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The yokes for oxen are a long, straight beam, through which, in place of bows, a small iron rod passes down each side of the neck, their lower ends approaching within a few inches of each other, and are tied together with a string, Around these rods old cloths are sometimes wound, to keep them from chafing the neck, and in such yokes an ox, and an ass or mule, are often seen working side by side.
The plough consists of two pieces of wood, one of which is upright, with a handle by which to guide it, while the lower end bends forward, and has on it an iron shoe, with a sharp point, and a socket, so that it may be removed at pleasure. This shoe is about the weight of a common pickaxe, and the furrow made by the plough is from four to six inches wide. To this upright stick another is attached, which reaches the yoke, and is fastened to it by means of strings. Chains I have never seen used there, in agriculture. If a New England farmer had such a plough, he would only keep it to laugh at, or, at most, hang it up in his cornfield to keep the crows off.
In addition to the modes of dress, the stoicism of manner, the dances, the musical instruments, and other things which may hereafter be noticed, as having been derived from the Moors, there is one habit which, by its universal prevalence in Spain, has peculiarly struck me. It is the smoking of tobacco; - and sure I am, that the Spaniards, in their devoted attachment to this nasal indulgence, cannot be surpassed by the most devout Mussulman, who, with his long pipe, decked with its costly amber mouth-piece, sits amid clouds of smoke, and, from morning till night, dreams of the pearly bowers, the delicious odors, and fair-haired girls of Paradise. I have often seen a large number of beggars lying on the ground, in the public square, basking in the sun, each one of them puffing away at a short earthen pipe, scarce reaching beyond the end of his nose, and seeming to enjoy it with all the sensual gusto of a first rate amateur in the art of fumigation.
When visiting Beni Mahmoud, we were much amused with witnessing the manner of making butter and cheese, though the sight was far from giving us an appetite for the former of these articles. In making cheese, a strong infusion of the flower or down of the Cynard Cardunculus, a species of wild artichoke, is used. This having been steeped over night, half a pint of the liquid is put into every fourteen gallons of the new milk of sheep and cows, mingled together, which causes it to coagulate. The curd thus formed is put into a cloth, and pressed by placing a heavy stone upon it. The cheese thus made weigh six or eight pounds each. More of the infusion already noticed is put into the whey which remains, which is then boiled violently over the fire, until a portion of it coagulates. It is then poured into a tub, of the size of a half barrel, to cool. Then a man, with huge shovel-shaped feet is seen stripping up his pantaloons, when lo! he steps into the tub, and commences churning, or rather stamping out, the butter! Shade of Lord Chesterfield, is not this enough to rouse thee from thy resting-place, and call forth one long, loud shriek of horror, in view of such an awful desecration of all decency and taste ? When this stamp duty is ended, the thick part is strained out, and heated until it becomes an oil, when it is again strained into earthen jars, and, having been salted, is ready for use.
One important source of revenue to the Spanish clergy is the sale, each year, of certain papers containing Bulls, or Decrees, issued by the Popes. The principal of these is the Bull of Crusade, which is issued on the supposition of a perpetual war with the Infidels, from the fact that Spain holds the fortress of Ceuta, in Africa. The yearly purchase of a copy of this Bull, is a necessary requisite for receiving the communion and absolution, and gives the privilege of eating milk, eggs, and butter during the forty days fast of Lent.
To eat these articles without owning the Bull, is held to be a mortal sin.
The Flesh Bull gives to its purchaser the right to eat meat during Lent, with the exception of Passion Week. The price of these Bulls, to the common people, is about forty cents a year, but the rich pay much more than this for them. Each member of a family old enough to eat the articles specified, must each year purchase a copy.
There is also a Defunct Bull, which is purchased for the benefit of deceased persons, by their friends. The conditions of it are, that if the name of one who is dead be entered upon it, his soul 'thus obtains a plenary indulgence, if suffering the pains of purgatory.
In addition to these regular sources of revenue, the prevalence of the cholera furnished to the Catholic clergy an opportunity to speculate on the superstition and credulity of their followers, too good to be neglected. In order duly to
avail themselves of this favorable exigency, the Spanish bishops issued, in their respective dioceses, papers having on then a picture of a cross, and certain letters and characters referring to directions in the margin, showing its merits and the manner in which it was to be used. In the prayers and other matters, which are to be repeated by those who would escape the pestilence, the cross itself is made an object of idolatrous worship. The following are extracts : “Cross of Christ, save me. The cross conquers, — the cross reigns,the cross commands. By the sign of the cross, free me, O Lord, from the pestilence. The cross of Christ is powerful to expel the pestilence from this place, and from my body. The cross of Christ drives away demons, impure air, and the pestilence. 0, sign of the cross, free, from the pestilence the people of God and all those who trust in thee." Thus, throughout the Catholic service, the cross, and images of the Virgin Mary, receive far more reverence and worship than either God the Father, or the Son. Directions are also given, on this paper, to pray to the saints, that they may be intercessors with the Father, to avert the pestilence. These papers of the larger size were sold for twenty or thirty cents each, and a smaller and cheaper one was prepared for the poor, so that none might excuse themselves from buying one. They were commonly placed on the outside of the front door of each house, just as in old times horse-shoes were nailed on the masts of vessels and the thresholds of houses, to frighten away the devil.
That this was the only benefit which the mass of the people could hope to derive from these mystic emblems, is evident from the fact, that the Castilian dialect, or common Spanish, in which this paper was published, is widely different from the Catalan dialect, which is spoken in Minorca, so that many could no more read it than they could so much Choctaw. The more intelligent, who freely spoke of the whole matter as a mere money-making trick, still said that they did not like to offend the clergy, by refusing to purchase the papers. One old gentleman, who had put the paper on the back, instead of the front, door of his house, shrewdly remarked to me, that he did so because he thought that the cholera would be quite as apt to come in that way as the other.
With a view to show the peculiar merits of this device, as a defence from pestilence, the paper closes thus : “ The members of the Council of Trent, who carried this cross with them, (which was prepared by St. Zacharias, a bishop, and, found in a convent in Spain,) were not attacked by the pestilence which prevailed in Trent, in the year 1346. The same succeeded ultimately in Portugal. It can also be proved, by authentic records, to the confusion of the incredulous, that in Malaga and Cadiz, those who have carried this cross with them, or have placed it on the doors of their houses, have been free from the pestilence." These facts are given as the motive why the Spanish bishops caused these papers to be printed and circulated; while, to increase the sale, they granted from forty to eighty days' indulgence, or freedom from the pains of purgatory, to every one who purchased and used them. So much for Catholic superstition in the glorious nineteenth century.
As, during my temporary residence and frequent excursions in various parts of southern Europe, I had frequent opportunities of visiting convents and monasteries, and as friars, monks, and nuns will probably soon exist only among the memorials of the past, it may be well to say something as to the character and modes of life of these singular recluses. The suppression of convents in Spain, while we were in that region, led to many disclosures as to the morals of monks and nuns, and at the same time unsealed the lips of the people, as to disgraceful facts, which they had known but had feared to divulge.
At the time of our first visit to Minorca, the convent of Monks on the summit of Mount Toro, near the centre of the island, and elevated some fifteen hundred feet above the surrounding country, was one of the most interesting objects of curiosity there. With a party of friends, all mounted on those long-eared gentry, whose least vulgar name is donkey, I visited that convent. This, by the way, is the common mode of travelling there, as well for ladies as gentlemen. There is but one carriage with wheels in the island, and that is one of those antique and clumsy old chaises now met with only in Spain. They are low and large, and the bodies are often covered with such uncouth figures as are seen on Chinese tea-chests.
As we had sixteen miles to travel, and wished to return the same day, we left Mahon early in the morning. This was the more necessary, as donkeys move at a much slower rate than either steamboats or the cars of a railroad. There is,
at first, something quite ludicrous in seeing a party of gentlemen, who pride themselves on their personal dignity, mounted on such low, misshapen animals. True, donkeys are more sure of foot than horses, and they will climb, too, almost anywhere that a sheep or a goat can ; but then they have such a humble gait, and they carry their heads so low, withal, that it seems as if they felt ashamed, and were looking for a burrow where they might run under ground, and hide themselves. And then the salutations they give when they meet a friend! Those who like such music are wel. come to it. True, it is downright sonorous, deep-toned, and hearty, but too much of a good thing is worse than nothing. The very thought of such melody makes me nervous, and the abortive screechings of a mule, even, are far less trying to me.
We passed along what is called Kane's road, from its having been made by an English Governor, of that name, more than a century since. It is thirty feet wide, and extends the whole length of the island, from Port St. Philip, at the mouth of the harbour of Mahon, to the walled town of Cittadella, a distance of more than thirty miles. It is almost the only road there that is kept in good repair, and the only one that would be passable for carriages. We met on our way many peasants, who were going to Mahon to market. They were in parties of from two or three, to eight or ten in number, the majority of whom were females. All had poor little donkeys, looking as if they had come in for their full share of the evils of famine. Most of them were loaded with large panniers and sacks, filled with charcoal, vegetables for market, tiles, earthen jars, and other articles.
The men wore short jackets, and old slouched hats, or red woollen caps. The women had handkerchiefs on their heads, tied under the chin, and over these some wore coarse straw hats, with huge brims, such as are used by females of the same class, in Canada. Most of them, however, had the Sunday hats of their husbands and brothers, the cotton hand-, kerchiefs under them making up for any deficiency in the size of the cranium. These hats were of various forms and sizes, from the large bell-shaped crown of the rustic dandy, which were worn by the younger damsels, to the upright, broad-brimmed, patriarchal covering of the elders of the land, which now graced the heads of the matrons. The greater part of them were on foot, and urged on their poor little