Page images
PDF
EPUB

pillar, with the child Jesus in her arms; the place is lighted by 50 silver lamps. The balustrades and chandeliers are also of massy silver, and the ornaments of the image are the richest imaginable. This city is the capital of Arragon, has a university with 2,000 students, and contains 36,000 inhabitants. 272. Other Towns. Pompetuna, the capital of Nawarre, contains about 5,000 inhabitants. It stands in a plain, on a tributary stream of the Ebro, and carries on On a considerable trade. Corunna is a sea port of some consequence, on the north western extremity of Spain. Bilboa is a commercial town of considerable magnitude on the bay of Biscay, and the capital of the province of Biscay. Valladolid, in Old Castile, contains 20,000 inhabitants, carries on some manufactures of wool and jewellery, and is made memorable by the death of Columbus. The whole number of cities and towns in Spain, are 140; the villages and boroughs, 20,000. 273. Gibraltar. The town of Gibraltar is situated on the declivity of a steep mountain, called by the Moors, Gibel Zarik, the mountain of Tarik, the Moorish general who conducted his countrymen into Spain, in the 8th century, which words are corrupted into the present name. The mountain was anciently called Calpe; and this, with the opposit mountain Abyla, in Africa, was a pillar of Hercules. The strait of the sea is about 7 leagues broad. The town has a spacious bay in front to the west, which forms an excellent harbor. This rock the English took in 1704, and have fortified in a manner to render it impregnable. The garrison consists of about 5,000 men, and the town contains from 3 to 5,000 people. The Spaniards have made many attempts to take this fortress, and the last great effort in 1780 exceeded every thing on record. For weeks in succession, 200 large cannon and 80 mortars poured daily 4 or 5,000 shot and shells into the town, until the whole was laid in ruins, and the inhabitants killed or dispersed. But the garrison resisted the enemy and kept possession. 274. Language. The present Castilian language, which is the purest dialect of the Spanish, is chiefly composed of Latin words, with a considerable change of or

thography, and grammatical construction. But with these are mixed many Gothic words. In addition to these, Arabic terms, derived from the Moors, who had possession of the country about 700 years, are diffused through the language; and in Grenada, where the Moors had entire dominion, the Arabic is still spoken by the country people who are of Moorish origin. From the Moors also, the Spaniards have received certain guttural sounds, which prevail in the Castilian dialect. In the north of Spain, a language is still spoken, called Basque, which is different from any other language in Europe. 275. Literature. The government of Spain does not permit a free discussion of religious and political topics; but in all branches of science and learning, not immediately connected with the government and church, the Spaniards have given ample proofs of their eminent attainments. The Don Quixote of Cervantes is admired for its humor; and Spain has produced many distinguished authors in history, medicin, botany, poetry, and other branches of literature. The universities are nearly 30, of which that of Salamanca is the most celebrated;

but the students are fettered, in their investigations, by .

the old scholastic logic. 276. Antiquities. The remains of Roman and Moorish works are very numerous in Spain. Near Segovia is a grand aqueduct, erected by the Emperor Trajan, extending over a deep valley, and supported by a double row of 159 arches It is 94 feet high, and 740 yards long. At Morviedo, is a theater, hewn out of a solid rock, capable of holding 9,000 persons. At Toledo are the remains of a Roman theater, of 600 feet in length, 500 in bredth, with a lofty roof supported by 350 pillars of marble. It is now converted into a church, in which are 366 altars, and 24 gates. At Martorel is a highbridge, built in 1768, on the ruins of one erected by Hannibal, which had existed almost 2000 years. An arch or gateway of the original structure remains almost entire. 277. Moorish antiquities. The works erected by the Moors, when masters of Spain, are numerous and magnificent. Among these is the mosk of Cordova, a vast work, erected in the 9th century, in which are 800 col

umns. But the Alhambra, a royal palace of Grenada, exceeds all the other remains of Moorish magnificence. It was built in the year 1280, upon a hill which is ascended by a path bordered with hedges of double myrtle and rows of elms. It consists of many buildings, of yellow stone. It is entered by an oblong court of 150 feet by 90, containing a bason of water, 100 feet in length, encompassed by a flower border. You then pass into the court of the lions, so called from 13 lions which support the fountain. This is adorned with a colonnade of 140 marble pillars. It contains many other apartments, with stucco cielings and walls, with numerous Arabic inscriptions. 278. Manners and customs. The Spaniards are generally distinguished for pride, or rather a noble self-respect, which may be the parent of the integrity, and numerous virtues which adorn the true Castilian character. But the manners of the nation are corrupted by the superstitions which have been ingrafted upon the christian religion, and which, by enjoining celibacy upon the clergy, have introduced most immoral customs. The Spaniards are generally temperate in eating and drinking, using little wine, but much chocolate. The ladies are seldom seen abroad, except when they go to mass, when they appear in a black silk petticoat and a mantle, which Serves also as a veil. 279. Amusements. The principal amusements of the Spaniards are dancing, cards, hunting, plays; but especially combats with bulls, a most singular diversion. This amusement consists in letting loose a bull, before thousands of spectators, to be tormented and slain by men. First the animal is attacked by the picadors, men on horseback, armed with lances, who wound and enrage him; sometimgs squibs are fastened to the lances, which adhere to his flesh and make him furious with pain; Sometimes a rope is thrown round his horns, in the manher the wild bull is caught in South America: at last the matador enters, and by piercing the spinal marrow, relieves the poor animal from his tortures by instantaneous death. G

280. General View. The feudal evils exist in Spain in all their magnitude. All the lands are possessed by the princes, nobility and clergy, who live in palaces of marble, while the poor laborer, whose toils serve only to pamper his master's luxury and vices, is glad to shelter himself from the tempest in a mud cottage, scarcely equal to the stables occupied by horses in the United States. Hence the peasant, not having the proper motives to labor, seeks only food and clothing enough to preserve life in poverty and wretchedness. Hence Spain is covered with villages of mud cottages, interspersed with a rich church or palace here and there scattered thinly over the country. The cities are enriched by the rents of lands which are drawn thither to be expended by the wealthy; but so poor are the people in the country, that no tolerable accommodations can be found for travellers. For this reason, men who travel in Spain usually carry with them their bedding and necessary refreshments.

281. Islands of Shain. Majorea. In the Mediteranean, about 150 miles east of Spain, lie three islands, Majorca, Minorca and Iviza, anciently called Balearcs, which is said to signify the country of slingers. Majorca, the largest, is 55 miles in length by 45 in bredth. The north western partis hilly, but in general the land is rich and well cultivated, producing corn, oil, wine, and fruits in abundance. It abounds in cattle and sheep, but is remarkable for the number of rabbits which it produces, and its honey is much esteemed. Majorca, the capital, contains 10,000 inhabitants.

282. Minorca. To the north east of Majorca lies Minorca, which is 30 miles in length, by 12 in medial bredth. This is less fertile than Majorca, but produces some wheat, barley and vines, though not corn sufficient for the inhabitants. Port Mahon, founded by Mago the Carthaginian General, has an excellentharbor, is a strong fortress, and the capital of the island. The inhabitants of the island are computed at 27,000. This island was taken by the English in 1708, and retained by them for half a century; but was restored to them in 1763; then taken by the Spaniards in 1782; taken again by the English in 1798, but restored to Spain in 1801. 283. Iviza. Iviza, or Ibiza, improperly written Yvica, is the smallest of the Balearic isles. It lies south west of Majorca, and is about 15 miles in length by 12 inbredth, It is hilly, but produces great quantities of corn, wine and fruits, and an abundance of salt is made there, as well as in the larger islands. The Balearic islands were originally possessed by the Carthaginians; but about the year 122 before the Christian era, they were subdued by the Romans. They afterwards were possessed by the Goths; then by the Moors; from whom they were taken by the king of Arragon, in the year 1229. Since which, they have belonged to Spain, except Minorca, which was in possession of the English about 50 years. 284. Canaries. Between the 27th and 30th degrees of north latitude, and between 12 and 21 of west longitude, lie the Canaries, a cluster anciently called the Fortunate Islands. They are 12 in number, and all belong to Spain except Madeira, which is seldom included among the Canaries. These islands produce wine and fruits in abundance, as also wheat, barley and the sugar cane. The two chief islands are Canary and Teneriff; Canary is about 100 miles in circumference, and its chief town contains 12,000 inhabitants. Teneriff is of a triangular form, about 45 miles in length by 20 in bredth. The chief town, Santa Cruze, contains 7000 inhabitants, and the whole island, 95,000. In the center is a noted volcanic mountain called the Peak, which rises about 11,500 feet above the sea. --PORTUGAL. 285. Name and History. This country was called by the Romans, Lusitania, and was a province of Spain. Its original inhabitants were of the same race, and the country suffered the same revolutions, till, in the 11th centutury, it was bestowed upon Henry of Burgundy by the King of Leon and Castile. After severe contests with the Spanish kings, and the expulsion of the Moors, Don Alonso, count of Portugal, in 1139, assumed the title of King, which was confirmed to him by the Pope. In the

« PreviousContinue »