ePub 版

effort was too much for him, however, and he burst out into a fit of immoderate laughter. The imposition was too gross and barefaced for a friar even to swallow.

These friars were of the order of St. Augustine, he having been the first who built a convent, and collected together, and placed under fixed rules, those, who, before his time, had dwelt only in the caves and deserts of Egypt, and other eastern countries,



Few Changes in Spain. - Church and State. — Policy of the Popes. - The

Inquisition. - Traces of its Influence. - Chuetas, or New Christians. Saracens and Moors. - Languages of Southern Europe. - Catalan Dialect. - Authors. - Seamen good Linguists. - Leave Mahon. - Life at Sea. Poetry. -- Arrive at Barcelona. - Outline of Spain. - Climate. - Majorca. - The Queen. -Convents. — Income of the Clergy. -Their number. Towns and Cities. — Suburbs.- Saracens. - Barcelona. — Its Founder.Buildings. - Public Garden. — Birds. – Scenery around. — Beauties of Spring. - Poetry. - The Rambla.- Walls of the City. - Castle. - Convents. - Churches. – Offerings. - Idolatry. - Saint worship. - Paintings. - Cathedral. — Priests. — Spain. -Face of the Country. - Sheep. -Condition of the People. — Inquisition. – Bribery. - Oppression. – Scene at Sea. – Poetry.- Modes of Female Dress. — In France. - In the United Stales. — In Spain. - Female Devotion and Heroism. - Female Soldiers.

I HAVE somewhere met with a fable, in which a man was said to have come to life after having slumbered in the grave five hundred years. In visiting various countries with which he had once been familiar, he was filled with such astonishment at the mighty changes which had taken place, that he could scarcely believe that he had returned to the same world he had before inhabited. At length, when in his travels he reached Spain, he exclaimed, “True enough, it is indeed the same world, for here is old Spain, just as she was five hundred years ago.” And so indeed it is; for there is scarce a country on earth, the Celestial Empire not excepted, where the character and customs of the people have changed so little as in Spain. This is owing almost wholly to her system of religious faith, so sustained and enforced by the temporal power with which the church has there been armed, as almost entirely to exclude foreign light and influence. This power too has been directed, with deadly energy, against both the civil and religious liberty of the people.

Thus has Spain, for a long succession of ages, suffered from an unholy alliance of church and state, which has ever been like an incubus on the vitals of Christianity, and which, when most widely prevalent, gave to the Popes more power than has ever been wielded by any other human beings. This power, too, has been so employed, as to elevate the few at the expense.

of the many, — to shroud whole nations in mental and moral darkness,

- to depress agriculture and commerce, and to convert some of the fairest and most productive portions of the globe into abodes of indolence, wretchedness, want, and crime.

The Catholic religion is, in its nature and claims, wholly intolerant and exclusive, and has long been a political, rather than a religious system. The Popes have uniformly favored and sustained those parties in the church, and those orders of monks which have been most obsequious to themselves, and have shown the greatest zeal in defending and increasing the temporal power and possessions of the church. In doing this, they have often, as in the case of the contest between the Jesuits and Jansenists, sided with those who were most corrupt, both in doctrine and morals. In those cases where there have been long and virulent disputes between parties in the church, each of which was numerous and powerful, the Popes, where they could do it, have not only refused to give a final decision against either, but have also prevented general councils of the church from doing so. This policy has been pursued for fear of making either party an enemy, and thus losing its support. Where, however, a decision has been forced upon them, not only have they, at times, sided with the most corrupt, but where a sect has been utterly condemned and excommunicated as heretical, the church has not wholly cast them off if in any country they had, like the Jansenists in Holland, peculiar power and influence.

We can hardly forgive even so good a man as Augustine, for permitting his strong natural passions and the heat of controversy, to lead him so far astray as to advance and defend the principle, that it is right for the church to punish, even unto to death, those who err from her rules of faith. But little did he imagine that he was laying a foundation for the Inquisition, that engine of cruelty and blood, by means of which the Catholic church has brought such dire reproach upon the Christian name, and incurred such deep-stained guilt, as richly to deserve the curse of heaven and the execrations of mankind. With reference to the fact, that when it had been for a time suppressed it was again revived, well might the poet, with words of withering power, address its guilty agents thus.

“ Cowled demons of the Inquisitorial cell,

Earth shudders at your victory; for ye

Are worse than common fiends from Heaven that fell,
The baser, ranker sprung, the vilest born of Hell.
Go to your bloody rites again, - bring back
The hall of horrors, and the assessor's pen,
Recording answers shrieked upon the rack:
Smile o'er the gasping of spine-broken men:
Preach, perpetrate damnation in your den,
Then let your altars, ye blasphemers, peal
With thanks to Heaven, that let you loose again
To practise deeds with torturing fire and steel,

No eye may search, no tongue may challenge or reveal.” But thanks be to God, the Inquisition has now been crushed, to revive, as we trust, no more for ever. Still has it left behind traces of its influence, enstamped on the national character of the Spanish, which ages will not obliterate.

The bloody rites of the Inquisition, its public and private tortures, the wheel, the rack, the gibbet, and the stake, the fact that a man might glut to the utmost his love of revenge, by charging an enemy with heresy, thus not only destroying him, but plunging his family in infamy and want, while the false accuser was himself not known as the author of this ruin, - these have been efficient causes in making Spain a land of dark and brooding suspicion, of deep and deadly malice, of private feuds and bloodshed, and of bloody and ferocious civil wars.

The Dominican monks have ever had the main control and direction of the Inquisition, and their convents were the richest in Spain. On the walls of the corridors, or public galleries of their convents, one may often see long lists of the names of those who were burned by the Inquisition. The descendants of these heretics are called Chuetas, or New Christians; and though hundreds of years may have passed since the burning of their ancestors, still, however learned or wealthy these Chuetas may become, none of them can hold office, nor will the old Christians, the real Simon Pures, who are free from such a stain on their family escutcheon, intermarry or associate with them. Some few of them indeed have studied, and taken orders as priests abroad, and have been permitted to retain their office after their return to their native land. In some of the large towns in the group of islands to which Minorca belongs, there are great numbers of those, who have thus been disfranchised and degraded, because their remote ancestors were charged with being heretics, and were burned for it. This is visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children, with a vengeance. The numerous punish

ments of heretics is one of the lesser facts which go to prove, that the Catholic church, which is ever boasting of its unity, has been rent in sunder by more numerous, deep, and bitter sectarian divisions, than have existed among all others who bear the Christian name. No sect has ever yet proved just and pure enough to be safely intrusted with the sword of civil power, thus placing in its hands the liberties of the people : and the main security there is for the continuance of civil and religious freedom in the United States, is found in the jealous watchfulness of each of the great leading religious sects, over the exclusive claims and encroachments of the others.

The Golden Age of Spain, as to improvement in science and the arts, was when the Saracens and Moors were in power there; and it is truly mortifying to reflect, that any religion which bears the name of Christian should have proved less beneficial in its influence on national character, prosperity, and happiness, than the bigoted, intolerant, sensual, and superstitious system of the Arabian impostor. The expulsion of the Jews and Moors from Spain, not only gave a deathblow to commerce and the arts in that country, but, by leaving the Catholic religion alone there, without the modifying and restraining effects of competition, and, armed with the rack and the faggot, opened the way for all those abuses, of priestly power, and that cruel oppression of the people, beneath which that ill fated land has so long groaned.

The languages of southern Europe, including those of Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France, were derived from a mixture of the Latin of the ancient Romans, and the Teutonic, which was used by the northern nations, who overthrow the Roman empire. Much the larger number of words are of Latin origin, while the forms in which they are used are a compound of the two languages, being more simple than the Latin, and more complex than the Teutonic. Some Arabic words were also introduced into the Portuguese and Spanish languages, while the Moors and the Saracens were in power in the Peninsula. The oldest of these southern dialects was the Provençal, which had its origin at the court of the King of Arles, about the year 880, more than two centuries before the Castilian, or common Spanish, had a being. The Provençal was the language of the Troubadours, those wandering bards, who at an early age acquired, by their poetic efforts, uch reputation and influence, that kings and princes of the

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »