IT is a long day’s ride from Granada to Seville. Nine hours are consumed by the train in making the run, which in pure linear distance is something like two hundred miles. Fortunately there are through coaches to be found, if one is wise enough to look for them, and these avert the necessity of changing at Bobadilla and La Roda, not to mention Utrera later in the afternoon. Three times a week, I believe, there is also an express train that makes the run in better time.
It was another hot April morning when we left Granada, and the second-class car for we had decided imprudently to trust in the modest comforts of that conveyance and repented of it later in dust and cinders jolted its leisurely way over mile after mile of shimmering plain. As far as Bobadilla the way was familiar, but reversed. There was a tedious climb to the mountain passes of Loja, and as compensation therefor a headlong descent to the meadows beyond, in the midst of which Bobadilla spreads her network of steel. It was on the run down the slope that we essayed to eat our luncheon, and the difficulties of the meal awakened us to a realizing sense of the fact that Spanish trains can run rapidly on occasion and that their roadbeds are not always constructed for extreme velocity. However, we managed to consume the major portion of Landlord Carmona’s sandwiches, and spilled but a little of our bottle of Rioja while the train was coasting down a winding grade at about forty miles an hour. This, however, was the only stretch of road where any fast time was made. In the main we ambled across the south-ern end of King Alfonso’s dominions at a very moderate pace, stopping everywhere for at least a minuto,” and commonly for more.
As second-class passengers we came into closer contact with the people of the country than heretofore. While they were awake they were extremely voluble, and the conversation far outran our meagre facilities for comprehension. They partook of food also, but wisely postponed that operation until the train was jogging serenely over the gently undulating plains that lie toward the west, where eating was less a matter of dexterity. So far as appeared from their actions, there was no attempt made to share the viands that came forth from their bundles of greasy newspaper, despite the common tradition that every Spaniard thus indulging himself is in duty bound to proffer his store of provender to his fellow passengers, they in turn being equally in duty bound to refuse ! Perhaps the incongruity and emptiness of offering what it is universally known is not to be accepted has dawned upon the Spanish mind ; for it is said that the failure to decline would be esteemed a bit of rudeness comparable only to a churlish neglect to extend the invitation. At any rate, the other occupants of our compartment consumed their food in seeming disregard of one another, although conversation never flagged, save when one or more of the participants grew weary of it and snored, for a change.
Mountain scenery there was none after we had slid “down the valley with our guttering brakes asqueal,” and lost the snowy sierras forever behind a ridge of nearer and rockier hills. All day the way was through a green and pleasant prairie, not lofty enough to be bleak like the deserts of the interior, and occasionally marked by groves of trees, al-though for most of the way it was merely broad miles of meadow with nothing taller than palmettoes to be seen. Late in the day we drew into Utrera, changed ends with the locomotive for the last time, and speedily sighted across the meadows the giant cathedral of Seville, ” like an elephant amid a flock of couchant sheep,” the graceful tower of the Giralda glowing rosily in the level rays of the departing sun.
A dusty ride through tortuous streets and over execrable pavements led us under the very shadow of the great church and into a pleasant, palm-shaded square in the centre of the city, where stood our hotel ; and good it seemed to wash away the stains of our arduous day’s traveling. After the stifling heat and jolting of the train the hotel seemed cool and quiet, and a breeze springing up with the setting of the sun rustled pleasantly in the great fronded palms of the plaza beneath our windows. For our balconies overlooked the spacious square, and in the distance across the palm-tops rose the Giralda, fair as a lily and glowing bright against the deepening blues of the April dusk.
Few cities have been more celebrated in song and story than this Seville that we looked down upon, a city which from its languorous climate and intrinsic beauty, as well as its historic associations, seems always to have possessed a peculiar charm. It is more than sixty miles from the ocean, yet is actually to all intents and purposes a seaport town, the broad and winding channel of the Guadalquivir bringing to the very heart of the city sea-going steamers of considerable burthen. In size it is still notable among the cities of Spain, harboring something like one hundred and fifty thousand souls.
It was evident that the principal buildings were grouped about the open park into which our balconies looked, or at least were in no case very far away, for directly opposite stood a handsome building in the “plateresque” manner, which has been justly deemed one of the finest of that difficult class in Spain, the ayuntamiento, or city hall, and beyond this it seemed but a stone’s throw to the cathedral. Radiating from the vicinity of this square as a natural focus of activity were a score of streets, mostly narrow and redolent of their Moorish past, but seldom worthy to be termed beautiful. Seville is no garish capital bedizened with tinsel and display. She is old. Her glories are of a substantial kind, and are really few and choice. Apart from them she is a city compactly built, the close-set houses lining the borders of streets that generally lack sidewalks, reserving what efforts they make at architectural adornment for their inner courts and patios.
Despite the fact that the day was done and darkness at hand, we set forth immediately for an initial stroll before the dinner hour, which in Spain is as often eight as earlier, and soon found ourselves quite by accident in the great orange court that lies in the shadow of the cathedral. It was walled from the street by a fort of churchly offices ranged about it in a hollow square, the whole being raised above the level of the streets by a platform of several steps. A grand Moorish gateway, topped by a belfry of many arches, gave entrance to the inclosure, where the air was heavy with the perfume of orange blossoms. Bells were clamoring noisily from the Giralda overhead, that tall and graceful shaft still rosy with the reflections of the western sky, although in the courts below it was very nearly dark ; and I hold this delicately colored tower thus seen against the background of approaching night to be very nearly the finest sight in Spain.
It seemed quite too late to hope for entrance to the cathedral, and yet the booming of an organ some-where within stole out to us as a peasant lifted the leather curtain of a door in the obscurity of the dusk. We followed the sound, and ventured with careful feet through the dense blackness of the interior, for there was not any light save where distant candles far away in the body of the church revealed the presence of shrines. Windows far above gave only a sort of indefinite twilight high among the arches and groinings of the roof. Of the floor we could see nothing, and we groped our way cautiously along the benches toward the music, which was the most remarkable I have ever heard in any religious edifice. It was nothing more nor less than the gayest and giddiest of glide polkas played at top speed on the king of instruments, and giving the effect of no-thing so much as the organ of a merry-go-round at an American country fair ! Nothing more thoroughly out of harmony with the prodigious solemnity of the dark and enormous church could have been devised. But then, they have always done strange things here ! Do not the priests of Seville cathedral dance Pyrrhic measures there on certain feast days, saluting the high altar with castanets? At any rate, I am absolutely sure of the glide polka, the joyous and tripping cadences of which increased in volume as we worked our way nearer in the gloom of that forest of pillars. It turned out to be a baptism, some infant receiving its christening at the holy font in a dim chapel just around a corner of the aisle ; and if its auspices accord with the melody that accompanied the churchly ceremony, it will surely dance its way merrily through life.
Our real exploration of the cathedral began on the following day, and the result was so satisfactory that it drew our feet back thither on many other days thereafter, despite the fact that one full round of all the chapels and art treasures in company with the official sacristans was voted to be quite enough. It is essential, however, to “undergo” this, as Hare would have put it, in order to see all there is in this immense church, much of which is of absorbing interest and visible in no other way. One must perforce be accompanied by the official guide, and the chapter thriftily sells tickets of ad-mission, good for one continuous passage through all points of interest, which latter include a long succession of chapels and sacristies, chapter halls and choirs, constituting together one of the notable art collections of Europe.
Considered not as an art museum but purely as a church, the great charm of Seville cathedral is found in its vast nave and aisles, now fully restored to their pristine beauty after several costly disasters due to the falling of the roof. The magnificent dimensions of the cathedral it is second to St. Peter’s for sheer magnitude are sufficient to compel admiration, and would still be so, even if, as in St. Peter’s, they failed to combine grace with mere immensity. As a matter of fact, however, the majesty of this church is due almost as much to the one quality as the other, and it achieves one result that St. Peter’s does not, namely, that of a convincing unity. Where St. Peter’s is a vast, cold, religious precinct, Seville’s cathedral is a single church, used by one congregation as smaller churches are. You feel that this edifice is used for worship by the people of Seville, just as you cannot feel that St. Peter’s is used by the people of Rome.
Architecturally considered, it would be hard to conceive anything built with hands more thoroughly worshipful and inspiring than this matchless interior. To be sure, it is marred, as all Spanish cathedrals are, by the intrusion of the screened choir and capilla mayor on the vistas of the nave. But there is so broad a sweep of aisle on either side that the injury worked by this intrusion is less than usual. Furthermore, the cathedral is dim without being dark, light falling in richly colored bands from windows loftily placed, and only occasionally screened by curtains. Not the least of the secrets of Seville’s charm is this cunningly devised scheme of lighting. It is not such as to give very good views of the pictures hung in the chapels below, to be sure ; but it more than atones for this defect by enhancing the grandeur of the church as a whole.
When the chapter originally voted to build this cathedral, they deliberately set out to erect a building “so vast that the beholder should esteem them mad for having undertaken it.” Few, how-ever, will to-day entertain that sentiment, even though the cathedral does still hold the palm for sheer magnitude among Catholic churches, and even if the successive fallings of the cimborio might point to at least a lack of precautionary wisdom on the part of the architects. It is truly an enormous church, but its proportions are so admirably contrived that mere bulk ceases to be thought of. Outwardly it is not nearly so effective. Its façade suffers from the usual over-elaboration, and its whole outside lacks in inspiration, as so many of the Gothic churches of Spain admittedly do. The airy beauty of the Giralda, which serves it as a campanile, sorts curiously with its sombre stone, and the joyous arabesques of the tower panels are in strange contrast with the Gothic style. Nevertheless, after having seen many of the famous churches of Spain, I cannot but conclude that on the whole Seville cathedral is one of the grandest, if not the grandest, of them all. I cannot share in the sentiment of those who have belittled this church and taken a supercilious delight in criticising its defects. Whatever were the vainglorious desires of the chapter in designing this colossal edifice, they at least succeeded in producing a vast and dignified temple wherein to worship, and the worshipful impulse has seldom found more adequate and satisfying expression than this, combining as it does the beauty of holiness with majesty and power.
It were hopeless to attempt any description of the numerous art treasures contained in this vast church with its multitude of chapels and chapter rooms. In the baptistery, however, to which we had unwittingly wandered in the gloom of our first evening, there hangs a noted Murillo, representing the appearance of the Holy Child in a vision to St. Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony’s sombre figure in the lower corner was once dextrously separated with a knife, from the remainder of the painting, and stolen. It reappeared some time later in America, and was recovered, its restoration to its proper place in the original canvas being wonderfully successful. The picture itself is worthy of long study as an example of Murillo’s more sombre work, but is so hung as to be wretchedly lighted. The same artist is also worthily represented in the other portions of the cathedral by well-known paintings, chief among which is the Guardian Angel, the English-speaking guides call it, I believe, “The Angel of the Guard ! ” But this, like many of the others, is execrably lighted, and to see it at all well requires that one remain in-doors long enough to accustom the eyes to seeing in the dimness of the sanctuary. One will speedily discover by experience what hours serve best for viewing certain of the more celebrated paintings.
In the large sacristy in the south wall is the principal museum of the cathedral, where the great majority of its art treasures have lately been grouped and rearranged with tolerable success. It is a noteworthy collection, and might well rank among the celebrated European galleries, despite its comparatively small size. Many old masters are represented in it by pieces of more or less authenticity, and there is to be seen at least one of those surprisingly lifelike sculptures in wood representing the Crucifixion with excruciating realism. It is in wood alone that the Spanish sculptors seem to have done their best work, and in that they have excelled most other nations.
Our visit fell on the verge of Holy Week, and at the time the workmen were covering the enormous retablo of the high altar with a purple veil. But the organs were not yet hushed, and we were fortunate indeed to hear them, for nothing more uplifting can well be imagined than the full-throated melody of those myriad pipes soaring through the twilight of that magnificent grove of pillars. In nearly every Spanish church the arrangement of the organs is the same, one on either side of the choir, perched high above the stalls, with a horizontal flare of trumpet-shaped pipes radiating above the head of the organist like leveled blunderbusses. These in Seville may not be the finest instruments in Europe, but their effect in the enormous fane was indescribably fine, as indeed was the impression produced by the whole service, the monotone of the droning priests, the bursts of melody from the lofty instruments, the sweet fragrance of the censers, and those long, dusty shafts of colored light falling through the ” strong, thick, stupefying incense-smoke” to form brilliant patches on the huge gray boles of the supporting columns.
In the south aisle of the cathedral is the tomb of Christopher Columbus, wholly unworthy in design of the illustrious navigator whom it commemorates and whose bones it now incloses. It savors of the degenerate taste which has latterly marred so many noble churches, and which is so acutely out of ac-cord with the surroundings of so chaste a Gothic interior as that of Seville cathedral. Columbus, while a Genoese by birth, was far more Spaniard than Italian by association. He died, not at Seville, but at Valladolid ; and his remains were moved about from pillar to post until it seemed that the doughty admiral was destined to be as great a voyager in death as he had been in life. He lay for years in an obscure church in the Triana district of Seville, and was later transported to the New World he had discovered, first to Hayti and later to Havana, in which latter place he rested until the war of 1898 deprived Spain of her last shred of empire. His body’ was then taken back to Seville and solemnly interred in this grotesque tomb, its huge coffin borne aloft on the shoulders of gigantic figures. Possibly it may now be permitted to rest here until the Judgment Day, undisturbed and duly reverenced.
A further unworthy feature of the Passion season in Spanish churches is the disfigurement of them by temporary monuments. While we were in Seville they were erecting one, a sort of pavilion behind the rear screen of the choir, adorned with huge statues of grotesque mould somewhat like those on the tomb of Columbus and suggesting them, but having this advantage over the tomb, that they at least were transitory instead of a permanent blemish. To the native mind, however, it seemed that the Easter monument was if anything superior to the ordinary splendors of the church. On our nocturnal visit an eager boy had clutched the hems of our garments and had led us through the mysterious darkness of the nave to one of the graven images about to be hoisted to place on top of the pavilion, exhibiting it with much pride. It was an awesome thing in the dark, towering heroically, its general appearance faintly guessed by the glimmering light of distant tapers. But by day it stood revealed in all its tawdry hideousness, yet hailed by the devout populace as a triumph of religious art. It makes it seem a pity that Murillo and Velasquez were born so early, or at least that their exquisite taste could not have been transmitted to their fellow townsmen of a later day.
The Giralda, already many times referred to, the tower in which hangs the multitude of cathedral bells, is in part at least a work of the Moors. When Christianity drove out Islam, the mosques of the latter commonly became the churches of the former, and God continued to be worshiped there under another name and sign. Indeed, as at Rome and Athens, even the sites of remote pagan worship thus remained dedicated to pious uses, and analytical visitors have discovered in the processions of Good Friday, for which Seville is so famous, survivals of the pagan period.’ These disjecta membra of creeds long outworn, discoverable in so many of the sites of the older civilization, might well afford material for highly interesting research.
At Seville the mosque proved less enduring than that of Cordova ; and while worship continued on the same spot, it was in a different temple, the older edifice being entirely wiped out when the chapter adopted the mad design of making a monster church. Only the ancient minaret remains, much altered and amplified, but fortunately not at all impaired as to its beauty. The main body of the tower is of Moorish construction, and is said to embody much ancient Roman stonework. With the present pinnacle added, the crest of the tower is now something like three hundred feet above the court of the oranges at its base, and surmounting it all is a huge bronze figure of ” Faith,” the giraldillo, or vane, which gives its name to the tower, turning freely with every wind of heaven. The inappropriateness of such a function for the image of Faith has often been commented upon ; and yet, in view of the manifold mutations which faith has undergone on this very spot between Iberian, Roman, Carthaginian, Moorish, and Christian occupants, it may not be so inappropriate after all.
The ascent of the Giralda is not a difficult task. The climb is made by means of a series of inclines instead of by steps, and at least one venturesome person has ridden to the belfry on horseback. From among the arches where the bells are hung there is to be had a magnificent view over the level plains and down the winding Guadalquivir, the ” silver road” once traversed by the venturesome and triumphant Admiral Colon. The Giralda bells are named for various saints, and while we stood there looking down on the broad meadows and the yellow thread of the river, Santa Maria and San Juan were engaged in a clangorous duet, the bell-ringers whirling the huge masses of metal over and over in mighty circles with a dexterity that compelled admiration in spite of the overpowering, deafening din.
It is from the belfry of the Giralda that one gets as intimate a view of the cathedral as is possible from any point. It lies below, but not far enough down to prevent examination of its lofty roof, with its clerestory and Gothic ornamentation. Besides there is a splendid view over Seville with her palm-grown squares and narrow streets, and even into the deep dells of the Alcazar gardens, which seem to lie almost at the Giralda’s foot. As a matter of fact, it is but a little way to the Alcazar itself, a Moorish palace which, despite its failure to compare in beauty with the Alhambra, is decidedly not to be ignored. Its gardens, rather than its halls and courts, afford the chief charm with their maze of paths and hedges and their very curious application of hydraulics. As in the Alhambra, one goes with a guide ; but unlike the Alhambra, this palace opens only to the silver key, and a ticket is issued for a price in the name of thrift. For this fairy palace has not been abandoned to the mere uses of a show place, but is even to-day a royal residence, and is said to be preferred by the present queen to the splendid but oppressively enormous palace at Madrid.
The Alcazar is not only less ancient than the Alhambra, but it is also much more obviously be-furbished and renovated. Its gilding is as fresh and bright as that of the library at Washington. Its reds and blues and buffs have not the saving grace of age. And so much of it is garish, blatant, and thoroughly unsatisfactory. It might have been much more effective if it had remained as it was and had been permitted to yield to a general flavor of mild decay. Even the additions of Charles V might please, although the guides generally exclaim, as they point to these Carlovingian additions, ” Carlo Cinco malo ! ” As it is, the Alcazar of Seville has a spruce and rejuvenated appearance that grates rather harshly. A sweet disorder in the dress comes not amiss in such buildings after so many centuries.
Practically nothing now remains of the original Alcazar, and still less of the Roman Prætorium, which was its predecessor on the site. The present building is merely the restored palace of Peter the Cruel (Peter I), plus certain amplifications made by the great Charles shortly after his marriage in these very courts to Isabella of Portugal, whose altogether charming portrait is to be seen to-day in the Prado at Madrid. The palace, however, is more thoroughly identified with Peter’s memory, and many interesting traditions of his reign survive. He was a curious character, sudden, quick in quarrel, and apparently well worthy of his sobriquet ; for as you wander through the gardens, you are constantly reminded of sanguinary acts which he committed in the name of “justice” a quality on which he prided himself. And yet he appears to have been rather a popular monarch. He murdered cheerfully whomsoever he would, and then occasionally cracked a grim joke by demanding that the police produce at once the guilty homicide, on pain of their own decapitation ! On at least one occasion this grim jest reacted on the king himself. While carousing in disguise through the streets by night, as was his wont, he killed a man, and his face was accidentally seen by an aged crone, who carried her momentous secret to the alguazil. Here was indeed a quandary ! The alguazil had been commanded by Peter himself to produce the culprit within forty-eight hours, and that culprit was Peter ! Tradition relates that the quaking prefect made him a graven image marvelously like the king, and at the time appointed haled it to the royal presence ; whereat the king ordered the effigy to be hung as high as Haman, and absolved his ingenious officer in haste.
Peter had for his favorite consort Maria de Padilla, for whose sake he put away a lawfully wedded wife of royal blood ; and he constructed for her use a long subterraneous bath, warmed by a hypocaust, no doubt, through the vaulted roof of which he provided windows for viewing that charming lady at her ablutions. It remains to-day, a cool and gloomy apartment like a tunnel, truly grateful on a hot afternoon to one wearied with the heat and glare of the gardens. The stone tank in its midst is very long and narrow, not deep enough to swim in, but large enough to accommodate Maria de Padilla and a whole regiment of waiting maids at one bathing. The courtiers were expected to drink eagerly of the water afterwards, and in view of their master’s hasty temper and habit of cutting off heads for less offense, they doubtless did so with loyal enthusiasm and much smacking of lips!
The palace gardens are extensive and, as has been said, are charming, particularly in the early summer, before the parching heat of Seville has burned them. Thanks to the Moors, who were a cleanly race and addicted to the copious use of water, the garden paths lack not for hydraulic arrangements of every kind. At least one path is perforated from end to end with tiny holes, almost imperceptible to the eye, and the guards regard it as a huge jest to inveigle one into this tempting byway and then set the whole district to playing madly by a sudden turn of a hidden stopcock. The jets rise vertically from the pavement to a height of perhaps four feet and to appreciate it one must be dressed in a bathing suit. To those unsuitably attired, the one feasible course is to beat a hasty retreat to dry ground, and laugh.
It is in Seville that one first comes full upon Spanish art as manifested by one of the greatest of the few essentially Spanish painters, Murillo. With all due respect to the museum of the Prado, easily one of the finest art collections in the world, and probably the very finest considered purely as a collection of the art of the golden age, it can-not claim to rival the museums of Seville in its capacity as a treasure house of Murillo, any more than Seville could claim preëminence to Madrid as the possessor of the work of Velasquez. There are several notable gatherings of Murillo’s work in Seville, and I have no intention of attempting any-thing so hopeless as to describe them in detail. It is somewhat unfortunate that Murillo lived in an age of such excessive religiosity ; for the demands made by Holy Church on his indefatigable brush confined him far too steadfastly to the portrayal of Madonnas and Infant Christs, and the result is a sameness throughout his work, despite his inimitable mastery of mellow color. The main collection in the principal art museum of the city is therefore but ill designed for human nature’s daily food, and the artist, great as he evidently is, suffers sadly from his own prodigious output of Holy Families, saints, and Blessed Virgins grouped together in one vast and lofty room. Just a few cold, gray-green Velasquez portraits here and there would relieve the monotony of all this loveliness, and give a pleasant and needful contrast, both in subject-matter and coloring.
With all due reverence, one must hold it a very great pity that Murillo was so constantly employed in decorating the altars and conventual institutions of his native land, just as one must deplore the fact that Velasquez, that other great Sevillian, was so beset with requisitions for the portrait of the vapid Philip IV. Each artist was sadly fettered by his clientèle. The religious world was too much with the former, and his royal master was too insistent with the latter, to permit much diversity in either. It is certainly not Murillo’s fault that he seems today to have moved too steadily within the sacred circle of the church and too seldom to have thrust but one foot without it. The demands of his time, fanatically Catholic, even for Spain, simply precluded him from following any other line. And the fact that he so triumphantly surmounts these hampering difficulties is what proves him essentially great. In that endless round of saints and martyrs he does not lose his freshness, and there is no diminution of the skill of his coloring. He was the painter of light, as his fellow townsman Velasquez was the painter of shadow. The latter could not have painted those radiant saints and children, and the former could not have painted Las Meninas.
Since one must have Murillo inseparable from religion, it is probable that he is to be seen at his best in those cases where the paintings remain in their original places, as is the case with the St. Anthony of the cathedral, or the magnificent panels and lunettes of the Hospital of the Caridad. The latter, like those of the cathedral, are unsatisfactorily lighted ; but by a sufficiency of manuvring and excluding the glare of the windows, one may obtain a very good view of the loftily hung painting of ” La Sed,” the thirst of the wandering Israelites, and of the little less celebrated representation of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Aside from these and four other smaller Murillos still hanging in the Hospital of the Caridad, that edifice offers almost nothing of interest. But it needs no more.
The founder of this hospital, a gay youth who repented of his early sins like St. Francis, but without achieving the same celebrity, lies buried humbly beneath the threshold ; and as you pass out over his tomb you stand face to face with the Tower of Gold that graces the bank of the Guadalquivir near by. It was once covered, according to a proud tradition, with gold,more probably with azulejos of a golden tint, and was a wonder in the sunshine. The situation of this golden monument was well chosen, standing as it does on the verge of the river’s tawny flood, down which the galleons of Spain were wont to float on their way to the ocean and the western world. It was on the bank of this stream that Columbus was received when he returned from his voyages of discovery, the discovery that opened to Seville her great but transitory eminence. From the west came fabulous stores of gold. Spain became the richest of nations and her empire the broadest the sun shone upon. Seville was invested with the rich monopoly of transatlantic trade. The golden tower was the symbol of the city’s commercial greatness and the empire’s pride. And yet the tower long antedated the discoveries of Columbus, built as it was by the Moors before a western world was ever dreamed of, and used for long years by Peter the Cruel as a prison. And in these days of peace and decaying commerce, Seville uses it as the office of her harbor-master ! But the banks of the river are not deserted, even now. The water is deep enough to bring vessels of sixteen feet draught to the city from the sea, and all up and down the curving quay may be seen large steamers loading or discharging, schooners and barks, tugboats and barges. It seems incredible that Cadiz and the ocean are more than sixty miles away.
Across the broad river, the current of which is yellower than even that of the Tiber, there rises a considerable settlement whose pottery shops are well worth the visiting. It is a section bearing the name of Triana a reminiscence of the Emperor Trajan, who was born not many miles away. The neighborhood, by the way, was prolific of Roman emperors of the later period, for Hadrian and Theodosius also sprang from Italica, an adjacent town, the remains of which are still easily discernible if one will but take the trouble to drive thither. As for Triana, it is to-day merely a squalid outpost of Seville devoted to lustre-pottery of a curiously beautiful kind, and approximating in its iridescence the lost art of the azulejos. A splendid bridge that marks the head of navigation for large craft spans the yellow flood. Here it was that the two favorite saints of the city, Justina and Rufina, met their violent deaths for refusing to do homage to a pagan procession in honor of Salammbo lineal ancestor of the very procession that all Seville to-day bows to in such reverence !
The streets of Seville proper are narrow and winding, as they have been from time immemorial, bearing witness to the cunning of the Moors in mitigating the rigors of the summer sun by providing an abundance of shade. Outwardly, as has been said, the houses which line these winding high-ways are much the same, reserving all their architectural pretensions for the patios and courts, fascinating glimpses into which are constantly being afforded by slightly open doors. There are one or two buildings of magnitude that command attention, notably the enormous official tobacco factory that lies near the station for Cadiz, resembling a palace far more than a hive of human industry of rather an inferior grade ; and also the ayuntamiento, or city hall, before referred to as fronting on the palm groves of the Plaza de San Fernando. This latter is of the plateresque style (i. e. silversmith’s work) and is easily one of the handsomest of that ornate variety to be seen in Spain.
Opening from its northern corner is the Calle de las Sierpes Serpent Street the main shopping highway of the town. It is not a street in the fullest sense, but is rather a paved footway between lofty buildings, barred by posts against the en-trance of carriages, and is in effect a long arcade without an arcade’s roof, save that in summer it is protected from the glare by awnings. Through it flows a constant tide of humanity. It is lined with handsome shops, cafés, and clubs the latter thronged with pleasure-seekers sipping chocolate, coffee, and liqueurs, and making the air resound with the steady click of dominoes. Fans, laces, and cigarettes are to be had in profusion more especially the fans and cigarettes, which are native in Seville. As for fans, no Spanish lady considers her wardrobe complete without an arsenal of them, it may be many dozens, and her skill in manipulating them is wonderful. Spanish coquetry may be on the wane, for at any rate one seldom hears much mandolin or guitar strumming under the casements now ; but skill in the art of the fan shows no diminution in the hands of dark-eyed senoras trained by centuries to its use. One may buy all sorts of them in the Sierpes, from the cheap and gaudy abanico decorated with scenes from the bull-ring, to the delicate confection in ivory and gauze.
Remote from the centre of the town and its activities lie several interesting old churches and the so-called Casa de Pilatos, Pilate’s house, the latter worth decidedly more than a passing glance. It is generally esteemed to be an accurate reproduction of the house of Pilate at Jerusalem, although there is more than room for doubt of this. In any event, the ducal founder, in the true Spanish fashion, added a little here and there in Catholic zeal ; for he caused to be set up in one of the courts a reproduction of the pillar at which Jesus was scourged. Once the awestruck visitor used to be asked to believe that this was the very pillar at which Jesus suffered, the Pope having bestowed it on the founder of the house in recognition of his piety. The improbability that any Pope would ever consent to part with so priceless a treasure, however, has caused this bit of embroidery on the tradition to fall into disuse, and to-day nobody pretends it is anything but a reproduction, as the rest of the house is, although probably not of Pilate’s palace more than of any other in Jerusalem. It is, indeed, a most interesting construction with a very pronounced tendency toward the Moorish style, and some fascinating gardens, which latter, unfortunately, are seldom shown. There is in full view, however, one of the most magnificent displays of bougainvillea that I have ever seen.
When day is declining all the city goes for a drive in the boulevard of the Delicias that leads down along the Guadalquivir and out into the open country. It is the regular thing, when the heat of the afternoon has abated, to take your carriage, or hire one, for it makes no difference, pack it as full as possible with family or friends, and join the innumerable caravan which moves along the broad highway under the long rows of trees. I should have been sorry not to take that ride, if only to see Seville relaxed and on pleasure bent ; but purely as a ride it would certainly have been disappointing. The roadway is uncommonly bad, for a boulevard, and there is little charm in the scenery despite its abundance of trees and occasional gar-dens. The interest centres in the endless procession of carriages passing in two long files at moderate pace, one going and one returning. It must be two miles from the beginning of the boulevard to the turn, and the common practice is to make the circuit several times, drawing up now and then at the side of the road to see the rest of the parade go by. Altogether it is such an array as one may see from the penny benches of Hyde Park, without the royalty, save on rare occasions, and inevitably with a much greater degree of democracy and variety in the vehicles, which at Seville are by no means confined to the luxurious carriages of the rich, but include conveyances of every sort and kind.
Our personal experiences in Seville closed with an excursion down the Guadalquivir, an expedition which even the most casual visitor should not be induced to omit. It came to our attention that a little steamer plied twice a day between the docks at the Triana bridge and the tiny town of Coria, ten miles or so downstream, but exact information as to its hours of departure was difficult to obtain. Policemen along the quay, who must see the craft coming and going daily, were wholly unable to tell us anything about it, but hazarded guesses all the way from half-past two to three in the afternoon. As a matter of precaution we came at the former hour, and as a perfectly inevitable sequel waited until well past the latter, sweltering under a broiling April sun, before the little vessel ceased her periodic whistling and shoved out into the river. It was a thoroughly delightful sail down the great windings that the current makes as it meanders through immense meadows toward the sea. Even here, sixty-two miles from Cadiz, the tide ebbs and flows with force, and as a result our several landings going and coming were matters of nice calculation on the part of the helmsman, the steamer’s speed, due to the current alone, being considerable. We touched at many hamlets on the way, tiny villages whose low-roofed huts were invariably dominated by great bulbous kilns for the firing of pottery. Here and there we passed great ships coming up to town, or lying at lofty coal-pockets. Sailing craft of quaint design floated by on the calm bosom of the mighty river. Always the low shore was fringed by bushes of luxuriant green rising close out of the muddy flood.
We had on board a motley gathering of merry villagers returning from their marketing in Seville, most notable of all a handsome, self-reliant woman with whom the steamer hands had much sport, robbing her plethoric basket of its leeks and onions while she kept up a fire of laughing badinage. It developed that she was the wife of a dredger stationed on one of the mud floats down the river remote from any regular landing, and it was her hope to save her spouse a long and laborious row against the tide by signaling him in season to be met in the family wherry as the steamer passed. Hence her good humor as she witnessed the pilfering of her wares, with the ill-concealed design of currying favor with the captain and his merry men. The latter, however, gave her a very bad quarter of an hour, insisting that to stop at any but a regular landing was impossible. The comedy proceeded at a furious rate, the exchange of the controversy growing shriller and more voluble as the steamer bore down on the mud-scow where the unsuspecting husband was at work. Captain and pilot remained obdurate, and each had a face that would have graced the decks of Captain Kidd. It was then that the resourceful passenger took the law into her own hands, and, dashing around behind the grinning steersman, grasped the whistle cord with a right good will, waking the echoes of the river-bank with a prolonged and vigorous tooting that brought the dredger out of his cabin in a hurry. He jumped into the wherry, shoved out to midstream, and the steamer drifted with the tide whilst the vociferous and triumphant woman leaped over the rail with her basket, shouting derision at the grinning crew and bidding them all ” go along with God ” to Coria.
It was the return journey, however, that presented the greater charm. The sun was setting in a glory of purple and gold, and the gentle landscape of the Sevillian plains was bathed in an effulgence like that of Murillo’s canvases. The tawny river glided with such a tide as, moving, seemed asleep, yet when the steamer stopped her screw and merely drifted, she still swept silently upstream so swiftly that the boatmen must snub their cables sharply to make their landings. Far away over the broad meadows and soft treetops soared the ethereal shaft of the Giralda, blushing rosily pink against the evening sky, above the grim grayness of the giant cathedral and its massive buttresses. From scattered cottages among the trees rose curling wisps of smoke. Even the yellow muddiness of the river lost itself as the light faded, and the smooth, unruffled surface of the waters gave back the blue of the placid sky. In the calmness of the sunset the Giralda glowed down on the forest of masts that lined the river’s curving brim, and Seville, glistening whitely along the crescent of the quay, surrendered herself to the languorous April night.