It Is Some Consolation To Know That This Fine Old Work
Will Undergo As Little Change In The Original Plan As Is Consistent With
The Modern Improvements In Fortification.
Lieutenant Benham, who has the
charge of the repairs, has strong antiquarian tastes, and will preserve as
much as possible of its original aspect.
It must lose its battlements,
however, its fine mural crown. Battlements are now obsolete, except when
they are of no use, as on the roofs of churches and Gothic cottages.
In another part of the same island, which we visited afterward, is a
dwelling-house situated amid orange-groves. Closely planted rows of the
sour orange, the native tree of the country, intersect and shelter
orchards of the sweet orange, the lemon, and the lime. The trees were all
young, having been planted since the great frost of 1835, and many of them
still show the ravages of the gale of last October, which stripped them of
"Come this way," said a friend who accompanied me. He forced a passage
through a tall hedge of the sour orange, and we found ourselves in a
little fragrant inclosure, in the midst of which was a tomb, formed of
the artificial stone of which I have heretofore spoken. It was the
resting-place of the former proprietor, who sleeps in this little circle
of perpetual verdure. It bore no inscription. Not far from this spot, I
was shown the root of an ancient palm-tree, the species that produces the
date, which formerly towered over the island, and served as a sea-mark to
vessels approaching the shore. Some of the accounts of St. Augustine speak
of dates as among its fruits; but I believe that only the male tree of the
date-palm has been introduced into the country.
On our return to the city, in crossing the Matanzas sound, so named
probably from some sanguinary battle with the aborigines on its shores; we
passed two Minorcans in a boat, taking home fuel from the island. These
people are a mild, harmless race, of civil manners and abstemious habits.
Mingled with them are many Greek families, with names that denote their
origin, such as Geopoli, Cercopoli, &c., and with a cast of features
equally expressive of their descent. The Minorcan language, the dialect of
Mahon, _el Mahones_, as they call it, is spoken by more than half of the
inhabitants who remained here when the country was ceded to the United
States, and all of them, I believe, speak Spanish besides. Their children,
however, are growing up in disuse of these languages, and in another
generation the last traces of the majestic speech of Castile, will have
been effaced from a country which the Spaniards held for more than two
Some old customs which the Minorcans brought with them from their native
country are still kept up. On the evening before Easter Sunday, about
eleven o'clock, I heard the sound of a serenade in the streets.
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