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that I shall not suffer in his esteem by this proof of my acquiescence, and I know too well the sincerity of my own court to apprehend for the part I have taken.
At the same time that I signify to you my acquiescence as above stated, I think my predicament thereby becomes such as to require an immediate report to my court, and I desire you will request of his excellency Count Florida Blanca to send me a blank passport, to be filled up by me with the name of such person as I may find convenient to dispatch to England by the way of Lisbon. I am, &c. &c.
R. C.' This letter produced a most courteous invitation, and thence ensued those conferences already described, which separated Mr. Hussey from me, and sent him home with propositions, which my instructions did not allow me to discuss. By this chasm in the business I was upon, I found myself so far at leisure, that I was tempted to indulge my curiosity by a visit to the Escurial, and accordingly set out for that singular place with a letter from the minister to the Prior, signifying the king's pleasure that I should have free access to the manuscripts, and every facility, that could be given to my researches of whatever description. I had been informed by Sir John Dalrymple of a curious manuscript, purporting to be letters of Brutus, to which he could not get access; these letters are written in Greek, and are referred to by Doctor Bentley in his controversy with Boyle as notoriously spurious, fabricated by the sophists, of which there can be no doubt. I obtained a sight of the manuscript, and the fathers favored me with a copy of the Greek original, and also of the Latin translation by Petrarch. I have them by me, but they are good for nothing, and bear decided evidence of an imposture. This the worthy father, who introduced himself to me as librarian and professor of the learned languages, discovered by a very curious process, observing to me that these could not be the true letters of Brutus, forasmuch as they profess to have been written after the death of Julius Cæsar, which he had found out to be a flagrant anachronism, assuring me that Brutus, having died before Cæsar, could not be feigned to have written letters after the decease of the man who survived him. When I apologized for my hesitation in admitting his chronology, and asked him if Brutus was not suspected of having a hand in the murder of Cæsar, he owned that he had heard of it, but that it was a mere fable, and, hastening to his cell, brought me down a huge folio of chronology, following me into the court, and pointing out the page, where I might read my own conviction. I thanked him for his solicitude, and assured him that his authority was quite sufficient for the fact, and recollecting how few enjoyments he probably had in that lugubrious mansion, left him in possession of his victory and triumph.
I took nobody with me to the Escurial but my servants and a Milanese traiteur, who opened an empty hotel, and provided me with a chamber and my food. There were indeed myriads of annoying insects, who had kept uninterrupted possession of their quarters, against whom I had no way of guarding myself but by planting my portable crib in the middle of the room, with its legs immersed in pails of water. The court was expected, but not yet arrived, and the place was a perfect solitude, so that I had the best possible opportunity of viewing this immense edifice at my ease and leisure. I am not about to describe it; assuredly it is one of the most wonderous monuments that bigotry has ever dedicated to the fulfilment of a vow. Yet there is no grace in the external, which owes its power of striking to the immensity of its mass: the architect has been obliged to sacrifice beauty and proportion to security against the incredible hurricanes of wind, which at times sweep down from the mountains that surround it; of a scenery more savage, nature hardly has a sample to produce upon the habitable globe: yet within this gloomy and enormous receptacle, there is abundant food for curiosity in paintings, books, and consecrated treasures exceed. ing all description. There is a vast and inestimable collection of pictures, and the great masters, whose works were in my poor judgment decidedly the most prominent and attractive, are Raphael, Titian, Rubens, Velasquez and Coello, of which the two last were natives of Spain and by no means unworthy to be classed with the three former. Of Raphael there are but four pre-eminent specimens, of which the famous Perla is one, but hung very disadvantageously; of Titian there is a splendid abundance; of Rubens not many, but some that show him to have been a mighty master of the passions, and speak to the heart with incredible effect; they throw the gauntlet to the proudest of the Italian schools, and seem to leave Vandyke behind him almost out of sight; of Velasquez, if there was none other than his composition of Jacob, when his sons are showing him the coat of Joseph, it would be enough to rank him with the highest in his art; Coello's fame may safely rest upon his inimitable altar-piece in the private chapel. Were it put to me to single out for my choice two compositions, and only two, from out the whole inestimable collection, I would take Titian's Last Supper in the refectory for my first prize, and this altar-piece of Coello's for my second, leaving the Perla and Madona del pesce of Raphael, the Dead Christ of Rubens, and the Joseph of Velasquez with longing and regret, but leaving them notwithstand. ing.
The Court removed from San Ildefonso to the Escurial in a
few days after I had been there, and I was invited to bring my family thither, which accordingly I did. My reception here was very different from what I had experienced at San Ildefonso. The king, one of the best tempered men living, was particularly gracious; in walking through his apartments in the Escurial, I surprised him in his bed-chamber; the good man had been on his knees before his private altar, and upon the opening of the door, rose; when seeing me in the act of retiring, he bade me stay, and condescended to show me some very curious South American deer, extremely small and elegantly formed, which he kept under a netting; and amongst others a little green monkey, the most diminutive and most beautiful of its species I had ever seen. He also showed me the game he had shot that morning of various sorts from the bocafica to the vulture. He was alone, and seemed to take peculiar pleasure in gratifying our curiosity. No monarch could well be more humbly lodged, for his state consisted in a small camp-bed, miserably equipped with curtains of faded old damask, that had once been crimson, and a cushion of the same by his bedside, with a table, that held his crucifix and prayer-book, and over that a three-quarters picture of the Mater-dolorosa by Titian, which he always carried with him for his private altar-piece; of which picture I was fortunate enough to procure a very perfect copy by an old Spanish master (Coello as I suspect) upon the same sized cloth, and very hardly to be distinguished from the original. This picture I brought home with me, and it is now in my possession. His majesty's dress was, like his person, plain and homely; a buff leather waistcoat, breeches of the same, and old-fashioned boots (made in Pall Mall), with a plain drab coat, covered with snuff and dust, a bad wig and a worse hat, constituted his wardrobe for the chase, and there were very few days in the year when he denied himself that recreation.
The Prince of Asturias-His pavilion—Present of horses--Anecdote of Cum
berland's daughter-Honors to the English monarch— The Princess Asturias -Mode of life at Madrid-Count Kaunitz-Giusti-Pallavicini Foreign ambassador-His visitors—Tiranna–The Duke of Osuna-Anthony Smith Recalled-Generous offer of the Spanish king-Bills dishonored-Bad treatment-Memoirs-Official letters.
The Prince of Asturias, now the reigning sovereign, was always so good as to notice the respect I duly paid him, with the most flattering and marked attention. He spoke of me and to me with distinguished kindness, and caused it to be signified to me, that he was sorry circumstances of etiquette did not allow him to show me those more pointed proofs of his regard, by which it was his wish to make appear the good opinion he was pleased to entertain of me. Such a testimony from a prince, of his reserved and distant cast of character, was to be valued for its sincerity. On my way from San Ildefonso to Segovia, one morning at an early hour, as I was mounting a hill, that opened that extensive plain to my view, I discovered a party of horsemen and the prince considerably advanced before them, at the full speed of his horse; I had just time to order my chariot out of the road, and halt it under some cork-trees by the way-side, and, according to my custom, I got out to pay him my respects. The prince stopped his horse upon the instant, and with his hat in
hand, wheeled him about to come up to me, when the high-spirited animal
, either resenting the manoeuvre, or taking fright, as it seemed, at the gleamy reflection of my gray mules, half covered with the cork branches, reared and wheeled upon his hinder legs, in a most alarming manner. The prince appeared to me in such imminent danger, that I was about to seize the bit of his bridle, but he was much too complete a cavalier to accept of assistance, and after a short but pretty severe contest, brought his horse up to me in perfect discipline, and with many handsome acknowledgments for the anxiety I had shown, on his account, in a very gracious manner took his leave, and pursued his road to San Ildefonso. He was a man of vast bodily strength, and a severe rider: the fine animal, one of the most beautiful I had seen in
Spain, showed the wounds of the spur, streaming with blood down his glossy.white sides, from the shoulder to the flank.
This prince had a small but elegant pavilion, at a short distance from the Escurial, which in point of furniture and pic. tures was a perfect gem. He did me and my family the honor to invite us to see it; at the appointed hour we found it prepared for our reception, with a table set out and provided with refreshments; some of the officers of his household were in waiting; the Dukes of Alva, Granada, Almodovar, and others of high rank, accompanied us through the apartments, and when I returned to my hotel, at the Escurial, the prince's secretary called on me, by command, to know my opinion of it. There could be no difficulty in delivering that, for it really merited all the praise that I bestowed upon it. In a very short time after, the same gentleman returned and signified the prince's express desire to know if there was anything in the style of furniture that struck me as defective, or anything I could suggest for its improvement. With the like sincerity I made answer, that in my humble opinion the fitting of the principal room in the Chinese style, though sufficiently splendid, was not in character with the rest of the apartments, that were hung round with some of the finest pictures of the Spanish and Italian masters, where a chaster style, in point of ornament, had been preserved.
I heard no more of my critique for some days, and began to suspect that I had made my court very ill by risking it, when another message called me to review the complete change which that apartment had undergone, to the exclusion of every atom of Japan work, in consequence of my remark.
It was on this occasion that the minister, Florida Blanca, in the moment of that favor and popularity which I then enjoyed, addressed me in a very different style from any he had ever used, and with an air of mock solemnity, charged me with having practised upon the heir apparent of the crown of Spain by some secret charm, or love-powder, to the engagement of his affections, which,' said he, 'I perceive you are so exclusively possessed of, that I must throw myself on your protection, and request you to preserve to me some place in his regard.' As I had found his excellency, for the first time, in the humor for raillery, I endeavored to keep up the spirit of it by owning to the love powder; in virtue of which I had gained that power over the prince, as to seize the bridle of his horse, and arrest him on the road, which led me to relate the anecdote of our rencounter on the way to Segovia above described. He listened to me with great good humor, appearing to enjoy my nar