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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,
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 punishments 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 improveinent 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, such reputation and influence, that kings and princes of the highest rank eagerly engaged in making verses, ambitious of the fame that they might thus acquire.
This Provençal, or language of Provence, was essentially the same with the present Catalan dialect, which is spoken in Catalonia, Valencia, and the group of islands to which Minorca belongs; so that even now the natives of the south of France, where the Provençal originated, and those in Spain who use the Catalan, are perfectly intelligible to each other. Though I have seen but few books in this dialect, still, from residing in Mahon, and from having on board ship servants who spoke the language, some knowledge of it was forced upon me. Many of its words more nearly resemble French than Spanish, and, from their often having one or two syllables less than the corresponding Spanish words, the language has thus gained in brevity and force, while it is, at the same time, greatly deficient in the full and sonorous melody of sounds, which is the peculiar glory of the Castilian tongue. Of Catalan authors, Ausias March, of Valencia, who died about 1450, has been ranked with Petrarch, as to harmony and brilliancy of expression, and is said to have given the language a high degree of polish and perfection, while at the same time the spirit of exalted piety, which pervades his poetry, has given to it a peculiarly tender and touching interest. John Martonell, on the other hand, excelled in a light and graceful style of narration in prose, and gave to the language a pliancy and ease it had not known before. “ Tirante the White," a romance of his, published in 1435, was one of the first books ever printed in Spain. It has been frequently translated into other languages, and the French version of it has been widely circulated. The readers of Don Quixote may recollect that this romance was one of the books in the old knight's library, and that the author speaks of it as —"A treasure of contentment, a mine of delight; and, with regard to style, the best book in the world."
In Mahon, there have been engrafted on the original Catalan, uncouth and vulgar scions from most of the languages of Europe, to say nothing of the traces of the dialect of the Moors. The excellence of the harbour has in times past made it a favorite place of resort for the ships of war of most European nations, and there has also, at times, been much commerce there. At the Lazaretto, at the mouth of the harbour, which is one of the largest in Europe, vessels from all parts of Spain used to be required to perform quarantine, and
thus have many of the people learned something of the language of most commercial nations in the world. too, in their way, excellent linguists, as all their lives they are holding intercourse with foreigners, both in port and on ship-board, and hence they become quite skilful in imparting to others a knowledge of their own tongue, as also in learning foreign languages. True, the vocabulary of terms and phrases which they acquire and impart, is by no means the most select, grammatical, and refined, nor are the words most used always to be found in dictionaries; still they are not wanting in pith and point, and are well understood by the parties using them. Though sailors' heads, when on shore, are commonly not very clear and scholarlike, still they have a reckless and fear-nought feeling, which frees them from all that peculiar sensitiveness, as to making mistakes, which is one of the greatest obstacles in the way of learning to speak a foreign tongue. Hence they readily stumble into such a knowledge of foreign languages as answers their purpose, and leave behind them traces of their own peculiar dialect. In this way have English, Dutch, French, Italian, and other words become so blended with the Catalan, as used by the lower classes in Mahon, as to form a singularly odd and amusing compound. Many of the higher class can read and speak Castilian, which is by law the only language used in teaching children in schools, but the great mass of the people are almost wholly ignorant of it.
It was just at evening, near the close of March, when we left Mahon, and were again abroad upon the deep, expecting to proceed to Naples, and from thence to Rome, in time to witness the solemnities of Holy Week. Some news as to our relations with France, however, which were then somewhat critical, changed our course, for the time, to the eastern coast of Spain.
And here I would remark, in passing, that this living in a floating ocean-home, is a strange business to one who tries it for the first time. It puts all his ideas of time, place, direction, and distance, most strangely out of joint. At night, the ship is riding quietly at anchor in a harbour, and he retires to rest. In the morning he awakes, and is moving swiftly through the deep. He hears, scarce a foot from where he lies, the surging billows rushing past him, along the polished sides of the ship. He ascends to the deck, and the green hills and dark mountains, on which he gazed at sunset,