In climates, says some writer, where the earth seems to be the pride and masterpiece of nature, rags, and dirt, ghastly countenances, and misery under every form, are oftener met with, than in those countries less favoured by nature; and the forlorn and wretched condition of the people in general seemed to belie and disgrace their native soil. Certain it is, that the natives of the southern parts of Europe have neither the beauty, the strength, nor comeliness of men born in more northern climates. I have seen in the South of France, in Spain, and Portugal, the aged especially of both sexes, who hardly appeared human! nor do you see, in general, even among the youthful, much more beauty than that which youth alone must give; for youth itself is beauty. Whoever compares the natives of Switzerland, England, Ireland, and Scotland, with those of Spain, Portugal, or other Southern climates, will find, that men born among cold, bleak mountains, are infinitely superior to those of the finest climates under the sun. Perhaps, however, this difference may arise more from the want of Liberty than the power of climate. Oh Liberty! sweet Liberty! without thee life cannot be enjoyed! Thou parent of comfort, whose children bless thee, though they dwell among the barren rocks, or the most surly regions of the earth! Thou blessest, in spite of nature; and in spite of nature, tyranny brings curses.
After we left Girone we passed thro’ a fine country, but not equal to that which is between Jonquire and that town; we lay the first night at a veritiable Spanish posada; it was a single house, called the Grenade. We arrived there early in the afternoon; and though the inside of the house was but so-so, every thing without was charming, and our host and his two daughters gave us the best they had, treated us with civility enough; and gave us good advice in the prosecution of our journey to Barcelona; for about four leagues from this house, we found two roads to that city, one on the side of the Mediterranean Sea, the other inland. He advised us to take the former, which exactly tallied with my inclination, for wherever the sea-coast affords a road in hot climates, that must be the pleasantest; and I was very impatient till we got here.
After we had left the high inland road, we had about three leagues to the sea side, and the village on its margin where we were to lie; this road was through a very wild, uncultivated country, over-run with underwood and tall firs. We saw but few houses and met with fewer people. When we came near the sea, the country, however, improved upon us; and the farms, churches, convents, and beacons, upon the high lands, rendered the prospects every way pleasing. We crossed a shallow river several times, adorned on both sides with an infinite quantity of tall beeches, on one of which trees (boy like) I cut my name, too