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have sunk beneath the tossing waves to meet his sight po more. New mountains rise, and new valleys bloom around him; or, perchance, he sees but the heaving ocean beneath, and the canopy of heaven above him. Thus is there constant change, and often high and delightful excitement.
The following lines were suggested by our departure from Mahon, and were written in immediate connexion with that event :
We leave the deep and quiet bay,
To tempt the ocean wave;
Which classic regions lave.
Thus floating o'er the deep,
With broad, majestic sweep.
Forth-moving in its wrath,
A dark and angry path, –
Than ocean's onward dash,
Than vivid lightning's flash.
Where, free as ocean's wave,
Nor bow the lordling's slave.
Then, far in depths below,
Where ocean's billows flow.
It was early in April, 1835, that we arrived off Barcelona, and, having sent in a boat for news, parties of officers from the ships were afterwards permitted to visit the city. Though I had been in several Spanish towns before, and for the last four months had boarded in a family where the Castilian tongue was the only one used in our social intercourse, and had, withal, enjoyed some peculiar facilities for becoming familiar with the national customs, and domestic habits and character of the Spaniards, still it was with emotions of no common pleasure that I found myself in the midst of one of the oldest, largest, and most interesting cities of Spain. Before proceeding to describe what we met with there, however, it may be well here to notice some facts relating to the natural features, and the condition and prospects of Spain, with a view to the better understanding of what may hereafter be said in connexion with such places and events as may claim our attention.
Spain was very justly compared, by the ancients, to a bull's hide, distended. A single glance at the map will show the resemblance. We have now sailed along its seacoast, from the southern boundary of Portugal to Barcelona, and the whole presents one unbroken succession of mountains, some of which are quite lofty. Those of Granada, which we passed a few days since, were deeply covered with snow, with here and there a dark, rocky chasm, where a mountain torrent had poured down. They reminded me of the appearance of the White Mountains in New Hampshire, as seen from Portland, late in the spring, when the winter's snows have begun to waste away, and the low, dark groves of cedars show their heads above their covering, thus setting off, in beautiful contrast, the pure and brilliant white of the snow, glittering with the light of a summer's sun. It was delightful to witness these snow-capped mountains, after passing the winter where not even a frost was seen, and the pleasure was not the less, from the contrast that was presented by the green and blooming valleys, which, here and there, were seen along the coast. The whole surface of Spain is quite mountainous, with but few lakes; and, owing to the extreme dryness of the climate, the rivers are neither large nor numerous. The great elevation of the interior gives the streams a straight and rapid course, which makes them less easily navigable than they otherwise would be; while, at the same time, it favors the construction of canals along their banks.
I have already mentioned, that in Minorca, the last year, there was rain but once during eight months; and history informs us, that in the thirteenth century, it did not rain in the kingdom of Toledo for nine months. Hence, the weather much of the year is clear and pleasant, and though famine is sometimes the result, yet the health is not exposed by those sudden changes from warm to cold, and the reverse, by which so many are cut off in some parts of Europe and America. Such a climate is also favorable to the abundance and perfection of a great variety of the delicious and useful productions
of tropical countries. Thus, in the island of Majorca, for example, which is the garden of the Mediterranean, there were exported, four years since, besides a great quantity of oranges and other fruits, fifteen thousand pipes of Olive Oil. This was exclusive of a large home consumption, and thus there was an income of about two millions of dollars for a single article of commerce.
Such facts show what Spain might be, were her labor and commerce free from ruinous restraints and exactions, and should make us rejoice that, under the liberal auspices of the present queen, a brighter day seems to be dawning on that unhappy land. Still is Spain sorely cursed and rent in sunder by civil dissension, and many years must yet elapse, before she will be free from the galling chains of ignorance, bigotry, and superstition.
The queen encourages schools, and a number of newspapers have been recently established, which discuss public measures with much freedom, and are thus diffusing light and knowledge among the people. As to convents, also, she acts on the maxim of John Knox, who, as a reason for demolishing the Catholic Churches in Scotland, with their images and pictures, remarked, — that if he destroyed the rook's nests, the rooks would fly away. For the last six or eight months there has been a law in force in Spain, forbidding any one to join a convent, but permitting those already monks to become parochial clergy. The project of a law has also been proposed, by which the tithes and other income of the clergy, are to be paid into the hands of the government, and the clergy are to receive the same compensation with officers of the army. Thus, an archbishop ranks with a major-general, and has four thousand dollars a year; a bishop and lieutenant-general, three thousand; and so down, through the various grades of canons, vicars, rectors, archdeacons, deacons, priests, curates, &c. These are to rank and receive pay, respectively, with adjutants, colonels, majors, captains, lieutenants, serjeants, and corporals. The inmates of every three convents are to be put together in one; there, without any addition of members, to die a natural death, while the property of the other two, immediately, and that of the third, eventually, come into the possession of government. His Highness, the Archbishop of Seville, who has one hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year, and the Archbishop of Toledo, who has received an annual income of from three to eight hundred thousand dollars, would be sorely straitened by such a sweep, and a large train of horses and carriages, outriders, lacqueys, cooks, and scullions would thus be thrown out of employ.
A Spanish gentleman, who has travelled much on the continent, remarked to me, that one who had not seen the convents of the Dominican Friars in Spain, could form no idea of their splendor and wealth. In some of them, each inmate has his separate establishment, - a fine suite of rooms, richly furnished, and a distinct kitchen, and train of attendants.
Spain has a population of about ten millions, of whom, according to a recent official report, there were, of the higher clergy, 20,000; of the lower orders, 149,822; of monks, 62,250; nuns, 33,628: making in all, 266,000. This is exclusive of 100,000 beggars, who were fed at the different convents. Thus this large number feed, and many of them fatten, on the fruits of the soil, without lifting their hands to labor, or in any way contributing to lessen the burdens by which the mass of the people are ground to the dust. In view of such a state of things, it is not strange, that a government without credit, and oppressed with a heavy national debt, and with an income of but thirty millions of dollars a year, should take for its use, a portion of the revenues of the clergy, which amount to seventy-five millions per annum. The number of churches, convents, and other religious structures in Spain, is 28,249.
It is a singular fact, that the project of the law mentioned above, should have been brought forward by a committee of the clergy. This was owing to the fact, that some of them have acquired liberal views by visiting France, and other countries, where the Catholic religion has been shorn of her baneful splendor by the hand of ruthless power. Fear of a total overthrow may, likewise, have had its influence, and policy dictated that, by giving up a part of their wealth, and thus effecting a compromise, a firm stand might be made against the sweeping power of reform. The measure is also popular among the lower clergy, because formerly they have been greatly oppressed by their superiors, and have received less pay than it is now proposed to give them. But the character and influence of the Catholic clergy in Spain would require a volume to do them justice, in all their bearings. I must, therefore, leave them for the present.
The situation of the seaport towns in Spain is very pleasant. They are commonly at the head of a bay, where the mountains recede far enough from the shore to form a secluded and romantic valley. These vales are sheltered by the surrounding heights, from the cold winds of the interior, while, at the same time, the moisture collected on the mountain side, descends to enrich and beautify the plains below. It is a well-known principle, that the purity and brilliancy of colors depend upon the light which falls upon them, and hence it is, that the dryness of the atmosphere in Spain, and the clear and resplendent sunshine which results from it, give to the foliage of plants and trees, and to the verdure of the fields, a deeper shade of green, and clothe the thousand varied flowers of spring with richer, and more gorgeous hues, than are met with in colder and less genial climes. A number of these valleys, too, are watered by broad and rapid rivers, whose names are known to classic fame, and on whose banks many have fallen in battle, as victims to the love of liberty, or the unhallowed thirst for power, glory, and renown. There is still another feature of interest in these landscapes. It is this. The ancient mode of warfare led to the construction of walled towns for purposes of defence. As these walls required much labor and expense, it was a matter of policy that the town should cover as little surface as possible. Hence the streets were made quite narrow, and the poor were often forced to live in the suburbs, without the walls, where they had a kind of miniature city, from which, in times of danger, they retreated, and sought for safety within the larger city.
But what I mainly refer to, is the necessity that thus arose, for having the vineyards, and fruit-yards, and the gardens for vegetables, on the plains, without the walls. Thus, a large extent of country is often beautifully laid out in beds, parterres, and fruit-grounds, while the vineyards extend to the very summits of the hills and mountains around. Scenes like these, remind one of the valley of Rasselas, or the sweet vale of Avoca. It was among these fertile and beautiful valleys, that many of the songs of the Troubadours were composed, and in Spain, too, Arabic literature enjoyed its golden age. History inforins us, that when the Saracens were in power there, not only were chemistry, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and all the sciences, pursued with a success unknown in any other part of Europe, but music was cultivated as a science, and poetry became a favorite study. Thus the feats of chivalry were celebrated, and the songs, composed in