Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 8

VALENCIA is a handsome City, and a Bishoprick; and is considerable not only for the Pleasantness of its Situation and beautiful Ladies; but (which at some certain Times, and on some Occasions, to them is more valuable than both those put together) for being the Birth-place of Saint Vincent, the Patron of the Place; and next for its being the Place where Santo Domingo, the first Institutor of the Dominican Order had his Education. Here, in honour of the last, is a spacious and very splendid Convent of the Dominicans. Walking by which, I one Day observ'd over the Gate, a Figure of a man in stone; and near it a Dog with a lighted Torch in his Mouth. The Image I rightly enough took to intend that of the Saint; but inquiring of one of the Order, at the Gate, the Meaning of the Figures near it, he very courteously ask'd me to walk in, and then entertain'd me with the following Relation:

When the Mother of Santo Domingo, said that Religious, was with Child of that future Saint, she had a Dream which very much afflicted her. She dreamt that she heard a Dog bark in her Belly; and inquiring (at what Oracle is not said) the Meaning of her Dream, she was told, That that Child should bark out the Gospel (excuse the Bareness of the Expression, it may run better in Spanish; tho', if I remember right, Erasmus gives it in Latin much the same Turn) which should thence shine out like that lighted Torch. And this is the Reason, that wherever you see the Image of that Saint, a Dog and a lighted Torch is in the Group.

He told me at the same time, that there had been more Popes and Cardinals of that Order than of any, if not all the other. To confirm which, he led me into a large Gallery, on each Side whereof he shew'd me the Pictures of all the Popes and Cardinals that had been of that Order; among which, I particularly took Notice of that of Cardinal Howard, great Uncle to the present Duke of Norfolk. But after many Encomiums of their Society, with which he interspers'd his Discourse, he added one that I least valu'd it for; That the sole Care and Conduct of the Inquisition was intrusted with them.

Finding me attentive, or not so contradictory as the English Humour generally is, he next brought me into a fair and large Cloister, round which I took several Turns with him; and, indeed, The Place was too delicious to tire, under a Conversation less pertinent or courteous than that he entertain'd me with. In the Middle of the Cloister was a small but pretty and sweet Grove of Orange and Lemon-trees; these bore Fruit ripe and green, and Flowers, all together on one Tree; and their Fruit was so very large and beautiful, and their Flowers so transcendently odoriferous, that all I had ever seen of the like Kind in England could comparatively pass only for Beauty in Epitome, or Nature imitated in Wax-work. Many Flocks also of pretty little Birds, with their chearful Notes, added not a little to my Delight. In short, in Life I never knew or found three of my Senses at once so exquisitely gratify'd.

Not far from this, Saint Vincent, the Patron, as I said before, of this City, has a Chapel dedicated to him. Once a Year they do him Honour in a sumptuous Procession. Then are their Streets all strow'd with Flowers, and their Houses set off with their richest Tapestries, every one strives to excel his Neighbour in distinguishing himself by the Honour he pays to that Saint; and he is the best Catholick, as well as the best Citizen, in the Eye of the religious, who most exerts himself on this Occasion.

The Procession begins with a Cavalcade of all the Friars of all the Convents in and about the City. These walk two and two with folded Arms, and Eyes cast down to the very Ground, and with the greatest outward Appearance of Humility imaginable; nor, though the Temptation from the fine Women that fill'd their Windows, or the rich Tapestries that adorn'd the Balconies might be allow'd sufficient to attract, could I observe that any one of them all ever mov'd them upwards.

After the Friars is borne, upon the Shoulders of twenty Men at least, an Imagine of that Saint of solid Silver, large as the Life; It is plac'd in a great Chair of Silver likewise; the Staves that bear him up, and upon which they bear him, being of the same Metal. The whole is a most costly and curious Piece of Workmanship, such as my Eyes never before or since beheld.

The Magistrates follow the Image and its Supporters, dress'd in their richest Apparel, which is always on this Day, and on this Occasion, particularly sumptuous and distinguishing. Thus is the Image, in the greatest Splendor, borne and accompany'd round that fine City; and at last convey'd to the Place from whence it came: And so concludes that annual Ceremony.

The Valencians, as to the Exteriors of Religion, are the most devout of any in Spain, though in common Life you find them amorous, gallant, and gay, like other People; yet on solemn Occasions there shines out-right such a Spirit as proves them the very Bigots of Bigotry: As a Proof of which Assertion, I will now give some Account of such Observations, as I had time to make upon them, during two Lent Seasons, while I resided there.

The Week before the Lent commences, commonly known by the Name of Carnaval Time, the whole City appears a perfect Bartholomew Fair; the Streets are crouded, and the Houses empty; nor is it possible to pass along without some Gambol or Jack-pudding Trick offer'd to you; Ink, Water, and sometimes Ordure, are sure to be hurl'd at your Face or Cloaths; and if you appear concern'd or angry, they rejoyce at it, pleas'd the more, the more they displease; for all other Resentment is at that time out of Season, though at other times few in the World are fuller of Resentment or more captious.

The younger Gentry, or Dons, to express their Gallantry, carry about them Egg-shells, fill'd with Orange or other sweet Water, which they cast at Ladies in their Coaches, or such other of the fair Sex as they happen to meet in the Streets.

But after all, if you would think them extravagant to Day, as much transgressing the Rules of common Civility, and neither regarding Decency to one another, nor the Duty they owe to Almighty God; yet when Ash-Wednesday comes you will imagine them more unaccountable in their Conduct, being then as much too excessive in all outwards Indications of Humility and Repentance. Here you shall meet one, bare-footed, with a Cross on his Shoulder, a Burden rather fit for somewhat with four Feet, and which his poor Two are ready to sink under, yet the vain Wretch bears and sweats, and sweats and bears, in hope of finding Merit in an Ass's Labour.

Others you shall see naked to their Wastes, whipping themselves with Scourges made for the Purpose, till the Blood follows every Stroke; and no Man need be at a Loss to follow them by the very Tracks of Gore they shed in this frentick Perambulation. Some, who from the Thickness of their Hides, or other Impediments, have not Power by their Scourgings to fetch Blood of themselves, are follow'd by Surgeons with their Lancets, who at every Turn, make use of them, to evince the Extent of their Patience and Zeal by the Smart of their Folly. While others, mingling Amour with Devotion, take particular Care to present themselves all macerated before the Windows of their Mistresses; and even in that Condition, not satisfy'd with what they have barbarously done to themselves, they have their Operators at hand, to evince their Love by the Number of their Gashes and Wounds; imagining the more Blood they lose, the more Love they shew, and the more they shall gain. These are generally Devoto's of Quality; though the Tenet is universal, that he that is most bloody is most devout.

After these Street-Exercises, these ostentatious Castigations are over, these Self-sacrificers repair to the great Church, the bloodier the better; there they throw themselves, in a Condition too vile for the Eye of a Female, before the Image of the Virgin Mary; though I defy all their Race of Fathers, and their infallible holy Father into the Bargain, to produce any Authority to fit it for Belief, that she ever delighted in such sanguinary Holocausts.

During the whole Time of Lent, you will see in every Street some Priest or Frier, upon some Stall or Stool, preaching up Repentance to the People; and with violent Blows on his Breast crying aloud, Mia Culpa, mia maxima Culpa, till he extract reciprocal Returns from the Hands of his Auditors on their own Breasts.

When Good Friday is come they entertain it with the most profound Show of Reverence and Religion, both in their Streets and in their Churches. In the last, particularly, they have contriv'd about twelve a-Clock suddenly to darken them, so as to render them quite gloomy. This they do to intimate the Eclipse of the Sun, which at that time happen'd. And to signify the Rending of the Vail of the Temple, you are struck with a strange artificial Noise at the very same Instant.

But when Easter Day appears, you find it in all Respects with them a Day of Rejoicing; for though Abstinence from Flesh with them, who at no time eat much, is not so great a Mortification as with those of the same Persuasion in other Countries, who eat much more, yet there is a visible Satisfaction darts out at their Eyes, which demonstrates their inward Pleasure in being set free from the Confinement of Mind to the Dissatisfaction of the Body. Every Person you now meet greets you with a Resurrexit Jesus; a good Imitation of the primitive Christians, were it the real Effect of Devotion. And all Sorts of the best Musick (which here indeed is the best in all Spain) proclaim an auspicious Valediction to the departed Season of superficial Sorrow and stupid Superstition. But enough of this: I proceed to weightier Matters.

While we lay at Valencia, under the Vigilance and Care of the indefatigable Earl, News was brought that Alicant was besieg'd by General Gorge by Land, while a Squadron of Men of War batter'd it from the Sea; from both which the Besiegers play'd their Parts so well, and so warmly ply'd them with their Cannon, that an indifferent practicable Breach was made in a little time.

Mahoni commanded in the Place, being again receiv'd into Favour; and clear'd as he was of those political Insinuations before intimated, he now seem'd resolv'd to confirm his Innocence by a resolute Defence. However, perceiving that all Preparations tended towards a Storm, and knowing full well the Weakness of the Town, he withdrew his Garrison into the Castle, leaving the Town to the Defence of its own Inhabitants.

Just as that was doing, the Sailors, not much skill'd in Sieges, nor at all times capable of the coolest Consideration, with a Resolution natural to them, storm'd the Walls to the Side of the Sea; where not meeting with much Opposition (for the People of the Town apprehended the least Danger there) they soon got into the Place; and, as soon as got in, began to Plunder. This oblig'd the People, for the better Security of themselves, to open their Gates, and seek a Refuge under one Enemy, in opposition to the Rage of another.

General Gorge, as soon as he enter'd the Town, with a good deal of seeming Lenity, put a stop to the Ravages of the Sailors; and ordered Proclamation to be made throughout the Place, that all the Inhabitants should immediately bring in their best Effects into the great Church for their better Security. This was by the mistaken Populace, as readily comply'd with; and neither Friend nor Foe at all disputing the Command, or questioning the Integrity of the Intention; the Church was presently crouded with Riches of all sorts and sizes. Yet after some time remaining there, they were all taken out, and disposed of by those, that had as little Property in 'em, as the Sailors, they were pretended to be preserv'd from.

The Earl of Peterborow upon the very first News of the Siege had left Valencia, and taken Shipping for Alicant; where he arrived soon after the Surrender of the Town, and that Outcry of the Goods of the Townsmen. Upon his Arrival, Mahoni, who was block'd up in the Castle, and had experienced his indefatigable Diligence, being in want of Provisions, and without much hope of Relief, desired to capitulate. The Earl granted him honourable Conditions, upon which he delivered up the Castle, and Gorge was made Governor.

Upon his Lordship's taking Ship at Valencia, I had an Opportunity of marching with those Dragoons, which escorted him from Castile, who had received Orders to march into Murcia. We quarter'd the first Night at Alcira, a Town that the River Segra almost surrounds, which renders it capable of being made a Place of vast Strength, though now of small Importance.

The next Night we lay at Xativa, a Place famous for its steadiness to King Charles. General Basset, a Spaniard, being Governor; it was besieg'd by the Forces of King Philip; but after a noble Resistance, the Enemy were beat off, and the Siege raised; for which Effort, it is supposed, that on the Retirement of King Charles out of this Country, it was depriv'd of its old Name Xativa, and is now called San Felippo; though to this day the People thereabouts much dissallow by their Practice, that novel Denomination.

We march'd next Morning by Monteza; which gives Name to the famous Title of Knights of Monteza. It was at the Time that Colonel O Guaza, an Irish-man, was Governor, besieg'd by the People of the Country, in favour of King Charles; but very ineffectually, so it never chang'd its Sovereign. That Night we quarter'd at Fonte dalas Figuras, within one League of Almanza; where that fatal and unfortunate Battle, which I shall give an Account of in its Place, was fought the Year after, under the Lord Galway.

On our fourth days March we were oblig'd to pass Villena, where the Enemy had a Garrison. A Party of Mahoni's Dragoons made a part of that Garrison, and they were commanded by Major O. Rairk an Irish Officer, who always carried the Reputation of a good Soldier, and a brave Gentleman.

I had all along made it my Observation, that Captain Matthews, who commanded those Dragoons, that I march'd with, was a Person of much more Courage than Conduct; and he us'd as little Precaution here, though just marching under the Eye of the Enemy, as he had done at other Times. As I was become intimately acquainted with him, I rode up to him, and told him the Danger, which, in my Opinion, attended our present March. I pointed out to him just before Villena a jutting Hill, under which we must unavoidably pass; at the turning whereof, I was apprehensive the Enemy might he, and either by Ambuscade or otherwise, surprize us; I therefore intreated we might either wait the coming of our Rear Guard; or at least march with a little more leisure and caution. But he taking little notice of all I said, kept on his round March; seeing which, I press'd forward my Mule, which was a very good one, and rid as fast as her Legs could carry her, till I had got on the top of the Hill. When I came there, I found both my Expectation, and my Apprehensions answered: For I could very plainly discern three Squadrons of the Enemy ready drawn up, and waiting for Us at the very winding of the Hill.

Hereupon I hastened back to the Captain with the like Speed, and told him the Discovery I had made; who nevertheless kept on his March, and it was with a good deal of Difficulty, that I at last prevail'd on him to halt, till our Rear Guard of twenty Men had got up to us. But those joining us, and a new Troop of Spanish Dragoons, who had march'd towards us that Morning, appearing in Sight; our Captain, as if he was afraid of their rivalling him in his Glory, at the very turn of the Hill, rode in a full Gallop, with Sword in Hand, up to the Enemy. They stood their Ground, till we were advanc'd within two hundred Yards of them, and then in Confusion endeavoured to retire into the Town.

They were obliged to pass over a small Bridge, too small to admit of such a Company in so much haste; their crouding upon which obstructed their Retreat, and left all that could not get over, to the Mercy of our Swords, which spar'd none. However narrow as the Bridge was, Captain Matthews was resolved to venture over after the Enemy; on doing which, the Enemy made a halt, till the People of the Town, and the very Priests came out to their Relief with fire Arms. On so large an Appearance, Captain Matthews thought it not adviseable to make any further Advances; so driving a very great flock of Sheep from under the Walls, he continued his March towards Elda. In this Action we lost Captain Topham, and three Dragoons.

I remember we were not marched very far from the Place, where this Rencounter happen'd; when an Irish Dragoon overtook the Captain, with a civil Message from Major O Rairk, desiring that he would not entertain a mean Opinion of him for the Defence that was made; since could he have got the Spaniards to have stood their Ground, he should have given him good Reason for a better. The Captain return'd a complimental Answer, and so march'd on. This Major O Rairk, or O Roork, was the next Year killed at Alkay, being much lamented, for he was esteemed both for his Courage and Conduct, one of the best of the Irish Officers in the Spanish Service. I was likewise informed that he was descended from one of the ancient Kings of Ireland; the Mother of the honourable Colonel Paget, one of the Grooms of the Bedchamber to his present Majesty, was nearly related to this Gallant Gentleman.

One remarkable Thing I saw in that Action, which affected and surprised me; A Scotch Dragoon, of but a moderate Size, with his large basket-hilted Sword, struck off a Spaniard's Head at one stroke, with the same ease, in appearance, as a Man would do that of a Poppy.

When we came to Elda (a Town much in the Interest of King Charles, and famous for its fine Situation, and the largest Grapes in Spain) the Inhabitants received us in a manner as handsome as it was peculiar; all standing at their Doors with lighted Torches; which considering the Time we enter'd was far from an unwelcome or disagreeable Sight.

The next Day several requested to be the Messengers of the Action at Villena to the Earl of Peterborow at Alicant; but the Captain return'd this Answer to all, that in consideration of the Share that I might justly claim in that Day's Transactions, he could not think of letting any other Person be the Bearer. So giving me his Letters to the Earl, I the next Day deliver'd them to him at Alicant. At the Delivery, Colonel Killigrew (whose Dragoons they were) being present, he expressed a deal of Satisfaction at the Account, and his Lordship was pleased at the same time to appoint me sole Engineer of the Castle of Alicant.

Soon after which, that successful General embark'd for Genoa, according to the Resolutions of the Council of War at Guadalaxara, on a particular Commission from the Queen of England, another from Charles King of Spain, and charged at the same time with a Request of the Marquiss das Minas, General of the Portugueze Forces, to negotiate Bills for one hundred thousand Pounds for the use of his Troops. In all which, tho' he was (as ever) successful; yet may it be said without a figure, that his Departure, in a good measure, determin'd the Success of the confederate Forces in that Kingdom. True it is, the General return'd again with the fortunate, Fruits of those Negotiations; but never to act in his old auspicious Sphere: And therefore, as I am now to take leave of this fortunate General, let me do it with Justice, in an Appeal to the World, of the not to be parallel'd Usage (in these latter Ages, at least) that he met with for all his Services; such a vast variety of Enterprizes, all successful, and which had set all Europe in amaze; Services that had given occasion to such solemn and public Thanksgivings in our Churches, and which had received such very remarkable Approbations, both of Sovereign and Parliament; and which had been represented in so lively a Manner, in a Letter wrote by the King of Spain, under his own Hand, to the Queen of England, and communicated to both Houses in the Terms following:

Madam, my Sister,

I should not have been so long e'er I did my self the Honour to repeat the Assurances of my sincere Respects to you, had I not waited for the good Occasion which I now acquaint you with, that the City of Barcelona is surrendered to me by Capitulation. I doubt not but you will receive this great News with intire Satisfaction, as well, because this happy Success is the Effect of your Arms, always glorious, as from the pure Motives of that Bounty and maternal Affection you have for me, and for every Thing which may contribute to the Advancement of my Interest.

I must do this Justice to all the Officers and common Soldiers, and particularly to my Lord Peterborow, that he has shown in this whole Expedition, a Constancy, Bravery, and Conduct, worthy of the Choice that your Majesty has made of him, and that he could no ways give me better Satisfaction than he has, by the great Zeal and Application, which he has equally testified for my Interest, and for the Service of my Person. I owe the same Justice to Brigadier Stanhope, for his great Zeal, Vigilance, and very wise Conduct, which he has given Proofs of upon all Occasions: As also to all your Officers of the Fleet, particularly to your worthy Admiral Shovel, assuring your Majesty, that he has assisted me in this Expedition, with an inconceivable Readiness and Application, and that no Admiral will be ever better able to render me greater Satisfaction, than he has done. During the Siege of Barcelona, some of your Majesty's Ships, with the Assistance of the Troops of the Country, have reduc'd the Town of Tarragona, and the officers are made Prisoners of War. The Town of Girone has been taken at the same time by Surprize, by the Troops of the Country. The Town of Lerida has submitted, as also that of Tortosa upon the Ebro; so that we have taken all the Places of Catalonia, except Roses. Some Places in Aragon near Sarrogosa have declared for me, and the Garrison of the Castle of Denia in Valencia have maintained their Post, and repulsed the Enemy; 400 of the Enemies Cavalry have enter'd into our Service, and a great number of their Infantry have deserted.

This, Madam, is the State that your Arms, and the Inclination of the People have put my Affairs in. It is unnecessary to tell you what stops the Course of these Conquests, it is not the Season of the Year, nor the Enemy; these are no Obstacles to your Troops, who desire nothing more than to act under the Conduct that your Majesty has appointed them. The taking of Barcelona, with so small a Number of Troops, is very remarkable; and what has been done in this Siege is almost without Example; that with seven or eight thousand Men of your Troops, and two hundred Miquelets, we should surround and invest a Place, that thirty thousand French could not block up.

After a March of thirteen Hours, the Troops climb'd up the Rocks and Precipices, to attack a Fortification stronger than the Place, which the Earl of Peterborow has sent you a Plan of; two Generals, with the Grenadiers, attack'd it Sword in Hand. In which Action the Prince of Hesse died gloriously, after so many brave Actions: I hope his Brother and his Family will always have your Majesty's Protection. With eight hundred Men they forc'd the cover'd Way, and all the Intrenchments and Works, one after another, till they came to the last Work which surrounded it, against five hundred Men of regular Troops which defended the Place, and a Reinforcement they had receiv'd; and three Days afterwards we became Masters of the Place. We afterwards attack'd the Town on the Side of the Castle. We landed again our Cannon, and the other Artillery, with inconceivable Trouble, and form'd two Camps, distant from each other three Leagues, against a Garrison almost as numerous as our Army, whose Cavalry was double the Strength of ours. The first Camp was so well intrench'd, that 'twas defended by two thousand Men and the Dragoons; whilst we attack'd the Town with the rest of our Troops. The Breach being made, we prepar'd to make a general Assault with all the Army. These are Circumstances, Madam, which distinguish this Action, perhaps, from all others.

Here has happen'd an unforeseen Accident. The Cruelty of the pretended Viceroy, and the Report spread abroad, that he would take away the Prisoners, contrary to the Capitulation, provok'd the Burghers, and some of the Country People, to take up Arms against the Garrison, whilst they were busy in packing up their Baggage, which was to be sent away the next Day; so that every thing tended to Slaughter: But your Majesty's Troops, entering into Town with the Earl of Peterborow, instead of seeking Pillage, a Practice common upon such Occasions, appeas'd the Tumult, and have say'd the Town, and even the Lives of their Enemies, with a Discipline and Generosity without Example.

What remains is, that I return you my most hearty Thanks for sending so great a Fleet, and such good and valiant Troops to my Assistance. After so happy a Beginning, I have thought it proper, according to the Sentiments of your Generals and Admirals, to support, by my Presence, the Conquests that we have made; and to shew my Subjects, so affectionate to my Person, that I cannot abandon them. I receive such succours from your Majesty, and from your generous Nation, that I am loaded with your Bounties; and am not a little concern'd to think that the Support of my Interest should cause so great an Expence. But, Madam, I sacrifice my Person, and my Subjects in Catalonia expose also their Lives and Fortunes, upon the Assurances they have of your Majesty's generous Protection. Your Majesty and your Council knows better than we do, what is necessary for our Conservation. We shall then expect your Majesty's Succours, with an entire Confidence in your Bounty and Wisdom. A further Force is necessary: We give no small Diversion to France, and without doubt they will make their utmost Efforts against me as soon as possible; but I am satisfy'd, that the same Efforts will be made by my Allies to defend me. Your Goodness, Madam, inclines you, and your Power enables you, to support those that the Tyranny of France would oppress. All that I can insinuate to your Wisdom, and that of your Allies, is, that the Forces employ'd in this Country will not be unprofitable to the public Good, but will be under an Obligation and Necessity to act with the utmost Vigour against the Enemy. I am,

With an inviolable Affection,
Respect, and most
Sincere Acknowledgment,
Madam, my Sister,
Your most affectionate

And yet, after all, was this noble General not only recall'd, the Command of the Fleet taken from him, and that of the Army given to my Lord Galway, without Assignment of Cause; but all Manner of Falsities were industriously spread abroad, not only to dimish, if they could, his Reputation, but to bring him under Accusations of a malevolent Nature. I can hardly imagine it necessary here to take Notice, that afterward he disprov'd all those idle Calumnies and ill-invented Rumours; or to mention what Compliments he receiv'd, in the most solemn Manner, from his Country, upon a full Examination and thorough canvassing of his Actions in the House of Lords. But this is too notorious to be omitted, That all Officers coming from Spain were purposely intercepted in their Way to London, and craftily examin'd upon all the idle Stories which had pass'd tending to lessen his Character: And when any Officers had asserted the Falsity of those Inventions (as they all did, except a military Sweetner or two) and that there was no Possibility of laying any thing amiss to the Charge of that General--they were told, that they ought to be careful however, not to speak advantagiously of that Lord's Conduct, unless they were willing to fall Martyrs in his Cause--A Thing scarce to be credited even in a popish Country. But Scipio was accus'd--tho' (as my Author finely observes) by Wretches only known to Posterity by that stupid Accusation.

As a mournful Valediction, before I enter upon any new Scene, the Reader will pardon this melancholy Expostulation. How mortifying must it be to an Englishman, after he has found himself solac'd with a Relation of so many surprising Successes of her Majesty's Arms, under the Earl of Peterborow; Successes that have lay'd before our Eyes Provinces and Kingdoms reduc'd, and Towns and Fortresses taken and reliev'd; where we have seen a continu'd Series of happy Events, the Fruits of Conduct and Vigilance; and Caution and Foresight preventing Dangers that were held, at first View, certain and unsurmountable: to change this glorious Landskip, I say, for Scenes every way different, even while our Troops were as numerous as the Enemy, and better provided, yet always baffled and beaten, and flying before the Enemy till fatally ruin'd in the Battle of Almanza: How mortifying must this be to any Lover of his Country! But I proceed to my Memoirs.

Daniel Defoe

Sorry, no summary available yet.