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the water is quite picturesque and striking. It extends back from a perpendicular precipice one hundred and fifty feet high, which overhangs the narrow quay below. The row of houses and stores which extends along the water's edge, has here and there been crushed by large masses of rock from the heights above, and part of some of the steep, zigzag roads which wind their way up the sides of the hill, lie in ruins at its base. The salutes fired by ships of war in the harbour, are thought to have loosened these portions of rock, and there are now clefts in the surface above, which may well cause the dwellers over and beneath them to tremble.
The houses are built of a soft freestone, which abounds in the island, and which is easily cut into large, square, or oblong blocks. They are from one to three stories high, whitewashed or painted yellow, with no space between them, and the streets, most of which are paved, are quite narrow. Thus there are neither yards nor gardens, of any extent, within the town, and little is seen, in walking along the streets, but the bare walls, except that the houses of the better sort, as is common in Europe, have balconies in front of the windows of the upper stories. These are formed by an iron railing about three feet high, making a little cage of the width of the window, and projecting out two or three feet from the wall. There the ladies spend much of their time, in pleasant weather, inspecting passers by, and returning the salutations of their friends. On the numerous holidays of the Catholic church, too, these balconies are crowded, that thus the splendid processions and other objects of interest in the streets below, may be seen to advantage. At such times tapestry of rich and gaudy colors is often suspended from the balconies, reaching far down towards the ground, and giving, to the long, straight streets of some of the larger cities, a peculiarly gay and cheerful appearance.
And here I would remark, that the education, and the social and religious training and habits of the Spanish, and other thoroughly Catholic nations, as first they present themselves to the attention of a reflecting Protestant, cannot fail to excite in his mind feelings of peculiar, and often of painful interest. The old maxim of the church, that “ Ignorance is the mother of devotion,” if not openly avowed, is too much acted upon, and, in those countries where the Catholic faith has either originated despotism, or formed an alliance with it, there seems to have been, on the part both of the civil and
religious rulers, a deadly fear, lest the mass of the people should, in some way, be able to know and to feel their right to liberty of thought and action. The policy of the Catholic church has long been to give to a few, who were to rule the rest, a superior education, and allot to them so much of power as to make them, from selfish motives, efficient agents of her will. From the great body of the people, however, intellectual pleasures and excitements have been almost entirely withheld. In the schools for the lower orders, in Spain, especially in those where females are taught, little else is done than to sew, knit, and repeat the prayers of the church, and the names of the saints. But, should they even learn to read and write, they have, until recently, had no newspapers that could at all enlighten or improve them, and but few books of interest, except works of most unearthly romance, and plays. Singing, dancing, playing on the guitar, and a slight knowledge of French, are the highest accomplishments at which the most favored aim. Of singing and dancing they are passionately fond, and seem to regard those who are ignorant of them as truly to be pitied.
The Sabbath, that main stay of morals and religion, is regarded, in Catholic countries, mainly as a day of sport and revelry, of military display, of visiting, and every kind of worldly amusement. The people, with neither Sunday Schools nor Bibles, hear but few sermons during the year, and these leave the heart and duty to God almost wholly out of the question, and excite only to the observance of the outward rites and ceremonies of the church, and the worship of the saints. At church, they hear the priests chant prayers in an unknown tongue; they count their beads, and thus make sure that they have repeated the Pater Noster and Ave Maria a given number of times, their only aim being to go over with them with the greatest possible rapidity. They then return home, having commonly finished the religious duties of the day by seven or eight o'clock in the morn-' ing, and, with no rational and serious way of spending the time, what is to be expected of them but that they should devote the Sabbath to visiting and recreation.
To give the people amusements is the most effectual way of diverting their attention from their true situation, and of causing them to forget the chains of mental slavery with which they are bound. Hence the holidays, the masquerades, and dissipation, frolic, and madcap revelry of the Carnival,
are almost as real and essential a part of the Catholic religion, as are a belief in the supremacy of the Pope, and the chanting of prayers for the dead. The priests, too, are constant attendants at the theatre, are often at masquerades, and sometimes at the gambling-table, and Catholics in Spain think it strange that a Protestant clergymen should object to joining in the same amusements. Intelligent laymen do not pretend to deny the frequent and often gross and abandoned licentiousness of their clergy, nor is such conduct regarded as at all disqualifying them for the duties of the priesthood. There is, indeed, one Catholic city in which the priesthood are so notoriously profligate and abandoned that it has been necessary, in order to prevent the dissipation and riot which they caused by night, to pass a law forbidding all priests and friars from appearing in the streets after seven o'clock in the evening. One of the officers of our ship informed me, that he was once at a cockfight in that city on a Sabbath, when a friar entered, and, having carried around his hat for alms, forthwith staked the money received on the result of the fight.
ISLAND OF MINORCA.
Geology of the Island. - Stone Walls. - Early and Latter Rain. - Famine.
Food for the Poor. - Great Suffering. - Climate. - Scenery.- Languages. - A Spanish Friend. - Epistle of Severus. - Early Conversion of Jews in Mahon. - Relics of St. Stephen. - Orosius. - Miracles. — Persecution.Results. — Traces of the Moors. — Agricultural Implements. — Smoking.Butter and Cheese. - Catholic Bulls. — Antidote to the Cholera. - Visit to Mount Toro. - Donkeys. - Peasants. — Dress and Manners. - Convent. - Friars. — Their Mode of Life. — Neglect of Duty. – Morals of Friars.
The island of Minorca presents a singular appearance to the eye of the stranger there. From the head of the harbour of Mahon, a valley extends back, dividing two tracts of country, which are quite unlike each other. On the right of this valley, the rocks are all of the species called greenstone, or trap. These, however, on the northern shore, in some places give way to ledges of slate. Beneath this greenstone is a strata of red earth, which, in some places, has become hardened to stone. This earth is used for making brick, and the tiles with which houses are covered. The hills on this side of the island, instead of abrupt cliffs, have commonly a smooth and gentle slope. This is owing to the loose structure of the rocks of which they are composed, and the ease with which they are broken to pieces.
The surface of the southern portion of the island is composed of limestone, of various qualities. Near the surface it is hard, and much of it is very porous, containing caverns and small holes. Where it has been cut through it is often almost as open as a honey-comb, and, where it is sufficiently compact, is easily cut into blocks of any shape which may be required for building. This strata of limestone is forty or fifty feet thick, and beneath it is a deposit of sand, earth, and round stones of various sizes, which have been much worn by the action of water upon them, at some former period. This deposit rises, in some places, many feet above the present level of the sea, and the traces of each wave, as, ages ago, with its undulating motion, it left behind the earth and stone with which it was laden, may still be distinctly seen. The same fact is often noticed in the United States and elsewhere, in connexion with deep cuts and excavations, for railroads and canals. It shows conclusively that the earth has, at some former period, undergone a mighty convulsion, by the action of water.
Almost the whole of this island was once nothing but solid rock, and the slight covering of soil which there now is has been formed mainly by the attrition of the rock, and the decay which has been going on at the surface. The limestone cliffs are steep and abrupt, separated often by deep chasms, and containing many caverns, some of which are quite large. On the sides of the hills, à succession of terraces are in some places built, to prevent the rain from washing away the scanty soil placed there, and these, when covered with the olive and the vine, present a most beautiful appearance. The same method of improving every foot of ground is still practised in Malta, and elsewhere, and prevailed among the ancient Jews, in those days when Palestine was spoken of as a land flowing with milk and honey.
In Minorca, in order to free the surface from the mass of stones which covered it, immense walls have been built, which are from four or five to ten or twelve feet high, and rarely less than three or four feet thick. These divide almost the whole island into lots of from half an acre to three or four acres each, and all the numerous roads and lanes are lined with similar walls. Immense labor has thus been expended, and still the points of the rocks so rise above the soil that it would be impossible to use an American plough in tilling the ground. While taking my daily walks, I often thought what a striking illustration there was everywhere around me of that part of our Saviour's parable of the sower, which speaks of the seeds which fell upon stony places, and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth; and, when the sun was up, they were scorched, and, because they had not root, they withered away.
The people of Minorca, like those in Judea, and other countries in this part of the world, are mainly dependent on the early and the latter rain, for the growth of their crops. The year previous to that in which we wintered there, with the exception of a shower in May, there was no rain from March till September, and but little for eight months. This, with the heat of the summer's sun, caused the wheat and other crops so to wither, that scarce enough was raised for