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Count de Quale suffered a still heavier blow,
in losing a tithe of all the receipts of the
post-office, an immense income in these degenerate
letter-writing days.

The higher nobles are usually quite as
unwilling as they are unfit to serve the state.
Now and then, indeed, when government desires
to be well represented by some splendid
embassy, it takes advantage of the grandee
passion for display, and despatches one of the
class on a foreign mission; but then he is
usually sent in company with some shrewd
secretary, who performs the work.

Lastly, the Hidalgos. To this class belong,
almost entirely, the small house and land-owners,
and the greater part of the persons
employed by government. Fortune, on the
whole, however, deals but hardly with them.
But never mind, whichever way the winds of
fate may blow, the weathercock of his prosperity,
the genuine creak of a Hidalgo never
changes; whether he owned Peru or a pomegranate,
he would be Hidalgo still. His very
walk betrays him; you can see him afar off
snuffing the air, and know him by his knees
so close together, and his feet so wide apart.
Almost a third part of the nation is said to
belong to this class; and it is surprising how
it nevertheless keeps up its distinctive character,
and how carefully fathers and mothers
will warn their offspring from the horrors of
those so-called misalliances, which might yet
regenerate and save them from contempt. It
is a melancholy farce to see how these great
minnows insist on the proofs of ancestry before
contracting marriage with a stranger, and
how every act of social intercourse is encumbered
with forms and ceremonies, one more
ridiculous than the other. No Hidalgo may
become a public executioner, a butcher, crier,
or the landlord of an inn, if he will not lose
his rank and become incapable of holding any
other office. In every peculiarity the inhabitants
of the Basque provinces, said to be all
Hidalgos, bear away the palm; and one, so
late as the reign of Philip V, is said to have
written on his marriage contract, "Don X.
noble come el Rey" (noble as the King); though
that, to be sure, very often is not saying much.

On the whole, Spain may be said to be in
the blest condition, pictured in the eloquent
prayer once put up by a noble Poet at present
roaming in the Woods and Forests. It holds
no high place among nations, but it has its
"old Nobility" left- and plenty of it. Spain
can want nothing more.


MAY a comfortable person talk about his
comfort? Let me speak. Our house stands
on the site of a rookery. Our viaduct of a
street has been elevated above the level of one
of the most fetid, ill-drained, and disreputable
parts of Westminster. But a few years ago,
it required a stout heart, a strong arm, and a
light purse, to walk from Parliament Street
to our house after nightfall. There were
narrow, dirty, ill-drained streets, gin-palaces,
night houses, smelters' dens, where the
"kettle was always kept boiling," to receive
and inelt down the ill-gotten gold and silver
which sturdy, grim-visaged men, and haggard,
hardy women, brought from all parts of the
town. A few years ago, the site of our street
was to Westminster what the "Mint" still
is to the other bank of the river- the home
and the breeding-place of fever, dysentery,
and crime, neighbour to virtuous poverty and
hopeless suffering. Philanthropic adventurers
undertook expeditions across our district, but
on such occasions they were escorted by the
police; and even with this protection they
were advised to leave their watches and
jewellery in some place of safety.

All this is changed now. The Board of
Health, and the Improvement Commission,
have been at work in our district. They
have cleansed it and ventilated it. They
have made drains, and cut it in all directions
with broad long streets. What they have
done for the people who thronged in the little
houses- upon whom they are now pressed-
Heaven knows! Our street was the first
improvement finished, and it was opened with
great ceremony.

For every foul hut pulled down, there
ought to be a fair one built, or other lodging
space provided for the miserable people
"cleared away." If not, of course we only
aggravate the misery which we affect to put
more out of sight. How the case may be in
this respect as regards our street, I do not
know, but in itself it is a great improvement.
It is all very well, some said, to put down a
rookery and make a long street, but who
would take the building-ground in such a
locality, and who would build the houses such
a street required? and if the houses were
built, who would take them? That was the
question, and they paused for a reply.

While they still were pausing, our house
was run up. It is a large house, with dozens
of windows. It is three stories high; it has
above thirty rooms, and looks like a castle;
but none of us can say it is "his castle."
None of us can shut the house-door, put the
key in his pocket, take in provisions through
a loophole, and defy the sheriff's officers. One
of the chief peculiarities of our house is, that
a man must not be in debt if he would live
in it. Our house, in tact, is built on the plan
of the large Paris houses, to make up half-a-dozen
homesteads, and accommodate half-a-dozen
families. It is like one of the hotels
in the Faubourg du Roule, specially improved
and adapted for the use of English families.
It has no French back-doors and back-stairs;
nor is our house made to assemble all social
ranks and grades under the same roof. Our
house is built on the same plan throughout.
The upper floors are exactly on the same
scale as the lower ones; they have the same
accommodation, and are let at very much the