On our way to the Museo, Bailli took us to the house of a friend of his, in order that we might taste real Manzanilla wine. This is a pale, straw-colored vintage, produced in the valley of the Guadalquivir. It is flavored with camomile blossoms, and is said to be a fine tonic for weak stomachs. The master then produced a dark-red wine, which he declared to be thirty years old. It was almost a syrup in consistence, and tasted more of sarsaparilla than grapes. None of us relished it, except Bailli, who was so inspired by the draught, that he sang us two Moorish songs and an Andalusian catch, full of fun and drollery.
The Museo contains a great amount of bad pictures, but it also contains twenty-three of Murillo’s works, many of them of his best period. To those who have only seen his tender, spiritual “Conceptions” and “Assumptions,” his “Vision of St. Francis” in this gallery reveals a mastery of the higher walks of his art, which they would not have anticipated. But it is in his “Cherubs” and his “Infant Christs” that he excels. No one ever painted infantile grace and beauty with so true a pencil. There is but one Velasquez in the collection, and the only thing that interested me, in two halls filled with rubbish, was a “Conception” by Murillo’s mulatto pupil, said by some to have been his slave. Although an imitation of the great master, it is a picture of much sweetness and beauty. There is no other work of the artist in existence, and this, as the only production of the kind by a painter of mixed African blood, ought to belong to the Republic of Liberia.
Among the other guests at the Fonda de Madrid is Mr. Thomas Hobhouse, brother of Byron’s friend. We had a pleasant party in the Court this evening, listening to blind Pepe, who sang to his guitar a medley of merry Andalusian refrains. Singing made the old man courageous, and, at the close, he gave us the radical song of Spain, which is now strictly prohibited. The air is charming, but too gay; one would sooner dance than fight to its measures. It does not bring the hand to the sword, like the glorious Marseillaise.
Adios, beautiful Seville!