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an absolute ruler, whose power was as boundless as his ambition, an effort of greatness? Read the letter of Lafayette to Napoleon Bonaparte, refusing to vote for him as consul for life. Is a voluntary return, in advancing years, to the direction. of affairs, at a moment like that when the ponderous machinery of the French empire was flying asunder, stunning, rending, crushing, annihilating thousands on every side, a mark of greatness? Consider his calmness at the tribune, when allied Europe was at the gates of Paris, and Napoleon yet stood in his desperation and at bay. And add to all this the dignity, the propriety, the cheerfulness, the matchless discretion of his conduct, in the strange, new position, in which he was placed in this country. Those who deny such a man the meed of greatness, may award it, if they please, to their Alexanders and Cæsars, their Frederics and their Wellingtons.
ART. VIII-A Year in Spain.
By a Young American. 8vo. pp. 395.
THE author of this book is certainly a sprightly, sensible, well informed traveller, with great activity of observation, a good talent at narration, and not deficient in the power of presenting scenes and objects to the reader's imagination. In October, 1826, he finds himself at Perpignan in the South of France, which he is the more willing to leave behind for Spain, as he had been disappointed in the scenery, and especially, what he expected to find the most delightful, the vineyards, which, instead of answering to the brilliant picture he had fancied, appeared very like our bean-fields or hop-fields; and as the cold north wind had withered and scattered the vine leaves, and the props, which answer to our bean-poles or hop-poles, had been removed to be housed for the winter, the prospect of the naked fields offered no charms to detain him from passing the Pyrenees. He found little of the Arcadia which he had imagined in this part of France, except the women, whom he admits to be Arcadian and beautiful; their glowing eyes and arch expression denoted intelligence and passionate feeling; while their ruddy hue and symmetric conformation gave assurance, that they were both healthy and agile.' In short,
they were very much like the women of many other places, especially those of Spain, whom our youthful traveller omits no occasion of admiring and celebrating, and, we should say, with some excess of enthusiasm, without, however, intending any offence to the Spanish women, who, as well as those of Rousillon, are, we have no doubt, most fascinating creatures.'
After being warned over night by an old stationary French captain, at the same inn, of the necessity of being robbed and assassinated in Spain, he finds himself, before daylight in the morning, rattling over the drawbridge of Perpignan, occupying a part of one of the three compartments of that ample portable structure, a French diligence, drawn by two wheel-horses and three leaders abreast, all managed by a postilion who rides the left wheel-horse, a part of his person being inserted into an immense pair of jackboots, and the rest fantastically dressed. But the equipage was not committed wholly to the skill and discretion of this cavalier, who, with the machine and appurtenances, was under the guidance of the director, whose place, prescribed by law, is the round top, or impérial, a circular apartment on the top of the diligence, whence he directs its movement, and superintends its management, but from which he had, in the present instance, descended to occupy the cabriolet in front, answering in some degree to the seat of our stage-drivers, where he sat in a sealskin cap, sundry fur jackets, with a red comforter round his neck, contemplating at his leisure the management of the postilion and the progress of the engine. The dawn disclosed his room-mates to be a French captain going to join his regiment at Barcelona, and the wife of a sub-lieutenant going to join her husband, who was at Figueras in the same service, both belonging to the French army of occupation. The parties, thus brought into so near an intimacy, and a part of them for the first time, did not reconnoitre each other with an indifferent or repulsive silence, but seized the first opportunity of some act of politeness, and seemed to be mutually solicitous of making some little sacrifice, each of his own comfort, in behalf of the others. The difference between the French,' says our traveller, and most other nations, and the secret of their enjoying themselves in almost every situation, is, that they endeavor to content themselves with the present, and draw from it whatever amusement it may be capable of affording. Utiliser ses moments, is a maxim which they not only utter frequently, but follow always.
They make the most of such society as chance may send them, are polite to persons whom they never expect to see again, and thus often begin, where duller spirits end, by gaining the good will of all who come near them.'
As seen from Perpignan, says our traveller, the Pyrenees had stood in rugged perspective, rising gradually from the Mediterranean, and bending westward where Mont Perdu reared its snowy head upward until it was lost in the heavens. There are three principal passes across these mountains, the southernmost of which was pursued by our travellers, which winds along towards the Mediterranean coast without ascending to a very great elevation. At Junquera, the first Spanish village, a strict scrutiny was made into the baggage for concealed goods, and more especially for prohibited books, a long list, including more especially the works of Voltaire, Rousseau, Marmontel, with all the modern metaphysicians and economists, about which the officers were the more inquisitive, as they had shortly before intercepted a Spanish translation of the Social Contract,' invading their territory under the title of the Lives of the Saints; which made our traveller apprehensive for a copy of the Henriade' in his baggage, for which, however, he conciliated the connivance of the officer by a small bribe, which the representative of the Spanish monarchy at that place, in regard to the article of revenue, hinted, would not be unacceptable to him. The traveller remarks upon the striking contrast in passing the barrier of the two nations. On the French side, the custom-house officers are snugly sheltered; gendarmes, well accoutred and well mounted, patrol the country in pursuit of robbers, and for the protection of the inhabitants in their avocations; and all those employed about the custom-house are remarkable for the cleanliness and uniformity of their dress. On the Spanish side, miserable looking aduaneros crawl forth with paper cigars in their mouths, in old cocked hats of oiled cloth and tattered cloaks, from ruinous mud hovels. Every man carries a gun for the protection of his person and property.
Descending on the Spanish side, the scene gradually softens, and the valleys are covered with wheat, vines, and olives, and the hills fringed with cork trees.
This useful production is known in Spain by the name of alcornoque. It is a species of the encina, which, though of very different appearance from our oak, furnishes a wood of the same
grain, and produces acorns, which are not so bitter as ours, and which, as an article of food, the poorer classes do not always abandon to the hogs. Thus we are told, that Sancho was a great lover of bellotas. The cork tree grows to the height of our apple tree, and spreads its branches much in the same manner; but the trunk is of much greater dimensions, and the foliage of a more gloomy hue. lts trunk and branches are covered with a thick ragged bark, which would seem to indicate disease. The trunk alone, however, furnishes a bark of sufficient thickness to be of use in the arts. It is first stripped away in the month of July, when the tree is fifteen years old; but is then of no use, except to burn, and is only removed for the sake of producing a stouter growth. In the course of six or eight years, the inner bark has grown into a cork of marketable quality, and continues to yield, at similar intervals, for more than a century.' p. 17.
Passing through Figueras, remarkable for the strength of its fortifications, and Gerona, no less remarkble, according to the author, as the scene of one of the labors of Hercules, on the way to Tordera, the diligence crossed several streams without bridges; they came to one, down the banks of which the postilion drove with the greatest speed to which he could provoke his team.
'When, in the middle, however,' says the author, we were near stopping; for the river, which was much swollen, entered at the bottom of the diligence, washing through the wheels, and striking against the flanks of our horses, until it rendered them powerless, and had well nigh driven them from their legs. They were for a moment at a stand; but the whip and the voice of the postilion encouraged them to greater exertion, and, after much struggling, they succeeded in dragging the coach over the stones at the bottom of the torrent, and in bringing it safely to land.
'We were not alone in this little embarrassment; for there was a party of about a hundred Frenchmen crossing the stream at the same time. They were going to join a regiment at Barcelona, and with the exception of a few vieux moustaches among the noncommissioned officers, who did not need their stripes of service to proclaim them veterans, they were all conscripts, as any one who had seen Vernet's inimitable sketches would readily have conjectured. It happened that there was a small foot-bridge, only one plank in width, which stood on upright posts driven into the bottom of the stream. The water was now nearly even with the top, and in some places flowed over. This, however, afforded a more agreeable way of crossing, than wading the river with water to the arm-pits. The commander of the party had already passed, and stood, buttoned in his capot and with folded arms, upon an
eminence beyond the stream, watching the motions of his followers. Those of the soldiers who had already crossed, stood upon the bank, laughing and hallooing at the unsteady steps of the conscripts, as they came faltering over with caps and coats fitting them like sacks, and their muskets held out before them to assist in maintaining a balance. Though many tottered, only two or three fell, and these came to land well drenched, to the infinite amusement of their comrades. Last came a young sub-lieutenant, evidently on his first campaign, tripping along the plank with the airy step of a muscadin. Unfortunately, just as he had cleared two thirds of the bridge, and was quickening his pace with an air of great self-complacency, a flaw of wind, rushing down the ravine, caught the skirts of his oil-cloth coat, and throwing him out of the perpendicular, he fell full length, like a thresher fish, upon the water. The soldiers respected the feelings of their officer and repressed their mirth; they rushed into the stream, each with exclamations of anxiety for mon lieutenant, and soon drew him to land dripping with the water, from which his patent cloak had not availed to protect him.' pp. 18, 19.
The author gives a very lively description of the Catalans he met with at Tordera, whose dress seems to be sufficiently striking and singular.
'The men were of large stature, perfectly well made and very muscular; but there seemed something sinister in their appearance, partly produced by the length and shagginess of their hair and the exaggerated cast of their countenances; partly, by the graceless character of their costume. It consisted of a short jacket and waistcoat of green or black velvet, scarce descending half way down the ribs, and studded thickly with silver buttons, at the breasts, lapels, and sleeves the trowsers of the same material, or of nankeen, being long, full, and reaching from the ground to the arm-pits. Instead of shoes, they wore a hempen or straw sandal, which had a small place to admit and protect the toes, and a brace behind with cords, by means of which it was bound tightly to the instep. Their dark-tanned and sinewy feet seemed strangers to the embarrassment of a stocking, whilst their loins were girt with a sash of red silk or woollen. This article of dress, unknown among us, is universally worn by the working classes in Spain, who say, that it keeps the back warm, sustains the loins, and prevents lumbago; in short, that it does them a great deal of good, and that they would be undone without it. Most of the young men had embroidered ruffles, and collars tied by narrow sashes of red or yellow silk; some displayed within their waistcoat a pair of flashy suspenders of green silk, embroidered with red, and adjusted by means of studs and buckles of silver. The VOL. XXX.-No. 66. 31