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.

June 13.

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- [182] 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- [183] 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 [184] 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 [185] 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 [186] 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 reward.
”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- [187] 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 equally problematical.
The ”Ite, missa est" having been pro- [188] 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 [189] 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 [190] 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 [191] 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 [192] 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 repress exclaiming.
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 [193] 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 [194] 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 [195] 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.


Supreme command given to two distinguished Prelates to visit the Monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha, and a royal wish expressed that the Author should accompany them. - Preparations in high style for the Journey. - The general Rendezvous. - Departure. - Nossa Senhora de Luz. - Lumiares. - Domain of the Monks of St. Vincent. - Reception there


A Morning Walk. - Boundless Orchards of Orange and Apricot. The River Trancaô. - Magnificent Bay-tree. - A Fishing-party. - Happy Inclosure. - An Afternoon Ramble to the Palace of the Patriarch, and its immense Parterre. - Musical contest between Frogs and Nightingales


Curious Conversation with an Ex-missionary from China. -Wonders of the Imperial Gardens. - Strange Belief of the Emperor of China


A first-rate Blessing. - The Duke d'Alafoens' Chateau. - The great Highway to the Caldas.- Extensive Fertility. - Cadafaiz. - Boundless Vineyard. - Eggs of the Sun. - A calm Retirement. - Peaceful State of Portugal compared to other parts of the Continent


A Ramble over the Hills. - Beautiful Grotto.- Reminiscences of Gil Blas. - Journey resumed. - First Sight of Alcobaça. - Pompous Reception. - The Three Graces of Holiness. - Gloomy Church. - Sepulchral Chapel of Pedro the Just and Iñez. - Interrupted Reveries. - Enormous Kitchen. - Hospitable Preparations. - The Banquet Hall. - The Banquet. - Tiresome Minuets. - Ineffectual Offer. - Ceremonious "Good Nights"


Endless Corridors and a grim-looking Hall. - Portrait of St. Thomas à Becket. - Ancient Cloister. - Venerable Orangetrees. - Sepulchral Inscriptions. - The Refectory. - Solemn Summons to Breakfast. - Sights. - Gorgeous Sacristy. Antiquities. - Precious Specimen of Early Art. - Hour of Siesta. - A Noon-day Ramble. - Silence and Solitude. - Mysterious Lane. – Irresistible Somnolency of my Conductor. - An unseen Songstress. - A Surprise. - Donna Francisca, her Mother and Confessor. - The World of Alcobaça awakened. - Return to the Monastery, - Departure for Batalha. - The Field of Aijubarota. - Solitary Vale. - Reception at Batalha. - Enormous Supper. - Ecstasies of an old Monk. - His sentimental Mishap. - Night Scene. - Awful Denunciations


Morning. - The Prior of Batalha. - His Account of the Nocturnal Wanderer. - A Procession. - Grand Façade of the Great Church. - The Nave. - Effect of the golden and ruby light from the windows. - Singularly devout celebration of High Mass. - Mausoleum of John the First and Philippa. - Royal Tombs. - The Royal Cloisters. - Perfect Preservation of this regal Monastery. - Beautiful Chapter-house. - Tombs of Alphonso the Fifth and his Grandson. - Tide of Monks, Sacristans, Novices, &c. - Our Departure. - Wild Road. - Redoubled kindness of my Reception by the Lord Abbot, and why. - Dr. Ehrhart's visit to the Infirmary, and surgical raptures. - A half-crazed Poet and his doleful tragedy. - Senhor Agostinho in the character of Donna Iñez de Castro. - Favouritism, and its reward


Too much of a good thing. - My longing for a Ramble. -Sage resolves. - A Gallop. - Pure and elastic Atmosphere. - Expansive Plain. - Banks of the River. - Majestic Basilica of Batalha. - Ghost-like Anglers. - Retrospections. -The Conventual Bells. - Conversation with the Prior. - A frugal Collation. - Romantic Fancies. - The Dead Stork and his Mourner. - Mausoleum of Don Emanuel. - Perverse Architecture. - Departure from Batalha. - Twilight. - Return to Alcobaça


Lamentations on our Departure, and on the loss of Monsieur Simon. - Mysterious Conference. - A sullen Adieu. - Liveliness of the Prior of St. Vincent's. - Pleasant Surprise. -Vast and dreary Plain. - A consequential Equerry. - An Invitation. - The Bird-Queen. - Fairy Landscape. - The Mansion. - The great Lady's Nephews. - Reception by her Excellency. - Her attendant Hags. - The great Lady's questions about England and dismal ideas of London. - The Cuckoo. - Imitations. - Dismay of her Sublime Ladyship and her Hags. - Our Departure from the bird-ridden Dominions. - Cultivated Plain. - Happy Peasantry, and their gratitude to the Monks of the Royal Convent. - Their different feelings towards the great Lady. - Female Peasants bearing Offerings to our Lady of Nazarè. - Sea View. - Pedraneira. - Banquet of Fish. - Endless Ravine. - Alfagiraõ. - Arrival at the Caldas. - Sickly Population. - Reception of Dr. Ehrhart. - His Visit to the Invalids, and contempt of the Medical Treatment of the place. - A determined Bore. - His Disaster


Knavish Provedore. - Leave the Caldas. - Obidos. - Aboriginal-looking hamlet. - Exquisite Atmosphere. - Pastoral Hymns to St. Anthony. - Bonfires on the Eve of his Festival. - Reception at Cadafaiz. - Delightful change


Excursion to a Franciscan Convent. - A Miracle. - Country 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


Dreary expanse of Country between Cadafaiz and Queluz. - Arrival at the Palace. - Court Lumber. - Observations of the Marquis of Anjeja relative to the Prince-Regent. - Promised Promised Audience of his Royal Highness. - Visit to the forbidden Gardens. - Surprise of an African Gardener. - A Pavilion. - Night-scene. - Preparations for a Fête. - The Infanta's Nymph-like Attendants. - The young Marquis of Marialva. - Interview with her Royal Highness. - A Race. - A Dance. - The Prince's Summons. - Conversation with him. - Character of that Sovereign. - Baneful influence of his despotic Consort. - Unhappy Aspirants to Court Benefits. - Private Conference with the Marquis. - The Prince-Regent's Afflictions. - His Vision. - Anjeja's urgent Request. - Terrible Cries from the Queen. - Their effect on me. - My Departure from the Palace