Letters from Spain

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H. Colburn, 1825 - Biography & Autobiography - 432 pages
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I am inclined to think with you, that a Spaniard, who, like myself, has resided many years in England, is, perhaps, the fittest person to write an account of life, manners and opinions as they exist in this country, and to shew them in the light which is most likely to interest an Englishman. The most acute and diligent travellers are subject to constant mistakes; and perhaps the more so, for what is generally thought a circumstance in their favour—a moderate knowledge of foreign languages. A traveller who uses only his eyes, will confine himself to the description of external objects; and though his narrative may be deficient in many topics of interest, it will certainly be exempt from great and ludicrous blunders. The difficulty, which a person, with a smattering of the language of the country he is visiting, expe[Pg 2]riences every moment in the endeavour to communicate his own, and catch other men's thoughts, often urges him into a sort of mental rashness, which leads him to settle many a doubtful point for himself, and to forget the unlimited power, I should have said tyranny, of usage, in whatever relates to language.

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Page 96 - ... pourvu que je ne parle en mes écrits ni de l'autorité, ni du culte, ni de la politique, ni de la morale, ni des gens en place, ni des corps en crédit, ni de l'Opéra, ni des autres spectacles, ni de personne qui tienne à quelque chose, je puis tout imprimer librement, sous l'inspection de deux ou trois censeurs.
Page 106 - ... that soon followed it. For some months previous to the awful ceremony I voluntarily secluded myself from the world, making religious reading and meditation the sole employment of my time. The Exercises of Saint Ignatius...
Page 108 - Among my numerous acquaintance in the Spanish clergy I have never met with any one possessed of bold talents who has not, sooner or later, changed from the most sincere piety to a state of unbelief.
Page 423 - I once heard an English gentleman, who had resided a long time in Italy, where he obtained lodgings in a convent, relate his surprise at the termination of a friendly discussion which he had with the most able individuals of the house, on the points of difference between the Churches of England and Rome. The dispute had been animated, and supported with great ability on the Catholic side by one of the youngest monks. When, at length, all, except the chief disputants, had retired, the young monk,...
Page 115 - This first taste of mental liberty was more delicious than any feeling I ever experienced ; but it was succeeded by a burning thirst for every thing that, by destroying my old mental habits, could strengthen and confirm my unbelief. I gave an exorbitant price for any French irreligious books, which the love of gain induced some Spanish booksellers to import at their peril. The intuitive knowledge of one another, which persecuted principles impart to such as cherish them in common, made me soon acquainted...
Page 151 - Bulls, prayers, and penances, the Pope has established eight or ten days in the year, on which every Spaniard (for the grant is confined to Spain) by kneeling at five different altars, and there praying for the extirpation of heresy, is entitled to send a species of habeas animam writ to any of his friends in purgatory. The name of the person whose liberation is intended should, for fear of mistakes, be mentioned in the prayers.
Page 65 - But though they had succeeded in raising my fear of hell, this was, on the other hand, too feeble to overcome a childish bashfulness, which made the disclosure of a harmless trifle an effort above my strength." " The appointed day came at last when I was to wait on the confessor. Now wavering, now determined not to be guilty of sacrilege, I knelt before the priest, leaving, however, in my list of sins, the last place to the hideous offence — I believe it was a petty larceny committed on a young...
Page 46 - ... Success in this trade depends on their promptitude to answer every call, their neatness in washing the glasses, and most of all, on their skilful use of the good-natured waggery peculiar to the lower classes of Andalusia. A knowing air, an arch smile, and some honied words of praise and endearment, as My rose, My soul...
Page 213 - The utmost indulgence, as to communication with parents and brothers, extends only to a short conversation once a month, in the presence of one of the elder nuns, behind a thick curtain spread on the inner side of the iron grating, which completely intercepts the view. The religious vows, however, among the Capuchin nuns, put a final end to all communication between parents and children. To those unacquainted with the character of our species of Christianity, it will be difficult to conceive what...

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