ePub 版


Spain; were repeated and admired in Persia and Arabia. Such was Spain once,

but alas ! how fallen. As I have gazed upon her graceful hills, her lofty mountains, and her rich and lovely vales, and then thought of the ignorance and slavish degradation of the people, often have the words of the poet been forced from my lips, and, in the fulness of my heart, I have exclaimed,

“ Where every prospect pleases,

And only man is vile.” The remarks already made, as to the situation of the seaport towns in Spain, apply, with some slight variation, to Barcelona and its environs. This city is one of the oldest in Europe, having been founded by Hamilcar Barco, or Barcino, the father of Hannibal, the celebrated Carthaginian general, from whom, also, it derived its name. It was afterwards held by the nations who successively conquered Spain, and · hence it is, that not only is there a part of the old town built by the Romans still standing, but there are also specimens of architecture in the style of the Moors, the Goths, and other races of people, who have been in power there.

Aside from the ruinous restrictions on commerce, the trade of the place uch less than it would be, if the harbour were good. This is injured by a bar at its mouth, where the water is but fifteen feet in depth. By the use of a steam dredge, however, and the construction of a mole, the harbour is gradually improving.

On leaving the wharf, we first entered the Plaza, or public square. It is a large, open place, without either trees or grass. In front, as you come from the harbour, is a long row of hotels, stores, and dwelling-houses, five or six stories high. On the right hand is the Custom House, and on the left, the Exchange, — both of which are large and fine buildings. In the upper rooms of the Exchange are schools, where gratuitous instruction is given in navigation, and other sciences. As these schools are open in the evening, and no class of persons is excluded, many attend them.

A short distance from the Plaza, on the right, is a large public garden, laid out with much taste, and with fine gravel walks, running in every direction. Fountains were also playing, and beautiful fish sported about in artificial basins, while large and splendid swans, and other water-fowls, sailed around upon mimic lakes, or reclined beneath the shade of

the evergreens, with which the banks were lined. Beside these, there were a number of large wire cages, or houses, ten or fifteen feet in height, and nearly as broad, in which were a great variety of birds, of every size, and form, and hue. Here, a group of eagles, noble and king-like, the monarchs of the feathered race, - sat in silent grandeur, as if musing on their fallen greatness, or moralizing on the rise and fall of empires. Near them, were a number of owls, perched in solemn conclave, all grave and formal, like so many sapient legislators, and each one seeming, by his air, to say, "I am Sir Oracle, and when I ope my mouth, let no dog bark.” Then there were numerous smaller birds, sportive and happy, like the gay and thoughtless votaries of pleasure; intent on present bliss alone, and regardless of the future, they flew about, full of life and motion, and singing a thousand varied strains of wild and joyous inelody. On every side, the shrubs and plants were loaded with blossoms of the richest hue, which sent forth their fragrance upon every breeze. Without the enclosure of the garden, was the Alameda, with its spacious walk, shaded by long rows of trees, between which were a succession of fountains, each graced with its presiding marble deity, and throwing up its jets of water in the air. Ascending the walls, which extended along the right, there spread out before the eye a broad and spacious plain, clothed with the richest beauties of spring. Pleasant country seats and villages were scattered here and there, surrounded on all sides by verdant fields, and blooming gardens, and pleasure grounds. Beyond, rose the mountains, which defended this lovely valley from the cold and wintry winds; in some places presenting a gently waving crest; in others, broken into dark and rugged crags, whose lofty outlines were drawn upon the clear blue sky. We had, before this, been tossed, for a time, upon the pathless deep, where no object met the eye, save the sea, and the sky, and the stately ship which floated along with us, - and where there was no music of birds, and no shrub, or tree, or plant, or flower, was seen. It is not strange then, that, coming at once into the midst of these scenes, where every thing around was bright and beautiful, and blended, withal, with the peculiar excitement of old and high historic interest, - it is not strange, that thus the soul should be filled with rapture, and that man should look up with heartfelt gratitude to Him, who hath so charmed and delighted the senses, by the beauty, the

fragrance, and the melody of Spring. Those feelings were then called freshly to mind, which had often been excited in my native land, by the sudden and joyful outbreaking of Spring, after a long, cold, and cheerless Winter. Such scenes are described by the Wise Man, where he says, “The winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.” At such a time, one may, perhaps, be indulged in a little poetry, descriptive of those feelings, and of those changes in the natural world, to which allusion has just been made.

Stern Winter hath fed, and his icy chain
Is loosed from the mountain, river, and plain;
With the dying wail of an angry blast,
And a shivering chill, he breathed his last.
Thou comest again on thy balmy wing,
O bright and beautiful spirit of Spring;
So cheering thy breath, that the hill and the plain
Awaken to life and to verdure again.
From the height of the mountain the torrent comes down,
With a roar which the voice of the tempest might drown,
While it tosses on high its glittering spray,
Then quick through the valley it hurries away.
But the gentle flow of the lowland stream,
Is soft as the sigh of an infant's dream;
And the slenderest twig of the leafless trees,
Scarce yields to the breath of the whispering breeze.
The birds of the forest joyfully sing,
Thy coming to greet, o beautiful Spring;
To life thou awakest the glories of earth,
To joy in the freshness and pride of their birth.
The sigh of thy breezes how soft to the ear,
How fair to the eye do thy blossoms appear;
In bright sunny fields and the shadowy grove,
All Nature around breathes the spirit of love.
Then awake, awake, to the music of Spring,
For the birds of the forest joyfully sing;
Come list ye with gladness, while freely they raise,

To the God of their life, sweet anthems of praise. The principal street in Barcelona is the Rambla, which runs through the heart of the city, and is the fashionable promenade. It is very broad, with rows of trees on each side, between which and the houses, there is a narrow paved way for carriages, while the wide gravelled road between the rows of trees, is used by those on foot only. There, at certain hours of the day, most of the wealth and fashion of the city may be seen. The other streets are quite narrow, with high houses on each side. I noticed that most of those who sold any particular article, were collected together in a single street. Thus, the silk stores are all in a row, while another street is occupied, from one end to the other, with jewellers' shops. The stores are wholly open in front, and not deep, so that almost every article for sale may be seen by one who is passing.

of the houses are five or six stories high. This is owing to the fact of its being a walled town, so that for a long time there has been no direction in which it could enlarge itself, except upwards. The French, too, while they were in power here, may have done something to give the buildings of the city the style and form of those of their own land. The walls are so broad that carriages may meet upon them, and the ride there, around the city, is very pleasant. They are not more than three or four miles in length, and it seems utterly impossible that one hundred and fifty thousand people could live within such a space, Owing to the crowded state of the population, the cholera made great havoc among them. When we reached Mahon, last Autumn, they were dying at Barcelona, at the rate of three hundred and sixty-five a day. Without the walls there is a ditch, which may easily be filled with water, in case of a siege. The citadel, which is in the northeast part of the city, is very strong, and the fortress of Marqui, on a hill of the same name, some hundred feet in height, overlooks both the harbour and the city. It is a place of great strength, and nine thousand soldiers are stationed there to keep the Carlists in awe, as they are quite numerous in that part of Spain. Their number is owing to the influence of the clergy, who, in the province of Catalonia, are two per cent. of the whole population, and are, of course, in favor of ignorance, bigotry, and despotism, and opposed to the liberal measures of the Queen.

Dryden, in the lines which follow, has aptly described the policy and craft of the Catholic priesthood, as seen in the facts below.

“In times o'ergrown with ignorance,
A gainful trade the clergy did advance;

When want of learning kept the laymen low,
And none but priests were authorized to know.
Scripture was scarce, and as the market went,
Poor lay men took salvation on content;
As needy men take money good or bad :
God's word they had not, but the priest's they had.”

The convents in Barcelona are very large. I had time only to take a hasty glance at two or three of them. That of the Jesuits, which fronts on the upper end of the Rambla, is about two hundred feet long, nearly or quite as deep, and four stories high. The form of most of the convents I have seen is square, with a chapel in front. In the interior is a court from thirty to fifty feet in diameter, which is surrounded on all sides by open galleries, or piazzas, in front of each story. These are supported by pillars, and into them open the doors of the different apartments, and of the halls which lead to the various parts of the buildings. These courts are commonly covered with grass, and a number of orange, cedar, or other trees are growing there. Gardens ' are also attached to these establishments, and they are, in all respects, well fitted for the purposes of education. Most sincerely, then, is it to be desired that ere long they may be freed from the

sway of monkish indolence and bigotry, from the scholastic philosophy of Aristotle, and the mystic theology of Thomas Aquinas, and become schools of the prophets, where those shall be trained who shall go forth and spread abroad throughout Spain the light of science, of civil and religious liberty, and pure Christianity.

The churches which we visited were large and ancient, with old paintings, and with lofty windows of stained glass. On the walls of one of the recesses, in which was the altar of some favorite saint, I noticed a much larger number of the customary offerings than I had ever seen before. These consist of pieces of wax, in the shape of broken legs and arms, disjointed feet, deformed heads, and babies. They are suspended by blue ribands, and have been placed there as tokens of the gratitude of parents, whose children have been restored to a sound formation of these linbs, or for a happy delivery, effected through the interference of the saint. Where the image is in high repute for working miracles, these waxen offerings yield some profit to the priests, who melt them down for candles, which command a good price

« 上一頁繼續 »