church itself is a small, mean building,” ... he wrote. I am convinced that if Borrow had entered the Cathedral but for a moment he could never have described it as either small or mean. But we must remember, too, the remarkable fact that neither Ford nor Borrow had any eye for architecture. Carrying their writings with me, and reading their descriptions on the spot, I was continually astounded at their utter blindness in this respect. Borrow was right, however, when he wrote: “It is singular enough that Lugo, at present a place of very little importance, should at one period have been the capital of Spain.”

Another interesting monastery is that of Santo Domingo, which is now inhabited by some nuns of the Augustine Order. This also is a mixture of Romanesque and Early Gothic.

Lugo contains many traces of the old Roman days, but she has as yet no museum to shelter them. Her Roman inscriptions have many of them been built into the town walls at various periods of its restoration. Many persons still repair to her medicinal baths for the cure of scrofulous disease, and within the bathing-house part of the wall of the Roman baths described by Pliny may still be seen. According to Barros Sivelo, there are also some remains of the Roman prison, but I had not time to search for these.

The province of Lugo is said to be the most rainy part of Galicia, which is saying a great deal, seeing that Galicia is the most rainy part of Spain. The streets of Lugo are constantly enveloped in an impenetrable white mist during about eight months of the year; but when the sun does shine, there are splendid views to be obtained on all sides.

In the year 1896 a great Roman Catholic gathering took place at Lugo under the title of “Second Spanish Eucharistic Congress.”[286] Numerous religious meetings were held under its auspices, at which there were often more than six thousand people. Church dignitaries from many parts of Europe attended this Congress, and the printed account of the proceedings, of the speeches made and the papers read, form a bulky volume. Alas, that after such a revival Lugo should have once more fallen back into her former state of inertia!

From our hotel window we overlooked the principal square of the town with its tree-encircled fountain in the centre.{307} One side of the square is taken up by the handsome Casa de Ayuntamiento or municipal buildings, which have a handsome eighteenth-century front and a high clock tower which is one of the principal architectural ornaments of the town. The front windows of the first storey rest upon an arcade of eight arches which forms a cool shelter from the blazing sun in summer and a protection from the ceaseless rains of winter. A funeral party crossed the square on the afternoon of our arrival at Lugo, and we looked down upon a procession composed of forty men, each carrying a lighted candle. Before them was carried a black banner preceded by two crosses raised aloft upon black poles. The coffin was borne by four men, while two more on either side held on to a black ribbon, or streamer, the other end of which was attached to a corner of the coffin. Six priests followed the coffin, singing as they went. Behind the priests came a crowd of poor people, including many women and children.

The next morning we looked out upon a bright and busy scene, for it was Lugo’s market day, and the people from all the neighbouring villages had come in to sell their wares. Baskets of oranges, local cheeses, and onions attracted our attention. Amongst the crowd women walked about with pitchers of water balanced sideways on their heads, not with brass-bound pails as in other parts of Galicia.

After our second visit to the Cathedral we passed through a gateway in the old Roman wall over which there was a figure of St. James on horseback, and soon found ourselves in the more modern part of the town. A wide carriage road encircles the walls, and the circuit makes a pleasant drive in fine weather.

About fifty kilometres distant from Lugo, in a green valley surrounded on all sides by mountains, lies the town of Mondoñedo. This town is not without its interest to students of Galicia, but as there is no railway to it, tourists seldom find their way thither. The Cathedral of San Martin at Mondoñedo is said to date from the year 1114. The sacristy is decorated with interesting frescoes about which a good deal has been written. It has three naves divided by Corinthian columns, and its form is that of a Latin cross, within which are no less than twenty altars, the largest of which is dedicated to San Rosando, and was consecrated in 1462. A cloister joins the Cathedral to the episcopal palace. Above the principal façade, which is in the Corinthian style, rise two fine bell towers.{308}



Betanzos and the Phœnicians—Earliest inhabitants—The Fiesta de Caneiros—Municipal archives—Market day—The “abominable tribute”—Tiobre—May Day—San Martin de Tiobre—Santa Eulalia de Espenuca—The Church of Santiago—Its slanting architecture—A tower of the Middle Ages—Santa Maria de Azogue—San Francisco—The tomb of Fernán Peréz de Andrade—The Church at Cambre—A forerunner of Toledo Cathedral—Was it planned by Mateo?—Petrus Petri—The drive to Puentedeume and Ferrol—Borrow on Ferrol—The great Arsenal of Spain—Modern enterprise at Ferrol—A trait in the Spanish character

BETANZOS is one of the oldest towns in Spain; some writers think it was founded by the Phœnician traders who came to the north-western coast in search of tin and other metals. Betanzos was one of the seven provinces into which ancient Galicia was divided, and throughout the Middle Ages it had a considerable degree of importance. The Ria, on the bank of which the town of Betanzos stands, is now shallow and unimportant, but there is every reason to believe that in the days of the ancients its waters were navigable up to the town walls, and covered with shipping. Betanzos is now in the province of Coruña and only one hour distant by train from the town of that name. As we had not been able to visit it during our sojourn at Coruña, we made it our next halting-place after Lugo: the journey (by express train) occupied just two hours. The province of Lugo contained, during the Middle Ages, more monasteries than any other part of Galicia, but to-day there is only one ruined monastery left, and that is at Sarria, the first town at which our train stopped after leaving Lugo.

The earliest inhabitants of Betanzos were probably a mixed community of Greeks and Celts: the Romans called the town either Brigantium Flavium, after Vespasian (or Titus), who founded the Roman city about 72 A.D., or Flavia Lambris. The present town stands on what is now only a small creek, nearly a mile distant from the sea, and only small boats can reach it. On three sides there are sloping hills mostly covered with woods and pasture land, so that{309} the situation of the place is decidedly picturesque. Many residents of Madrid and other inland towns have villas here for the summer months; and as it is only a few miles from Coruña, it is better known to Spaniards than most parts of Galicia. The river Mandeo flows through the town and discharges itself into the creek or ria. On August 18, every year the inhabitants celebrate their Fiesta de Caneiros. This is a kind of Battle of Flowers which takes place upon the ria. The water is covered with boats gaily decorated with flowers. The tide carries the holiday-makers out towards the sea, and with it they return in the evening after much feasting and merry-making. The festival is a unique one even to Spaniards, and friends who have taken part in it speak with rapture of the brilliance and beauty of the scene. Myriads of garland-covered boats are borne upon the water, and happy faces peep from under the festoons of flowers and foliage.

At Betanzos the best hotel is nothing but a country inn. From its windows we looked out upon the open space known as Plazo del Campo, on the opposite side of which stands a handsome eighteenth-century building which served at one time as the principal municipal archives of Galicia; part of it is now a municipal school for boys. Over the principal entrance, which is reached by a double flight of stone steps, are the ancient arms of Galicia (a chalice containing the Host). Omnibuses to Ferrol and Puentedeume start in front of this building, and there is always plenty of movement, but on market days the scene is particularly varied and interesting, and on the first and sixteenth of every month a fair is held here. During the fair one corner of the Plaza becomes a cattle market, another is filled with horses, and another with pigs. The crowd is so great that one can only make one’s way through with difficulty.

Betanzos is full of interest for archæologists. To begin with, it is closely associated with the legend of the Hundred Maidens to which I have elsewhere alluded. Molina says in this connection, “Of all that I am writing in this little book, there is no subject more worthy of attention than the story of the abominable tribute that King Mauregato levied upon the Christians,” and he then proceeds to tell how a few noble-spirited Gallegan youths rushed upon the Moors at a spot called Pecte Burdelo, and freed Spain for ever from their disgraceful demands. A street in Betanzos bears to this day the name “Street of the Hundred Maidens” (Calle de las Cien Doncellas).{310}

The oldest parish in the modern town is Bravio, and its churches date from the second half of the twelfth century.[287] The oldest parish of the ancient town is Tiobre. We walked up the hill to see the little church of Tiobre, which stands on an eminence to the north-east of the town. It was the second of May, the day on which Spanish children hold their festival which corresponds with our election of a May Queen. At one spot in the road we found a party of children supporting an arch gaily decorated with coloured ribbons. A small child of three was being made to pass beneath the arch with closed eyes, while the children sang a verse about the sleep of Winter; then, as they sang of the coming of Spring and of the waking up of the flowers and birds, the child was made to open its eyes and pass beneath the arch once more. I took a snapshot of the merry group, and then we proceeded up the hill past the modern church of Nuestia Señora del Caneiro, to which many pilgrimages are still made. From the cemetery we had a very fine view of the town below, though we could not see the whole of it. I noticed that the town lay so snugly amongst its many hills that from whatever eminence you might look down upon it some of its streets were always hidden from view. Beyond the church we had to walk single file between fields of wheat and rye till we came to the little church of San Martin de Tiobre. It is a very small granite edifice with a handsome Romanesque entrance and a lateral door in the same style, while over the triumphal arch it has a rose window, which has unfortunately been closed up, so that the interior is darker than it should be. There are four columns with beautifully sculptured capitals, two on either side of the chief entrance. The roof of the nave is of wood, but the vaulting of the apse is stone. A few months previous to my visit an inscription was discovered on the wall, below the rose window and a little to the left, but it had not yet been deciphered. The fronton which supports the bell is, of course, eighteenth-century work. It is a pity that the granite blocks of which the church is built have been all lined out with white paint.

There is no finer view obtainable of Betanzos than that from the little platform surrounding the Tiobre church. This eminence is in reality a very large tumulus, which is supposed to date from the days of the Celts and is called El castro de Tiobre, from the two Celtic words—Dis, God; and obre, town. According to the Historia Compostelana there was a church here called San Martin de Tiobre in the ninth century. The{311} architecture of the existing edifice is Romanico-Byzantine, the prevalent style all over Galicia during the Middle Ages. Dr. Oviedo says that this church must have been built after 1224, the date at which Alfonso IX. moved the population from old Betanzos to the new town.

On a steep hill to the south of Betanzos known as Santa Eulalia de Espenuca there are some very ancient caverns, or natural grottos, supposed to have sheltered a troglodite tribe in prehistoric times. The name Espenuca is derived from the Latin spelunca, a cave. On the western slope of this hill there are also some granite tombs, monoliths shaped to hold the body, such as were common in the eighth and ninth centuries, but more correct in their design, and therefore possibly belonging to a still earlier date. Dr. Oviedo believes there existed here a Christian church and parish as early as the fifth, and documents prove that there was one here in the ninth, century.

From Tiobre we had noted the two elegant spires that were added some six years ago to the church of Santiago, and thither we now repaired. In the tympanum of the arch over the chief entrance to this church there is a piece of sculptured relief representing St. James on horseback; he waves a sword with his right hand and holds a flag with his left. Before him kneels a young woman with her hands upraised in supplication—evidently one of the hundred maidens about to be sent as tribute to the Moors just before the famous battle of Clavijo.

The tympanum is surrounded by a triple archivolt resting on a jamb with three corresponding shafts. Dr. Oviedo was greatly struck by the representation in one of the archivolts of the Last Supper. He calls it “a book in stone,” unique in Galicia and possibly also in Spain, as showing a special phase in the sculptural art of the Middle Ages. The sculpture on the capitals is the most eccentric that I have ever met with in Galicia: on one there is a lion with the head of a man, and on another a monk is embracing a lion. On entering the church I was surprised to find that the whole building leaned a little to one side, after the manner of Santa Maria de Sar.[288] When the new towers were added, about six years ago, the nave was cleared to its real depth and the bones of the many dead who had been buried there were removed. There are three naves. The stained glass in the graceful lancet windows of the Gothic apses is modern,{312} and came from the factory at Leon. The roofing is of wood and supported by six Gothic arches. The scultptured decoration of the chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul is interesting.

Exactly opposite the church of Santiago there is a square tower, evidently intended for the protection of this town during the early Middle Ages; it is now used as a dwelling-house.

Another church worth visiting is that of Santa Maria de Azogue. We found it in the midst of repairs and full of scaffolding. In this church too there is the same kind of slant as that at Sar. Dr. Eladio Oviedo is of the opinion that both this church and that of Santiago date from the fourteenth century—that is, from the second period of Gothic art.

We next visited the ex-conventual church of San Francisco, beneath whose pavement lie buried more than a hundred distinguished men belonging to the highest aristocracy of Galicia. One is impressed at once with the sculptural decoration of the chief entrance, which is purely Romanesque. Villa-Amil considers this church to be the most remarkable—from the point of view of sculpture—of all the Franciscan edifices in Galicia, and he adds that we have no clue to the exact date of any one of them. The sculptured sarcophagus of Fernán Peréz de Andrade has an inscription with the date 1387. This sarcophagus rests on the back of a bear and a wild boar, both life size. On it is the recumbent mail-clad effigy of Andrade, who must have been a great sportsman, for his feet rest upon two dogs, each of which has a smaller dog between its paws; another dog is biting the corner of his stone pillow; the outer side of the sarcophagus is covered with alto-relief representing a lively boar hunt, in which are to be distinguished four huntsmen on horseback and a number of dogs, one of which has got hold of a boar and is biting its ear; each dog wears a collar; there is a second boar in the rear. There are a number of other tombs, but the one I have just described is by far the most striking of them all.

One end of the transept is lighted by a rose window, the other has double lancet windows. The triumphal arch leading to the chief apse is adorned with the sculptured figures of angels and grotesques. There are three Gothic apses with lancet windows. The exterior of this church is peculiar, with its tiled roofing, and the whole style of it strikes one as very archaic.

A few miles out of Betanzos, on the railway line to Lugo, but situated in the province of Coruña, there is a small station called Cambre, and here every visitor interested in Spanish

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architecture should break his journey and pay a visit to the church of Santa Maria de Cambre, the conventual church of a Benedictine monastery founded in the tenth century. The church is all that now remains of the monastery, and it is not the primitive edifice, as it only dates from the thirteenth century. This church has excited considerable interest among Spanish archæologists, from the fact that its dimensions and disposition are exactly those of the cathedrals of the Middle Ages: it is in the form of a Latin cross, with three naves and a transept, a girola and absidal chapels; it has six cruciform pillars on either side of the chief nave, the four which support the girola being more massive than the others. Lamperez, who has made this edifice an object of careful study, was particularly impressed by the exquisite harmony of its entire plan. Five graceful Gothic apse chapels, semicircular in plan, are clustered round the head of the building. All the windows are Romanesque with lobular archivolts and chess pattern ornamentation. The chief entrance is also Romanesque, with a triple arch and sculptured tympanum. As we have already seen, the Romanesque style was employed by Gallegan architects right up to the fifteenth century, long after it had been discarded by the rest of Spain. We have seen how the cloister of San Francisco at Lugo was built in that style in the fifteenth century, and we have noted the Romanesque entrance to San Maria del Azogue at Betanzos, and the pillars of Santa Maria of Pontevedra, which are an example of the employment of the Romanesque style as late even as the sixteenth century.

The arrangement of the five semicircular apses at Cambre is the same as that of the apses in Santiago Cathedral, as also is the sculpture of the capitals, so here we have one more proof of the tyrannical influence which Santiago Cathedral extended over Galicia. Lopez Ferreiro thought that the church at Cambre might have been planned by Mateo, the architect of the Pórtico de Gloria, but Lamperez has recently found an inscription in the chief nave, Micael Petri me fecit, and on a column in the same wall he has found the letters P. P. one above the other. “Does this stand for Petrus Petri?” he cries. “The mere mention of this name so glorious in the annals of Spanish architecture demands the most careful investigation,” and he then speaks of a document bearing the date “Era 1295” (A.D. 1257), in which Fernando Dominguez and a brother of his sell to Petrus Petri, a priest, and to his brother Michaeli Petri, certain estates in Miguela (in Lugo). “The fact that the names mentioned in this{314} document are found engraved on the stones of Cambre,” he adds, “is worthy of our attention; and was not Petrus Petri the celebrated architect of the Cathedral of Toledo?” Petrus Petri died in 1291, so there is no reason why he should not have been in Galicia in 1257. There is no indication, however, in the epitaph of Petrus Petri, that he was a priest.

Lamperez has also compared the architecture of Cambre with that of Toledo, and is greatly struck with the similarity in the pavement of the apses and in their vaulting. “Might it not be possible,” he ventures to suggest “that Petrus Petri was a Gallegan, and a pupil of the great Mateo? Petrus Petri may have studied the Gothic vaulting of Mateo in the Pórtico de Gloria (which is among the earliest Gothic vaulting in that part of Spain), and he may then have tried his ‘prentice hand’ in the church at Cambre. A little later he may have given immense development to his plan in building the girola of Toledo.... If this could but be proved,” continues Lamperez, “we should then know for a certainty that Petrus Petri was a Spaniard, and we should be able to explain how he came to adapt the French Gothic style in the development of Spanish Art.”

Every few hours an omnibus drawn by two pairs of horses leaves the Plaza del Campo at Betanzos for Puentedeume and Ferrol, the latter town being reached in five hours. Puentedeume lies in a beautiful valley surrounded by vine-clad hills, and the whole journey is through delightful Gallegan scenery, while on the way a good view is obtained of the ruined castle of the noble family of Andrade. Borrow visited Ferrol from Coruña by sea, and he thus describes his first view of its wonderful harbour: “We were in one of the strangest places imaginable—a long and narrow passage overhung on either side by a stupendous barrier of black and threatening rocks. The line of the coast was here divided by a natural cleft, yet so straight and regular that it seemed not the work of chance but design. The water was dark and sullen and of immense depth. This passage, which is about a mile in length, is the entrance to a broad basin, at whose farther extremity stands the town of Ferrol.”

Ferrol has been for centuries the great Arsenal of Spain; the tremendous three-deckers and long frigates destroyed at Trafalgar were built there. The present fortifications were erected between 1769 and 1774. Pitt is reported to have remarked that if England possessed a port on her coast equal to Ferrol, the British Government would cover it with a strong wall of silver. During his Ministry Pitt sent an expedition to{315} take Ferrol, and when fifteen thousand English soldiers disembarked there without warning on April 25, 1800, they found the place quite unprepared for war and very badly provisioned. “They were nevertheless obliged,” say Spanish historians, “to re-embark, but not before they had learned that Ferrol was a difficult place to blockade.”

The arsenal of Ferrol was at the period the finest, not only in Spain, but in all Europe. It came into existence before the reign of Philip II. Ferdinand VI. and Charles III. gave great impetus to the perfection of its hydraulic works, which for extent, magnificence, and solidity had not their equal. The tower has on its walls the following inscription:—

“Maximum supremae artis quis videre volenti
praecipuum hic orbis illi sistitur opus:
in quo firmiter perlustrantes maria cuncta
naves, procinctus classes, atque omnia videt.
O Felix Hispania! admodromque felix:
te fauste gubernat, regit tibique sapienter
imperat Carolus III.,
Rex inclitus pusimus augustus, quem
totus non capit orbus.”[289]

“The misery and degradation of modern Spain,” says Borrow, “are nowhere so strikingly manifested as at Ferrol. Yet even here there is much to admire, ... the Alameda is planted with nearly a thousand elms, of which almost all are magnificent trees, and the poor Ferolese, with the genuine spirit of localism so prevalent in Spain, boast that their town contains a better public walk than Madrid.” And of the naval arsenal he wrote: “I have seen the royal dockyards of Russia and England, but for grandeur of design and costliness of execution they cannot for a moment compare with those wonderful monuments of the bygone naval pomp of Spain.” He then informs his readers that the oblong basin, which is surrounded by a granite mole, is capacious enough to permit a hundred first-rates to lie conveniently in ordinary. In connection with this, let us read a paragraph from a Madrid correspondent which appeared in the Daily Telegraph for April 18, 1907: “It is practically certain that the Arsenal at Ferrol will, under a contract with the Treasury, be handed over to a private company. I have good reason to believe that the industry will be placed in the hands of an English firm. Negotiations for concluding the contract have already been set on foot. The firm which leases the factory will be allowed full liberty for developing the industry, but it will be{316} under obligation to build ships and carry out other work for the State on favourable terms. In this manner Ferrol will be converted into a great naval factory, which will be able to compete with other shipyards, on account of the abundance of raw material, coal and iron, in the immediate vicinity. It is an open secret that Germany desired to be the favoured Power, and that German shipbuilders made certain proposals. These, however, were declined; and should the matter be finally carried through, it will be found that the enterprise has been placed in English hands.”

How sad it seems that Spain has not sufficient energy to rehabilitate her own excellent handiwork! An Englishman who travelled in the Peninsula in 1810 wrote: “The Spaniards are brave, acute, patient, and faithful, but all their characteristics are insulated, all their exertions are individual. They have no idea of combining, either publicly or privately, in a manner to call forth their respective talents and render every one useful to the common cause. The Germans may be said to combine too much and the Spaniards not at all.”[290] Yet Spain was once at the head of the cultured nations of Europe.{317}



The monastery of Osera—Peralta—Foundation of the monastery and its first abbot—“The Escurial of Galicia”—Difficulty of access—The journey—On horseback—A petrified ocean—Primitive maize barns—A sea of rocks—Privileges enjoyed by the monks of Osera—The façade—The cloisters—The church—The choir—The altars—The sacristy—The cemetery—The oldest part of the building—Fountains—The journey back to Cea—The excursion to Celanova—Scenery of the road—Floors of walnut wood—The escaño—A typical invention—A sturdy tower—Welcome given us by the monks—The conventual church—Wood-carving—San Torquato—Marble pictures—Relics of San Rosendo—Other curiosities—Stalactite work—The Eremita de San Miguel—Was it a Moorish mosque?—The inscription—Santa Comba de Bande—Its architecture—Sarcophagus of San Torquato—A hard nut for Spanish archæologists—San Juan de Baños—Visigothic architecture—From Santa Comba to Orense—The monastery of San Estevan de Rivas de Sil—A rare excursion—Our plan of campaign—Conjunction of the Miño and the Sil—Mountain air—The start—The ferry-boat—The ascent—A stone gateway—The architecture of the monastery—The Cloister of the Bishops—Other cloisters—The church and sacristy—Statues—A School of Art—Plundering the ruins—Like an eagle’s nest—Hermits—San Pedro de Rocas—On donkeys—A rock-hewn church—The sixth century

ALFONSO VIII. must have been a very pious king, for he founded quite a number of monasteries, and amongst them the Cistercian monastery of Osera, which lies in the diocese of the bishop of Orense, from which town we set out to see it. In the year 1477 a monk of Osera, Thomas de Peralta by name, undertook to write a history of his cloister and its abbots. In his book[291] he tells us that this monastery was founded in 1037, that its first abbot was named Garcia, and that its first son was San Famiano, a native of Germany and the child of noble and wealthy parents, who, wishing to live a religious life, went to Italy and came thence to Galicia, where, at the age of fifty, he entered the cloisters of Osera in the year 1142. He remained there until his death in 1150, and during that period wrought many miracles, the fame of which spread throughout the whole world and brought many{318} fresh inmates to Osera. Peralta gives a short biographical sketch of every abbot who governed Osera from the time of San Famiano down to his own days, in the end of the seventeenth century. He is very careful to state the exact amount of money each abbot spent in alms to the poor, in addition to the sum allotted annually to that purpose from the general fund. And indeed they could afford to be liberal without practising much self-denial!

Peralta tells us that the monastery is situated upon a mountain, whose inaccessible slopes and rocky crags instil horror into the mind of the spectator.[292] It is bathed by the river Osera, from which it took its name, the river in its turn having derived its name from the bears with which the mountain was once infested. The word osera means “a den of bears.” The arms of the monastery are to this day a couple of bears climbing a pine tree. Peralta conscientiously adds, however, that no trace of the existence of any bears in that part has been preserved in writing, and that the monastery might possibly have received its name because the spot upon which it was built was of a kind suited to such animals, the monks being the first human beings to set foot there. King Alfonso’s original donation, on founding the monastery, consisted of only four square miles of unpopulated and uncultivated land; but as time went on, “by the help of God and the gifts of the kings of Spain and the nobles of Galicia, it grew richer and richer till,” when Peralta wrote, “it was one of the richest monasteries in the whole of the Peninsula.” My readers will gain some idea of what its wealth was from the fact that the monks possessed at one time a right to all the fishing in Vigo Bay! Florez observes that the prayers of the monks were very effectual; that kings, princes, and popes showered donations and privileges upon them; and that their monastery, rebuilt after a fire in 1552, became a structure of such architectural grandeur and such magnificent dimensions, that it was at length called “The Escurial of Galicia.”[293]

On my arrival at Orense I made many inquiries among my friends there as to the possibility of paying a visit to the ruins of Osera. One and all shook their heads. “It is very difficult of access,” they said; and only one person could I find who had been there, an elderly priest, who told me that it was too rough an expedition for ladies, and that he himself{319} had only been there once, and that was in his younger days. Happily, however, I at length found, in a back street, an intelligent and good-natured shopkeeper who had a lawyer brother living in the village of Osera, within the very gates of the monastery. This gentleman kindly gave me a letter of introduction to his brother, and told me how to get there. “You will have to drive for three hours, and then proceed on horseback for two hours more,” he said.

Following the instructions given, we accordingly left our hotel at Orense at 5.15 a.m. on a fine April morning, and drove in an open carriage to the village of Cea, which lies about seventeen kilometres to the south of Orense. The drive, which took just three hours, was a very beautiful one. The road ran along hillsides which were literally covered with bushes of white broom, that looked like a carpet of snow at a little distance; then, another hill coming right in our way, our road had to bend and double till we seemed to be going back to Orense and could see its Cathedral towers in front of us: it was like the famous loop in the Canadian Rockies. Then our way cut through giant boulders of white-looking granite, and we went up and up till the valleys beneath us were hidden by white clouds. A little later we were passing the outskirts of a charming pine wood on the slope of a hill; through the wood there ran a gurgling stream on whose margin a group of peasant women had gathered to wash their linen. Then came a tiny village, in whose gardens we saw long-stalked cabbages, some of them five and a half feet high; the hills became covered with yellow and white broom intermixed, here and there a bunch of furze, whose brilliant flowering was almost over. Besides the broom there were clumps of tall loose heather of a purple hue. The hedges, very like our English ones, were dotted with blue gentians as the sun came out, two flowers to each stalk; and in the woods we saw the fresh young green of the budding chestnuts lighted up by the early sun. Then came a cone-shaped mountain to our right, whose sides were covered with such a beautiful rich, soft green carpet that we felt we should like to get out and stroke it. Again the roadside was lined with white-flowered broom, as airy and delicate as the plumes ladies wear in their hats. After another half-hour the pine trees grew taller, till they were like bushy dark green tufts upon tall bare poles; between them were the gnarled and knotted trunks of aged chestnuts, and yonder—alone in its glory—rose a dark needle-pointed cypress; and then, through the branches of the trees,{320} there peeped a little village church. We now put on our brake and went slowly downhill.

Arrived at the quaint inn of the one-street village of Cea, I made inquiries for a horse to take me up to Osera. Several villagers brought their steeds for my inspection, and at nine a.m. I found myself comfortably mounted on a sturdy pony and slowly ascending a stony path which lay between woods of pine trees and boulders of granite. It was more like a goat path than any human line of communication. My pony picked its way between stones and boulders for a good two hours. Two villagers, a man and a woman, whom I had engaged to accompany me, walked on either side, the one carrying my camera, and the other my coat. Every now and again our way lay beside gushing streamlets of pure spring water, which sparkled over the white feldspar in the morning sun, and yellow flowers larger than primroses soon sprang up in clusters between the stones along our route. Now we pass a green field of long fresh grass, blue with hyacinths and shaded by a clump of chestnuts, just like a bit of old England. At length we reach a sort of tableland on the top of the granite mountain up which we have been slowly climbing for an hour and a half. Trees, fields, and flowers have quite disappeared, the very hedges have turned to granite boulders, and for a time we seem to be making our way over a petrified ocean, whose waves of granite rise higher and higher before us, and cover the ground as far as we can see on every side. Our rough path was now hedged on both sides with great blocks of crystallised feldspar, so white and transparent in appearance that I almost mistook it for marble, and my thoughts travelled to the quarries of Carrara. Those roughly hewn blocks had been placed there by human hands, it was clear, but other sign of man’s existence there was absolutely none. On we toiled for another half-hour, and then we came to a granite village, almost the same colour as the granite around. This village had the most primitive maize barns I had ever seen: they were round, like giant beehives, with straw-thatched roofs; and as the sun was blazing full on the grey village and its yellow straw, I stopped to take a photograph. The houses were all built of granite, and the hedges to the gardens were all of granite. On we went again through more seas of bare granite rock, and then, all at once, the scene changed: we had come to the top of a ridge, and before us, as “from Pisgah’s mountain, we viewed the promised land.” There lay a vast but very shallow valley, scooped out between the surrounding uplands, and in the

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{321} deepest hollow of that valley was planted the monastery of Osera, the Gallegan Escurial.

We came to the outer wall of the monastic demesne about fifteen minutes before we reached the entrance. It was a thick and high mediæval wall, a rampart wall, with strong round turrets about fifteen feet high at regular intervals. Outside these walls there were green pasture lands stretching up the mountain slope as far as the eye could see, but the only woods and trees we could distinguish were those within the demesne; they must have been all planted by the monks at one time or another. The centre and lowest dip of the valley, where the monastery stood, was so much lower than the surrounding wall, that we could not even see its church towers when we had drawn a little nearer.

There was a picturesque little village just within the outer gates of the monastery. I took a snapshot of one of its long maize barns, crawling like a great caterpillar over the granite wall. In one of the houses dwelt the lawyer to whom I had brought my letter of introduction. He and his aged mother welcomed me kindly, and while the old lady went off to prepare me a cup of chocolate I chatted with her son, and took some notes from a book to which he drew my attention. It was entitled Codigo Civil (Civil Code), and contained an interesting paragraph relating to the monastery I had come to visit. It was to the effect: There exists an insensible gradation between the charters granted to the population of more important towns of Galicia, and those conceded to the people dwelling on the solitary estates, which are in themselves, so to speak, centres or townships. One of the earliest indications of the gradation is to be found in a letter promulgated in 1207 by the abbot and monks of the monastery of Osera, which is now preserved in the Archives of Natural History at Madrid,[294] in which all the people dwelling in the hamlet of Aquada were commanded to pay annually—a hundred and forty loaves of good bread, fifteen pots of honey, fifteen pullets or fifteen kids, and fifteen crocks filled with fried cakes. Furthermore, whenever the king or other great personages should visit the monastery, these villagers were to supply its major-domo with as many chickens and kids as he might require. In addition, they were bound over to plough the fields belonging to the monastery, and to lend their help in the harvest season. And last, but not least, they were to convey in their own vehicles any of the monks who might wish to make an annual visit to Santiago{322} or Marin, and they were not to recognise any other suzerainty than that of the monks. The only compensation for all these kind offices which the monks promised to the villagers was a supply of good merino from their flock.

We now approached the historic building, and I stood for a while before its handsome Renaissance façade, the lowest storey of which has four columns resembling giant sticks of twisted sugar-candy. The large bas-relief between the two columns on the left of the entrance represents an incident in the life of St. Bernard. The saint has laid himself down to sleep in a solitary spot, and an angel from heaven flutters above him with food in a basket, but the devil is there too, ringing a big bell so that St. Bernard may not be able to hear the voice of the angel and refresh himself with the food. The bas-relief between the columns on the right represents the birth of Christ. Joseph and Mary are there, and behind Joseph is a bull impatient to reach the manger. On some stone steps leading to the manger is the figure of a warrior in the dress of Charles II.’s day, with a deep lace collar, tight stockings, and flowing hair: this costume attests the date of the work.

The second storey of the façade has a balcony, decorated with the arms of the military orders of Santiago, Calatrava, Alcantara, and Montesa,[295] and on either side of these are two smaller balconies. Above the large balcony are two lions in relief, and here, too, we see the Royal Arms of Spain with a crown and eagles, also in relief. Above are various statues, the most important being those of St. Bernard and the Virgin.

The first cloister that we entered was the most modern one, it dated from the eighteenth century; here we found a very handsome stone staircase. Passing on to the second cloister, which bears the title Claustro de la Procesion, we found it to be work of the end of the seventeenth century. The southern lateral door of the church opens into this cloister; on passing through it we noted the torso of a finely carved wooden statue of St. John the Evangelist, thrown down like rubbish in a corner, when it should have been carefully preserved in a museum. We now passed through a small portico into a third cloister, the oldest of all. The roof of the portico is composed of ancient monastic tombstones covered with inscriptions; on one I read the date MCCCXXII., and another MCCCLXII. The oldest cloister, which had three storeys, is very narrow, and Gothic in style; the arcades and portico are full of bramble bushes, and at one end of it{323} the village priest has inaugurated for himself a small trout pond filled with flowing water from the neighbouring spring. We entered a dark, windowless, cavern-like room with a wide hearth: this was where the monks stored their clothing; another room next it was used as the granary. Ascending the grand staircase, of twenty-four steps, we visited the upper rooms; one was a recreation hall, it had a round hole in the middle of the floor, through which, by means of a mirror, the monks could see all that went on in the portico below; here, without being seen themselves, they could watch the abbot receiving his royal and princely guests.

The conventual church next attracted us, and we examined its three naves, its gallery bearing the date 1675, its vaulting, and its graceful fan tracery. Its pillars throw up their groined arches like branching palms, and the whole effect of this vaulting would be very fine but for the abominable whitewash which covers all. This architecture is mostly work of the latter part of the seventeenth century. There are pointed Gothic arches on either side of the principal nave. The choir, originally above, is now in the nave; in its upper stalls is some of the wood-carving that belonged to the monastic library, whose very shelves have been carried off. Some of the finest of its wood-carving is now in one of the Madrid museums; we saw a little of it, some strips that vandalism had happened to leave on one of the doors.

The imposing churrigueresque retable (reredos) behind the chief altar is falling into melancholy decay, and offers a most depressing spectacle. It is sad, indeed, that Spain has not yet seen fit to make Osera a national monument, and that architecture, sculpture, and wood-carving of such high excellence should be left to rot and perish like things of no value.

On one side of the altar is a beautiful stone statue representing St. Catherine holding out a sword, on the tip of which is her son’s head; she had sacrificed him, the story goes, on account of his disobedience. There are a number of altars of varied interest, but the most notable one is the Virgen de la Leche, or the Virgin feeding the Child at her breast. The Child wears a long robe down to Its feet; the Virgin wears a blue tunic bordered with gold, and reaching below the knees; under it is a red skirt; on her feet are shoes. This is probably the oldest object in Osera; it is Byzantine.

The sacristy which we now enter is perhaps the most interesting part of the church; it is like a clump of whitewashed palms, whose branches meeting form its roof; like the church, it dates from the sixteenth century. The windows of the{324} sacristy look out into the oldest cloister. We found here a table covered with a handsome monolith slab of marble, and a very valuable carved ivory figure of Christ upon a wooden cross.

Outside is a cemetery enclosed by high walls on two sides; the lower part of the wall of the church seen from the cemetery is much older than the rest: its Romanesque architecture attests its age. It is probably the only part that escaped the fire of 1551; it forms a rotunda round the presbytery.[296]

The present parish of Osera numbers some one thousand six hundred souls, counting all its scattered villages. The territory included in the monastic domain spreads over a large part of the province of Orense, and even enters that of Lugo. In its palmy days, when its rents flowed in and its cells were filled with monks, Osera must have been a little world in itself. The present monastery took a hundred years to builtd concluded in the time of the sixty-fifth abbot, whose name was Simon Rojo. There were once some beautiful fountains in the cloister patios, dating from the middle of the sixteenth century; two of these are now to be seen in the town of Orense, one in the Plaza del Hierro, and the other in the Public Gardens.

From time to time the monastery of Osera has been associated with the history of Spain. For three years it sheltered a great lady of Galicia and her entire court, Donna Juana de Castro, the unhappy wife of King Peter the Cruel, 1557-1560. We are told that Donna Juana repaid the monks for their hospitality by many rich grants and privileges.

My lawyer guide had his study lined with guns, cartridges, and other indications of a sporting life; he informed me that there were plenty of hares, rabbits, foxes, and wild boars in the neighbouring hills; and how well he looked, and how rosy were the little village children. But no wonder, for the pure bracing air of those granite highlands was like champagne. One forgot there was such a thing as fatigue. The journey back to Cea took quite as long as the journey up, for my surefooted beast had to pick his way among the boulders even more carefully when descending that stony path, which was more like the dry bed of a waterfall or a mountain stream than anything else. The sun, now high in the heavens, beat down upon us with such strength that, though I carried an umbrella, I was glad to put on my coat to protect my skin from its burning rays. My two companions stopped several times to drink water from the springs, using the hollow of their hand as a cup. The people of Cea looked at us with{325} interest as we made our way back to the little inn; they evidently thought that I had taken that arduous journey to Osera for the welfare of my soul. Cea too has her pious traditions; she is said to have her roots in Roman times, and to have been the birthplace of the two martyrs, San Faciundo and San Primitivo. Later on, the abbot of Osera held the proud title of Count of Cea, and Cea was, as it is now, the name, not only of the village, but of a district which comprises a number of other villages as well. We saw on its outskirts a fine new church in course of building.

Another excursion which we took from Orense was to the Benedictine Monastery of Celanova, which is now used as a branch of the Orense Grammar School for boys, under the guidance of monks. All its masters are monks, and it is called Colegio de P.P. Escolapios. Celanova is about twenty-nine kilometres distant from Orense; the little town clustered round the grand old monastery numbers some five thousand souls. The original monastery was founded in 937 by San Rosendo, bishop of Mondoñedo and Santiago. The present edifice dates only as far back as the sixteenth century, having been begun on 8th August 1548. Its grandeur and magnificence is due to the fact that Philip V., on deciding to retire into monastic life, chose Celanova as his residence. It was not completed till the end of the eighteenth century.[297]

The road from Orense to Celanova runs southward in the direction of Portugal, for Celanova lies only a few miles from the Portuguese boundary. It was a glorious drive along a new road, which had only been completed in 1902; it twisted and curled in such a way that we often seemed to be driving towards Orense instead of in the opposite direction. The hillsides and fields were covered with vines, mostly young shoots that had been brought from America, as more likely to withstand the mildew plague than the old kinds; these shoots were planted exactly as we plant hops in Kent, and had much the same appearance.

Farther on we noticed, a little way back from the road, a private house with cypress trees in its garden. In Galicia the cypress tree is always a sure indication either of a cemetery or of the estate of some family of aristocratic lineage, for peasants never think of planting such trees. We had come to the old Palazio de Bentrazes, the ancient family residence of the Counts of Torremuzquiez. We left the carriage to view this mansion, now abandoned to residents of a humbler class, who had made their money in South America. We saw{326} the arms of the aristocratic family let into the stone wall, and there was, in several of the rooms, some quaint and beautiful carved household furniture. The floors were all of walnut wood, stout and strong; the chimney-pieces with their open hearths had a broad and noble look to match the thickness of the walls, some of which I found to be a yard in width, while others measured a yard and a half. In the grounds close to the mansion was a family chapel. But the most interesting thing of all was the escaño, which we found in the kitchen. It was like a long wooden pew out of some old church, placed exactly in front of the hearth, for about ten people to sit and warm their toes; behind was a flat board, which at meal time could be swung down from behind their heads and suspended in front of them, to serve as a dining-table. This canny arrangement was to obviate the necessity of going away from one’s cosy seat by the fire to eat one’s dinner in a cold part of the room. The food could be served up straight from the fire to the table by the member of the party who acted as cook, and all carrying of dishes was thus avoided. As soon as the food had been cleared from the table it could be swung back to its place, and then it would look once more like the high back of an old-fashioned pew, taking up no room and getting in nobody’s way. The escaño is a really typical invention peculiar to the north-west of Spain, where the winters are so cold and the houses more suited for keeping people cool in hot weather than for keeping them warm in cold.

Once more in our carriage, we mounted steadily till we reached Celanova, passing nothing of special interest except a little church called La Virgen del Cristal, which has a wonderfully minute crucifix among its relics. Many of the girls in Orense bear the name of Cristal in honour of this church; for a local poet, born in Celanova, Manuel Curros Enriquez, has immortalised its legend in verse.[298]

Presently to our left we passed an old strong tower, square and sturdy, like some of our old English fourteenth-century erections, which keep the same dimensions from the ground to the top, and have little slits for windows.

At last our vehicle had crawled to a height where vines could no longer thrive, and where the ground sparkled with mica as though sprinkled with large diamonds. I was interested to learn, from a Spanish lady who accompanied me, that it is customary for ladies to dust their hair with this powdered mica when they are going to balls and dances.{327} Arrived at Celanova, we lunched at its modest inn at the top of three flights of stairs, and then proceeded to the monastery, whose church façade joined to its imposing front of three storeys forms the eastern side of the town square, the Plaza de la Constitution. In the early days of the monastery there was no town at all, only two or three poor cottages; and even when more houses were built they were only allowed to have one storey, as the monks did not wish to have any buildings in their neighbourhood reaching to a greater height than the windows of their own dwelling.

The monks gave us a cordial welcome, and gladly took us to see their two magnificent cloisters, the handsomest of which bore in one of its archways the date 1582, their Sala Capitular, their spacious kitchen, the ancient refectory with a curious stone pulpit in its wall, so long unused that the door leading to it has been filled up. The upper cells of the cloisters have now been turned into large dormitories for the schoolboys. The monastic church is a magnificent edifice, large enough for a cathedral, with a handsome cupola. This is indeed reckoned by Spanish architects to be one of the most sumptuous churches in the whole Peninsula. Its architecture is Doric, with walls, roofing, and tower of hewn stone; there are three naves and two sets of choir stalls, one above the other. All these stalls are of exquisitely carved wood. The relief on the lower stalls, which are of walnut wood, represents scenes in the lives of San Rosendo, St. Benedict, and other saints. Many of the upper ones are covered with geometrical designs and life-like scenes from church legends. On one I found a thief escaping on horseback with a bag of treasure, which he holds above his head. Another—a very curious one—represents a monkey on horseback. It was worth coming all the way from Orense to see that carving alone. I can quite believe the story that a wealthy English or American visitor once offered an immense sum for the complete set of stalls.

The chief altar has two sarcophagi,—one is said to contain the body of San Torquato and the other that of San Rosendo. Two other sarcophagi behind the chief altar contain the bodies of San Rosendo’s mother and sister, Ilduara and Adosina. Behind the altar and on both sides of it are some remarkable relief pictures in coloured marble, representing scenes in the life of Christ. The work of these pictures is very fine, and deserves special attention. The façade of the church is as fine as its interior, and, like it, is of hewn stone.

We were now shown the precious relics of San Rosendo;{328} three well-made bone or ivory combs, all dating from the tenth century, when monks had long beards and were allowed to comb them; we were also shown three rings that were worn by San Rosendo—one a seal ring, and two ornamented with large crystals. The mitre worn by this saint was now laid before us, in a glass case which bore the date 1779. It is a very small pointed cap with two fringed sash ends to hang over the shoulders. Morales saw it towards the end of the seventeenth century, and remarked that it was so small that most likely it was the one in which the saint was buried, and that he had a larger and better one for daily wear. This writer seemed surprised that there was so little gold embroidery on the mitre. Villa-Amil has a picture of it in his Mobiliario Liturgico. The glass of its case has been broken for the last fifteen years, but the monks have not felt they could afford the expense of getting it renewed.

We also examined his ivory chalice on a Byzantine tray, and the carved crook of his staff. San Rosendo was not only a powerful bishop, he had royal blood in his veins, and was a near relative to Ramiro II., so that his influence in Galicia was very considerable.

It occupied quite an hour to look at all the relics stowed away in a chest inlaid with tortoiseshell in the sacristy. Here were relics of San Rosendo packed in a beautiful silver box, specially made for them; and the skulls of several other saints, each in a separate glass case on a gold or silver stand, the most precious of all being that of San Torquato, the disciple of St. James, kept with his ossified heart. Drawers were now opened, and magnificent chasubles and other priestly garments, rich velvets covered with silk embroidery and gold thread, were spread out before us one by one, till our eyes grew weary of admiring.

Above the broad stone staircase is a ceiling with stalactite work like that of the Alhambra, and quite Arabic. But we were reminded of the Moors even more forcibly by a strange little chapel that the monks now took us to see in their garden, a chapel with roofing of red tiles. This was no other than the famous and much-written-about Eremita de San Miguel.

This little chapel or oratory is quite apart from, but close to, the monastery wall. It is rectangular in form, with a tiny transept and a square apse. At first sight its interior appears to consist of three little rooms opening one into the other, with horseshoe arches; between them are no columns or ornaments of any kind. Before the entrance there is a

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square portico. The whole is of granite, but one sees nothing but whitewash. All the arches are in the shape of a horseshoe; and, noting this fact, some writers have hazarded the opinion that the building must originally have been a Moorish mosque. That idea has now been abandoned in favour of the supposition that it was most probably designed by a Moorish architect in the pay of Christians, and completed towards the close of the ninth or beginning of the tenth century. It is much admired by architects for the beauty of its proportions.[299] According to tradition, San Rosendo was in the habit of repairing thither to say Mass. Yepes believed it to have been built by San Rosendo’s brother Froila. One of the monks kindly copied for me the inscription, which he described as being in Lombard characters peculiar to the tenth century—

“Autor hujus operis in Deus crederi, esse dele
peccata omnibus te Christe hic orantibus instat
praesens memorea indigno famulo tuo Froila qui
optat et in Domino te conjurat O bone et delecte
qui legis ulme peccatorem memorea habeas sacrata
ex oratione tua.”

Of course, if Froila put up the inscription himself, we have a clue to the date of the building, but the question is—How are we to be sure that it was not put up by some one else after Froila’s death?

I had heard that there was another little church with horseshoe arches about two hours’ drive beyond Celanova, the church of Santa Comba (Columba), near the village of Bande; and, wishing to compare the two, we stayed the night at the little inn at Celanova, and drove to see Santa Comba the following morning. We started about six a.m.

Between the little town of Banda (once a halting-place on the Roman road between Astorga and Braga) and the church the scenery was very like that of the moorlands of Scotland, with few trees and a good deal of bracken and furze. Although it was April, the oak trees scattered here and there still wore their brown leaves from the previous year; white stemmed birches lined many of the fields, and reminded us that we had reached a higher zone, for these trees are never seen in the low valleys or near the sea-level in Galicia; they need a sharper and more bracing atmosphere.

The church of Santa Comba stands on the side of a hill about an eighth of a mile distant from the coach road, and a winding sandy path leads up to it, skirting a picturesque{330} village as it approaches the church. This part of the journey had to be done on foot, and beneath a blazing sun. What a quaint, archaic little church it was! Outwardly it was divided into three sections, rising one above another like three steps, each with a red-tiled gable roof. It was constructed of irregular blocks of granite,[300] roughly cemented together; there were two entrances, the principal one being the western wall and a lateral door on the southern side. In front of the principal entrance was a small Gothic portico, evidently of much later date than the body of the church. The most striking characteristic of this little edifice are its extreme simplicity and its horseshoe arches. It is built in the form of a Greek cross, all four ends of which are of equal length, though the eastern end is lengthened by a small chapel which serves as an apse. The central part of the church is not unlike that of San Miguel de Celanova, square, and supported by four slightly horseshoe arches. The arch leading to the little chapel is also horseshoe in shape, and much more pronounced. Above the four arches is a cupola formed by four walls, in two of which, the eastern and the southern walls, there are small windows. The church is covered with intersected cylindrical vaulting. Running round the walls above the arches is a banded zigzag impost of a very rugged character. In the southern arm of the cross, the northern arm of the transept, stands a Roman altar, ara, of white marble, from which the inscription has been effaced, and at the end of the transept stands a large marble sarcophagus carved from a single block, perfectly plain, without a trace of carving or inscription of any kind; the lid is also a monolith. Tradition says that this is the sepulchre of San Torquato, whose skull we had seen at Celanova. From the white stone above this sarcophagus Portuguese pilgrims chip fragments to take away with them, believing that its dust will cure inflamed eyes and other troubles.

The eastern arm of the cross, prolonged by an apse chapel, contains the chief altar, and is reached by a horseshoe arch, like those of the Cordova mosque. On either side of this arch, but quite separate from it, are placed two pairs of grey marble columns, each of a single piece, whose lower ends disappear beneath the ground, showing that the original floor of the church must have been much lower down than the present one. The capitals of these two columns are Corinthian, the columns themselves are Roman, and it is believed{331} that they must have been brought from the old Roman baths of which ruins are yet to be seen at Bande, where people still come in the summer time to drink the mineral waters. The chapel is almost square, and covered like the rest of the building with intersections of cylindrical brick vaulting. There is a little hole in the wall beside the altar, for the Host; the little window behind is filled with honeycombed marble fretwork, which has rather a Moorish look. The flooring is composed of granite slabs, each with a hole by which to lift it. The walls are a yard thick. Although all the arches, including those of the portico, are more or less horseshoe in shape, the windows (five in all) are Romanesque. One of the entrances to the porch has been closed up. Over the chief entrance is an inscription, and the date 1670; there is also an inscription on the wall of the portico, declaring the edifice to be a church of refuge. There were churches of refuge all over Galicia until the eighteenth century.

For many years this diminutive church of Santa Comba de Banda, on the borders of Portugal, has been, like San Miguel, a hard nut for Spanish archæologists to crack. It has been written about and discussed over and over again, but mostly by authorities who have not taken the trouble to go and see it. I doubt if, among all the archæologists and architects who have touched upon the subject, there are as many as three individuals who have examined it personally. Even Lopez Ferreiro, the greatest archæologist in Galicia, has not yet been to see it! This writer has suggested that San Comba and San Miguel may have been built to serve the purpose of mortuary chapels. Of Santa Combe he says: “It is one of those very rare examples which represent, in the history of art, the continuation of the Byzantine style in its last period, that of transition to the Romanesque style.”[301]

The plan on which the church of Santa Comba is built is, we have seen, Christian—that of a Greek cross. It must therefore have been built by Christians, for Christian worship, but at what date? And how comes it to have these horseshoe arches? Is it an example of Mudejar architecture? Did some Moorish slave design it at the bidding of a Christian master? Let us compare it with that other little Christian church with horseshoe arches, St. Juan de Baño, in Palencia. The plan of the latter is rectangular; it is divided by two rows of horseshoe arches into three naves, and had before its renovation three square apse chapels, one at the end of the{332} central nave and the others placed at right angles with the heads of the right and left naves respectively. This plan is unique; there is nothing like it in any part of Spain. French architects who have been to see the church shake their heads over the suggestion that it is a monument of Visigothic architecture. “True,” they say, “that it bears the name of King Recesvinto, and the date 661, but how can you tell when that inscription was put up, and whether it is correct?” Spanish authorities, however, are now unanimous in pronouncing St. Juan de Baño to be an example of Visigothic architecture constructed in the seventh century, before the earliest date at which the Moors invaded Spain. For years they quoted it in their text-books as the only example of Visigothic architecture in the Peninsula, but now they are positive that Santa Comba de Bande is another remnant of the same architecture and of the same period, for they have found it mentioned in a charter given by Adozno to San Rosendo as a church that had already been established more than two hundred years in the year 910;[302] and Santa Comba too is to be ranked as a national monument, as a precious relic of pre-Moorish Spain. But should not a careful comparison be made between Santa Comba and the strange little oratory of San Miguel in the garden of the Celanova Monastery? A drive of three hours is all the distance that separates them, yet no comparative study of the two has ever been made. The roofing and the general sculpture of the two buildings, as well as their horseshoe arches, are strangely similar, and what differences there are may quite well be due to reconstruction. In fact, I fail to understand why Santa Comba should be thought to be so much as three centuries older than San Miguel.

A thick low wall of granite surrounds the little grass plot upon which the church of Santa Comba stands, and is quite in keeping with the rest of the picture. The village close by, whose houses are built of granite and thatched with straw, is also rather old and quaint. The granite lintel of one of the cottage doors bears the date 1713. We ascended its wooden steps at the invitation of the woman who lived there, and found the furniture of the rooms very curious; it consisted chiefly of some very large wooden chests that seemed to be hundreds of years old. The woman’s old mother was occupied in spinning a counterpane. As we drove along we had

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constantly seen peasant women with their distaffs spinning in the fields as they kept an eye on their cows.

The moon came out, and cast a silvery light upon our road for the last half of the journey, and the granite boulders stood out in great white masses on either side. The horses could see their way as if it had been broad daylight. As we neared Orense we could see the lights sometimes exactly in front of us, sometimes to our left, sometimes to our right, and occasionally they were exactly behind us, so much did the road curl and twine. It was past midnight before we entered the sleeping town.

There was yet another great monastery which I was anxious to see before leaving Orense—the beautiful ruined monastery of San Esteban de Rivas de Sil (St. Stephen on the Banks of the Sil); for I had heard that it was unquestionably the best example of the Flamboyant Gothic style in Galicia. The ruined monastery of San Esteban is situated on the crest of a hill which it takes some two hours and a half to climb, by a path too steep even for mules; and as there is no hotel at the foot of the hill and no refreshment-room at the top, it is a long pull to come out by train from Orense (a journey of one hour), climb the hill, explore the ruins, and return to Orense the same day. Consequently the excursion is very rarely undertaken. After much pondering as to how an easier and less fatiguing plan of campaign could be devised, I decided to travel by a morning train to the little railway station in the valley at the foot of the monastic cliff, and, after finding some cottager who could give me a night’s shelter on my return, proceed to climb up to the ruins. This plan succeeded admirably.

San Esteban is the third station from Orense, and the whole way thither is between verdant mountain slopes, and beside the rapidly flowing waters of the beautiful Miño. It was like making an expedition to a halting-place in the middle of the Aarlberg Pass, in the Austrian Tyrol, and then ascending one of its verdure-clad mountains. The hillsides were cut into steps or terraces wherever there was the smallest patch of cultivated soil. Here the steps were planted with cabbages, and there covered with smooth red soil, and sown with seed that had not yet appeared above the surface; here again were rows of peas whose pods were just forming, and yonder were steps one above the other, on which tall rye waved with every breath of wind; beyond were terraces of nursery fruit trees, and farther on the mountain was ribbed with brown steps that looked as if they must lead to some giant fortress held{334} by men twice the size of puny mortals. As our train crawled along upon a ledge of rock some thirty feet from the foot of the mountain, we had many a little archlike tunnel to pass through. Rocks and crags now replaced the cultivated terraces, and the scene grew wilder, but even between the precipitous rocks and giant boulders there were clumps of rich green chestnut trees, paler walnuts, and apple, pear, and cherry trees, all covered with fresh foliage. Now came a foaming cascade hurling its waters from a height between two crags, and then a peaceful valley spread itself out before our eyes, and we could see the gleaming river darting through it. Vines now covered many of the slopes, and oaks and poplars grew so close to the railway that the train seemed as if it must touch them as it passed. Once more the river entered a mountain gorge, and boulders like mediæval castles hung out over its foam on both sides. We creep very slowly now, in and out, threading our way through innumerable little tunnels and over bridges beneath which there dash the furious waters of many a foaming cascade. Suddenly the river whose course we have been following seems to divide into two streams, one of which branches sharply to the right and disappears, while the other flows on below us in the rocky ravine.—What we really saw just then was the conjunction of Galicia’s two greatest and most historical rivers—the Miño and the Sil.—Our train has described half a circle in its attempts to find out a gulley from where this new river flows, and our line is about to complete the figure of an S when we draw up at the solitary station of San Esteban.

How glorious was the mountain air that greeted us as we stood upon the little railway platform in the midst of that magnificent pass, and there, opposite us, but so high up that we had to throw back our heads to see them, were the ruins of the monastery we had come to see. It was a wild and beautiful scene. There was only one cottage in sight, and thither we made our way; it stood upon a ledge higher than the station, a little farther along the course of the river. The old peasant and his wife gave us a dignified welcome, and readily promised to find me an escort to the monastery and a bed on my return. The view from the ledge on which the cottage stood was unique. Below us was another junction of rivers—the Cabe flowing into the Sil, and the waters of the two streams forming a figure like a Y in a bed of granite boulders between three steep verdure-clad mountains. It was on a high ledge of the mountain road round which the Sil

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turned that the ruins were perched, and to reach them I must cross both the Cabe and the Sil.

It was past midday when, leaving my companion in the cottage, I started out with the peasant and a young girl as my guides. We scrambled down between the boulders of a steep and jagged path till we reached the Cabe, and then crossed the rushing water by a rustic bridge formed of two rough pine stems with little planks of wood laid across them. On we scrambled again by another goat-path to the bank of the Sil, which was a much wider river and had to be crossed on a raft. The peasant had already whistled several times for the ferryman, and that useful person appeared at the end of a quarter of an hour’s time with a crazy raft, and ferried us across the stem of the Y from a floating wharf which served as a landing-place. The water was flowing fast, and we crossed in eddies, our raft twirling round continually. It would not have been safe to stand, so we crossed kneeling and steadying ourselves by clutching at the oar.

The ferry-boat landed us at the foot of a steep path, on the edge of another mountain. Here in olden days the monks kept a man on the watch to gather toll from every person who stepped ashore, but now the ferry is private property. Lampreys are caught in this part of the Sil, and many other fine fish; the old ferryman spends his odd moments fishing for eels, which he sells in Orense at a dollar apiece.

We begin the ascent of a winding woodland path, with trees, bushes, and grasses high on all sides, and here and there between them a cascade, which we cross by means of a granite slab and moss-covered rocks. Every now and then we stop to look at the path by which we have come, and follow with our eyes the blue waters of the Sil in the narrow ravine below. Up and up and up we climb, and never for a moment do we cease to hear the sound of rushing and gurgling water, for, besides the river below, there are mountain streams gushing forth from between the stones every few steps of the way. After an hour’s climb we reached a point where the path divides into two. We choose the narrow, steeper, and more direct one, of which each step seemed to be a granite boulder. A wayside cross now meets our view; it is time-worn, and was evidently placed there by the monks to cheer the heart of the pious climber.

On one of the ledges we stopped to look at the ruins, and at the sky showing through the many windows. All round the monastery the cultivable parts of the mountain are covered with vines, potato patches, and other signs of human{336} life, and the last part of the ascent is through vineyards and beneath arches formed by vine branches. Once more we pause to look across the ravine, and see before us a rock whose jagged form bears a remarkable resemblance to two cathedral towers. Now comes another cross with a Virgin Mother and the wounded Christ on its one side, and a crucifix on the other; below are a skull and cross-bones, and beneath them again is a metal figure of a monk. We have reached the precincts of the monastery.

Passing through a grand old stone gateway, we came to a kind of square formed by one side of the monastery and the façade of the church. The façade has two bell towers, and an imperial coat of arms over its Renaissance entrance, which must have been added at least two centuries after the lower walls were completed; it probably replaces the original Romanesque entrance.

The whole of the lower storey of the monastery is built in the Romanesque style, while the two upper ones belong to the beginning of the sixteenth century, and are specimens of the decadent decorative Gothic style. “In spite of the fact,” remarks Vazquez Nuñez, “that three centuries must have elapsed between the building of the ground storey and the one above it, and in spite of the fact that they belong to such different styles of architecture, the combined result, though it lacks unity, is nevertheless one of noteworthy and singular beauty.” The monastery is nothing but a ruin; its roofs are gone—or going, its floors are so shaky that it is hardly safe to tread them. Ivy covers its dilapidated walls and peeps in at its graceful windows. Bushes fill the patios of its beautiful three-storey cloisters, and everything of value that could be carried away has gone. Even the granite balustrades of its handsome stone staircase are disappearing. The upper part of the Claustro de los Obisqos (Bishop’s Cloister) is a marvel of the Flamboyant Gothic style; its buttresses, plain at their base, terminate in gabled and elaborately carved pinnacles like the petals of a foxglove bursting forth from its stiff stem. The pinnacles rise above the handsome stone lace or plateresque cornice, and wonderful gargoyles jut out at irregular intervals beneath it; yet the arcades below, with their slender double columns and their classic capitals, belong to a different age and a different style. There rises a tall stone cross in the centre of this patio, for it was used during several centuries as a burial-place for bishops. Nine of these dignitaries were buried there in stone sarcophagi before the year 1563, when the administrator of the abbey, Don Alonso{337} Pernas, exhumed them and had them placed in niches on either side of the high altar in the church. In 1594 the abbot, Victor de Najera, had a new retablo constructed, and here he placed the bodies in two large stone sarcophagi with divisions. Finally, in 1712, these sarcophagi were placed in niches high up on either side of the altar and enclosed by iron railings. Vazquez Nuñez, to whom I am indebted for these dates, gives the full Latin inscription that Alonso Pernas copied from the original sarcophagus of Bishop Ansurio, who was buried in 925. The varied sculpture of the capitals in the lower part of this cloister is extraordinary. I noted one capital with a two-headed snake as its ornament.

The principal cloister is very much larger than the one we have been describing, and though its architecture is much simpler it also is a magnificent sight, with its three storeys, the lowest consisting of graceful arcades with semicircular arches supported by Doric columns, the next of Doric columns with single arches, and the third of graceful windows with semicircular arches. On one of the inner walls of this cloister is a curious piece of stone bass-relief representing Christ and the Twelve Apostles. Some think it must have served as a reredos to some ancient church, but the difficulty then is that the retablo was not introduced until the latter part of the Gothic period, and there are signs about this work that it is of much earlier date. Vazquez Nuñez believed it to be work of the twelfth century, but it may be even older. There is a third cloister, much smaller and plainer than the others; it is in the Renaissance style, but not in any way remarkable.

The church and its sacristy are in a state of better preservation than the monastery, for the church is in daily use as a parish church for the neighbouring villages. In the sacristy there are still some wonderful relics, such as limbs of saints, that thieves have not thought it worth while to steal, but several of the fine sarcophagi that contained the bones of the bishops have disappeared quite recently. There are eight paintings still upon the walls of the sacristy, and some handsome old carved chests.

The conventual church of San Esteban, which has three lofty naves divided by pointed arches, though begun in the twelfth century, is decorated in the style which de Caumont called ogival tertiaire. It is a remarkably elegant church, and its proportions are particularly pleasing; its tall columns, with their capitals high up under the moulding of the four-centred, or what we should term Tudor, arches, are most effective. Alas! that these, and its profusely and gracefully{338} ribbed roof with its bosses and pendants, should all be covered with hideous whitewash, paid for, I was informed, by alms collected from the poor of the parish for that purpose! Like the Bishops’ Cloister, this church, though begun three centuries earlier,—as the date “Era MCCXXII.” on one of its pillars shows,—is a remarkably good example of the decadent period of decorated Gothic architecture. The stalls of the choir, which are said to have been covered with exquisite carving, fell to pieces from sheer neglect, and were stolen in bits, some of which have found their way into museums, and others are now part of the furniture of the houses of the neighbouring poor. I found a plain boarded gallery being put up over the vaulting at the lower end of the church in place of the dilapidated vaulting, by order of the new Bishop of Orense, who visited the place on horseback in 1906.

Statues of St. Stephen and St. Benedict adorn the chief altar and also one of the side ones. St. Stephen is always represented with a quill pen in his right hand. Massive retablos, their niches filled with statues, are still behind the numerous altars. My attention was especially drawn to a statue of the Virgin, with a black face, a gold nimbus and crown; eleven pink cherubs hover round her, all larger than the Child she holds. Both Mother and Child show the white of their eyes. This statue is said to be a copy of a famous Byzantine Virgin in a church in north-eastern Spain.

The three semicircular apses of the church are very fine; the central one is lower than the lateral ones, to let the light enter the rose window in the wall above it. All three are in the purest Romanesque style, and perhaps the most interesting part of the church. They are divided by buttresses in the form of lofty columns which reach to the cornice, and the tympana of these arches and the archivolts are all sculptured. Vazquez Nuñez observes that the sculpture of the Crucifixion on one of the tympana is remarkably full of detail for sculpture of the twelfth century.

This monastery had at one time within its precincts a thriving school of art, in which hundreds of monks were trained as painters and sculptors, and the charter granted in connection with it is still in existence. One reason why the beautiful old building is so fast going to ruin is that, after the monks had been turned out in 1836, there was no one left there to guard it; nor has there been any one ever since. Year after year the poor of the vicinity came at night to fetch away its stones and bits of woodwork to build their own cottages with; to them it was a source of wealth. Even

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the carved stalls of the church were not spared; they were carried off by people who traded in work of that class. My peasant guide told me that he was born in the village on the slope above the monastery, and had often in his childhood been awakened on a dark night by the hammering and sawing of people who had come to rob the ruins. The monastic clock and the church organ were removed years ago to the Cathedral at Orense.

The monastic kitchen was a building quite separate from the monastery, with a road between; it also now stands in ruins, but is still a witness to the fact that cooking was a very important part of the proceedings. I should say that there must have been ample room for the housing and feeding of at least a thousand monks in that monastery; and what exquisite views they had from their windows, right across the deep ravine at the bottom of which the Sil had rushed ever since the days when the Romans extracted gold from its sand. One would think that the very thoughts and feelings of the monks must have been coloured by a sojourn in a spot so secluded, so romantic, and so beautiful!

Osera, in its shallow dip, is entirely shut in by billows of treeless and verdureless granite. San Estevan, balanced like an eagle’s nest at a dizzy height on the edge of a precipitous but wooded mountain crag, almost hidden among leafy trees, commands an indescribably beautiful, though somewhat limited view of all the mountain peaks around, of their thickly wooded slopes, and of the torrent below. Looking back upon the impression that each gave me, I should say that San Estevan’s position was the most romantic, the most poetic that I ever saw, and that Osera’s was the most extraordinary. The hermit who first discovered the spot where the monastery of San Estevan now stands must have been a lover of nature, of trees, of birds—an artist; the saint who first elected to dwell among the bare granite rocks of Osera must have sought unrestrained liberty for the eye and the foot, rather than a leafy nest, and have eschewed not only his fellow-man but nature as well.

The mountain on which the monastery of San Estevan stands was sprinkled in the early days of the Middle Ages with the cells of hermits, and the entire eminence was looked upon as sacred; one or two ancient oratories are still standing among the trees of the slope below the monastery. But during the same period the province of Orense had another eminence which it held as equally sacred—Mount Barveron. Cut in the rocky side of that mountain is to be found the most{340} ancient monument of Christian art which the province contains. I allude to the church and ancient monastery of San Pedro de Rocas.

To reach this isolated spot we had to drive to the little village of Escos (Santa Maria de Escos), about sixteen kilometres from the town of Orense, and famed for its splendid hams. Our road mounted steadily the whole way, and skirted the mountain-side. At Escos the village priest gave us a kindly welcome, invited us to lunch at his house, and promised to provide us with suitable beasts on which to continue our expedition. An hour later we started off, our party consisting of two priests on horseback, and two Spanish ladies and myself on donkeys. A fine cavalcade, indeed; but alas! the mountain path up which we tried to proceed was composed chiefly of deep pools of rain-water and precipitous slabs of slippery granite. Our saddles were of the most primitive kind, our donkeys began to fight, and the two priests very soon found that their own feet were more reliable than those of their steeds. Those first fifteen minutes were truly a bad quarter of an hour. After many attempts to proceed in as fine a style as that in which we had started out, it ended in our all doing the pilgrimage on foot and dragging our useless steeds behind us, till, just as we were approaching our goal, a peasant appeared, and kindly consented to relieve us of our beasts and lead them back to Escos. Our way led through beautiful open country, strewed with boulders and jagged rocks, but by no means bare, for in between the granite crags there grew clumps of flowering broom and other shrubs, and beside every stone there peeped some flower or other. Brilliant blue gentians, purple heather, a kind of yellow primrose, daisies, violets, and buttercups, all enlivened the scene, and we seemed to be passing through a magnificent rockery. On and on we scrambled, over this boulder and round that crag, till we came to the side of a mountain precipice overlooking, not the sea, but a vast green valley, which stretched for miles on three sides of us.

Chiselled out of the live rock in the perpendicular side of the precipice we found the parish church of Rocas, whose villages are scattered over the mountain for miles around; this was once the church of the Benedictine prior of San Pedro de Rocas. Three rock-hewn chapels in a row form the three naves of the strange, crypt-like church, which is carved or scooped out of one solid rock, and measures about twelve yards in length and six in width. To the right of the church stands, like a gigantic campanile, a huge cliff, upon

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the crest of which a bell is seen suspended. History does not say by whose hands this strange edifice was carved, but it is thought to be the work of anchorites who, like San Fructuoso, sought in this solitary spot a retreat and a refuge.

The entrance to each of the three cave chapels is formed by a semicircular arch, and above these, like a natural façade, rises the top of the apparently inaccessible precipice. Two low openings connect the three chapels with one another. The arches and the interior are decorated with simple twelfth-century mouldings and sculpture; the arcades are also Romanesque of the same period. The rock above forms a kind of rude barrel vaulting, and a round hole bored in the centre of the barrel lets light into the church from the top of the cliff. The flooring consists of large rough granite slabs. In this church there are two objects that are of great interest to archæologists: one is a stone, two and a half feet long and one and a half feet wide, on which is carved the date “Era 611” (A.D. 573), and with what are supposed to be the names of six hermits who retired to this lonely and wild spot that they might end their days in prayer and meditation. Señor Vazquez Nuñez speaks of this inscription as “without a doubt the most important epigraphic monument of Christianity in the province of Orense,” and he laments the fact that it should lie there year after year neglected and exposed to destruction. One corner of the stone has already been smashed off by visitors to the place; and not so long ago some one trying to move it chipped off a bit of the inscription. Six of the most famous archæologists of Spain have at different times gone to see this stone and copied the inscription, about which there has been much learned discussion. In the midst of the inscription is sculptured a Greek cross, while round it, like a frame, and running horizontally across between the lines, is a funicular fillet.

The other object of special interest is in the back of the cave behind the altar in the lateral chapel to the left. To get to it we had to crawl on hands and knees through a small opening between the altar and the wall. It is a small Roman ara with no inscription, but sculptured in an interesting manner with archaic arches and funicular ornamentation. There is also in the church an ancient baptismal font. In side niches are two stone sarcophagi with recumbent figures: the relief above one of them represents the dead man’s soul being borne to heaven in a cloth by his guardian angel. I noticed that both the recumbent statues appeared to have their feet chained to the rock; the hands of one of{342} them were folded on his breast, the other had his hands folded lower down. Their drapery consisted of a light-fitting garment beneath a cloak, which fastened with a brooch over one shoulder; both had beards and longish hair which curled down over the neck. These were probably two twelfth-century friars of the monastery. Outside the church we found several ledges of rock that must have been cut as resting-places for sarcophagi, and also a number of flat tombstones.

The church, as we have seen, is cut in the rocky side of a precipice. Below the ledge which serves as a path in front of the three entrances, the rocks form a hollow like an extinct crater, whose sides are so steep that it makes one giddy to look down. The monastery has disappeared all but a few ruins, some rooms of which served for some years as a home for the parish priest. No one lives there now, as it is too isolated a spot; and the last priest who attempted to live there was set upon by robbers and nearly killed (about seven years ago). The spot is indeed isolated, for the eye travels thence over many miles of country without being able to discern any trace of human life. This is quite different from the situation of Osera, and bears absolutely no resemblance to that of San Estevan; yet all three are in the same little province of Orense, in the very heart of Galicia.{343}



Dates and bananas—Magnolias and camellias—Canes for trellis-work—The chestnut—Killing the goose that lays the golden egg—Walnut wood—The finest mouthful in the world—Shipment of pine trees to foreign ports—Ignorance of the peasants—The eucalyptus, the birch, the willow, and the ash—Gorse—Tobacco—Flax—The linen industry—How linen is bleached—The potato—Maize barns—Two crops in the year—The cultivation of the vine—How the peasants make their wine—Coffins for sale—Drunken husbandmen—English soldiers and Gallegan wine—Cabbages—Caldo Gallego—Spanish onions—“As large as a plate”—Every kind of fruit known to Europe—Attar of orange flowers—Fig trees—Apples—Pears—Wood strawberries—Cherries—Plums—Medlars—Pomegranates—Quantities of fruit for sale—A novel way of catching trout—Reeds—Red peppers—Flowers in winter—The hoop-petticoat narcissus—Wild flowers that we have not got in England

THE climate and soil of Galicia are so varied that not only can every plant known to Europe be made to flourish there, but many tropical ones as well. In the low and sheltered valleys both dates and bananas have been known to ripen in the open air; the magnolia and the camellia grow there in profusion. The magnolia was first imported to Europe from Carolina, New Jersey, in 1688, by Pedro Magnol, from whom it derives its name; the wood of one variety of this tree is used in Galicia for many purposes; it has a beautiful grain and is almost an orange colour; the magnolia grandiflora often reaches the height of a hundred feet and more; it bears a handsome white blossom. There is also a small Japanese magnolia which is trained against the wall. The camellia exhibits here some six hundred varieties, and is, during the winter months, the chief ornament of the public walks and gardens: this shrub was introduced to Europe by a Spanish Jesuit, Pedro Camelli, in 1738. The mimosa, covered with yellow blossom, takes the place of our laburnum, and might be taken for it at a little distance. Another favourite tree is the azalia, which is constantly found in the public squares and gardens. Wisteria does as well here as in Japan. I noticed it especially luxuriant in Pontevedra. The cane, or bamboo, arundo donax, is much cultivated in Gallegan fields and gardens,{344} especially in the province of Pontevedra, where canes are used to form trellis-work to support the vines, as well as for fishing-rods; they flower in August, and often grow to the height of ten feet.

The chestnut, the oak, and the walnut are three of the commonest trees in Galicia. The chestnut, the king of the Gallegan forests, grows to perfection, and its nut formed, until quite recently, one of the principal means of sustenance among the poor; but of late years the ignorant peasants have taken to cutting down their chestnut trees for firewood, and are thus killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. In many districts the chestnut woods are disappearing with ominous rapidity, and, added to this, there has been for the last twenty years a disease among them which is killing them off in thousands,—they dry up and die, hundreds together,—and it is feared that, with the disappearance of its woods, the land will also suffer from a change of climate. Walnut wood is considered to be the best for the manufacture of furniture, and as this tree is so plentiful, it is even used for flooring in the houses of the wealthy. The wood of the cherry tree is also much used in making furniture. The fruit or nut of the walnut is of two kinds, one very large, the other rather small. I was told that a bit of maize bread, a skinned walnut, and a lump of cheese were “the finest mouthful in the world!” The poor have a process by which they smoke and dry the chestnuts that are to be preserved for winter use; these are eaten just as you would eat a hard biscuit. I tried one, but found it too hard for my teeth. The pigs in many parts are fed largely upon chestnuts; hence the remarkably fine flavour of their bacon.

Pine trees cover the higher mountain slopes; the shipping of pine stems to other countries forms one of the principal industries of several of the coast towns, such as Noya, which ships pine wood to Cardiff in great quantities, and also to the Asturias, whence coal is brought back in the returning vessels. The sad part of it is that when the pine trees are cut down few think of planting fresh ones, although those who planted would be well repaid for their pains, as the pines of Galicia grow with remarkable rapidity. A priest told me that one of his parishioners had realised a comfortable little fortune in the space of twenty years by planting pines in a few acres of hilly land and selling the trees to shipbuilders when grown; but he added that such enterprise was rare, and that the people were too ignorant to take in the idea that any good could come of planting trees, though they were willing enough to cut down those that were there already.

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A few years ago the attention of the Spanish Government was drawn to the growing scarcity of wood, and several towns were ordered to make plantations, but want of proper instruction led to failure. There is plenty of room for forests in those parts where other vegetation does not thrive. The fact that pines are necessary for navigation, and that ships cannot be built without them, has led to the pine forests being partially protected by Government from the firewood-collecting peasants. It is high time that something should be done to protect so valuable a tree as the chestnut, whose fruit has more than once taken the place of bread in times of famine.

The eucalyptus, originally imported from Australia, grows to a great height in Galicia, and its bark, as I have already mentioned, may be seen lying across the roads in spring-time like wide bars of iron. The black poplar lines the streets of Monforte, but it is not so common in Galicia as in Castille. Box is plentiful, and grows to a greater height than with us. There are three kinds of laurel in most of the public gardens, and the dwarf palm is also much used as a decorative tree.

The birch, betula alba, only grows in the higher zones. I found this tree on the high moorlands near the Portuguese frontier. The willow, the ash, and the Portuguese laurel grow in abundance in the valleys along the river banks, and in most places where the ground is moist. The lime is another tree that grows abundantly, and to a great height, in Galicia. In March and the early part of April the uncultivated parts of the country are gloriously yellow with gorse, ulex Europæus, which sends out long shoots and branches covered with brilliant blossom, and is altogether finer than I had ever seen it in England. When its flowering bloom is over, the peasants cut down the gorse and pound it, with some grass, into a kind of paste for their cattle; it is said to improve the flavour of their beef. They call this shrub tojo.

Tobacco also does remarkably well here, and grows to a great height, but it is not cultivated. It was in the forties of the nineteenth century that Ford wrote: “In order to benefit the Havanah, tobacco is not allowed to be grown in Spain, which it would do in perfection in the neighbourhood of Malaga; for the experiment was made, and, having turned out quite successful, the cultivation was immediately prohibited.”

Flax was very extensively grown at one time, and it is still much cultivated in Lugo and Orense; it grows also in the valley of the Ulla, round Padron. Ever since the days of Pliny, Spain has had a reputation as a flax-growing country,{346} and Galicia has always been one of the provinces which produced the largest quantity, her damp and rainy climate being the most favourable to its growth. The ancients called the linen made from Spanish flax carbasus, and esteemed it more highly than that of Italy. The fact that the sails of ships were called carbasus has led to the conjecture that the sails of Roman ships were manufactured from Spanish cloth. Catullus mentions the beautiful Spanish handkerchiefs used by the Roman ladies, sudaria saetaba, but these received their name from a town in Valencia, Saetabis, where flax was also grown. The linen industry flourished in Galicia during the Middle Ages, but it was already in its decline in the seventh century. In 1656, Francisco Martinez de la Meta tried to rouse the Government to the danger of allowing Russia and other countries to import their manufactured goods into Spain, and thus become the ruin of the linen industry.[303] Towards the close of the eighteenth century the falling-off of this industry in Galicia was attributable partly to the fact that a great deal of bad flax was sown. In the early part of the seventeenth century, an Asturian author, Francisco Consul, wrote a treatise on the bleaching of Gallegan linen, which he considered to be the finest in Europe. In 1804, Labrada wrote that the manufacture of linen was the chief industry of Coruña, and that certain Englishmen had started factories there and imported the latest kind of carding machinery.[304] At present the peasant women carry their distaffs about with them, and spin in the fields as they mind their cows. When they wish to bleach their linen, they boil it and spread it in the sun, then boil it again and spread it once more in the sun; if by this time it is not sufficiently bleached, they repeat the process.

The potato is extensively cultivated; it forms, with maize, kidney beans, and cabbage, the chief food of the Gallegan poor. When it was first introduced, the peasants refused to plant it, but they gradually came to see its usefulness, and in 1778, when there was a famine in the land, they learned that the very rain which may spoil a harvest only fattens the potato. The value of the plant was at last brought home to them, and from that time to this it has been assiduously cultivated.

A special feature of every landscape in Galicia is its innumerable{347} maize barns with their thatched or tiled roofs and church-like spires. There is one in the back garden of every peasant’s cottage. Maize is the most popular cereal in the province. When Borrow entered Galicia on horseback, he was surprised to find that, instead of barley, maize was given to his horses for provender, and he was equally surprised to find that the animals ate it without hesitation. Wheat, rye, barley, and millet are also cultivated, but not to the same extent as maize. The peasants sow wheat or rye and barley for their first crop, and as soon as this has been harvested they sow maize in its place, and thus get two harvests in the year. Opinions differ as to the ultimate advantage of this practice.

Galicia is essentially a vine country; from time immemorial her vines have been appreciated, but rather for their abundance than their quality, as too little care has been bestowed upon their cultivation. Of late years disease has crept into the vineyards, and heavy loss has been experienced in consequence. A new kind of vine is now being introduced from America as likely to withstand disease better than the old kinds. The American vines can easily be distinguished from the older kinds, for they grow on sticks like hops, while the gnarled branches of the latter are trained over trellis-work made of the local bamboo. Every peasant house has its vine-covered verandah, and the beauty of many a Gallegan landscape is greatly due to the vine-clad terraces that cover the hillsides. In the early spring, when the branches are still bare, they look, in the distance, like fishermen’s nets spread out to dry in the sun.

Most of the peasants grow grapes for themselves and make sufficient wine to supply their own households. A peasant who lived in a little cottage near Orense showed me in an outhouse a large vat in which he made his wine. The vat, which was of oak, lay on its side; it was strongly bound with wood and iron, and had a square hole on the upper side into which the grapes were put. My informant explained to me that as soon as the grapes were in the vat he would wash himself thoroughly, and then, wearing no garment but a shirt, which he drew up round his waist, he would get into the vat and proceed to stamp upon the grapes till they were reduced to a soft pulp. This process he would repeat three days following,[305] kneading the grapes for about twenty minutes on each{348} occasion. “I then close the vat and leave it for a month,” he continued, “after which I can draw the wine from the tap, and it flows clear and is quite ready for the table.”

“But what are those long black boxes above the vat?” I asked.

“Those are coffins,” was the reply. “I keep a store of them, and sell them to my neighbours when wanted at six pesetas” (five shillings) “apiece. It is convenient to have them ready, as our village is so far from any town.”

Although wine is so plentiful and cheap, the very poor content themselves with water, and seldom touch any other beverage. Red wine is supplied free at all the Gallegan hotels, and a very pleasant drink it is; there is hardly more alcohol in it than would be found in an ordinary fruit syrup, and the wines of Pontevedra are said to be even less alcoholic than those of Orense. I have already mentioned how the town of Ribadavia lies in the very centre of the vine country. The people of that part are said to indulge rather freely in the wine that their soil produces for them in such abundance. When a man has made himself drunk after his midday meal, the neighbours say, “He has climbed up into his vine” (estar subido a la para); and the story goes that an English wine-merchant once came to Ribadavia to negotiate with some of the husbandmen for the purchase of their wine, but that at every house where he inquired for the master he was told that the owner of the vineyard had “climbed into his vine,” and could not be seen. Tradition has it that the Englishman grew very indignant, and made a remark in his notebook to the effect that these particular wine-growers should be avoided in future; he did not realise that the men he had wished to do business with were one and all too drunk at that hour to drive a bargain, and that his wisest course would have been to call again later in the day. In this connection we may add that during the English attack on Vigo in 1719, one of the officers wrote in his journal: “Most of the soldiers abused themselves so much with wine that a small body of men might have given us a great deal of uneasiness” (Macaulay).

A species of cabbage, known as the Gallegan cabbage, grows very plentifully all over Galicia; local writers speak of it as “the bread of the poor”; it is said to be the most economical and the most digestible kind of cabbage that exists. The life of this plant is usually four years, and it grows with a long stalk, the heart of the cabbage often reaching a height of a foot and a half above the ground. It is of this cabbage that the famous Gallegan broth—caldo Gallego—is{349} chiefly made; the richer classes add the water in which half a pig’s head has been boiled, but the poor often put in nothing but cabbage, potatoes, and a few haricot beans. In spring, when the cabbage water has a strong smell, the vegetables are boiled separately, after which the cabbage is taken out of its water and placed in the pot with the potatoes.

One of the principal exports from Orense to our shores is the “Spanish onion.” This vegetable, in the words of a local housekeeper, “is often as large as a plate.” It grows plentifully in the valley of the Ulla, all round Padron, and in most of the low-lying valleys of Galicia.

Every kind of fruit known to Europe can be cultivated in Galicia. I have already stated that in all the lower valleys every peasant’s garden has its lemon tree, also oranges ripen well in the neighbourhood of Pontevedra and Noya, but they are never very large. During the fourteenth century an aromatic oil, or attar, was manufactured at Noya from orange flowers grown in the neighbourhood. The Spaniards called this oil atatiar, and it is probable that they learned the art of making it from their Moorish conquerors.

Fig trees are to be found wherever there are oranges. I saw particularly fine ones in some of the gardens; their growth was very sturdy, and not unlike that of the oak. In the vicinity of Tuy there are a good many olives scattered amongst the other trees, but there are no plantations of them. The needle-pointed cypress is also to be seen, but, as I have said, this tree is rarely found outside the gardens of the aristocracy.

Apples are produced in great variety: there is a small sweet russet—manzana parda; a large green apple with little black spots—tartiadillo; a pretty greenish-yellow apple that has its name from the town of Sarria near Lugo; a green apple as large as a football—tres en ramid (three on a branch); and another large green apple, wide at the base and rather tapering, very sweet—fada.

The finest pear for eating is considered to be the Urraca, which is small and dark green in colour. The fact that this variety has been named after Queen Urraca leads to the supposition that it originated in Galicia. Another pear, pera de manteca (butter pear), is of two kinds: de oro (golden) and de plata (silver); both these varieties are very large. Then there is the pera de Judas, a large green pear, excellent for eating.

The earliest fruit is the wood strawberry, which is ripe about the middle of May. Cherries are plentiful in June,{350} especially a large black one, very sweet—guinda. Later there are several kinds of greengages and plums: the claudia is greatly prized for preserving in syrup. Apricots and peaches also abound; one kind of peach, the pavia del revero, was selling in the local markets at fifteen dollars per hundred in 1906. Melons also do well here, especially the water melon, which is very plentiful. Medlars of two kinds are seen in the markets in great quantities, where they are sold at the equivalent of threepence a pound. The earliest grapes are a very small white kind, which ripen about the end of September, and sell at about sixpence a pound. Pomegranates grow in the warmer valleys; so far as I could make out, there are no almonds, though it is probable that these too, like the date and the banana, would thrive here if once introduced.

During the summer months the squares and public places are crowded with fruit-sellers, and the quantities of fruit they bring in from the country round are a sight to see.

Among the plants that interested me there was one called Torvisco (probably from the Latin Turviscus), which is known to us as the flax-leaved daphne. Its leaves are used by the peasants for catching trout. The fish nibble the leaves when they are placed in the stream, and are poisoned at once; whereupon they are taken out of the water and cooked for the table. It seems that this kind of poison does not in any way affect the wholesomeness of the fish for eating purposes.

Reeds grow in quantities near Padron, and the gathering and selling of them forms the principal occupation of whole villages. A kind of rough waterproof worn by the labourers in rainy weather is manufactured from reeds; and rush hats are also worn. The villagers of Laino have a refrain which they sing when they go rush-gathering:—

“Ellas eran de Laino,
Ellas de Laino son.
Collen hoshuncos no prado
Vamos vender a Padron.”

Which is in English:—

“These are from Laino,
From Laino do they come.
We gather them in the meadows,
And sell them at Padron.”

A well-made reed hat is considered rather a luxury; it costs upwards of a pound, and is only worn by the well-to-do peasants.{351}

The pimiento dulce (capsicum), or sweet red pepper, grows to perfection in all the valleys. There are three crops in the year: small green pimientos are gathered in May, large green ones in July, and large red ones in August. The pimiento is a favourite ingredient in Spanish cooking, and it is also served as a salad to cold meat.

There are flowers out of doors all the year round. Not only is the camellia brilliant with white and red blooms in December and January, but high hedges of wild geraniums are also in bloom, and sweet-scented violets abound in the woods in January. In March and April the hoop-petticoat narcissus carpets meadows as profusely as the wild hyacinth does with us. I have seen it both a delicate creamy white and a brilliant yellow. Many of the wild flowers are much the same as those of our own Devonshire hedges and meadows, but I noticed a number that I had never seen in England; and there is no doubt that were an English botanist to devote the months of March, April, and May to the wild flowers of Galicia, he would be amply rewarded for his trouble, and feel the additional satisfaction that is always derived from the consciousness of being the first in the field.{352}



The dignity of human beings—Mineral wealth of Galicia—Gold in the sand—Ancient authorities—Ireland and Spanish gold—Visigothic coins—Galicia’s secret—Turned up by the plough—Medicinal springs—Mineral waters—Climate never extreme—The baths at Lugo—Borrow’s account—An island hydropathic establishment—Hot springs—Galicia as a health resort—Mondariz—Women in the fields—Amazons—Martial zeal—Wellington and the Gallegan soldiers—“The inimitable Gallegans”—Another word about their reputed stupidity—Great men—Making a list—Fare thee well

“WHATEVER withdraws us from the power of our senses,” said Samuel Johnson, “whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of human beings.” We cannot study the past of a spot so full of human interest as Galicia without some gain; we cannot study the physical beauties of the Spanish Switzerland without being transported for a time to those mountains and valleys that the Gallegans love so passionately, to those limpid streams and those beautiful rias. The mind needs change of air just as the body, and a few hours spent in that distant corner of Spain will, I trust, have been as refreshing to the mind of the reader as a few months spent in travelling and studying them were to the writer of this volume.

I have not exhausted my subject; it is too wide to be exhausted in a work six times the size of the present work. I have touched on too many points of interest to be able to do full justice to any: history, both ancient and mediæval, geography, architecture, archæology, natural history, ethnography, ethnology, climatology, literature, and many other branches of knowledge have had their share of my attention; yet, as I glance through what I have written, I am painfully conscious of how much has been omitted. I intended, amongst other things, to add a long chapter on the mineral wealth of Galicia, and another on the customs of the Gallegan peasants; but time and space fail me. With regard, however, to the mineral wealth of the country, to the character of its women,{353} to the martial spirit of its men, and to the reputed stupidity of the Gallegans, I should like to add a few words to what has already been said.

The greater part of the mineral wealth of Galicia has never been exploited since the days of the Romans. From the train window, as I was passing through the province of Lugo, I saw the place where the Romans diverted the course of a Gallegan river that they might more easily attain the gold which lay hidden below its flowing waters. Morales—an eye-witness in the reign of Philip II.—stated that the Miño had gold in its sand, and that the bishop of Tuy showed him a nugget of purest gold as large as a chick-pea, and that the Count of Monterrey had let a part of this river which flowed through his estate for twenty ducados a year to people who searched for gold in its sand.

Both Justin and Silius Italicus mention the rich veins of gold in Gallegan soil. Justin speaks also of the abundance of lead, copper, and iron. Molina mentions the abundance of tin that in his day was extracted annually from Gallegan mines, and he adds in a note that gold-mines were once worked there. I have already alluded to a tradition current in Ireland, that the ancient Irish obtained their gold from Spain, and it is more than probable that the torques in the Dublin Museum, as well as those I have described, were made of Gallegan gold.

It is an interesting fact that nearly all the Visigothic coins that have been found are pure gold; this is another indication that gold was once plentiful in Galicia. Even in our day, poor women can earn three and four pesetas a day by sifting sand of the river Sil for gold. I have described the golden torques in Señor Cicerone’s museum—all of massive gold—and these we know were found buried in various spots in Galicia. Whence came the gold of which these were made? “This,” says Señor Villa-Amil, “is Galicia’s secret.” At present no one knows the whereabouts of any gold-mine in Galicia, but that is no proof that gold is not there.

Silius Italicus said that this province was so rich in veins of gold that nuggets of the precious metal were often turned up by the plough, and it was this fact which led him to speak of Galicia as Dives Callaecia.

Galicia is rich in medicinal springs, and her waters have been used to cure diseases from time immemorial. I have mentioned the remains of Roman baths (thermæ) at Bande (near Celanova) and at Lugo. It was from the Greeks that the Romans learned the value of medicinal waters, and they made wide use of them until the declining days of their greatness,{354} when bathing came to be looked on as injurious and effeminate, and the old bathing establishments were allowed to go to ruin. In the ninth century, under Charlemagne, baths came once more into fashion, and new ones were established. In the fifteenth century a good deal was written about the curative powers of mineral waters, especially in Spain. Galicia has more of these springs than almost any part of Spain, and her climate is the most temperate: the sea, bounding her on two sides, modifies the heat of summer, so that in the hottest months the thermometer never stands higher than 20° Reamur; in the months of December, January, and February it does not often go below five and six degrees. As for the geological formation of the ground, it consists of layers of granite and gneiss for the most part, and of gneiss and mica in the neighbourhood of Coruña, Ferrol, and Betanzos; round Santiago, Sobrado, and Mellid there are found remarkable groups of amphibiolite and diorite, while serpentine (of a greenish colour) is also abundant. Slate is found in many varieties, and near Mondoñedo there are fossilised shells, including petrified bivalves. Quartz is very frequent. The alluvial soil near the rivers in the low-lying valleys is covered with water in winter.

Lugo has sulphur springs on the banks of the Miño; the bathing establishment is built with a patio and galleries round four separate springs, and there is hotel accommodation for a large number of visitors; these baths are considered to be the best in Galicia. Borrow, who visited them in 1836, wrote that they were “built over warm springs that flow into the river. Notwithstanding their ruinous condition, they were crowded with sick.... The patients exhibited a strange spectacle, as, wrapped in flannel gowns much resembling shrouds, they lay immersed in the tepid waters amongst disjointed stones and overhung with steam and reek.” The water smells strongly of sulphur, and on coming in contact with the air acquires a milky appearance. Its iodine has wonderfully healing properties in cases of scrofula, glandular swellings, and dyspepsia, also in cases of muscular rheumatism. As I have said elsewhere, Pliny wrote about these baths, and part of the Roman buildings may still be seen.

Another place where there are baths is Carballo, in the province of Coruña; here the older springs are sulfuro-sodico, and the new sulfuro-calcico, although all are close together. On the little island of Toja, near Villagarcia, there are some mineral springs which are now being exploited by a company; they are visited by sufferers from skin diseases, but chiefly{355} during the month of July. The season only lasts a few weeks, and during that period a doctor resides on the island and superintends the bathing establishment. At Caldas de Reyes, fifteen kilometres from Pontevedra, there are also hot sulphur springs, and I have already spoken at length of the Hot Springs at Orense. Galicia has innumerable iron springs. In 1878, Señor Varela Paga published tables showing that the waters of Galicia were richer by far in medicinal properties than the best of those in France, and he added that the mineral springs of this province were, without doubt, of immense importance, and that the two things wanting to place them amongst the most renowned curative resorts in Europe were good ways of communication and good hydropathic establishments.

The most modern of all the hydropathic establishments in Galicia is that of Mondariz, situated a few miles to the south of Pontevedra in the valley of Mondariz. Patients go there to drink the waters of two widely renowned springs called respectively Gandara and Troncoso; their waters are considered particularly beneficial in cases of dyspepsia (now looked upon rather as a symptom than a disease) and other stomach troubles.[306] The establishment for the reception of guests is very large, and the prices are in proportion to its grandeur. Lady visitors are requested to wear no hats except when attending Mass. The scenery of the surrounding mountains and valleys is very beautiful, and there are some exquisite drives, one being to Castello Mos, the mediæval castle which I have described in my chapter on Pontevedra.

And now a last word about the Gallegan women. I have said that the women of Galicia work in the fields like men, and that most of the agricultural labour is necessarily performed by them, seeing that the men emigrate in such numbers. It is interesting in this connection to note that Justin wrote of the women of ancient Galicia, as not only having the care of all domestic matters, but also cultivating the fields while{356} their men-folk gave themselves to the pursuits of war. “Their travail,” says Ford, “was not simply agricultural, for, according to Strabo (III. 250), they merely stepped aside out of the furrows to be brought to bed, if such a term may be used, returning back to their other labours just as if they had only laid an egg. The men were worthy of such Amazons.” But Ford overlooked the fact that it was of the people of Galicia that Strabo was writing when he said that it was customary for the husband to retire to his bed for a short period as soon as his child was born. Aguiar draws attention to this extraordinary practice in his History of Galicia. This writer also remarks that the proverb so common all over Spain, to the effect that he who is unfortunate and needs assistance should “seek his Gallegan mother,” was another indication of the Celtic origin of the Gallegans, the Celts having always held their women in honour.[307]

The martial zeal of the men of ancient Galicia is constantly referred to by historians: they were a foe against whom both Julius Cæsar and D. Brutus were proud to have waged war; and later, in the days of the Saracen invasion, they were the only Spaniards that the Moors could not conquer. And what about their courage and endurance in modern times? What did the Duke of Wellington think of the fighting qualities of the Gallegans who fought under his banner against the French invaders? So pleased was the Iron Duke with his Gallegan soldiers, that before leaving the country he issued a proclamation in honour of the fourth Spanish army:—

“Warriors of the civilised world! Learn heroism from the individuals of the fourth army, which it has been my good fortune to lead into the field. Every one of its soldiers has merited more justly than myself the command that I hold.... Strive all of you to imitate the inimitable Gallegans. Let their intrepidity be remembered to the end of the world, for it has never been surpassed....”

The fourth army was composed of Gallegans and Asturians, each of which received their separate meed of praise from the Duke. This proclamation was issued at Lesata, and bears the date September 4, 1813.

And now a final word about the reputed stupidity of the Gallegans. Galicia has from time immemorial produced more great intellects, more literary men, and more poets, than any other province in the Peninsula. Not only can Galicia boast of having a first Golden Age and a second Golden Age,{357} but she can also produce a long list of glorious names reaching right up to the present day. I have mentioned a few of these, but space has not allowed me to refer to more than a few. I have said nothing of Saavedra, or of Martin Garcia Sarmiento, both born in Pontevedra; of that famous woman, Maria Francisca de Isla y Lozada, born in Santiago, who was called by Bossuet “the pearl of Galicia”; of the seventeen eminent cardinals who were natives of Galicia; and of the innumerable other illustrious sons whom Galicia has given to Spain. Señor Cabeza Leon, professor of International Law at Santiago University—whose kind assistance in connection with my research work has been invaluable—tells me that he has already collected and verified the names of more than a thousand famous Spaniards who came from Galicia.

And how does Galicia stand to-day? I can answer without hesitation that she stands well to the front. A large proportion of the intellects that are governing Spain from Madrid at the present moment have come from this province. Two of Spain’s greatest living archæologists, Villa-Amil y Castro and Lopez Ferreiro, are sons of Galicia; and “the best authoress that Spain has produced during the present century,”[308] Doña Emilia Pardo Bazán, is Galicia’s daughter. So much for the stupidity of the Gallegans.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Fare thee well, Galicia! Thou art a land where railways have preceded roads, and where motor-cars have arrived before trains; thou art a land whose peasants are oppressed by bad government, usury, and their own crass ignorance; thou art a land where glorious monuments of mediæval architecture are left to fall into melancholy ruin and decay, when they should be guarded amongst the most precious treasures of the nation, a book in which the Spanish youth might read and learn of the achievements and aspirations of their ancestors; thou art a land that for the wonderful richness of thy soil and the exuberance of thy vegetation might be made the Garden of Europe. All these thou art, and more; yet not only art thou practically unknown to the rest of the world, but thou art forgotten even by Spain: thy own Peninsula is almost unconscious of thy existence, though thou art the spot which has provided her with her{358} most sacred traditions, her poetry, her trovadors, and her Patron Saint. Thy beautiful mountains, thy pine-clad peaks, thy waterfalls, thy torrents and thy rias, thy smiling valleys and thy mossy ravines, thy terraced slopes and thy limpid streamlets, are separated from the rest of Europe by the waters of the River of Oblivion.

It may be that some of the prominent men who are thy children would hesitate to own that thou hadst given them birth; but thy simple peasants, when they cross the wide seas to seek their fortune in a distant land, carry their passionate love for Galicia to those far-off shores, and sometimes, sometimes—they die of the anguish that is called homesickness.{359}


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A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

Aarlberg Pass, 333
Abderrahmen I., mosque of, 83
Acorns as food, 212
Acuña, Historiæ quoted, 301-2
Adozno, 332
Aecius, Sueve, 28-29
Africanus, Scipio, 13
Agricultural Syndicate of Coruña, 172;
need for knowledge, 179;
the Gallegan plough, 212-13;
carts, 213;
fields of Noya, 240-41
Aguiar, 2-3, 9-10, 178, 195;
on Gallegan dulness, 178
Aguilar y Torrea, Don Antonio, 270
Aimerico, 69
Alanes, 29
Alba River, 255
Alcala de Henares, 265 note
Aldrede, quoted, 54 note
Alexander III., Pope, 77
Alexander IV., Pope, 67
Alfonso I., 301
Alfonso II., el Casto, 62, 271
Alfonso VI., 94, 101, 279
Alfonso VII., 124, 195
Alfonso VIII., 317, 318
Alfonso X., el Sabio
Cantigas of, 44-46, 52, 54-57, 205;
will of, 50
Alfonso of Portugal, 282
Alfred and Orosius, 30-33
Alhambra, the, 328
Allariz, church of, Santiago, 295;
mentioned by Ptolemy, 295-96
Almanzor, 42-43, 200
Alonso, Sr. Benito F., quoted, 26, 76, 290 and note
Altamira, castle of, 232-33
Alvarez, Jacome, 150
Alvarez, Sr. Eugenie, 293
Ambia, family of, 296
Ambrose, St., 39
America, South—
Immigration into, 174-76, 247 and note;
herds of, 214;
rock-drawings, 274
Amiens Cathedral, 98 note, 109;
statues, 122
Amil, Villa-, 6, 7, 136
Anastasius the Librarian, quoted, 75-76
Ancares, Sierra de, 18
Ancient Britons, poetry of the, 185
Andalusia, 6;
socialism, 175, 184;
education, 178;
mule-breeding, 180;
students of, 192
Anderson, Jos., 68
Andrade, family of, 314
Andrade, Fernán Peréz de, Sarcophagus, 312
Andrew, Bishop, 226
Angeles, Juan de, 293
Ansurio, Bishop, Sarcophagus, 337
Antealtares, convent of, 104
Antela, lake of, 20
Antelo, Andreo, 103
Antiquarians of Scotland Society, 68, 274-75
Antoninus, 223, 290
Apacius, 219
Aquada, 321
Aquasantas, 296
Aquitaine, trouvadores of, 55
Arabs in Galicia, 301
Aragon, architecture of, 81
Arbo, 286
Arcade, 269
Arcadius, 15, 31
Arch, the horseshoe, 82-84, 331;
circular, 84-85
Archæological monuments of Galicia, 42
Archæological Museum, Santiago, 205
Archæological Society of Orense, 26;
of Pontevedra, 262, 274
Architecture of Galicia, 78-93
Mudejar, 80-81, 331;
Byzantine, 82;
Spanish—the horseshoe arch, 82-84, 331;
the circular arch, 84-85;
two streams of influence, 86-87;
the Capital—sculptured capitals, 126-135;
favourite subjects, 126;
plain, of English cathedrals, 126-27;
foliage, 127-28;
scalloped,{364} 131;
Corbels, 238;
the rectangular apse, 284;
Gallegan-Gothic, 303;
Arellano, Ramirez de, 302
Arenas, the Crucifix of, 290
Arezzo, 6;
MSS of Etheria, 36
Argalo, 243
Development, 153;
emigration to, 174-75
Arianism in Galicia, 29, 84, 86, 294, 303
Armijo, Marquis de la Viga de, 268
Arosa, 219
Arosa, Ria de, 17, 254, 255
Arraduca, 295
Art, lay schools of thirteenth century, 129-30
Arteago, Señor, collection, 208
Artisans, corporations of, 81
Asclepiades, 10
Asia, Central, mud-ovens of, 241
Astorga, 294
Asturias, 17;
horses, 214;
bears, 215;
trade, 344
Atatiar, 349
Ataulf, 86
Augustines, the, 72
Augustus, S., 15, 31-32
Augustus, towers of, Padron, 230
Autun Cathedral, 114
Avalos, Gaspar, 255
Avitus I. and II., 39
Ayerbe, Marquesa de, her book, 271-272
Ayerbe, Marquis de, 271 note
Ayras, Juan, 53 note

Babus, the, 6
Bacchiarius, monk, 39
Balearic Isles, 170, 216
Ball, Robert, 207
Church of Santa Comba, 329-32;
village, 332-33;
Roman baths, 353
Barbeito, Juan de, 256
Barca, Hamilcar, 13
Barcelona, 169-70, 192
Barrows, 6
Bartlett, Mr., 157 note
Barveron, Mount, 339-40
Basque language in Galicia, 4, 242 and note
Basques, the, 192
Baths, Roman, 331, 353;
medicinal, 353-55
Bayona, 255, 278;
Colegiata, 284;
the Assembly held, 292
Bazán, Emilia Pardo, 188 note, 357 and note
Bearny, Viscount de, 266
Bedoza, lectures, 193
Bellini, Mariano, 272
Benedict XIV., 284
Bentrazes, Palazio de, 325-26
Berceo, Gonzalo de, 44
Bergidensis, 34
Berigel, Archbishop, 235
Berlin, 278;
Ethnographical Museum, 273
Bermúdez, Cean, 138
Bermudo III., 195
Bernard, Archbishop, tomb, 149-50
Bernard, John H., 36 and note
Bernardo, 98
Berni, 98 note
Besada, Señor, 18
Churches of, 88 note, 310-12;
history, 308-9;
the Fiesta de Caneiros, 309;
Bravio, 310;
Nuestia Señora del Caneiro, 310;
ancient caverns, 311;
church of Santiago, 311-12;
San Francisco, 312
Bibalatarin, 83
Bibilis, the, 22
Bibles, manuscript, 195
Bilbao, 218
Biscay, Bay of, 17, 153-54;
lampreys, 219
Blanco, Sr. Romero, 247
Boabdil, 205
Bætica, 15
Boissier, quoted, 40
Bokhara, synagogues of, 265
Bologna University, 90
Boneval, Bernal de, 53 note
Boniface VIII., 54
Borrow, George, 75;
translation of the Bible, 4;
on Sir John Moore, 157;
quoted, 176;
in Padron, 222;
on the Franciscan convent, Lugo, 306
Bosworth, Joseph, translation of Orosius, 30-31
Botafumeiro, 72-75
Boulders, rocking, 7
Bourgogne, sculptured foliage, 129
Braga, 1, 31, 39, 294, 296;
Church Council, 226, <