1 - 10 from 100
Besides the spiritual despotism which the clergy of Spain exercised over a deluded people, but a people naturally of fine elements of character, the sudden increase of gold and silver led to luxury, idleness, and degeneracy. Money being abundant, in consequence of the gold and silver mines of America, the people neglected the cultivation of those things which money could procure. Then followed a great rise in the prices of all kinds of provision and clothing. Houses, lands, and manufactures also soon rose in value. Hence money was delusive, since, with ten times the increase of specie, there was a corresponding decrease in those necessaries of life which gold and silver would purchase. Silver and gold are only the medium of trade, not the basis of wealth. The real prosperity of a country depends upon the amount of productive industry. If diamonds were as numerous as crystals, they would be worth no more than crystals. The sudden influx of the precious metals into Spain doubtless gave a temporary wealth to the kingdom; but when habits of industry were lost, and the culture of the soil was neglected, the gold and silver of the Spaniards were exchanged for the productive industry of other nations. The Dutch and the English, whose manufactures and commerce were in a healthy state, became enriched at their expense. With the loss of substantial wealth, that is, industry and economy, the Spaniards lost elevation of sentiment, became cold and proud, followed frivolous pleasures and amusements, and acquired habits which were ruinous. Plays, pantomimes, and bull-fights now amused the lazy and pleasure-seeking nation, while the profligacy of the court had no parallel in Europe, with the exception of that of France. The country became exhausted by war. The finances were deranged, and province after province rebelled. Every where were military reverses, and a decrease of population. Taxes, in the mean while, increased, and a burdened people lamented in vain their misfortune and decline. The reign of Philip