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-  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.
 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
 sun, and scudding along over the blue sparkling waves with equal
"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
 "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  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
 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  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  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  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, 
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