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for funeral processions and masses.
I have also seen pieces of money presented as an offering, for money found by the aid of the saint, and rude pictures of ships, pieces of mouldy ropes and cables, and even oars of vessels, saved from being wrecked by assistance from the same source. In one chapel which I visited, a small image of the Virgin Mary was pointed out to me, which was held in great repute for the benefit it was supposed to confer in those cases where an addition is made to the number of the human family. On this account it was so often stolen by mothers, and kept in their houses until after the happy event, that, to prevent this, it had been found necessary to fasten it to the altar.
The fact that some images of a particular saint are held in much higher estimation, and receive far more offerings than others of the same saints, clearly shows that the image, rather than the person whom it represents, is regarded as the giver of the benefits received, and thus becomes the real object of much of the veneration that is paid at its shrine. One cannot be long in Spain without ceasing to wonder, that the Catholics should have stricken from their copies of the Decalogue the command of God which forbids the making and the worship of graven images; and no one, who is not strangely blinded by education and prejudice, can fail to perceive that the whole system of saint-worship, borrowed as it was from the heathen custom of paying religious honors to their deified heroes, gives to weak and sinful man that glory which belongs to God alone, and thus is directly opposed, not only to the plain commands of the Most High, but also to all those descriptions of his character where He speaks of Himself as a jealous God, who will not give his honor to another, nor his praise unto graven images.
A severe blow was given to Christianity, when the Pantheon, at Rome, which had been a temple for the images and the worship of all the heathen deities, with Cybele, the mother of the gods, at their head, was converted into a Christian church, and the Virgin Mary, and all the saints of the calendar, were put in the places, and received the veneration, which had been paid to their pagan predecessors. But this was only a single act in that great drama, which has justly brought upon the Catholic religion the title of “ Baptized Heathenism," and which reached its acme of accommodation to pagan rites and prejudices when the Jesuits of
China taught their converts, that paying religious honors to the ancient heroes of the Celestial Empire, was an act acceptable to the Most High.
I have seen the image of a saint, in gorgeous array, placed on his holyday on a kind of throne, in the centre of a spacious church, filled with devout and kneeling worshippers. A long train of priests, richly dressed, were for hours engaged in chanting masses, and in all the varied and imposing rites of the Catholic church, while ever and anon a splendid organ poured forth its rich and powerful melody, filling the soul with high and strong emotions. Then a long procession left the church, and passed through the streets of the city, led onward by the priests, with waxen candles borne before them, and loudly chanting as they went, all in honor of the saint. And when these rites were past, and I have stood and gazed upon an eager throng of females, pressing round the image, and having humbly kissed the hem' of its garments,
perhaps raised a little child so that it might do the same, then lifting the eyes to heaven, while the face was glowing with all the warm devotion of an ardent soul, thus silently invoking the blessing of the saint ; then have emotions of painful interest arisen, and I have thought how Paul must have felt when, at Athens, his spirit was stirred within him, on beholding the city wholly given to idolatry.
The pictures and images in Catholic churches often give incorrect, debasing, and even disgusting views of Scripture scenes and characters. The Spanish call the Virgin Mary the Lord God's mother, and all their pictures of her, with Christ as an infant in her arms, or lying in the manger, or as a little child by her side, conspire, with the rites of the church, in making the impression on the mind, that she is a more important character, and deserving of higher veneration, than the Saviour himself. A traveller in Mexico describes a picture of the Last Supper, which is in a church there, where the cherubim and seraphim are acting as cooks and scullions. They are represented as little else than head and wings, but all busily employed. One is scouring a dish, in a kind of modern European kitchen; another is blowing the fire in the Spanish manner; a third frying eggs; while, in the back-ground, some are officiating as waiters, handling the plates, and making all necessary preparations. Aside from numerous tawdry paintings of hell and purgatory, where the flames are rolling up, and hideous-looking devils are piercing poor wretches with pitchforks, one of the most revolting things I have seen, is a representation of Christ, as the Good Shepherd, feeding his flock. He is painted as large as life, and in a sitting posture. Around him are a number of sheep, some of whom are drinking the blood which is flowing from his wounded feet, while others, with their fore feet upon his lap, are receiving with open mouths the red streams which are gushing from his side and hands. I turned away from the disgusting sight, sick at heart, that the folly of man should thus burlesque and degrade the beautiful figures of the Bible, in attempting to maintain the dogma of the literal and bodily presence of Christ, in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Such are some of the results of supposing that our Saviour used other than figurative language, in phrases of the same class with that in which he said, “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”
The Cathedral at Barcelona is a vast structure of the Gothic order, and was founded in the thirteenth century, by Raymond Berenger, the patron of the Troubadours. There are in it numerous altars, some of which occupy recesses as large as a country church in New England, and the whole structure within has the vast, sombre, and imposing air which is peculiar to the old Catholic churches. Those I have seen in Europe are less open, and admit far less light, than the Cathedral at Montreal, and others in America. allel rows of lofty Aluted pillars of stone, about ten feet in diameter, extend the whole length of the Cathedral at Barcelona. In the centre a large space is inclosed by a partition thirty or forty feet high. Within this, about fifty priests were seated, most of whom were old and quite fat. They were ranged in rows facing each other, each one with a book and candle in his hand, and those on one side responded to those on the other; and thus, with dull and sleepy tones, they chanted forth their evening prayers. The idea of having fifty or one hundred priests attached to a single church, none of whom do any thing for the benefit of the people, is one which does not agree well with Yankee notions of activity and usefulness; and I never enter one of these antique and gloomy structures without feeling, that they were never intended for public instruction, and the cultivation of enlightened piety, but rather for imposing on the senses, and filling with mysterious awe a deluded and ignorant multitude.
Two parMy excursions into Spain have extended but a short distance from the seacoast, still, with what may be learned from books, they furnish sufficient data for a general description of the face of the country, and of the more striking features of Spanish landscapes. As you advance into the interior, a succession of mountains and elevated plains everywhere meet the eye, except that on the banks of the rivers in the southern provinces, fertile meadows spread out here and there, which, by the charm of contrast, give increased effect to the more wild and rugged features of the surrounding scenery. Where the soil is properly watered, vegetation, at this season of the year, presents that shade of deep and living green, which is peculiar to warm and fertile climes.
But what strikes a stranger, is the almost entire absence of fences and enclosures of every kind, except it may be here and there a solitary hedge. No man is permitted to enclose his fields without a special license from government, and so much expense and trouble are required to obtain it, that few make the effort. This restriction is owing in part to the Maesta, a code of laws, by which the right of driving immense flocks of sheep from one extremity of Spain to the other, is granted to an association of nobles, and rich convents, to whom they belong. These flocks have the free use of all the commons, olive grounds, and unenclosed fields, and in the two tracts in which they pass through the country, no enclosures can be made, without leaving a space of twenty-five rods in width for their accommodation. In the most cultivated districts, they have the right of using the pasturage at a low price. The shepherds have also certain privileges as to cutting wood. More than five million of sheep, with twenty-five thousand shepherds, as many dogs, and a large number of horses, thus lay waste the finest provinces of Spain.
War has likewise exerted its blighting and desolating influence, forcing the inhabitants to collect together in cities for mutual defence, while the robbery resulting from the ignorance and poverty, and the low state of morals of the common people, and the oppression exercised by the nobility and clergy, has rendered a residence in the country, in many places, extremely insecure. Large tracts of country are also destitute of population, from their being owned by the nobles, convents, and other wealthy proprietors. Thus, as in Ireland, the soil has to sustain not only the cultivator, and the indolent and spendthrift owner, but likewise all the intermediate grades
of overseers and stewards. The taxes, too, are very heavy, while the restrictions on foreign commerce deprive the country of any sufficient outlet for its surplus produce; and the bad state of the roads, and the different dialects of the various provinces, prevent free intercourse, and internal trade. The contempt of labor arising from warlike pursuits, and chivalrous feeling, which has come down from feudal times, and the inducements there have been for the enterprising to emigrate to Mexico and South America, for the purpose of acquiring fortunes, have likewise done much to lessen the prosperity of Spain. The motives for effort in acquiring wealth must, of course, be small, where the people have no voice in the public councils of the nation, and their property, and their lives, may be taken from them, at the beck of lawless and irresponsible power. The people are also extremely ignorant, and as the few public journals have formerly been entirely under the control of government, there has been no possible means of making public the abuses of rulers, and thus the salutary check of a fear of exposure has not exerted its restraining and correcting influence. The Inquisition, too, acting with a wanton and reckless disregard of the principles of justice, and with bloodthirsty cruelty, has destroyed her half a million of victims; and as her deadly shafts were so often aimed at the wealthy, for the sake of the spoil, and the children, and children's children of those who suffered, were deprived of their civil and religious rights, and branded with deep and hopeless infamy; not only were many thus prevented from making efforts for acquiring property, but much of the wealth of the country was kept in concealment, or not invested in such a way as to benefit the public, for fear that it might be seized upon by those greedy vampires, who, under the holy garb of religion, drew forth the life-blood of the nation. It was by the influence and efficiency of the Inquisition, also, that the Jews and Moors, who had done so much to enrich and fertilize Spain, were, in open violation of national faith, cruelly expelled from what was to them their native land. The corruption, bribery, and smuggling, in which so many of all classes are either directly or indirectly engaged, or at which they connive for the sake of personal benefit, have likewise done much, not only to injure the morals of the people, but also to prevent the acquisition of either wealth or office, by honest and upright means.
The following is one of many examples which might be