Las alforjas.

London, Richard Bentley, 1853.

Two vols., 8vo, pp. [iv], 315, [1]; [ii], 302, [2, advertisement]; with an engraved title in each volume; a few isolated spots, pale dampstain in foot of vol. II half-title, old pencilled ownership inscription on vol. I half-title; a good copy in the original pink cloth; slightly rubbed and soiled, spines rolled and a little dulled, front endpaper of vol. II damp-stained at foot; contemporary ownership inscription ‘Hoddington’ in pencil on vol. I half-title; from the library of Ian Robertson (1928–2020).


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First edition; scarce, especially in the original cloth. Owing to poor health, George Cayley (1826–1878) toured Spain in 1851–2, partly in the company of his future brother-in-law, the Hon. Henry Coke. He steamed down the Mediterranean coast from Barcelona to Málaga and thence to Cádiz before spending about two months in and around Seville. After Coke’s arrival early in February 1852, the two of them proceeded to Ronda, by chance encountering an old Cambridge friend and his wife at Olvera. From Ronda they rode to Gibraltar and then, after a visit to Tangiers, to Málaga, Granada and Madrid. From Madrid they made excursions to Cuenca and Toledo, eventually returning to France via the Escorial, Segovia, Valladolid, and Burgos. Cayley’s entertaining travel account, written in the form of letters to his future wife Mabel, was published in Bentley’s miscellany (August–December 1852) as The saddlebags, or, The bridle roads of Spain, before being incorporated into Las alforjas. ‘In the preface to a second, slightly shortened, edition, renamed The bridle roads of Spain (1856), Cayley addressed complaints that the book contained fictions by identifying them, saying he was following other authors and also demonstrating “how a seed of suggestion, picked up by the way side, germinated in the note-book, and finally expanded in printed leaves of florid narrative” ’ (Oxford DNB).

‘Cayley was bearded and fair-skinned. His bohemian appearance, craftsmanship, versifying, and independent attitudes caused him to be regarded as an eccentric. He was a cigarette smoker before the habit became fashionable and, according to Lady Ritchie, “had a high, harsh voice, with a chord in it”. Henry Coke remembers him as an “always lively, and sometimes brilliant” conversationalist. He was very selective in his friends, who included Thackeray, Caroline Norton, Stirling-Maxwell, Monckton Milnes, Millais, and A. J. Munby.’ (ibid.).

Palau 50673. See Robertson, Los curiosos impertinentes (1992) pp. 176–7.

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