ELEVENTH DAY.
Excursion to a Franciscan Convent. - A Miracle. - Couutry resembling
Palestine. - Innumerable Assemblage of Peasants. - Their sincere Devotion.
- Sublime Sight. - Observations of the Prior of Aviz. - The Benediction.
- Ancient Portuguese Hymn. - Its grand effect on the present occasion.
- Perilous Descent from the Mountain. - A Mandate from the Prince. -
Evening. - Music and a Morisco Dance.
I SHOOK off laziness manfully, not above an hour after sunrise; so did
the Grand Prior of Aviz; - an effort, our hospitable host observed,
worthy to be classed amongst the choicest of St. Anthony's miracles.
Not a member of our caravan but seemed to feel the Saint's benign and
holy in-  fluence. One would have thought it pervaded the very
atmosphere; for even Dr. Ehrhart no ardent devotee desired
to join our solemn pilgrimage to the Franciscan convent, on the summit
of an exceedingly high hill, where the grand mass of the day was to
be celebrated. The good Doctor having promised not to stop our procession
by getting out of his vehicle and botanizing by the roadside, we set
forth, after a slight breakfast, and wound our long array up the acclivity
by a tedious, serpentine, rugged track.
We had attained a sort of resting-place, not more than one hundred yards
beneath the summit, when a stout lubber, dressed in goats' skins, carrying
a sickly brat in his arms, bolted forth from between two thorny bushes,
looking like one possessed, and bawling out, "A miracle! a miracle!
My child was at the point of death, when the saint appeared to me in
a dream, and told me to give it the raspings of a cow-  horn: I
did - and there you see it is alive and hearty."
Hearty at least were Dr. Ehrhart's expressions of surprise at this most
pastoral remedy; he kept repeating raspings of cow-horn, raspings
of cow-horn!" so often, that I beseeched him, for St. Anthony's
sake, to remain quiet; and we proceeded, the lout with his brat, having
joined the great concourse of people on the top of the hill, still crying
out, A miracle! a miracle!" and I am happy to add, for the
honour of faith, my most perfect conviction that not a soul of the crowd
- and a great crowd it was - but firmly believed him.
Arrived at length at the point to which we had been tending, I fancied
myself suddenly transported to Palestine: a plain perfectly flat and
arid presented itself, diversified alone by the low columned arcades
and belfries of the convent, inclining to the ruinous, and bearing a
strong resemblance in form and tint to  the views I have seen of
the semi-gothic chapels and cells at Jerusalem and Nazareth. Scattered
all over from one end to the other of this extensive level, (for it
stretched out above a mile,) were droves of asses, a few mules of superior
caste glaringly caparisoned, and peasants without number, of all ages
and sexes, sitting in clusters upon the ground, employed as busily in
gathering together the fragments of a general repast, as if they had
just partaken of some miraculous supply of loaves and fishes.
This was all mighty well, and admirably adapted to prompt a desire of
sketching, for nothing could be more picturesque than these varied groups;
but the comfort of comforts was to witness how gratefully devout they
appeared, how perfectly convinced that they stood under the open eye
of the Saint, and that by acting in conformity with his precepts, they
might deserve, at the inevitable hour, his efficacious  patronage.
In the mean time I saw no tokens of riot or intemperance, no brandishing
of knives, no drunken disputes or wallowings.
When the bells of the convent gave notice that service was going to
begin, the groups that were scattered over the plain rapidly joined
together, and moved in one dense body, one vast multitude, six or seven
thousand at least, to the wide naked space before the entrance to the
church, which, though not inconsiderable in its dimensions, was far
too small to contain a twentieth part of so numerous a congregation.
The community, consisting of from thirty to forty monks, all young men,
many with features as regular as the fine Grecian heads on the Syracusan
medals, but looking pale and attenuated, were standing on the long line
of steps. Their superior presented the banner of the Saint to my revered
companions, who having saluted it  with profound reverence, we
entered the church. I looked back from the portal upon the multitude,
which extended itself like a sea to a great distance; all silent, all
kneeling, all with their moistened and glistening eyes (for many wept
through religious fervour) fixed on the illumination which streamed
from the high altar, and which appeared to them, I have no doubt, a
cheering light, a sacred pharos, shining to conduct them to that haven
where the ardent in faith and the contrite in spirit meet their eternal
Oh!" said the excellent Prior of Aviz to me, as he pressed
my hand with parental kindness, "this is a sight which relieves
and elevates my heart. How glowing and sincere the piety of these plain
countrymen! how consolatory their firm confidence in protection from
above! And yet these warm, ennobling feelings - feelings which raise
our nature above the dust - are precisely those the vile syco- 
phants of the evil principle, the bloodstained monsters of France, pant
to eradicate. The suppressors of institutions which tend to soothe those
lacerating cares humanity is subject to, and to absorb in the glorious
prospect of the future the corroding misery of the present, are, in
fact, suppressors of happiness, - the delegates of that dread invisible
agency, which, under an endless variety of specious masks, is ever in
movement, seeking whom and what it may devour."
Not one word had I to say against this reasoning; for how often have
I thought myself, that these experiments upon the human mind, to which
the Prior of Aviz alluded, are as abhorrent to men of pure and kindly
feeling, as those of the hellish Majendie upon the unoffending animals
he submits to the most horrible and lingering torture, and for purposes
The Ite, missa est" having been pro-  nounced, the Prior
of Aviz, trembling with emotion and evidently much affected, was conducted
in procession by the monks to their sacristy, to put on his pontifical
vestments, and, next, to the steps before the entrance, where, looking
up to the effigy on the banner, again displayed by the superior of the
convent, he bestowed, as if immediately delegated by the Saint himself
to perform that sacred office, a solemn, heartfelt benediction.
At that moment, when every knee was bent and every head was bowed, the
ancient and venerable hymn appointed for this festival, so dear to the
natives of Portugal - so often sung by their armies in their proud days
of conquest on the eve of going into battle, rose with one accord, as
from one heart, from the whole of the vast assemblage. The perfect unison
of so many thousand manly voices, mingled with the clearer tones of
children and their mothers, filled the summer air with a volume 
of sound more intellectually harmonious than any which ever reached
my ear from the artificial efforts of musicians and choristers. Prayer
does not always ascend with the greatest fervency from beneath gilded
vaults or gorgeous cupolas; it is in the free untainted desert, under
Nature's own sky, that man seems to commune more deeply with his God.
Impressed with that sentiment, the bare rocks, the scattered stones,
the withered turf, ranked higher in my estimation than all the splendours
of regal magnificence; and the simple congregation assembled together
in this wild and desolate place to thank the Almighty for his blessings,
appeared far superior in my eyes to those pharisaic gatherings attracted
to church by worldly motives and the parade of idle vanity.
So very thick was the concourse of people, and so profoundly were they
affected by the late most solemn benediction, that it was no easy matter
for the  prelate to pass between their still kneeling groups to
regain the sacristy in order to be divested of his heavy cope, the people
pressing forwards to kiss his hand in such tides, and with such earnestness,
that he felt fatigued and jaded. Nor was his lassitude destined to a
speedy termination: he had hardly resumed his customary habiliments,
when our egress from the church was absolutely impeded by a procession
of young lads, dressed in a style as antique as the Moorish domination
in Portugal; some carrying baskets of fruit and corn; some, on an ornamented
sledge, an immense mass of wax fashioned into the shape of a gigantic
taper; and some, a number of lambs bedecked with ribands and flowers.
I thought, when I saw presented on the steps before the altar these
living offerings, not one of which I understood, to my heart's content,
was devoted to the knife, but all destined to be reared with care 
and tenderness - I thought even their bleatings might reach the throne
of universal beneficence. We well know how positively the inspired David
declares, in one of his Psalms, that the ear of God is open to the supplications
of all his creatures, to whom, as well as to us, he has imparted the
blessings of light, of sleep, and of nutriment, - qui dat jumentis
escam ipsorum et pullis corvorum invocantibus eum."
When I communicated to my revered friend the feelings which throbbed
in my own bosom, and reminded him of the fervid effusion of the prophet
king, he replied: Most entirely do I sympathise with the holy
monarch. Man, in the delusion of pride, may arrogate to himself an exclusive
supremacy; but fully persuaded am I, that the same principle of life
which animates the wisest and brightest of mankind, pervades the boundless
creation in all its forms and branches; and when that principle prompts
the cry of  distress or the expression of gratitude in the humblest
animal, neither pass unheeded by the Divine Creator, nor are they poured
forth to him in vain. These are my own interior sentiments," continued
the venerable prelate. "And they are mine also," I could not
At length the procession, after depositing all its offerings, having
retired into the secret courts and penetralia of the convent, the crowd
began to disperse; a passage was cleared between the remaining groups
of the multitude, and we regained our carriages, much to the relief
of the Grand Prior, who was experiencing an almost total exhaustion.
What with the sun-rays from above, and the rolling stones below, our
descent was not only broiling, but dangerous: many of our mules stumbled,
and one fell down dead, half crushing the driver in its fall. The stoppage
and confusion this sad  accident occasioned in one of the narrowest
parts of our perilous track exposed us to scorching heat for half an
hour. We arrived at last at our cool, shady quarters, as brown as mummies,
and as dry as cinders.
The first living objects that me us at the massive portal, surmounted
by a huge marble cross, which defends the entrance of the orange orchard
immediately around the mansion, were two special couriers in the royal
livery, magnificently badged and booted, just arrived with a written
mandate from the Prince, summoning the two Priors to an audience to-morrow
at the palace of Queluz, precisely at three. They delivered me also
a very kind letter of invitation from the Marquis of Anjeja (then lord
in waiting) to dine with him at the same hour.
"Really," said our most amiable host, a little ruffled by
this peremptory command, we did not expect a summons to 
communicate observations upon Alcobaça so soon, - on our way
home, too, God bless us! - without being allowed time to shake off the
dust from our garments, and make ourselves decent and comfortable. But
an uncontrollable love of gossip is inherent in the character of royalty,
and as indelible: we have nothing to do but to obey."
So saying, and so sighing, with many an ejaculation from the inmost
soul of laziness, both Priors wrote answers to the royal mandate; I
did the same to the Marquis of Anjeja, and the couriers departed.
After every comfort and ablution our pleasant retired chambers could
afford, we partook of a delicious repast, and of all the blandishments
which delicate dishes and iced sherbets could bestow on the willing
palate. To these delights succeeded, on the part of the Lord Priors
at least, a most comfortable nap, and then a stroll  in the long-bowered
alleys of the quinta; and then the evening perfume of orangeflowers
and jasmine, and the evening song of birds, - music, also, from Franchi,
accompanied on the guitar by two novices, who played from their heart
and soul most ravishingly, - and then a dance of true oriental fervour,
performed by a chosen band of the morisco-dressed processionists, who
had been drawn down, not from heaven, like the Angel to St. Cecilia,
but from the convent on the hill; where, I have little doubt, their
freaks and gambols were sadly missed, and the temporary deprivation
of such amusing frolics heartily regretted.