SIXTH DAY.
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 Aljubarota.
Solitary Vale. Reception at Batalha. Enormous Supper.
Ecstasies of an old Monk. His sentimental Mishap.
Night Scene. Awful Denunciations.
I ROSE early, slipped out of my pompous apartment, strayed about endless
corridors not a soul stirring. Looked into a  gloomy hall,
much encumbered with gilded ornaments, and grim with the ill-sculptured
effigies of kings; and another immense chamber, with white walls covered
with pictures in black lacquered frames, most hideously unharmonious.
One portrait, the full size of life, by a very ancient Portuguese artist
named Vasquez, attracted my minute attention. It represented no less
interesting a personage than St. Thomas à Becket, and looked
the character in perfection; lofty in stature and expression
of countenance; pale, but resolute, like one devoted to death in his
great cause; the very being Dr. Lingard has portrayed in his admirable
From this chamber I wandered down several flights of stairs to a cloister
of the earliest Norman architecture, having in the centre a fountain
of very primitive form, spouting forth clear water abundantly into a
marble basin. Twisting  and straggling over this uncouth mass of
sculpture are several orange-trees, gnarled and crabbed, but covered
with fruit and flowers, their branches grotesque and fantastic, exactly
such as a Japanese would delight in, and copy on his caskets and screens;
their age most venerable, for the traditions of the convent assured
me that they were the very first imported from China into Portugal.
There was some comfort in these objects; every other in the place looked
dingy and dismal, and steeped in a green and yellow melancholy.
On the damp, stained and mossy walls, I noticed vast numbers of sepulchral
inscriptions (some nearly effaced) to the memory of the knights slain
at the battle of Aljubarota: I gave myself no trouble to make them out,
but continuing my solitary ramble, visited the refectory, a square of
seventy or eighty feet, begloomed by dark-coloured painted windows,
 and disgraced by tables covered with not the cleanest or least
unctuous linen in the world.
I had proceeded thus far, when three venerable fathers, of most grave
and solemn aspect, made their appearance; to whom having bowed as lowly
as Abraham did to his angelic visitors, I received as many profound
obeisances in return, and a summons to breakfast. This I readily obeyed:
it wanted three-quarters of eight, and I was as hungry as a stripling
novice. The Prior of Aviz having supped too amply the night before,
did not appear; but he of St. Vincent's, all kindness and good digestion,
did the honours with cordial grace, and made tea as skilfully as the
most complete old dowager in Christendom. My Lord of Alcobaça
was absent, engaged, as I was told, and readily believed, upon
conventual affairs of urgent importance.
The repast finished, and not soon, our  whole morning was taken
up with seeing sights, though not exactly the sights I most wished to
see. Some MSS. of the fourteenth century, containing, I have been assured,
traditional records of Pedro the Just and the Severe, were what I wished
for; but they either could not or would not be found; and instead of
being allowed to make this interesting research, or having it made for
me, we were conducted to a most gorgeous and glistening sacristy, worthy
of Versailles itself, adorned with furbelows of gilt bronze, flaunting
over panels of jasper and porphyry: copes and vestments, some almost
as ancient as the reign of Alfonzo Henriquez, and others embroidered
at Rome with gold and pearl, by no means barbaric, were displayed before
us in endless succession.
One of the sacristans or treasurers who happened to have a spice of
antiquarianism, guessing the bent of my wishes, produced, from a press
or ambery elaborately carved,  the identical candlesticks of rock-crystal,
and a cross of the same material, studded with the most delicately-tinted
sapphires which were taken by the victorious John the First from the
King of Castile's portable chapel, after the hard-fought conflict of
Aijubarota; and several golden reliquaries, as minutely chased and sculptured
as any I ever saw at St. Denis, though wrought by St. Eloy's holy hands:
one in particular, the model of a cathedral in the style of the Sainte
Chapelle at Paris, struck me as being admirable. Ten times at least
did I examine and almost worship this highly-wrought precious specimen
of early art, and as many times did my excellent friend the Prior of
St. Vincent's, who had come in search of me, express a wish that I should
not absolutely wear out my eyes or his patience.
"It is growing insufferably warm," said he, "and the
hour of siesta is arrived; and I cannot help thinking that perhaps it
 would not be unpleasant for you to retire to your shady chamber:
for my part, I can hardly keep my eyes open any longer. But I see this
proposal does not suit you - you English are strangely given to locomotion,
and I know full well that of all English you are not the least nimble.
Here," continued he, calling a young monk, who was sitting by in
a nook of the sacristy peeling walnuts, "suspend that important
occupation, and be pleased to accompany this fidalgo to any part of
your domain he likes to ramble to."
"Right willingly," answered this sprout of holiness: "whither
shall we go ?"
"Through the village, into the open country, if you have no objection,"
answered I; "to any point, in short, where I may enjoy rural scenery,
trees, and rocks, and running waters."
"Trees, and rocks, and running waters!" re-echoed the monk
with a vacant stare. "Had you not better visit our rabbit-war-
 ren the finest in this world? Though, to be sure, the rabbits,
poor things! are all asleep at this time of day, and it would be cruel
to disturb even them."
This was a broad hint, but I would not take it. The monk, finding I
was bent on he could not imagine what pursuit, and that there was no
diverting me from it, tucked up his upper garments, shadowed his sleek
round face with an enormous straw hat, offered me another of equal size
quite new and glossy, and, with staves in our hands, we set forth like
the disciples journeying to Emmaus in some of Poelemburg's smooth landscapes.
We passed through quadrangles after quadrangles, and courts after courts,
till, opening a sly door in an obscure corner, which had proved a convenient
sally-port, no doubt, for many an agreeable excursion, we found ourselves
in a winding alley, bordered by sheds and cottages, with irregular steps
leading up to rustic porches  and many a vine-bower and many a trellised
walk. No human being was to be heard or seen; no poultry were parading
about; and except a beautiful white macaw perched on a broken wall,
and nestling his bill under his feathers, not a single member of the
feathered creation was visible. There was a holy calm in this mid-day
silence a sacredness, as if all nature had been fearful to disturb
the slumbers of universal Pan.
I kept, however, straggling on impiously, it would have been
thought in Pagan times between long stretches of garden-walls
overhung by fig-trees, the air so profoundly tranquil that I actually
heard a fruit drop from a bough. Sometimes I was enticed down a mysterious
lane by the prospect of a crag and a Moorish castle which offered itself
to view at its termination, and sometimes under ruined arches which
crossed my path in the most picturesque manner. So I still con- 
tinued my devious course with a pertinacity that annoyed my lazy conductor
past utterance, it seems; for during our whole excursion we scarcely
exchanged a syllable.
At length, he could bear with my romanceishness no longer; an irresistible
somnolency came over him; and, stretching himself out on the bare ground,
in the deep shadow of some tall cypress, he gave way to repose most
delectably. I was now abandoned entirely to myself, unsubdued by the
quiet of the place, and as active as ever. Some tokens of animation,
however, in other beings besides myself would not have been displeasing
the dead silence which prevailed began to oppress me.
At length, a faint musical murmur stole upon my ear: I advanced towards
the spot whence it seemed to come a retired garden-house at the
end of a pleasant avenue, which, to add to its pleasantness,  had
been lately watered. Drawing nearer and nearer, my heart beating quickly
all the while, I distinguished the thrilling cadences of a delightful
Brasileira (sinha che vem da Bahia), well-known sounds. I looked
up to a latticed window just thrown open by a lovely arm a wellknown
arm: "Gracious heavens! Donna Francisca, is it you? What
brought you here? What inspired you to exchange Queluz and the Ajuda
for this obscure retirement ?"
"Ascend these steps, and I will tell you: but your stay must not
exceed ten minutes not a second more."
"Brief indeed," answered I: "I see there is no time to
Up I sprung and who should receive me? Not the fascinating songstress
not the lady of the lovely arm, but her sedate though very indulgent
"I know whom you are looking for," said the matron; "but
it is in vain. You have  heard, but are not to see, Francisca, who
is no longer the giddy girl you used to dance with; her heart is turned,
nay, do not look so wild, turned, I tell you, but turned
to God. A most holy man, a saint, the very mirror of piety for his years
he is not yet forty, only think! operated this blessed change.
You know how light-hearted, and almost indiscreetly so, my poor dear
heart's comfort was. You recollect hearing, and you were terribly angry,
I remember, that the English Padre told the Inviada it was shameful
how very rapturously my poor dear girl rattled her castanets, and threw
back her head, and put forward every other part of her dear little person,
at the Factory ball Shame ON HIM, scandalous old crabbed heretic!
Well, it so happened that my Lord High Almoner came to court upon state
affairs, accompanied by the precious man I have been talking of,
the most exemplary monk in that noble convent, and its right  hand.
One day at Queluz he saw my daughter dancing divinely, as you know she
did; he heard her sing, you know how she warbles she still
warbles; HE said, (and he has such an eye,) that under the veil of all
this levity were lurking the seeds of grace. 'I will develope them,'
exclaimed this saint upon earth, in a transport of holy fervour. So
he set about it, and a miraculous metamorphosis did he perform:
my gay, my dissipated child, became an example of serious piety; no
flirting, no racketing, nothing but pious discourse with this best of
discoursers. Two months passed away in this exemplary manner. When the
time came for my Lord High Almoner to return, our holy friend was in
duty bound to accompany him. What was to be done? Francisca had forgotten
everything and everybody else in this sinful world; she existed but
for this devout personage; she lived but in his holy smiles when he
approved  her conduct, and almost died under his reproof when any
transient little fault of hers occasioned his enjoining her severe penances:
and I shudder to think bow severe they sometimes were; for, would you
believe it? he has made her submit to flagellation and, more
than once, to goadings with sharp points. In due course, the hour of
departure arrived. 'We must all die,' said Francisca; 'my hour is come.'
She looked all she said: she pined and languished, and, I am convinced,
would have kept her word, if I had not said, 'Dearest child, there is
but one remedy: it is the will of God we should go to Alcobaça;
and to Alcobaça we will go, let all your uncles, cousins, and
adorers say what they choose to the contrary.' So we took this house
and this garden a nice little garden only look at these pretty
yellow carnations! and we are very happy in our little way, entirely
given up to devotion, under the guidance of our  incomparable spiritual
director, who allows us to want for nothing, even in this world. See
what fruit! what fine sweetmeats! what a relishing Melgaço ham!
look at these baskets!"
She was just lifting up the rich damask covers thrown over them, when
a most vigorous" Hem! hem!! hem ! ! !" in the rustic street
snapped short the thread of her eloquence, by calling her to the balcony
with the utmost precipitation "Jesu Maria José!
he comes! he comes!" Had she seen a ghost instead of a very substantial
friar, she could not have started with greater abruptness: her scared
looks showed me the door so intelligibly that I was off in a twinkling;
it would have been most indiscreet nay, sacrilegious, to remain
a moment longer.
It was now half-past one, and the world of Alcobaça was alive
again the peasant had resumed her distaff, the monk his breviary,
the ox his labour, and the sound  of the nora or water-wheel, was
heard in the land. The important hour of dinner at the convent I knew
was approaching: I wished to scale the crag above the village, and visit
the Moorish castle, which looked most invitingly picturesque, with its
varied outline of wall and tower; but I saw a posse of monks and novices
advancing from the convent, bowing and beckoning me to return.
So I returned, and 'twas well I did, as it turned out. Fourteen
or fifteen sleek well-fed mules, laden with paniers of neat wicker-work,
partially covered with scarlet cloth, were standing about the grand
platform before the convent; and the reverend father, one of the prime
dignitaries of the chapter, who was waiting at the entrance of the apartment
assigned to me, pointing to them, put me in mind that last night I had
expressed a vehement wish to visit Batalha; adding most graciously,
that the wishes of a person so  strongly recommended to them as
I had been by the good and great Marquis of Ponte de Lima were laws.
"This very night, if it so please you," said his reverence,
"we sleep at Batalha. The convent is poor and destitute, unworthy
nay, incapable of accommodating such guests as my lords the Grand
Priors, and yourself; but I hope we have provided against the chill
of a meagre reception. These mules will carry with them whatever may
be required for your comfort. To-morrow, I hope, you will return to
us; and the following day, should you inflict upon us the misfortune
of losing your delightful society, myself and two of my comrades will
have the honour of accompanying you as far back as one of our farms
called Pedraneira, on your return to Lisbon."
There was nothing on my part to object to in this arrangement; I fancied
too I could discern in it a lurking wish to be  quit of our most
delightful society, and the turmoil and half-partial restraint it occasioned.
Putting on the sweetest smiles of grateful acquiescence, to hear was
to obey; everything relating to movements being confirmed by the terzetto
of Grand Priors during our repast copious and splendid as usual.
The carriages drew up very soon after it was ended; my riding horses
were brought out, all our respective attendants mustered, and, preceded
by a long string of sumpter-mules and baggage-carts, with all their
bells in full jingle and all their drivers in full cry, off we set in
most formidable array, taking the route of Aljubarota.
Our road, not half so rough as I expected, led us up most picturesquely-shaped
steep acclivities, shaded by chesnuts, with here and there a branching
pine, for about a league. We then found ourselves on a sort of table-land;
and, a  mile or two further, in the midst of a straggling village.
There was no temptation to leave the snug corner of our comfortable
chaises; so we contented ourselves with surveying at our perfect ease
the prospect of the famous plain, which formed the termination of a
long perspective of antiquated houses.
Here, on this very plain, was fought in 1385 the fierce battle which
placed the diadem of Portugal on the brow of the glorious and intrepid
bastard. It was down that ravine the Castilian cavalry poured along
in utter confusion, so hotly pursued that three thousand were slain.
On yonder mound stood the King of Castile's tent and temporary chapel,
which he abandoned, with all its rich and jewelled furniture, to the
conquerors, and scampered off in such alarm that he scarcely knew whether
he had preserved his head on his shoulders, till safe within the walls
of Santarem, where he tore his hair and  plucked off his beard by
handfuls, and raved and ranted like a maniac. The details of
this frantic pluckage are to be found in a letter from the Constable
Nuno Alvarez Pereira to the Abbot of Alcobaça.
I tried to inspire my right reverend fellow-travellers with patriotic
enthusiasm, and to engage them to cast a retrospective glance upon the
days of Lusitanian glory. Times present, and a few flasks of most exquisite
wine, the produce of a neighbouring vineyard, engrossed their whole
attention. "Muito bom primoroso excellente,"
were the only words that escaped their most grateful lips.
The Juiz de Fora of the village, a dabbler in history for he
told us he had read the Chronicles, and who stood courteously and obsequiously
on the step of our carriage-door, handing us the precious beverage
made some attempts to edge in a word about the battle, and particularly
about a certain valiant English knight,  whose name he did not even
pretend to remember, but who might have been a relation of mine for
aught he knew to the contrary. Well, this valiant knight, who had vanquished
all the chivalry of France and England, had the honour of being vanquished
in his turn by the flower of warriors, the renowned Magriço:
a great honour too, for Magriço had excellent taste in the choice
of his antagonists, and would only fight with the bravest of the brave.
"Even so," continued the worthy magistrate, bowing to the
earth, "as our great Camoëns testifies." No answer
to all this flourish except "Ten thousand thanks for your excellent
wine: drive on." And drive on we did with redoubled briskness.
The highest exhilaration prevailed throughout our whole caravan. All
my English servants were in raptures, ready to turn Catholics. My famous
French cook, in the glow of the moment, unpa-  triotically declared
Clos de Vougeot, puddle compared to Aljubarota, divine, perfumed,
ethereal Aljubarota! Dr. Ehrhart protested no country under the sun
equaled Portugal for curiosities in mineralogy, theology, and wineology
which ology he was now convinced was the best of them all. Franchi
mounted one of my swiftest coursers he had never ventured to
mount before and galloped away like the King of Castile on his
flight to Santarem. The Grand Prior and all his ecclesiastical cortege
fell fast asleep; and it would have been most irreverend not to have
followed so respectable an example. I can therefore describe nothing
of the remainder of our route.
The sun had sunk and the moon risen, when a tremendous jolt and a loud
scream awakened the whole party. Poor Franchi lay sprawling upon the
ground: whilst my Arabian, his glossy sides streaming with blood, was
darting along like one  of the steeds in the Apocalypse; happily
his cast-off rider escaped with a slight contusion.
My eyes being fairly open, I beheld a quiet solitary vale, bordered
by shrubby hills; a few huts, and but a few, peeping out of dense masses
of foliage; and high above their almost level surface, the great church,
with its rich cluster of abbatial buildings, buttresses, and pinnacles,
and fretted spires, towering in all their pride, and marking the ground
with deep shadows that appeared interminable, so far and so wide were
they stretched along. Lights glimmered here and there in various parts
of the edifice; but a strong glare of torches pointed out its principal
entrance, where stood the whole community waiting to receive us.
Whilst our sumpter-mules were unlading, and ham and pies and sausages
were rolling out of plethoric hampers, I thought these poor monks looked
on  rather enviously. My more fortunate companions no wretched
cadets of the mortification family, but the true elder sons of fat mother
church could hardly conceal their sneers of conscious superiority.
A contrast so strongly marked amused me not a little.
The space before the entrance being narrow, there was some difficulty
in threading our way through a labyrinth of panniers, and coffers, and
baggage, and mules, as obstinate as their drunken drivers, which
is saying a great deal, and all our grooms, lackeys, and attendants,
half asleep, half muddled.
The Batalha Prior and his assistants looked quite astounded when they
saw a gauze-curtained bed, and the Grand Prior's fringed pillow, and
the Prior of St. Vincent's superb coverlid, and basins, and ewers, and
other utensils of glittering silver, being carried in. Poor souls! they
hardly knew what to do, to say, or be at -  one running to the right,
another to the left one tucking up his flowing garments to run
faster, and another rebuking him for such a deviation from monastic
At length, order being somewhat reestablished, and some fine painted
wax tapers, which were just unpacked, lighted, we were ushered into
a large plain chamber, and the heads of the order presented by the humble
Prior of Batalha to their superior mightinesses of San Vicente and Aviz.
Then followed a good deal of gossiping chat, endless compliments, still
longer litanies, and an enormous supper.
One of the monks who partook of it, though almost bent double with age,
played his part in excellent style. Animated by ample potations of the
very best Aljubarota that ever grew, and which we had taken the provident
care to bring with us, he exclaimed lustily, "Well, this is as
it should be rare doings! such  as have not been witnessed
at Batalha since a certain progress that great King, John the Fifth,
made hither more than half a century ago. I remember every circumstance
attending it as clearly as though it had only taken place last week.
But only think of the atrocious impudence of the gout! His blessed Majesty
had hardly set down to a banquet ten times finer than this, before that
accursed malady, patronized by all the devils in hell, thrust its fangs
into his toe. I was at that period in the commencement of my noviciate,
a handsome lad enough, and had the much-envied honour of laying a cloth
of gold cushion under the august feet of our glorious sovereign. No
sooner had the extremities of his royal person come in contact with
the stiff embroidery, than he roared out as a mere mortal would have
done, and looked as black as a thunder-storm; but soon recovering his
most happy benign temper, gave me  a rouleau of fine, bright, golden
coin, and a tap on the head, ay, on this once comely, now poor
old shrivelled head. Oh, he was a gracious, open-hearted, glorious monarch
the very King of Diamonds and Lord of Hearts! Oh, he is in Heaven,
in Heaven above! as sure ay, as sure as I drink your health,
most esteemed stranger."
So saying, he drained a huge silver goblet to the last drop, and falling
back in his chair, was carried out, chair and all, weeping, puling,
and worse than drivelling, with such maudlin tenderness that he actually
marked his track with a flow of liquid sorrows.
As soon as an act of oblivion had been passed over this little sentimental
mishap by effacing every trace of it, we all rose up and retired to
rest: but little rest, however, was in store for me; the heat of my
mid-day ramble, and perhaps some baneful effect from our moon-lit journey,
 the rays of our cold satellite having fallen whilst I was asleep
too directly on my head, had disordered me; I felt disturbed and feverish,
a strange jumble of ideas and recollections fermented in my brain -
springing in part from the indignant feelings which Donna Francisca's
fervour for her monk, and coldness for me, had inspired. I had no wish
to sleep, and yet my pleasant retired chamber, with clean white walls,
chequered with the reflection of waving boughs, and the sound of rivulet
softened by distance, invited it soothingly. Seating myself in the deep
recess of a capacious window which was wide open, I suffered the balsamic
air and serene moonlight to quiet my agitated spirits. One lonely nightingale
had taken possession of a bay-tree just beneath me, and was pouring
forth its ecstatic notes at distant intervals.
In one of those long pauses, when silence itself, enhanced by contrast,
seemed  to become still deeper, a far different sound than the last
I had been listening to caught my ear, the sound of a loud but
melancholy voice echoing through the arched avenues of a vast garden,
pronouncing distinctly these appalling words "Judgment! judgment!
tremble at the anger of an offended God! Woe to Portugal! woe! woe!"
My hair stood on end I felt as if a spirit were about to pass
before me; but instead of some fearful shape some horrid shadow,
such as appeared in vision to Eliphaz, there issued forth from a dark
thicket, a tall, majestic, deadly-pale old man: he neither looked about
nor above him; he moved slowly on, his eye fixed as stone, sighing profoundly;
and at the distance of some fifty paces from the spot where I was stationed,
renewed his doleful cry, his fatal proclamation: "Woe! woe!"
resounded through the still atmosphere, repeated by the echoes of vaults
 and arches; and the sounds died away, and the spectre-like form
that seemed to emit them retired, I know not how nor whither. Shall
I confess that my blood ran cold that all idle, all wanton thoughts
left my bosom, and that I passed an hour or two at my window fixed and
Just as day dawned, I crept to bed and fell into a profound sleep, uninterrupted,
I thank Heaven, by dreams.