Letter to Mrs. Lydia Swain

August 20, 1870

Mss 12: S-g 1, Series A, S-s2, Folder 13


Gibralter (sic), Spain

Aug 20th 1870


My dear friend

I did intend to write you before leaving Malaga but we worked so hard that when night came we had to go to bed. 

Our stay in Paris was short the city was in a state of excitement and nearly all business matters were very much affected by the war.  We left Paris on the 12th, staying only one day which was sufficient, through considerable exertion for our purpose as we had some painting materials to purchase.

We took the railroad to Bayonne and entered Spain by what is called the "northern route" through a country of the most picturesque description.  The people also differed very much from those we had just left.  They speak neither Spanish or French and as Murray says "They are a peculiar race who speak a language having no relation with any other in Europe".  Mr. Tiffany could speak French enough to get along while we were in France but after passing the "Pays Basques" we never heard a word of English or French spoken until we reached Madrid, and there we found only one man we could talk with, and he spoke English very badly, but as we were not to stop long we did not mind as much and it was only a little difficult to get along with our arrangements.  We arrived in Madrid on the 14th, just one week ago.  The view of the city as we approached it was very impressive – the city is located on a plain somewhat elevated from the surrounding country and the city enough to be brought to a focus in some tall —- and a fine dome in the foreground were tall poplars with their green foliage forming a pleasant relief to the sun browned desert that surrounded us everywhere.  At the depot we found a large number of cabs awaiting the occupants of the cars and when we made our exit we were quickly surrounded by a jabbering crowd of porters who threatened to overwhelm us.  After a while we safely reached the "Hotel Peninsulares" – tired out with our continued tensions possibly.  After taking a nap [caret] I suppose I ought to call it a first [end caret] we went out to walk and saw the city.  Everything in these Spanish cities are so different from anything we have in our own country that the experience one gets makes you long for your own home customs and home friends.  In the afternoon we visited the "Museum of the Fine Arts"  They have a glorious collection of pictures there.  The most important paintings by "Murillo?" are there and it was a perfect delight  to see such splendid  work – all the most important things by "Velazquez" are also there – There are also six or eight of "Titians" best things besides any number of large works by "Rubens" which by the way I don’t like very much that is – anything like as much as works by other men.  His works all have a certain coarseness amounting almost to vulgarity that is very disagreeable to me.  It was our intention at first to stay a day or two in Madrid but the scenery was not particularly nice and it was broiling hot and we concluded to push on to Malaga and see if we could not find a cooler place although much farther south we thought the sea air would make it more endurable, and we found it so. 

Before reaching Malaga we passed through the "Tierra Morena?" range of mountains and most impressive quantity of scenery I have never(sic) seen it was finer than anything on the Pacific Rail Road.  The road runs right through masses mountains on the tops of which the clouds rest.

We reached Malaga in the evening hour 9 o'clock and found a man at the depot from the Aleamean Hotel who spoke English very nicely – we secured his services and were hurried off to the Hotel.  After having our baggage handled by the custom house officer we were glad to get another good nights rest  We had been traveling so incessantly we were worn out, what with the great heat and almost sleepless nights.  The facilities for traveling nights are not by any means to what we have at home.  They use here what are called the English coach cars – and there are seats for only eight – that number in the car leaves you no room to turn around.  As you sit along side of each other – that is four sit face to face with four others.  Sometimes a greater number crowd in, then if any man in the car wishes to smoke he does so and you can judge how delightful it must be, particularly in the night and with closed windows as you are almost always unfortunate enough to get into a car with some one who has a mortal fear of pure air.  We found Malaga interesting – during all the time we were there we worked very hard and I have a number of things in consequence.  We arrived here in Gibralter (sic) day before yesterday – the 19th and have been looking around to decide what to do. We will commence working tomorrow -Monday – We find it very hot at mid-day and have to keep —- at that time.  There is a large quietness in the atmosphere that takes the energy out of one and makes  you feel like sleeping.  We are very much disappointed in not finding Gibralter(sic) more interesting. the —– is wonderful but we find less picturesque material than in almost any other place we have visited.  We shall probably stay here a week longer and then if the weather is not too hot we shall take the steamer and go to Tangier on the African coast, we have seen some photographs from there and we will probably find what we want there.  I am home sick today and would like above  all things to be at home with you all.  I have had no letters from home as yet and begin to want to hear so much.  I have to get a great amount of work done before the time expires for me to return home so that I can feel that I have made the best use of my time.  When If I do return home again I hope to find all things going on happily but very much fear that it will be otherwise [this section is overwritten and not entirely legible]———————-It is so difficult to see clearly or to know how to live a true life.  But my —- is getting used —.   Finally?? I wish Katie Tallm– would write me —— 


With my best love I remain

Ever yours

– Robert