תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

!

mark for seamen, in making the port of Barcelona. The mountain, or rock as it is called, of Gibraltar, is a peninsula rising to the height of a quarter of a mile, and connected with the continent of Spain by a low, sandy isthmus, very little elevated above the sea.

Rivers.-Spain possesses many very noble rivers : the first in order, beginning in the north-east, is the Ebro, which, rising in the mountains of Asturia, flows south-easterly by Saragossa and Tortosa, into the Mediterranean, in a course of about 300 miles. The Xucar, rising in the southern parts of Arragon, discharges itself into the same sea, to the southward of Valencia. The Guadalquivir runs southwesterly 280 miles by Cordova and Seville into the Atlantic, on the north of the harbour of Cadiz. The Guadiana follows a course of 300 miles, in a parallel direction by Merida and Badajos, and coming on the borders of Portugal, bends southerly to the Atlantic. The Tagus, (in Spanish the Tajo, pronounced Taho,) the largest river in the peninsula, rises in the southern mountains of Arragon, and flowing west-south-west by the royal seat of Aranjuez, washes the walls of Toledo and Alcantara, and traversing Portugal, forms the haven of Lisbon, soon after which it is discharged into the sea, its whole course being about 420 miles. The Duero, (called in Portugal the Douro,) rising on the extremity of Old Castile, after a course in general to the westward, falls into the Atlantic below Oporto. The Minio, (or Minho of the Portuguese,) in the lower part of its course, is the northern boundary between Spain and Portugal.

Lakes Spain presents no lakes deserving of notice:that which gives rise to the Duero, in the mountains of Urbion, is a small but deep abyss; and the cluster of pools in La Mancha, called the Ojos, or Eyes of the Guadiana, are commonly supposed to be the original sources of that river. VOL. II.

Mineral

1

T

Mineral productions.-From the earliest times, Spain was celebrated for its treasures of gold, silver, copper, and iron : the two former metals were chiefly found in the southern parts; and the Tagus was renowned for its golden sands; but since the discovery of the American mines no gold is now sought for; silver, however, is still extracted in certain parts of the mountains on the north of Andalusia. Towards the east end of the same range, are the rich quicksilver mines of Almaden, (a Moorish name for a mine,) of essential use in purifying the gold and silver ores of America. Copper, lead, and tin, are also found in various parts, and the iron of the northern provinces furnishes the material for the famous Spanish swords, gun-barrels, &c. So much superior to all other blades were those of ancient Spain, not only for their temper, but for their shape and manageableness, being short, double-edged, and sharp pointed, that the Romans themselves adopted them into common use, and by them became masters of the world. Coal is found in different parts of Arragon and Catalonia ; and to a mixture of a fine red earth discovered in Murcia, the Spanish snuff owes some of its peculiar properties. Springs of mineral water are likewise to be met with in various quarters.

Animals. - The horses and the sheep of Spain have long been celebrated throughout Europe : the horses were probably much improved by the Saracens or Moors, during their long residence in the country; but the delicate fleeces of the sheep seem to be peculiar to this kingdom; and vast tracts of the Castilles and neighbouring provinces, (perhaps too many,) are set apart for their pasture and periodicalýmigrations, from the north to the south in the autumn, and from the south to the north in the spring.

The mules of Spain are highly esteemed, and in fact perform every labour of draught or carriage: but many of these most serviceable creatures are yearly imported from the south of France, where numbers are raised for the Spanish market.

these

Vegetables.-From the great extent of this peninsula, its mountainous tracts, and long course of sea coast, the potanical riches of Spain are both very various and abundant. In the mountains, forests extend far and wide, filled with different kinds of the oak and the pine: thecork tree is a species of oak, called by the Romans quercus, and by the Spaniards cuercho, whence our cork. This tree possesses the singular property, that, when fifteen years old, the bark may be removed annually for seven or eight seasons in succession ; the young bark growing up, and of itself throwing off that of the preceding year. Rosemary, hyssop, lavender, box, sage, wild thyme, perfume the air along the southern slopes of the Pyrenees; and on the dry hills of La Mancha, Murcia, &c. grows the spartum (esparto of Spain) mentioned by the ancients, and still employed in making ropes, baskets, and various other articles of the first necessity in common life; it resembles a short rush, but when steeped in water becomes pliable, and may be molded into all manner of forms. Maiz or Indian corn, and rice, are produced in certain districts, and the barley, much more nourishing than that of northern climates, is, when chopped down with the straw, the constant food of horse and mule all over Spain, under the name of cebuda. On the Mediterranean coast are cultivated different kinds of salsola or glass.wort, which is burned, and from the ashes is extracted the alkaline salt called barilla, of great use in the manufacture of glass and soap. To recapitulate the varieties and properties of the different Spanish wines, would be a tedious task, as every quality may be found from the slender but lively Val-de-penas, the ordinary beverage of Madrid, up to the richest Malaga. Religion and government.—The Roman catholic religion, in the most rigid furni, is alone professed, or even supposed to exist in Spain; and such is the wealth attached to the church, that the Archbishop of Toledo has been calculated to possess an income of upwards of £ 90,000. This vast income, however, is in a great measure nominal ; for of late years it has been the practice of the government to burthen ecclesiastical benefices with pensions for various purposes, such as the opening of roads and bridges, erecting inns, supporting schools of different sorts, &c.; and it is but justice to the higher clergy of Spain, to record, that their general conduct and demeanour have in the eyes of foreigners, and those even of a different persuasion, appeared to be singularly decorous and exemplary.

The government is a monarchy, formerly much limited by the Cortes, or assemblies of the states of the different provinces or kingdoms of which Spain consists; but these assemblies have seldom of late been held, the administration of affairs being carried on by the royal authority, through the intervention of various councils. The different provinces, however, still retain many valuable privileges, agreeably to their original constitutions, although now united under one and the same sovereign, no general union having ever been duly established.

SPANISH ISLANDS. In the Mediterranean sea, opposite to the coasts of CataJonia and Valencia, lie the islands of Majorca, Minorca, Iviza, and Formentera, the two former having been known to the ancients by the name of the Baleario, and the two latter by the name of the Pithyusan isles.

Majorca. This island, called by the Spaniards Mallorca, is, as its name imports, the largest of the Balearic: the greatest length is about 54 geographic miles, and the greatest breadth about 10 miles. The country is very mountainous, especially from the middle to the northern parts. It lies between north latitude 33°, 15', 45', and 39°, 57', 15", and between east longitude 2', 22', and 2°, 47'. The capital, Palına, a considerable town and port, is situated on a fine bay in the south-west side of the island.

Minorca. - This island, the smallest Balearic, extends from west-north-west to east-south-east, for about 27 geographic miles, on a breadth in the middle of about 10 miles, and is situated between 39°, 47', and 40°, 4', 45”, of north latitude, and between 3', 50, 30", and 4', 23', 53", of east longitude. The island is, in general, of moderate elevation above the sea, and of an even surface; but in the middle is the remarkable conical hill of Toro, crowned with a convent. The capital, Ciudadela, is situated on a narrow haven at the north-west end of the island; but Port Mahon, at the opposite extremity, is one of the most spacious and secure barbours in the world.

Iviza.—This island, erroneously called by us Ivica, for the ancient nanie was Ebusus, is situated only about 40 miles from the coast of Spain, and extends from north-east to south-west about 12 miles, on a medium breadth of 10 miles : the land is equally divided into hill and valley : the principal town, of the same name with the island, lies on the south-west side. The chief production of the island is salt.

Formentera, formerly called Ophiusa, is small, and separated from the south shore of Iviza, by a channel 2 miles in breadıb : in size it is about 8 miles in length and breadth, and on the west side it possesses a convenient anchorage, called Estancia.

XIV.

ITALY, &c. Situation and extent.-The northern parts of this celebrated and very interesting country are encircled by the

Alps,

« הקודםהמשך »