A 'Price One Penny' Edition

June 14, 1845

Up: The Mysteries of the Inquisition. Previous: June 7, 1845 Next: June 21, 1845

The Return to Seville

When the Apostle had visited with Stephen the poorest villages in the neighbourhood of Seville, he determined to make an end of his tour, which had already lasted some weeks. He was anxious concerning Dolorez; and as the feast of Pentecost was near at hand,—the epoch at which was celebrated the auto-de-fa,—he thought that the moment had now arrived when strenuous endeavours should be made to save the unfortunate Count Manuel Argoso, or at all events consolations should be offered to Dolorez in case those exertions proved ineffectual.

Stephen shared all the fears of the Apostle; and the dangers which might await them at Seville were a very feeble consideration for those two courageous men. They only trembled for their own liberty, because it was so valuable in the service of others.

They accordingly turned their steps homewards, and soon approached the Moorish city—on foot, like the prophets of Judea, whiling away the time and lightening the fatigues of their journey with wholesome and profitable discourse, so that they naturally encouraged each other as they pursued their pilgrimage. The impetuous ardour of Stephen was calmed by the gentle authority of John of Avila: from him the young man learnt patience and resignation.

It was now six o’clock in the evening.

An immense crowd of people rolled through the streets, for it was the hour when the numerous monasteries of Seville distributed “Melopia”—as the relics of their own repasts were called—to the mendicants and vagabonds of the city.72 After the monks had taken everything away from those unfortunate creatures, the least they could do was to give them something to eat.

Stephen and the Apostle were at this moment opposite a monastery of the Order of Mercy.73 The multitude was dense in that street, for Seville swarmed with mendicants; and, in his anxiety to be the first served, each one endeavoured to force for himself a passage at the expense of his neighbour; so that the crowd completely barred the way.

“Let us stop a moment,” said John of Avila; “we will wait until those poor hungry creatures have appeased the cravings of their appetite.”

They retreated a few steps, and stood against a wall, so that they could behold all that passed without being in any person’s way. In a few minutes that multitude of persons became quite compact: they pushed one against the other, until they were quite packed close, as it were. A confused murmuring of a thousand voices was heard—the predominant sounds being those of impatience. Suddenly a profound silence fell upon the crowd: the door of the monastery opened; and thenceforth came two lay-brethren, carrying between them an enormous copper cauldron, filled with the broth, scraps, and refuse of the ecclesiastical meals.

Then every arm was agitated convulsively—waving in the air the wooden bowls that were to receive the rations. The silence was broken by hoarse cries and furious ejaculations: one would have supposed that all those unfortunate creatures were about to rush upon the cauldron, and devour its contents. One of the lay brethren, armed with an enormous iron ladle, and clothed in a frock so greasy that the original colour could not be ascertained, now prepared to dole out the rations.

“Range yourselves!” he ejaculated in a thundering tone of voice.

The multitude fell back, and formed itself into ranks, murmuring curses at the delay, like dogs growling over bones.

“Silence!” roared the lay brother; and now the distribution commenced.

As all the wooden bowls were of the same size, no one could complain that he had less than another. There was a complete impartiality in the distribution of the melopia; and the mendicants appeared well contented with their shares.

“What an extraordinary ragout, that appears to be,” said Stephen to the Apostle.

“Yes—strange indeed, if you knew what it is composed of,” added the Apostle.

“Of what is it made, holy father?”

“When the monks have dined,” continued the Apostle, “they throw to those poor creatures the bones which they cannot pick. The mendicants are their dogs. The lay-brethren empty all the monks’ plates into that cauldron,—asparagus of which the tops alone are bitten off,—the rind of bacon,—the heads of fish,—the feet of poultry,— the lumps of fat which ecclesiastical daintiness cannot manage.—and all the offal of the kitchen. This mess is boiled together, with oil and onions; and then it is doled forth.”

“What an indignity!” cried Stephen.

“And this melopia enables at least one quarter of the population of Spain to exist. Otherwise they would starve, because all the produce of labour and all the wealth of the country flow into the treasury of the monks.”

The melopia was served out—the people finished their rations—and the crowd dispersed. John of Avila and Stephen then pursued their way together.

“Pray to the Virgin that no harm has happened to Dolorez during our absence!” suddenly exclaimed Stephen.

“Amen!” said the Apostle, and crossed himself.

“And that those wretches,” added Stephen, pointing towards the towers of the Inquisition, “have not perpetrated a second outrage upon the unfortunate Don Manuel. Ah! holy father, what noble conduct was that on your part, when you proceeded to those horrible walls as a witness in his favour!”

“I did my duty,” said the Apostle meekly. “Fortunate it was that Graciosa had been applied to by some generous officer of the Inquisition to find one witness favourable to the count.”

At that moment he felt some one pull the sleeve of his habit; and, turning round, he recognised Culevrina.

“Pardon me, holy father,” said the young woman; “but I have been to your house and found no one there.”

“What is the matter?” demanded Stephen, who immediately apprehended some evil tidings of Dolorez.

“Your Reverence must be informed,” said Culevrina, addressing herself to the Apostle, “that the young lady whom you have taken under your protection, went a few days ago to the tavern kept by Graciosa in Gipsies’ Alley.”

“What!” ejaculated the Apostle. “Has Dolorez quitted the convent?”

“I know nothing of all that.” replied the serena: “all I can say is that I saw her enter the tavern with my own eyes.”

“Are you well assured of that?” demanded Stephen with profound anxiety.

“As I am assured of my own existence and certain death,” answered Culevrina. “I know her perfectly well, although she was dressed in a mean garb, like a daughter of the people.”

“O God! what new misfortune has happened?” cried Stephen.

“Alas! when will these persecutions cease?” said the Apostle.

“Let us hasten to that tavern,” exclaimed Don Stephen de Vargas.

“Imprudent youth! do you not know that it is the place where the familiars of the Inquisition meet? I will proceed thither alone: or rather we will first send this young woman.”

“I will do anything for your Reverence,” said the serena.

“Go, then, hence to the tavern, and return and tell me what has become of the lady Dolorez.”

“Where shall I find your Reverence?”

“At my own house. Go, daughter—and may God guide thee!”

The serena disappeared on her errand; and the two travellers repaired to the humble dwelling upon the banks of the Guadalquiver.

The Cavalcade

Posterity will admire even more than the present generation that Moorish architecture which is the grand feature of the city of Seville; but its secret is lost to the degenerate Spaniards.74 Near the great square, in a narrow street which ran along one side of the cathedral, was a small low-pitched dwelling, built of red bricks, and decorated with antique ornaments of the kind which characterised the description of architecture above alluded to.75

The front of the house was completely solid:—that is, it had no windows, save a small square aperture, large enough to pass one’s head through, and which was closed by a trap door painted so as to resemble brick work. Thus when this aperture was closed, the front of the house seemed uniformly blank. The door by which ingress and egress were afforded, was at the back of the house; and the windows that lighted the rooms were also in the same part, looking upon a small garden surrounded by high walls. But within that enclosure bloomed some of the sweetest flowers of Andalusia, and some of the most charming exotics of the Mediterranean isles.

The house had been originally built by a Moorish dervise, or santōn;76 hence its strange construction. At the epoch of our tale it was inhabited by an elderly female who was devotedly attached to religion, was constant in her attendance at church, but received no visitors save a young Dominican who was supposed to be her confessor. No one knew from what part of the country she had originally come: she had inhabited that dwelling some years; and as she interfered with no one, no one interfered with her.

It was mid-day; and in the little parlour of this house sate two females, occupied with needle work. One of them was a woman of fifty or upwards, and possessed a grave and serious countenance, which was however marked with a profound melancholy. A painful and mysterious secret seemed to weigh upon that pale forehead, shaded with white hair: a severe moral struggle had evidently enhanced physical decay, by bending that tall form, and planting deep wrinkles upon the brow. This however was the mistress of the house—the person above alluded to as being so pious, and constant in her religious duties. Her name was Juanna.

The other female was in the flower of youth and the bloom of loveliness; but she also was weighed down with sorrow; for this was Dolorez.

Such was the asylum that Joseph had chosen for her. Juanna had been the nurse of the young Dominican.

“We did not see father Joseph yesterday,” suddenly exclaimed the old woman. “I hope he cannot be ill.”

“He will no doubt come to-day,” answered Dolorez. “Did he not promise to bring me tidings of the Apostle?”

“And he will do so,” said Juanna. “Joseph never breaks his word: he is an angel in heart, and always studies how to do good.”

With these words Juanna wiped away the tears that trickled down her cheeks.

“Come, daughter,” said Juanna, after a pause; “it is time for dinner: let us seat ourselves at table.”

“I am not hungry.” returned Dolorez.

“But one must eat in order to live, my dear child,” continued the old woman bitterly: at the same time she spread rice, a dish of mutton, and several plates of fruit upon the table.

Dolorez proceeded to take her seat in obedience to the will of Juanna. The weather was very warm; and all was silent around. In that retreat, it seemed as if the little cottage were situated far distant from the town.

Suddenly the din of trumpets broke upon that solemn and pleasing tranquillity. Dolorez started from her chair in alarm.

“What is the matter?” demanded Juanna.

“Listen,” cried Dolorez: “do you not hear those sounds?”

The din appeared to draw nearer to the house, and grew more and more animated; and presently the sounds were commingled with those of horses’ steps.

“Well, my child,” said Juanna, pretending not to understand the cause of the maiden’s alarm, “of what import is that sound to you?”

“That sound,” returned Dolorez with the emphasis of terror, “announces the triumphal march of the Inquisition. Do you not understand me? The King of the Executioners 77 proceeds in state through the city to announce that he is not inactive, and that his hand will reap a harvest of victims for the approaching auto-de-fa. Again, do you comprehend me?”

“I think you are wrong,” answered Juanna, trembling.

“No—Oh! no,” ejaculated Dolorez. “listen! you will soon perceive that I am right.”

The cavalcade had already reached the great square; and the din of trumpets, which had gradually become distinct, now met the ears of the old woman.

“Come, come,” cried Dolorez, seizing Juanna’s hand and leading her up-stairs to the first floor, “you shall see whether I am right or not.”

When they entered the room where the aperture before-mentioned was formed in the wall, Dolorez hastily opened it.

“What are you doing?” ejaculated the old woman.

“Fear nothing, my mother: no one can see us. The crowd has too much to do in gazing upon the cavalcade of the Grand Inquisidor.”

Juanna, now excited by curiosity in her turn, peeped through the window. The great square was full of people. The Grand Inquisidor, Peter Arbuez, clad in a long purple robe, and mounted on a white steed of purest breed, advanced, followed by his glittering cavalcade. The handsome countenance of that terrible chief of a terrible tribunal, was flushed with an animated glow; and his noble form and haughty bearing impressed the people with reverence and awe.

Behind Peter Arbuez advanced the subordinate inquisidors, clad in black gowns. A body guard of soldiers escorted the inquisitorial procession; while the people knelt and crossed themselves; and every countenance became pale as death.

The Grand Inquisidor halted in the middle of the great square; and, in a tone of voice which he endeavoured to render as meek and yet as penetrating as possible, he exclaimed, “My brethren, this day next month78 the most Holy Inquisition will inflict justice upon the heretics who dishonour the divine religion of the Saviour.”

He paused for a moment, and then continued in these terms:—“A grand auto-de-fa will take place to celebrate the successes of our great king, King Charles the Fifth in Flanders, and to signalise his zeal against heresy. Pray, my brethren, that God may make us acquainted with the haunts of heretics; and ye, O people who now hear me, denounce, I charge ye, all enemies of the most holy Catholic creed and of the Inquisition, if ye would merit the indulgence of his Holiness the Pope!”

“O heavens!” ejaculated Dolorez: “what will become of my father?”

The people responded to the proclamation of the Grand Inquisidor by means of signs of the cross; and the trumpets sounded anew.

“My father—my dear father!” repeated Dolorez: “Oh! what will become of him?”

“Calm yourself,” said Juanna: “Joseph will come presently. Fear nothing.”

Dolorez returned to the window. The cavalcade advanced from the great square towards the street in which the little house was situate.

“Come away from the window,” ejaculated Juanna, “they will pass this way—they will see you. Dolorez! Dolorez! listen to me!”

But Dolorez heard her not. With her eyes invincibly attached upon the Grand Inquisidor, she endeavoured to read in his countenance the fate of her father.

The cavalcade was now nearly opposite the house; and Dolorez was still at the little window.

At this moment the Grand Inquisidor raised his eyes:——Juanna dragged Dolorez forcibly away from the window.

The Inquisidor literally bounded upon his steed. He again turned his eyes upwards to the little aperture;—but, to his astonishment, it had disappeared. The front of the house was uniformly blank! He fancied that he must be the sport of a wild dream; and turning towards a familiar who was a little way behind him, he exclaimed, “Do you know to whom this house belongs?”

The familiars knew everything.

“My lord, that is the dwelling of a poor widow, to whom your almoner Don Joseph gives alms.”

“I am mad,” murmured the Grand Inquisidor; “but I see that charming girl on every side— everywhere!”

The cavalcade pursued its march; and Juanna placed Dolorez, who had fainted, upon a seat. The sounds of the trumpets were soon lost in the distance!

Juanna adopted all possible means to recover the terror-stricken girl, and at length succeeded in calling her back to life. At that moment a light step was heard ascending the stairs.

“God be thanked!” ejaculated the widow. “this must be Joseph!”

And it was Joseph. The moment he entered the room, Dolorez opened her eyes, and gave utterance to a deep drawn sigh.

“What is the matter, nurse?” demanded Joseph.

“Holy father,” cried Dolorez, perceiving the young Dominican, “do you think they will put my father to death?”

“Reassure yourself, Dolorez. Who told you that any danger menaced your father?”

“Have I not ere now heard the proclamation of death? has not the date of the approaching auto-de-fa been this day announced?”

“That is nothing, my dear sister. If your father be menaced, I am there to protect him,” answered Joseph.

“Oh! you deceive me,” cried Dolorez: “your cruel pity induces you to conceal from me the real truth! Do I not know that the Grand Inquisidor thirsts for my father’s blood, and that he will kill him?”

“Calm yourself, and listen,” said Joseph, approaching the young lady.

“No, I do not believe you,” returned Dolorez. “Do you not also wear the livery of the Inquisition? Leave me—leave me: I do not need your aid to save my father! I will go and throw myself at the feet of my lord Arbuez. I will embrace his knees—I will weep and pray—and if his soul be not as hardened as a rock, he will yield to my supplications and restore my father to me!”

“Alas! poor girl,” said Joseph, in a tone of extreme bitterness, while Juanna wept copiously. “Have the Inquisidors souls? do they know what it is to have a father, a mother, or a sister? Never does any pure and holy sentiment agitate their marble hearts! Know they aught save brutal desires and degraded debaucheries? Are they not tigers that thirst for blood?”

“I will go—I will go,” exclaimed Dolorez, rather excited than depressed in her resolutions by this fearful picture; and, rising from her seat, she repulsed Juanna, who endeavoured to hold her back and console her. “Leave me—leave me; you are all leagued together to deceive me! You have shut me up here—in this prison, so that the rumour of events may not reach me; but God has annihilated your hopes, and I have discovered what you fain would conceal from me. Let me go, then—let me go: by what right do you detain me a prisoner here?” she cried, darting a look of anger upon the young Dominican.

Joseph made no reply: he was deeply affected and very pale. Juanna glanced towards him in a manner that seemed to say, “This young lady is going mad!”

“She is more happy than I!” thought Joseph, with a deep sigh.

Juanna withdrew her arms, which she had thrown around Dolorez’ waist to retain her, and went and seated herself at the further end of the room. The young lady, now finding herself free, stopped and considered the pale and expressive countenance of Joseph—that countenance which beamed with commiseration for her sorrows! Juanna wept: those two beings resembled victims rather than executioners. The eyes of Dolorez suddenly lost their unnatural lustre; and she fell, weak and overcome, upon the chair from which she had ere now risen.

Joseph then approached her.

“Pardon me,” she exclaimed, extending her hand toward him; “I have been very unjust—very ungrateful! Grief deprived me of reason: pardon me, Don Joseph; but I declare to you, now—in my calm moments—that my resolution is irrevocably taken: I will throw myself at the feet of the Grand Inquisidor. I ought—I will! Nothing should be left undone that may save my father; and never shall it be said that I was a coward in his cause.”

“You will not do so mad a thing!” cried Joseph emphatically.

“Oh!” said Juanna, “have pity upon yourself.”

“I fear nothing,” answered the maiden, with noble resolution depicted on her countenance. “Am I afraid of death?”

“But you are afraid of infamy,” cried Joseph energetically. “Do you not know the Grand Inquisidor of Seville?”

“Oh! true—true! I had not reflected upon that!:” exclaimed Dolorez, terror-struck by this warning.

“Follow my advice, Dolorez,” said Joseph, “or, on my soul, you are lost! Let your friends act for you. One victim at all events must be sufficient! You would only ruin yourself, without benefiting your sire.”

“Oh! if I only knew what has become of Stephen!” exclaimed Dolorez, in a tone of ineffable despair.

“I will find out, and acquaint you,” returned Joseph. “Stephen is no doubt occupied, like me, with your interests. Be calm, and rely upon us. You are in safety here,” he added: “but do not attempt to go abroad. This is the only place in Seville where the Inquisition will not seek you.”

In spite of the assurances of the young priest, Dolorez remained absorbed in the most painful reflections.

“I will return soon,” said the Dominican, as he rose to depart.

Juanna accompanied him to the door of the dwelling.

“My good Juanna,” said Joseph, “take care of that young damsel; and see that she does not leave the house. There have been enough victims!” he added bitterly.

“Oh! noble Joseph!” ejaculated Juanna, embracing him tenderly: “may God bless you for your courage!”

“Do you think I grow weak in purpose?” asked Joseph significantly.

Juanna made no reply; but she averted her head to conceal her tears.

“Fear nothing,” exclaimed Joseph, pressing her hand affectionately: “I will accomplish my aims!”

Melopia. This is how is called in Spain the soup, or, to better phrase it, the ignoble stew which monks distributed to the numerous beggars with which the country was filled, thanks to the fanaticism and cruelty of the inquisition. The word melopia is a corruption of the word mezclopia, mix, derived from the verb mezclar, to mix.’ (French text p. 80, translated by the editor)
Order of Mercy ‘The monks of mercy followed, like the Dominicans, the rule of Saint Augustine. In its infancy the order of mercy was very useful. The brothers of this order diffused themselves all over Christendom, asking and obtaining many alms, which were faithfully employed in ransoming Christian captives in Barbary. Some monks of mercy sent to Algiers to buy the ransom of captives, remained themselves in the place of those whose ransom they could not pay. Some of them even suffered martyrdom, but this sublime devotion did not continue long. During the eighteenth century, the monks of mercy always asked and obtained large alms; only, instead of employing them for the redemption of captives, they used them as the other monks employed the enormous sums which they extorted from public credulity, to increase their power and extend their authority.’ (p. 106†-107).
Posterity will admire even more ... the degenerate Spaniards Reynolds added this sentence, displaying prejudice against the ‘degenerate Spaniards’ which Cuendías never would have allowed.
the description of architecture above alluded to Reynolds is referring to Moorish architecture, whilst the French text is more precise in claiming that ‘it had probably been built about the same period as the Alhambra’, explaining the etymology of this palace of the Moorish kings at Granada in a footnote, i.e. ‘the red (house)’ in Arabic, and adding that it is ‘built of red bricks’. (p. 111*)
Moorish dervise, or santōn The French text includes only ‘santon’, i.e. a ‘European designation for a kind of monk or hermit among the Muslims’ (OED). Dervise (more commonly ‘dervish’) is the correct designation for a ‘Muslim friar, who has taken vows of poverty and austere life’ (OED).
King of the Executioners ‘Since Deza’s time, the Spaniards have called the inquisitor general the king of the [executioners]’ (p. 113*).
this day next month The word ‘next’ was missing in the text and added to translate ‘dans un mois à pareil jour [in a month’s time from this day]’ (p. 176 [p. 113]).
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Victorine Subervic and Manuel de Cuendías. Date: 1 July 2013