Nowhere is the sentiment of home stronger than in Spain. Strangers, whose ideas of the Spanish character have been gained from romance and comedy, are apt to note with some surprise the strength and prevalence of the domestic affections. But a moment's reflection shows us that nothing is more natural. It is the result of all their history. The old Celtic population had scarcely any religion but that of the family. The Goths brought in the pure Teutonic regard for woman and marriage. The Moors were distinguished by the patriarchal structure of their society. The Spaniards have thus learned the lesson of home in the school of history and tradition. The intense feeling of individuality, which so strongly marks the Spanish character, and which in the political world is so fatal an element of strife and obstruction, favors this peculiar domesticity. The Castilian is submissive to his king and his priest, haughty and inflexible with his equals. But his own house is a refuge from the contests of out of doors. The reflex of absolute authority is here observed, it is true. The Spanish father is absolute king and lord by his own hearthstone, but his sway is so mild and so readily acquiesced in that it is hardly felt. The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it, and the Spanish family seldom calls for the harsh exercise of parental authority.

This is the rule. I do not mean to say there are no exceptions. The pride and jealousy inherent in the race make family quarrels, when they do arise, the bitterest and the fiercest in the world. In every grade of life these vindictive feuds among kindred are seen from time to time. Twice at least the steps of the throne have been splashed with royal blood shed by a princely hand. Duels between noble cousins and stabbing affrays between peasant brothers alike attest the unbending sense of personal dignity that still infects this people.

A light word between husbands and wives sometimes goes unexplained, and the rift between them widens through life. I know some houses where the wife enters at one door and the husband at another; where if they meet on the stairs, they do not salute each other. Under the same roof they have lived for years and have not spoken. One word would heal all discord, and that word will never be spoken by either. They cannot be divorced, - the Church is inexorable. They will not incur the scandal of a public separation. So they pass lives of lonely isolation in adjoining apartments, both thinking rather better of each other and of themselves for this devilish persistence.

An infraction of parental discipline is never forgiven. I knew a general whose daughter fell in love with his adjutant, a clever and amiable young officer. He had positively no objection to the suitor, but was surprised that there should be any love-making in his house without his previous suggestion. He refused his consent, and the young people were married without it. The father and son-in-law went off on a campaign, fought, and were wounded in the same battle. The general was asked to recommend his son-in-law for promotion. "I have no son-in-law!" "I mean your daughter's husband." "I have no daughter." "I refer to Lieutenant Don Fulano de Tal. He is a good officer. He distinguished himself greatly in the recent affair." "Ah! otra cosa!" said the grim father-in-law. His hate could not overcome his sense of justice. The youth got his promotion, but his general will not recognize him at the club. It is in the middle and lower classes that the most perfect pictures of the true Spanish family are to be found. The aristocracy is more or less infected with the contagion of Continental manners and morals. You will find there the usual proportion of wives who despise their husbands, and men who neglect their wives, and children who do not honor their parents. The smartness of American "pickles" has even made its appearance among the little countesses of Madrid. A lady was eating an ice one day, hungrily watched by the wide eyes of the infant heiress of the house. As the latter saw the last hope vanishing before the destroying spoon, she cried out, "Thou eatest all and givest me none, - maldita sea tu alma!" (accursed be thy soul). This dreadful imprecation was greeted with roars of laughter from admiring friends, and the profane little innocent was smothered in kisses and cream.

Passing at noon by any of the squares or shady places of Madrid, you will see dozens of laboring-people at their meals. They sit on the ground, around the steaming and savory cocido that forms the peasant Spaniard's unvaried dinner. The foundation is of garbanzos, the large chick-pea of the country, brought originally to Europe by the Carthaginians, - the Roman cicer, which gave its name to the greatest of the Latin orators. All other available vegetables are thrown in; on days of high gala a piece of meat is added, and some forehanded housewives attain the climax of luxury by flavoring the compound with a link of sausage. The mother brings the dinner and her tawny brood of nestlings. A shady spot is selected for the feast. The father dips his wooden spoon first into the vapory bowl, and mother and babes follow with grave decorum. Idle loungers passing these patriarchal groups, on their way to a vapid French breakfast at a restaurant, catch the fragrance of the olla and the chatter of the family, and envy the dinner of herbs with love.

There is no people so frugal. We often wonder how a Washington clerk can live on twelve hundred dollars, but this would be luxury in expensive Madrid. It is one of the dearest capitals in Europe. Foreigners are never weary decrying its high prices for poor fare; but Castilians live in good houses, dress well, receive their intimate friends, and hold their own with the best in the promenade, upon incomes that would seem penury to any country parson in America. There are few of the nobility who retain the great fortunes of former days. You can almost tell on your fingers the tale of the grandees in Madrid who can live without counting the cost. The army and navy are crowded with general officers whose political services have obliged their promotion. The state is too much impoverished to pay liberal salaries, and yet the rank of these officers requires the maintenance of a certain social position. Few of them are men of fortune. The result is that necessity has taught them to live well upon little, I knew widows who went everywhere in society, whose daughters were always charmingly dressed, who lived in a decent quarter of the town, and who had no resources whatever but a husband's pension.

The best proof of the capacity of Spaniards to spread a little gold over as much space as a goldbeater could is the enormous competition for pub-lic employment. Half the young men in Spain are candidates for places under government ranging from $250 to $1000. Places of $1500 to $2000 are considered objects of legitimate ambition even to deputies and leading politicians. Expressed in reals these sums have a large and satisfying sound. Fifty dollars seems little enough for a month's work, but a thousand reals has the look of a most respectable salary. In Portugal, however, you can have all the delightful sensations of prodigality at a contemptible cost. You can pay, without serious damage to your purse, five thousand reis for your breakfast.

It is the smallness of incomes and the necessity of looking sharply to the means of life that makes the young people of Madrid so prudent in their love affairs. I know of no place where ugly heir-esses are such belles, and where young men with handsome incomes are so universally esteemed by all who know them. The stars on the sleeves of young officers are more regarded than their dancing, and the red belt of a field officer is as winning in the eyes of beauty as a cestus of Venus. A. subaltern offered his hand and heart to a black-eyed girl of Castile. She said kindly but firmly that the night was too cloudy. "What," said the stupefied lover, "the sky is full of stars." "I see but one," said the prudent beauty, her fine eyes resting pensively upon his cuff, where one lone luminary indicated his rank.

This spirit is really one of forethought, and not avarice. People who have enough for two almost always marry from inclination, and frequently take partners for life without a penny.

If men were never henpecked except by learned wives, Spain would be the place of all others for timid men to marry in. The girls are bright, vivacious, and naturally very clever, but they have scarcely any education whatever. They never know the difference between b and v. They throw themselves in orthography entirely upon your benevolence. They know a little music and a little French, but they have never crossed, even in a school-day excursion, the border line of the ologies. They do not even read novels. They are regarded as injurious, and cannot be trusted to the daughters until mamma has read them. Mamma never has time to read them, and so they are condemned by default. Fernan Caballero, in one of her sleepy little romances, refers to this illiterate character of the Spanish ladies, and says it is their chief charm, - that a Christian woman, in good society, ought not to know anything beyond her cookery-book and her missal. There is-an old proverb which coarsely conveys this idea: A mule that whinnies and a woman that talks Latin never come to any good.

There is a contented acquiescence in this moral servitude among the fair Spaniards which would madden our agitatresses. (See what will become of the language when male words are crowded out of the dictionary!)

It must be the innocence which springs from ignorance that induces an occasional coarseness of expression which surprises you in the conversation of those lovely young girls. They will speak with perfect freedom of the etat-civil of a young unmarried mother. A maiden of fifteen said to me: "I must go to a party this evening decolletee, and I hate it. Benigno is getting old enough to marry, and he wants to see all the girls in low neck before he makes up his mind." They all swear like troopers, without a thought of profanity. Their mildest expression of surprise is Jesus Maria! They change their oaths with the season. At the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the favorite oath is Maria Purissima. This is a time of especial interest to young girls. It is a period of compulsory confession, - conscience-cleaning, as they call it. They are all very pious in their way. They attend to their religious duties with the same interest which they displayed a few years before in dressing and undressing their dolls, and will display a few years later in putting the lessons they learned with their dolls to a more practical use.

The visible concrete symbols and observances of religion have great influence with them. They are fond of making vows in tight places and faithfully observing them afterwards. In an hour's walk in the streets of Madrid you will see a dozen ladies with a leather strap buckled about their slender waists and hanging nearly to the ground. Others wear a knotted cord and tassels. These are worn as the fulfilment of vows, or penances.

I am afraid they give rise to much worldly conjecture on the part of idle youth as to what amiable sins these pretty penitents can have been guilty of. It is not prudent to ask an explanation of the peculiar mercy, or remorse, which this purgatorial strap commemorates. You will probably not enlarge your stock of knowledge further than to learn that the lady in question considers you a great nuisance.

The graceful lady who, in ascending the throne of France, has not ceased to be a thorough Spaniard, still preserves these pretty weaknesses of her youth. She vowed a chapel to her patron saint if her firstborn was a man-child, and paid it. She has hung a vestal lamp in the Church of Notre Dame des Victoires, in pursuance of a vow she keeps rigidly secret. She is a firm believer in relics also, and keeps a choice assortment on hand in the Tuileries for sudden emergencies. When old Baciocchi lay near his death, worn out by a horrible nervous disorder which would not let him sleep, the empress told the doctors, with great mystery, that she would cure him. After a few preliminary masses, she came into his room and hung on his bedpost a little gold-embroidered sachet containing (if the evidence of holy men is to be believed) a few threads of the swaddling-clothes of John the Baptist. Her simple childlike faith wrung the last grim smile from the tortured lips of the dying courtier.

The very names of the Spanish women are a constant reminder of their worship. They are all named out of the calendar of saints and virgin martyrs. A large majority are christened Mary; but as this sacred name by much use has lost all distinctive meaning, some attribute, some especial invocation of the Virgin, is always coupled with it. The names of Dolores, Mercedes, Milagros, recall Our Lady of the Sorrows, of the Gifts, of the Miracles. I knew a hoydenish little gypsy who bore the tearful name of Lagrimas. The most appropriate name I heard for these large-eyed, soft-voiced beauties was Peligros, Our Lady of Dangers. Who could resist the comforting assurance of "Consuelo"? "Blessed," says my Lord Lytton, "is woman who consoles." What an image of maiden purity goes with the name of Nieves, the Virgin of the Snows! From a single cotillon of Castilian girls you can construct the whole history of Our Lady; Conception, Annunciation, Sorrows, Solitude, Assumption. As young ladies are never called by their family names, but always by their baptismal appellations, you cannot pass an evening in a Spanish tertulia without being reminded of every stage in the life of the Immaculate Mother, from Bethlehem to Calvary and beyond.

The common use of sacred words is universal in Catholic countries, but nowhere so striking as in Spain. There is a little solemnity in the French adieu. But the Spaniard says adios instead of "good-morning." No letter closes without the prayer, "God guard your Grace many years!" They say a judge announces to a murderer his sentence of death with the sacramental wish of length of days. There is something a little shocking to a Yankee mind in the label of Lachryma Christi; but in La Mancha they call fritters the Grace of God.

The piety of the Spanish women does not prevent them from seeing some things clearly enough with their bright eyes. One of the most bigoted women in Spain recently said: "I hesitate to let my child go to confession. The priests ask young girls such infamous questions, that my cheeks burn when I think of them, after all these years." I stood one Christmas Eve in the cold midnight wind, waiting for the church doors to open for the night mass, the famous misa del gallo. On the steps beside me sat a decent old woman with her two daughters. At last she rose and said, "Girls, it is no use waiting any longer. The priests won't leave their housekeepers this cold night to save anybody's soul." In these two cases, taken from the two extremes of the Catholic society, there was no disrespect for the Church or for religion. Both these women believed with a blind faith. But they could not help seeing how unclean were the hands that dispensed the bread of life.

The respect shown to the priesthood as a body is marvellous, in view of the profligate lives of many. The general progress of the age has forced most of the dissolute priests into hypocrisy. But their cynical immorality is still the bane of many families. And it needs but a glance at the vile manual of confession, called the Golden Key, the author of which is the too well known Padre Claret, confessor to the queen, to see the systematic moral poisoning the minds of Spanish women must undergo who pay due attention to what is called their religious duties. If a confessor obeys the injunctions of this high ecclesiastical authority, his fair penitents will have nothing to learn from a diligent perusal of Faublas or Casanova. It would, however, be unjust to the priesthood to consider them all as corrupt as royal chaplains. It requires a combination of convent and palace life to produce these finished specimens of mitred infamy.

It is to be regretted that the Spanish women are kept in such systematic ignorance. They have a quicker and more active intelligence than the men. With a fair degree of education, much might be hoped from them in the intellectual development of the country. In society, you will at once be struck with the superiority of the women to their husbands and brothers in cleverness and appreciation. Among small tradesmen, the wife always comes to the rescue of her slow spouse when she sees him befogged in a bargain. In the fields, you ask a peasant some question about your journey. He will hesitate, and stammer, and end with, "Quien sabe?" but his wife will answer with glib completeness all you want to know. I can imagine no cause for this, unless it be that the men cloud their brains all day with the fumes of tobacco, and the women do not.

The personality of the woman is not so entirely merged in that of the husband as among us. She retains her own baptismal and family name through life. If Miss Matilda Smith marries Mr. Jonathan Jones, all vestige of the former gentle being vanishes at once from the earth, and Mrs. Jonathan Jones alone remains. But in Spain she would become Mrs. Matilda Smith de Jones, and her eldest-born would be called Don Juan Jones y Smith. You ask the name of a married lady in society, and you hear as often her own name as that of her husband.

Even among titled people, the family name seems more highly valued than the titular designation. Everybody knows Narvaez, but how few have heard of the Duke of Valencia! The Regent Serrano has a name known and honored over the world, but most people must think twice before they remember the Duke de la Torre. Juan Prim is better known than the Marques de los Castillejos ever will be. It is perhaps due to the prodigality with which titles have been scattered in late years that the older titles are more regarded than the new, although of inferior grade. Thus Prim calls himself almost invariably the Conde de Reus, though his grandeeship came with his investiture as marquis.

There is something quite noticeable about this easy way of treating one's name. We are accustomed to think a man can have but one name, and can sign it but in one way. Lord Derby can no more call himself Mr. Stanley than President Grant can sign a bill as U. Simpson. Yet both these signatures would be perfectly valid according to Spanish analogy. The Marquis of Santa Marta signs himself Guzman; the Marquis of Albaida uses no signature but Orense; both of these gentlemen being Republican deputies. I have seen General Prim's name signed officially, Conde de Reus, Marques de los Castillejos, Prim, J. Prim, Juan Prim, and Jean Prim, changing the style as often as the humor strikes him.

Their forms of courtesy are, however, invariable. You can never visit a Spaniard without his informing you that you are in your own house. If, walking with him, you pass his residence, he asks you to enter your house and unfatigue yourself a moment. If you happen upon any Spaniard, of whatever class, at the hour of repast, he always offers you his dinner; if you decline, it must be with polite wishes for his digestion. With the Spaniards, no news is good news; it is therefore civil to ask a Spaniard if his lady-wife goes on without novelty, and to express your profound gratification on being assured that she does. Their forms of hospitality are evidently Moorish, derived from the genuine open hand and open tent of the children of the desert; now nothing is left of them but grave and decorous words. In the old times, one who would have refused such offers would have been held a churl; now one who would accept them would be regarded as a boor.

There is still something primitive about the Spanish servants. A flavor of the old romances and the old comedy still hangs about them. They are chatty and confidential to a degree that appalls a stiff and formal Englishman of the upper middle class. The British servant is a chilly and statuesque image of propriety. The French is an intelligent and sympathizing friend. You can make of him what you like. But the Italian, and still more the Spaniard, is as gay as a child, and as incapable of intentional disrespect. The Castilian grandee does not regard his dignity as in danger from a moment's chat with a waiter. He has no conception of that ferocious decorum we Anglo-Saxons require from our manservants and our maidservants. The Spanish servant seems to regard it as part of his duty to keep your spirits gently excited while you dine by the gossip of the day. He joins also in your discussions, whether they touch lightly on the politics of the hour or plunge profoundly into the depths of philosophic research. He laughs at your wit, and swings his napkin with convulsions of mirth at your good stories. He tells you the history of his life while you are breaking your egg, and lays the story of his loves before you with your coffee. Yet he is not intrusive. He will chatter on without waiting for a reply, and when you are tired of him you can shut him off with a word. There are few Spanish servants so uninteresting but that you can find in them from time to time some sparks of that ineffable light which shines forever in Sancho and Figaro.

The traditions of subordination, which are the result of long centuries of tyranny, have prevented the development of that feeling of independence among the lower orders, which in a freer race finds its expression in ill manners and discourtesy to superiors. I knew a gentleman in the West whose circumstances had forced him to become a waiter in a backwoods restaurant. He bore a deadly grudge at the profession that kept him from starving, and asserted his unconquered nobility of soul by scowling at his customers and swearing at the viands he dispensed. I remember the deep sense of wrong with which he would growl, "Two buckwheats, begawd!" You see nothing of this defiant spirit in Spanish servants. They are heartily glad to find employment, and ask no higher good-fortune than to serve acceptably. As to drawing comparisons between themselves and their masters, they never seem to think they belong to the same race. I saw a pretty grisette once stop to look at a show-window where there was a lay-figure completely covered with all manner of trusses. She gazed at it long and earnestly, evidently thinking it was some new fashion just introduced into the gay world. At last she tripped away with all the grace of her unfettered limbs, saying, "If the fine ladies have to wear all those machines, I am glad I am not made like them."

Whether it be from their more regular and active lives, or from their being unable to pay for medical attendance, the poorer classes suffer less from sickness than their betters. An ordinary Spaniard is sick but once in his life, and that once is enough, - 'twill serve. The traditions of the old satires which represented the doctor and death as always hunting in couples still survive in Spain. It is taken as so entirely a matter of course that a patient must die that the law of the land imposed a heavy fine upon physicians who did not bring a priest on their second visit. His labor of exhortation and confession was rarely wasted. There were few sufferers who recovered from the shock of that solemn ceremony in their chambers. Medical science still labors in Spain under the ban of ostracism, imposed in the days when all research was impiety. The Inquisition clamored for the blood of Vesalius, who had committed the crime of a demonstration in anatomy. He was forced into a pilgrimage of expiation, and died on the way to Palestine. The Church has always looked with a jealous eye upon the inquirers, the innovators. Why these probes, these lancets, these multifarious drugs, when the object in view could be so much more easily obtained by the judicious application of masses and prayers?

So it has come about that the doctor is a Pariah, and miracles flourish in the Peninsula. At every considerable shrine you will see the walls covered with waxen models of feet, legs, hands, and arms secured by the miraculous interposition of the genius loci, and scores of little crutches attesting the marvellous hour when they became useless. Each shrine, like a mineral spring, has its own especial virtue. A Santiago medal was better than quinine for ague. St. Veronica's handkerchief is sovereign for sore eyes. A bone of St. Magin supersedes the use of mercury. A finger-nail of San Frutos cured at Segovia a case of congenital idiocy. The Virgin of Ona acted as a vermifuge on royal infantas, and her girdle at Tortosa smooths their passage into this world. In this age of unfaith relics have lost much of their power. They turn out their score or so of miracles every feast-day, it is true, but are no longer capable of the tours de force of earlier days. Cardinal de Retz saw with his eyes a man whose wooden legs were turned to capering flesh and blood by the image of the Pillar of Saragossa. But this was in the good old times before newspapers and telegraphs had come to dispel the twilight of belief.

Now, it is excessively probable that neither doctor nor priest can do much if the patient is hit in earnest. He soon succumbs, and is laid out in his best clothes in an improvised chapel and duly sped on his way. The custom of burying the dead in the gown and cowl of monks has greatly passed into disuse. The mortal relics are treated with growing contempt, as the superstitions of the people gradually lose their concrete character. The soul is the important matter which the Church now looks to. So the cold clay is carted off to the cemetery with small ceremony. Even the coffins of the rich are jammed away into receptacles too small for them, and hastily plastered out of sight. The poor are carried off on trestles and huddled into their nameless graves, without following or blessing. Children are buried with some regard to the old Oriental customs. The coffin is of some gay and cheerful color, pink or blue, and is carried open to the grave by four of the dead child's young companions, a fifth walking behind with the ribboned coffin-lid. I have often seen these touching little parties moving through the bustling streets, the peaceful small face asleep under the open sky, decked with the fading roses and withering lilies. In all well-to-do families the house of death is deserted immediately after the funeral. The stricken ones retire to some other habitation, and there pass eight days in strict and inviolable seclusion. On the ninth day the great masses for the repose of the soul of the departed are said in the parish church, and all the friends of the family are expected to be present. These masses are the most important and expensive incident of the funeral. They cost from two hundred to one thousand dollars, according to the strength and fervor of the orisons employed. They are repeated several years on the anniversary of the decease, and afford a most sure and nourishing revenue to the Church. They are founded upon those feelings inseparable from every human heart, vanity and affection. Our dead friends must be as well prayed for as those of others, and who knows but that they may be in deadly need of prayers! To shorten their fiery penance by one hour, who would not fast for a week? On these anniversaries a black-bordered advertisement appears in the newspapers, headed by the sign of the cross and the Requiescat in Pace, announcing that on this day twelve months Don Fulano de Tal passed from earth garnished with the holy sacraments, that all the masses this day celebrated in such and such churches will be applied to the benefit of his spirit's repose, and that all Christian friends are hereby requested to commend his soul this day unto God. These efforts, if they do the dead no good, at least do the living no harm.

A luxury of grief, in those who can afford it, consists in shutting up the house where a death has taken place and never suffering it to be opened again. I once saw a beautiful house and wide garden thus abandoned in one of the most fashionable streets of Madrid. I inquired about it, and found it was formerly the residence of the Duke of - - - . His wife had died there many years before, and since that day not a door nor a window had been opened. The garden gates were red and rough with rust. Grass grew tall and rank in the gravelled walks. A thick lush undergrowth had overrun the flower-beds and the lawns. The blinds were rotting over the darkened windows. Luxuriant vines clambered over all the mossy doors. The stucco was peeling from the walls in unwholesome blotches. Wild birds sang all day in the safe solitude. There was something impressive in this spot of mould and silence, lying there so green and implacable in the very heart of a great and noisy city. The duke lived in Paris, leading the rattling life of a man of the world. He never would sell or let that Madrid house. Perhaps in his heart also, that battered thoroughfare worn by the pattering boots of Ma-bine and the Bois, and the Quartier Breda, there was a green spot sacred to memory and silence, where no footfall should ever light, where no living voice should ever be heard, shut out from the world and its cares and its pleasures, where through the gloom of dead days he could catch a glimpse of a white hand, a flash of a dark eye, the rustle of a trailing robe, and feel sweeping over him the old magic of love's young dream, softening his fancy to tender regret and his eyes to a happy mist -

  "Like that which kept the heart of Eden green 
  Before the useful trouble of the rain."