[C] The arms of the Abbey are—A saw in the middle of a rock.
It is no wonder then, that such a place should be fixed upon for the residence of holy and devout men; for there is not surely upon the habitable globe a spot so properly adapted for retirement and contemplation; it has therefore, for many ages, been inhabited only by monks and hermits, whose first vow is, never to forsake it;—a vow, without being either a hermit or a monk, I could make, I think, without repenting.
If it be true, and some great man has said so, that “whosoever delighteth in solitude, is either a wild beast, or a God;” the inhabitants of this spot are certainly more than men; for no wild beast dwells here. But it is the place, not the people, I mean at present to speak of. It stands in a vast plain, seven leagues they call it, but it is at least thirty miles from Barcelona, and nearly in the center of the principality of Catalonia. The height of it is so very considerable, that in one hour’s slow travelling towards it, after we left Barcelona, it shewed its pointed steeples, high over the lesser mountains, and seemed so very near, that it would have been difficult to have persuaded a person, not accustomed to such deceptions, in so clear an atmosphere to believe, that we had much more than an hour’s journey to arrive at it; instead of which, we were all that day in getting to Martorel, a small city, still three leagues distant from it, where we lay at the Three Kings, a pretty good inn, kept by an insolent imposing Italian. Martorel stands upon the steep banks of the river Lobregate, over which there is a modern bridge, of a prodigious height, the piers of which rest on the opposite shore, against a Roman triumphal arch of great solidity, and originally of great beauty. I think I tell you the truth when I say, that I could perceive the convent, and some of the hermitages, when I first saw the mountain, at above twenty miles distance. From Martorel, however, they were as visible as the mountain itself, to which the eye was directed, down the river, the banks of which were adorned with trees, villages, houses, &c. and the view terminated by this the most glorious monument in nature. When I first saw the mountain, it had the appearance of an infinite number of rocks cut into conical forms, and built one upon another to a prodigious height. Upon a nearer view, each cone appeared of itself a mountain; and the tout ensemble compose an enormous mass of the Lundus Helmonti, or plumb-pudding stone, fourteen miles in circumference, and what the Spaniards call two leagues in height. As it is like unto no other mountain, so it stands quite unconnected with any, though not very distant from some very lofty ones. Near the base of it, on the south side, are two villages, the largest of which is Montrosol; but my eyes were attracted by two ancient towers, which flood upon a hill near