The film was made entirely on location in Spain and gave the actors a most welcome opportunity for an intimate and inward-looking journey, as the protagonist, Juan Luis Galiardo explained. That was a pretext for me to look deep inside my own soul and it was a rare and beautiful experience.
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Welcome to a platform where professionals can meet and exchange information and ideas. Thiers in Spain. T HE kingdom of Spain, which looks so compact on the map, is composed of many distinct provinces, each of which in earlier times formed a separate and independent kingdom; and although all are now united under one crown by marriage, inheritance, conquest, and other circumstances, the original distinctions, geographical as well as social, remain almost unaltered.
The language, costume, habits, and local character of the natives, vary no less than the climate and productions of the soil. The chains of mountains which intersect the whole peninsula, and the deep rivers which separate portions of it, have, for many years, operated as so many walls and moats, by cutting off intercommunication, and by fostering that tendency to isolation which must exist in all hilly countries, where good roads and bridges do not abound.
As similar circumstances led the people of ancient Greece to split into small principalities, tribes and clans, so in Spain, man, following the example of the nature by which he is surrounded, has little in common with the inhabitant of the adjoining district; and these differences are increased and perpetuated by the ancient jealousies and inveterate dislikes, which petty and contiguous states keep up with such tenacious memory.
The north-western provinces are more rainy than Devonshire, while the centre plains are more calcined than those of the deserts of Arabia, and the littoral south or eastern coasts altogether Algerian.
Meaning of "errant" in the English dictionary
The rude agricultural Gallician, the industrious manufacturing artisan of Barcelona, the gay and voluptuous Andalucian, the sly vindictive Valencian, are as essentially different from each other as so many distinct characters at the same masquerade. It will therefore be more convenient to the traveller to take each province by itself and treat it in detail, keeping on the look-out for those peculiarities, those social and natural characteristics or idiosyncracies which particularly belong to each division, and distinguish it from its neighbours.
The Spaniards who have written on their own geography and statistics, and who ought to be supposed to understand their own country and institutions the best, have found it advisable to adopt this arrangement from feeling the utter impossibility of treating Spain where union is not unity as a whole.
Spain again was long without the advantage of a fixed metropolis, like Rome, Paris, or London, which have been capitals from their foundation, and recognized and submitted to as such; here, the cities of Leon, Burgos, Toledo, Seville, Valladolid, and others, have each in their turns been the capitals of the kingdom. This constant change and short-lived pre-eminence has weakened any prescriptive superiority of one city over another, and has been a cause of national weakness by raising up rivalries and disputes about precedence, which is one of the most fertile sources of dissension among a punctilious people.
In fact the king was the state, and wherever he fixed his head-quarters was the court, La Corte , a word still synonymous with Madrid, which now claims to be the only residence of the Sovereign—the residenz, as Germans would say; otherwise, when compared with the cities above mentioned, it is a modern place; from not having a bishop or cathedral, of which latter some older cities possess two, it has not even the rank of a ciudad , or city, but is merely denominated villa , or town.
In moments of national danger it exercises little influence over the Peninsula: at the same time, from being the seat of the court and government, and therefore the centre of patronage and fashion, it attracts from all parts those who wish to make their fortune; yet the capital has a hold on the ambition rather than on the affections of the nation at large.
The inhabitants of the different provinces think, indeed, that Madrid is the greatest and richest court in the world, but their hearts are in their native localities. When a Spaniard is asked, Where do you come from? It is a home and really binding feeling. To the spot of their birth all their recollections, comparisons, and eulogies are turned; nothing to them comes up to their particular province, that is, their real country. Like the German, they may sing and spout about Fatherland : in both cases the theory is splendid, but in practice each Spaniard thinks his own province or town the best in the Peninsula, and himself the finest fellow in it.
Common danger and interest scarcely can keep them together, the tendency of each being rather to repel than to attract the other: the common enemy once removed, they instantly fall to loggerheads among each other, especially if there be any spoil to be divided: scarcely ever, as in the East, can the energy of one individual bind the loose staves by the iron power of a master mind; remove the band, and the centrifugal members instantaneously disunite. Every infinitesimal particle which constitutes nosotros , or ourselves, as Spaniards term themselves, will talk of his country as if the armies were still led to victory by the mighty Charles V.
Fortunate, indeed, was it, according to a Castilian preacher, that the Pyrenees concealed Spain when the Wicked One tempted the Son of Man by an offer of all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. The narrator explained how our first father on lighting in Italy was perplexed and taken aback; how, on crossing the Alps into Germany, he found nothing that he could understand—how matters got darker and stranger at Paris, until on his reaching England he was altogether lost, confounded, and abroad, being unable to make out any thing.
Spain was his next point, where, to his infinite satisfaction, he found himself quite at home, so little had things changed since his absence, or indeed since the sun at its creation first shone over Toledo. Another little anecdote, like a straw thrown up in the air, will point out the direction in which the wind blows. His sonnet on the romantic trip to Madrid ran thus:—. F ROM Spain being the most southern country in Europe, it is very natural that those who have never been there, and who in England criticise those who have, should imagine the climate to be even more delicious than that of Italy or Greece.
This is far from being the fact; some, indeed, of the sea coasts and sheltered plains in the S. All, therefore, who are about to travel through the Peninsula, are particularly cautioned to consider well their line of route beforehand, and to select certain portions to be visited at certain seasons, and thus avoid every local disadvantage.
We will not weary readers with details of latitude and longitude, but just mention that the whole superficies of the Peninsula, including Portugal, contains upwards of 19, square leagues, of which somewhat more than 15, belong to Spain; it is thus almost twice as large as the British Islands, and only one-tenth smaller than France; the circumference or coast-line is estimated at leagues.
This compact and isolated territory, inhabited by a fine, hardy, warlike population, ought, therefore, to have rivalled France in military power, while its position between those two great seas which command the commerce of the old and new world, its indented line of coast, abounding in bays and harbours, offered every advantage of vying with England in maritime enterprise.
Nature has provided commensurate outlets for the infinite productions of a country which is rich alike in everything that is to be found either on the face or in the bowels of the earth; for the mines and quarries abound with precious metals and marbles, from gold to iron, from the agate to coal, while a fertile soil and every possible variety of climate admit of unlimited cultivation of the natural productions of the temperate or tropical zones: thus in the province of Granada the sugar-cane and cotton-tree luxuriate at the base of ranges which are covered with eternal snow: a wide range is thus afforded to the botanist, who may ascend by zones, through every variety of vegetable strata, from the hothouse plant growing wild, to the hardiest lichen.
The geological construction of Spain is very peculiar, and unlike that of most other countries; it is almost one mountain or agglomeration of mountains, as those of our countrymen who are speculating in Spanish railroads are just beginning to discover. The interior rises on every side from the sea, and the central portions are higher than any other table-lands in Europe, ranging on an average from two to three thousand feet above the level of the sea, while from this elevated plain chains of mountains rise again to a still greater height.
Fruits which flourish on the coasts of Provence and Genoa, which lie four degrees more to the north than any portion of Spain, are rarely to be met with in the elevated interior of the Peninsula: on the other hand, the low and sunny maritime belts abound with productions of a tropical vegetation. The mountainous character and general aspect of the coast are nearly analogous throughout the circuit which extends from the Basque Provinces to Cape Finisterre; and offer a remarkable contrast to those sunny alluvial plains which extend, more or less, from Cadiz to Barcelona, and which closely resemble each other in vegetable productions, such as the fig, orange, pomegranate, aloe, and carob tree, which grow everywhere in profusion, except in those parts where the mountains come down abruptly into the sea itself.
Again, the central districts, composed of vast plains and steppes, Parameras, Tierras de campo, y Secanos , closely resemble each other in their monotonous denuded aspect, in their scarcity of fruit and timber, and their abundance of cereal productions. Spanish geographers have divided the Peninsula into seven distinct chains of mountains. The sources of the supply to these leading arteries arise in the longitudinal range of elevations which descends all through the Peninsula, approaching rather to the eastern than to the western coast, whereby a considerably greater length is obtained by each of these four rivers, when compared to the Ebro, which disembogues in the Mediterranean.
The Moorish geographer Alrasi was the first to take difference of climate as the rule of dividing the Peninsula into distinct portions; and modern authorities, carrying out this idea, have drawn an imaginary line, which runs north-east to south-west, thus separating the Peninsula into the northern, or the boreal and temperate, and the southern or the torrid, and subdividing these two into four zones: nor is this division altogether fanciful, for there is no caprice or mistake in tests derived from the vegetable world; manners may make man, but the sun alone modifies the plant: man may be fused down by social appliances into one uniform mass, but the rude elements are not to be civilized, nor can nature be made cosmopolitan, which heaven forfend.
The first or northern zone is the Cantabrian , the European; this portion skirts the base of the Pyrenees, and includes portions of Catalonia, Arragon, and Navarre, the Basque provinces, the Asturias, and Gallicia. This is the region of humidity, and as the winters are long, and the springs and autumns rainy, it should only be visited in the summer. It is a country of hill and dale, is intersected by numerous streams which abound in fish, and which irrigate rich meadows for pastures. The valleys form the now improving dairy country of Spain, while the mountains furnish the most valuable and available timber of the Peninsula.
In some parts corn will scarcely ripen, while in others, in addition to the cerealia, cider and an ordinary wine are produced. It is inhabited by a hardy, independent, and rarely subdued population, since the mountainous country offers natural means of defence to brave highlanders. It is useless to attempt the conquest with a small army, while a large one would find no means of support in the hungry localities.
The second zone is the Iberian or eastern, which, in its maritime portions, is more Asiatic than European, and where the lower classes partake of the Greek and Carthaginian character, being false, cruel, and treacherous, yet lively, ingenious, and fond of pleasure: this portion commences at Burgos, and includes the southern portion of Catalonia and Arragon, with parts of Castile, Valencia, and Murcia.
The sea-coasts should be visited in the spring and autumn, when they are delicious; but they are intensely hot in the summer, and infested with myriads of muskitoes. The districts about Burgos are among the coldest in Spain, and the thermometer sinks very much below the ordinary average of our more temperate climate; and as they have little at any time to attract the traveller, he will do well to avoid them except during the summer months.
The population is grave, sober, and Castilian.
The third zone is the Lusitanian, or western, which is by far the largest, and includes the central parts of Spain and all Portugal. The interior of this portion, and especially the provinces of the two Castiles and La Mancha, both in the physical condition of the soil and the moral qualities of the inhabitants, presents a very unfavourable view of the Peninsula, as these inland steppes are burnt up by summer suns, and are tempest and wind-rent during winter. The general absence of trees, hedges, and enclosures exposes these wide unprotected plains to the rage and violence of the elements: poverty-stricken mud houses, scattered here and there in the desolate extent, afford a wretched home to a poor, proud, and ignorant population; but these localities, which offer in themselves neither pleasure nor profit to the stranger, contain many sites and cities of the highest interest, which none who wish to understand Spain can possibly pass by unnoticed.
The more western districts of this Lusitanian zone are not so disagreeable. There in the uplands the ilex and chesnut abound, while the rich plains produce vast harvests of corn, and the vineyards powerful red wines. The central table-land, which closely resembles the plateau of Mexico, forms nearly one-half of the entire area of the Peninsula. The peculiarity of the climate is its dryness; it is not, however, unhealthy, being free from the agues and fevers which are prevalent in the lower plains, river-swamps, and rice-grounds of parts of Valencia and Andalucia.
Rain, indeed, is so comparatively scarce on this table-land, that the annual quantity on an average does not amount to more than ten inches. The least quantity falls in the mountain regions near Guadalupe, and on the high plains of Cuenca and Murcia, where sometimes eight or nine months pass without a drop falling.
The face of the earth is tanned, tawny, and baked into a veritable terra cotta: everything seems dead and burnt on a funeral pile. The ripe seeds which have fallen on the soil are called into existence, carpeting the desert with verdure, gladdening the eye with flowers, and intoxicating the senses with perfume. The thirsty chinky dry earth drinks in these genial showers, and then rising like a giant refreshed with wine, puts forth all its strength; and what vegetation is, where moisture is combined with great heat, cannot even be guessed at in lands of stinted suns.
The periods of rains are the winter and spring, and when these are plentiful, all kinds of grain, and in many places wines, are produced in abundance. The olive, however, is only to be met with in a few favoured localities. Nothing can be more striking than the descent from the table elevations into these maritime strips; in a few hours the face of nature is completely changed, and the traveller passes from the climate and vegetation of Europe into that of Africa.
This region is characterised by a dry burning atmosphere during a large part of the year. The winters are short and temperate, and consist rather in rain than in cold, for in the sunny valleys ice is scarcely known except for eating; the springs and autumns delightful beyond all conception. Much of the cultivation depends on artificial irrigation, which was carried by the Moors to the highest perfection: indeed water, under this forcing, vivifying sun, is the blood of the earth, and synonymous with fertility: the productions are tropical; sugar, cotton, rice, the orange, lemon, and date.
The algarrobo , the carob tree, and the adelfa , the oleander, may be considered as forming boundary marks between this the tierra caliente , or torrid district, and the colder regions by which it is encompassed. Such are the geographical divisions of nature with which the vegetable and animal productions are closely connected; and we shall presently enter somewhat more fully into the climate of Spain, of which the natives are as proud as if they had made it themselves.
These embrace a wide range of varied scenery and objects; and Andalucia, easy of access, may be gone over almost at every portion of the year. The winters may be spent at Cadiz, Seville, or Malaga; the summers in the cool mountains of Ronda, Aracena, or Granada. Those who go in the spring should reserve June for the mountains; those who go in the autumn should reverse the plan, and commence with Ronda and Granada, ending with Seville and Cadiz. Spain, it has thus been shown, is one mountain, or rather a jumble of mountains,—for the principal and secondary ranges are all more or less connected with each other, and descend in a serpentising direction throughout the Peninsula, with a general inclination to the west.
Nature, by thus dislocating the country, seems to have suggested, nay, almost to have forced, localism and isolation to the inhabitants, who each in their valleys and districts are shut off from their neighbours, whom to love, they are enjoined in vain. The internal communication of the Peninsula, which is thus divided by the mountain-walls, is effected by some good roads, few and far between, and which are carried over the most convenient points, where the natural dips are the lowest, and the ascents and descents the most practicable.
There are, indeed, mule-tracks and goat-paths over other and intermediate portions of the chain, but they are difficult and dangerous, and being seldom provided with ventas or villages, are fitter for smugglers and bandits than honest men: the farthest and fairest way about will always be found the best and shortest road. The Spanish mountains in general have a dreary and harsh character, yet not without a certain desolate sublimity: the highest are frequently capped with snow, which glistens in the clear sky.
They are rarely clad with forest trees; the scarped and denuded ridges cut with a serrated outline the clean clear blue sky. The granitic masses soar above the green valley or yellow corn-plains in solitary state, like the castles of a feudal baron, that lord it over all below, with which they are too proud to have aught in common. These mountains are seen to greatest advantage at the rise and setting of the sun, for during the day the vertical rays destroy all form by removing shadows.
These geographical peculiarities of Spain, and particularly the existence of the great central elevation, when once attained are apt to be forgotten. The country rises from the coast, directly in the north-western provinces, and in some of the southern and eastern, with an intervening alluvial strip and swell: but when once the ascent is accomplished, no real descent ever takes place—we are then on the summit of a vast elevated mass.
The roads indeed apparently ascend and descend, but the mean height is seldom diminished: the interior hills or plains are undulations of one mountain. The traveller is often deceived at the apparent low level of snow-clad ranges, such as the Guadarrama; this will be accounted for by adding the great elevation of their bases above the level of the sea.
The palace of the Escorial, which is placed at the foot of the Guadarrama, and at the head of a seeming plain, stands in reality at feet above Valencia, while the summer residence of the king at La Granja , in the same chain, is thirty feet higher than the summit of Vesuvius. The eye wanders over a vast level extent bounded only by the horizon, or a faint blue line of other distant sierras; this space, which appears one townless level, is intersected with deep ravines, barrancos , in which villages lie concealed, and streams, arroyos , flow unperceived.
Another important effect of this central elevation is the searching dryness and rarefication of the air. It is often highly prejudicial to strangers; the least exposure, which is very tempting under a burning sun, will often bring on ophthalmia, irritable colics, and inflammatory diseases of the lungs and vital organs. Such are the causes of the pulmonia , which carries off the invalid in a few days, and is the disease of Madrid.
The frozen blasts descending from the snow-clad Guadarrama catch the incautious passenger at the turning of streets which are roasting under a fierce sun. Is it to be wondered at, that this capital should be so very insalubrious? A man taking a walk for the benefit of his health, crosses with his pores open from an oven to an ice-house; catch-cold introduces the Spanish doctor, who soon in his turn presents the undertaker.
This gigantic barrier, which divides Spain and France, is connected with the dorsal chain which comes down from Tartary and Asia. It stretches far beyond the transversal spine, for the mountains of the Basque Provinces, Asturias, and Gallicia, are its continuation. The Pyrenees, properly speaking, extend E. The spurs and offsets of this great transversal spine penetrate on both sides into the lateral valleys like ribs from a back-bone.
The central nucleus slopes gradually E. Seen from a distance, the range appears to be one mountain-ridge, with broken pinnacles, but, in fact, it consists of two distinct lines, which are parallel, but not continuous. The one which commences at the ocean is the most forward, being at least 30 miles more in advance towards the south than the corresponding line, which commences from the Mediterranean.
Here is the source of the Garonne, La Garona ; here the scenery is the grandest, and the lateral valleys the longest and widest. The smaller spurs enclose valleys, down each of which pours a stream: thus the Ebro, Garona, and Bidasoa are fed from the mountain source. The parting of these waters, or their flowing down either N. It is singular that this obvious inconvenience should not have been remedied by some exchange when the long-disputed boundary-question was settled between Charles IV.
The two best carriageable lines of inter-communication are placed at each extremity: that to the west passes through Irun; that to the east through Figueras. The contrast which the unfrequented Spanish side offers to the crowded opposite one is great. Erskine Murray, than on the French side, where mankind remains profoundly ignorant of the real beauties of the Pyrenees, which have been chiefly explored by the English, who love nature with all their heart and soul, who worship her alike in her shyest retreats and in her wildest forms.
Once, however, cross the frontier, and a sudden change comes over all facilities of locomotion. No Spaniard ever comes here for pleasure; hence the localities are given up to the smuggler and izard. However governments may change, the policy of France is immutable. The weaker Spain is thus linked in the embrace of her stronger neighbour, and has been made alternately her dupe and victim, and degraded into becoming a mere satellite, to be dragged along by fiery Mars. France has forced her to share all her bad fortune, but never has permitted her to participate in her success.
Spain has been tied to the car of her defeats, but never has been allowed to mount it in the day of triumph. Her friendship has always tended to denationalise Spain, and by entailing the forced enmity of England, has caused to her the loss of her navies and colonies in the new world. While France therefore has improved her means of approach and invasion, Spain, to whom the past is prophetic of the future, has raised obstacles, and has left her protecting barrier as broken and hungry as when planned by her tutelar divinity.
Nor are her highlanders more practicable than their granite fastnesses. Here dwell the smuggler, the rifle sportsman, and all who defy the law: here is bred the hardy peasant, who, accustomed to scale mountains and fight wolves, becomes a ready raw material for the guerrilleros , and none were ever more formidable to Rome or France than those marshalled in these glens by Sertorius and Mina. When the tocsin bell rings out, a hornet swarm of armed men, the weed of the hills, starts up from every rock and brake. If the eagle of Buonaparte could never build in the Arragonese Sierra, the lily of the Bourbon assuredly will not take root in the Castilian plain; so sings Ariosto:.
This inveterate condition either of pronounced hostility, or at best of armed neutrality, has long rendered these localities disagreeable to the man of the note-book. The rugged mountain frontiers consist of a series of secluded districts, which constitute the entire world to the natives, who seldom go beyond the natural walls by which they are bounded, except to smuggle. This vocation is the curse of the country; it fosters a wild reliance on self-defence, a habit of border foray and insurrection, which seems as necessary to them as a moral excitement and combustible element, as carbon and hydrogen are in their physical bodies.
Their habitual suspicion against prying foreigners, which is an Oriental and Iberian instinct, converts a curious traveller into a spy or partisan. The impertinente curioso may possibly escape observation in a Spanish city and crowd, but in these lonely hills it is out of the question: he is the observed of all observers; and they, from long smuggling and sporting habits, are always on the look-out, and are keen-sighted as hawks, gipseys, and beasts of prey.
The geology and botany have yet to be properly investigated. In the metal-pregnant Pyrenees rude forges of iron abound, but everything is conducted on a small, unscientific scale, and probably after the unchanged primitive Iberian system. Fuel is scarce, and transport of ores on muleback expensive. The iron is at once inferior to the English and much dearer: the tools and implements used on both sides of the Pyrenees are at least a century behind ours; while absurd tariffs, which prevent the importation of a cheaper and better article, retard improvements in agriculture and manufactures, and perpetuate poverty and ignorance among backward, half-civilised populations.
The timber, moreover, has suffered much from the usual neglect, waste, and improvidence of the natives, who destroy more than they consume, and never replant.
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The fascination of this pursuit, like that of the Chamois in Switzerland, leads to constant and even fatal accidents, as this shy animal lurks in almost inaccessible localities, and must be stalked with the nicest skill. The Spaniards, less mechanical and gastronomic, leave the feathered and finny tribes in comparative peace.
Accordingly the streams abound with trout, and those which flow into the Atlantic with salmon. The lofty Pyrenees are not only alembics of cool crystal streams, but contain, like the heart of Sappho, sources of warm springs under a bosom of snow. The most celebrated issue on the north side, or at least those which are the most known and frequented, for the Spaniard is a small bather, and no great drinker of medicinal waters. Accommodations at the baths on his side scarcely exist, while even those in France are paltry when compared to the spas of Germany, and dirty and indecent when contrasted with those of England.
The scenery is alpine, a jumble of mountain, precipice, glacier, and forest, enlivened by the cataract or hurricane. The natives, when not smugglers or guerrilleros , are rude, simple, and pastoral: they are poor and picturesque, as people are who dwell in mountains. In these wild tracts the highlanders in summer lead their flocks up to mountain huts and dwell with their cattle, struggling against poverty and wild beasts, and endeavouring really to keep the wolf from the door: their watch-dogs are magnificent; the sheep are under admirable control—being, as it were, in the presence of the enemy, they know the voice of their shepherds, or rather the peculiar whistle and cry: their wool is largely smuggled into France, and when manufactured in the shape of coarse cloth is then re-smuggled back again.
These water-sheds are each intersected in their extent by others on a minor scale, by valleys and indentations, in each of which runs its own stream.
Thus the rains and melted snows are all collected in an infinity of ramifications, and are carried by these tributary conduits into one of the main trunks, which all, with the exception of the Ebro, empty themselves into the Atlantic. The Duero and Tagus, unfortunately for Spain, disembogue in Portugal, and thus become a portion of a foreign dominion exactly where their commercial importance is the greatest.
Philip II. The Tajo , Tagus, which the fancy of poets has sanded with gold and embanked with roses, tracks much of its dreary way through rocks and comparative barrenness. The Guadiana creeps through lonely Estremadura, infecting the low plains with miasma. The Guadalquivir eats out its deep banks amid the sunny olive-clad regions of Andalucia, as the Ebro divides the levels of Arragon. There is nothing to check the power of rapid evaporation, no shelter to protect or preserve moisture. The soil becomes more and more parched and dried up, insomuch that in some parts it has almost ceased to be available for cultivation: another serious evil, which arises from want of plantations, is, that the slopes of hills are everywhere liable to constant denudation of soil after heavy rain.
There is nothing to break the descent of the water; hence the naked, barren stone summits of many of the sierras, which have been pared and peeled of every particle capable of nourishing vegetation: they are skeletons where life is extinct; not only is the soil thus lost, but the detritus washed down either forms bars at the mouths of rivers, or chokes up and raises their beds; they are thus rendered liable to overflow their banks, and convert the adjoining plains into pestilential swamps.
The supply of water, which is afforded by periodical rains, and which ought to support the reservoirs of rivers, is carried off at once in violent floods, rather than in a gentle gradual disembocation. From its mountainous character Spain has very few lakes, as the fall is too considerable to allow water to accumulate; the exceptions which do exist might with greater propriety be termed lochs—not that they are to be compared in size or beauty to some of those in Scotland.
The volume in the principal rivers of Spain has diminished, and is diminishing; thus some which once were navigable, are so no longer, while the artificial canals which were to have been substituted remain unfinished: the progress of deterioration advances, while little is done to counteract or amend what every year must render more difficult and expensive, while the means of repair and correction will diminish in equal proportion, from the poverty occasioned by the evil, and by the fearful extent which it will be allowed to attain.
However, several grand water-companies have been lately formed, who are to dig Artesian wells, finish canals, navigate rivers with steamers, and issue shares at a premium , which will be effected if nothing else is. The rivers which are really adapted to navigation are, however, only those which are perpetually fed by those tributary streams that flow down from mountains which are covered with snow all the year, and these are not many.
The majority of Spanish rivers are very scanty of water during the summer time, and very rapid in their flow when filled by rains or melting snow: during these periods they are impracticable for boats. They are, moreover, much exhausted by being drained off, sangrado —that is, bled, for the purposes of artificial irrigation; thus, at Madrid and Valencia, the wide beds of the Manzanares and the Turia are frequently dry as the sands of the seashore when the tide is out.
They seem only to be entitled to be called rivers by courtesy, because they have so many and such splendid bridges; as numerous are the jokes cut by the newly-arrived stranger, who advises the townsfolk to sell one of them to purchase water, or compares their thirsting arches to the rich man in torments, who prays for one drop; but a heavy rain in the mountains soon shows the necessity for their strength and length, for their wide and lofty arches, their buttress-like piers, which before had appeared to be rather the freaks of architectural magnificence than the works of public utility.
Those who live in a comparatively level country can scarcely form an idea of the rapidity and fearful destruction of the river inundations in this land of mountains. The deluge rolls forth in an avalanche, the rising water coming down tier above tier like a flight of steps let loose. Many of these beds serve in remote districts, where highways and bridges are thought to be superfluous luxuries, for the double purposes of a river when there is water in them, and as a road when there is not.
Again, in this land of anomalies, some streams have no bridges, while other bridges have no streams; the most remarkable of these pontes asinorum is at Coria, where the Alagon is crossed at an inconvenient, and often dangerous ferry, while a noble bridge of five arches stands high and dry in the meadows close by. This has arisen from the river having quitted its old channel in some inundation; or, as Spaniards say, salido de su madre , gone out from its mother, who does not seem to know that it is out, or certainly does not care, since no steps have ever been taken by the Corians to coax it back again under its old arches; they call on Hercules to turn this Alpheus, and rely in the meantime on their proverb, that all fickle, unfaithful rivers repent and return to their legitimate beds after a thousand years, for nothing is hurried in Spain, Despues de anos mil, vuelve el rio a su cubil.
On the fishing in these wandering streams we shall presently say something. Passengers, however, have facilities afforded them by the steamers which run backwards and forwards between this capital and Cadiz; these conveniences, it need not be said, were introduced from England, although the first steamer that ever paddled in waters was of Spanish invention, and was launched at Barcelona in ; but the Spanish Chancellor of the Exchequer of the time was a poor red tapist, and opposed the whole thing, which, as usual, fell to the ground.
Hudson and the primate of York. There is considerable talk in Arragon about rendering the Ebro navigable, and it has been surveyed this year by two engineers—English of course. The local newspapers compared the astonishment of the herns and peasantry, created on the banks by this arrival, as second only to that occasioned when Don Quixote and Sancho ventured near the same spot into the enchanted bark. There has been still older and greater talk about establishing a water communication between Lisbon and Toledo, by means of the Tagus.
It has been our fate to behold it in many places and various phases of its most poetical and picturesque course—first green and arrowy amid the yellow corn fields of New Castile; then freshening the sweet Tempe of Aranjuez, clothing the gardens with verdure, and filling the nightingale-tenanted glens with groves; then boiling and rushing around the granite ravines of rock-built Toledo, hurrying to escape from the cold shadows of its deep prison, and dashing joyously into light and liberty, to wander far away into silent plains, and on to Talavera, where its waters were dyed with brave blood, and gladly reflected the flash of the victorious bayonets of England,—triumphantly it rolls thence, under the shattered arches of Almaraz, down to desolate Estremadura, in a stream as tranquil as the azure sky by which it is curtained, yet powerful enough to force the mountains at Alcantara.
There the bridge of Trajan is worth going a hundred miles to see; it stems the now fierce condensed stream, and ties the rocky gorges together; grand, simple, and solid, tinted by the tender colours of seventeen centuries, it looms like the grey skeleton of Roman power, with all the sentiment of loneliness, magnitude, and the interest of the past and present. Such are the glorious scenes we have beheld and sketched; such are the sweet waters in which we have refreshed our dusty and weary limbs. How stern, solemn, and striking is this Tagus of Spain! No commerce has ever made it its highway—no English steamer has ever civilized its waters like those of France and Germany.
Its rocks have witnessed battles, not peace; have reflected castles and dungeons, not quays or warehouses: few cities have risen on its banks, as on those of the Thames and Rhine; it is truly a river of Spain—that isolated and solitary land. Its waters are without boats, its banks without life; man has never laid his hand upon its billows, nor enslaved their free and independent gambols. The Tagus rises in that extraordinary jumble of mountains, full of fossil bones, botany, and trout, that rise between Cuenca and Teruel, and which being all but unknown, clamour loudly for the disciples of Isaac Walton and Dr.
It disembogues into the sea at Lisbon, having flowed miles in Spain, of which nature destined it to be the aorta. The Toledan chroniclers derive the name from Tagus, fifth king of Iberia, but Bochart traces it to Dag , Dagon, a fish, as besides being considered auriferous, the ancients pronounced it to be piscatory. Not that the present Spaniards trouble their head more about the fishes here than if they were crocodiles. Grains of gold are indeed found, but barely enough to support a poet, by amphibious paupers, called artesilleros from their baskets, in which they collect the sand, which is passed through a sieve.
The Tagus might easily be made navigable to the sea, and then with the Xarama connect Madrid and Lisbon, and facilitate importation of colonial produce, and exportation of wine and grain. Such an act would confer more benefits upon Spain than ten thousand charters or paper constitutions, guaranteed by the sword of Narvaez, or the word and honour of Louis-Philippe.
The performance has been contemplated by many foreigners , the Toledans looking lazily on; thus in , Antonelli, a Neapolitan, and Juanelo Turriano, a Milanese, suggested the scheme to Philip II. The Tagus has ever since, as it roared over its rocky bed, like an unbroken barb, laughed at the Toledan who dreamily angles for impossibilities on the bank, invoking Brunel, Hercules, and Rothschild, instead of putting his own shoulder to the water-wheel.
I N the divisions of the Peninsula which are effected by mountains, rivers, and climate, a leading principle is to be traced throughout, for it is laid down by the unerring hand of nature. The artificial, political, and conventional arrangement into kingdoms and provinces is entirely the work of accident and absence of design. Accordingly, however specious the theory, it was found to be no easy matter to carry departementalization out in practice: individuality laughs at the solemn nonsense of in-door pedants, who would class men like ferns or shells.
The failure in this attempt to remodel ancient demarcations and recombine antipathetic populations was utter and complete. No sooner, therefore, had the Duke cleared the Peninsula of doctrinaires and invaders than the Lion of Castile shook off their papers from his mane, and reverted like the Italian, on whom the same experiment was tried, to his own pre-existing divisions, which, however defective in theory, and unsightly and inconvenient on the map, had from long habit been found practically to suit better.
Recently, in spite of this experience among other newfangled transpyrenean reforms, innovations, and botherations, the Peninsula has again been parcelled out into forty-nine provinces, instead of the former national divisions of thirteen kingdoms, principalities, and lordships; but long will it be before these deeply impressed divisions, which have grown with the growth of the monarchy, and are engraved in the retentive memories of the people, can be effaced.
The thirteen divisions have grand and historical names: they belong to an old and monarchical country, not to a spick and span vulgar democracy, without title-deeds. They consist of those of Seville, Cordova, Jaen, and Granada. There is magic and birdlime in the very letters.
Secondly advances the kingdom of Murcia , with its silver-mines, barilla, and palms. Then the gentle kingdom of Valencia appears, all smiles, with fruits and silk. The principality of grim and truculent Catalonia scowls next on its fair neighbour. Here rises the smoky factory chimney; here cotton is spun, vice and discontent bred, and revolutions concocted.
Translation of «errant» into 25 languages
The proud and stiff-necked kingdom of Arragon marches to the west with this Lancashire of Spain, and to the east with the kingdom of Navarre, which crouches with its green valleys under the Pyrenees. The empire province of the Castiles furnishes two coronets to the royal brow; to wit, that of the older portion, where the young monarchy was nursed, and that of the newer portion, which was wrested afterwards from the infidel Moor. The ninth division is desolate Estremadura , which has no higher title than a province, and is peopled by locusts, wandering sheep, pigs, and here and there by human bipeds.
It is not very easy to ascertain the exact population of any country, much less that of one which does not yet possess the advantages of public registrars; the people at large, for whom, strange to say, the pleasant studies of statistics and political economy have small charms, consider any attempt to number them as boding no good; they have a well-grounded apprehension of ulterior objects.
We should be always on our guard when we hear accounts of the past or present population, commerce, or revenue of Spain. The better classes will magnify them both, for the credit of their country; the poorer, on the other hand, will appeal ad misericordiam , by representing matters as even worse than they really are. They never afford any opening, however indirect, to information which may lead to poll-taxes and conscriptions.
The population and the revenue have generally been exaggerated, and all statements may be much discounted; the present population, at an approximate calculation, may be taken at about eleven or twelve millions, with a slow tendency to increase. This is a low figure for so large a country, and for one which, under the Romans, is said to have swarmed with inhabitants as busy and industrious as ants; indeed, the longest period of rest and settled government which this ill-fated land has ever enjoyed was during the three centuries that the Roman power was undisputed.
The Peninsula is then seldom mentioned by authors; and how much happiness is inferred by that silence, when the blood-spattered page of history was chiefly employed to register great calamities, plagues, pestilences, wars, battles, or the freaks of men, at which angels weep! Certainly one of the causes which have changed this happy state of things, has been the numerous and fierce invasions to which Spain has been exposed; fatal to her has been her gift of beauty and wealth, which has ever attracted the foreign ravisher and spoiler.
The Goths, to whom a worse name has been given than they deserved in Spain, were ousted by the Moors, the real and wholesale destroyers; bringing to the darkling West the luxuries, arts and sciences of the bright East, they had nothing to learn from the conquered; to them the Goth was no instructor, as the Roman had been to him; they despised both of their predecessors, with whose wants and works they had no sympathy, while they abhorred their creed as idolatrous and polytheistic—down went altar and image. There was no fair town which they did not destroy; they exterminated, say their annals, the fowls of the air.
The Gotho-Spaniard in process of time retaliated, and combated the invader with his own weapons, bettering indeed the destructive lesson which was taught. The effects of these wars, carried on without treaty, without quarter, and waged for country and creed, are evident in those parts of Spain which were their theatre. Thus, vast portions of Estremadura, the south of Toledo and Andalucia, by nature some of the richest and most fertile in the world, are now dehesas y despoblados , depopulated wastes, abandoned to the wild bee for his heritage; the country remains as it was left after the discomfiture of the Moor.
The early chronicles of both Spaniard and Moslem teem with accounts of the annual forays inflicted on each other, and to which a frontier-district was always exposed. To these horrors succeeded the thinning occasioned by causes of a bigoted and political nature: the expulsion of the Jews deprived poor Spain of her bankers, while the final banishment of the Moriscoes, the remnant of the Moors, robbed the soil of its best and most industrious agriculturists.
No sooner were they beaten out by the Duke, than population began to spring up again, as the bruised flowerets do when the iron heel of marching hordes has passed on. Then ensued the civil fratricide wars, draining the land of its males, from which bleeding Spain has not yet recovered.
Insecurity of property and person will ever prove bars to marriage and increased population. Again, a deeper and more permanent curse has steadily operated for the last two centuries, at which Spanish authors long have not dared to hint. They have ascribed the depopulation of Estremadura to the swarm of colonist adventurers and emigrants who departed from this province of Cortes and Pizarro to seek for fortune in the new world of gold and silver; and have attributed the similar want of inhabitants in Andalucia to the similar outpouring from Cadiz, which, with Seville, engrossed the traffic of the Americas.
But colonisation never thins a vigorous, well-conditioned mother state—witness the rapid and daily increase of population in our own island, which, like Tyre of old, is ever sending forth her outpouring myriads, and wafts to the uttermost parts of the sea, on the white wings of her merchant fleets, the blessings of peace, religion, liberty, order, and civilisation, to disseminate which is the mission of Great Britain. But Spain, if the anecdote which her children love to tell be true, will never be able to remove the incubus of this fertile origin of every evil.
When Ferdinand III. The present revenue may be taken at about 12,, l. The revenue, moreover, is badly collected, and at a ruinous per centage, and at no time during this last century has been sufficient for the national expenses. Recourse has been had to the desperate experiments of usurious loans and wholesale confiscations.
At one time church pillage and appropriation was almost the only item in the governmental budget. This system necessarily cannot last. Since the reign of Philip II. No country in the Old World, or even New drab-coated World, stands lower in financial discredit. For the benefit and information of those who have purchased Iberian stock, it may be stated that an Exchange, or Bolsa de Comercio , was established at Madrid in One circumstance is clear, that Castilian pundonor , or point of honour, will rather settle its debts with cold iron and warm abuse than with gold and thanks.
The Exchange at Madrid was first held at St. But from Philip II. Beware of Spanish stock, for in spite of official reports, documentos , and arithmetical mazes, which, intricate as an arabesque pattern, look well on paper without being intelligible; in spite of ingenious conversions, fundings of interest, coupons—some active, some passive, and other repudiatory terms and tenses, the present excepted—the thimblerig is always the same; and this is the question, since national credit depends on national good faith and surplus income, how can a country pay interest on debts, whose revenues have long been, and now are, miserably insufficient for the ordinary expenses of government?
You cannot get blood from a stone; ex nihilo nihil fit. According to some financiers, the public debts of Spain, previously to , amounted to 83,, l. This possibly may be exaggerated, for the government will give no information as to its own peculation and mismanagement: according to Mr. Henderson, 78,, l.https://recanebea.tk
Books Set in Spain: Spanish Novels For Readers Who Travel - Tale Away
In the time of James I. And yet few countries, if we regard the fertility of her soil, her golden possessions at home and abroad, her frugal temperate population, ought to have been less embarrassed; but Heaven has granted her every blessing, except a good and honest government. O F the many misrepresentations regarding Spain, few are more inveterate than those which refer to the dangers and difficulties that are there supposed to beset the traveller. This, the most romantic, racy, and peculiar country of Europe, may in reality be visited by sea and land, and throughout its length and breadth, with ease and safety, as all who have ever been there well know, the nonsense with which Cockney critics who never have been there scare delicate writers in albums and lady-bird tourists, to the contrary notwithstanding: the steamers are regular, the mails and diligences excellent, the roads decent, and the mules sure-footed; nay, latterly, the posadas , or inns, have been so increased, and the robbers so decreased, that some ingenuity must be evinced in getting either starved or robbed.
Those, however, who are dying for new excitements, or who wish to make a picture or chapter, in short, to get up an adventure for the home-market, may manage by a great exhibition of imprudence, chattering, and a holding out luring baits, to gratify their hankering, although it would save some time, trouble, and expense to try the experiment much nearer home. They often arrive at Corunna in seventy hours, from whence a mail starts directly to Madrid, which it reaches in three days and a half. The vessels are excellent sea-boats, are manned by English sailors, and propelled by English machinery.
The passage to Vigo has been made in less than three days, and the voyage to Cadiz—touching at Lisbon included—seldom exceeds six. The steamers which navigate the Eastern coast from Marseilles to Cadiz and back again, are cheaper indeed in their fares, but by no means such good sea-boats; nor do they keep their time—the essence of business—with English regularity.
They are foreign built, and worked by Spaniards and Frenchmen. They generally stop a day at Barcelona, Valencia, and other large towns, which gives them an opportunity to replenish coal, and to smuggle. A rapid traveller is also thus enabled to pay a flying visit to the cities on the seaboard; and thus those lively authors who comprehend foreign nations with an intuitive eagle-eyed glance, obtain materials for sundry octavos on the history, arts, sciences, literature, and genius of Spaniards.
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