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tory, by which it is claimed that Toledo was founded by the Jews, who, in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, followed the conquests of that monarch, when he came to chastise the Phænicians of Spain, for the aid which they had given Tyre, when he besieged that city, we know that Hannibal, and after him the Romans, captured Toledo, and the latter made it the capital of Carpitania. In the year 550, however, after Spain had been overrun and laid waste by the Huns, the Vandals, the Alans, the Suevi, and the Goths, led by such men as Alaric and Attila, known by the title of “ The Scourge of God," Athanagild, the Gothic king, who had risen to the throne by the aid of the Emperor Justinian, fixed upon Toledo as his capital, which honor it retained under his successors, until the invasion of the Saracens under Taric, in the beginning of the eighth century. And here I scarcely need allude to the splendors of the court of Don Roderic, the last of the Goths, the foul disgrace inflicted on the daughter of Count Julian, the ablest of his generals, the consequent defection of the injured chieftain from the cause of his king and country, the aid which he gave the Arabs in their conquest of Spain, thus, for the crime of his former monarch, wreaking his deep and bitter vengeance on his native land, - the hard-fought and decisive battle of Xerez, the rapid capture of the towns of Southern Spain, the mustering of the hosts of the Saracens before the lofty walls and turrets of Toledo, the secret treachery of the Jews, who, in revenge for the wrongs and oppression which they suffered at the hands of their Christian masters, admitted the enemy into the city by night, — the splendid spoils that were found there, and the wealth and brilliant prosperity which followed this hasty conquest. These, and numerous other topics connected with the many romantic legends of the conquest of Spain, our countryman, Irving, has so invested with the magic charms of his pure, chaste, graceful, and polished style of narration, that it were almost sacrilege for any other hand to touch them.
Toledo was the capital of a succession of Arab kings, until 1085, when it was captured by Alfonso the Sixth, king of Castile, who made it the see of an Archbishop, to which he attached the primacy over the whole Christian church in Spain, a distinction which she has continued to retain from that time until the present. During the rule of the Saracens Spain enjoyed unexampled wealth and prosperity,
owing to the fact, that religious toleration was enjoyed, thus uniting the efforts and the energies of all classes of citizens, for the promotion of the public good, while, at the same time, many useful improvements, both in agriculture and the arts, were introduced by the eastern invaders. The tribute ex. acted by the conquerors was light, and thus, with the shrewd and enterprising Jews for merchants, and the Arabs, and the ancient Spaniards to devote themselves to agriculture and the useful arts, the southern and central parts of Spain assumed an appearance of wealth and of fertile productions, such as have been known in no other period of their history. It was, too, the golden age alike of Jewish and Arabic literature. Not only were splendid public schools and libraries founded, where literature and science Aourished to a degree then unknown in any other country of Europe, but Euclid and other scientific works were translated into Hebrew, - the Talmud, with its wild and beautiful fictions, so well adapted to the oriental tastes of the Saracens, exchanged its Chaldee for an Arabic dress, and the harps of Judah, which centuries before had been hung upon the willows, while by the rivers of Babylon their captive owners had sat themselves down and wept, were now in gladness of heart again resumed, and the songs of Zion, clothed with the measured melody of Arab verse, were heard sweetly to echo amid the fertile plains and the rude and classic mountains of Spain.
But when Alfonso the Sixth aitacked and subdued Toledo, the very city which had furnished him with a safe retreat, when fleeing for his life, and the crescent waned before the rising power of the cross, another and far different state of things succeeded. The cruel edicts, and the bloody scenes enacted by the successive councils of Toledo, before the invasion of the Moors, by which the Jews and all who favored them were subjected to stripes, imprisonment, fines, banishment, or death, were again revived, and the Moors and their abettors were pursued by a like savage and relentless persecution, until both of these classes of citizens, by far the inost industrious and useful in Spain, were driven forth from their native land by the fires and fagots, the scourge and the rack, and those other instruments of torture, with which Catholic bigotry had armed that child of hell, misnamed the Holy Inquisition. Suffice it here to say that in Toledo alone, during the short space of seven years, this tribunal condemned and punished 6,341 persons, while in all Spain, during the eighteen
years which Torquemada was Grand Inquisitor, he consigned to the flames 10,220 victims; 6,860 were burnt in effigy after their death, or in their absence, and 97,321 suffered the punishment of infamy, of confiscation of their property, of perpetual imprisonment, and exclusion from all office and places of honor. Thus 114,401 families were doomed to lasting and irretrievable infamy and ruin, to say nothing of the wide-spread circle of friends and connexions, who were more or less affected by the sufferings of these unhappy victims of more than savage cruelty. And yet all this was for the crime of being rich, or because they worshipped God according to the dictates of their own consciences, or be
some unknown informer chose to make them the victims of his secret and malignant hate.
The evening was far advanced, when, crossing the bridge, far below which the Tagus took its noisy course among the rocks, I was stopped at the gates of Toledo, by the soldiers who were just then closing them for the night, but who, on hearing my story, permitted me to pass. After winding my way along the steep and narrow streets, at length I found an inn, where I was soon at home, and surrounded by a curious and motley group of inmates, and visitants, all anxious to Icarn my history, and wondering at my rashness in travelling by night, and alone, through a desolate and unprotected tract of country. And to tell the truth, my dangerous adventure when returning from the Escurial, and the frequent warnings of my friends in Madrid and elsewhere, ought, perhaps, to have taught me wisdom; still, as it is a general fact that people do not travel by night in Spain, and there is therefore no inducement for robbers to venture abroad, I have thought that it might be safer to be upon the road then, than during the day.
Early on the morning after my arrival, I sallied forth to see the wonders of the place. One of the first buildings that I entered, had evidently been a convent. It was a vast, antique looking structure, half Moorish, and half Gothic in its style, and centuries ago it had, doubtless, no small claims to richness and magnificence. As I strolled about alone, through the spacious court and cloisters, and the long and lofty chapel of what seemed to be a retreat, of sad and hopeless celibacy, how great was my surprise at distinctly hearing, that most appalling and discordant of all sounds in the gamut of household melody, — the squalling of an infant. The mystery was soon solved, however, by meeting an old woman, with twenty or thirty little girls following her, with their tangled locks standing out towards all points of the compass. She told me that the place was a foundling hospital; a strange appendage, truly, to a city so small as Toledo now is, and peopled for so long a time, mainly by priests, monks, and nuns, all bound by solemn vows to lives of chastity and celibacy. Townsend, who travelled in Spain near the close of the last century, and who was intimately acquainted with all ranks of the clergy, from the Archbishops of Seville and Toledo, down, found no one except the latter prelate, who defended the celibacy of the clergy. He speaks favorably of the morals of the bishops, but says that the canons, and lower clergy, were very profligate. The more strict of the bishops would not permit the clergy of their respective dioceses, to keep their illegitimate children in their houses, and, being thus turned out upon the world, with disgrace for their only legacy, they often grew up in misery and crime, instead of becoming, as under a happier order of things they might have done, useful and virtuous members of society. I have uniformly found that the Catholic priests abroad, speak of the prohibition of marriage, as a grievous matter to them; as comparatively a modern innovation in the church, and a yoke from which they would gladly be freed.
I had letters of introduction to some of the dignitaries of the church of Toledo, kindly furnished me by an aged priest in Madrid, – a very social, pleasant, and intelligent man, but of strong political prejudices and feelings. I had helped him discuss, among other good things, a box of choice cakes and confectionery, which was part of an annual present made him by a convent of nuns in one of the provincial towns of Spain, where he had officiated in his early days, and was deservedly popular. He hated Napoleon Bonaparte most devoutly, and refused the offers of the Abbé De Pradt, to introduce him to the Emperor when he was in Madrid. Still, he was very friendly to the Americans, and had been intimate with many of our ministers, and other diplomatic agents at the court of Spain, for a long succession of years. One of the canons of the cathedral to whom I was thus introduced, was a mild, worthy old gentleman, of fine literary taste, and a great admirer of Metastasio and other Italian poets. Though he had been confined to his room for two or three years by the infirmities of age, he was still cheerful, and spoke with pleasure of the different American travellers who had called upon him, but remarked that they were always in great haste, in the business of sightseeing. Indeed, moving as Yankees commonly do, upon the high-pressure principle, they utterly astonish the people of the old and quiet nations of Europe. An English gentleman told me a few days since, that he had then just parted with two young Americans, in the South of Italy, who were making a thorough tour of Europe, seeing every thing, and crossing it by two different routes, and
yet, when they first arrived in England, they engaged their passage home in a given packet, expecting to reach New York on their return, just seven months from the time they first left it.
In the valley of the Tagus, about a mile from the gates of Toledo, is the large Royal Manufactory, where the famous Toledo blades for swords, are made. They are often mentioned, both in history and romance, and such is their elasticity and temper, that a man may safely bend one round his body, until both ends meet, and when released, it suddenly regains its former straightness. This has been attributed to the peculiar properties of the waters of the Tagus, by the aid of which they are tempered; as, during the French invasion, the workmen, with the same materials, were unable to make weapons of similar perfection, when removed to the southern parts of Spain. It was the festival of the "Three Kings,” as the Catholics call them, (in other words, of the three wise men from the East, who came to worship Christ at the time of his birth,) when I was at this manufactory, so that I did not see the laborers at work. The building which they occupy has a new, fresh appearance, and is in the form of a convent, with a large open court in the middle. A guard of soldiers was stationed on one side of the main entrance, and on the other was a neat chapel, in which a priest was performing mass. In addition to the soldiers and other inmates, there were several peasants present, who had brought with them articles for market. Among these last, was a ragged fellow with half a dozen chickens, all picked and ready for cooking; and, as he wished to say his prayers, he placed his chickens just without the door of the chapel, so that he could keep one eye fixed upon them, and at the same time unite in the devotions going on within. Thus, like many a greater man, who, while he joins in form the public worship of his Maker, has his heart upon his splendid equippage without, or upon