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.

3rd June, 1794.

THE Prince Regent of Portugal, for reasons with which I was never entirely acquainted, took it into his royal head, one fair morning, to desire I would pay a visit to the monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha, and to name my intimate and particular friends, the Grand Prior of Aviz, and the Prior of St.Vincent's, as my con- [2] ductors and companions. Nothing could be more gracious, and, in many respects, more agreeable; still, just at this moment, having what I thought much pleasanter engagements nearer home, I cannot pretend that I felt so much enchanted as I ought to have been.
Upon communicating the supreme command to the two prelates, they discovered not the smallest token of surprise; it seemed they were fully prepared for it. The Grand Prior observed that the weather was dreadfully hot, and the roads execrable: the other prelate appeared more animated, and quite ready for the expedition. I thought I detected in one corner of his lively, intelligent eye, a sparkle of hope that, when returned from his little cruise of observation, the remarks it was likely enough to inspire might lead to more intimate conferences at Queluz, and bring him into more frequent collision with royalty.
[3] As my right reverend companions had arranged not to renounce one atom of their habitual comforts and conveniences, and to take with them their confidential acolytes and secretaries, as well as some of their favourite quadrupeds, we had in the train of the latter-mentioned animals a rare rabble of grooms, ferradors, and muledrivers. To these, my usual followers being added, we formed altogether a caravan which, camels and dromedaries excepted, would have cut no despicable figure even on the route of Mecca or Mesched-Ali!
The rallying point, the general rendezvous for the whole of this heterogeneous assemblage, was my quinta of San Jose, commanding in full prospect the entrance of the Tagus, crowded with vessels arriving from every country under the heavens, messengers of joy to some, of sorrow to others, but all with expanded sails equally brightening in the beams of the cheerful [4] sun, and scudding along over the blue sparkling waves with equal celerity.
"Here I am, my dear friend," said the Grand Prior to me as I handed him out of his brother the old Marquis of Marialva's most sleepifying dormeuse, which had been lent to him expressly for this trying occasion. "Behold me at last," (at last indeed, this being the third put-off I had experienced,) "ever delighted with your company, but not so much so with the expedition we are going to undertake."
"I hope it will not turn out so unpleasant after all," was my answer: "for my own part, I quite long to see Alcobaça."
"So do not I," rejoined the Grand Prior; but let that pass. Is Ehrhart come? is Franchi ready? Has the first secured the medicine-chest he was in such an agony about the other day, and the second the piano-forte he swore he would break to pieces unless it would get into better tune ?"
[5] "All safe – all waiting – and dinner too, my dear Lord Prior; and after that, let us get off. No easy matter, by the bye, even yet, some of the party being such adepts at dawdling."
Why the Grand Prior should have dreaded the journey so much I really could not imagine, every pains having been taken to make it so easy and smooth. It was settled he should loll in his dormeuse or in my chaise just as he best pleased, and look at nothing calculated to excite the fatigue of reflection; topographical inquiries were to be waived completely, and no questions asked about who endowed such a church or raised such a palace. We were to proceed, or rather creep along, by short and facile stages; stopping to dine, and sup, and repose, as delectably as in the most commodious of homes. Everything that could be thought of, or even dreamed of, for our convenience or relaxation, was to be carried in our train, and nothing left behind but [6] Care and Sorrow; two spectres, who, had they dared to mount on our shoulders, would have been driven off with a high hand by the Prior of St. Vincent's, than whom a more delightful companion never existed since the days of those polished and gifted canons and cardinals who formed such a galaxy of talent and facetiousness round Leo the Tenth.
We were absolutely roused from our repast, over which the Prior of St. Vincent's gay animated conversation was throwing its usual brilliance, by a racket and hubbub on the sea-shore that was perfectly distracting. The space between my villa and the sea was entirely blocked up, half the population of Belem having poured forth to witness our departure. The lubberly drivers of the baggage-carts were fighting and squabbling amongst themselves for precedence. One of the most lumbering of these ill-constructed vehicles, laden with a large heavy marquee, had its [7] hind wheels already well buffeted by the waves. At length it moved off; and then burst forth such vociferation and such deafening shouts of "Long live the Prince!" and "Long live the Marialvas, and all their friends into the bargain!"– the Englishman of course included – as I expected, would have fixed a headache for life upon the unhappy Grand Prior.
Amongst other noises which gave him no small annoyance, might be reckoned the outrageous snortings and neighings of both his favourite high-pampered chaisehorses, out of compliment to one of my delicate English mares, who was trying to get through the crowd with a most engaging air of sentimental retiring modesty.
Half laughing and half angry lest some unfortunate kick or plunge might deprive me of her agreeable services, I refrained not from crying out to the Grand Prior, "For pity's sake, let us dawdle and doodle no longer, but drive through this mob if [8] it be possible. You see what a disturbance the glorious fuss which has been making about this journey has occasioned; you see the result of a surfeit of superfluities really, if we had been setting forth to explore the kingdom of Prester John, or the identical spot where Don Sebastian left his bones, (if true it be that the shores of Africa, and not some pet dungeon of King Philip's, received them,) we could scarcely have gotten together a grander array of incumbrances. At this rate, we shall have occasion to put our tent in requisition this very night, unless we defer our journey again, and sleep under my roof at San Jose.
"No, no," said the Prior of St. Vincent's; "we shall sleep at my convent's pleasant quinta of Tojal. I shall set off with my people immediately to prepare for your reception."
The deed followed the word: his attendant muleteers cracked their whips in [9] the most imposing style – his ferradors pushed on – the crowd divided – a passage was cleared; the Grand Prior, ordering his dormeuse to follow, got into my enormous travelling chaise, and by the efforts of six stout mules we soon reached Bemfica.
Beyond this village, a shady lane overhung by elms brought us to Nossa Senhora de Luz; a large pile of buildings in the majestic style which prevailed during the Spanish domination in Portugal, but much shattered by the earthquake. From hence we passed on to Lumiares, through intricate paved roads bordered by aloes, sprouting up to the height of ten or twelve feet, in shape and colour not unlike gigantic asparagus.
Lumiares contains a quinta belonging to the Marquess of Anjeja, upon which immense sums have been lavished for the wise purpose of pebbling alleys in quaint mosaic patterns, red, black, and blue building colossal reservoirs for gold and [10] silver fish, painting their smooth plastered sides with divers flaming colours, and cutting a steep hill into a succession of stiff terraces, under the sole pretext, one should think, of establishing flights of awkward narrow marble steps to communicate one with the other, for they did not appear to lead to any other part of the garden.
The road from Lumiares to Loures is conducted along a valley, between sloping acclivities variegated by fields of grain and wild shrubby pastures. The soft air of the evening was delightful; and the lowing of herds descending from the hills to slake their thirst after a sultry day, at springs and fountains, full of pastoral charm.
It grew dark when we passed the village of Tojal, and crossing a bridge over the river Trancaõ, entered the woody domain of the monks of St. Vincent. Lights glimmering at the extremity of an avenue of orange-trees directed us to the house, a low picturesque building, half villa, [11] half hermitage. Our reception was so truly exhilarating, so perfectly all in point of comfort and luxury that the heart of man or even, churchman could desire, that we willingly promised to pass the whole of tomorrow in this cheerful residence, and defer our further progress till the day following.




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