Imágenes de páginas


1808. June.

height being only three stories; the streets are, CHAP. as usual, very narrow and crooked; there are, however, open market-places; and one very wide, long, and regularly built street, formerly called the Calle Santa, having been the scene of many martyrdoms, but now more commonly known by the name of the Cozo. The people, like the rest of the Aragonese, and their neighbours, the Catalans, have been always honourably distinguished in Spanish history for their love of liberty; and the many unavailing struggles which they have made during the last four centuries, had not abated their attachment to the good principles of their forefathers. Within the peninsula, (and once indeed throughout the whole of Catholic Europe,) Zaragoza was famous as the city of our Lady of the Pillar, whose legend is still so firmly believed by the people, and most of the clergy in Spain, that it was frequently appealed to in the proclamations of the different generals and Juntas, as one of the most popular articles of the national faith. The legend is this: when Our Lady the apostles, after the resurrection, separated and Pillur. went to preach the gospel in different parts of the world, St. James the elder, (or Santiago, as he may more properly be called in his mythological history,) departed for Spain, which province Christ himself had previously commended to his care. When he went to kiss the hand of the Virgin, and request her leave to set off, and her blessing, she commanded him, in the name of her Son, to build a church to her honour in


CHAP. that city of Spain wherein he should make the

greatest number of converts, adding, that she would give him farther instructions concerning the edifice upon the spot. Santiago set sail, landed in Galicia, and, having preached with little success through the northern provinces, reached Cæsarea-Augusta, where he made eight disciples. One night, after he had been conversing and praying with them as usual on the banks of the river, they fell asleep, and just at midnight the apostle heard heavenly voices sing, Ave Maria gratia plena! He fell on his knees, and instantly beheld the Virgin upon a marble pillar in the midst of a choir of angels, who went through the whole of her matin service. When this was ended, she bade him build her church around that pillar, which his Lord, her blessed Son, bad sent him by the hands of his angels; there, she told him, that pillar was to remain till the end of the world, and great mercies would be vouchsafed there to those who supplicated for them in her name. Having said this, the angels transported her back to her house at Jerusalem, (for this was before the Assumption) and Santiago, in obedience, erected upon that spot the first church which was ever dedicated to the Virgin*.

1808. Junc.

* Hist. Apparitionis Deipare used in the Church of the Pillar. supra Columnam, Beato Jacobo It may be added here as a curiosity apud Cæsarugustam prædicante. for those who are not accustomed Er cod. membraneo, qui in to such things. Omnipotens æterne Archivo Sanctæ Maria de Pilari Deus, qui Šacratissimam Virgiasservatur. Espana Sagrada, nem matrem tuam inter choros t. xxx. p. 426. Risco adds to Angelorum super columna marthis account, the Collect, which, morea a te ab alto emissa venire, from time immemorial, has been dum adhuc viveret, dignatus est,


1808. June.

Cathedral service was performed both in this CHAP. church and in the see, and the meetings of the chapter were held alternately in each. The interior of each was of the most imposing * kind. When the elder of these joint cathedrals was erected, Pope Gelasius granted indulgencies to all persons who would contribute toward the work, and thus introduced a practice which contributed as much to the grandeur and magnificence of ecclesiastical architecture, as to laxity of morals and the prevalence of superstition.

Many mournful scenes of bigotry and super. Contempt stition have been exhibited in Zaragoza; but, in French for these fiery trials which Buonaparte's tyranny was preparing for the inhabitants, the dross and tinsel of their faith disappeared, and its pure gold re

the Zara-

ut Basilica de Pilari in ejus ho- among the archives of the
norem a Protomartyre apostolo- Virgin's church, in proof of his
rum Jacobo suisque sanctissimis especial devotion to our Lady of
discipulis ædificaretur; præsta the Pillar.
quæsumus ut ejus meritis et in- * “ Here," says Mr. Towns-
tercessione fiat impetrabile quod end," I forgot all the hardships
fida mente poscimus. Qui vivas and fatigues which we had suf-
et regnas, &c.

fered in this long journey: nay, The French, as may be sup- had I travelled all the way on posed, ridicule this fable; but, it foot, I would have freely done it is worthy of remark, that, in the to enjoy the sight of these caearly part of the last century, the thedrals. That which is called Spanish annalist, Ferreras, re- El Aseu is vast, gloomy, and presented the story as of doubt- magnificent; it excites devotion, ful authority; his book passed inspires awe, and inclines the through the hands of the usual worshipper to fall prostrate, and censors, and was printed; and to adore in silence the God who then Philip V, the first of the seems to veil his glory. The Bourbon dynasty in Spain, a other, called El Pilar, spacious, Frenchman by birth and educa- lofty, light, elegant, and cheertion, personally interfered, com- ful,' inspires hope, confidence, manded Ferreras to cancel the complacency, and makes the heretical leaf, and sent the edict soul impatient to express its grain which this was decreed to titude for benefits received." Zaragoza, there to be deposited


1808. June.

CHAP. mained. The French, accustomed as they were

to undervalue the Spanish character, had spoken with peculiar contempt of the Zaragozans. “Few persons,” they said, “ are to be seen among them who distinguish themselves by their dress; there is little of that elegant attire so observable in large cities. All is serious and regular, .. dull and monotonous. The place seems without any kind of resource, because the inhabitants use no effort to obtain any;.. accustomed to a state of apathy and languor, they have not an idea of the possibility of shaking it off*.” With this feeling, equally despising the strength of the place, and the character of the people, the French proceeded to besiege the capital of Aragon. A party of their cavalry entered the town on the 14th, perhaps in pursuit of the retreating patriots; they thought to scour the streets, but they were soon made to feel, that the superiority of disciplined soldiers to citizens exists only in the field.

On the following morning, the French, with attempt to" part of their force, attacked the outposts upon

the canal, and, with their main body, attempted to storm the city by the gate called Portillo. A desperate conflict ensued. The Aragonese fought with a spirit worthy of their cause. They had neither time, nor room, nor necessity for order. Their cannon, which they had hastily planted before the gates, and in the best situations without the town, were served by any per

June 15.

storm the city.

[ocr errors]

* Laborde.



[ocr errors]

sons who happened to be near them; any one CHAP.
gave orders who felt himself competent to take
the command. A party of the enemy entered

the city, and were all slain. Lefebvre perceived
that it was hopeless to persist in the attack with
his present force, and drew off his troops, having
suffered great loss. The patriots lost about 2000
men killed, and as many wounded. In such a
conflict the circumstances are so materially in
favour of the defendants, that the carnage made

the French must have been much greater. Some part of their baggage and plunder was abandoned in their retreat.

The conquerors would have exposed themselves by a rash pursuit, but Palafox exhorted them not to be impatient, telling them, that the enemy would give them frequent opportunities to display their courage. While he thus restrained their impetuosity, he continued to excite their zeal. This victory, he said, was but the commencement of the triumphs which they were to expect under the powerful assistance of their divine patrons. The precious blood of their brethren had been shed in the field of glory,.. on their own soil. Those blessed martyrs required new victims; let us, he added, prepare for the sacrifice!

The Zaragozans had obtained only a respite ; Palafor defeated as he was, Lefebvre had only removed Collection beyond the reach of their

inforcehis troops were ments.

guns ; far superior to any which they could bring against him; and it was not to be doubted that he would soon return in greater force, to take vengeance

« AnteriorContinuar »