A 'Price One Penny' Edition

April 19, 1845

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Towards the middle of the sixteenth century, during the reign of Charles V., the population of Seville—that gay and charming capital of Andalusia1—had become sombre, silent, and mournful.

Vainly did the Moorish city, with its vast terraces shaded by verdant plants and gorgeous flowers, court the rays of the resplendent orb of light. Gloom spread over scenes once so laughter-loving; and a mysterious melancholy pervaded the elegant balconies, where creeping vines, red passion-flowers, and Virginian jessamine, with large corollas of golden hue, imparted perfume and freshness to the air, and charmed the eye.

And by night—mystic hours of love and adventure in the sunny south—no longer were heard, beneath those balconies, the voices of amorous cavaliers and courtly gallants,—voices that were wont to mingle with the dulcet sounds of the guitar. And if, when the sun had sunk to rest, and the heavens shone with myriad stars,—if, at that delicious time, a few timid maidens ventured to appear upon the terraces, to inhale the fresh and perfumed breeze which blew from the banks of the Quadalquiver2, they moved hither and thither with the silence and solemnity of visionary shadows; while no sound, save peradventure a stifled sigh, escaped their lips—sighs in the place of the joyous laughter and the harmonious melody of language which, in the mouth of woman, gives the Spanish tongue a semblance of a sonorous music.

For a long time had terror reared its mournful standard in Seville!

There were no more familiar gossipings—no more patriarchal meetings: distrust, and fear paralysed the sweetest and softest sentiments of the soul.

The father looked with suspicion upon the son; the brother cast a searching glance upon the brother; the friend seemed to doubt the friend; for at that epoch every one trembled lest he should discover a traitor and a spy in him who was nearest and dearest to him.

No one was assured of his fortune and his life. People lived from day to day, daring to place confidence in nothing—crashing, stifling all generous feelings and noble sentiments at the bottom of their hearts. They sought no consolation, and placed no hope in the exercise of religion. The face of the Almighty seemed averted from them; —for none could safely venture to invoke his name with freedom of conscience, because there was a possibility of expressing a prayer or manifesting a faith not recognised by the law!

And, at that epoch, there was a “Sacred Usurper” of all religious rights and privileges, according to whose system Man was to worship God only in one settled form, and according to whose principles its own establishment upon the earth was a reflection of the divine supremacy. This institution arrogated to itself infinite power, and exercised a despotic control over soul and body,—a pitiless tyrant that sought, by all possible means to reach its one grand aim—UNIVERSAL DOMINION!

For the Inquisition was at that epoch in the zenith of its power!

Its chief was the Cardinal Alphonso Maurico Archbishop of Seville3.

The Grand Inquisidor and His Guests

The palace of the Grand Inquisidor, Peter Arbuez, was an immense and sumptuous Moorish edifice, formerly inhabited by the King of Seville4. A magnificent garden, planted with the most lovely flowers and the choicest trees, communicated with an isolated pavilion that had originally served as a bathing-establishment. The voluptuous Arbuez had turned it to another use.

This pavilion, situate at a distance from the main building, and concealed as it were amidst a dense mass of foliage, was the place where the Grand Inquisidor revelled with his most favoured friends. Bishops and monks—men as dissolute as any that were to be found upon the face of the earth—there gave vent, during nights of debauchery, to the brutal passions which devoured them. Throwing from them like a heavy upper garment, the restraint of the cross and the cowl,5 and plunging headlong into the most shameless dissipation, the “holy fathers” on those occasions indulged in the most filthy discourse, gave vent to the most licentious conversation, and conducted themselves in a manner that would have shamed the most abandoned lay-man.

These monks reserved for their nocturnal orgies all that the habitual restraint of their calling necessarily impressed upon their moral facilities. It was a torrent swollen by all the obstacles which it encountered on its passage,—by all the mundane impurities which its impetuous current dragged along with it.

Some of these priests were, however, conscientious and sincere in their fanatic love and admiration of the Holy Inquisition!

It was midnight.

In the solitary pavilion which we have described above, and in a splendid apartment, was spread a sumptuous table. The floor of that saloon was formed of delicate arabesques—the most costly work of Moorish artists. Upon the walls brilliant frescoes represented fruits and flowers of all kinds, imitating Nature so well as almost to render her jealous, and forming the frame-work for pannels which the artistical taste of the Inquisidors had ornamented with the most voluptuous scenes of the heathen mythology.

Here was Clytia6, half-naked—reclining upon a bed of flowers, and raising her burning and impassioned orbs towards the sun with amorous aspirations. There was Jupiter, the licentious immortal, disporting in the waves on which Leda sailed in the form of a swan;7 and there also was Venus, that voluptuous goddess, the whole phases of whose life were episodes of sensual enjoyment.8

The wines of Xeres (Sherry), Tintarrota, and Malaga9, crowned the goblets of the priests assembled in that saloon, around the table.

The eyes of Peter Arbuez burned with unusual fire: and the countenances of his companions were all flushed with deep potations10.

“Do you know, holy fathers,” said the lord Arbuez “that the Pope—the porter of heaven—forges without ceasing new keys to guard the avenues of this fine country, and augment for us the joys of the earth? Behold the Inquisition now established in Portugal11; and in a short time there will not be a corner of the globe which our dominion cannot reach.”

“So much the better,” said the archbishop of Toledo12. “The Inquisition is a mill where bad grain is ground and converted into good Spanish doubloons13 for our benefit.”

“And the doubloons purchase celestial joys in the shape of delicious feasts,” said a Dominican priest.

“So much so, that it is better to be Grand Inquisidor than the Pope himself,” observed Arbuez.

“And then a Pope must necessarily be so old,” exclaimed a young priest who was as beautiful as a charming girl, and was the favourite of the lord Arbuez.

“It is better to be a novice in a convent of Dominicans, is it not, Joseph?” demanded the Grand Inquisidor, caressing with his white hand the head of the young priest.

“It is much better to be the slave of your Eminence,” replied the novice, with a feigned humility.

“The Pope sows and we reap,” said the archbishop of Toledo. “And while he gapes with his cardinals, we gather in the fields of Venus all the most charming flowers of love that we encounter in our way.”

“I am not even compelled to stoop down to pluck those flowers,” exclaimed the Bishop of Malaga14. “The superior of the convent of Barefooted Carmelites15 takes upon herself that little duty for me; and the first-fruits of her garden are my tribute.”

“When a young woman pleases me,” said the Archbishop of Toledo, “I get her carried off by the Society of the Garduna16.”

“An excellent institution too!” cried the Grand Inquisidor; “and one which we must protect, my lords, with all our energies. From the moment when the Society of the Garduna shall exist no more in Spain, farewell to our pleasures and our vengeance.”

“I do not agree with you,” said another Inquisidor: “nothing can equal the skill and alacrity of the familiars of the Holy Office17 for carrying off young girls or putting obnoxious people out of the way. The word ‘INQUISITION’ is the guarantee and safe-guard for all their actions: no one will dare to murmur.”

“These self-sufficient guests of mine,” said Peter Arbuez, in a whisper to the novice Joseph, whose profound pallor contrasted strangely with the gaiety of his manners, “are more intoxicated with vanity than with the delicious wines which I have served up to them.”

“And thus, my lord, your Eminence is the master of them all,” said the novice also in a low tone; “you have preserved your reason in the midst of the orgie, and you treat with calmness those things of which they boast in their ebriety.”

“Well” said the Archbishop of Toledo, “after all Seville is famous for beautiful women; and I do firmly believe that none is more lovely than the charming Dolorez Argoso, the daughter of the governor.”

Arbuez made a movement of surprise.

“Oh, as for that,” said a monk, “I believe her to be an impregnable citadel: I have twice heard her at confession; and I suspect that she has something of the heretic about her.”

“What a beautiful heretic to burn!” cried the Bishop of Malaga.

At that moment a heavy door opened at the end of the apartment, and a familiar approached the Grand Inquisidor.

“The Question by Water is about to be administered, my lord,” said the man.

The Grand Inquisidor arose, made a sign to Joseph to follow him, and, after apologising to his guests for his temporary absence, left the room, attended by the novice.

The Torture by Water

When the Grand Inquisidor, the Lord Arbuez, attended by Joseph, entered the prisons of the Inquisition at midnight, the corridors were filled with people.

Two torturers, dressed in black cloaks, with tall pointed caps of the same sombre material on their heads, the fronts of which caps descended like masks over their countenances, with two holes perforated for the use of their eyes,—these two torturers, we say, were lashing and driving before them a number of prisoners, of both sexes.

One of the women,—tall, handsome, and well-made, although her countenance was marked with traces of acute suffering,—held between her brilliant white teeth a gag which prevented her from giving utterance to a sound of agony.

All the prisoners—men and women alike—were naked down to the waist; and their shoulders, lacerated by the whips of the torturers, were covered with marks of a violet colour: but, in spite of the fearful agony which they endured beneath those vindictive scourges, none dared to give vent to even a murmur of complaint.

Torch-bearers accompanied this mournful procession—the lurid glare streaming upon pale and haggard countenances, and the dishevelled hair and naked bosoms of the hapless females!

The Inquisidor passed in front of the procession, without appearing in the least degree affected: Joseph alone shuddered internally with heart-felt pity.

The tall handsome female who was gagged, walked last in the rank of victims.

When she passed by Peter Arbuez, she fixed her glance upon him; and, although her tongue could not utter a word, her large black eyes, flaming and terrible, their natural brilliancy being now heightened by the deadly pallor of her countenance,—those black eyes, piercing as arrows, and full of hatred, despair, and vengeance, seemed to say to the Inquisidor, “Do you not recognize me?”

Yes—Peter Arbuez had recognised her—in spite of the horrible alteration which had taken place in her countenance.

“Francesca,” he murmured in a low tone; and his glance fell beneath the overwhelming looks of those vengeful black eyes.

The Abbess of the Carmelites18 (for such was the rank of this beautiful victim) could not speak; but she raised her eyes towards heaven as if to summon her executioner—the Grand Inquisidor himself—to the tribunal of that Great Judge who favours none!

The Inquisidor passed onward to the torture room, followed by the novice Joseph.

Peter Arbuez and that young man were now about to contemplate a spectacle far more exciting and fertile in sensations than the punishment of the scourge!

The torture-room was a large apartment underground, vaulted, hung with black cloth, and lighted by one immense lamp at the end. At one end was an enclosed place, like a closet, where the Inquisidor in attendance (for there were several Inquisidors attached to the establishment, under the Grand Inquisidor Arbuez) usually sate. Thus the place itself seemed to the poor prisoners the very mansion of death, everything being calculated to inspire terror.

When the Grand Inquisidor and Joseph entered the chamber of torture, the sbirri19 conducted into that fearful place a young and lowly woman of a pallor deathlike as marble, and so weak and feeble that she could scarcely sustain herself. Her hollow eyes, endowed with an angelic sweetness of expression, seemed to implore mercy—to demand leniency!

When she was in the presence of the Grand Inquisidor, she made an effort to join her hands together—those hands that were of ivory whiteness, and so thin they seemed almost transparent.

“My child!” she murmured in a voice scarcely audible with such difficulty could her tongue articulate those two words!

“My daughter,” said the Grand Inquisidor, in that soft and yet impressive tone of voice which he so well knew how to assume, “your sister is a Lutheran, and you are accused of having encouraged her in her apostacy20.”

“It is false! it is false!” answered the unhappy mother with all the energy which her state of weakness and misery permitted her to exert.

“Have you nothing to say to support that denial?”

“My child! give me my child! let them restore to me my child!” repeated the wretched creature in a tone of the most acute anguish.

The child which she thus claimed with feelings of so appalling an agony, was scarcely a week old; for that poor mother, imprisoned while she yet bore it in her bosom, had been subjected to the “question” immediately after her deliverance, as her lacerated wrists and ankles attested.

But, labouring as she did under so grave an accusation as that of having encouraged her sister to embrace Protestantism and escape into Germany, how could the Holy Office show too much rigour towards her?

Neither her tears nor prayers—though they were both touching enough to melt a rock—moved the iron heart of Peter Arbuez. Joseph, alone, concealed beneath his calm exterior a terrible and profound emotion. His heart palpitated violently, oppressed by an immense amount of commiseration. He was compelled to call to his aid all his strength—that strength of mind which he had acquired only by years of dissimulation—not to burst forth into sobs and imprecations.

Arbuez, on the contrary, as if tears and sorrows were to be his eternal aliment,—and anxious moreover to display his seal in favour of the Catholic faith by persecuting heretics with unmitigated vengeance,—Arbuez made a sign.

His torturers immediately seized their victim. Two strong and vigorous men brought a framework of wood into the chamber.

This horrible instrument, which may be termed the WOODEN HORSE, was hollowed out like a trough, so as to receive a human being lying on his back at full length; but it was without any other bottom than a round bar laid across, which was so situated that the back of the victim rested in the bar, while, by the peculiar construction the machine, the feet of the wretch to be tortured were raised higher than the head.

The unhappy young woman was placed in this apparatus, her arms, body, and ankles were made fast to the sides by thin but strong cords, which, being tightened by means of rack-pins in the same manner precisely as carriers tighten the ropes that fasten down the loads in their carts, cut almost into her very bones, and in the parts where they touched the flesh were no longer discernible.

The sufferer being in this situation—the most unfavourable that could be imagined for performing the function of respiration—there was inserted deep into her throat a piece of fine moistened linen, upon which an attenuated stream, or threadlike rill of water was poured from an earthen vessel through an aperture so small that little more than a pint could have been instilled during an hour. In this state the patient could find no interval for respiration. Every instant that she made an effort to swallow, hoping to give passage to a little air, the moistened linen was there to obstruct the attempt; and as the water entered at the same time by the nostrils, it is easy to conceive how this infernal contrivance added to the difficulty of performing the most important functions of life.

A surgeon sate by, and contemplated the victim with earnest attention.

“Hold!” he exclaimed, when he perceived that life was just upon the point of ebbing away.

The cords were instantly cut, the linen was withdrawn from the throat, and the victim was lifted to a couch close at hand. Blood oozed from the poor creatures mouth; for several of the minor vessels of the lungs, and the parts adjoining, were ruptured.

“The question is commenced, but not finished,” said the Grand Inquisidor.

At that moment a familiar entered, bowed lowly to the lord Arbuez, and whispered something in his ear.

“Dolorez!” exclaimed the Grand Inquisidor; and hurried from the chamber of torture, closely followed by the novice Joseph.

Charles V. (1500-1508) King of Spain under the name Carlos I (1516-1555) and Holy Roman Emperor (1519-1556). The son of Philip I of Castile, known as Philip the Handsome, and Joanna of Castile (daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile), he united through inheritance the possessions of the Habsburg in Austria, of the Valois in the Netherlands and France (Burgundy), and those of Castile and Aragon in Spain, Italy, and the Americas.

Andalusia Region of the south of Spain, comprising Gibraltar and under Mauresque rule from 711 until the Castilian Reconquista reached Grenada in 1492.

Quadalquiver (spelt Guadalquivir both in Spanish and in English) River flowing through Córdoba, the Sierra Morena, and Seville before it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.
Cardinal Alphonso Maurico Archbishop of Seville Alfonso Manrique de Lara (1471/6-1538) was archbishop of Seville (1524), cardinal (1529), and Grand Inquisitor (1523).

Reynolds has removed the date on which the action takes place: 15 February 1534.

Inquisidor Spanish spelling of ‘inquisitor’ which Reynolds adopts throughout his translation.

Peter Arbuez Pedro Arbués (1441-1485), named inquisitor of the Kingdom of Aragon the year before he died, was assassinated and considered as a martyr. He is thus out of place in sixteenth-century Seville, as Cuendías acknowledges in a footnote to be quoted in due time.

King of Seville The muslim Taifa (kingdom) of Seville was founded in 1023, reaching in its maximum expansion in 1078 from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. It was ruled by three successive ‘Kings’ of Seville of the Arab Abbadid family. The third and last king was deposed in 1091 by the Berber dynasty of the Almoravids. They had been called from Morocco to defeat the Castilian king, succeeded, and proceeded to occupy all the Islamic taifas. They were succeeded by the Almohad, also a Berber dynasty, in the twelfth century. Saint Ferdinand III of Castile conquered Seville in 1248.

The royal palace Alcázar, here portrayed as the Inquisitor’s palace, was built on the grounds of a fort which had been serving as royal residence dating back to the eighth century, when the Arabs defeated the Visigoths. It hosted Charles V’s wedding.

cowl ‘A garment with a hood [...] covering the head and shoulders’ (OED)
Clytia Oceanid from Greek mythology (she appears in Hesiod’s Theogony, 352) and one of the sun’s lovers, she was abandoned and proceeded to lie on the ground, dishevelled, without eating or drinking for nine days, following the sun’s course, and transformed into a heliotrope (a flowering plant which turns its leaves to the sun). Ovid recounts her tale in Metamorphoses, IV, 169-270.
Jupiter...Leda...swan Mistranslated (and deleted) passage. The French reads: ‘Jupiter, cet éternel débauché, se jouant dans les ondes auprès de Léda, sous la forme d’un cygne, exprimant dans les attitudes les moins voilés l’ardeur de plaisirs qui le dévorait [expressing in lascivious attitudes the ardor of lust which consumed him]’ (p. 49-50) [p. 35]. Leda was mortal, daughter of Thestius, king of Aetolia, and wife of Tyndareus, king of Sparta. Jupiter seduced her by metamorphosing himself into a swan, and the union produced, amongst others, Helen of Troy.
Venus, that voluptuous goddess Venus had lovers, including Mars and the mortal Adonis, as opposed to goddesses such as Juno and Minerva, but nowhere as many as male gods. The French text calls her ‘la grande prostituée [the great prostitute]’ (p. 50) [p. 35].
Xeres (Sherry), Tintarrota, and Malaga ‘Xérès’ and ‘sherry’ are respectively the French and English translations for ‘vino de Jerez’, fortified white wine from the Andalusian city of Jerez de la Frontera, in the province of Cádiz, south of the province of Seville. ‘Tinta rota’, or ‘tent’ in English, is a strong, sweet-flavoured, red wine from Rota, also in the province of Cádiz. Málaga, which produces a sweet fortified wine, is the capital of the Andalusian province of the same name, also south of the province of Sevilla but east of that of Cádiz. The translation leaves out from the enumeration ‘la liqueur du bananier, récemment importée d’Amérique [the juice of the banana, recently imported from America]’ (p. 50) [p. 35].
potations ‘Overindulgence in alcoholic beverages; excessive drinking.’ (OED)
‘The author here commits a voluntary anachronism. The inquisition was not established in Portugal till 1551 or 1552, by the false nuncio’ (p. 35†). Juan Pérez de Saavedra ‘was an intriguer highly celebrated on account of his skill in counterfeiting all sorts of hand-writings. It was he, who, aided by a Jesuit, established the inquisition and the Society of Jesus in Portugal, by means of forged bulls of the Pope, and false letters of Charles V. and the prince Philip, afterwards Philip II. […] The inquisitor Tabera finally had this wretch arrested as he was coming out of a church in Malaga, and the inquisition […] contended itself by condemning this miscreant to the galleys for ten years’ (p. 9*).
archbishop of Toledo The action is meant to take place on 15 February 1534. Alonso de Fonseca y Ulloa (born 1476), who had occupied the position, died on 4 February of the same year, and was succeeded by Juan Pardo de Tavera (1472-1545). The authors probably had no particular man in mind. The archbishop of Toledo is also Primate of Spain, the head of all Spanish bishops.
doubloons ‘A Spanish gold coin, originally double the value of a pistole’ (OED). Weighing 6.77 grams, it is currently worth roughly 300 USD.
Bishop of Malaga César Riario (1480-1540) was named Bishop of Malaga in 1519.
Barefooted Carmelites Mendicant religious order dating back to the late 12th century.
The confraternity of the Garduña, a brotherhood of rapine. Under this title, there has existed a secret society in Spain, since the year 1417, composed of all kinds of brigands. This society, perfectly organized, had for its object the performance on a grand scale of all sorts of crimes, for the benefit of any one who had revenge to execute or resentment to satisfy. It undertook for the lowest price, and warranted, to inflict wounds with the poniard, mortal or not, according to the wish of the employer, to drown, to give a bastinado, and even to assassinate. Assassination cost a high price, and a certain consequence was requisite to procure it, but once promised, it might be depended on; for the brotherhood of the Garduña laid a desperate stress upon serving its customers, so soon as it had made an engagement.

The brotherhood of the Garduña was composed of a grand master, called hermano mayor, superior brother, who occupied the court, in which he frequently held an eminent position. This superior brother sent his orders to the capatazes, masters of provinces: the latter had them executed with a precision and zeal, which would de honour to many a public functionary.

The membership of the Garduña which was very numerous, was composed of guapos, a kind of bravos, usually great bullies, bold assassins, and consummate bandits, whose courage was proof against the rack and even the gibbet. In the lingo of the society, these guapos were called puntadores, pointers, such as gave sharp blows. Next to these came the floreadores, the skirmishers: these were young people, adroit thieves, for the most part such as had escaped from the jails of Seville, Malaga or Melilla [Spanish city hemmed in Morocco]: they were called brothers postulant. After these came the fuelles, the bellows, so called because their office in the society was to blow in the ear of the master of the order what they knew of families in the city, where they introduced themselves, by virtue of the hypocritical exterior. The fuelles were all old men of a saintly aspect, who might be seen always at church, chaplet in hand, excepting during the hours of service appointed by the master of the Garduña or the inquisition; for the greater part of these old men combined the employment of familiar of the holy office with that of a spy of the Garduña. The Garduña had also a great number of female receivers of stolen goods, who were called coberteras, lids, from the verb cubrir, to cover, conceal; and a large body of young people from ten to fifteen years of age, who were designated by the name of chivatos, roebucks. The chivatos were the novices of the order. It was necessary to be a chivato, at least for one year, in order to merit the honour of working in the quality of a postulant. A postulant who had done the brotherhood good service became a guapo at the end of two years of probation. This was the highest grade which the society conferred, after that of master and grand master. Besides the people just mentioned, the Garduña counted a large number of Serenas, sirens. These were young and pretty women, chiefly gypsies. The Serenas were the odaliskes of the big caps of the order. They attracted persons who were designated, to places favorable for the operations of the Garduña. To all this personnel, add the alguazils, the secretaries, procurers, monks, prebendaries, and even bishops and inquisitors, who were as much instruments as they were protectors of the Garduña, or which they often stood in need, or who gave them money, and we shall have an idea of this society which desolated Spain for more than four centuries.

The Garduña established at the commencement of the fifteenth century was entirely destroyed by the mountain hunters under my orders. The papers of this strange and horrible society, consisting of several registers containing the orders of the day, the statute of the brotherhood, and a great number of letters were deposited by me in the criminal register of Seville, Sept. 15, 1821. They were still there in 1823. Francisco Cortina, who was mater of this society in 1821, arrested with a score of his accomplices, was hung in the square of Seville, and also sixteen of his fellow criminals, November 25, 1822.’ (p. 13*)

Concerning the hoax which the Garduña constitutes, see Introduction.

familiars of the Holy Office ‘An officer of the Inquisition, chiefly employed in arresting and imprisoning the accused.’ (OED) ‘“This strange militia,” says Llorente, in his History of the Inquisition, “was very numerous; Torrequemada had shown himself so cruel, he had encouraged spies and informers to such an extent, that a great number of distinguished gentlemen, deeming it more prudent to belong to the inquisition than sooner or later to be declared suspected, voluntarily offered themselves as familiars of the holy office: the example of the nobility attracted a throng of the lower orders. Soon there were as many familiars as there were persons subject to municipal taxes, from which every individual belonging to the inquisition was exempt.

The armed familiars composed what was called the Militia of Christ. This militia performed the duty of body guard, both to the general and the provincial inquisitors.”

The Militia of Christ was organized in France by Dominique de Guzman, A.D. 1508, during the reign of Philip II., King of France, and Pope Innocent III.’ (p. 10*)

Abbess of the Carmelites Francesca de Lerme ‘is not a historical personage, but only a type, or personification of abbesses of that period, and even of some in our day.’ (p. 100*)
sbirri Plural of sbirro, ‘An Italian police officer.’ (OED)
apostacy ‘Abandonment or renunciation of one’s religious faith or moral allegiance.’ (OED)
Up: The Mysteries of the Inquisition. Next: April 26, 1845
Victorine Subervic and Manuel de Cuendías. Date: 1 July 2013