The Bible in Spain, Or, the Journeys, Adventures, and Imprisonments of An Englishman: In An Attempt to Circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula

By George Borrow | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI.

Departure for Cordova--Carmona--German Colonies--Language--The Sluggish Horse--Nocturnal Welcome--Carlist Landlord--Good Advice --Gomez--The Old Genoese--The Two Opinions.

AFTER a sojourn of about fourteen days at Seville, I departed for Cordova. The diligence had for some time past ceased running, owing to the disturbed state of the province. I had therefore no resource but to proceed thither on horseback. I hired a couple of horses, and engaged the old Genoese, of whom I have already had occasion to speak, to attend me as far as Cordova, and to bring them back. Notwithstanding we were now in the depths of winter, the weather was beautiful, the days sunny and brilliant, though the nights were rather keen. We passed by the little town of Alcala, celebrated for the ruins of an immense Moorish castle, which stand on a rocky hill, overhanging a picturesque river. The first night we slept at Carmona, another Moorish town, distant about seven leagues from Seville. Early in the morning we again mounted and departed. Perhaps in the whole of Spain there is scarcely a finer Moorish monument of antiquity than the eastern side of this town of Carmona, which occupies the brow of a lofty hill, and frowns over an extensive vega or plain, which extends for leagues unplanted and uncultivated, producing nothing but brushwood and carasco. Here rise tall and dusky walls, with square towers at short distances, of so massive a structure that they would seem to bid defiance alike to the tooth of time and the hand of man. This town, in the time of the Moors, was considered the key to Seville, and did not submit to the Christian arms till after a long and desperate siege: the capture of Seville followed speedily after. The vega upon which we now entered forms a part of the grand despoblado or desert of Andalusia, once a smiling garden, but which became what it now is on the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, when it was drained almost entirely of its population. The towns and villages from hence to the Sierra Morena, which divides Andalusia from La Mancha, are few and far between, and even of these several date from the middle of the last century, when an attempt was made by a Spanish minister to people this wilderness with the children of a foreign land.

At about midday we arrived at a place called Moncloa, which consisted of a venta, and a desolate-looking edifice which had something of the appearance of a chateau : a solitary palm tree raised its head over the outer wall. We entered the venta, tied our horses to the manger, and having ordered barley for them, we sat down before a large fire, which burned in the middle of the venta. The host and hostess also came and sat down beside us. "They are evil people," said the old Genoese to me in Italian, "and this is an evil house; it is a harbouring place for thieves, and murders have been committed here, if all tales be true." I looked at these two people attentively; they were both young, the man apparently about twenty-five years of age. He was a short thick-made churl, evidently of prodigious

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