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about the Plaza at random, like Herschell's double stars in free space, der anging other symptoms and set-tos with a whisk of their tail, which cuts like a lash in a rapid twirl, and whips fire out of Spanish eyes in a twinkling.
"Others dance in a round, cutting capers and ramping
A mercy the ground did not burst with their stamping.' "What shouts of merriment! The young ash tree is shaking with laughter to its very roots, and all its leaves are dancing sympathetically in the whirlwind. There's one tall fellow cutting a hornpipe through the crowd and using his knees-That's not fair-call the Alcalde! The dumpy girl replies with her broad shoulder. All's right again. See the poor little man escaping from that Amazon-a triton of the minnows! The child crosses his path and upsets him! There goes my pretty patrona and her grandmother, careering in their waltz like a double shot against the Commandete de armas, and see the cigar is shot out of his lips! What excellent time they keep with their fingers: 'Tis a pity they have not castanets to mark it more merrily. How many hundreds in motion! The vortex makes my head reel with the attempt to reckon. See a dozen of the King's garde du corps swept into the centre of the whirlpool. The cavaliers can't waltz for their spurs, and the women are charging them like Cossacks and Pandours. There's a young officer carried off in the current! The rest hold on by the ash tree and each other, till it is nearly uprooted! The lasses will next storm the steps of the sanctuary!
"The Alcalde who saw the madness rise' gave a sign to the piper"And while they heaven and earth defied,
Changed his hand and checked their pride."
The slow movement was recommenced, the loud mirth of the crowd was subdued, the ball opened with the same solemn movement as at first, with the addition of a file of male gladiators, who marched in separately, preceded by a very expert fugleman. By this time additional crowds had strolled down from Durango, attracted by the laughter that echoed from the rocks, till there were as many spectators as performers grouped around the Plaza, although the King's band was performing in the town, and more courtly waltzing was in progress before the windows of the Palacio. Several officers of the court and army-Spanish, French, British, German, Italian and Portuguese-stood near, cavalierly discussing the personal points and merits of the light-hearted skirmishers, and the national advantages of such a weekly parade, affording as it did, such excellent practical opportunities to the voluntarios of judging correctly of the steadiness or levity, the substance or poverty, the firmness or feebleness of understanding, and the native capacity or littleness of their comrades, before they committed themselves by enlisting for life in their company."
Mr. Stephens has thrown a good deal of picturesque colouring into his Sketches of Bilbao during its siege, of which he was an eyewitness, and frequently so much exposed as could not fail to impress him with very lively emotions. We can understand him when he says he had both the pleasure and the sorrow of beholding such a
spectacle, and which he describes as if it, at certain times, displayed the stratagems and the adroitness of a grand game. Having stated that the valley where the siege took place is a splendid stage, forming an immense amphitheatre for display, while the circling heights afford the amateur spectator admirable points from which to view the strife below, every day being crowded with spectators, he adds,
"What bursts of applause from the lynx-eyed peasant spectators in the upper gallery, when their sons and brothers, in similar homely garb, chased the dashing and gallantly equipped Lancers of the Queen's Royal Guard before them! What shouts of laughter when the experienced guerillas, rounding the hills to windward over Castrejana, set fire to the fern and heather, and then safely blazed away at the smoked and blinded Christinos! I never knew before that human beings had such excellent sight-but the fact was, that the telescopes of the Senores generally played second fiddle to the eyes of the paysanos. An exclamation, a laugh, or a hearty curse of the soldado, generally awakened and directed the attention of the telescopic Commandante to the point of attraction. It was highly instructive to get a seat beside any of the spectators who knew the country or the town, and listen to their observations on the progress of a concerted cannonade or a bombardment played in the orchestra below, by the rampart and battery performers. I recollect that on the 17th November, I was sitting with three young ladies on the ridge of San Domingo, alternately watching the distant thrashing which Espartero was receiving from Villarreal at the bridge of Castrejana, and the storming of the Convent of San Agustin by the Arragonese just below us. These three girls were very pretty; but the three years' war had so deranged the equilibrium of beaux and belles in Biscay, that they were promenading without an escort till I offered my services. I found two of them particularly well-informed in the topography of the town and suburbs, forts and batteries; which they accounted for incidentally, by observing that they lived there (pointing out a pretty country-house in Uribarri beneath); but five cannon shot having passed through it the other day, they had come on a visit to their friend up here, and would probably remain with her till the siege was over!"
War produces not only strange intimacies, but forces people to extraordinary shifts and occupations. Our author says that whole villages were encamped upon the hills which surrounded or flanked the amphitheatre where the siege in question occurred, and that the women who were far more zealous partizans than the men, would rise from their beds at night, though miles across the mountains, to the succour of the wounded Carlists, on a hint being communicated that such required their services after an attack of the besieging column, or a sortie from the town. The effects described in the next extract must have been wonderful indeed; they are also admirably re-echoed in the narrative.
"The valley of the Bilbao river or Ria Nervion, (the long western vale of operations), is of a whimsically tortuous figure, not unlike the great
brass serpent in the royal Spanish band; and like it, was, while the siege lasted, a very fine musical instrument, whose compass and execution continually attracted my admiration. Unlike the serpent, however, it was played at each end (Morro and Portugalete), as well as at a variety of intermediate points:-Miravalles, Begoña, Campo Volantin, Burseña, Banderas, Bilbao, Monte de Cabras, San Nicolás, San Agustin, San Mamès, San Vincento, and a number of other saintly stations, where cannons and mortars of all calibres were daily practising their gamut with all imaginary shakes, graces, and variations,' accomplishing the most 'difficult effects,' and awakening echoes that, like some self-satisfied amateurs, once set a going, could not stop themselves. Every ravine had its peculiar note, heard to the greatest advantage at the upper extremity; where, often, while traversing the summit paths, the airy concussions have rushed up with abrupt velocity, taking me by surprise and striking upon my ear with a startling violence! There was one ravine leading up to the old windmill of San Domingo, the sides of which, feathered with pines and firs, gave birth to some comically aspirated sounds, that when repeated continuously, produced strange sardonic guttural laughing intonations, worthy of incorporation in the demoniac scenas of Der Freischütz, or Robert le Diable. I shall never forget the shrill fiendish scream that issued from San Francisco's warning belfrey, when just as it was enunciating one, two, three,' for a shell-a sacrilegious Carlist ball dashed in-sending the fragments singing and shrieking over the city! (N. B. San Francisco, in revenge, mounted a steeple-gun next day, which spit spitefully.) Different and still more recherché results were perceptible when the auditor took a seat at the mouth of a ravine under the line of balls coming either from muskets or cannon; but the disadvantage of this position was, that one could not exactly tell when the performance was over, and the sittings, therefore, were sometimes disagreeably long. Again, those erratic discords, the shells, often fell (like fellows thrown over) into the very pit among the critics. However, in time we became acquainted with the compass of every piece in the valley, (that is, every note of the Serpent), and could tell which was struck (or was striking) with tolerable precision; always making the needful allowance for the double charge which the Christino players habitually employed. I made some interesting discoveries on the effects of mixed echoes and the laws of their consecutive prolongations, as well as on the undulatory progression of projectiles; but I left in such haste on Christmas morning, that my theories thereanent are as yet quite unpresentable.
“The illumined spectacle by night was frequently far better worth attending to than that enacted by day. In the October siege, the bombardment in the dark was splendid beyond description; the burning suburb of Goyerri was frightfully grand. In the recent operations, the illuminations were still more extensive. The convents of Burseña and San Agustin blazed for two nights each; the former burned by the Carlists to deprive Espartero of a stronghold; the latter bombarded by the town to drive out the Arragonese who had taken it by storm. The night exhibitions of the shells and granades sent by the garrison into the new batteries, among the engineers and workmen, was magnificent. They certainly did a great deal of mischief, levelling parapets as fast as they
were raised; but still one could not help admiring them as they came, 'describing that beautiful figure, a parabola,' (as Geoffrey Crayon has it, for the consolation of the 'grown horsemen,' his pupils, who might be flung right-a-head out of the saddle). The Carlist soldiers at last became so familiarized with their appearance, that they received them as ordinary visitors, troublesome indeed, but who, nevertheless, would not be denied."
So much for the sport of war, which, if we are to suppose the author to be in earnest, was to be this season in its continued operations an object to attract many British spectators to its theatre, and to produce a re-action in John Bull's mind in favour of the Carlist cause. To all such, we inform our readers, he volunteers certain pieces of advice which is meant for their guidance in making such a tour, only one sentence of which we quote; and this we do on account of its obvious wisdom. In preparation for such an enterprise, "throw aside your night-gown and slippers; abandon all your lingering hopes of travellers' comforts with a good grace; make your will, insure your life; find your way in the dark over the Pyrenees to Vera or Lugaramurdi; and then, having got at once into the midst of danger and hardship, you will soon learn to appreciate a thousand enjoyments that before passed unnoticed or despised." These temptations and the re-action in British opinion, however, we believe, have not yet proved so powerful as to very greatly increase the number of our countrymen who have visited the Basque Provinces. Still to any one who has such an object in view, we can safely recommend these volumes as containing much useful and entertaining information. But if any such adventurer have a matrimonial speculation in view, it is neither dower nor beauty that he is likely to find among the Basque ladies, with a description of whom we close this paper.
"Exposure to sun and air, without any shade to their features, gives all the elderly female peasants the appearance of being one flesh with the male, both being thoroughly tanned; but the younger ones, who are not so much exposed, present occasionally complexions of a ruddy bloom, that would attract admiration even in England; features finely chiselled, of a singular nobleness and delicacy (especially in that wild valley, encircled by leagues of mountains, containing Ascoytia, Aspetia, and the spendid church of Loyala), with dark eyes of a power rarely to be found in our northern latitudes, and which appear to owe much of their singular force to the contrast afforded by the habitual repose of the other features. some countenances, this strange diversity of expression produces an effect more startling than agreeable. The lower part of the face may be fixed and pallid; in short, half dead; while the eyes are mobile and brilliant, as if something more than alive! I cannot explain the cause, not understanding the physiology of the matter. However, the Basque sculptors and carvers study the effect to good purpose, and all their churches present the Madona and the favourite Santa of the place as veritable Basque beauties of the highest grade; the pouting lips (which, when they do
smile, present a copia of graceful meanings with a varying power of expression that must be seen to be appreciated) forming the most distinctive characteristic. A French woman can smile with her shoulders, eyebrows and teeth, without the aid of lips, but the beautiful Basque paysana can do infinitely more by the mere relaxation of hers, and speakingly pourtray all the phases of amiability and intelligence without opening her mouth. There is no affectation in the matter; it is pure power. The ecclesiastical sculptors evidently regard it as a heavenly endowment, and reclaim as much of its divine expression for the cherubs and archangels as their imitative ability can compass, without distinction of sex. The traveller need not therefore, be surprised to find a very strong family likeness in the countenances of Santos Miguel, Rafael Gabriel, &c., for on analysing the matter, he will discover that they are all wrought on the model of the graceful feminine features of Biscay and Guipuscoa."
ART. II.-Narrative of an Expedition to the East Coast of Greenland, sent by order of the King of Denmark, in search of the Lost Colonists, under the command of Captain W. A. Graah, of the Danish Royal Navy. Knight of Dannebrog, &c. Translated by G. GORDON MACDOUGAL, F. R. S., N. A. London: Parker. 1837.
MANY centuries ago, certain Icelandic colonists settled in Greenland, who were governed by Icelandic laws, and, in religious matters, by bishops. So late as the year 1409, there are notices of one of these dignitaries officiating at a marriage in that country. But the aboriginal inhabitants, the Esquimaux, and certain foreign fleets, seem, from time to time, to have dispersed or cut off these settlers, so that, at last, all trace of them has been lost. Numerous attempts, however, have been made to discover their descendants, especially by the Danes, but all without satisfying the curiosity or the humanity of the instigators and adventurers in these enterprises, and, indeed, without bringing to light any thing more considerable than certain ruins and monuments which certainly bear records of the colonists in question. Captain Graah is the last who has undertaken this perilous office, having left Copenhagen, on the 30th March, 1828, accompanied by certain scientific personages, for the prosecution of the expedition; but the light which he has thrown on the principal object of the enterprise is only of a negative sort, in so far as the east coast of Greenland is concerned, which was the scene of his particular investigations; for though he remained in this quarter for a year and a half, no evidences of Icelandic colonization met his eye there, neither had the natives a knowledge of any. The conclusion at which he arrives is, therefore, that it was the western coast where the Icelanders settled in former times, and this the still existing relics fully testify; and also that the old chorographers have been entirely in error in supposing that the eastern coast, in like