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.
GREAT were the lamentations in Alcobaça when the hour of our
departure ar-  rived, - a voice of wailing scarcely equaled in
Rama when Rachel wept for her lost children. Here, I am perfectly convinced,
that had my Lord Abbot been permitted, like spiritual lords in our own
country, to avow the legal paternity of a dozen brats, he would sooner
have spared the whole treasure than have lost the advice and exertions
of a being he venerated above all others without any exception - a matchless
cook. It was a cruel separation: the artist himself, who had a susceptible
heart, as well as a hand gifted with the most exquisite sauce-making
sensibilities, was far from being callous to the raptures of such a
discriminating gourmand as the ruler of Alcobaça. To remain in
this holy place, to quit my service, I verily believe never entered
the head beneath his milk-white betasseled cook-cap; but he was visibly
moved by the rapturous eulogies, still more perhaps by the generous
presents I suspect he  had received; he saw with great commiseration
how acutely the Lord Abbot felt his departure. Pity, we all know, melts
the heart to love, and love full often to devotion; so, when we repaired,
one and all, to take a parting mass before setting out on our journey,
Monsieur Simon, though little given to demonstrations of piety, fell
to thumping his, breast with such vehemence, that I could not resist
saying to him as we came out of church, "Simon, my Lord Abbot seems
to have quite reconverted you; you are becoming astonishingly religious."
- "Ah, Monsieur," said he, "on le sera, a moins; Monseigneur
rend la religion si aimable."
I thought now, as the equipages, horses, &c. were all marshalled
before the grand entrance, we were actually ready to set out. No such
thing: the Grand Prior of Aviz, taking me aside for a moment, whispered
in my ear that he had still a few words of great importance in store
 for my Lord Almoner, and begged me to cast another look at my
favourite portrait of St. Thomas of Canterbury whilst he delivered them.
Calling his colleague of St. Vincent's, they both entered a private
room of audience adjoining the hall of pictures, from which my Lord
Almoner had not yet stirred; and notwithstanding the doors had been
immediately closed, I heard a loud storm of indistinct but angry words
approaching to tempest, the exact import of which it is not in my power
to reveal, supposing I had the inclination; but I learned afterwards
(though rather vaguely) from one of the Prior of St. Vincent's confidants,
that they related to certain mysteries, certain despotic imprisonments,
certain grotto-like communications, between this sacred asylum and another
not less monastic, though tenanted by the fairer portion of holy communities
- the daughters of prayer and penitence.
 Providence, that tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, and does
kind things now and then to pets and favourites, was not totally ungracious
to my Lord Almoner upon this occasion. Had it not, by directing the
semi-inquisitorial visit of the two prelatical missionaries, given his
right reverence of Alcobaça's thoughts serious occupation, they
might have dwelt far more painfully upon the departure of his beloved
Simon: the sharp edge of his afflictions in this particular was taken
off by the reflections which the late stormy conference had inspired.
When he came forth to accompany us to our carriages, as the rules of
courtesy demanded, I observed a marked change in his deportment and
countenance; there were no longer those sunny smiles, those cooings
and chucklings, which had greeted my revered companions upon their arrival.
A sullen, sulky gloom - a but half-subdued expression of anger pervaded
his every  look and gesture: coldly and formally, therefore, did
we take our leave. Not above half of the community were drawn out in
complimentary array, and that half looked strange and suspicious, as
if they conjectured something had happened unpleasant and awkward. The
two fathers deputed to attend us to Pedraneira got into one of their
heavy conventual vehicles, and, in their capacities of conductors, led
the van. I looked back as we drove off; and, there stood my Lord Almoner,
with his eyes fixed on the pavement, before the grand portal, immovable,
and as if he had been turned to stone.
The Grand Prior of Aviz having something very confidential to discuss
with his secretary, begged me to excuse his accompanying me in my carriage:
the Prior of St. Vincent's took his place; an exchange I had no cause
to complain of, his conversation being so full of hilarity and life.
This flow of cheerful good spirits did not, how-  ever, carry him
beyond the limits of the most perfect discretion: not a syllable that
had the slightest reference to pains or pleasures below ground escaped
his lips - not the smallest hint - no, not a breath.
All attempts to gain information upon this curious point proving fruitless,
we praised fine weather and fine prospects, and deprecated bad roads.
We had no occasion, however, to do so; for scarcely had we turned the
angle of one of the vast walled inclosures belonging to the convent,
and expected to sink into some frightful rut or sandy furrow, when an
immense body of well-clothed peasants, with their strong bright tools
slung over their sturdy shoulders, met us with loud vivas, and the tranquillizing
assurance that the whole way to Pedraneira had been smoothed by their
exertions: so we rolled along over firm gravel and compact heath-faggots
 We soon reached the banks of my favourite river, and crossed over
a very picturesque-looking bridge, without parapets, to its opposite
shore - a vast and dreary plain. We were beginning to experience the
effects of heat rather oppressively, when we entered a forest of pine,
and felt much invigorated by fragrant, genial breezes, - shade was out
of the question, most of the trees being tall and sapless.
In one of the least frequented parts of this superannuated forest, the
career of our caravan was suddenly arrested by a most imposing cocked-hatted
personage, booted up to the chin, like West's heroes in his picture
of the Battle of the Boyne, bestriding a maneged horse, decked out in
all the pride of burnished pistol and gold-laced holster.
This most consequential of equerries, with as much solemnity as if he
had been reading a state proclamation, invited us, in  the name
of his mistress, a lady of high caste and importance, to screen ourselves
from the meridian heats in her quinta hard by; a most blessedly shady
place, in which she had congregated, I verily believe, half the birds
in the country - those least in repute, such as kites, owls, and buzzards,
My Lord of Aviz was still too deeply engaged in confidential discourse
with his secretary to much relish making a halt and getting out of his
carriage; but the Prior of St. Vincent's and myself were perfectly disposed
to accept the invitation, having learnt, during our course of Alcobaça
gossip, too many curious particulars about this eminent lady-patroness
of the feathered tribe, not to
feel extremely curious to be admitted into the penetralia of the asylum
she afforded them; a favour rarely granted, and which sprang most probably
out of a strong curiosity to see and fondle my beloved Arabian, not
my own dear self - her  most excellent ladyship professedly not
caring one pip of an orange for strangers of any description or quality,
unless they were blessed with four feet, or a natural mantle of feathers.
Preceded by the right pompous and fustified equerry, we diverged from
the mended track into an avenue of dwarfish corktrees, leading straight
to a lofty wall, which extended far to the right and left of a grand
massive Tuscan gateway. The wide space before this stately entrance
exhibited the refreshing sight of marble' troughs brimful of the clearest
water; heaps of oats and barley, amply sufficient to supply the wants
of our mules; and paniers of bread and oranges, under very substantial
My reverend companions, as in duty bound, went immediately to offer
their homage to the bird-queen; but I begged to be excused for the moment,
promising that as soon as my Arabian had been re-  freshed and
brightened up by a good rubbing, I would lead him myself to the foot
of the throne of these dominions. Having gained this respite, the whole
party dispersed as seemed best in their eyes, and I entered perfectly
alone the deeply shaded inclosure - without exception one of the strangest
scenes of fairyland ever conjured up by the wildest fancy.
As far as the eye could stretch, extended a close bower of evergreens,
myrtle, bay, and ilex, not to mention humble box, lofty, broad, and
fragrant; on either side, arches of verdure most sprucely clipped, opened
into large square plats of rare and curious flowers; and in the midst
of each of these trim parterres, a fountain inclosed within a richly-gilded
cage, containing birds of every variety of size, song, and plumage;
parroquets with pretty little flesh-coloured beaks, and parrots of the
largest species, looking arch and cunning, as they  kept cracking
and grinding walnuts and filberts between their bills as black as ebony.
In one of these inclosures I noticed a immense circular basin of variegated
marble, surrounded by a gilt metal balustrade, on which were most solemnly
perched a conclave of araras and cockatoos. Their united screechings
and screamings upon my approach gave the alarm to a multitude of smaller
birds, which issued forth in such clouds from every leaf and spray of
these vaulted walls of verdure, that I ran off as if I had committed
sacrilege, or feared being transformed by art-magic into a biped completely
rigged out with beak, claws, and feathers.
The strange green light which faintly pervaded the closely-bowered alleys
- the aromatic odour universally diffused - the rustle of wings, the
chirping and twittering above my head and on every side of me, was so
completely bewildering and  magical, that I almost doubted whether
ever again I should be permitted to emerge into common life or common
daylight. The soft, perfumed, voluptuous atmosphere of this seemingly
enchanted garden, induced a languor and listlessness to creep over me
I scarcely ever felt before.
Just as I was giving way to this gentle indolence, and had sunk down
by the marble basin soothed by the bubblings of its little quiet jet-d'eau,
I heard the heavy tramp of the solemn equerry, - and there he was true
enough. Be pleased, sir," said he, making a bow which the
stiffest and most formal dancing-master of the days of Louis the Fourteenth
would have gloried in, - "be pleased to comply with the urgent
request of my Lord Prior of Aviz, who is waiting with impatience to
have the honour of presenting you to my most illustrious and most excellent
 "Oh!" answered I, "by all means; nothing less than
the attractions of your most illustrious and most excellent lady's feathered
favourites could have detained me from her presence - pray lead me to
The way was not long, but most delightful, under a continued arbour
of exotic plants, looking as healthful as if they had been quite at
home in Portugal - born and bred there for centuries. On either side,
more flower-beds, and more birds, some at liberty and some in cages.
The house itself, at which we arrived in due course, though of an extent
quite remarkable, was far from presenting a palace-like appearance,
being in height only one story. Its verandas, however, commanded respect:
they were extremely spacious, paved and balustraded with marble.
Under the terraces they supported, were  offices innumerable, not
unlike rabbit-burrows in the realm of Brobdignag, out of, and into which,
were continually creeping a great number of tawny-coloured menials,
very slightly clothed indeed, all busily engaged in tending the feathered
race committed to their charge: for half these burrows, or arched chambers,
or whatever we please to call them, were closed with light trellises
of wire, forming, after all, no very pleasant aviaries. Certain most
horribly discordant screechings, which pierced my ears every now and
then, seemed to indicate that the birds of the establishment were not
so happy or judiciously governed as their sovereign mistress imagined
- the case of subjects in most dominions.
On the lowest step of a grand flight of steps leading up to the principal
veranda, stood three young gentlemen, aged fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen
years, the nephews of the great lady, as like one to  the other
as if they had been not only twins, but triplets; all sleek, and smooth,
and sallow; all dressed in obsolete court-dresses of blue and silver
tissue, each with his powdered hair in a silken bag, each with his little
cut-steel-hilted sword and each with a little abdominal bulge that promised
in the course of a very few years to become a paunch of considerable
dignity. In close attendance upon these hopeful youths, were a stripling
page, a half-crazed buffoon, an ex-jesuit, and a dwarf; personages indispensable
to a noble and well-constituted Portuguese establishment. Down went
all their heads the moment I drew near, and down went mine' to the very
earth in return for so much courtesy.
We ascended the steps all together right lovingly, the three youths
marching hand-in-hand. Nothing could exceed the decorous behaviour of
these sweet young gentlemen; it did honour to their  preceptor,
who had brought them up in the most commendable fear of the devil and
of taking birds' nests; - the latter, of all crimes, was esteemed the
most heinous in those dominions.
Independently of my fondness for brute animals, I am not unapt, cameleon-like,
to take the colour of what happens to pass around me. It might be supposed,
therefore, that I entered fully into the fashion of the place, and expressed
my fondness and admiration of every species of bird it had pleased God
in his infinite goodness to create, with enthusiasm. So disposed, and
in this blessed trim, I entered the grand saloon of the great lady's
residence. Her excellency was seated at its upper end in a high-backed
wicker chair, stuck close to the wall. Seven or eight old hags, of a
most forbidding aspect, all in black, and all more sincerely bearded,
I make no doubt, than the Countess Trifaldi's attendants, were ranged
to the  right and left, on narrow benches; forming one of the ugliest
displays of living tapestry my eyes had ever encountered.
The two Priors, who, to their no great delight, one may easily imagine,
formed part and parcel of this odious assembly, had reserved a wicker
chair, the coolness of which was completely neutralized by a red velvet
cushion, for the stranger - the unhappy stranger, who felt already quite
sufficiently annoyed and sweltered.
As soon as we had exchanged an infinity of salutations, and several
capacious golden snuff-boxes had gone their rounds with as much regularity
as the planets, four antiquated damsels entered the presence, bearing
trays, heaped high with candied apricots and oranges, and, still sweeter
than all the sweetmeats ever confectionized, a preparation of the freshest
eggs ever laid, with the richest sugar ever distilled from the finest
canes ever grown  in the Brazils for private consumption under
the most skilful management.
To these succeeded another entrée of ci-devant young women, who
presented us, upon embossed silver salvers, goblets of cut glass, containing
the coldest and purest water.
Right opposite to where we sat, formally marshalled all of a row, the
young fidalgos and their preceptor, who had enlisted Doctor Ehrhart,
Franchi, and the two Priors' secretaries into their ranks, were seated
on stools, not in the least superior either in shape or dimensions to
those used for milking in the homeliest bartons of our own dear farming
It was some time before any sounds, except the whirring and whizzing
of enormous cockchafers, and the flirting of fans almost as large as
the vans of a windmill, were audible. At length the great lady broke
silence, by asking me whether we had any birds in England: to which,
 rising from my chair, I replied with a low obeisance, that, thanks
be to God, we were blessed with an immense number.
"Indeed!" rejoined her excellency; "I thought your country
too cold to allow them, sweet dears, to build their nests and enjoy
Yes," observed the Jesuit, "the climate of your island
must be very bitter. Camoens, whose authority none can dispute, calls
A grande Inglaterra che de neve
Boreal sempre abunda.
(Canto 6, stanz. 42.)
"Which being undoubtedly the case," continued the bird-queen,
that great number you boast of must be imported: indeed, I understood
as much from an old servant of my father's, who made a fortune by dealing
in Canary-birds, and taking them to your great town, where you can hardly
distinguish night from day, as he told me. But what will not the lure
 of gain make us submit to? He was continually resorting to that
black place with his living wares, (how I pity them!) and, to be sure,
he gained sufficient, though he almost coughed his lungs out, to buy
a nice quinta in my neighbourhood. He is an excellent judge of everything
that concerns birds; knows how to treat them in moulting-time, which
few do; and for the sagacity with which he discovers an incipient pip,
and stops its progress, I may venture to affirm from long experience,
he has no equal. But tell me fairly, most estimable Englishman, have
you any native birds in your island?"
"Yes, madam," was my triumphant reply, we have; one
in particular - seldom seen, but often heard - the cuckoo."
I had scarcely pronounced that name, when an exact imitation of its
well-known sound burst forth from Franchi and the buffoon, who was standing
behind his stool, to the high glee of the young gen-  tlemen, their
page and dwarf, and the evident dismay of her sublime ladyship and her
hags in waiting. They looked as if they could have pinched us all as
sharply as the snuff in their ample boxes. In short, surprise and anger
at Franchi's want of decorum, and a suspicion, perhaps, of being what
we call quizzed, in our vernacular slang, began to manifest itself;
when the solemn equerry announced with his wonted solemnity, that our
carriages were in waiting, and my Arabian at the door, ready to receive
the honour of a caress from his most illustrious and excellent mistress.
Overjoyed at this intelligence, the two Priors and myself, all heartily
tired of our formal sitting, rose up without a moment's delay; so did
the great lady, and her train of hags and dismal damsels, following
each other one by one. As soon as this dolorous procession reached the
gateway, a great number of gigantic dark-brown um- brellas were
spread forth, and under their deep shade my astonished courser, with
his fine arched neck held down by a couple of grooms, was patted in
succession by the lank, cold fingers of the bird-queen and her antiquated
attendants; then followed as many curtseys, and as low as the dry stiff
knees that performed them could contrive to drop; and the Grand Prior
of Aviz signifying that he had no further occasion for the attendance
of his confidential secretary, I got into his dormeuse, ordered my Arabian
to follow, and bade, I hope and trust, an eternal adieu to this region
of screaming birds, clipped hedges, and sour-visaged old women.
It was some time before we cleared the walls of these bird-ridden dominions,
a great deal more extensive than I apprehended. Our route, distinctly
marked out by its recent mendings, led us across a plain in the highest
state of cultivation, forming a most agreeable contrast to the ragged
 weather-beaten forest and pompous idle inclosure we had left behind.
Here every object smiled; here every rood of land was employed to advantage,
the Lombard system of irrigation being perfectly understood and practised.
Every cottage, apparently the abode of industrious contentment, had
its well-fenced garden richly embossed with gourds
and melons, its abundant waterspout, its vine, its fig-tree, and its
espalier of pomegranate.
The peasantry, comfortably clad in substantial garments, looked kindly
and unenviously at our splendid caravan, because their hearts were expanded
by good treatment, their granaries amply stored, their flocks numerous
and healthy, and their landlords, the rich monks of Alcobaça,
neither griping nor tyrannical. When the Prior of Aviz stopped to converse
with these good people, which he frequently did, and inquired with his
usual affable  benignity, "Who taught you to till your land
so neatly? to manure it with so much judgment? to raise such crops of
grain? to spare your cattle all forced oppressive labour? to treat their
young with so much gentleness?" the answer was prompt and uniform,
- "Our indulgent masters and kind friends, the monks of the royal
The pleasure my excellent friend received from this communication beamed
forth from his ingenuous countenance, as he noted down the result of
his inquiries on his tablets; a set-off, perhaps, in his opinion, to
the strange mysterious report he had received of certain unedifying
frailties. Whatever snares of the evil-one my kind hosts of Alcobaca
may have fallen into beneath ground, few communities ever conferred
more solid benefits upon its surface to all their dependants.
Very different were the replies to our queries about the great lady:
shrugs of  the shoulder, and shakings of the head, gave us to understand
most plainly, that, as far as her territorial influence extended, -
luckily small in comparison with that of the great convent - it was
of a nature more blighting than genial, less charitable than oppressive.
And as to her birds, they were a flagrant nuisance - whole flights of
her doves, parrots, kites, finches, and thrushes being allowed to commit
with the most perfect impunity every species of depredation best suited
to their habits and propensities.
We were all so enchanted with these scenes of rural delight and joy,
that we ordered our carriages not to be driven along too rapidly. We
had to pass the river again and again over the same sort of ruinous
bridges as we had met with in the immediate vicinity of Alcobaça.
My revered companion could not repress sensations of terror as we jolted
up and down steep arches unprotected by any parapet -  sensations
which the most fervid exhortations on my part to put faith in Saint
Anthony could not subdue; so out he trundled into all the dust and offal
of the road.
After not less than three or four of these rather dangerous transits,
we mounted a heathy, pastoral hill, browsed by goats, and met a long
string of female peasants, bearing offerings of various kinds to our
Lady of Nazarè; and presently the sanctuary, to which they were
going in pilgrimage, discovered itself on the brow of a craggy eminence
shelving down to the Atlantic.
Much praise cannot in truth be lavished upon this edifice, which is
neither considerable nor picturesque; but the colours of the wide unlimited
ocean, so pure, so vivid, so beautifully azure, made up for all other
deficiencies, and, joined to the reviving freshness of the sea-breeze,
gave my spirits the most delightful and ani-  mated flow. Gay,
agile, and buoyant, I leaped out of the carriage the moment it stopped,
and was immediately received into the arms and garlick-scented embrace
of the two aged fathers, our harbingers, who, had preceded us to Pedraneira.
This most opulent farm-mansion, the capital of the conventual domains
in these quarters, had very much the air of an oriental caravanserai,
with stables for mules and courts surrounded with arches, castellated
granaries, and vaulted chambers, incrusted with clean glossy tiles,
by no means indifferently painted with scriptural and legendary subjects.
In the largest and coolest of these apartments we were regaled with
a magnificent banquet of fish, caught near the rocks of Peniche, and
reckoned the best upon the whole line of the coast.
Being a fast-day, except a few hashes of pork for heretics, savoury
as the flesh-pots of Egypt, nothing unorthodox was served  up.
Dr. Ehrhart, however, partook of every ragout set before him indiscriminately,
to the scandal of our hosts, the monks and their attendants. All the
rest of the company having made their election, stuck to fish with true
Our repast quickly dispatched, and the aged fathers most kindly thanked
and most willingly dismissed from their attendance, - for, to say truth,
they were not only intolerably effluvient but inveterately prosy, -
we made haste to set forth in order to reach the Caldas before night.
As long as we continued on the shore enjoying the vast marine prospect
and the unceasing sound of the waves, nothing could be pleasanter; but
when we entered an almost endless ravine, its banks entirely covered
with the strong healthy flowers of the Papaver corniculatum, our progress
was slow and tedious. To this ravine succeeded another, diversified
by a more agreeable  sort of vegetation - the yellow lupin in all
At some distance we saw a Moorish castle, standing proudly on an insulated
eminence, presenting a grand mass: it bears also a grand name, Alfagiraõ.
This picturesque object, the stillness and soft hues of evening, and
the perfume of the lupins, were circumstances too pleasing not to make
us regret our arrival at the Caldas with quite sufficient light to distinguish
all its ugliness; - its dull monotonous houses, with their coarse green
window-blinds and shutters flapping to and fro in the dusty breeze;
and its heavy verandas, daubed over with yellow ochre, and striped in
places with blue and red, in patterns not unworthy of Timbuctoo or Ashantee.
In my eyes, the whole of this famous stewing-place wore a sickly unprepossessing
aspect. Almost every third or fourth person you met was a quince-coloured
 apothecary, accoutred like a courtier on his march to the drawing-room,
and carrying many a convenient little implement in a velvet bag, as
pompously as if he had been a lord chancellor; and every tenth or twelfth,
a rheumatic or palsied invalid, with his limbs all atwist, and his mouth
all awry, being conveyed to the baths in a chair. You could hardly move
without running your head against the voluminous wig of some medical
professor, and hearing the formidable stump of his gold-headed cane.
The news of the advent of a great German doctor, ex-physician to the
household of his ex-majesty the most Christian King, soon spread itself
throughout the Caldas; and we had not set our feet on the hot flag-stones
of this physical emporium above five or six minutes, before a deputation
of the faculty arrived. These sages came on purpose to introduce themselves
to Dr. Ehrhart, and entreat the honour of  his company on a professional
tour to their principal patients. His account of the woful condition
and appearance of the wretched invalids in their respective tubs and
cisterns, related in Alsatian French, sound Latin, and broken Portuguese,
was most original.
"I found many of them," said the indignant doctor, "with
galloping pulses, excited almost to frenzy by the injudicious application
of these powerful waters, and others with scarcely any pulses at all.
The last will be quiet enough ere long; and considering what dreadful
work these determined Galenists drive amongst them, with their decoctions,
and juleps, and spiced boluses, and conserve of mummy, and the devil
knows what, I expect a general gaol-delivery must speedily take place,
and the souls of these victims of exploded quackeries be soon released
from their wretched bodies, rendered the worst of prisons by a set of
 Never shall I forget the indignant scowl my angry doctor cast
upon the contemners of simple and vegetable medicine. His ebullitions
of wrath remained unpacified till he had swilled down the contents of
an ample caraffe of wine, diluted with only a very few drops of water,
accompanied by a platter of those savoury bulbs which geese are so often
stuffed with in England, for the express purpose, he openly avowed,
of decreasing flatulence, and expelling the prince of the air and all
his satellites. I thought the Prior of St. Vincent's would never have
ceased laughing at this species of exorcism. The Portuguese have in
general a strong relish for coarse practical jokes; and I am far from
pretending that this one was not most decidedly of the number.
The master and mistress of the large rambling habitation assigned to
us thought proper to light up with their own hands all the tapers in
the Bohemian glass  sconces and chandeliers of the barn-like saloon
on their ground-floor. Such a glare, equal at least to that of a ridotto
in a second-rate Italian town, was as sure to excite notice and attract
passengers, as a flaming candle every moth and father longlegs in its
neighbourhood. We were, therefore, in no want of company.
Our tea-table, which we had prudently established as far beyond the
influence of Doctor Ehrhart's regale as possible, was soon surrounded
by all the fashion not under immediate medical restraint that happened
to be at the Caldas: old buckram officers, not much the wiser for having
served under the Count de la Lippe; pot-bellied fidalgos, who had not
yet been stewed down to less unseemly proportions; and desembargadors
and men of the law, as greedy as sharks, and as heavy as cart-horses.
One of the most ponderous of the set, a personage of some political
importance,  and a distinguished graduate of the University of
Coimbra, was half inclined to turn restive, because I would not sit
down by him and explain in minute detail some passages in Blackstone's
Commentaries about which he was eager of information. Pushing my chair
away from this determined bore, he pushed his after me with such vehemence,
that a conflict must have ensued, perhaps to my total discomfiture,
had not his chair been killed under him; - both back and legs gave way,
and down he fell flat on the gritty floor. Everybody's sides in the
room shook with laughter - even the spare ribs of the Count de la Lippe's
ancient martinet officers.