At the mosque the patio was not taken in only because it was so large, but I find by our records that it was much molested by a beggar who followed us when we dismounted at the gate of the Court of Oranges, and all but took our minds off the famous Moorish fountain in the midst. It was not a fountain of the plashing or gushing sort, but a noble great pool in a marble basin. The women who clustered about it were not laughing and chattering, or singing, or even dancing, in the right Andalusian fashion, but stood silent in statuesque poses from which they seemed in no haste to stir for filling their water jars and jugs. The Moorish tradition of irrigation confronting one in all the travels and histories as a supreme agricultural advantage which the Arabs took back to Africa with them, leaving Spain to thirst and fry, lingers here in the circles sunk round the orange trees and fed by little channels. The trees grew about as the fancy took them, and did not mind the incongruous palms towering as irregularly above them. While we wandered toward the mosque a woman robed in white cotton, with a lavender scarf crossing her breast, came in as irrelevantly as the orange trees and stood as stably as the palms; in her night-black hair she alone in Cordova redeemed the pledge of beauty made for all Andalusian women by the reckless poets and romancers, whether in ballads or books of travel.

One enters the court by a gate in a richly yellow tower, with a shrine to St. Michael over the door, and still higher at the lodging of the keeper a bed of bright flowers. Then, however, one is confronted with the first great disappointment in the mosque. Shall it be whispered in awe-stricken undertone that the impression of a bull-ring is what lingers in the memory of the honest sight-seer from his first glance at the edifice? The effect is heightened by the filling of the arcades which encircle it, and which now confront the eye with a rounded wall, where the Saracenic horseshoe remains distinct, but the space of yellow masonry below seems to forbid the outsider stealing knowledge of the spectacle inside. The spectacle is of course no feast of bulls (as the Spanish euphemism has it), but the first amphitheatrical impression is not wholly dispersed by the sight of the interior. In order that the reader at his distance may figure this, he must imagine an indefinite cavernous expanse, with a low roof supported in vaulted arches by some thousand marble pillars, each with a different capital. There used to be perhaps half a thousand more pillars, and Charles V. made the Cordovese his reproaches for destroying the wonder of them when they planted their proud cathedral in the heart of the mosque. He held it a sort of sacrilege, but I think the honest traveler will say that there are still enough of those rather stumpy white marble columns left, and enough of those arches, striped in red and white with their undeniable suggestion of calico awnings. It is like a grotto gaudily but dingily decorated, or a vast circus-tent curtained off in hangings of those colors.

One sees the sanctuary where the great Caliph said his prayers, and the Koran written by Othman and stained with his blood was kept; but I know at least one traveler who saw it without sentiment or any sort of reverent emotion, though he had not the authority of the "old rancid Christianity" of a Castilian for withholding his homage. If people would be as sincere as other people would like them to be, I think no one would profess regret for the Arab civilization in the presence of its monuments. Those Moors were of a religion which revolts all the finer instincts and lifts the soul with no generous hopes; and the records of it have no appeal save to the love of mere beautiful decoration. Even here it mostly fails, to my thinking, and I say that for my part I found nothing so grand in the great mosaue of Cordova as the cathedral which rises in the heart of it. If Abderrahman boasted that he would rear a shrine to the joy of earthly life and the hope of an earthly heaven, in the place of the Christian temple which he would throw down, I should like to overhear what his disembodied spirit would have to say to the saint whose shrine he demolished. I think the saint would have the better of him in any contention for their respective faiths, and could easily convince the impartial witness that his religion then abiding in medieval gloom was of promise for the future which Islam can never be. Yet it cannot be denied that when Abderraham built his mosque the Arabs of Cordova were a finer and wiser people than the Christians who dwelt in intellectual darkness among them, with an ideal of gloom and self-denial and a zeal for aimless martyrdom which must have been very hard for a gentleman and scholar to bear. Gentlemen and scholars were what the Arabs of the Western Caliphate seem to have become, with a primacy in medicine and mathematics beyond the learning of all other Europe in their day. They were tolerant skeptics in matters of religion; polite agnostics, who disliked extremely the passion of some Christians dwelling among them for getting themselves put to death, as they did, for insulting the popularly accepted Mohammedan creed. Probably people of culture in Cordova were quite of Abderrahman's mind in wishing to substitute the temple of a cheerfuler ideal for the shrine of the medieval Christianity which he destroyed; though they might have had their reserves as to the taste in which his mosque was completed. If they recognized it as a concession to the general preference, they could do so without the discomfort which they must have suffered when some new horde of Berbers, full of faith and fight, came over from Africa to push back the encroaching Spanish frontier, and give the local Christians as much martyrdom as they wanted.

It is all a conjecture based upon material witness no more substantial than that which the Latin domination left long centuries before the Arabs came to possess the land. The mosque from which you drive through the rain to the river is neither newer nor older looking than the beautiful Saracenic bridge over the Guadalquivir which the Arabs themselves say was first built by the Romans in the time of Augustus; the Moorish mill by the thither shore might have ground the first wheat grown in Europe. It is intensely, immemorially African, flat-roofed, white-walled; the mules waiting outside in the wet might have been drooping there ever since the going down of the Flood, from which the river could have got its muddy yellow.

If the reader will be advised by me he will not go to the Archaeological Museum, unless he wishes particularly to contribute to the support of the custodian; the collection will not repay him even for the time in which a whole day of Cordova will seem so superabundant. Any little street will be worthier his study, with its type of passing girls in white and black mantillas, and its shallow shops of all sorts, their fronts thrown open, and their interiors flung, as it were, on the sidewalk. It is said that the streets were the first to be paved in Europe, and they have apparently not been repaved since 850. This indeed will not Hold quite true of that thoroughfare, twenty feet wide at least, which led from our hotel to the Paseo del Gran Capitan. In this were divers shops of the genteeler sort, and some large cafes, standing full of men of leisure, who crowded to their doors and windows, with their hats on and their hands in their pockets, as at a club, and let no fact of the passing world escape their hungry eyes. Their behavior expressed a famine of incident in Cordova which was pathetic.