Curious Conversation with an Ex-missionary from China. - Wonders of the Imperial Gardens. – Strange Belief of the Emperor of China.

5th June.

THE first sounds I heard upon awakening this superiorly fine and glowing morning, was not "the charm of early birds," but the obstreperous rattle of a violent altercation, or, in simple truth, a downright squabble which broke out, in the vestibule adjoining my room, between the Grand Prior's secretary and a confidential attendant of my good friend of St. Vincent's.
"You know," said the first-mentioned [19] shrill-voiced consequential personage, "my master is too lazy to stir from his shady quarters whilst the sun shines out in so fierce a manner."
"You know," answered the other, " that we have business of urgency at Alcobaça, and the Prince Regent's command to perform it with the less delay the better."
"You do not pretend," rejoined the secretary, "do you, to force on his excellency whether he will or not ?"
"What, does he mean to loiter the whole day in our garden of Eden? Shall we not advance as far as Cadafaiz in the cool of the evening ?"
"Not we: his excellency has made up his mind to take his fill of repose, and I am not the man to contradict him."
"Then you are a rebellious fool for your pains, and have forgotten his royal highness's express orders. – Go on drinking the waters of Lethe if you dare."
[20] "Va beber," &c. — "Go, drink the filthiest puddle in these orchards," rejoined the waspish and irritated secretary.
Tingle, tingle, tingle, went the Grand Prior's silver bell; off ran the disputants, and out came I into the vast echoing vestibule, opening, by as many glazed doors as there are days in a month, into the orange orchards.
If ever a decent excuse could be offered for perfect laziness, it was to be found in the warm, enervating atmosphere, loaded with perfume, which universally invested this pleasant umbrageous region. No wonder my Lord of Aviz, the most consummate professor of" il dolce far niente" in all Portugal, and Algarve to boot, could not be withdrawn from it without infinite reluctance. He could hardly even be persuaded to traverse a short avenue which led to a summer pavilion on the banks of the river, where our morning collation was prepared. The Prior of St. Vincent's had a [21] sort of romantic scheme of having our repast spread out on a little remnant of greensward which the heats had spared, and sitting down to it in the Oriental style; but his illustrious colleague gently intimated a preference to chairs and tables.
In addition to our usual party I found a certain padre, Machado, or Azevedo, or some such name, who had not been long returned from China-nay, from Pekin itself. During his residence at Macao, he had learnt sufficient English from one of the padres of our Canton factory – the chaplain, I suppose – to read Sir William Chambers' most florid essay on Chinese gardening. I asked him how many words of truth there might happen to be in all this luxuriant description? He answered, not in plain English, but in a most delectable jargon, half Chinese sing-song, half lingua franca – "There be ten-tousand-time-ten-tousand."
”You don't mean to assure me," said I, [22] that our famous architect's most wonderful account of the magical splendour of Yven-ming-Yven and Tchang-tchung-Yven is not exaggerated ?”
”It is not," answered the padre in sound Portuguese, having quitted the straits and shallows of very scanty English for the full flow of his vernacular language: – "I have seen greater wonders than he – I have seen in the depth of winter a whole extent of garden warmed by a deliciously mild and scented vapour, and all the trees covered with silken leaves and artificial flowers, and, on a pool of water, as clear and transparent as the sky it reflected, hundreds of gaily-enamelled ducks, formed of metal, swimming by mechanism, and by mechanism opening all their bills and uttering their accustomed sound with their usual volubility, and swallowing the food the eunuchs of the palace cast to them, – ay, and re- [23] turning it again, to all appearance most happily digested, the emperor standing by all the while, laughing at my surprise, and believing himself neither more nor less, I am entirely convinced, than an incarnation of the god Fo!"
"Dreadful!" exclaimed the Grand Prior: "I wonder he has not shared the fate of Nebuchadnezzar!"
"He should have been sent to grass at once," observed the Prior of St. Vincent's.
"That would have been a pity," rejoined the ex-missionary; "for, notwithstanding his Tartarian nonsense about incarnations and such like, and the impossibility I experienced of making him comprehend our own ineffable mysteries, I must declare him to be a wise monarch and an excellent man."
”That is more difficult to believe than all you have told us," observed the Grand [24] Prior, "when we reflect upon the horrid impiety of believing one's self Fo."
"There is no lie in the world people will not believe," replied the missionary, "provided they are often told it by flatterers in whom, for the very reason they ought not, they take delight in placing confidence; and when all the princes of the blood, all the courtiers, and all the mandarins of the different tribunals, are continually pouring forth addresses at the foot of the throne, assuring his imperial majesty Kien-Long, that he is the son of heaven, a god upon earth! what would you have him do ?"
”Go to the devil his own way, as there is no other remedy," said our hospitable host with a hearty laugh. "We are to conclude, no doubt, you did your best to bring him round: perhaps you may succeed better another time." – (The padre was on the eve of returning to his mission.) – "And now let us go to mass," continued the Prior, [25] bowing to his excellency of Aviz, "and pray for the emperor's conversion!"
So to mass they went, and then a-fishing; and the evening of this day was like the morning – all warmth, and chat, and idleness.


Supreme command given to two distinguished Prelates to visit the Monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha, and a royal wish expressed that the Author should accompany them. - Preparations in high style for the Journey. - The general Rendezvous. - Departure. - Nossa Senhora de Luz. - Lumiares. - Domain of the Monks of St. Vincent. - Reception there


A Morning Walk. - Boundless Orchards of Orange and Apricot. The River Trancaô. - Magnificent Bay-tree. - A Fishing-party. - Happy Inclosure. - An Afternoon Ramble to the Palace of the Patriarch, and its immense Parterre. - Musical contest between Frogs and Nightingales


Curious Conversation with an Ex-missionary from China. -Wonders of the Imperial Gardens. - Strange Belief of the Emperor of China


A first-rate Blessing. - The Duke d'Alafoens' Chateau. - The great Highway to the Caldas.- Extensive Fertility. - Cadafaiz. - Boundless Vineyard. - Eggs of the Sun. - A calm Retirement. - Peaceful State of Portugal compared to other parts of the Continent


A Ramble over the Hills. - Beautiful Grotto.- Reminiscences of Gil Blas. - Journey resumed. - First Sight of Alcobaça. - Pompous Reception. - The Three Graces of Holiness. - Gloomy Church. - Sepulchral Chapel of Pedro the Just and Iñez. - Interrupted Reveries. - Enormous Kitchen. - Hospitable Preparations. - The Banquet Hall. - The Banquet. - Tiresome Minuets. - Ineffectual Offer. - Ceremonious "Good Nights"


Endless Corridors and a grim-looking Hall. - Portrait of St. Thomas à Becket. - Ancient Cloister. - Venerable Orangetrees. - Sepulchral Inscriptions. - The Refectory. - Solemn Summons to Breakfast. - Sights. - Gorgeous Sacristy. Antiquities. - Precious Specimen of Early Art. - Hour of Siesta. - A Noon-day Ramble. - Silence and Solitude. - Mysterious Lane. – Irresistible Somnolency of my Conductor. - An unseen Songstress. - A Surprise. - Donna Francisca, her Mother and Confessor. - The World of Alcobaça awakened. - Return to the Monastery, - Departure for Batalha. - The Field of Aijubarota. - Solitary Vale. - Reception at Batalha. - Enormous Supper. - Ecstasies of an old Monk. - His sentimental Mishap. - Night Scene. - Awful Denunciations


Morning. - The Prior of Batalha. - His Account of the Nocturnal Wanderer. - A Procession. - Grand Façade of the Great Church. - The Nave. - Effect of the golden and ruby light from the windows. - Singularly devout celebration of High Mass. - Mausoleum of John the First and Philippa. - Royal Tombs. - The Royal Cloisters. - Perfect Preservation of this regal Monastery. - Beautiful Chapter-house. - Tombs of Alphonso the Fifth and his Grandson. - Tide of Monks, Sacristans, Novices, &c. - Our Departure. - Wild Road. - Redoubled kindness of my Reception by the Lord Abbot, and why. - Dr. Ehrhart's visit to the Infirmary, and surgical raptures. - A half-crazed Poet and his doleful tragedy. - Senhor Agostinho in the character of Donna Iñez de Castro. - Favouritism, and its reward


Too much of a good thing. - My longing for a Ramble. -Sage resolves. - A Gallop. - Pure and elastic Atmosphere. - Expansive Plain. - Banks of the River. - Majestic Basilica of Batalha. - Ghost-like Anglers. - Retrospections. -The Conventual Bells. - Conversation with the Prior. - A frugal Collation. - Romantic Fancies. - The Dead Stork and his Mourner. - Mausoleum of Don Emanuel. - Perverse Architecture. - Departure from Batalha. - Twilight. - Return to Alcobaça


Lamentations on our Departure, and on the loss of Monsieur Simon. - Mysterious Conference. - A sullen Adieu. - Liveliness of the Prior of St. Vincent's. - Pleasant Surprise. -Vast and dreary Plain. - A consequential Equerry. - An Invitation. - The Bird-Queen. - Fairy Landscape. - The Mansion. - The great Lady's Nephews. - Reception by her Excellency. - Her attendant Hags. - The great Lady's questions about England and dismal ideas of London. - The Cuckoo. - Imitations. - Dismay of her Sublime Ladyship and her Hags. - Our Departure from the bird-ridden Dominions. - Cultivated Plain. - Happy Peasantry, and their gratitude to the Monks of the Royal Convent. - Their different feelings towards the great Lady. - Female Peasants bearing Offerings to our Lady of Nazarè. - Sea View. - Pedraneira. - Banquet of Fish. - Endless Ravine. - Alfagiraõ. - Arrival at the Caldas. - Sickly Population. - Reception of Dr. Ehrhart. - His Visit to the Invalids, and contempt of the Medical Treatment of the place. - A determined Bore. - His Disaster


Knavish Provedore. - Leave the Caldas. - Obidos. - Aboriginal-looking hamlet. - Exquisite Atmosphere. - Pastoral Hymns to St. Anthony. - Bonfires on the Eve of his Festival. - Reception at Cadafaiz. - Delightful change


Excursion to a Franciscan Convent. - A Miracle. - Country resembling Palestine.-Innumerable Assemblage of Peasants. - Their sincere Devotion. - Sublime Sight. - Observations of the Prior of Aviz. - The Benediction. - Ancient Portuguese Hymn. -Its grand effect on the present occasion. - Perilous descent from the Mountain. - A Mandate from the Prince. - Evening. - Music and a Morisco Dance


Dreary expanse of Country between Cadafaiz and Queluz. - Arrival at the Palace. - Court Lumber. - Observations of the Marquis of Anjeja relative to the Prince-Regent. - Promised Promised Audience of his Royal Highness. - Visit to the forbidden Gardens. - Surprise of an African Gardener. - A Pavilion. - Night-scene. - Preparations for a Fête. - The Infanta's Nymph-like Attendants. - The young Marquis of Marialva. - Interview with her Royal Highness. - A Race. - A Dance. - The Prince's Summons. - Conversation with him. - Character of that Sovereign. - Baneful influence of his despotic Consort. - Unhappy Aspirants to Court Benefits. - Private Conference with the Marquis. - The Prince-Regent's Afflictions. - His Vision. - Anjeja's urgent Request. - Terrible Cries from the Queen. - Their effect on me. - My Departure from the Palace