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A DANGEROUS ROAD.
furnished most appropriate scenes and inviting opportunities for such adventurers. I had three English servants and two men hired in Lisbon, besides the messenger above mentioned, and my English servants and myself in particular were excellently armed and ammunitioned. My English men consisted of Mr. Hussey's man Daly, a London hair-dresser of the name of Legge, whom I took for the convenience of my wife and daughters, and my own faithful servant Thomas Camis, of tried courage and attachment, who had lived with me from the age of ten years. In
, the middle of the night, when we were in the depth of the forest, or rather wilderness, the Spaniard rode up to my coach win. dow, and telling me we were then in the most suspicious part of our road, recommended it to me to collect my people about me and keep them together. Daly indeed was not far behind, but in a state of absolute intoxication, and sleeping on his mule; my hair-dresser pretty much in the same state, but totally disabled from excess of cowardice, of which he had given some unequivocal and most ridiculous tokens before and during our action in the frigate; I had not much reliance on my Portuguese, one of whom was a black fellow, and in the mean time my brave and trusty servant Camis was not to be found, nor did he answer to any call. Distressed with apprehension lest some fatal accident had befallen this most valuable man, I got out of my coach determined not to move from the spot without him, and sent the Spanish messenger and two other men in search of him. During their absence I heard a trampling of horses, and soon discovered through the dusk of night two men armed with guns, which they carried under the thigh, who rode smartly up to the carriage and proved to be archers on the patrole. This confirmed the report that the road was infested by robbers, and whilst this was passing I had the satisfaction to be joined by my servant Thomas Camis on foot, his mule baving sunk under him, exhausted with fatigue. He now mounted behind the coach, and the men dispatched in search for him having come in, we pursued our route and arrived in safety at Truxillo.
From Truxillo we passed a very rugged and mountainous tract of country to Venta del Lugar Nuevo on the banks of the Tagus. This is a very romantic station, and the bridge a curi. ous and most striking object, passing from one rock to another upon two very lofty Roman arches, the river flowing underneath at a prodigious depth.
On the 16th we passed through La Calzada to Talavera la Reina, a town in New Castile of considerable population and extent. A silk fabric is here established under the king's especial patronage. Here the following letter from Mr. Hussey met me:
From Mr. Hussey to me.
* Aranjuez, Wednesday morning, 14th June, 1780. MY DEAREST FRIEND: How could you suspect that I would send for you if I found the obstacle in my way, which makes you so uneasy? But it was always my intention to 'go part of the way from Aranjuez to meet you, to indulge my affection by personally attending you and your family as soon as possible; but as you do not mention what delay you intended to make in Badajoz, I cannot precisely guess the day of your arrival here, and therefore I dispatch this letter to meet you at Talavera la Reina, that I may know it more exactly, which will be by returning a line to me, informing me of the day, and whether you think it will be in the morning or evening. As the distance between Talavera and Aranjuez is too great for one day's journey with the same mules, I have ordered a fresh set to be posted for you seven leagues from this place, at La Venta de Olias, two leagues and a half from that part of the Tagus called Las Barcas de Azecar, where you cross the water, and probably you will meet me; otherwise you will come on and meet me on the road. This fresh set of mules was absolutely necessary, because you could find no place to sleep in between Talavera and Aranjuez. You do not come through Toledo. I long to embrace you and my amiable friends, and open my mind to your satisfaction, as well as my pleasure. Adieu !
T. H.' To this letter I answered as follows:
To Mr. Hussey. • Talavera la Reina, Friday, 16th June, half past 5, evening. MY DEAREST FRIEND: Your consolatory letter meets me at the end of a long and laborious journey, and like a magical charm puts all my cares to rest at
Say not, however, how could I suspect. Had that been the case, how could I advance? Yet I am come at every risk upon the reliance, which I am fixed to repose in your honor and friendship upon all occasions.
I have entered on an arduous service without any conditions, and, I fear, without securing to myself that sure support, which they, by whom and for whom I am employed, ought to hold forth to me; but you know full well who is, and who is not, my corresponding minister, and if success does not bear me through in this step, which I have taken, my good intentions will not stand me in much stead. Still, when I saw that my reluctance would affect your situation, dash every measure you had laid, and annihilate all chance of rendering service to my country in this trying crisis, I did not hesitate to risk this journey, even against the advice of Mr. W.
We are not long since arrived, after a most sultry stage, and have been travelling all night without a halt. I dare not but give Mrs. Cumberland an hour or two's repose, and shall not take my departure from hence till midnight. I shall stop at La Venta de Olias, to relieve my party from a few hot hours, and shall be there to-morrow morning about ten or eleven. I shall set out from thence at seven o'clock in the evening, at latest, and reach the ferry at Las Barcas de Azecar at nine that evening. There, if we meet, or whenever else more convenient to yourself, it will, I trust in God, be remembered as one of the happy moments that here and there have sparingly checkered the past life Affectionate
R. C.' From Talavera on the 17th instant we came to the little village of Olias, about half way, where we took the necessary relief of rest, and as the weather was now intolerably hot, my wife and daughters being almost exhausted with fatigue, we lay
by for the whole of the day. Here the Alcayde of the village very hospitably sent me refreshments, and called on me at my inn, offering his house and whatever it afforded. I returned his visit, and found the good old man surrounded by his children and grand-children, a numerous family, grouped in their degrees, and sitting in their best apartment ready to receive me. After chocolate had been served, the guitar was introduced, and the younger parties danced their sequedillas. When they had animated themselves with this dance, the player on the guitar began to sound the notes of the fandango: I had seated myself by the old grandfather, a feeble, nerveless creature, and observed, with some concern, a paralytic motion vibrating in all his limbs and muscles, when at once, unable to keep his seat, he started up in a kind of ecstasy, and began snapping his fingers like castanets, and dancing the fandango to my surprise and amusement. This was the first time I had seen it performed, and I ceased to wonder at the extravagant attachment which the Spaniards show for that national tune and dance.
On Sunday the 18th of June, at five o'clock in the morning, we arrived at Aranjuez, and were most affectionately welcomed by Mr. Hussey. He delivered a paper to me dictated by the minister, and first appearances argued favorably for my negotiation. The day following I was visited by the subminister Campo, Anduaga and Escarano (belonging to the minister's department), also by the Duc d'Almodovar, Abbé Curtis, and others, and in the evening of that day I had my first interview with the Count Florida Blanca.
News of Lord George Gordon's riots-Influence of on the court of Spain-Pro
gress of negotiations-Count D’Estaing-Florida Blanca-Galvez_ūncomfortable situation-Mr. Hussey-Departure of D'Estaing-Character of Hussey -Thrown from his mule-His surgeons—Anecdote-Patrick Curtis-Letter from Del Campo-Return of Hussey to England-Letters of Brutus-- Visit to the Escurial-Paintings-Interview with the king.
I SHALL not enter upon local descriptions; it is neither to my purpose, nor can it edify the reader, who will find all this done so much better by writers who have travelled into Spain, and been more at leisure for looking about them than I ever was. My thoughts were soon distressfully occupied by the account, which met me, of the riots and disturbances in London by what was called Lord George Gordon's mob, which all but quite extinguished my hopes of success in the very outset of my business. I had repeated interviews with the minister, whom I visited by night, ushered by his confidential valet through a suit of five rooms, the door of every one of which was constantly locked as soon as I had passed it. The description of those dreadful tumults was given to the Spanish court by their ambassador at Paris, Count d'Aranda, and faithfully given without exaggeration. The effect it had upon the King of Spain was great indeed, and for me most unfortunate, for I had no advices from my court to qualify or oppose it. How this intelligence operated on the mind of his Catholic Majesty can only be conceived by such as were acquainted with his character, and knew to what degree he remained affected by the insurrection, then not long passed, in his own capital of Madrid. I will only say that my treaty was in shape, and such as my instructions would have warranted me to transmit and recommend. Spain had received a recent check from Admiral Rodney, Gibraltar had been relieved with a high hand, she was also upon very delicate and dubious terms with France. The crisis was decidedly in my favor; my reception flattering in the extreme; the Spanish nation was anxious for peace, and both court, ecclesiastics and military, professedly anti-gallican. The minister did not lose an hour after my arrival, but with much apparent
BAD NEWS FROM HOME.
alacrity in the cause immediately proceeded to business. I never had any reason, upon reflection, to doubt the sincerity of Count Florida Blanca at this moment, and verily believe we should have advanced the business of the preliminaries, if the fatal news of the riots had not most critically come to hand that very day, on which, by the minister's own appointment, we were to meet for fair discussion of the terms, while nothing seemed to threaten serious difficulty or disagreement between us.
According to appointment I came to him, perfectly ignorant of what had come to pass in my own country: I had prepared myself to the best of my capacity for a meeting and discussion which it behooved me to manage with discretion and address, and which, according to my view of it, promised to crown my mission with success. We were to write, and Campo was to be present, so that when I entered the minister's inner chamber, and saw only a small table with a single candle, no Campo present and no materials for writing, I own my mind misgave me. I did not wait more than two minutes before Florida Blanca came out of his closet, and in a lamentable tone sung out the downfall of London; king, ministers, and government whelmed in ruin, the rebellion of America transplanted to Eng. land, and heartily as he condoled with me, how could he, under such circumstances, commit his court to treat with me? I did not take the whole for truth, and was too much on my guard to betray any astonishment or alarm, but left him to lament the unhappy state of my wretched country, and affected to treat the narrative as a French exaggeration of the transitory tumults of a London mob. In the mean time, I could not fail to see that nothing was to be done on my part, but to yield to the moment and wait for information upon which I might rely. All that I did in the interim was to address a letter to the minister, and confidently risk a prediction that the tumult would be quashed so speedily and completely, as to add dignity to the king's government and stability to his ministers. He gave for answer that both his Catholic Majesty and himself trembled for the king, but of the extermination of the ministry no question could be made. I renewed my assertions in terms more confi. dent than before, not so much upon conviction as from desperation, well knowing that if I was undone by the event, it was of little importance that I was disgraced by my over-confidence and presumption.
In the course of a very few days my prediction was happily verified, for on the 24th I was informed by Escarano, that the rioters were quelled, Lord George Gordon committed to the Tower, and indemnification ordered to the sufferers in the tu.