« AnteriorContinuar »
that a hundred subjects of the Light of the World could distinguish a Murillo from a signboard, or a Sèvres vase from a flower-pot. Nevertheless there was a porcelain manufactory formerly on the banks of the Bosphorus, the property, I fancy, of foreigners. I do not suppose, however, that it succeeded in achieving much beyond a teapot or washhand-basin, though I possess a small vase that is said to be Turkish manufacture, not ungraceful. And yet I know of no country on which the sun shines that possesses such abundance of admirable material for the manufacturing of pottery and porcelain. Had poor Palissy lived in the East, what marvels of art he would have produced ! But the art of Turkey scarcely soars above a gilded pipe-bowl.
It is some years since this chapter was written, since which a great improvement has taken place in all things in and about the City of the Sultan in so far as civilization is concerned. If so be, it has lost much of its Oriental character. Good roads have been made to Therapia and Buyukdere, the summer resorts of diplomacy and commercial wealth; gas-lamps have also been introduced; and there is no longer any fear of falling into the Bosphorus, should you be invited to dine at one of the ambassadorial mansions. Moreover, Therapia and Buyukdere are charming retreats during summer and autumn from the hot, illpaved, and dirty streets of the City of the Sultan.
“Quien dice Espagna dice toto.”
"No hay sino un Madrid” (There is but one
Madrid). There is but one stage from Madrid to Paradise, in which there is a window for angels to look down on the counterpart of heaven on earth. So say all Spaniards. Alas! these angels never descend into the capital. Have you ever been there? No. Well, the month is late spring, ! the sky blue, the sea calm and purple ; so let us start-say from Marseilles; cross the oft-times troubled waters of the Gulf of Lyons, now like a mirror; touch at Barcelona, though I never yet saw or cracked a nut there; halt at Alicant; and travel south by railway through La Manca, mentally in company with Don Quixote and Sancho, to the capital of her most Catholic Majesty or El Corte. Though it is at times the hottest, and at others the coldest climate in southern Europe-indeed,
it is proverbially asserted that “el aire de Madrid es tan sotil, que mata á un hombre, y no apaga á un candil,” which, being translated, simply means that the summer air which will not extinguish a candle puts out a man's life—it is nevertheless by no means an indifferent abiding-place for a time for the bric-à-brac hunter, or any one else.
The position of Madrid is unique; it may be fairly said, in the middle of a desert. All the great capitals of Europe denote as it were their position, and are announced to the traveller by their populated environs, which bespeak the vitality of the city.
Madrid, on the contrary, is like a planet lost in space, which shines without lighting you ; without wood; till recently, without water; without stone; without an industrious population ; without commerce, save that which supplies its luxuries.
Madrid, when first approached, gives you the idea of effect without cause-a sort of royal caprice unaided by nature; in other days it was simply a fortified burgh, which, nevertheless, could
boast the honour of being besieged by the Cid. King Philip the Second proclaimed it the seat of government, and a rendezvous for sport. Alas ! there is little in those we live in.
He desired to make it a city; it has never been anything but a Court, from which it has derived the only influence which brings great cities to life.
After having passed, we will say, a week in the Museo, with which time, if you are a lover of high art, you will still scarcely be satisfied, so exceedingly rich is the place in treasures-a palace, in fact, of thought and beauty, filled with spirits of past days, where the dead reappear as in visions of delight;—as a refreshment for your taxed energies, seek the walks of the Retiro gardens, near which was the celebrated “La China,” or royal porcelain manufactory, founded by Charles III. in 1759, who brought workmen from his similar factory at Capo di Monte, Naples. Everything was destroyed by the French, and the place converted into a fortification, which surrendered with 200 cannon, on the 14th August, 1812,