Compostella--Rey Romero--The Treasure--Seeker--Hopeful Project--The Church of Refuge--Hidden Riches--The Canon--Spirit of Localism-- The Leper--Bones of St. James.
AT the commencement of August, I found myself at St. James of Compostella. To this place I travelled from Coruña with the courier or weekly post, who was escorted by a strong party of soldiers, in consequence of the distracted state of the country, which was overrun with banditti. From Coruña to St. James, the distance is but ten leagues; the journey, however, endured for a day and a half. It was a pleasant one, through a most beautiful country, with a rich variety of hill and dale; the road was in many places shaded with various kinds of trees clad in most luxuriant foliage. Hundreds of travellers, both on loot and on horseback, availed themselves of the security which the escort afforded: the dread of banditti was strong. During the journey two or three alarms were given; we, however, reached St. James without having been attacked.
St. James stands on a pleasant level amidst mountains: the most extraordinary of these is a conical hill, called the Pico Sacro, or Sacred Peak, connected with which are many wonderful legends. A beautiful old town is St. James, containing about twenty thousand inhabitants. Time has been when, with the single exception of Rome, it was the most celebrated resort of pilgrims in the world; its cathedral being said to contain the bones of St. James the elder, the child of the thunder, who, according to the legend of the Romish Church, first preached the Gospel in Spain. Its glory, however, as a place of pilgrimage is rapidly passing away.
The cathedral, though a work of various periods, and exhibiting various styles of architecture, is a majestic venerable pile, in every respect calculated to excite awe and admiration; indeed, it is almost impossible to walk its long dusky aisles, and hear the solemn music and the noble chanting, and inhale the incense of the mighty censers, which are at times swung so high by machinery as to smite the vaulted roof, whilst gigantic tapers glitter here and there amongst the gloom, from the shrine of many a saint, before which the worshippers are kneeling, breathing forth their prayers and petitions for help, love, and mercy, and entertain a doubt that we are treading the floor of a house where God delighteth to dwell. Yet the Lord is distant from that house; He hears not, He sees not, or if He do, it is with anger. What availeth that solemn music, that noble chanting, that incense of sweet savour? What availeth kneeling before that grand altar of silver, surmounted by that figure with its silver hat and breast-plate, the emblem of one who, though an apostle and confessor, was at best an unprofitable servant? What availeth hoping for remission of sin by trusting in the merits of one who possessed none, or by paying homage to others who were born and nurtured in sin, and who alone, by the