7 de April de 1847 - Una salida en barco para Valencia (692)

Departure for Valencia—The Coast

We were early on board the Barcino, but it was full half-past nine, before we were rid of the motley crowd of carabineros and idlers, whom our approaching departure had gathered together. I can not say that I felt at all distressed, when the tinkling of the little bell admonished our white-headed English engineer to set his machinery in motion. I was tired of Barcelona, for reasons, not very satisfactory, perhaps, in the abstract, but altogether so to me. The Fonda was chilly, dirty, and unsavory; the weather was cold and blustering, and I was an invalid, tired of vain seeking after genial sunshine and balmy breezes. With any thing, therefore, but reluctance, I saw the waves beat on the beach as we rode gallantly away beneath Montjuich, and watched the city, till, like a beautiful white wreath, it sank upon the bosom of the sea. Then Montserrat appeared, and disappeared, and came again, combing the fleecy clouds with its crest of innumerable pinnacles ; and through a gap we now and then might see a spur of the snowy, far-off Pyrenees. The breeze, though brisk, was not troublesome, and so I sate on deck all day, enjoying the glimpses of white towns sparkling here and there upon the arid surface of the hills; or watching the graceful sweep of the feluccas and mystics and other lateen sailed vessels, farther out at sea. Toward evening we passed abreast of the Ebro, and wondered at the sudden change of the waters, from blue to green or greenish, which marked the tribute paid by this great river to the Mediterranean.

We had parted, at Barcelona, with our friends, the marquis and the philosophical Frenchman, and had been reinforced by a company of Spaniards, mostly from the south, who made themselves very merry with the lieutenant and his spy-glass, and with a little Catalonian doctor, who had just written a pamphlet on the mineral waters of la Puda [de Montserrat], near Barcelona, and was starting on a journey of speculation, to excite some interest in behalf of his sulphur. As the clear night set in, they gathered in a group by the ship’s side and talked politics—a subject, under the circumstances, particularly interesting, even to one who had come from a country where there is never any stint in the domestic article. One and all seemed to bewail the absence of what they called Españolismo—Spanish spirit-among their rulers. The people, they thought well and liberally enough disposed—patriotiocally, too—but their leaders, and especially the army-officers who moved the springs of government, they all concurred in branding as a pack of sorry knaves, most of whom oould bo won to any policy by a. few crosses and pesetas. They accounted, very sensibly, for the corruption among the officers of the customs, by referring to the fact, that the ordinary carabineros receive but six reals (thirty cents) per day, on which it is a known and obvious fact that they can not live. They are compelled, therefore, to «take provoking gold» in order to keep soul and body together. Smuggling, however (they said) had greatly diminished since the introduction of steam-vessels as guardacostas, and the appointment, to their command, of officers of the navy, who are generally men of higher tone and character. The navy itself (they told me) was increasing steadily though slowly. A lieutenant, who was in the company, said that its demands were beyond the actual supply of officers. This fiery young gentleman was quite radical in his notions as to the mode of reforming existing abuses, for he made bold to say, that until Spain should have gone through a revolution like that of France, with a practical application of the guillotine to one half of the high heads, there would be no permanent change for the better. The Catalan doctor seemed to think, on the whole, that he would prefer the continuance of the contraband trade, to so executive a remedy. When I went to sleep, they had not settled the question.

, Glimpses of Spain; or, Notes of an unfinished tour in 1847 (1849). Read on

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