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given, of the corruption which prevails at the Spanish court. Some years since, the King of Spain sent an order to an ingenious mechanic in Mahon, to make him a pleasure barge. It was finished in the neatest style, was an elegant model, and was fitted out with all the rigging and equipments of a miniature ship of war. When completed, it was taken to pieces, put up in boxes, and carried to Madrid. The King was delighted with it, and asked the price. The man told him, that he charged nothing for it, but would be happy to receive an office, which was then vacant in Mahon. He was put off with promises, and spent a long time in dancing attendance on the court. At length, after having expended about four thousand dollars, which was all his property, he left the city in despair. On his way home, he was telling his story to a fellow passenger, who, after hearing him through, replied thus : “I, Sir, am appointed to the office which you sought, and you might have obtained it, if, instead of spending your money as you have done, you had paid it to one of the king's ministers, as I did.”.
In a free country like our own, we little realize how great is the privilege of civil and religious liberty, and how bitter is the curse of belonging to a land, where, for mere opinion's sake, a man is exposed to proscription and punishment. A short time since, a Spaniard, who is an industrious mechanic, and a man of property, told me, that he was formerly a constitutionalist, and when the King was restored, he was seized and cast into the common jail, together with nineteen respecto able townsmen of his, and thirty-six officers of the army. After having been confined thirteen months, he was set at liberty, by paying six hundred dollars. During this period, his family had been on expense, he had lost his customers, and was wellnigh ruined. All this was merely for differing in his political opinions from the party in power. I did not wonder at the resolution he expressed, of selling his property as soon as he could, and removing to the United States,
But, notwithstanding all that there is dark and revolting in the annals of Spain, still there is much of high and romantic interest in Spanish history, and many noble and redeeming trails in the character of the people. Her natural scenery is also grand and imposing, and she has many towns, and mountains, and rivers, which are rich in classic fame. A few days since, I was sitting at the cabin window, looking out upon the world around. The other ships of the squadron
were, like ourselves, dashing boldly onwards, at the rate of eight or ten knots an hour, while the boiling foam rushed swiftly past us, like a chafed war-horse, bounding beneath his rider. Near us were Saguntum, and the ancient Iberus, by battles on whose banks, the fate of the Roman Empire was twice decided. The mountains and valleys of Spain, too, on which we gazed, were the same which had beheld the contests of the war-armed legions of olden time, who had here fought, fell, and crumbled to dust, to gain a short-lived honor for their leaders, and enrich a soil now trodden underfoot of slaves. Those who have been placed in the midst of such exciting scenes, will not wonder that the rhyming mania should then have seized me. Such was the origin of the following lines.
0, who hath felt the noble bark
Or who hath sailed where classic waves
Or who hath floated swiftly by
Or who hath seen his country's flag
If such there be, ne'er let him go
For wealth or honor's spoil. Much may be learned, as to the character and morals of a nation, or of a smaller community, by observing the prevailing fashions as to dress, and the nature and frequency of the changes which these fashions undergo. Look, for example, at the French, and in their gew-gaw finery, and the constant and endless succession of changes in their gay and tawdry modes of adorning their bodies, how correct an image do we see of the vain, thoughtless, airy, and fickle nature of their minds. Observe, too, the index that we have of the morals of this same people, in the styles of female dress which they originate, and which prevail in the fashionable walks of life. What violence is done to nature, in attempting to improve that symmetry which God has given to the human form, by torturing it into an unnatural, disfigured, and wasp-like shape. We shudder at the wanton cruelty of the Chinese, in confining the feet of their female infants in shoes of iron, that they may never exceed the fashionable size. But this custom affects only the extremities of the body, while the other, by compressing the lungs, and preventing the full and healthy action of the heart, aims directly at the seat of life, and often causes gross deformity and premature and lingering death, And here I would barely allude to those indecent exposures of the person, which, of late years, public taste has too often sanctioned, and which, originating with the profligate milliners of Paris, were introduced for an object, and with a moral effect, which need not be mentioned. It is, indeed, true, that the prevalence of such fashions in our own land, is not so much an index of the state of public morals, as a proof of our love of personal distinction, and our proneness to imitate the customs of foreign nations. As we have no permanent aristocracy, and no fixed distinction of ranks, there hence exists a strong desire of wealth, for the standing it confers, and for the means which it furnishes of attracting that attention which is given to superior dress and equipage. Thus it is, that the votaries of fashion in our large cities, eagerly ape any imported style in dress, which is novel and imposing, without sufficiently regarding the claims of decency and morality. This taste makes our places of public resort, and especially our churches, a kind of Vanity Fair; while the exquisitely fashionable of both sexes, are little else than stalking frames or walking automata, on which to exhibit the latest wares of the tailor and the milliner. These remarks likewise apply, in a greater or less degree, to many of our larger country towns and villages.
But my main object has been to speak of the Spanish modes of dress, and the striking illustration which they furnish, of the fixed and unchanging character of the people. It is true, indeed, that in the larger towns of Spain, some of the higher classes adopt the French fashions, when they visit the theatre, and on some other occasions; but when they appear in public, for a walk or ride, the national costume uniformly prevails. I have before spoken of the universal use of the cloak, by the men. This they wear with peculiar grace, and not only have they done so for hundreds of years, both summer and winter, but when, during the last century, on account of their using this garment so often to conceal the weapons of the assassin, government forbid its being worn; and officers arrested all who used it; a mutiny was the consequence, and it was necessary to repeal the law; so strong is the attachment of the Spaniard to his old national customs.
The dress of the females is almost universally black, and it well comports with their complexion. The prevailing taste as to female beauty in Spain, does not require that violence to be done to the form, which is so common in the United States, and more regard is paid to the soul and expression that beams forth in the countenance, than to regularity of features, and that waxen and lily-like delicacy of complexion, of which so much is thought with us. The most striking peculiarity in the dress of the Spanish ladies, of all classes, is the mantilla. This was originally the same with the veil of the females of eastern countries, and was used to conceal the face. It continues to be worn thus, in some of the smaller towns in the south of Spain, where Moorish customs still prevail. It is frequently made wholly of figured lace, but more commonly of black silk, with a lace border. It is pinned to the hair, just forward of the comb, and, covering the back of the head, the neck, and shoulders, ends in two embroidered points in front. Thus the face, and all of the head forward
of the ears, is exposed to view. Some of the poorer women wear mantillas of black woollen cloth. Thus the only dis. tinction of dress there is among females of all classes, consists in the different quality of the materials used ; and whether it be in church, in places of public amusement, or in walking the streets, a lady's hat or bonnet is rarely seen. It has been truly said, that this uniformity of black, in the dress of both women and men, produces a monotony of coloring, unfavorable to effect, so that when the French soldiers first came to Madrid, they used to say, that they had, at length, reached a truly Catholic city, peopled only by monks and nuns. Though this head-dress of the ladies may expose the face more than is befitting, still I am much pleased with the uniformity, and the entire absence of all show, which there is in this national costume of the Spanish. In church, especially, it does away all that finery and that gaudiness of dress, which is too apt to occupy both the eyes and the minds of those who assemble to worship. It seems, also, to reduce to a proper equality of outward appearance, those, who, as children of a common Father, meet together for the worship of a common God.
Though the Spaniards have much of the coolness and stoicism of the Turks, still they have ever been noted for deep and absorbing passion. They love and hate most fervently, and their feelings of revenge are deep and lasting. Their religious and devotional character, also, has ever been strongly marked ; and sure I am, that the females of no other nation, would, as I have seen women do in Spain, sit or kneel, by hundreds, on the cold pavement of a church, from ten in the evening until two the next morning, with nothing to engage their attention but the gaudy show of the priesthood, the sound of the organ, and the chanting of prayers in an unknown tongue.
The civil war which now exists in Spain, has called into action the chivalrous feelings of the Spanish ladies, and has led them to measures, which, though opposed to that delicacy and reserve which are proper to the fairer part of creation, still present, in a strong light, the marked and peculiar character of the nation. A love of heroism, either in themselves, or in those to whom they look up as their natural protectors, has ever been one of the strongest passions of the female sex; and we know, from the records of the past, that the fever of knight-errantry, which took its rise amid the