Buildings, like poems or pictures, reflect the character of those who conceive and produce them. The Escorial may be likened to a document or a painting revealing the temperament, the aspirations, and the philosophy of a powerful, sombre, and withal, fascinating personality. Its severe form and its restrained embellishment are stamped with the individuality of the monarch who devoted the leisure of thirty years of his life to the erection, extension, improvement, and internal adornment of an immense and costly pile, comprising within its walls a monastery, a church, a burial-fane, a palace, a college, and a gallery of the arts. The Escorial was a place of retirement, an imposing hermitage for the devout and moody Philip II. of Spain. It is a monument to his power, a revelation of his mind; and, if we study the edifice, we shall learn what manner of man he was who founded it. Ferdinand and Isabella consolidated Spain into one great empire, and under their grandson, Charles V., the nation advanced in greatness, until it held sway over vast regions of the New World. When the Emperor Charles yielded sovereignty, in 1556, the sceptre passed to his son, Philip. Two years after, upon the death of the Emperor (Sept. 21, 1558), Philip II. became ruler over the whole of the Spanish dominion at home and abroad. The heir of Charles V. was born at Valladolid on May 21, 1527. His mother was the Empress Isabella, daughter of Emanuel the Great of Portugal, and by his father he descended from Charles the Bold of Burgundy. Under the tutorship of Juan Martinez Siliceo, the young prince received his education at the celebrated University of Salamanca. He excelled in knowledge of the classics, and exhibited considerable linguistic talent, for he was able to write in Latin with facility and possessed an acquaintance with French and Italian. Architecture, painting, and sculpture interested the youth, and he studied mathematics. His royal mother died when Philip was twelve years old. Four years later the prince was betrothed to the Infanta Mary, daughter of John III. of Portugal and Catherine, sister of the Emperor Charles V. In 1543 this desired alliance with Portugal was confirmed by the marriage of Philip to his cousin, the Infanta, in the city of Salamanca. Shortly after the ceremony, the young pair went to reside in Valladolid, and here was born to them a son, Don Carlos, whose mysterious death in captivity at the age of twenty-three remains unexplained. In giving birth to her first child, the princess lost her life. Before the rejoicings of the nation at the birth of a prince were at an end, the country was startled by the death of the young mother, and gaiety was suddenly changed to mourning. From the Cathedral of Granada, where the body of the Princess Mary was buried, the remains were afterwards removed to the stately mausoleum of the Escorial, the resting-place for the bones of the royal family of Spain, which was erected by Philip many years later.