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from a notion that tobacco preserves them against the dampness of the air; all this, joined to their natural activity, fprightliness, and ■vigour, gives them an appearance seemingly to border on ferocity, were it not the reverse of their manners, which are gentle and easy, when no motive is given to choler, which the least spark kindles into violence.
It has been observed, that the inhabitants of mountains are strongly attached to their country, •which prob.fbly arises from the division of lands, in which, generally speaking, all have an interest. In this, the Biscayners exceed all other states, looking with fondness on their hills, as the most delightful scenes in the world, and their people as the most respectable, descended from the aborigines of Spain. This prepossession excites them to the most extraordinary labour, and to execute things far beyond.what could be expected, in so small and rugged a country, where they have few branches of commerce: leannot give a greater proof of their industry, than those fine roads they have now made from Bilbao to Castile, as well as in Guypuscoa and Alaba. When one sees the passage over the tremendous mountain of Qrduna, one cannot be. hold it without the utmost surprize and admiration.
The manners of the Biscayners, and the ancient It ill), are so similar on many occasions, as to encourage the notion of the Irish being descended from them. Both men and women are extremely fond of pilgrimages, repairing from great distances to the churches of their patrons, or tutelary saints, singing
and dancing till they almost drop down with fatigue. The Irish do the same at their patrons. The Guizones of Biscay, and the Boalamkcighs of Ireland, are nearly alike: at all these assemblies they knock out one another's brains, on the most trivial provocation, without malice or rancour, and without using a knife or a dagger. In both countries the common people ara passionate, easily provoked if their family is slighted, or their descent called in question. The Chacoli of Biscay, or the Shebeen of Ireland, makes them equally frantic. In Ireland the poor eat out of one dish with their ringers, and sit in their smoaky cabbins without chimnies, as well as the Biscayners. The brogue is also the shoe of Biscay \ the women tie a kercher round their heads, wear red petticoats, go barefoot, in all which they resemble the Biscayners, and with them have an equal good opinion of their ancient descent: the poor Biscayner, though haughty, is laborious and active, an example, worthy to be imitated by the Irilh. So many concurring circumstances support the idea of their having been originally one people. It cannot be denied, but that the old Irilh, whether from similitude of customs, religion, and traditional notions, or whatever else may be the cause, have always been attached to the Spaniards, who on their fide, perhaps from political views, have treated them with reciprocal affection, granting them many privileges, and stiling them even Oriuntlos in their laws, as a colony descended from Spain; yet, with all these advantages, if we except those gallant soldiers who have distinguished themselves In the field wherever they have served, few Irish have made a conspicuous figure in Spain, or have left great wealth to their families*.
The king of Spain has no other title over these free people, than that os, Lord of Biscay, as the kings of England formerly held over Ireland; they admit of no bishops, nor of custom houses in their provinces, and as they pay less duties than the king's other subjects, they were not included in the late extensions of the American commerce; however, they content themselves with that renown which they have acquired for themselves and their issue, insomuch that upon only proving, to be originally belonging to that lordship, or descended from such in the male line, lawfully begotten, they are entitled to claim public certificates, or executory letters, termed Cartas exetutorias, expreslive of their berng Hidalgos de Sangrc, or " Gentlemen of Wood j" their nobility having been confirmed to them by the kings of Castile and Leon, lords of Biscay, in the plenitude of their power.
The most lofty Caftilians have constant rivals for antiquity and descent in the inhabitants of Biscay, Asturias, and the mountains
of Leon: thus, in Don Quixote, Donna Rodriguez, the duenna, speaking of her hulband, says, he was as well bom as the king, because he came from the mountains. Y fibre todo Hidalgo, como el lly, porque era montancs f.
Impressed with these flattering ideas, the high-minded Bilcayner leaves his native foil, and repairs to Madrid. Conscious that his blood is pure, uncontamtn3ted with mixtures of Jewish, or Mahometan race, he raises his hopes on honetl industry and sobriety, fulfilling his duties with zeal and submission; he often meets with relations in affluence, and sometimes rises to the highest employments. It should seem that some such character must have offended the immortal Cervantes, from his pointed reflections in his celebrated romance of Don Quixote, where he fays that " an express being ar"rived with dispatches of moment "directed to Don Sancho Panza, "governor of the island of Bara"taria, into his own hands, or "thole of his secretary, which be"ing given to read to the major "domo, by Sancho; the ima"ginary governor asked, "Who "here is my secretary? To which "one present answered, 1, fir, am "the person, because I can read and "xvrite, and am moreover a BisTM eaytur. With this addition, re"plied Sancho, you are fit to "be a secretary, even to an era*' peror*." air, and little wind, will be the causes of putrifying the' vapours, and bring on severs and other distempers. For this reason, the inhabitants of La Mancha are so subject to agues, and use as much bark as in Holland, because the air has little motion in summer, notwithstanding the country is open, and the surface is dry. In the fame manner, a new house is dangerous to dwell in, where the damp vapours are confined, though one may sleep very safely in the deepest gallery of a mine, if the 'air has a free circulation.
• Another instance in which the Irish seem to have closely imitated the Spanish customs, is in the caking of snuff, os which Mr. Howel, who was in Spain in 1610, and went soon after to Ireland, gives us the following account, ac an early period, after the first introduction of snuff into Europe: " The Spaniards and Irish take it moll in powder, or smutchin, and it mightily refreshes the brain, and 1 believe there is as much taken this wiy in Ireland, at chere is in pipes in England. One shall commonly see the serving maid upon the washing block, and the swain upon the ploughshare, when they are tired with labour, take out their boxes of smutchin. and draw it into their nostril* with a quill, and it will btget new Ipiritj in them, with a fresh vigour to fall to their work again."——Epistolæ Hœlianæ. London, 1716.
t Don Quixote, part a. torn. 4.. cap. ci. Madrid, 1771.
Description of the Toicn of Bilbao, and the Manners 'fits Inhabitants.
TH E town os Bilbao, on the banks of the river Y baizabal, is about two leagues from the lea, and contains about eight hundred houses, with a large square by the •water side, well lhaded with pleasant walks, which extend to the outlets, on the banks of the river, with numbers of ho.uses and gardens, which form a molt pleasing prospect, particularly as you fail up the river; for, besides the beautiful verdure, numerous objects open gradually to the eye, and the town appearing as an amphitheatre, enlivens the landscape, and completes the scenery.
The houses are solid and lofty, the streets well paved and level; ■writer is conveyed into the streets, and they may be walhed at pleasure, which renders Bilbao one of the neatest towns in Europe. Coaches are not in use, by which means, inequality of wealth is not lo perceptible, exterior ostentation is avoided, and the poor man walks by the fide of the rich, with equal ease and content.
The air 19 generally damp, covers iron with rust, destroys furniture in the upper apartments, extracts the salt out of dried fisli, and multiplies flies beyond measure, yet the town is remarkably healthy, and its inhabitants enjoy,
to a great degree, the three principal blessing* of life, perfect health, strength of body, and a chcarful disposition, attended with longevity; in proof of which, though the town is very populous, the hospital is frequently empty, and in the nine months, that Mr. Bowles resided there, only nine persons were buried, four of which were above eighty. Every day one may fee men above that age walking upright, in chearful converse with youth. Burning fevers, which the Spaniards dread so much, and call tabardillos, are not known here, and they are seldom troubled with agues. What is then the reason that Bilbao, on the side of a river in so damp a situation, and chiefly built on piles, like the cities in Holland, sliould be so remarkably healthy, with every indication against it? I iliall endeavour to account for it. • The adjacent mountains stop the clouds that arise from the saline vapours of the ocean, rains are frequent, but they are seldom without a sea breeze, or a land wind; the current of the air being thus continually ventilated, never leaves the moist vapours at rest, and prevents their ferming those putrid combinations, which heat generally occasions, on stagnated waters. Thus the vicinity of the sea, the rains, and, more than all, the strong currents of air, are the physical causes of its salubrity at Bilbao, as, on the contrary, the continued heat which ratifies the exhalations of such rivers as have a stow motion, as well as the stagnated waters in ponds or. lakes, where there is great heat in the
To these favourable circumstances, the Biscayners owe their good spirits, freshness of complexion, and chearful disposition. In other countries, women are oppressed with the slightest fatigue; here they work as much as the strongest men, unload the sliips, carry burdens, and do all the business of porters. The very felons, confined to hard labour in the mines of Almaden, do nothing in comparison with these females; they go bare-footed, and are remarkably active, carrying burthens on their heads which require two men to lift up. The wife yields not in strength to the husband, nor the sister to the brother, and after a chearful glass, though heavily loaded, they move on with alacrity,
returning home in the evening, without the appearance of lassitude, often arm in arm, dancing and singing to the tabor and pipe.
Their music is defrayed at the expence of the town, after the manner of the antient Greeks. On holidays they play under the trees in the great square; the moment they begin, she concourse ia great, men, women, and children, of all ages, are engaged at the fame time, down to the very infants. The dances are active, suitable to their strength, but divested of indecent attitudes or gestures. These surprising women, thongh constantly exposed to the air, have good complexions, with lively eyes, and fine black hair, in which they pride themselves greatly, and braid to uncommon advantage. Married women wrap a white handkerchief round their heads, so knotted, as to fall down in three plaits behind, and over this the Mont era cap: they have a haughty look, and work in the fields like the men. Their language is the Bascucnse, which, without doubt, is original, and as antient as the peopling of the country, being totally distinct, and without any connection with any Spanish dialect; those who understand it, assure us it is very soft and harmonious, as well as energetic*.
• In the mountains of Biscay and Navarre, the Spanish language, or romance, is neither spoken nor underllood.
See tRe following books.
De la antigua lengua, poblaciones, y Comarcas de las Efpanas en qoe de pal'o fe tocan algunas coses de la Camabria por Andres de Puza— Bilbao, 1587, 4to.
El imposible vencido: Arte de la lengua bafeoncada por manuel de Larrairtendi: Salamanca, 17*9.
Diccionario Trilingue del Castillano, Bascucnse y Latin por manuel de Larramendi, 1745
A general neatness prevails every where in the town of Bilbao. The ihambles is a Tuscan building, in the centre of the town, with an open court and a fountain in the middle j nothing can be more cleanly or better contrived, free from all bad scents, or any thing disgusting,, as it is copiously supplied with water to carry away every thing offensive. The meat is delivered so frefli and clean, as not to require being washed, as practised in other parts of Spain, which deprives it of its substance and flavour j the real is white and delicate, and , the poultry excellent: the woods afford plenty of birds, besides five forts of birds of passage called chimbos, which fatten soon aster their arrival, and are greatly esteemed.
Among the different sorts of fill), common at Bilbao, there are two peculiar to that river, which the inhabitants are remarkably fond of; these are a peculiar sort of eels in winter, and the cuttle tilli in summer: the 'eels are small like the quill of a pigeon, of a pale colour, about three inches long, and without a back bone, which they catch at low tides in prodigious quantities. In a word, every thing is in plenty at Bilbao, for besides a well supplied market, their gardens abound in pulse and fruit of all kinds.; so that one can Jive no where better than here, when we take into the account the
hospitable disposition of the inhabitants, which soon falls off, if you slight their cordiality, or attribute it to motives of adulation or interest. Such is the happy life of the inhabitants of Bilbao, free., from the luxuries, as well as the ambitious passions which agitate the minds of their neighbours, they pass their lives in tranquillity, governed by wholesome laws; amongst which, they are said even' to have one against ingratitude, with a punisliment affixed to it.
Of the Character of our Debt Ltnut, and of Mr. Howard. From Mr, Burke's, Speech to his Constituents at Bristol.
THERE are two capital faults in our law with relation to civil debts. One is, that every man is presumed solvent. A presumption, in innumerable cases, directly against truth. Therefore the debtor is ordered, on a supposition of ability and fraud, to be coerced his liberty until he makes payment. By this means, in all cafes of civil insolvency, without a pardon from, his creditor, he is to be imprisoned for life:—and thus a miserable mistaken invention of artificial science, operates to change a civil into a criminal judgment, and to scourge misfortune or indiscretion with a pu
From whence it is evident that the Bascuense is totally different from the Spanish, which is the common language of (he two Castiles, Leon, Ellremadura, Andalusia, Arragon, Navarre, Rioxa, and the mountains of Burgos; and is generally understood in Asturias, Galicia, Valencia, and Caraloni*. though not the language of those provinces, where they have a dialect vary, ing more or less from the Spanish, in proportion to their situation and proximity to neighbouring kingdoms.