16 de June de 1830 La Víspera del Corpus Christi - Fiesta de Corpus Christi; ropa y belleza de las españolas; la Barceloneta; gegants, pan, circos, y la ruina de España (1235)

It was the celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi when we were at Barcelona; and the first evening that I was ashore there, I had an opportunity of witnessing one of the grandest religious processions with which that festival is commemorated. Nearly all the inhabitants of Barcelona turned out en masse, and proceeded to the small town of Barcelonetta, which stands upon a neck of land lying to the northward and eastward of the city. We stationed ourselves about midway between Barcelona and Barcelonetta, where we had an excellent opportunity of seeing the procession as it passed. It is not my design to give a minute description of it. It was headed by a large proportion of the clergy of every grade, who were dressed in their richest robes, and carried torches and banners. The citizens followed in their train, not in any regular order, but as the convenience and pleasure of each individual dictated. The whole procession was nearly an hour in passing us, and we had a fine opportunity of scrutinizing on a large scale the dress and beauty of the Spanish ladies. In this we were not a little aided by our theatrical Mentor.

Spain is, I believe, the only country in the civilized world, where the costume of females is not affected by rank; but there the belle who captivates the hearts of half the courtiers in the kingdom is not distinguished in her dress, except by its superior richness, from the poor country girl who brings in every morning to market her basket of fruits or vegetables, and beguiles the tedium of her walk by the uncouth strains of the fandango song, with which her enamorado had serenaded her on the preceding evening. Of all the female costumes with which I am acquainted, I do not hesitate to avow a decided preference for the Spanish. The gala dress of a Spanish lady is always black. It is neat, modest, and appropriate.

It is impossible that it should be gaudy or ostentatious. The principal distinction between the Spanish female costume and that of other countries, is the black lace mantilla worn upon the head. This supplies the place of a bonnet, and is, to my eye, infinitely more beautiful. The basquina, or gown, does not differ essentially from that in use among French, English, and American ladies, except that it is made a little shorter, in order to display more fully the foot and ankle, of which the Spanish fair are generally excessively vain. In company, whether in summer or winter, a fan is an indispensable article. In love matters, a Spanish lady can carry on a conversation as intelligibly with her fan and eyes, as with her tongue and lips.

Female beauty in Spain is quite a different thing from what it is in the United States.

They make less account there of those delicacies of complexion, that regularity of features, and a thousand other light and airy graces, so much valued among us; and look more to the soul expressed in the countenance. To a Spaniard a fine eye, full of life and expression, is an atonement for almost every other species of ugliness. Black is the only colour ever celebrated in their love songs, and they are accustomed to say that persons with blue eyes ought to see better in the night than in the daytime, because they have ojos de gala [«Cat’s eyes»] The Spanish women are generally well formed. Their feet and ankles are renowned all the world over for their smallness and symmetry.

When the procession had nearly passed us, we joined in with the crowd, and proceeded to Barcelonetta. This is the most singular-looking place I ever saw. It is an exact square, and has twenty-four streets intersecting each other at right angles. The houses are of brick, and two stories high. They are all of the same size, with the same number of doors, windows, and apartments. Every one, in short, is the exact image of its neighbour. Temporary board seats had been constructed, and almost every street in the place was lined with a row of ladies on each side of it. When the services in the church were ended, and the clergy issued forth, the whole immense assemblage rose, and the gentlemen all uncovered themselves. Our little lawyer whispered us to take off our hats, unless we wished to attract the gaze of the populace, and excite the indignation of the friars. At the same time he more than intimated that he looked upon the whole ceremony as a mere piece of mummery, and conformed to the general usage in this respect only to avoid the anathemas of the priesthood.

Every time I was ashore in Barcelona, I saw two colossal female dolls dancing through the streets. They were constantly followed by immense crowds of people. This was also a part of the ceremony of the Corpus Christi.

The people of Barcelona, like those in other parts of Spain, are excessively fond of processions, balls, masquerades, theatrical representations, and public spectacles of every kind. Madrid for bull fights, and Barcelona for masquerades, leave all the other cities of Spain far behind them. «Bread, amusements, and executions,» was a motto of one of the Kings of Naples, and it is the true policy of every despot in existence. To enable the people to procure the bare necessaries of life, to furnish them with amusements to drown their cares and make them forget their oppressions, and to multiply executions to let them know that the sword of power is suspended over their heads by a hair, — all this is the very quintessence of despotism.

The excessive fondness for public shows and public assemblies, prevalent in Spain, indicates, in my opinion, an extremely unintellectual state of the people. » A good man,» Solomon says, » is satisfied from himself.» In a somewhat different sense, it is not perhaps less true that an intellectual people will be satisfied from their own meditations. I should.regret exceedingly to see a taste for public spectacles and assemblies, fitted to minister only to the gratifications of sense, gaining ground in this country. I could not but regard it as a proof that the general intelligence and virtue for which my countrymen are now so honourably distinguished, were on the decline, and as the harbinger of those vicious and degrading excesses, which never fail to follow in the train of ignorance and corruption. There are men in Spain who see and mourn over this state of things, but they have no power to remedy it. I do not state this unadvisedly. A gentleman to whom I have more than once had occasion to refer in the course of this work, said to me one day in a conversation on this very subject, » Sir, I love my country; every particle of my flesh and every drop of my blood are Spanish, and I am proud of the name of Spaniard ; but Spain is degraded, lost, ruined; her inhabitants at this moment are more ignorant, wretched, and vicious than those of any other country in Europe; and at present I see no prospect of an amelioration. Ah! my dear sir, the only sad consolation I have left is, that I shall not long survive to behold the miseries and disgraces of my native land.»

, Two years and a half in the American navy: comprising a journal of a cruise to England, in the Mediterranean, and in the Levant, on board of the U.S. frigate Constellation, in the years 1829, 1830, and 1831 (1833).

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  • Barcelona (1603)
  • Corpus Christi (27) Corpus Christi (en latín, "Cuerpo de Cristo") o Solemnidad del Cuerpo y la Sangre de Cristo, antes llamada Corpus Domini ("Cuerpo del Señor"), es una fiesta de la Iglesia católica destinada a celebrar la Eucaristía.
  • Costumbrismo (111)
  • Década Ominosa (28) Se denomina Década Ominosa o segunda restauración del absolutismo (1823-1833) al periodo de la historia contemporánea de España que corresponde a la última fase del reinado de Fernando VII (1814-1833), tras el Trienio Liberal (1820-1823), en el que rigió la Constitución de Cádiz promulgada en 1812.
  • Fernando VII de España (56) Fernando VII de España, llamado el Deseado o el rey Felón (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, 14 de octubre de 1784-Madrid, 29 de septiembre de 1833), fue rey de España entre marzo y mayo de 1808 y, tras la expulsión del «rey intruso» José I Bonaparte, nuevamente desde diciembre de 1813 hasta su muerte, exceptuando un breve intervalo en 1823, en que fue destituido por el Consejo de Regencia.
  • Gigantón (5)
  • La Barceloneta (46)
  • Procesión (42)
  • Reino de Nápoles (13)

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