SPAIN seems actually skied over with the wings of guardian angels. The traditional tutelar of the nation, Santiago, counts for less, especially in the south and centre of the Peninsula, than might be expected, and was long since officially superseded by the Virgin ; but cities, ham-lets, families, individuals, all have their protecting saints. Some are martyrs, some bishops, some apostles, while Cordova rests secure beneath the shining plumes of the angel Raphael. Towns and townlets hold festivals for their celestial patrons, honoring them with fairs, horse-races, processions, dances, and whatsoever else may be appropriate to the season and characteristic of the locality, as ball games, bull-fights, or even a miracle play. Only Seville, mirth-loving Seville, who makes holiday on the slightest provocation, can never invite her two beautiful guardians, Santa Justa and Santa Rufina, to a jubilee. These holy maidens used to keep a pottery booth in Triana, now the gypsy quarter of the city, where, refusing to worship the Roman Venus, they won the crown of martyrdom. But their industrious habits cling to them still, and, by night and by day, while the centuries pass, they uphold the Giralda. An anointed vision, like Murillo’s, may see their graceful forms hovering in mid-air on either side of the famous tower, which their strong brown arms hold firm even in tempests. If the ladies should let go, the Giralda would fall, and so the Sevillians are driven to the ungallant course of ignoring these really useful patrons and gadding off to adjacent towns whose saints are at leisure to be entertained.
By the eternal contradiction that prevails in all things Spanish, it has come to pass that Madrid, the elegant capital and royal residence, is under the guardianship of a peasant saint. Here, in the eleventh century, Isidro was born, say the priests, of poor but Catholic parents. If not precisely a hewer of wood and a drawer of water, he was next door to that humble estate, being a digger of wells and cellars. He dug with such piety that God aided him by miracles, causing troublesome rocks to melt like wax at the touch of his spade, and springs of healing water to leap in the pits of his fashioning. He was a tiller of the ground, besides, a hireling farm servant, whose agricultural methods, though seemingly irregular, caused his master’s granaries to overflow. As he went to the fields in the fresh spring mornings, the young Isidro would scatter handfuls of seed for the birds, saying, ” Eat, God’s little birds, for when our Lord looks forth in dawn, He looks upon us all.” And as he dropped the wheat and barley in the fur-rows, ever he murmured, “This for God, and this for us; this for the birds, and this for the ants.” “For the ants, too ? ” mockingly asked the rustics who planted beside him, but Isidro steadfastly replied, ” For the ants, too, since they are God’s ants, and His royal bounty is for all His household.” No wonder that the Almighty had Isidro’s fields in special charge, sending sun and rain in due season that the harvest might suffice for every claimant. Such divine care was the more necessary, because this dreamy plough-boy spent most of his time in the churches, or on his knees in the shadow of the fruit trees, until his profane companions called him Lazybones.
Isidro was no effective patron of Madrid as yet, but ran away from the Moors, when they invaded the city, finding farm service in a neighboring village. Here he married a maiden whose lovely soul, according to Lope de Vega, shone through her guileless face like a painting through its glass. She was no less devout than her husband, and went every evening to trim the altar in a lonely shrine of the Virgin. There was a stream to be crossed on the way, and in times of freshet Our Lady would appear in person and lead her by the hand over the tops of the waves. Such dainty stepping as it must have been ! And once, when Isidro accompanied his wife, they both crossed in a boat suddenly improvised from her mantilla, which was not a thread the worse for the experience.
The miracle-working power that developed in San Isidro was first exercised, as became a farmer, on suffering beasts and bad weather. His early influence over water grew more and more pronounced, rain refreshing the thirsty fields at his bidding, and medicinal fountains gushing from rocks at the stroke of his hoe. And when, one sunshiny morning, his wife let their baby boy slip from her arms into the depths of the well and ran in distress to her husband, the saint, who for once was working on the farm, did not scold her, as the priestly authors seem to think would have been the natural course, but calmly said, ” My sister, what is there to cry about ? ” And when, after a season of prayer, these exemplary parents proceeded to the well, its waters had risen to the brink, lifting the little John, as on a silver-tissue cushion, safe to their embrace. Isidro still retained his youthful peculiarities as a laborer, often praying all day long in the churches, while his yoke of oxen did the ploughing just as well without him. On one occasion, when he arrived too late for mass, the gates of heaven opened to his vision, as he knelt before the closed church door, and he was permitted to witness a celestial mass, where Christ was both priest and wafer, with choirs of angels chanting the holy service. Even his charities cost him little, for when the olla of vegetables and fish, that his wife made every Saturday for the poor, had all been eaten, a word from Isidro was enough to replenish the pot. If he emptied his sack of corn on the snow for a flock of hungry pigeons, the sack was full when he reached the mill ; and when he threshed his master’s wheat a second and a third time for the beggars, the very chaff turned into golden grain.
His best quality, which almost makes his cult desirable in Spain, continued to be his love for animals, especially for birds. These sang their sweetest songs as he passed by, and often flew down from the poplar branches to brush their little wings against his blouse. And he, who had raised his master’s daughter from the dead, did not disdain to work miracles of healing and of life on maltreated horses. Madrid would do well to give her guardian saint a season ticket to the bull-ring. Even the despised and cudgelled ass had a share in his protection. A sacrilegious wolf that thought to make a meal of Isidro’s donkey, left to graze outside a church where the saint had gone to pray, was struck dead perhaps by the donkey’s heels. This kindly rustic, who had separated from his wife for greater sanctity, died on St. Andrew’s Day and was buried in the cemetery of St. Andrew’s Church in Madrid. Such sepulture was not to his liking, and twice his ghost appeared to ask that the body might be removed to the church, as was presently done, all the bells of St. Andrew’s ringing of their own accord to give it welcome. The tomb immediately began to work miracles, and Isidro became such a favorite with the people that when, in 1212, a shepherd guided Alfonso VIII, lost with his vanguard in the wild passes of the Sierra Morena, to the great battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, where the armies of the Holy Cross broke forever the dominion of the Moors in Central Spain, nothing would do but the story that this shepherd was Isidro himself. Above the tomb of the saint a chapel was erected, perhaps by Alfonso, perhaps by Isabel la Catolica. There seems to be a conflict of authorities here, but all testimonies agree that the angels used to come down and sing in the chapel Saturday afternoons.
Madrid formally accepted Isidro as patron in the summer of 1232, when the labors of the husbandmen, on the point of perishing from drought, were saved by the body of the Holy Peasant, which, borne in priestly procession, called down floods of rain ; but it was not until the times of Philip III, some four centuries later, that the actual canonization of Isidro was granted by Rome. On May 15, 1620, the Plaza Mayor, that handsome square which has been the theatre of so many tournaments, executions, and autos de fe, the scene, two years later, of the beatification of Loyola, was inaugurated by a splendid festival in honor of San Isidro. From that day to this his worship has not waned. The miracle-working bones, which were carried to the bitter death-bed of Philip III, and comforted the passing of the great and generous spirit of Charles III, are still held to be more potent than physicians. Churches, oratories, and chapels have been built to him all over the Peninsula, the Franciscan Friars founded a convent of San Isidro in Rome, and his name is a part of our new geography lesson in the Antilles and the Philippines. Only four years ago his urn was borne in penitential procession through Madrid, with double supplications for rain on the parched country, and for a swift and happy ending of the Cuban war. All priestly, military, civic, and governmental pomp went to make up that stately escort, the ladies of Madrid showering the train as it passed beneath their balconies with flowers, poems, and confetti. The saint did what he could. The procession had been so skilfully timed that the rains began that very night, but the Cuban war was a matter out of his province. His dealings had always been with water, not with blood.
There is significance in this devotion of proud Castile to San Isidro. Spain is essentially as democratic as America. Her proverbs tell the story : ” Many a man gets to heaven in tow breeches; ” ” Do what your master bids you, and sit down with him at table ; ” ” Nobody is born learned, and even bishops are made of men ; ” ” Since I am a man I may come to be Pope ; ” ” The corpse of the Pope takes no more ground than that of the sacristan ; ” ” Every man is the son of his own works.”
“Said the leaf to the flower : ‘ 0 fie ! You put on airs indeed ! But we sprang, both you and I, From the selfsame little brown seed.’ ”
Pedler, porter, beggar treat you as social equals and expect a full return of courtesy. It is told in Madrid how a great diplomatic personage not long ago was eating his picnic luncheon in a hired carriage. The driver, lunching also, leaned back from his seat, clinked glasses, and drank the gentleman’s health. The dignitary glared with astonishment and wrath. ” Man ! I am the Imperial Ambassador of Nation So-and-So.” ” What of it ? ” returned the driver, taking another bite of his peppery Spanish sausage; “I am the Head Hostler of Stables Such-and-Such.”
Again and again, in recent times as in ancient, have the rank and file of the Spanish nation asserted their dignity of manhood. An edict of Charles III, forbidding the Madrilenos to muffle themselves in their beloved long cloaks and hide their faces under their big slouch hats, raised a furious riot in the capital. Should a king dictate the fashion of a man’s garments ? And when the stupid weakness of Charles IV and the baseness of his son Fernando had delivered Spain over to Napoleon, when French armies held her fortresses, and Murat, with twenty-five thousand troops, ruled Madrid by logic of steel and iron, it was the Spanish people who, from Asturias to Andalusia, sprang to the defence of a country abandoned by princes, councils, and grandees. The Spanish people, not the Spanish nobles, preserved the independence of the nation and actually broke the career of the Corsican conqueror. The Italian king, Amadeo, so much better than his fortunes, was welcomed at Valencia in 1871 with simple verses, spoken by a child, that breathe even from their opening stanza this native spirit of democracy :
” The High Lord of the Heavens Created men one day, All mortal and all equal, All shapen out of clay ; For God reeked not of nations, Of white and black and brown, But on His human children Impartially looked down.”
It is not then so strange as it appears at first hearing that a Piers Plowman should be patron of Madrid.
From Alfonso VIII to Alfonso XIII, a matter of some seven centuries, Isidro has been in high repute with royalty. The “Catholic Kings” made him rich gifts; Philip II, bigot of bigots, cherished an especial veneration for the ghostly protector who had brought his delicate childhood safely through smallpox and epileptic seizures; the passion-wasted Philip IV did him public homage ; Charles the Bewitched made a solemn progress to his shrine to thank him for recovery from illness ; even the bright young Bourbon, Philip V, had scarcely arrived in Madrid before he hastened to worship the efficacious body of San Isidro. The urn has been opened at intervals to give their successive Majesties of Spain the grewsome joy of gazing on the bones, and it has been the peculiar privilege of Spanish queens, on such occasions, to renew the costly cerements. The devotion of the present regent to these relics keeps pace with that of her predecessors.
Where royalty leads, aristocracy is swift to follow, and Isidro has a gorgeous wardrobe of embroidered standards, palls, canopies, burial cloths, and everything that a skeleton could require, but “for a’ that and a’ that ” the laboring people of Castile never forget that the Canonized Farmer especially belongs to them. His fortnight-long fiesta is the May outing of the rustic population all about Madrid.
We will start on this pilgrimage from the Puerta del Sol, because everything in Madrid starts from the Puerta del Sol. From this great open parallelogram in the centre of the city, surrounded by lofty hotels and Government buildings, bordered with shops and cafes, brightened with fountains, thronged with trams, carriages, people, always humming with voices, always surging with movement, run ten of the principal streets of the capital. The Alcala, most fashionable of promenades, and San Jeronimo, beloved of wealthy shoppers, conduct to the noble reaches of parks and paseos in the east ; the handsome Arend and historic Calle Mayor lead west to the royal palace, with its extensive gardens known as the Campo del Moro; Montera, with two less elegant avenues, points to the north, where one may find the university, the Protestant churches, and the tragic site of the Quemadero; and three corresponding streets open the way to the south, with its factories, hospitals, old churches, and world-famed Rastro, or rag fair.
But during the early days of the Romeria, which begins on May 15, all the throbbing tide of life pours toward the southwest, for the goal of the pilgrimage, the Hermitage of San Isidro, built over one of his miraculous wells by the empress of Charles I, in gratitude for a cure experienced by her august husband after drinking of the waters, stands on the farther bank of the Manzanares. The trams, literally heaped with clinging humanity, pass out by the Calle Mayor and cross the Plaza Mayor. The innumerable ‘buses and cabs make a shorter cut, but all varieties of vehicle are soon wedged together in the broad thoroughfare of Toledo. Here we pass the big granite church of San Isidro el Real, once in possession of the Jesuits, but on their expulsion from Spain, in 1767, consecrated to the Santo Labrador. His body was borne thither, with all solemn ceremonial, from the chapel in St. Andrew’s; and his poor wife, who had also been sainted, by a courteous Spanish afterthought, under the attractive title of Maria de la Cabeza, Mary of the Head, was allowed to lay her celebrated skull beneath the same roof,a greater liberty than he had permitted her during the latter half of their earthly lives. The Madrid Cathedral, hard by the royal palace, is still in slow process of building, the work being hampered and delayed for lack of funds, although her Majesty sets a devout example by contributing $300 a month. Meanwhile, San Isidro el Real serves as the cathedral church of the diocese.
This Calle de Toledo, where Isidro dug several of his medicinal wells, is always gay with arcades and booths and drapers’ shops ; but now, during the Romeria, it is a veritable curbstone market, where oranges, sashes, brooms, mantles, picture frames, saucepans, fiddles, mantillas, china, jackets, umbrellas, fans, dolls, bird-cages, paintings of saints, and photographs of ballet dancers are all cried and exhibited, hawked and held under nose, in one continuous tumult.
As we approach the bare mass of masonry known as the Gate of Toledo, we cast, for-all our festival mood, a clouded glance in the direction of the barbarous slaughter-houses of Madrid. Here the stronger beasts are blinded by the thrust of darts, and also hamstrung, to render them helpless under the deliberate butchery of their tormentors, who often amuse themselves by a little bull-fight practice with the agonized creatures before striking the final blow a place of such atrocious cruelties that even the seasoned nerves of an Austrian surgeon recently visiting it gave way, and he fainted as he looked. There is work for San Isidro here.
The jam of equipages on the Bridge of Toledo gives us abundant time to observe the statue of the Holy Peasant, in a stone niche, lifting his baby from the well, and the companion statue of Mary of the Skull. And there is the Manzanares to look at, that sandy channel along which dribble a few threads of water threads that the washerwomen of Madrid seek after like veins of silver. Small boys are wading from one bank to the other, hardly troubling themselves to roll up their trousers. It is said that Philip IV, surveying his pompous bridge across the Manzanares, was wickedly advised by one of his courtiers to sell the bridge or else buy a river. It is a curious bit of irony to hold the festival of the Water Saint beside a river bed almost as dry as his bones.
But the crowd has now become so mad and merry that it distracts attention alike from architecture and physical geography. Will all the dexterity of foot-police and mounted guards ever succeed in disentangling this snarl of equipages ? Who cares ? Everybody is laughing. Everybody, too, is helping, so far as lungs can help. A daring Aragonese, with a blue and white checked handkerchief knotted about his head and a scarlet blanket over his shoulders, tries to dash across the bridge and rejoin his screaming children. He stumbles before a jovial omnibus, whose four horses, adorned with beribboned straw hats, gaze coyly out from under the torn brims like so many metamorphosed Maud Mullers. A distant guard roars a warning. The crowd bellows in sympathy. A liveried coachman rears his spirited pair of bays. A cock-hatted gypsy, with half his tribe packed into his cart, tries to follow suit, and tugs savagely at the stubborn mouths of mules whose heads are liberally festooned with red and green tassels. In front of these safely passes the Aragonese, only to bring up against the great wheel of a picnic wagon, whose occupants, mostly senoritas in the sunrise Philippine shawls, thrust out their pretty heads, all crowned with flowers instead of hats, and rain down saucy salutations. The crowd chimes in with every variety of voluble impudence. He catches at the long gold fringe of the nearest shawl, saves himself from falling at the price of a shriek of wrath from the senorita, plunges desperately on, is struck by a cab horse, the poor beast being half blinded by the tickling plumes that droop over eyes and nose, and amid volleys of ridicule and encouragement reels to the shelter of the sidewalk. But a very precarious shelter it is, so narrow that the lads are positively obliged to fling their arms about the lasses to hold the fluttering skirts back from peril of wheels and hoofs. Everywhere what audacity, what fun, what color, and what noise ! Troops on troops of foot travellers, usually in family groups, and often stained with the dust of an all-day tramp ! The wives generally carry the hampers, and the husbands sometimes shoulder the babies. Squads of young fellows frolic along, each with his supply of provisions tied up in a gaudy handkerchief. The closer the nudging the better they like it; a slap from a girlish hand is almost as good as a kiss. Isidro knew all about it in his day. But this clownish jollity grows rougher and rougher, and the crack and sting from a coachman’s whip tempt a reply with the pilgrim’s staff. The guards, hoarse and purple, wipe their dripping brows. It is early afternoon yet, too, and the larking and license are as nothing to what may be expected before midnight.
It is a little better when, at last, the bridge is left behind. Turning to the northwest, the dusty road runs on beside the river and beneath the bluffs lined with rowdyish folk, who shout down greetings to their acquaintances and compliments to the ladies, toward the ermita. A certain Juan de Vargas, riding over this same route one day, lifted his eyes to the uplands to see how his farm-hand, Isidro, was getting on with the ploughing. Blessed Isidro ! Before and after went two stalwart young angels, still in shining white, each driving a celestial yoke of oxen.
Times have changed. The sight that greets our eyes is emphatically human a great country fair, a pandemonium of rude, good-natured revelry. The beggars who have been chasing the carriage, the cripples outstripping the rest, thrust withered arms, ulcerous legs, and all manner of profitable deformities into our very faces as we alight, even clutching at the coins with which we pay the coachman. We make our way as best we can in the rough press, between two rows of booths toward the church. There is the usual Spanish variety of penny toys on saleballs, baskets, whips, kites, jumping-jacks, balloons, and every other conceivable trifle admitting of the colors red and yellow. But the great traffic is in those articles especially consecrate to San Isidro frosted cakes, probably made after the recipe of Maria de la Cabeza, clay vessels of every shape and size for carrying away the healing waters, and, first and foremost, pitos, or whistles. The priests would have us believe that San Isidro was forever droning psalms, but ploughmen know a ploughman’s music, and the sacred whistles lead the sales in the Romeria. It is impiety not to purchase at least one of these, and the more devout you are, the more pitos will you buy. The Infanta Isabel, aunt of his Little Majesty, fills her emblazoned coach every year with these shrill pipes in all their variety of queer disguises fans, birds, puffing grotesques, and, above all, paper flowers. He is no lover worth the having who does not bring his sweetheart a San Isidro rose with a pito for a stem. The ear-torture of an immense fairground delighting in an infinity of whistles may be left to the sympathetic imagination. We cling to the memory of Burns, and bear for his bonny sake what we could hardly endure for any such sham laborer as Isidro.
The hearing is not the only sense to do penance in this pilgrimage. The Water Saint has never thought to work a miracle of cleanliness upon his peasant votaries, and the smell that bursts out upon us from the opening doors of the church might put us to flight, were flight still possible. But, caught in the human current, we are swept on into the gilded, candle-lighted, foul-aired oratory, with its effigies of Santo Labrador and Santa Labradora. All day long the imperious ringing of me bell at the shortest of intervals has been calling one company of the faithful after another up the bare brown hill to that unventilated temple. When there is no squeezing room left for even a dwarf from the pygmy show, the doors are closed, the bell is silenced, and the rustics are marshalled in rapid procession before the altar, where they pay a penny each, receive a cheap print of San Isidro, and kiss the mysterious, glass-cased relic which a businesslike young ecclesiatic touches hastily to their lips. The frank sound of the kissing within is accompanied by the tooting of pitos without. We stand at one side, looking at the priests and wondering how their consciences are put together, but half ashamed to watch with heretic eyes the tears of joy, the fervors of prayer, the ecstasies of faith, that are to be seen in many of these simple, passionate faces filing by. Here comes a little girl treading as if on air and clasping her picture of the saint to her lips, brows, and heart with such abandon of delighted adoration as one must go to Spain to see.
Released from the Hermitage, we fill our lungs with sweeter breath, give skirts a vigorous shake in the vain hope that we may not carry away too many deserters from the insect retinue of our recent associates, and turn down toward the river. Our short cut leads us among heaps and heaps of bales packed with the graceful clay jars. How many an anxious mother will trudge her weary miles across this dry Castilian steppe, bearing with all her other burdens a botija of the healing water to some little sufferer at home ! Wonderful water, warranted to make whole the lame, the blind, the deaf, the dumb, and put to rout all ills that flesh is heir to, especially fevers, tumors, erysipelas, paralysis, and consumption ! It is as potent to-day as when it first gushed from the earth at the bidding of the young Isidro, for did it not work a notable cure, as late as 1884, on the Infanta Dona Paz de Bourbon, sister of Alphonso XII ?
We linger a few minutes at the edge of the bluff, looking down upon the animated scene below, from which rises the hum as of an exaggerated beehive. The long green stretch of valley meadow is one wave of restless color. Thickly dotted with booths for refreshment, for sale of the San Isidro wares, for penny shows, farces, wax figures, and all manner of cheap entertainments, it still has space for dancers, wrestlers, pelota players, for swings, stilts, and merry-go-rounds, and, above all, for the multitude of promenaders, sleepers, and feasters. The bright May sunshine gleams and dazzles on the soldiers’ helmets, flashes out all the hues and tints of the varied costumes, and even lends a grace to the brown patches on the browner tents. The tossing of limbs in the wild, free dances, the flutter of the red and yellow flags, the picturesque grouping on the grass of families, complete to dog and donkey, around the platter of homely fare and the skin bottle of wine all this makes a panorama on which one would gladly gaze for hours.
Going down into the heart of the festivity, the interest still grows. We enter one of the cleanest cantinas and invest a peseta in a bottle of sarsaparilla, not for our own drinking, having seen the water in which the glasses are washed, but as a protection against the horde of beggars and the gypsy fortune tellers. It works like a charm. As we respond to the whining appeals with the civilities of social greeting and an offered glass of our innocent beverage, the ragged petitioners are straightway transformed into ladies and gentle-men. They draw themselves erect, quaff the cup to our long life and happiness, discuss in self-respecting tones the weather and the fete, and then, without another hint of solicitation, bid us courteous farewells. ‘We mean to take out a patent on the sarsaparilla treatment of Spanish mendicancy.
The tent itself is, like the rest, shabby and tumbledown, furnished with rough tables and benches, where cadets are playing dominos as they drink, and two country sweethearts are delectably eating what appears to be a sardine omelette off the same cracked plate. A clumsy lantern hangs overhead, racks of bottles are fastened up along the canvas walls, and all about the trampled earth floor stand water jars, great bowls of greens, and baskets of the crusty Spanish bread. A pale young Madrileno drops in for a glass of wine, but before indulging has the shy little rustic who serves him take a sip, languidly begging her, ” Do me the favor to sweeten my drink.” The yellow cigarette-stains show on his white fingers as he pats her plump bare arm. The child, for she is scarcely more, and as brown as an acorn, responds to these amenities by giving the smiling exquisite alternate bites of her hunk of goat’s-milk cheese, while her mother keeps a sharp eye on them both.
Comedy and tragedy are busy all about us. A newly arrived family plods wearily by in ludicrous procession, headed by a tall father carrying a baby and closed by a short child carrying a cat. A. showy man of middle age, playing the gallant to an overdressed brunette, is suddenly confronted by his furious wife in boy’s attire, so unluckily well disguised that, before recognizing her, he has replied to her rush of invective with a blow which bids fair to make one of her eyes, at least, blacker than those of her rival. Traditional ballads are trolled, popular songs are echoed from group to group, and, despite bad odors, fleas, and whistles, we are reluctant to leave. But the afternoon grows late, the Arganda and Valdepenas are beginning to burn in the southern blood, an occasional flourish of cudgels or of fists sends the police scurrying across the field, and, being nothing if not discreet, we pay our parting respects to San Isidro.
Coming home by way of the Prado and passing the proud shaft of yellow-brown granite that towers far above its enclosing cypress trees, as glory above death, we are re-minded that this gala month has brought another fiesta to Madrid. Every second of May the capital commemorates with solemn masses, with stately civic processions, and a magnificent military review, the patriots who fell fighting in the streets on that terrible Monday of 18o8, El Dos de Mayo, which brought to pass the war of independence. One may read of that fierce carnage in the vivid pages of Galdos or behold it in the lurid paintings of Goya. To see once is to see forever that line of French soldiery, with steady musket at shoulder, but with eyes bent on the ground, while they shoot down squad after squad of their defenceless victims. In pools of blood ‘lie the contorted bodies, with heads and breasts horribly torn by crimson wounds, while of those who wait their turn to fall beside them some cover the eyes, one stupidly gnaws his hands, one kneels and wildly peers from under his shaggy hair into the very muzzle of the gun before him, one flings back his head with a savage grin, half of fright and half of courage, one desperately strips bare his breast and in agony of horror glares upon the guns, but the most are crouching, shuddering, sinking and all only an item in the awful cost that the Spanish people have paid for Spanish liberties. The celebration of 1899 was no less brilliant than usual, although many of the Madrid papers spoke bitterly of the shadow that the disastrous first of May must henceforth cast on the glorious Second. It is indeed gall and wormwood to all Spain that the Manila defeat so nearly coincides with the proudest day in Spanish annals.
The saint of El Dos de Mayo is Saint Revolution, as democratic in one way as Saint Agriculture in another. When these two patrons of Madrid understand how to work in fellowship, when there comes a Government in Spain that cares chiefly to promote the welfare of the laboring people, the world may discover anew the vitality and noble quality of this long-suffering nation.
We saw the Romeria once more, driving through late in the evening, when the closed booths glimmered white on the silent meadow.
” Yes, it is all a pack of lies,” said a thoughtful Catholic, ” but what is one to do ? A man cannot believe in religion and yet how to live without it ? The more I stay away from mass the more I want and need it. Think of the comfort these peasants take with their San Isidro ! ”
The moonlight shone serene and beautiful on those patched, shabby tents, transforming them to silver.