SEVENTH DAY.
- 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 Aiphonso 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 halfcrazed Poet and his doleful tragedy. - Senhor
Agostinho in the character of Donna Iñez de Castro. - Favouritism,
and its reward.
A DELIGHTFUL morning sun was shining in all its splendour, when I awoke,
and ran to the balcony, to look at the garden and wild hills, and to
ask myself ten times over, whether the form I had seen,  and the
voice I had heard, were real or imaginary. I had scarcely dressed, and
was preparing to sally forth, when a distinct tap at my door, gentle
but imperative, startled me.
The door opened, and the Prior of Batalha stood before me. "You
were disturbed, I fear," said he, "in the dead of the night,
by a wailful voice, loudly proclaiming severe impending judgments. I
heard it also, and I shuddered, as I always do when I hear it. Do not,
however, imagine that it proceeds from another world. The being who
uttered these dire sounds is still upon the earth, a member of our convent
- an exemplary, a most holy man - a scion of one of our greatest families,
and a near relative of the Duke of Aveiro, of whose dreadful, agonizing
fate you must have heard. He was then in the pride of youth and comeliness,
gay as sunshine, volatile as you now appear to be. He had accompanied
the devoted duke to a sump-  tuous ball given by your nation to
our high nobility: - at the very moment when splendour, triumph, and
merriment were at their highest pitch, the executioners of Pombal's
decrees, soldiers and ruffians, pounced down upon their prey; he too
was of the number arrested - he too was thrown into a deep, cold dungeon:
his life was spared; and, in the course of years and events, the slender,
lovely youth, now become a wasted, care-worn man, emerged to sorrow
"The blood of his dearest relatives seemed sprinkled upon every
object that met his eyes; he never passed Belem without fancying he
beheld, as in a sort of frightful dream, the scaffold, the wheels on
which those he best loved had expired in torture. The current of his
young, hot blood was frozen; he felt benumbed and paralysed; the world,
the court, had no charms for him; there was for him no longer warmth
in the sun, or smiles on the human coun-  tenance: a stranger to
love or fear, or any interest on this side the grave, he gave up his
entire soul to prayer; and, to follow that sacred occupation with greater
intenseness, renounced every prospect of worldly comfort or greatness,
and embraced our order.
"Full eight-and-twenty years has he remained within these walls,
so deeply impressed with the conviction of the Duke of Aveiro's innocence,
the atrocious falsehood of that pretended conspiracy, and the consequent
unjust tyrannical expulsion of the order of St. Ignatius, that he believes
- and the belief of so pure and so devout a man is always venerable
- that the horrors now perpetrating in France are the direct consequence
of that event, and certain of being brought home to Portugal; which
kingdom he declares is foredoomed to desolation, and its royal house
to punishments worse than death.
He seldom speaks; he loathes conver-  sation, he spurns news
of any kind, he shrinks from strangers; he is constant at his duty in
the choir - most severe in his fasts, vigils, and devout observances;
he pays me canonical obedience - nothing more: he is a living grave,
a walking sepulchre. I dread to see or hear him; for every time he crosses
my path, beyond the immediate precincts of our basilica, he makes a
dead pause, and repeats the same terrible words you heard last night,
with an astounding earnestness, as if commissioned by God himself to
deliver them. And, do you know, my lord stranger, there are moments
of my existence, when I firmly believe he speaks the words of prophetic
truth: and who, indeed, can reflect upon the unheard-of crimes committing
in France - the massacres, the desecrations, the frantic blasphemies,
and not believe them? Yes, the arm of an avenging God is stretched out
- and the weight of impending judgment is most terrible.
 "But what am I saying ? - why should I fill your youthful
bosom with such apprehensions? I came here to pray your forgiveness
for last night's annoyance; which would not have taken place, had not
the bustle of our preparations to receive your illustrious and revered
companions, the Lord Priors, in the best manner our humble means afford,
impeded such precautions as might have induced our reverend brother
to forego, for once, his dreary nocturnal walk. I have tried by persuasion
to prevent it several times before. To have absolutely forbidden it,
would have been harsh - nay, cruel - he gasps so piteously for air:
besides, it might have been impious to do so. I have taken opinions
in chapter upon this matter, which unanimously strengthen my conviction
that the spirit of the Most High moves within him; nor dare we impede
I listened with profound seriousness to this remarkable communication;
- the  Prior read in my countenance that I did so, and was well
pleased. Leading the way, he conducted me to a large shady apartment,
in which the plash of a neighbouring fountain was distinctly heard.
In the centre of this lofty and curiously-groined vaulted hall, resting
on a smooth Indian mat, an ample table was spread out with viands and
fruits, and liquors cooled in snow. The two Prelates, with the monks
deputed from Alcobaça to attend them, were sitting round it.
They received me with looks that bespoke the utmost kindness, and at
the same time suppressed curiosity; but not a word was breathed of the
occurrence of last night, - with which, however, I have not the smallest
doubt they were perfectly well acquainted.
I cannot say our repast was lively or convivial; a mysterious gloom
seemed brooding over us, and to penetrate the very atmosphere - and
yet that atmosphere  was all loveliness. A sky of intense azure,
tempered by fleecy clouds, discovered itself between the tracery of
innumerable arches; the summer airs (aure estive) fanned us as we sat;
the fountain bubbled on; the perfume of orange and citron flowers was
wafted to us from an orchard not far off: but, in spite of all these
soft appliances, we remained silent and abstracted.
A sacristan, who came to announce that high mass was on the point of
celebration, interrupted our reveries. We all rose up - a solemn grace
was said, and the Prior of Batalha taking me most benignantly by the
hand, the prelates and their attendants followed. We advanced in procession
through courts and cloisters and porches, all constructed with admirable
skill, of a beautiful grey stone, approaching in fineness of texture
and apparent durability to marble. Young boys of dusky complexions,
in long white tunics and with shaven heads, were busily  employed
dispelling every particle of dust. A stork and a flamingo seemed to
keep most amicable company with them, following them wherever they went,
and reminding me strongly of Egypt and the rites of Isis.
We passed the refectory, a plain solid building, with a pierced parapet
of the purest Gothic design and most precise execution, and traversing
a garden-court divided into compartments, where grew the orange trees
whose fragrance we had enjoyed, shading the fountain by whose murmurs
we had been lulled, passed through a sculptured gateway into an irregular
open space before the grand western façade of the great church
- grand indeed - the portal full fifty feet in height, surmounted by
a window of perforated marble of nearly the same lofty dimensions, deep
as a cavern, and enriched with canopies and imagery in a style that
would have done honour to  William of Wykeham, some of whose disciples
or co-disciples in the train of the founder's consort, Philippa of Lancaster,
had probably designed it.
As soon as we drew near, the valves of a huge oaken door were thrown
open, and we entered the nave, which reminded me of Winchester in form
of arches and mouldings, and of Amiens in loftiness. There is a greater
plainness in the walls, less panelling, and fewer intersections in the
vaulted roof; but the utmost richness of hue, at this time of day at
least, was not wanting. No tapestry, however rich - no painting, however
vivid, could equal the gorgeousness of tint, the splendour of the golden
and ruby light which streamed forth from the long series of stained
windows: it played flickering about in all directions, on pavement and
on roof, casting over every object myriads of glowing mellow shadows
ever in undulating motion, like the reflection of  branches swayed
to and fro by the breeze. We all partook of these gorgeous tints - the
white monastic garments of my conductors seemed as it were embroidered
with the brightest flowers of paradise, and our whole procession kept
advancing invested with celestial colours.
Mass began as soon as the high prelatic powers had taken their stations.
It was celebrated with no particular pomp, no glittering splendour;
but the countenance and gestures of the officiating priests were characterised
by a profound religious awe. The voices of the monks, clear but deep-toned,
rose pealing through vast and echoing spaces. The chant was grave and
simple - its austerity mitigated in some parts by the treble of very
young choristers. These sweet and innocent sounds found their way to
my heart - they recalled to my memory our own beautiful cathedral service,
and - I wept! My companions, too, appeared unusually  affected;
their thoughts still dwelling, no doubt, on that prophetic voice which
never failed to impress its hearers with a sensation of mysterious dread.
It was in this tone of mind, so well calculated to nourish solemn and
melancholy impressions, that we visited the mausoleum where lie extended
on their cold sepulchres the effigies of John the First, and the generous-hearted,
noble-minded Philippa; linked hand in hand in death as fondly they were
in life. This tomb is placed in the centre of the chapel.
Under a row of arches on the right, fretted and pinnacled and crocketed
in the best style of Gothic at its best period, lie, sleeping the last
sleep, their justly renowned progeny, the Regent Pedro Duke of Coimbra,
whose wise administration of government, during the minority of his
nephew and son-in-law Alfonso the Fifth, rendered Portugal so  prosperous,
and whose death, by the vilest treachery, on the field of Alfarubeira,
was the fatal consequence of bitter feud and civil jealousies; the Infante,
Dom John, a man of pure and blameless life; Fernando, whose protracted
captivity in Africa was a long agony, endured with the resigned and
pious fortitude of a Christian martyr; and Henry, to whom his country
is beholden for those triumphant maritime discoveries, the result of
his scientific researches unwearyingly pursued in calm and studious
All these princes, in whom the high bearing of their intrepid father,
and the exemplary virtues and strong sense of their mother, the grand-daughter
of our Edward the Third, were united, repose, after their toils and
suffering, in this secluded chapel, which looks indeed a place of rest
and holy quietude; the light, equably diffused, forms as it were a tranquil
atmosphere, such as might be imagined worthy to sur-  round the
predestined to happiness in a future world.
I withdrew from the contemplation of these tombs with reluctance; every
object in the chapel which contains them being so pure in taste, so
harmonious in colour; every armorial device, every mottoed lambel, so
tersely and correctly sculptured, associated also so closely with historical
and English recollections - the garter, the leopards, the fleur-de-lis,
"from haughty Gallia torn;" the Plantagenet cast of the whole
chamber conveyed home to my bosom a feeling so interesting, so congenial,
that I could hardly persuade myself to move away, though my reverend
conductors began to show evident signs of impatience.
The Prior of St. Vincent's observed to me, that as my Lord High Almoner
expected us back to dinner, and had set his heart upon an omelette à
la provençale, which he eagerly desired might be tossed 
up by my divine (as he was pleased to call him) French cook, we had
no time to lose. We were therefore hurried unmercifully through the
royal cloisters, a glorious square of nearly two hundred feet, surrounded
by most beautifully-proportioned arches, filled up with a tracery as
quaint as any of the ornaments of Roslin chapel, but infinitely more
elegant: it is impossible to praise too warmly their tasteful and delicate
I could not fail observing the admirable order in which every - the
minutest nook and corner of this truly regal monastery is preserved:
not a weed in any crevice, not a lichen on any stone, not a stain on
the warm-coloured apparently marble walls, not a floating cress on the
unsullied waters of the numerous fountains. The ventilation of all these
spaces was most admirable; it was a luxury to breathe the temperate
delicious air, blowing over the fresh herbs and flowers, which filled
the com-  partments of a parterre in the centre of the cloister,
from which you ascend by a few expansive steps to the chapter-house,
a square of seventy feet, and the most strikingly beautiful apartment
I ever beheld. The graceful arching of the roof, unsupported by console
or column, is unequalled; it seems suspended by magic; indeed, human
means failed twice in constructing this bold unembarrassed space. Perseverance,
and the animating encouragement of the sovereign founder, at length
conquered every difficulty, and the work remains to this hour secure
This stately hail, though appropriated to the official resort of the
living, is also a consecrated abode of the dead. On a raised platform
in the centre, covered with rich palls, are placed the tombs of Alfonso
the Fifth, and his grandson, a gallant, blooming youth, torn from life,
and his newly-married consort, the Infanta of  Castile, and its
fairest flower, at the early age of seventeen: with him expired the
best hopes of Portugal, and of his father, the great John the Second.
My conductors, a great deal less affected than myself, would not allow
me even one moment to ruminate and moralize upon vicissitudes and bereavements
- they quite urged me along; and, to aid their active intentions, a
tide of monks, sacristans, novices, seminarists, and the Lord knows
who beside, appeared all of a sudden flowing forth from every cell and
cloister: they had been all congregated, it seems, to do us honour and
bid us adieu. The Prior, with his hands crossed on his breast, made
me a low obeisance, and then opening his arms, gave me a cordial embrace.
Our army of attendants, mules, horses, and carriages, were all in waiting,
ready drawn up at the same portal by which we had entered the night
before. A grand interchange of salutations having taken  place,
we departed, the fatal voice, I verily believe, sounding in the ears
of most of us - it certainly did in mine.
To dissipate impressions which hung heavily upon me, I asked permission
of my illustrious companions to mount my horse, and to leave them to
the ease and comfort of their capacious chaise; they of course returning
by Aljubarota, and I by a short cut, over some of the wildest be-pined,
and be-rosemaryed, and be-lavendered country I ever met with. Franchi,
who was perfectly well acquainted with this wilderness, steered my course
through all its mazes and straggling paths of sand and turf, alternately,
bordered by the gum-cistus in full flaring flower, so strongly scented
as almost to command me to go to sleep.
Dr. Ehrhart had taken his departure several hours before, charged with
the important mission of conveying my culinary artist, the incomparable
Monsieur Simon,  to the longing arms of My Lord High Almoner; and,
above all, by a vehement impulse to visit the infirmary of the convent,
which he had been told contained an unusual number of patients, many
of whom were afflicted with unusual disorders. This was attraction for
him in an irresistible shape, and he most gladly left Batalha, and all
its historical glories, (tombs, altars, and chapels, finished or unfinished,)
to enjoy it.
I cannot describe in too glowing colours the increased jubilation with
which I had the glory of being received by my Lord Abbot upon my return;
for not only did he pass the threshold of his majestic portals to bid
me welcome, but his principal confidant and factotum, the Sub-Prior,
(whose strongly marked features were quite in the style of some of the
finest studies of Masaccio,) assisted me to dismount, and condescendingly
held my stirrup. From all these redoubled atten-  tions, I plainly
perceived that the wind had changed in my favour several points since
yesterday: and what do you think had produced this agreeable alteration?
- the omelette à la provençale.
"Oh, my dear, most excellent stranger!" (my name for the time
being had totally escaped him,) exclaimed his right reverence, "what
a treasure you possess in that admirable artist - o grande Simaõ!
he has had the kindness to cast a new light over my stoves, - he is
liberality itself; for, instead of locking up his knowledge, he has
diffused it throughout my whole kitchen. Here -" continued he,
pulling out some scrawls which Franchi had translated from the original
French into very aboriginal Portuguese - "Here are receipts, with
marginal notes and illustrations, I mean to preserve, as carefully as
I would a string of pearls, till my last hour. But, is it true, is it
possible, you can be meditating to leave us so  soon? Some bird
of evil note whispered in my ear that you were determined to leave us
to-morrow morning. Let me conjure you not to think of it: one day more,
at least, do I pray and beseech you to bestow on us. My revered lords
the Priors of Aviz and St. Vincent's have consented to comply with my
request, subject to your approval - Oh do not refuse them and me!"
"Whatever your right reverence and my illustrious friends so earnestly
desire cannot meet on my part with the slightest impediment," answered
I with a reverential obeisance.
"Now then," rejoined the Prior, clapping his hands in ecstasy,
"we shall have that famous dish the admirable Simon promised me,
- a macedoine, worthy of Alexander the Great; most happy, most grateful
do I feel myself. But time is on the wing - let us profit whilst we
can. I see you wish to refresh yourself by a  change of dress in
your own apartment: be it so - but don't be long; dinner shall be on
table the moment you are ready; and you know, good becomes bad, in the
case of dishes at least, if we wait a second beyond the auspicious time."
Such logic was irresistible; I made all the haste required, and we sat
down, I can truly say, to one of the most delicious banquets ever vouchsafed
a mortal on this side Mahomet's paradise. The macedoine was perfection,
the ortolans and quails lumps of celestial fatness, and the sautés
and bechamels beyond praise; and a certain truffle cream so exquisite,
that my Lord Abbot forestalled the usual grace at the termination of
repasts, most piously to give thanks for it.
The dinner was about half over, when in came Dr. Ehrhart in high spirits,
rubbing his hands with triumphant glee, and talking to himself, as he
was often wont, in the purest Alsatian. He had passed a couple 
of hours in the infirmary, and had visited all its closets of vials
and gallipots. The drugs were not such (he informed us) either in quantity
or quality as he could warmly commend; but the stock of maladies, to
the alleviation of which they were destined, most ample. He had found
a pretty sprinkling of complicated cases, some highly curious, and,
no doubt, piquant: one in particular, an ulcer of tremendous size, exhibited
every freak dame Nature was capable of playing upon such an occasion,
- suppuration in one corner, callosity in another. He spoke of it in
raptures, and regretted our stay was too limited to allow his committing
to paper an exact delineation of this magnificent object in all its
glow of colouring. He spoke handsomely also of the compound fracture
of somebody's left leg. But when he came to the description of a sweet,
simpie perennial sore (simplex immunditiis), which had continued during
a series of  years to ebb and flow as regularly as the ocean, his
enthusiasm knew no bounds. He said it was a most singular case - a beautiful
case; a case so remarkable, so unprecedented, that he was determined
all Europe should ring of it from side to side. He would throw his thoughts
upon it into a dissertation of the length of at least sixty pages that
he would - and dedicate it to his native university. Then, bursting
forth into a torrent of Latin, rendered unintelligible to all but the
frequenters of Strasbourg or Colmar by the most villanous Alsatian twang,
addressed himself point-blank to my Lord Abbot.
His right reverence, by no means pleased at being roused from the joys
of the table by such an appeal and upon such a subject, very coolly
replied, that he made it a rule never to speak or hear the Latin
language out of the choir, if he could possibly help it." This
so palpable a rebuff silenced the good doctor, who had recourse 
to copious libations of generous wine to dispel the disappointment it
occasioned for he saw plainly that neither the fierce ulcer nor the
gentle sore would meet with that attention from the supreme disposer
of all things at Alcobaça, he was convinced they deserved so
Notwithstanding the plastic effects of good cheer and flowing cups,
my inestimable physician continued growling in an under tone during
the whole remainder of our repast. And now the fulness of time for removing
from the banquet-hall to the adjoining saloon being come, we repaired
to another table, where all the delights of fruit and confectionary
awaited us. Observing a good deal of whispering and message-sending
between the Priors and their confidential attendants going forward,
accompanied by nods and winks, I thought something particular for our
special amusement was in contemplation;  nor was I deceived: the
agreeable little mystery was soon cleared up by the entrance of a tall,
hook-nosed, sallow-complexioned personage, in a tarnished court suit;
who advanced with measured strides, beating with one hand a slow and
solemn tattoo upon a roll of parchment which he carried in the other.
I could not conceive what patent or document was about to be unfolded,
when the personage giving the parchment a quick twirl with his bird-claw-like
fingers, it displayed itself in the shape of a theatrical bill, engrossed
in large characters flaming with vermilion and gold. On this scroll
I read most distinctly that - this night, by the grace of God and the
especial permission of the Abbot of Alcobaça, High Almoner of
Portugal, &c. &c. &c. would be enacted the excruciating
tragedy of Donna Inez de Castro, and the cruel murder of that lovely
lady and her  two innocent royal infants, represented on the stage:
the part of Donna Inez by Senhor Agostinho Jose.
"The murder of the two royal infants!" exclaimed I; "what
means this? We know too well, alas! how the Lady Inez was disposed of;
but her two sweet babes escaped from the fangs of the tyrant - did they
not, my good Lord Abbot ?"
" To be sure they did," replied his right reverence: "but
this fine drama is not the production of one of our national bards;
- an Italian gentleman, who has done us the honour of partaking of our
hospitality for several years, and acquired in perfection our language,
is the author; and, being a stranger, cannot be expected to feel so
acutely for those precious infants as we Portuguese do: he therefore
asked my leave to have them murdered, in order to add to the effect
of the catastrophe. Rather than thwart a person of such transcendent
abilities, and my very par-  ticular friend, I consented. He had
half a mind to make them fall by their mother's own poniard in a fit
of frenzy: but I could not allow of that; it would have been stretching
a little too far - don't you think so?"
Recollecting the stretches I had often met with at home in historical
novelswitness Miss Lee's "Recess" and many others - I made
no objection, and turning to the bard, who was standing by wrapt into
future murders, praised his sublime efforts in the tragic vein - the
terribile via - in the most glowing terms I could muster. Animated by
these grateful eulogies, he vociferated with dreadful vehemence, "Let
me but live a few years longer, and I will be the death of half the
regal personages in the Portuguese history, after my own fashion and
no other. I will slay them magnificently on the battlefield, though
they died in their brocaded beds with all their courtiers puling 
around them; I will sink them in the ocean, though they expired on dry
land; their agonies in the act of drowning shall be horrible; - nay,
more, I will call upon the Prince of the Morning, upon Lucifer himself,
to bear them away for some secret sin or compact, though the prayers
of the church had been exhausted to avert such a direful calamity."
I thought this was a stretch with a vengeance: the Abbot, I plainly
saw by his countenance, was of the same opinion; but, giving his ample
shoulders a kind commiserating shrug, (for the bard was a special favourite,)
contented himself with whispering to me -" Sta doëdo - sta
doëdo; the man's mad - all poets are."
The Grand Prior of Aviz, who seemed to have no doubt of the truth of
this observation in the present instance, looked at the bard with an
expression of alarm that was almost ludicrous, and shrinking back in
his chair, exclaimed piteously -  "What, Donna Inez and her
children butchered upon the stage? I shall never be able to stand this;
my eyes would become fountains, and we have had weeping enough lately,"
(alluding perhaps to the liquefaction scene of last night:) "tragedies
of so deep a dye as this we are promised, affect my nerves in the most
painful manner." So saying, he retired without further ceremony,
accompanied by two reverend fathers, dignitaries of the convent, who
professed the same clerical aversion to scenes of bloodshed.
As soon as they had departed to a quiet game of voltaretè in
their own snug quarters, the Lord Abbot, observing it was growing late,
(for we had passed a most unconscionable time at table,) invited me
to repair, under his Sub-Prior's guidance, to a theatre which had been
temporarily fitted up in the most distant part of this immense edifice,
of the extent of which, as well as of the endless variety of its 
cloistered galleries, cells, chapels, and chambers, I had not till this
moment an adequate idea. Our peregrinations, therefore, were none of
the shortest or least intricate. We passed through several galleries
but feebly lighted, disturbing, I fear, the devotions of some aged monks,
who were putting up their orisons before a lugubrious image of our Lady
of the Seven Dolours, placed under a most sumptuously fringed and furbelowed
canopy of purple velvet.
Farther on, another vast corridor branched off to that part of the convent
allotted to scholars and novices. Not a few of these gentle youths were
pursuing the study of the Jew's harp, and twanging away most proficiently.
All these scudded off upon our approach, - the whole party had been
at high romps, I suspect, from their flushed and blowzy appearance,
wishing us, I dare say, in purgatory, or  a worse place, for having
intruded upon their recreations.
Advancing with due gravity, the valves of a lofty architectural door,
with a pompous inscription on the pediment in golden characters, were
unfolded, and we entered an extraordinarily spacious, coved saloon,
which appeared to have been assigned to holier purposes, for there was
an organ in a recess on one side of it. Across the whole end of this
apartment was extended an immense green curtain, with the insignia of
the convent emblazoned upon it in vivid colours; the centre of the saloon
was occupied, as might have been expected, with many a row of polished
oaken benches; but what I did not expect was an assemblage of more than
one hundred venerable fathers, sitting in solemn ranks, as if they had
been assisting at an ecumenical council, some wiping their spectacles,
and some telling their  beads. An effluvia, neither of jasmine
nor roses - in short, that species of high conventual frowziness which
monastic habits and garments are not a little apt to engender, affected
my lay nerves most disagreeably.
The Prior of St. Vincent's, perceiving the uneasy curl up of my nose,
whispered his neighbour, who whispered a second, who whispered a third,
and presently a most grateful vapour of fragrant herbs and burnt lavender
filled the room. Through its medium appeared descending from a portal,
by a flight of most spacious steps, the Lord Abbot himself in grand
costume. He insisted, with a positiveness which I could not avoid obeying,
that I should take his abbatial chair next the orchestra, and placed
himself on another equally ponderous, conceding the one on my right
hand to the Prior of St. Vincent's.
We were no sooner settled, than half-a-dozen sharp-toned fiddles, a
growling  bass, two overgrown mandolines, (lutes I suppose I ought
to style them), and a pair of flutes most nauseously tweedled upon by
two wanton-looking, blear-eyed young monks, who it would be charitable
to suppose had caught cold at some midnight choral service, struck up
a most singular and original species of antiquated overture. It was
full of jerking passages in the style of "Les Folies d'Espagne,"
and ended with a fugue that was catch-who-can in perfection.
Instead of the curtains drawing up at the conclusion of this strange
musical farrago, there was a tedious pause, and I had full time to look
round on the audience. Not five monks off my fauteuil, I caught the
evil eye of Donna Francisca's director, sitting apart from the rest
of the assembly, and looking more terrifically glum than any saint I
ever beheld on an Italian sign-post, or in a German prayer-book.
 I was trying to account for the delay of the performance, when
sounds not unlike those which often proceed from a disturbed hen-roost
became audible. Franchi's voice sounded predominant in this strange
hubbub; and I found out afterwards that he had been fruitlessly attempting
to persuade the Lady Inez (one of the most ungain hobbledehoys I ever
met with) to abjure an enormous pair of jingling ear-rings, and to reduce
a sweeping train he kept floundering over at every step, to the proportion
of those in fashion amongst the tragedy queens of the Salitri theatre.
Anything in the shape of metropolitan criticism wounded the awkward
stripling's provincial amour-propre so deeply, that he threatened hysterics
and an appeal to the Lord Abbot. This was conclusive; Franchi gave way,
the Lady Inez retained her overflowing robes and her ear-rings, and
the curtain rose.
Said his right reverence, whispering to  me over the arm of my
ponderous chair, "If you had heard Agostinho's declamation only
two months ago, you would have been enchanted - his tones were so touching,
so pathetic: his voice is now a little broken down; but you, who have
an ear, will soon discover that it is on the high road of becoming a
grand baritone: and as for his action, I am convinced you will soon
allow nothing was ever more sublime."
Just as I was on the point of replying to this warm encomium in a strain
of correspondent eulogy, my Lord Abbot gently murmured, "Hush,
hush! don't you hear the Lady Inez ?" I certainly did - and well
I might, for a louder bellow was never given by the flower of any dairy.
No cow bereaved of her last-dropped young one ever uttered sounds more
doleful: they increased in depth and dismality, till the forlorn damsel,
advancing to the lights on the stage, cried out, "Cru-él,
cru-él !" ad-  dressing, I suppose, the phantom of
her redoubted father-in-law, - "and wouldst thou slay my innocents?
Hast thou discovered my peaceful retirement? Where fly - where run?"
She then continued, in a flow of at least one hundred lines, to picture
her agonising fears, her dire presentiments, her frightful dreams; and,
with looks that were meant to tear our feelings to the last tatter,
she thus described her most terrific vision:
On thy wan disk, O pale and ghastly moon!
I saw portray'd a vengeful countenance;
And whilst upon it I did wildly gaze,
Methought it wore the semblance of the King -
(Now gelid horror claim'd me for her own.)
I tried to fly - I fled, but all in vain,
The dreaded face pursued me.
If I turn'd back, 'twas there; if I advanced,
The stern, cold image seem'd to freeze my soul,
Changing the genial current of my blood
Into a substance more severe than stone.
Avaunt, my hapless babes! approach me not,
Lest by some fatal petrifying power
Your limbs be fix'd in durance.
 Donna Inez, by good luck, declaimed this magnificent piece of
nonsense in a tolerably even key, and with really so just an emphasis,
that the enraptured bard, laying aside his prompting-book, could not
resist exclaiming, "What do you think of that?"-" E boa,
e boa!" replied the Lord Abbot. And the whole assembly, both before
and behind the scenes, re-echoed with one accord this favourable sentiment,
and nothing but E boa, e boa!" was heard from one end of
the saloon to the other.
Such universal encouragement did not fail to produce its effect upon
Donna Inez, - rather too much so; for the higher notes of her semi-soprano
voice having regained the ascendant, she squalled out of all mercy.
My sense of hearing is painfully acute, and I hardly know what I would
not have given for cotton to stop my ears with. However, they had soon
a respite, Heaven be praised! the second act being totally employed
by the plots and  contrivances of the King and his counsellors,
- quiet, chatty people, as loyal and complaisant as King Arthur's courtiers,
Noodle, Doodle, and Foodle, in the incomparable tragedy of Tom Thumb.
In act the third, to my infinite astonishment, I found his majesty totally
unacquainted with the little circumstance of Donna Inez having 'favoured
his recreant son with a brace of children: he more than suspected espousals
had taken place between them, but he little thought any fruits from
the degrading match were in existence. Upon his prime counsellor's disclosing
the fact, he asks with a perfidious coolness, "What are they like
?" "Doves, my dread lord," answers the counsellor with
infinite suavity: to which the infuriated monarch replies with a voice
It matters not, I'll tear their felon hearts -
PERISH THEY SHALL!
And with this horrid menace quits the  stage in a paroxysm of ungovernable
fury, still repeating behind the scenes Perish they shall!"
which was repeated again and again from the top of a ladder, by an old
dignified monk, a passionate lover of the drama, but who being decorously
shy of appearing on the open boards, had taken the part of Echo, which
he performed to admiration.
Act the fourth offered nothing very loud or remarkable; but in act the
fifth, horror and terror were working up to the highest pitch; two determined
assassins had been procured - their looks most murderous - the children
ran off - the assassins pursued - shrill and bitter squeakings were
heard at the farthest extremity of the stage, such as a desperate conflict
between rats or mice often produces behind old walls or wainscotings.
The audience appeared prodigiously affected; most of them stood up,
stretching out their necks like a flock of alarmed turkeys. This dreadful
 hurry-skurry ended by the first assassin's seizing the eldest
infant by its beautiful hair, and tossing it apparently dead upon the
stage. Three or four drops of pigeon's blood, squeezed out of some invisible
receptacle, added a horrible appearance of reality to the foul deed.
It was now the other infant's turn to be murdered; and murdered it was,
in a style that would not have disgraced one of Herod's best practitioners.
The poor helpless innocent, who appeared to be most dreadfully frightened
in right earnest, delivered its little dying speech with so much artlessness,
that I was not surprised to see tears fall and hear sobs heave all around
me. In short, affliction was almost exhausted to the last drop before
Donna Inez was driven in, who, after calling to the sun, moon, and stars
for vengeance, in accents at times most deep, at others most piercing,
was immolated, by three distinct stabs of a poniard, upon the bodies
of her children.
 The deed so completely done, his most revengeful majesty, gloomier
than Dis, and looking more truculent than ever the King of Judea was
supposed to have done, entered with royal and stately step - stood gloating
a minute or two over the horrid spectacle, and then, with the hoarse
note of a carrion crow, croaked forth, I am satisfied." The
curtain fell; and putting aside its folds with a withered hand trembling
with agitation, out issued the bard himself to speak an epilogue in
his own character. It was tiresome and pompous enough, God knows, and
concluded with a tirade, not exactly à la Camoens, pretty nearly
Lord of the firmament, couldst thou blaze on,
Urging thy coursers through the plains of light,
And not start back, affrighted at the deed!
Moon, veil thy orb - be quench'd, ye conscious stars,
Never again to sparkle as before!
Every soul in the assembly seemed to stand aghast, imprecating vengeance
on  the ruthless monarch, and feeling for the murdered innocents
to their heart's core. Donna Inez was called for by my Lord Abbot, and
embraced by his right reverence most blubberingly. The kindhearted Prior
of St. Vincent's wept aloud, - I tried my best, though in a lower key,
to imitate him; the Poet was lauded to the skies, and received from
the fountainhead of all good within these precincts something more solid
than praise - a richly embroidered purse, heavy and chinking, which
he deposited in one of his lank pockets, after making a grateful profound
"And now," said my Lord Abbot, "let us dry our tears
and go to supper; and in order to give merit its lust due, the Poet
and Agostinho shall be of the party. "Why not?" said the Prior
of St. Vincent's. "Why not?" echoed I, - provided we
have neither the king nor the murderers."
 As sunshine so frequently follows dark and drizzling weather,
nothing could be more blithe or even frolicksome than our repast. The
Grand Prior of Aviz, whom we found already placed near the hospitable
board with his two card companions, talking over their game, congratulated
himself warmly upon having escaped such a severe assault upon the pathetic
feelings, and enjoyed the festivity of the moment without alloy. So
we all did; and it was at a very late hour of one of the blandest summer
nights I ever experienced that we retired to our apartments.