« PreviousContinue »
Many thanks are due to our correspondents. To the author of the “ Letters from Europe,” we give a friendly warning, that if he deserts us entirely, our sense of duty will oblige us to denounce him. He will agree with us that men of leisure, talents, fancy, observation and experience can indulge no hope, in the present state of our country, of being placed in retirement; all those who are capable of enticing the public taste to the pursuit of science and literature, can never obtain more than a short furlough ; they must hold themselves with their arms burnished, in constant readiness for active service. To the authors of the essay on “ Greek Literature," and of the “ Occasional Ode to Time," we must remark, that they have permitted us to enter, tain great expectations. We salute our correspondent C. whose lines are always mentioned by our poetical readers with emphasis. The original and characteristick essays of R. entitle him to our acknowledgement for his unwearied services. With good wishes for the publick and increasing hopes for our work, we commence the first number of the eighth volume.
FOR THE ANTHOLOGY.
JOURNAL OF A TOUR FROM CADIZ TO SEVILLE,
BY A BOSTONIAN.
(Continued from vol. vii. page 366.) The first object of attention which arrests the eye of a stranger on his arrival at Seville, and the principal ornament of the city, is the celebrated cathedral. This is a structure of extraordinary magnificence. It stands in a spacious square near the entrance of the city, and is the chief and most conspicuous of the public edifices. The architecture is Gothick, and both the external and internal appearance is very noble. It is four hundred and twenty feet in length, two hundred and sixtythree in breadth, and in height one hundred and twenty-six. The body of the church was erected in the year 1401. It is chiefly however admired for its remarkable tower, the work of Guera, the Moor, which was built about the ninth century, and is reckoned one of the greatest curiosities in Spain. On the top of the tower stands the famous Giralda, (the moveable figure of a woman, bearing a palm branch in her hand) which is alluded to in Don Quixote. This is a brazen statue of gigantick dimensions,
which weighs nearly a ton and a half, yet turns with the slightest variation of the wind. The height of the tower is three hundred and fifty feet without including the cupola and image ; which is ten feet higher than the cross of St. Paul's in London. It has no steps. You ascend by a winding path, or inclined plane, which is of such gentle ascent that a horse may trot up to the top and down again with perfect ease; and it is so wide that two horsemen may without difficulty ride abreast. One of the Queens of Spain did actually ascend it on horseback.
The prospect from the summit is very extensive and pic-. turesque. The waters of the Guadalquivir can be traced for many leagues winding slowly through the immense plains which stretch beyond the circle of vision. At a distance, on the skirts of the horizon, the mountains which divide the kingdoms of Andalusia and Granada are faintly discerned among the clouds. There is a clock in the tower, which was made by a inonk of Seville. It is an exquisite piece of mechanism. The cathedral is not so large as Westminster abbey, nor is it externally perhaps so fine a building; yet I think that its internal effect is much more striking. In one the beauty of the Gothick architecture is sullied and its general effect greatly diminished by the croud of monuments which distract the eye, and which, however interesting individually, destroy the unity of the whole. In the other, the grandeur of the edifice is rendered more impressive by the magnificence and splendour of the Romish religion. The inestimable treasures of the church, its countless decorations of silver and gold and jewels, its altars that blaze with a thousand tapers, contribute to increase the lustre of its architectural beauty.
The riches of this church are almost beyond calculation. The chief altar with all its ornaments ; two statues of St. Isidore and St. Leander as large as life; a tabernacle for the host thirteen feet high, adorned with eight and forty Corinthian col. umns, are of solid silver. These however, compared with the gold and precious stones deposited by the piety of the catholicks, which have been accumulating for ages past, are of trifling value. Since the discovery of America its riches have been greatly augmented. Seville was for many years the emporium of the American commerce. It was the only channel through which the treasures of the new world flowed into Spain. During those ages the adventurers who returned home with their ill gotten wealth, generally deposited on their arrival some por
tion of their plunder in the cathedral as a peace-offering to their saint, and as an expiation of the crimes committed in the other hemisphere.
The cathedral contains eighty-two altars, at which five hundred masses are said daily. The archbishop has a revenue of 150,000 dollars per annum. There are eleven dignitaries belonging to the church, who wear the mitre on high festivals. There are forty canons at a salary of 1800 dollars each ; twenty prebendaries at 1400 dollars ; twenty-one minor canons at 900. dollars. There are also twenty chaunters with their assistants ; two beadles; two masters of ceremonies; thirty-six singing boys for the service of the altar, with a rector, vice rector and teachers of music ; nineteen chaplains ; four curates; four confessors; twenty-three musicians and four supernumeraries. The whole number is two hundred and thirty five.
The organ is said to be the largest in Europe. Its tones are uncommonly fine. It contains five thousand three hundred pipes, with one hundred and ten stops. The bellows are of such capacity that when stretched they will supply the organ for a quarter of an hour. The evening service commences immediately after the tolling of the bell for vespers. At this I used to be a constant attendant during my residence at Seville. The musick, both vocal and instrumental, surpasses any thing of the kind I ever heard before. It is difficult at any time to enter this magnificent cathedral without being impressed with certain indescribable feelings of solemnity. I more particularly experienced this on first visiting it the evening of our arrival. The day was not entirely expired, though the sun had been sometime below the horizon. An imperfect twilight still glímmered through the painted glass of its fourscore Gothick windows. As we paced silently along under the lofty arches, the solemn strains of musick echoed through the long ailes, and as the melancholy peals of the organ rose on the ear, it was impossible to listen unmoved. Before the great altar which famed with numberless lights, a great concourse of people had already assembled who were on their knees attending to the sacred service. They were chaunting a hymn to the virgin ; the voices of the choristers we alone heard, their persons were concealed from view. We mingled with the croud, and knelt down at a distance from the altar. The edifice is so immense that notwithstanding the brilliancy of such a number of lights as blaze on the great altar, which seem designed to rival the
splendour of the noon day sun, the distant parts of it are enveloped in darkness. I cannot attempt to describe the excellence of the musick, or the impression which the service made. I thought at the moment that I had never heard such exquisite sounds from the human voice. The closing day each moment increased the obscurity in which the extremities of the cathedral were wrapped, and the obscurity threw over the whole an awful gloom. A profound and deathlike silence reigned among the auditors. Not a whisper could be heard. Every one seemed apprehensive lest bis breathing should cause interruption. Those who entered paced along on tiptoe without noise. The figures gliding obscurely among the gigantick pillars, now dimly seen at a distance, now hidden from view, seemed to the fancy shadows of unreal beings. As the solemn chaunt rose slowly up to the vaulted roof, the musick appeared to the imagination to float in the air. Its notes could be fancied strains of incorporeal spirits, and to have something more than earthly in its sounds.
The catholick religion, striking, grand, and majestick in its exterior forms, fills the mind imperceptibly with elevated sentiments. In an edifice like this more particularly, which combines the aid of the most delightful musick, with every thing splendid in decoration, and noble in architecture, the mind is with difficulty divested of a mysterious sensation of awe mingled with an emotion of religious sublimity. From the surrounding objects the thoughts are diverted into a particular channel, and rise involuntarily beyond the confines of this lower world. The worship of the virgin is especially dear to the nations of the south. It seems a more tender affection ; an affection more nearly approaching to human feelings, more closely allied to the feelings of the heart, and less mixed with apprehension, than those sentiments of awful veneration which we are accustomed to entertain towards the Supreme governour of the universe.
I usually devoted my mornings, while I continued in Seville, to viewing the numerous admirable paintings which adorn the cathedral. You here see the most famous productions of all the celebrated Spanish masters. To enumerate these, or to point out their particular beauties, would be an endless task. The most conspicuous among them are the works of Murillo. This great painter was born at Seville, in 1618, and died at Cadiz in 1682, while finishing the altar piece in the convent of Capuchins. The scaffolding on which he was sitting gave way,
when he fell down, and expired on the spot. He ranks first among the painters of this country, and his name stands very high in Europe. He is commonly called by foreigners the Spanish Vandyke. In the chapel of the conception is a nativity, near the font a St. Anthony and the baptism of Christ. In the principal sacristy are his celebrated pictures of St. Isidore and St. Leander ; in another his holy family. The chapter house is wholly filled with the works of Murillo. In other parts are the paintings of Velasquez, Luis de Vargas, Ribiera, Claudio Coello, and many other artists of inferiour note.
At the extremity of the cathedral lies buried the body of Ferdinand Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America. As the inscription is not only a tribute to Ferdinand, but to his father also, I was curious enough to take a copy of it. It is written in Spanish, except the six concluding lines, which are in Latin, on a plain and unadorned stone. On each side of the inscription is the figure of an ancient galley, and in the center there is engraven a globe on which is placed a pair of compasses, marking out the position of the newly discovered world. Around the globe is the following Spanish rhyme.
“ A Castilla y a Leon, Nuevo mundo dio Colon.”
Columbus has given a new world to Castile and Leon. This verse is the sole reward which that illustrious man receive ed from his ungrateful masters, and the only tribute allowed him by his jealous contemporaries. Yet he has left behind him a name that will never die. He has already obtained from the justice of posterity that remuneration of which his base minded enemies strove vainly to deprive him. The page of history has long since rescued his fame from the aspersions of malice, and held it up with lustre to the admiration of mankind, while the names of his foes and oppressors are either consigned to everlasting oblivion, or loaded with universal contempt and execration. The letters of the inscription were so indistinctly cut, with so many abbreviations, that I had no little difficulty in decyphering it. I enc' se you an exact copy. I have not translated it, because I kuow you can easily get that done at home, and I do not like to give myself unnecessary trouble.
It appears that Ferdinand, was looked upon in his day as a man of taste and learning, and that he bequeathed his library to the city, consisting of 20,000 volumes. This library remains in the cathedral nearly in statu quo. It has received little or no augmentation since that period.