Abbildungen der Seite

the Balearic Isles to. M. Grasset de S. Sauveur ;' and for his account of some roads which he had not travelled,' to the *Abbé Pons,' whose · Spanish journey,' he says, with very good reason, has been of great service to hini. The post. humous papers of 'M. Carrere, a physician of Montpellier, have also been of great service to him; (Introd. p. 124.) but acknowledgments so indefinite, we beg leave to say, are more politic than useful. The work, we have no doubt, is in a great measure the result of personal research : but there are still sufficient marks of compilation about it; and we had certainly a right to expect more explicit references.

A few words may be expected on the plan of this descriptive itinerary. Each province is introduced by a concise ' account of its limits, ancient history, rerolutions, &c. and concluded by a general statistical abstract.' The intermediate part is occupied by the itinerary,' in which we are presented with a very minute description of the roads, villages, and towns. This description is composed in general with wonderful equanimity: though it is but justice to add, that we are now and then diverted with a sally of bad taste. We should also complain of its prodigious sameness, did not candour prompt us to remember that it is not so much intended for continuous reading as for occasional reference.

Our author has classified his inquiries for the most part under the following heads—ancient history, population, agriculture, commerce and manufactures, natural history, arts and sciences, character, customs, and manners. When he arrives at a large town, he also dilates upon its situation and extent, edifices, public instruction, civil, military, and ecclesiastical administration, and the state of society and amusements. Some of these delineations are drawn out to a great extent; thus the account of Toledo occupies above 30 closely printed pages, of Talavera nearly as many, and of Valencia almost a hundred.

The department of antiquities' is inconceivably tíresome. M. Laborde has been at the pains of collecting all sorts of information, whether in the shape of traditionary fiction or authentic history ; but has hardly ever been at the trouble of winnowing the marvellous from the probable. Notwithstanding his introductory theory, he is for ever recurring to the 'fortunate days' of Spain, and repeating exaggerated stories of its population and manufactures in the middle ages. His disquisitions, too, are very hastily concocted. Instead of forming a distinct subject, they are incorporated with all. others, however dissimilar ; and we can positively arrive at nothing, till we have first cut a passage through the Goths and Moors. It would be incorrect, however, to affirm that our ingenious antiquary' has been always able to preserve his neutrality inviolate. In some few instances he has been unwarily betrayed into an opinion, and we must own has discovered considerable shrewdness. For example, having occasion to tell us that the ancient Cantabrian females got up soon after their lying in, and nursed their husbands who went to bed in their stead,' he very properly adds, that this was

a custom no less ridiculous than absurd", (Vol. II. p. 462.)' for which it is impossible to give any reason.' (p.383.) The details of public monuments we should have thought sufficiently copious, had we not been previously informed that they are 'little more than a simple nomenclature in comparison to the expansion they will receive in the Voyage Pittoresque.' But what most of all excited our astonishment, and contributed to our gratification, was the incredible number of eminent men' which

erudine antiquary' has discovered, and embalmed in his immortal volumes. We meet with pages innumerable, filled with groups of such distinguished personages as the following

• This city was the birth-place of several well kņown writers ; three theologians, Alvarez Gomez de Ciudadreal, a poet as well as divine, in the sixteenth century ; Chrisostom Cabrera and Francis Ortiz Lucio, in the seventeeth ; and of Alphonso Lopez de Haro, a genealogist, who flourished about the beginning of the same century; of the physician André Alcazar, or Valcazer, who wrote, in 1570, on wounds in the head. Didace Collantes de Avellanedo was likewise born there, and published, in 1600, a good comnientary on practical agriculture ; and the two historians Antonio de Trillo and Matthias Medina y Mendoza, the former of whom wrote, in 1570, the history of the war in Flan. ders, the latter the history of his own country. Vol. III. p. 77.

The statements on population would have been more valuable had they been derived from more recent authorities. They are founded chiefly on the enumeration of the people in 1787, 1788.' They are, however, sufficiently minute, and include, in general, a distinat specification of the number of priests, mooks, nobles, students and servants. The subject of agriculture is handled very copiously. We find indeed but little generalization ; but our author" has collected many useful observations on the nature of the soil, the varieties of production, and the state and progress of cultivation. Simi. lar praise is due to the account of commerce and manufactures; and we may here take occasion to remark, that, though M. Laborde is excessively tedious and inconsistent in his continual references to the former commercial prosperity of Spain, he is sometimes borne out by respectable authorities, and does not always give unlimited credence to the wonders he recites. He mentions, for instance, the 16,000 silk looms of Seville, and the 130,000 honest people employed by them; but he is afterwards careful to add that 'à more probable calculation makes the number of looms 3000, and the persons employed 30,000.' (Vol. II. p. 129.) The article of natural history is meagre and imperfect. It consists chiefly in a dull notification of obsolete mines, and unfrequented mineral springs. It displays no science, and we meet on this, as on every other subject, with occasional specimens of childisha eredulity.

The most amusing parts of these volumes are those which relate to character and manners.' The amusement, however, is derived more from the subject than from the mode of delineation. A punctilious enumeration of trifling details is comparatively of little value, and our traveller had not the talent requisite for seizing upon prominent features and characteristic differences. What, for instance, can be more vague and unmeaning than such unqualified asseverations as the following:

• The Catalans are indefatigable in their undertakings; they have a horror at idleness; no obstacle can deter them. The activity of their genius, and the ambition that attends it, leads them to every part world : there is not a town, not a port in Spain, India, or Spanish America, where Catalans are not to be found ; they are to be met with in France, Italy, England, Germany, in all the ports of Europe, and throughout the colonies. They are valiant, and sometimes even rash ; they are not to be terrified by the greatest dangers ; in war they ne ver Ay, nor do they ever give up an enterprize. Their bravery and firmness have been so often proved, that for ages past no doubt has ever been entertained of them.

• After what has been just said, it will be easily imagined that they have very violent passions : in fact, they can encounter any thing to satisfy them. The desire of wealth' makes them industrious"; emulation makes them active, leads them to every part of the world, and enables them to brave the perils of long voyages ; and glory blinds them to every kind of danger." Vol. I. pp. 130-131,

Some of the sketches, however, are drawn with more judgement. For the edification and honour of our fair countrywomen, we will copy M. Laborde's character of the ladies of Valencia.

“The Valencian women are naturally gentle, but the ascendency they have acquired over the men renders them at times imperious ; the know their superiority, and some of them abuse it. The more active and industrious the men of the middle classes are, the more lazy are the women of every class, the more do they dy from every kind of oe. cupation.

• However, in consequence of the mutability of disposition peculiar to the

country they live in, the Valencian women are always in motion ; they walk about the streets, go from shop to shop without buying, and frequently into the churches ; the festivals, and the variety of appointed times and occasions for prayer afford them excuses for their

They have a singular predilection for St. Catherine square, which is a place for the men to meet in ; they never go abroad without passing through it, if it be ever so much out of their way. If a man were to remain a whole day in the square, he would see three-fourths of the women of Valencia go through it twice or thrice.' Vol. I. pp. 229,230.

In this article, superstitious observances are of course frequently adverted to, and they form indeed a most essential feature of the Spanish character. Of their absurdity the following sample may convey some imperfect notion.

• No procession, of however little importance, takes place without being preceded by eight statues of giants of a prodigious height; four of them represent the four quarters of the world, and the other four their husbands ; their heads are made of pasteboard, of an enormous size, frizzed and dressed in the fashion; their bodies of wooden frames, dressed in coats, or robes, and various ornaments, all altered according to the prevailing fashions ; men, covered with drapery falling to the ground, carry them at the head of the procession, making them dance, jump, turn and twist about, and make bows. The people, quite enchanted, pay more attention to the gesticulations of these giants, than to the religious ceremony which follows them.

• The existence of the giants has been deemed of sufficient importance to require attention as to the means of perpetuating them. There is a considerable foundation in Valencia for their support ; they have a house belonging to them, where they are deposited; two benefices have been particularly founded in honour of them, and it is the duty of the ecclesiastics who possess those benefices to take care of them and of their ornaments : particular revenues are assigned for the expences of their toilets. Vol. I. pp. 238, 239.

Happy to escape from this farrago of an Itinerary, we hail at length the appearance of an account of Spain', conducted on more philosophical principles', and in which we are taught to look for a less imperfect idea of its real state'. But we are unable to boast that this expectation is substantially gratified. The two remaining volumes undoubtediy are, as they ought to be, more generally interesting, and comprise much useful information ; but we are still overwhelmed with a mass of insignificant details ; we are still assaulted at every turn with violent contradictions, and we have moreover to complain that, instead of comprehensive views and definite conclusions, we are presented with a naked recapitulation of facts and rumours. M. Laborde seems to have no notion that there is more than one way of despatching a discussion; and, whatever be the subject, we are as heretofore regularly conducted through long avenues of our old acquaintances among the Goths and Moors.

This portion of the work is divided into chapters on the following subjects. Vol. IV.-1, population, 2, agriculture, 3, manufactures,4,commerce, 5,roads, bridges and causeways, 6, canals and internal navigation, 7, government, , military administration, 9, finances, 10, measures, 11, weights, 12, monies.-Vol. V. 1, ecclesiastical government, 2, administration of justice, 3, nobility, 4, royal and military orders, 5, mayorazgos, 6, state of science, 7, state of medicine, 8, Spanish literature, 9, Spanish theatre, 10, Spanish language, 11, state of the arts, 12, physical constitution, 13, character and manners, 14, usages and customs, 15, costume, 16, ceremonies and festivals, 17, detached portions of natural history.

The table of the comparative population of Spain, in 1788, divided into classes, is curious enough. Out of'a population of 10,143,975, 60,240 are said to be secular clergy, 49,270 monks, 22,237 nuns and friars, 3094 convents, 473,716 nobles, 276,090 servants, 20,080) parishes, 19,219 villages (p. 25.) Of the census taken in 1797.- 8, although it has long since been published, we are only told in gene. : ral terms that it exceeded 12,000,000.

The Chapter on Agriculture takes up an extent of nearly 300 pages, of which above 200 are occupied (oh! si sic omnia) by the excellent Memoir of Jovellanos

on the advancement of agriculture and on agrarian laws, addressed to the supreme council of Castile,? In the portion which we.. are to consider as his own, M. Laborde attributes the • languishing state of agriculture,' to the state of the population, and very properly, if his computation of effective hands,' (2,582,592) may be considered as correct. tices also the difficulties attending carriage,' the ' uncertainty of a market, the great proprietors,' and particularly the ' Mesta, from which article perhaps a few extracts may not be uninteresting.

• The Mesta, which, in the general acceptation of the term, signifies a mixture of two or more sorts of grain, and is equivalent to the English word maslin, is the uniting the flocks belonging to several different proprietors into one collective body, which does not strictly attach to any country, but travels backward and forward twice in the year, passing part of it at one place, and part in another. This collection is formed by an association of proprietors, consisting of the nobles, persons in power, members of rich monasteries and ecclesiastical chapters. who feed their flocks on the waste lands, as is done on the compions in England.' These locks they call Merinos or transhumantes.' The

He no

« ZurückWeiter »