I put these facts at the service of the reader for what use he will while he goes with us to visit the cathedral in Valladolid, a cathedral as unlike that of Burgos as the severest mood of Spanish renaissance can render it. In fact, it is the work of Herrera, the architect who made the Escorial so grim, and is the expression in large measure of his austere mastery. If it had ever been finished it might have been quite as dispiriting as the Escorial, but as it has only one of the four ponderous towers it was meant to have, it is not without its alleviations, especially as the actual tower was rebuilt after the fall of the original seventy years ago. The grass springs cheerfully up in the crevices of the flagging from which the broken steps falter to the portal, but within all is firm and solid. The interior is vast, and nowhere softened by decoration, but the space is reduced by the huge bulk of the choir in the center of it; as we entered a fine echo mounted to the cathedral roof from the chanting and intoning within. When the service ended a tall figure in scarlet crossed rapidly toward the sacristy. It was of such imposing presence that we resolved at once it must be the figure of a cardinal, or of an archbishop at the least. But it proved to be one of the sacristans, and when we followed him to the sacristy with half a dozen other sightseers, he showed us a silver monstrance weighing a hundred and fifty pounds and decked with statites of our first parents as they appeared before the Fall. Besides this we saw, much against our will, a great many ecclesiastical vestments of silk and damask richly wrought in gold and silver. But if we were reluctant there was a little fat priest there who must have seen them hundreds of times and had still a childish delight in seeing them again because he had seen them so often; he dimpled and smiled, and for his sake we pretended a joy in them which it would have been cruel to deny him. I suppose we were then led to the sacrifice at the several side altars, but I have no specific recollection of them; I know there was a pale, sick-looking young girl in white who went about with her father, and moved compassion by her gentle sorrowfulness.
Of the University, which we visited next, I recall only the baroque facade; tha interior was in reparation and I do not know whether it would have indemnified us for not visiting the University of Salamanca. That was in our list, but the perversity of the time-table forbade. You could go to Salamanca, yes, but you could not come back except at two o'clock in the morning; you could indeed continue on to Lisbon, but perhaps you did not wish to see Lisbon. A like perversity of the time-table, once universal in Spain, but now much reformed, also kept us away from Segovia, which was on our list. But our knowledge of it enabled us to tell a fellow-countrywoman whom we presently met in the museum of the University, how she could best, or worst, get to that city. Our speech gave us away to her, and she turned to us from the other objects of interest to explain first that she was in a hotel where she paid only six pesetas a day, but where she could get no English explanation of the time-table for any money. She had come to Valladolid with a friend who was going next day to Salamanca, but next day was Sunday and she did not like to travel on Sunday, and Segovia seemed the only alternative. We could not make out why, or if it came to that why she should be traveling alone through Spain with such a slender equipment of motive or object, but we perceived she was one of the most estimable souls in the world, and if she cared more for getting to Segovia that afternoon than for looking at the wonders of the place where we were, we could not blame her. We had to leave her when we left the museum in the charge of two custodians who led her, involuntary but unresisting, to an upper chamber where there were some pictures which she could care no more for than for the wood carvings below. We ourselves cared so little for those pictures that we would not go to see them. Pictures you can see anywhere, but not statuary of such singular interest, such transcendant powerfulness as those carvings of Berruguete and other masters less known, which held us fascinated in the lower rooms of the museum. They are the spoil of convents in the region about, suppressed by the government at different times, and collected here with little relevancy to their original appeal. Some are Scriptural subjects and some are figures of the dancers who take part in certain ceremonials of the Spanish churches (notably the cathedral at Seville), which have a quaint reality, an intense personal character. They are of a fascination which I can hope to convey by no phrase of mine; but far beyond this is the motionless force, the tremendous repose of the figures of the Roman soldiers taken in the part of sleeping at the Tomb. These sculptures are in wood, life-size, and painted in the colors of flesh and costume, with every detail and of a strong mass in which the detail is lost and must be found again by the wondering eye. Beyond all other Spanish sculptures they seemed to me expressive of the national temperament; I thought no other race could have produced them, and that in their return to the Greek ideal of color in statuary they were ingenuously frank and unsurpassably bold.
It might have been the exhaustion experienced from the encounter with their strenuousness that suddenly fatigued us past even the thought of doing any more of Valladolid on foot. At any rate, when we came out of the museum we took refuge in a corner grocery (it seems the nature of groceries to seek corners the world over) and asked the grocer where we could find a cab.